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I Have Your Wife

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Military Commander: Tim, they've got your wife!
Tim: But I'm not married!
Military Commander: You are now... To AMERICA!
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, "Exploder" commercial on V-Rock.

The Big Bad tries to get the hero (or someone else) to do his bidding by taking someone precious from him and essentially holding them to ransom. It's often a significant other, frequently a wife or girlfriend; but any family or friend works, or even strangers if it's a certain type of hero.

This sort of thing tends to go in the following sequence:

  1. Significant other is kidnapped.
  2. Villain calls up hero and says "I've got your significant other. I'll put her on the line".
  3. Significant other is expected/ordered to wail "Do as he says!" More often than not, they say something along the lines of "Don't do it, it's a trap!"
  4. Villain tells hero that he is being watched. If he doesn't obey orders and/or informs the authorities, then he will kill the significant other.
  5. The hero will then be given his orders, usually: a) steal something, b) deliver something, c) kill someone, d) surrender to the villain, and/or e) lead his allies into a trap.
  6. The hero will try at least once to get a message to friends and usually succeeds (eventually). The friends in turn usually figure out what is going on — that their friend is in great danger, closely watched and controlled by a villain — and swing into action to help.
  7. Eventually, the significant other will be released, either by completion of mission or rescue by the hero (in a Roaring Rampage of Rescue) or The Cavalry. The Mole is sometimes involved.

Hostage for MacGuffin is a subtrope for when the trope occurs with a MacGuffin. If the villain is attracted to the hero, he/she may give them the Scarpia Ultimatum.

A common variant used with lone heroes (in which case 6 on the list is not exactly an option) has the hero reluctantly doing what the villain orders him to do, only to be screwed over when the villain reneges on his promise to let the loved one go, usually before killing the loved one in question in a nasty Kick the Dog moment. The result, for many action heroes, is often a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that usually culminates in Storming the Castle and handing the villain the mother of all asskickings for daring to mess with the loved one in the first place. Alternatively, a Roaring Rampage of Rescue ending in the rescue of the loved one may also take place.


Sometimes, a villain will do this as a plot to get a hero to betray his friends, only to have him Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. It's also a great way to turn a member of the good guys into Regretful Traitor.

Can't blame many a hero for taking precautions against this.

Sometimes, of course, the intended target may feel that You Can Keep Her, in which case the whole thing is moot by Threat Backfire.

If this is the reason why the villain is doing it, then it's a case of The Commies Made Me Do It.

In the real world, a kidnapping committed for the purpose of coercing another person to commit a crime on the original criminal's behalf is called a tiger kidnapping. Most real-life kidnappings, tiger or not, tend to end peacefully, whether or not the victim sees the kidnapper's face. This is largely due to pragmatism, as murder is a far more serious offense than kidnapping. Media usually ignores this because of the Rule of Drama, acting like the victim will be killed the second the ransom is paid.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Interesting subversion in 20th Century Boys; the bad guys kidnap the daughter of a scientist whose help they need; however over his ensuing years of work, she becomes converted to their side, and is a minor villain throughout the rest of the series.
  • Griffith from Berserk does this with one of the Queen's mooks in order to blackmail him into helping Griffith kill the Queen, only the hostage is the mook's young daughter.
    • Guts also had a habit of doing this when he was in full Jerkass mode.
  • Ichigo from Bleach has this done to him twice with Orihime as bait. Though, it was more of a 'We have your friend/ potential Love Interest' moment.
  • Subverted in Death Note, with an exchange that goes something like this (he wasn't holding anyone hostage)
    Kira: Guess who I'm holding hostage.
    Raye Penber: ...No! You're holding her hostage? ("her" being Naomi Misora, Penbar's fiancée)
    Kira: (smirks to self) That's right, and I'll kill her unless you do what I say.
    • It's later played straight when Mello kidnaps Light's little sister Sayu. Their father happens to be the head of the team working on the Kira case. Mello specifically mentions that it would be pointless to tell him not to contact the police, because he's in the police. But he does ask him to stop it spreading further.
    • The movie has an odd variation. Naomi takes (Light's girlfriend) Shiori hostage, intending to get him to reveal himself as Kira. It turns out to be a plan on Light's behalf, with him planning a "murder-suicide" scenario.
  • Minerva pulls off a twisted version in Fairy Tail when she tells Sting, her ally, that she's holding his closest companion Lector hostage. Because she's just saved Lector's life as well, Sting would already do whatever she wanted - she's just adding the extra punch in the gut to try and make him fight for higher stakes.
  • Done by the Anti-Hero protagonist Kiritsugu Emiya in Fate/Zero, via An Offer You Can't Refuse; victim must "exit the stage," so to speak, but both parties sign a magical contract that state said hero cannot harm either wife or husband. He lets her go eventually. This is when Kiritsugu's assistant shows up with a machine gun.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is in love with this trope, at least metaphorically. When Ed and Roy step out of line in the middling chapters, the Big Bad crew hold Winry and the Mustang Team hostage, respectively. Ed's able to engineer Winry's escape with Scar's help, but Roy can't do much for his men. Riza is taken hostage, as she now works in close proximity with the Big Bad crew, and if Roy does anything they don't like her life is forfeit. The others are also in varying sorts of danger. Dr. Marcoh is constantly forced to do the Big Bad crew's bidding due to their hostage-taking. It gets so bad that he expresses the desire for death over having to work within the constraints any longer. Toward the endgame, Roy retaliates for the loss of his subordinates by taking a hostage of his own. King Bradley, I have your wife. However, this is later subverted when it turns out that taking Mrs. Bradley hostage was part of a Batman Gambit designed to make her realize that her husband and his top generals considered her as expendable as any member of Mustang's crew, followed by a promise from Mustang to keep her safe - which he does.
  • Done in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu when someone tells Sousuke that they have Chidori kidnapped. So before showing up to make a deal with the bad guys he kidnaps or threatens EVERY SINGLE MOOK'S MOST PRECIOUS SIGNIFICANT OTHER to force them to give up Chidori. Of course the only one he actually took hostage (the gang leader's little brother) had actually been bribed to play along.
  • In Gate 7, Tokugawa Iemitsu kidnapped the twin sister of one of the Urashichiken's members.
  • Gunsmith Cats: Buskie kidnaps Alan Scott's daughter to force Scott to deliver Rally into an ambush unarmed.
  • In Ikki Tousen, Toutaku wants Hakufu to kill Ryoufou for him. What does he do when she says no? He grabs Hakufu's friend and teammate Ryoumou and chokes her, telling Hakufu he'll kill her if she keeps refusing.
    • The series soon tops it by having the badly injured Gakushuu and Koukin being held hostage by Saji, the Sixth Ranger Traitor, so Hakufu goes face him after defeating and killing Toutaku. And it seems the writers love that, since in Dragon Destiny Kan'u surrenders herself to Kyoushou High when told by the Three Pillared Gods that her teammates (including her Les Yay Love Interest and leader, Ryuubi) are cornered by practically every Kyoushou fighter.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Sango was occasionally coerced with threats against, or promises to release, her Brainwashed and Crazy brother Kohaku. After the first couple of times she finally seemed to get that Naraku is a liar and stopped going along with it.
    • Also early in the series, Kagome is kidnapped by the Thunder Brothers. She convinces them to let her live so they can force Inuyasha to give up the Shikon Jewel shards for her as a ransom. This was a bluff, as her relationship with Inuyasha was still fairly antagonistic at this point, and it leads to this exchange:
      Inuyasha: Let me get this straight, you and I are supposed are supposed to be lovers?
      Kagome: This is no time to get all shy!
      Inuyasha: You actually think I'd hand over the jewel shards as a ransom to get you back?!
      Kagome: Of course you would! Cause that's what a lover would do!
  • Judge reveals this to be the reason why Kazuhiko Asai agreed to become The Mole, after being given a cellphone with instructions and a picture of their mother, whom they haven't seen in years due to personal reasons, held at gun-point and told to follow the instructions lest she be killed.
  • In the anime of Magic Knight Rayearth, Inouva takes Ferio captive and tells Fuu to give up being a Magic Knight or Ferio will be killed. It backfires hugely, since Fuu's refusal to go along with it is what proves her heart to Windam.
  • In the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, Heero needs only one last shot from Wing Zero to destroy the Elaborate Underground Base, but Dekim Barton reminds him through broadcast that Relena was inside the base, making Heero hesitate from pulling the trigger. Although, it's hard to tell if Dekim thinks Heero wouldn't harm Relena either because she's a major political figure or because Dekim knows she's Heero's Love Interest.
  • Mamoru Chiba is kidnapped a couple of times over the course of Sailor Moon. Usually this isn't for any purpose except to brainwash him to fight the good guys, though twice in the original anime, his kidnapping is actually used to get the heroes to act. In the first example, during Sailor Moon S, Kaolinite figures out Usagi's true identity as Sailor Moon and traps Tuxedo Kamen in glass after taking Usagi's compact. She then demands Usagi meet her at the Tokyo Tower if she wants him back. In reality, she's just baiting a trap to get an opportunity to take Usagi's pure heart, which she believes to have a talisman. Later in the series, Nehellenia possesses Mamoru via a glass mirror shard in his eye, and kidnaps him in order to lure Usagi into her realm.
    • Zoisite loves this strategy in the original anime. Zoisite has his youma kidnap Naru in order to threaten Nephrite, as he's figured out Nephrite is obsessed with her, and tries to ransom her for the Black Crystal using three powerful youma. Nephrite just proceeds to beat up the youma and take Naru back, though Zoisite ends up killing him a little while later anyway. Later in the season, Zoisite uses Naru again to threaten Sailor Moon into giving up the only rainbow crystal the Sailor Senshi have collected, this time by having a youma suffocate her until Sailor Moon gives up and hands it over (though he initially planned to just turn Naru into a youma and threaten her that way, but he missed his attack and hit a Power Ranger parody instead.) Finally, Zoisite captured the Sailor Senshi through a convoluted scheme in order to force Tuxedo Mask to give up the rainbow crystals which he had collected. This is the only time he actually failed because Sailor Venus made her first appearance in this episode, thus avoiding his trap...though he still got information on Tuxedo Mask's true identity in the process.
    • Rubeus captures all four of the Guardian Senshi during Sailor Moon R and demands Sailor Moon arrive in his UFO to hand over Chibiusa and the ginzuishou if she wants them back.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Maverick tries this with Kotetsu's daughter, Kaede. Not only does it serve to piss Kotetsu off, but Kaede reveals herself to be a Damsel out of Distress who manages to save her own life and that of every other superhero trapped by Maverick's subordinate, Rottwang. Hoist by His Own Petard at its finest!
  • In Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest, with Haguro in charge, it's less about having the wife and move about kidnapping the Hot Teacher that is the Anti-Hero's Morality Chain, violently torture and rape her for several hours, videotaping this and threaten said Anti-Hero with sending copies of said sexual acts to completely smear her fame.
  • This is used quite a bit in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Pegasus takes Yugi's grandfather's soul to make him compete in his tournament. Then there's the Jonouchi / Joey anchor duel. Then Ryuji Otogi / Duke Devlin humiliates Jonouchi / Joey and makes Yugi duel to get him out of the dog suit. There's probably even more.
    • Mokuba. He is kidnapped or placed in some sort of mortal peril (or both) at least once a season because the villain has an agenda against his brother.
  • Played for Laughs in Gakuen Babysitters when one of Ryuuichi's classmates wanted to submit a video of the toddlers for a contest and proceeded to "kidnap" Ryuuichi and Kamitani so he could film the toddlers "saving" them. In order to rescue their babysitters, the children would have to do certain tasks - namely, having them conquer their fears or things they were bad at.

    Comic Books 
  • Early on in Ultimate Spider-Man, Norman Osborn threatens Peter to do his bidding in exchange for not going after Aunt May and Mary Jane. He refuses and persuades May that Norman can't be trusted, but Mary Jane still ends up getting kidnapped.
  • Almost subverted in the comic miniseries Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge. The agents of the Big Bad Libra kidnap the father of Rogues leader Captain Cold. They threaten to kill him unless Cold and the Rogues surrender. But the bad guys don't understand that his father's sadistic abuse and terror was the main factor in shaping Cold's personality. So he tells them that he will hunt them down, kill them, and kill his father himself. The Rogues do kill the bad guys, but Cold does not kill his father. Instead he orders his teammate Heatwave to burn him to death.
  • Transmetropolitan makes use of this with Spider Jerusalem's wife's cryogenically preserved head. Mostly subverted in that Spider does not actually care about his ex-wife, much to the consternation of those who have her. Spider then completely subverts this by throwing his wife's cryogenically preserved head into the river. Since she was the one who had angered the kidnappers in the first place, they then calm down and leave.
  • Bungled by Fink and Mean Machine Angel in Judge Dredd when they abduct Dredd's landlady assuming she is his wife.
  • X-Men foe Nimrod, a Sentinel from the future, forced an alternate timeline Forge to repair him by holding his daughter hostage. This is after he murdered Forge's wife — Storm in this timeline — right in front of the kid.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) Queen Chrysalis kidnaps the Cutie Mark Crusaders to force the cooperation of the Mane 6.
  • In Morbius' Marvel NOW! series, the Rose tells Morbius he has his mother, who is alive "but I wouldn't say well" and is bound to get a lot worse. The Rose gives Morbius his mother's wedding ring as a reminder he works for him now. Subverted when Morbius reveals his mother died years ago; he even was at her side when she passed away. The Rose's employer, who provided the ring, knows Morbius would know the threat was empty — so it was the Rose who was being conned.
  • The first issue of the Invader Zim continuation comic reveals that this is the reason Prisoner 777 provides Zim with information — Zim has his children, and will "erase them" from existence if their father doesn't do what he says.
    • In Issue 13, Zim is on the receiving end of this when another group of aliens plan to obtain his newly-created "humungoserum." Unfortunately for them, they've kidnapped Dib under the mistaken belief that he's Zim's best friend, and Zim not only doesn't care that they've taken him but is entertained when they start torturing him.
  • In Secret Six, Catman receives a phone call letting him know that his infant son has been kidnapped and will receive one year of life for every member of his team Catman kills in the next five minutes. He considers it for a very long moment, but instead tells the kidnappers that they can drop the kid...but he'll find them. Which he does.
  • In Back to Brooklyn, Paul Saetta kidnaps his brother Bob's family with the implication he will murder Bob's young son Michael if Bob crosses him.
  • Protecting her family from this is why X-23 sent her aunt and cousin into hiding at the end of Target: X. Kimura eventually tracks them down anyway, and although she at first considered killing them out of spite, she ultimately plays the trope straight and decides to use them as leverage to force Laura to submit to her in All-New Wolverine. Considering it's Kimura, it's highly unlikely she'll hold up her end no matter what Laura does.
  • In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Lex Luthor and Brainiac force Superman to do their bidding by holding the bottle city of Kandor hostage. Batman eventually figures out this is the case and arranges for the city's rescue as part of his plan.
  • Wonder Woman: In the original comics and The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016), Baroness Paula von Gunther is only working for the Nazis because they are holding her daughter Gerta hostage. When Wonder Woman rescues Gerta, Paula happily defects to the good guys.
  • Wonder Girl: Lashina tries to force Cassie to cooperate by kidnapping Cassie's mother.
  • When Robin villain "Dodge" realizes the fellow villains he's rounded up to humiliate Robin intend to murder the young hero and he decides he wants no part in their plans one of the others quickly informs him that if he leaves or tries to inconvenience them his family will pay the price.
  • Batman Black and White: In "Heroes", set in 1937, a pioneering inventor is approached by an agent of German military intelligence with a job offer. When he refuses, the German captures his ten-year-old son to force his compliance.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: Fed up with Garfield staying in bed all day, Jon kidnaps Pooky in an attempt to force Garfield to come out, but the fat cat won't even budge.
  • Modesty Blaise: In "Samantha and the Cherub," Lucy Kolin, the wife of Soviet musician who defected to the West, is kidnapped. Her husband is told to renounce his defection and return to the USSR if he ever wants to see her again.

    Fan Works 
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: The only reason Germany and Japan didn't beat the homophobe within an inch of his life when they saw him brutalizing Italy and he threatened to make it worse if they go any closer. Not that they didn't want to. However, the moment the homophobe was about to rape Italy, Germany and Japan tackled him to the ground before proceeding to beat the living crap out of him. He didn't stand a chance.
  • In The Lion King Adventures, the Royal Reaper breaks this to Simba in quite a chilling way.
    Simba: What have you done with Nala?
    The Royal Reaper: Oh, she's safe. For now. I'm taking good care of her. Very good care indeed.
    Simba: If you hurt her, then—
    The Royal Reaper: I'm afraid it's too late for warnings now, Simba. I've already... injured Nala to a certain extent, so she won't be running away from the location where I've held her captive. Was it necessary? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. Will I do it again? Yes.
  • All He Ever Wanted. In one of the most polemic parts of the fic, the Big Bad keeps the Action Girl's Non-Action Guy ex-husband hostage and uses this not just to have her pull a Face–Heel Turn, but to actually torture and rape her in front of him to show off his power.
  • And Shine Heaven Now: Walter. In Hellsing, he pulls a Face–Heel Turn which is never adequately explained. Here, the bad guys have his daughter, Maggie (imported from Read or Die). How far he will go to keep her safe remains to be seen.
  • One of the villains in the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fic series The Private Diary of Elizabeth Quatermain forces the title character's cooperation by taking her best friend hostage. Unfortunately for him, the rest of the True Companions find out...
  • In the Mass Effect fanfic Interstitium, Wrex and Shepard have to set this up in order to convince the other krogan to let Mordin take care of some personal business on their planet. Since Mordin doesn't have a wife, however, they have to fake it. With Miranda playing the part, and Mordin hamming it up for all it's worth.
  • Jim Rhodes helps with the Program in 72 Hours because his family is being held hostage by the government.
  • A Growing Affection has the Fire Daimyo's daughter kidnapped by the Big Bad. The price for the girl's safety? That the Fire Nation and Hidden Leaf Village stay out of the coming war.
  • In Naruto fanfic Nightingale, Orochimaru holds Hinata hostage, and the ransom note he sends to her father says, word for word, "I have your daughter."
  • In Brilliancy, the second part of the Fullmetal Alchemist Elemental Chess Trilogy, the trope is turned upside down. Roy knows his wife has been taken - he just doesn't know who did it, or why.
  • In Zero 2: A Revision, when Oikawa's pleading of Demon to teleport him to the Digital World ends up being met with deaf ears from the Digimon, he decides to threaten original Digidestined Hiroaki's ex-wife soon to be wife Nancy for his Digivice, desperate to enter the Digital World. However, after Cody's grandfather gives him a harsh word beating, Oikawa breaks down and releases the hostage, finally realizing what he has done.
  • In one of the installments in the Black Crayons series, A Child's Innocence has two examples:
    • Annabelle Lennox is kidnapped by Laserbeak and Starscream so that the Autobots will be distracted with trying to get her back.
    • Mikaela Banes is kidnapped by Dylan Gould and Soundwave to force Sam Witwicky into being The Mole for the Decepticons.
  • During Loved and Lost, Jewelius has the parents of Twilight Sparkle captured shortly after the Changeling invasion to be used as leverage in case he loses his grip over their manipulated daughter. He uses this threat when Twilight finally realizes how evil Jewelius is, but it's soon made null when Raven Inkwell (actually a disguised Changeling) helps Twilight by releasing her parents so they can all escape to Ponyville.
  • Never Say Never has an interesting variation on this: When the students begin complaining about Monokuma changing the rules during the third trial, the bear threatens to kill them all and restart the Killing Game with their hostages from the first motive as mentioned below in the "Visual Novel" folder.
  • Infinity has a disturbing example. Precia is forced to work for the Infinite Empire because Enlil is possessing Alicia's corpse, essentially holding her body hostage with the promise that she'll properly revive her once she gets what she wants. Played with, because Enlil views it as a beneficial partnership and fails to understand why Precia (and the protagonists, when they find out) are so upset.
  • Skyhold Academy Yearbook flips the trope around by having the bad guys kidnap Cullen's girlfriend. Since he's been on the verge of proposing, he actually blurts out that "They have my wife!" - even though she isn't.
  • In A Feline's Birdy Love Chapter 8, Night Ninja abducts Connor/Catboy after brutalizing him severely and taunts Amaya/Owlette, who is in the middle of G-Rated Will They or Won't They? with Connor, about how much he knows this will hurt her emotionally. Interestingly for this trope, while Night Ninja taunts Amaya and Greg (Connor's best friend who's equally distressed by the kidnapping) that he dares them to try a rescue, he also claims that it's going to end badly whether they attempt a rescue or leave Connor to Night Ninja's whims.
  • Save My Life: Can You Save Me Now? features several Swellview villains abducting Henry to blackmail Captain Man into releasing all the villains he and Henry put away. Interestingly, the villains don't try to have Henry speak directly to Captain Man until he's unable to get the Toddler released, at which point they try to get Henry to tell Captain Man to release all the villains, which he refuses to do.
  • Lost to Dust: Cinder Fall reveals that Neo obeys her because she threatened Neo's friend Roman Torchwick.
  • Invoked in Batman fanfic Dance with the Demons. Ra's Al Ghul very calmly explains that if he wanted to hurt Batman through Catwoman, he wouldn't kill her; he'd hold her hostage until the Dark Knight met his pre-release conditions.
    Ra's Al Ghul: "Now, as to the matter of your wife. If I wished to use her against you, Detective, I can assure you of this: I would kidnap her. Oh, yes, I would. I would make certain that she was alive and that you knew it, but that you also knew that I had power over her. And thus I would have power over you. But I would not kill her. Not unless it presented great advantage to me, or unless all else was lost and it was the last stroke I could play. I promise you, Detective, I am far away from my last stroke."
    Batman: "You may be closer than you think."
    Ra's Al Ghul: "Death follows close behind us all, Detective. But in most cases, I am the one who pushes its hand. No. I am not lying to you. I had nothing to do with the attempt on your wife's life. Now, if someday your wife should be taken by brigands, there is the possiblity, and no more than that, that I may be behind it. That will be if I need your help, and you refuse a polite request. Should you perform that request, she will be freed unharmed. This would be done, certainly."
  • In Harry Potter fanfic The Peace Not Promised, Voldemort sets a trap for Snape by kidnapping Lily, whom Snape would do anything for. And then tests Snape's loyalty by ordering him to kill her.
  • In Danganronpa: The Immersive Learning Program, the motive video of the second chapter is for the most part similar to the first visual novel, such as Hiro with his mom, Sonia with her country, and Korekiyo with his sister. However, they also show some students individuals they cannot remember (Ex: Kaede with Shuichi, Kaito with Maki, Nekomaru with Akane).
    • The sequel Academy of Discontent, is similar, with students like Junko and Peko being shown familiar faces like Mukuro and Fuyuhiko respectively while students such as Shuichi and Chiaki being shown people they don't recognize (Kaede and Miss Chisa Yukizomi respectively).
  • In Awakening, Strika, Elita's servant, kidnaps the sparkling of Starscream's servant Nightwish in order to force Nightwish to poison Starscream.
  • In Man of Steel fanfiction Daughter of Fire and Steel, General Zod gets Lois Lane abducted to ensure Kal-El's cooperation. When Kara points out that holding his lover hostage is guaranteed to alienate him, Zod just brushes off her concerns.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Despicable Me, up-and-coming supervillain Vector kidnaps Gru's adopted daughters and demands the moon, which Gru has shrunk and removed from its orbit, in exchange. Gru complies, but when Vector goes back on the deal, he finds himself dealing with an enraged Papa Wolf.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, Madame Suliman holds Sophie's stepfather (whom she's never met) hostage, forcing Sophie's mother to betray her by planting a Peeping Bug in the castle.
  • The Snow Queen (1995)'s sequel has this. The Snow Queen kidnaps Dimly to force Ellie to go to her castle. A similar thing happened in the first movie, but there it wasn't intentional.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 13 Minutes: The Nazis immediately round up all of Elser's relatives and Elsa, his former fiancée, once he's been arrested. It's the threat to her which gains his confession.
  • Act of Valor: Miller shows Christo a recording of the latter's daughter during his interrogation, with this implied. Then immediately subverted; he is not threatening Christo's daughter, he's just showing him his daughter to remind him of what he will lose if he doesn't cooperate and gets sent to prison for the rest of his life. When Christo asks if Miller will leave his family alone, he emphatically replies that he would never harm Christo's family. It's a brilliant piece of subtext without a direct threat, because you know Christo was wondering how in the hell this guy got footage of his daughter.
  • Gary Oldman ups this trope's usual ante in Air Force One: "When you talk to the President, you might remind him that I am holding his wife, his daughter, his chief of staff, his national security advisor, his classified papers - and his baseball glove!" And it's that last part that really pisses everyone off. Only Tim Curry could have delivered that line any better.
  • Bayard the bloodhound, in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), reluctantly serves the Red Queen because she's holding his wife and their pups in her dungeon.
  • Anne kidnaps Pierre's wife Molly, and leaves a note pinned to the wall with a knife to emphasize the point in Anne of the Indies.
  • The event of Artemis Fowl are kicked off by Opal Koboi calling the young Artemis Fowl and telling him that she has his father and if he wants him back, he has to secure the Aculos for her. At the end of the film, when Artemis doesn't bring her the Aculos, she tries to finish off Artemis Fowl Sr. with magic, but Holly Short uses the Aculos's power to bring him back to Fowl Manor before the deed can be completed.
  • Done twice in Assassination Games, once with the girl in Brazil's apartment — he tells them that he doesn't care — and once with Flint's comatose wife.
  • Played with in Austin Powers. When Austin is about to capture Dr. Evil, Alotta appears holding Vanessa at gunpoint, telling Austin to let him go. At this point Scott walks in, so Austin grabs and holds him at gunpoint in exchange for Vanessa. Dr. Evil is completely indifferent.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Lex Luthor, has Lois Lane kidnapped to get Superman's attention and once Superman shows up and confronts him, Luthor reveals he knows who Superman is and has also kidnapped Martha Kent, intending to force Superman to kill Batman as part of his plan to discredit Superman. Once Batman learns what's going on, he goes and rescues Martha. Luthor's reaction is to release Doomsday.
  • Best Seller. The Corrupt Corporate Executive has the protagonist's daughter brought to him by two policemen as a demonstration of his power. He says she is free to leave with her father, as he's now demonstrated that his men can reach her at any time.
  • In The Big Lebowski the (non-Dude) Jeffrey Lebowski's wife, Bunny, is "kidnapped" and held for one million dollars ransom.
  • Probably the first film example is The Black Hand (1906), where three mobsters kidnap the daughter of a butcher in order to press him for $1,000.
  • In Blue Velvet, local crime boss Frank Booth kidnaps Dorothy's husband and son in order to force her to be his sex slave, and even cuts off said husband's ear just to intimidate her further. She is periodically allowed to talk to them on the phone, and is usually frantically desperate to do so.
  • In Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the villains kidnap the French cop's daughter in similar fashion.
  • The Monster in Bride of Frankenstein, on Dr. Pretorius' orders, kidnaps Elizabeth so that her husband will co-operate in making a bride for him.
  • In Capricorn One, the astronauts are told the safety of their families is contingent on their willingness to cooperate with the fake Mars landing.
  • In Chai Lai Angels: Dangerous Flowers, Dragon's gang abducts Rose's fiancé Gus in an attempt to force the Chai Lais to back off.
  • In Clockstoppers, the Big Bad kidnaps Zak's father to ransom back Zak's hypertime watch.
  • Code of Silence: The Comachos kidnap Diana Luna to force Sergeant Cusack to deliver mafia guy Tony Luna (Diana's father) to them. When Luna is killed along with his uncle (thus making the deal impossible, as the Colombians wanted him alive), Cusack arranges a fake hostage exchange so he can take out the whole Comacho gang single-handedly.
  • The Excuse Plot of Schwarzenegger's Commando is that the baddies have kidnapped his daughter to force him into doing their bidding. It becomes clear straight away that this isn't going to work.
    Diaz: (waving Jenny's "I Love You Daddy" Father's Day card in Matrix's face) If you want your kid back then you gotta cooperate, right?
    Matrix: Wrong. (shoots Diaz)
  • The Commuter: Joanna tries to coerce Michael into doing her bidding through getting his wife and son abducted, with the threat of them being killed if he doesn't obey. Despite the threat, he refuses to murder an innocent person, and they're rescued by the FBI.
  • The Conspiracy: The Tarsus Club buys Aaron's silence by threatening his wife and child.
  • Criminal: Xavier forces Bill/Jericho to give him the Wormhole program by holding Jill and Emma hostage.
  • In The Criminal, the gang initially kidnaps Suzanne because they think she knows where the money is hidden. When it turns out she doesn't, they instead hold her as a bargaining chip to force Johnny to lead them to the loot.
  • In Deewaar, a corrupt businessman kidnaps union leader Anand's wife and his two sons, and forces him to sign a document with conditions highly unfavourable to the striking workers in exchange for their safe release.
  • Die Hard:
    • Die Hard plays around with this. McClane's wife is among the hostages taken by Hans's crew, but Hans is completely unaware of this until late in the movie. And once he does find out and radios McClane to tell him about it, he can't reach him because he's already fighting The Dragon.
    • Live Free or Die Hard has the villains capturing McClane's daughter instead. Instead of even feigning that he'll cooperate, he just tells them he's going to kill them all and take her back. And when they try to emotionally manipulate him by putting her on the line with him? She tells her dad exactly how many bad guys are left.
  • Don't Say a Word: The villain holds the main character (Michael Douglas)'s wife at gunshot in their home, forcing him to cooperate with him.
  • The plot of Fargo revolves around a basic plot of I Have Your wife. Just as we planned.
  • Spoofed in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu when the hero's lawnmower is kidnapped by Fu Manchu's minions.
  • Fletch Lives. Fletch confronts the Big Bad with evidence of his Evil Plan, saying that his Love Interest is ready to hand over everything he knows to the media if something happens to him.
    Villain: You're bluffing, Fletch.
    Fletch: No, I'm not.
    Villain: You think you're not... but you are. [The Dragon drags in Fletch's girlfriend at gunpoint]
  • From Beyond the Grave: Evil occultist Sir Michael Sinclair, from "The Door", found the secret of immortality; constructing his own personal room behind an ornate door, Sinclair lures those who come into possession of the door to the room to murder them and take their souls in order to extend his life. Targeting young William Seaton and his wife Rosemary, Sinclair kidnaps Rosemary to lure in Seaton, plotting to harvest them both, as "two souls are better than one".
  • Hercules (2014): Cotys threatened his grandson's life to ensure his daughter's cooperation while he has her enlist Hercules to his side. He earlier also did this to force into accepting his rule.
  • Subverted and then played straight in Akira Kurosawa's High and Low: kidnappers tell a wealthy industrialist they have his son, except they grabbed the his servants' son by mistake. After a lot of conscience wrestling — close a major deal or save someone's child — he pays the ransom. The rest of the movie follows the cops trying to track down the kidnappers, and the kidnappers reasons for their crime.
  • Hostage: Bad guy kidnaps Bruce Willis's family to force Bruce to get a DVD that incriminates him from a hostage situation going on elsewhere. After resolving the hostage situation and getting the DVD, he manages to kill the bad guy and save his family.
  • Every post-Indiana Jones Harrison Ford movie features this plot, such as 2006's Firewall.
  • Jack Reacher proves himself to be clever when the female attorney he's working with is kidnapped. "You'll bounce me around to make sure I'm not followed, then walk me into an ambush and kill me." He then goes on to be the first action hero in history to not only defy but invert it — He's got all the evidence he needs, so unless they give up their location so he can come try and kill them when he is damn good and ready, he'll just cut his losses and hand everything to the FBI.
  • Happens more than once in Jupiter Ascending. Stinger's daughter is ailing, compelling him into handing Jupiter and Caine over to Titus in exchange for the money to afford a 'recode'. Balem does this with Jupiter's entire family, in order to convince her to abdicate so he can take Earth for his own.
  • In The Karate Kid Part II, the villain Chozen forces Daniel to fight him by threatening to kill Kumiko, the Japanese girl Daniel loves. He doesn't actually kidnap her, but he does capture her in the middle of a festival and hold a knife to her throat in front of the entire village, so it counts.
  • The Firewall-esque Lifetime Movie of the Week The Kidnapping has Judd Nelson kidnap a bank employee's daughter (and her babysitter, whom they promptly kill when she tries to escape with the kid) to get her to give them access to a specific safe-deposit box.
  • Killer Elite. A Retired Badass is forced to do One Last Job when his mentor tries fleeing with the money rather than taking on the dangerous assignment. After completing the job, he's retired to his home when he gets an unexpected phone call from his employer saying he still has to kill one more person, and implying that he has the hitman's girlfriend. He rushes to her room only to find she's sleeping peacefully. Then he finds a cartridge case tucked into her hair.
  • The film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has a variation that might be called I Have Your You. The Big Bad steals Dorian Gray's portrait — yes, that one — and uses it as leverage for his cooperation. Interestingly for a villain, he actually honors their agreement once his victim holds up his end of it.
    • In a more straightforward example from the same film, the Big Bad forces the cooperation of the scientists he kidnapped by holding their wives and children in prison cells.
  • In The Man Who Could Cheat Death, Georges Bonnet imprisons Dr. Gerrard's beloved Janine and holds her hostage to compel Gerrard into operating on him.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much sees Dr. Ben McKenna receive warning about the impending assassination of a prime minister. The people in charge of the plot try to prevent Ben from telling the police by holding his son hostage.
  • Invoked Trope in Mechanic Resurrection. When Jason Statham's character saves Jessica Alba from an abusive boyfriend, he quickly realises the Big Bad is trying to set up a Rescue Romance in preparation for this scenario. Despite this everything about the trope gets played straight.
  • In Once Upon a Spy, Big Bad Marcus Valorium ensures Dr. Webster's cooperation in programming the X-2 computer by holding Webster's daughter hostage.
  • The movie Ransom is a complete subversion of this trope. Instead of paying the ransom for his son, he offers the amount of 2 million bucks to anyone who can find and rescue his son instead, because he assumes either 1. his son is already dead, or 2. the kidnappers have no intention of returning his son anyway.
  • In Red the CIA captures Frank's love interest, Sara. When Cooper tries to use this to get Frank to turn himself in, the CIA runs a phone trace. As it turns out, Frank was in Cooper's house at the time while Cooper's wife and kids were outside; Cooper is shocked and promises that Sara would not be hurt.
  • Red Eye: Jackson kidnaps Lisa's father and threatens to kill him unless Lisa cooperates with him to kill a politician.
    Jackson: Right now, our guy is parked outside your dad's house, listening to a little smooth jazz while he sharpens his 12-inch K-Bar. That's a knife.
  • In The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood, Prince John coerces Marian into cooperating with his scheme to trap Robin by holding her father hostage.
  • This backfires badly in Ronin. Gregor reveals that he has a sniper who is currently aiming at the girlfriend of the Russian faction's leader to ensure his leaving with the money after their exchange. Unfortunately they're entirely willing to let her die just to kill Gregor and take back their money.
  • The kidnappers in Ruthless People threaten to kill Sam Stone's wife. Turns out he was already plotting to kill her, and the kidnappers appear to have saved him the trouble.
  • In the Made-for-TV Movie San Francisco International Airport (another proud MST3K alumnus), a group of thieves do this to an airline pilot to force him to keep his flight for the day grounded, as part of a Evil Plan to smuggle the proceeds of a bank robbery out of town. (Their leader also kidnaps a female airport employee for another stage of the plan.)
  • Saw
    • The first Saw I plays this pretty straight with Dr. Gordon's family.
    • In an interesting subversion, in the second movie Detective Matthews's son is taken hostage, but, in order to get him back, Matthew's is ordered not to steal/kill/etc. but... to do nothing. He fails miserably in one of the best twist endings ever.
  • Subverted (possibly inverted) in the movie Se7en: Less "I have your wife" and more "You have your wife's head.". The idea is still to use this to get the hero to do what the villain wants.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (1932), Moriarty kidnaps Alice and holds her hostage to compel Faulkner into giving him the details of the safety deposit boxes and not reporting the robbery from the bank until after he and his gang are well away.
  • Shooter. The bad guys kidnap Sarah, which makes Bob realize how much he cares for her.
    Nick Memphis: I didn't know you had a woman.
    Bob Lee Swagger: Neither did I... until they took her.
  • In Space Mutiny, the villainous Elijah Kalgan kidnaps the commander's "daughter-mother" (thanks to some bad makeup work on the lead female actor who was 34 at the time of the film's release).
    Crow: I have your mother!
  • In the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy films, this happens to Peter Parker all the time— Mary Jane is held hostage in some manner by supervillains at least four times; as is Aunt May, twice; and so are quite a number of innocent civilians throughout the trilogy. In the second movie, it's done by a villain who doesn't even know that Peter is Spider-Man. Interestingly, in the comics Mary Jane actually very rarely gets kidnapped.
  • In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader captures and tortures the rebels with the intent of luring Luke to rescue them - and either turn him to the dark side or hand him over to The Emperor. The rebels try to warn Luke that it's a trap, Leia and Chewie get away because Lando has a conscience, Han's taken prisoner by a bounty hunter, and Luke needs rescuing himself after Vader schools him in a lightsaber duel.
  • Suicide Squad (2016). When the Joker and his goons shoot their way into the laboratory that makes the Explosive Leash, there's a technician locked behind bulletproof glass. The Joker simply puts a computer notebook up against the window, showing a live image of the technician's wife being held with a knife at her throat, begging him to just do whatever they ask.
  • Superman II. Ursa has the 3 Kryptonian supervillains take Lois Lane along with them to the Fortress of solitude with the intent of using her as a hostage against Superman.
  • Switchback: The killer kidnapped LaCrosse's son, but doesn't coerce him into stopping the hunt. Rather, he left LaCrosse a note saying he can only save his son by killing him, as a challenge. Most everyone believes his son is already dead, though LaCrosse says he has to keep believing otherwise.
  • In Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Mr. Baek coerces Geum-ja into making a False Confession to the murder of Won-mo by holding her daughter hostage.
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory: When the terrorists discover that Casey Ryback is taking them out one by one, they figure out that his niece is traveling with him from the passenger manifest so they can use her as bait.
  • Universal Soldier: The Return: SETH kidnaps Deveraux's daughter Hillary to force him to give up the code that will prevent his own program from shutting down. However, when SETH notices that she's sick, he decides to turn her into a Unisol to "fix" her.
  • The Usual Suspects has a "flashback" of how Keyser Soze came to power. Low-level thugs take his wife and children hostage while he's out on business. He comes home to find them under guard and with guns pointed at them. He then shoots his wife, multiple thugs and his kids. He tells the only remaining thug still alive to tell his bosses what happened.
  • In Valdez is Coming, Valdez abducts Tanner's woman and plans to send her back to him in exchange for the $100. After the lengthy chase, Gay Erin is hoping that Tanner will make the exchange: not because she wants to to return to Tanner, but beacuse she is convinced Valdez is in the right.
  • Welcome to the Punch (2013). A Professional Killer goes to visit his grandmother, only to find the Cowboy Cop and Villain Protagonist sitting on either side of her, posing as his old army mates who've come to visit. Unknown to grandma, a third man standing right behind her is pointing a pistol at her head. They make it clear the killer is to come out "for some drinks" while one of them waits with grandma to ensure his co-operation. The killer calls their bluff.
    "You think that keeping a hostage is going to force me into a corner? But none of you have been where I have, seen what I've seen. None of you have the selfless commitment. And not one of you possesses what it takes... to actually put a bullet through the back of that woman's head." (shootout ensues)
  • In the 1982 thriller Who Dares Wins (aka The Final Option), the protagonist is an ex-SAS man sent to infiltrate a terrorist group as a Fake Defector. However the terrorists suspect he may be lying to them, so they send a team to hold his family hostage while they carry out their main plan.
  • In Promising Young Woman, Cassie abducts Dean Hudson's daughter and tells Dean Hudson that she has left her in the same dorm room where Nina was raped; adding that she is certain that the boys who currently reside there will undoubtedly realise that she is underage, and treat with all the respect that Al Munroe showed Nina. An increasingly desperate Dean Hudson demands to know the room number, only for Cassie to say that if she had investigated Nina's case as thoroughly as she claimed then she would remember the number. Cassie is lying, and has left the daughter waiting at a diner for a boy band who will never show up.

  • In A Brother's Price the villains kidnap a husband in order to invoke this trope. However, it fails, as one of his wives has infiltrated the lower class criminals hired to do the job. So it is more of a "your sister has her husband, and we are trying to get them both."
  • High Lord Kalarus in Codex Alera likes this tactic. When he rebels against Gaius, he kidnaps the High Lady Placida and other loved ones of important nobles in order to insure that they stay neutral in the civil war. He even took Rook's, his own chief spy and assassin, daughter hostage to ensure her cooperation and locked her in the same room as Placida. Placida is a Person of Mass Destruction in her own right so she probably could have escaped on her own, but Kalarus set the security systems to go for the kid first if she tried to escape, since he knew that she would not sacrifice a child for her own freedom.
  • In the book, play and movie The Desperate Hours, three escaped cons take the protagonist's family hostage in their own home.
  • It happens in a quite interesting way in The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, because it's the heroes who kidnap Hermógenes's wife to use her as bait. Eventually, she becomes Diadorim's friend.
  • Doc Savage gives this as the reason why he doesn't form relationships. That hasn't stopped people from speculating that the 1930s hero has other reasons....
    Savage: Ah, there's no room in my life for love, Mona.
    Mona: But why, Doc?
    Savage: There was a girl once. We were to be married. She was kidnapped by the men I had been pursuing—they threatened to kill her if I didn't drop the chase. I gave in. I had to. Later, when she was returned safely to me, I realized there could never be a future for us. I realized if I were to do what I had chosen with my life, there could never be a loved one who could be used against me. Or harmed because of me. Do you understand?
  • This is why Wellington Yueh betrays the Atreides in Dune, with a twist: the Harkonnens have Yueh's wife Wanna, and they are torturing her. Constantly. Yueh's deal with the Baron is that the Baron will kill Wanna, putting an end to her miserable existence. This is why Yueh also sacrifices his life to assassinate the Baron; the plan fails, but it's kind of sweet.
  • In The Fangs of K'aath 2: Guardians of Light, the villain Tzu-Khan has the good Shah Raschid's wives kidnapped. With them in his clutches, he makes contact to the Raschid through a magic mirror about how he intends to have them horrifically tortured and yet unable to die unless the Shah surrenders. However, the heroic wives break free just long enough to reveal the location of the villain's army and instruct their husband both to break his mirror to cut off contact for more threats, and "Kill the bastards!" Well aware of what his wives are sacrificing sending that message, Raschid wastes no time to honour those demands. Fortunately, a combination of cunning and The Power of Friendship allows the wives to not only individually escape, but to join the fight against the villain.
  • A Greg Egan short story changes this to I Stole A Copy Of Your Wife's Brain Upload.
  • In The Guardians, demons are fond of this tactic to coerce humans into a Deal with the Devil. Deacon betrays his friends and gets several of them killed trying to ensure his lovers' safety. It was all in vain.
  • Harry Potter:
  • The premise of Dean Koontz's novel The Husband. "We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash."
  • In Night Over Water by Ken Follett, Eddie the mechanic must help hijack the airship because the bad guys are holding his pregnant wife hostage.
  • In The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chauvelin gets Marguerite to help him because he has taken her brother, Armand.
    • In one of the sequels, Eldorado, Armand betrays the Pimpernel to Chauvelin in exchange for the freedom of Armand's lover, Jeanne L'Ange, who had been arrested for helping him elude capture; ironically, the Pimpernel has already freed Jeanne from prison.
  • Shadow of the Conqueror:
    • This was a favorite tactic of Dayless the Conqueror, who routinely threatened the family and loved ones of his enemies to keep them in line, and was more than willing to follow through if they rebelled against him.
    • Captain Blackheart is a master blackmailer as well, creating sunucles that he can use to kill the people they're linked to at any time. He holds Sain captive this way by threatening his mother.
  • The third Soldiers of Barrabas (a Heroes "R" Us series by Gold Eagle) novel had enemies of Nile Barrabas from his Vietnam days kidnapping his girlfriend and saying "You've got 48 hours before we kill her. Come and get her." The Big Bad thinks his jungle fortress surrounded by booby traps and ambushes will take care of Barrabas and his men, but they kill an ambush squad and infiltrate up their hidden retreat path, which is free of booby traps. Even so the girlfriend only escapes with her life because The Dragon doesn't execute her as ordered, knowing Barrabas would spend the rest of his life hunting him down.
  • In the third book of the Spaceforce series, the Big Bad Minty Mazata taunts Jay with this when she is arrested. It works - he storms off to save her.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat's wife was once held hostage by the tax office to get him to pay his arrears. She went quietly so as to give him time to think of something. Normal thugs are not advised to attempt this. Really.
    • Happens all the time actually, though it's not always shown how. There's usually a mention later of a number of mooks being bumped off in the process by Jim's armed and psychopathic wife.
  • The Strain: The Master hides in Eph's apartment to await his return to tell him "I have your pig wife."
  • In the Superman novel The Last Days of Krypton, the villain kidnaps the hero's wife. It's a two-for-one hostage since his wife is pregnant.
  • In the Elenium trilogy by David Eddings, one of Sparhawk's brother knights confesses to trying to murder him repeatedly. He explains that the Big Bad has effectively worked a kind of Demonic Possession on the woman whom the knight loves, and is forcing his cooperation in this way. When the woman figures out what's going on, she kills herself to save him, and the knight does likewise, making the confession on his deathbed.
    • In the sequel trilogy The Tamuli, the new Big Bad sends The Dragon to kidnap Sparhawk's wife. Seeing as 1) Sparhawk has a handful of assorted gods who like him and are willing to help him out, and 2) there's nothing in the world he loves more than his wife, this can only be considered a Very Bad Idea in the long run.
  • In Twilight, James blackmails Bella to sneak away from the Cullens by pretending he has her mother as a hostage: in reality, he just played a recording of her voice over the phone.
  • In Grunts!, Ashnak uses the threat their mother's life to "encourage" Will and Ned Braindiman to steal nullity talismans from the Visible College for him.
  • Gender flipped in Mockingjay where President Snow kidnaps and tortures Katniss's husband as one step in foiling the revolution. It's a pretty interesting example since Katniss and Peeta aren't actually married, Peeta just claimed that they were married and pregnant in the hopes of gaining sympathy and sponsors for Katniss in the Quarter Quell. They are engaged, but that's kind of on the fake side too.
    • What turns it into Fridge Horror is when she realizes that Snow insisting that she convinces him that her feelings for Peeta are genuine had nothing to do with quelling the riots in Panem, as Katniss originally thought, and everything to do with this trope. Being no idiot, Snow knows that Peeta's value to him is in direct proportion to how much Katniss cares about him. Unfortunately for Peeta, Snow figures out that Katniss is in love with him before she herself realizes it.
    • In a way this trope applies to all Hunger Games victors. Unless they stay in line and do whatever Snow asks of them (like prostituting themselves), their families will pay the price. Johanna Mason and Haymitch learned this the hard way.
  • Lieutenant Vulpes forces Mehitabel to spy for the Bastion by threatening her lover Hallam Bellamy with torture in Doctrine of Labyrinths.
  • In The Tombs by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry, this is attempted. It fails miserably. The husband, Sam Fargo, mounts a rescue while his wife Remi plots a daring escape. For good measure, they set fire to the kidnapper's house on the way out.
  • In City of Fallen Angels , Lilith tells Simon that she has his girlfriend. Due to the fact that he had just broken up with Maia and Isabelle, he does nothing, assuming that it's an empty threat, until he discovers that Maureen has been killed due to her crush on him.
  • Very common practice in A Song of Ice and Fire, with both heroes and villains doing this and often for similar reasons. Families often send children off to live with other families as wards or squires, but this requires coercion or a huge amount of trust. Some people get Kicked Upstairs where they can be watched, like Harys Swift, whom Cersei named Hand of the King. Some people are unable or unwilling to negotiate for their loved ones because the terms of release are too demanding (at least to them) or they don't actually care about that person. In other cases, the party holding the hostage has no intention of letting them go regardless. This reflects real life medieval Realpolitik.
    • Danaerys takes children from many powerful families in Meereen, but grows fond of them and refuses to punish them for the crimes of their parents, which her advisors consider to rather defeat the point of the exercise.
  • In Half Bad, Mercury uses Annalise as leverage to get Nathan to do what she wants.
  • After Kasia (The Not-Love Interest) is taken by the Wood and saved from it in Uprooted, Prince Marek orders Agnieszka and Sarkan to go on his fool's errand to save his decades-imprisoned mother from its deepest depths... otherwise he'll have Kasia executed under the law for The Corruption. Then he brings her to the capital with the Empty Shell of a queen to keep up the threat, because proving the Queen is clear will save Kasia's life too.
  • In Relativity, August Moon captures Ravenswood's wife, Melody. Unfortunately for Moon, Melody's a good fighter. He finally manages to subdue her, but he's still in a foul mood about it when Ravenswood shows up to rescue her.
  • In the Temeraire series, I Have Your Captainnote  is standard operating procedure in the West for capturing hostile dragons and keeping them under control as they will do a great deal to keep their human from harm. Of course this is hazardous as killing the captain has rather the opposite effect and being too hamfisted with threats of harm can backfire.
  • The Mistborn trilogy has this, complete with a formal note - though in this case the wife is a badass winner of the Superpower Lottery.
  • Alex Rider: In Eagle Strike, Damian Cray kidnaps Sabina Pleasure to force Alex's cooperation and prevent him from going to MI6 with the flash drive.
  • Near the end of the fifth book in the Age of Fire series, RuGaard is ousted as Tyr in a coup and sent into exile. To ensure that he stays gone, the plotters take his mate Nilrasha hostage, threatening to execute her if he ever enters their territory again.
  • In While The Clock Chimes, two weavers are ordered to prepare the fabric for new invisibility caps, which will be used for provoking a war with the neighboring kingdom. The weavers refuse adamantly – until the king tells them he holds their little sister captive. Then they Take a Third Option and rescue their sister just before she is executed, exposing the king's lying nature to the populace on the way.
  • In the Warrior Cats book A Forest Divided, a rogue named Slash kidnaps Clear Sky's mate Star Flower, saying that the forest cats need to hunt prey for them like the strays that lived there used to.
  • Cradle Series: Jai Long's sister Jai Chen is an Ill Girl who he is completely devoted to, so she gets taken hostage multiple times to force his cooperation. In the middle of his revenge against the Jai clan, Jai Long immediately gives up (under the assumption that he'll be executed) when he discovers that they captured his sister. Lindon also considers threatening her in order to get out of his impossible duel with Jai Long, but Yerin talks him out of it. Later, Lindon instead heals Jai Chen of her disorder. While this doesn't get him out of the duel, it does save his life, as Jai Long refuses to kill the man who saved his sister.
  • In The Mouse Watch, Jarvis says that he and his siblings only worked for R.A.T.S. because the Nebulous Evil Organization was holding their parents hostage. At least, that's what R.A.T.S. told them. In reality, Jarvis' parents had already been killed for refusing to join.
  • The Outside: When Cold-Blooded Torture fails to convince Yasira to kill everyone affected by the Outside on Jai, the angels abduct Yasira's girlfriend Tiv and threaten to hurt her even worse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 managed to carry one off, very successfully, for 8 episodes of season one, as Jack's wife and daughter were kidnapped. Among other things, Jack was forced to shoot his friend Nina (but set it up so she'd survive). Her later revelation as The Mole caused some rather rapid Retcon.
    • 24 also used this trope in season three with Tony's wife Michelle being kidnapped. And then in season four, they reversed it as Tony was kidnapped and Michelle was forced to work with the bad guy.
    • 24 loves this trope so much it was parodied by Derrick Comedy.
  • The 100 has a rare case of the hero doing this: Clarke threatens to kill Cage's father unless he releases the captive Sky People. He doesn't, and she follows through on her threat.
  • Agatha Raisin: In "Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet," the killer abducts Agatha's cat Podge and threatens to kill him if Agatha does not stop her nosing about.
  • In the Season One finale for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cybertek manages to recruit several people to participate in their cyborg program with an "incentive" program, the incentive being, "Do as we say and your wife/husband/kids may survive." Garrett also has Mike Peterson's son hostage, forcing Peterson to serve HYDRA as Deathlok. When Skye reveals to Peterson that his son is safe, Peterson turns on Garrett.
  • Alex Rider: Alex's duplicate attacks Tom, breaking his arm, and threatens to kill him unless Alex comes to him for a showdown. He also plans to kill Ayisha and Jack.
  • In Alias series 2, in order for Sark to give her an antidote to save Vaughn from a deadly illness, Sydney was forced to assassinate (or rather attempt, it turned out to be a ploy for the two to work together) Arvin Sloane. This is a slight variation on the scenario.
  • Happens in Arrow, with Count Vertigo kidnapping Felicity and then calling Oliver from her phone. He then threatens to kill her if he doesn't surrender and allow himself to be killed. Oliver shows up at the required place, but isn't willing to get himself killed, so the Count almost kills Felicity. A very angry Oliver kills him before he can hurt her.
  • Babylon Berlin: Greta is coerced into changing her statement saying it wasn't Nazis who had her assassinate Benda, but Communists, by her infant son being held with the threat of death.
  • Badger: Wilf is abducted in "The Price of a Daughter."
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003) Admiral Adama threatens to have Cally Tyrol put up against a bulkhead and shot, to force Chief Tyrol to end a refinery workers' strike. And this is the good guy to one of his own men.
  • Breakout Kings: In "Queen of Hearts," Lilah Tompkins escapes from prison by claiming to have had an accomplice kidnap a guard's son, and threatening to kill him unless the guard cooperates. She shows the guard a photo of his son on a mobile phone in order to convince him She was bluffing, but the guard had no way of knowing that.
  • After playing it straight multiple times, there is a spot of Lampshade Hanging on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Harmony claims to have the perfect plan to defeat Buffy, but when Spike outlines the above plan as a guess, she steals the idea. It fails miserably.
  • On Burn Notice, this is Brennen's M.O. He does it in every episode he appears in; in his first episode, he actually strapped a bomb to a child to prevent anyone from rescuing him before he'd gotten the MacGuffin he wanted.
    • In another episode, he has a henchman with Michael's brother. They manage to get him to back off by making him believe they have someone ready to kill - his daughter.
  • CSI: A particularly convoluted example is used in "Buzz Kill." A woman's brother is kidnapped and she is forced to deliver a message to the owner of a marijuana dispensary, showing that his wife and children have been kidnapped, and demanding he turn over all the cash in the shop.
  • Happens to Mac when Christine is kidnapped in CSI: NY's "Seth and Apep." It's actually a relief to Mac in one sense - hearing Christine's voice proved that the severed tongue Mac was sent earlier was not Christine's and that she was still okay.
  • Also happens in an episode of CSI: Miami. A man is forced into participating in the robbery of the bank truck he drives, which results in the death of his partner, because his younger sister is being held hostage. As it turns out, his sister is in on it and in fact came up with the plot because she knew this trope would work on her big brother.
  • DCI Banks: In "Bad Boy," Banks' daughter Tracey is kidnapped in an attempt to get him to remove a gun being held in the evidence store.
  • Delete: General Overson is coerced into helping the AI by its threat to kill his daughter, who has a heart implant which it can hack. After he gets it removed, Overson immediately stops helping the AI, which then kills him.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Lucky Numbers," the wife of a lottery winner is kidnapped, with the kidnapper demanding 50,000 pounds.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Tooth and Claw": The werewolf-worshipping monks force Sir Robert MacLeish to go along with their Evil Plan against Queen Victoria by holding his wife Isabel hostage.
    • The series 3 finale:
      • The Master kidnaps Martha's entire family bar her brother. He never actually uses them as leverage against her, however, suggesting he's just doing it to be a dick.
      • Professor Docherty is The Mole for the Master because he's holding her son hostage.
    • In "Time Heist," the Teller is coerced into working for the bank because they have its mate chained up in the private vault.
    • "The Ghost Monument": The scientists who worked in the Abandoned Laboratory the Doctor and company find left a message behind explaining that they were forced to create horrible weapons for their captors because their families were held hostage.
  • The short-lived series Drive used this to force Alex Tully into the race, with the implication that they would release her only if he won.
  • Neatly defied in the Due South episode "The Vault." Ray and Fraser are trapped in a vault with armed robbers outside. The robbers capture Ray's sister Francesca, and call a phone located inside the vault. They inform the heroes that they have Francesca, and Fraser immediately responds by disabling the phone before the robbers have a chance make any demands. Fraser correctly reasons that if the robbers cannot communicate with them, they have no way to threaten them and no reason to harm Francesca.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: A recurring trope, played most often with Boss Hogg and his wife, Lulu. As Lulu was overweight and homely, her being kidnapped averted the usual "damsel in distress" convention of a stark-raving beauty being kidnapped... often because the criminals knew that Boss held Lulu dear to his heart and that they could exploit this to get him to give in to their demands.
  • In Elementary, after Moran helps Holmes take down two of Moriarty's minions, Moriarty sends him a coded message reading "Moran, you never told me you had a sister. She dies or you do. Your choice. M." Moran bashes his own head in.
    • Sherlock's former drug dealer steals a lot of money from some very bad people and they kidnap his daughter to get it back. The man already spent the money so he goes to Sherlock for help.
    • Moriarty kidnaps the child of a Greek businessman and forces him to kill the son of a prominent Macedonian politician. The idea was to cause a major political rift between the two countries and then cash in through a currency manipulation scheme.
    • Some of Moriarty's former henchmen kidnap Moriarty's daughter to force the mother to transfer over valuable property to them. It ends up being a very bad idea and when a pissed off Moriarty catches up to them, one of the kidnappers willingly goes to his death because otherwise Moriarty would go after his family.
    • A group of French mobsters kidnap Joan Watson so that Sherlock and Mycroft obtain valuable information for them.
  • Enemy Within: This was how Tal got Erika working for him. His minions picked up her daughter and he then threatened her life. She's returned unharmed after she gives him the names of her operatives, but he clearly shows it could happen.
  • In the Emerald City episode "Science and Magic", the Wizard forces a local rebel to denounce magic by threatening his pregnant daughter with death.
  • The Flash (2014): For a part of Season 2, Zoom holds Harry's daughter Jesse hostage in order to force Harry to do his bidding and help him steal some of Barry's speed for himself. Eventually, however, Harry's conscience can't take it anymore and he confesses everything to Team Flash, who help him rescue Jesse.
  • Flashpoint doesn't have as many of these as one might expect given that hostage negotiation is a major SRU skill,note  but it does come up a few times.
    • In "Never Kissed A Girl," a wrongfully-convicted man holds Ed and a security guard hostage to demand the evidence that would exonerate him.
    • In both "Remote Control" and "No Promises," the apparent antagonist turns out to be acting under this type of duress.
    • "Grounded" has a group of airline passengers being held hostage by hijackers who want their leader released from prison. The only fatality, apart from the hijackers, is a guy who tried to play Badass Bystander; all the other hostages are rescued alive and mostly unharmed.
    • In "Blue On Blue," Sam's sister Natalie is held hostage to force Spike, who had been casually dating her, to help them break into a secure building. Luckily, they underestimate Spike's ability to engineer a rescue despite the circumstances.
    • This appears to be the issue at stake (and is to some degree) in "The Cost Of Doing Business," but it turns out to be more complicated than that. The hostage taker was also a victim of this.
  • Father Brown: In "The Jackdaw's Revenge," the murderer kidnaps Bunty and threatens to kill her if Father Brown does not resign from the priesthood.
  • Firefly: "Objects in Space." The bounty hunter Jubal Early tries to force Simon at gun point to either reveal where River is or help him capture her. Simon would rather die than betray his sister, so Jubal points out that Simon's smart enough to play along with a view to taking advantage of any slip-up Jubal might make. Simon remains unimpressed so he then reveals that he has captured Kaylee (Simon's Unresolved Sexual Tension Love Interest) and will rape her to death if Simon doesn't comply. At this point, Simon takes the "seeking advantage" option.
  • A French Village: Müller regularly detains people's relatives, then uses threats against them so they'll talk.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Theon is kept as a ward/hostage at Winterfell for a decade to prevent his father Balon from rebelling against the Iron Throne again. This is a completely acceptable part of Westerosi society.
    • After Ned's execution and Arya's escape, Sansa is essentially used as leverage by the Lannisters against Robb, and is physically and emotionally abused by Joffrey for her brother's victories. Meanwhile, Jaime has been captured by the Starks, who plan to use him as a hostage against Cersei. However, Sansa and Jaime counteract each other's value for this trope. Neither side will truly harm their prisoner for fear of the consequences to their loved one. In the books, this is also the reason why The Mad King kept Jaime in the capitol during Robert's Rebellion, even though all the other White Swords were sent out to fight — Ser Barristan Selmy, Ser Jonothor Darry, and Prince Lewyn Martell of Dorne to the ruby ford, where the latter two died alongside Rhaegar Targaryen; and Ser Oswell Whent, Ser Arthur Dayne, called "Sword of the Morning," and Lord Commander Gerold Hightower, the White Bull himself, to the Tower of Joy in Dorne, where Eddard Stark and his companions slew them whilst trying to rescue Lyanna. Aerys's plans were very straightforward: if House Lannister were to raise its banners in rebellion, Aerys could easily have Jaime killed. The Mad King had already made this threat to Prince Doran Martell — "I have your brother in the Kingsguard AND your sister as my daughter-in-law" — which is why Dorne fought for House Targaryen.
    • Cersei takes Ros (mistaking her for his mistress) as hostage in "The Prince of Winterfell" to mollify her fears that Tyrion is plotting a Uriah Gambit for Joffrey in the coming battle.
    • Averted with Martyn and Willem Lannister, because they are rather worthless hostages when compared to Sansa.
    • Rhaegar Targaryen's kidnapping of Robert Baratheon's betrothed, Lyanna Stark, is (probably in combination with his father's penchant for burning his vassals) what started Robert's Rebellion. He hid her in a tower in Dorne and appointed a retinue of Kingsguard knights to guard the tower and prevent anyone from entering. In reality, Lyanna fled to Dorne with Rhaegar willingly to get away from Robert, whom she never loved in the first place. Robert, meanwhile, was utterly oblivious to the fact that Lyanna preferred Rhaegar, going so far as to marry him and bear his child. When Rhaegar left to face Robert on the Trident, the Kingsguard were ordered to the Tower of Joy to protect Princess Lyanna Stark and their newborn son, the infant Aegon Targaryen (later Jon Snow). So it wasn't really a case of I Have Your Wife, but more like a secretive I Have My Wife, Please Leave Us Alone, Thank You.
  • Practically a weekly event on the Highlander TV show. Evil immortals really like to lure Mac in with this one.
  • In an episode of Hogan's Heroes, a French scientist is brought to the prison camp to conduct research to develop a weapon for the German war effort. Lebeau, a representative of the French Resistance, is assigned to help the scientists. When they are together, Lebeau chastises the scientist for helping the Nazis, but the scientists confesses that he hates the idea of helping their nation's conquerors, and outright refused the first time they asked, but prior to being brought to the prison camp, Gestapo agents arrested his daughter and told him he will conduct research for the Nazi war machine or else.
  • InSecurity: The Dutch kidnap Burt's parents and force him to steal N.I.S.A. technology to ensure their safety.
  • In Kamen Rider Double, this was done in the Accel movie. Akiko is kidnapped by the Commander Dopant, who believes that killing her will cause Ryu to become consumed by vengeance and "cleanse" the city of evil. The plan fails due to Ryu being changed by Akiko's love, and he instead takes down Commander Dopant as Kamen Rider Accel.
  • At the end of the miniseries The Kill Point, Worthy Opponent Mr. Wolf takes negotiator Horst Cali's wife hostage to force him to slip Wolf and his team out of the police standoff. To his credit, Wolf doesn't seem happy to do it and, when one of his men decides not to let her go, he gives Cali a gun and covering fire to go to her rescue.
  • Leverage: In "The Bank Shot Job," Nate and Sophie are caught in the middle of the bank robbery being staged by a military vet. He is doing so because meth dealers have kidnapped his wife and are threatening to kill her if he doesn't pay his son's debts.
  • In Lost one of Widmore's psycho's for hire Keamy tries to get Ben by holding his daughter at gunpoint. Ben then tries to double bluff Keamy by pulling a Break His Heart to Save Him bluff, claiming she means nothing to him and is therefore a pointless hostage to try to get to him... It doesn't work
    • Also in the episode "The Hunting Party," after Jack tells Kate to stay behind while he, Sawyer and Locke search for Michael, she follows them and gets captured by the Others. Jack was not too happy.
  • In the MacGyver (1985) episode "Hearts of Steel," disgruntled steel mill workers attempt to kidnap the daughter of the industrialist who put them out of work, but end up abducting his housekeeper's daughter instead.
  • Madam Secretary: Russian Foreign Minister Anton Gorev and the McCords make this a Defied Trope in season 2. When Russian President Ostrov dies in "The Doability Doctrine," Gorev tells them to look after his daughter Olga, who was one of Henry's students at Georgetown. In "The Long Shot," Maria Ostrova tries to have her abducted by Russian Intelligence as leverage during her power grab, but Henry, having been warned by his mole Captain Petrov, gets there first.
  • Spoofed in a MADtv skit where the bad guys keep doing this to the hero, ending with "I have your goldfish!"
  • The Magician: In "The Vanishing Lady," a singer is kidnapped and a million dollar ransom demanded from her agent/boyfriend.
  • ''Midsomer Murders: In "Faithful Unto Death," the wife of a local businessman is kidnapped. Her husband is sent photographs of her bound to a chair and looking bruised and battered along with ransom demands (and the usual exhortation not to contact the police). The wife is actually the mastermind of the scheme, and is using it to extract cash from her husband before he is murdered.
  • Mission: Impossible: A recurring aspect of many episodes, where the villain uses a loved one to coerce a victim into doing his bidding.
    • In "The Wall," the villain kidnaps the daughter of a key negotiator in order to sabotage a set of diplomatic talks.
    • In "The Bunker," a missile scientist works for an enemy state because they have captured his wife.
  • NCIS does this in "See No Evil," until it turns out the officer pulled it on himself to get $2m from the Pentagon.
    • Also, the Mexican drug cartel's have Gibbs' heterosexual life partner, Franks.
  • This trope is the reason why the human rights commission agent in NCIS: Los Angeles uncharacteristically attempted to kill the defected sister of the Sudanese dictator in transit before she could testify against her brother: A French CEO kidnapped his wife and daughter, and he threatened to have them killed if he didn't assassinate her.
  • The New Avengers: In "Hostage," a gang of villains abduct Purdey and hold her hostage to ensure Steed's compliance.
  • Noughts & Crosses: The Liberation Militia kidnap Sephy in the season one finale, and coerce Kamal then into resigning as Prime Minister using threats to her.
  • This happens at least once per season in NUMB3RS. The FBI usually intervenes before anyone can be seriously hurt.
    • "Prime Suspect": A mathematician's daughter is kidnapped because the kidnappers want him to give them a formula to break internet encryption.
    • "Better Or Worse": A jewelry store owner's wife and daughter are kidnapped to use as collateral in a robbery. Subverted when it turns out the owner arranged the kidnap and robbery to cover a gambling debt.
    • "Rampage" has a variation: the bad guy forces another guy to attack the FBI by threatening his family, but rather than kidnap them outright (which might draw attention), he uses photos and other information to show the guy how easy it would be to find them and hurt them. The same guy appears to be pulling a straight version of this when he kidnaps another family, but it turns out it's a trap.
    • "Backscatter": Two bank employees are kidnapped to force their Team Dad boss to give a crime syndicate access to the bank to carry out a scheme.
    • "Spree": Crystal Hoyle takes the cake on this one; she kidnaps a federal agent to extort the FBI. It does turn out there was a little more to it than that; in addition to a hostage, she also swiped the agent's credentials to look up some classified information.
    • "One Hour": A child is kidnapped to extort a ransom from his multi-millionaire father.
    • "Tabu" appears to be another case of a rich parent's child kidnapped for ransom, but it turns out the "victim" was actually the mastermind.
    • "End Game": A disgraced former Marine captain wants information from one of his subordinates, so he kidnaps the man's father and sister to force him to give it up.
    • "Jacked" has the stranger-as-hostage variation. It turns out to be mostly illusion.
    • The bad guy in "Shadow Markets" threatens his rival's elderly aunt to force the rival to meet him so he can take his revenge.
  • The Outpost: Naya spies on Gwynn for the Prime Order because they had threatened to kill her mother and sister, who were living in the Capitol.
  • Person of Interest
    • A surgeon's spouse who's working in a public area is covered by a sniper to force the surgeon to 'accidentally' kill a high-profile patient while he's on the operating table. What makes this invocation so noteworthy is that it is one of the first examples (possibly the first on network television) of this trope being used on a same-sex couple.
    • Also, Finch faked his death to his fiancee, Grace, specifically so she wouldn't be endangered by this trope. It turns out not to matter for Root, who cheerfully informs him that Grace thinks she's a children's book author, and he can either help her with her scheme or... she can go get coffee with Grace.
    • Used against Elias, of all people, by Dominic. In chasing him down, Dominic's gang manage to shoot and capture Scarface. The rest of the episode is a conflict between Reese, who is trying to get Elias out alive because he is a more palatable candidate than Dominic for leader of New York's organised crime, and Elias, who is willing to turn himself over to Dominic for the chance they'll let Scarface go free.
    • In "Sotto Voce," a locksmith's wife is kidnapped so that he will assist in a crime. Subverted when the 'locksmith' turns out to be the Villain of the Week — the wife is just an actress he's hired to fool our heroes.
    • Finch, of all people, does this having crossed his own Moral Event Horizon in Season 5. He forces a soldier to let him escape by using information gathered by the Machine. The soldier's daughter is waiting for a heart transplant and a compatible donor has just died... or the Machine can put her at the back of the queue and she'll die in a few weeks.
  • The Plot Against America: Evelyn claims Lindbergh only enacted antisemitic policies and keeping America neutral because his son was really kidnapped by the Nazis rather than killed, and used to coerce him into doing so. Like in the book, it's left unknown if that's true or simply an excuse she cooked up herself.
  • In the finale of Power Rangers S.P.D., Emperor Gruumm reveals that he has Doggie Kruger's long-thought-dead wife Isinnia in his possession (although the trope itself technically doesn't apply as Grumm never revealed Isinnia's presence until the very end of the series, at which point Kruger is in no position to do anything for Grumm even if he believed Grumm would let him go afterwards)..
  • In the third season of Prison Break, the Company blackmails the brothers into working for them by kidnapping the remaining people they care about. When the seemingly impossible task set by the villains forces the brothers to make a desperate attempt at a rescue, one of the captives is executed as an object lesson.
  • Pure: The cartel leader coerces Anna into running operations for him in Canada, holding Isaak prisoner to insure she'll obey.
  • Done by the villain in the Rizzoli & Isles episode "My Own Worst Enemy" is order to ensure the cooperation of an importer.
  • In RoboCop: The Series, a villain kidnaps Robo's wife from his old life, i.e. Mrs. Alex Murphy. The item he is to steal is a ray gun that causes heart attacks, called the Heartbreaker. Initially, his built-in Restraining Bolt stops him, using Obstructive Code of Conduct three, "uphold the law." As soon as Robo pictures his wife in danger, directive two — "protect the innocent" — overrides this.
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators: In "This Promised End," Mr. R and Mr. G uses threats against Peter Quintus' wife to prevent him from going to the police. It is actually an elaborate scheme engineered by the wife.
  • This is subverted in an episode of Sharpe, when a villainous Frenchman tells his more noble countryman he won't plead for the release of his English wife. Sharpe promptly walks over and helps the English wife mount a horse behind her husband.
  • Sherlock:
    • An inversion in "The Great Game," Moriarty strapped bombs to people Sherlock had never met and gave him a time limit to solve several mysterious crimes. Sherlock was mostly dispassionate towards the hostages and only cooperated because he found the mysteries amusing. When the final victim was John Watson, however, Sherlock no longer found the game fun and attempted to appease Moriarty with valuable government information. This turned out not to be Moriarty's object after all!
    • In the final episode of series two, John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade are all threatened, but especially John. Sherlock has to fake his death for all of them.
    • And John gets captured and thrown in a bonfire in Season 3 episode 1.
    • And both Mary and John are being screwed with by Magnussen.
  • In the first season finale of Los Simuladores, their leader Santos is kidnapped in exchange for helping a mob boss being set free.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand plays with this. Sura isn't exactly kidnapped, she's captured and sold as a slave, but Batiatus promises Spartacus to search for her, buy her and reunite them in exchange for Spartacus behaving well. When Spartacus, after some minor hiccups, behaves and is victorious in the arena, Batiatus is true to his word, buys Sura and brings her to the ludus. Then he orders her killed right before they reunite, so she dies in Spartacus' arms.
  • Done to Miles O'Brien on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The twist: the villain was actually a Pah Wraith (a noncorporeal being) possessing his wife, and could kill her instantaneously. The only solution was to figure out a way to kill the Wraith even more instantaneously, without letting it catch on to the plan.
  • Seems to happen a few times in Supernatural, though it's more like "I have your brother." This is discussed a few times, with others saying that Sam and Dean are each others' Achilles' Heel, since they would do almost anything to save each other.
  • Teen Wolf has the villain going for Scott's best friend Stiles instead of his girlfriend, when Gerard takes Stiles because he knows that's the best way to hurt Scott. Playing with the trope, Gerard doesn't give Scott a chance to bargain for Stiles's safety or the opportunity to rescue him, just beats Stiles within an inch of his life and then releases him as a warning for Scott to back down before he hurts him again.
    Gerard: You have a knack for creating a vivid picture, Mr. Stilinski. Let me paint one of my own. Scott Mc Call finds his best friend bloodied and beaten to a pulp. How does that sound now?
  • Tehran: Faraz frequently threatens people's relatives who he has in custody or can get to for cooperation from them. Later he suffers this himself when his wife is kidnapped by Mossad, and then inflicts it on Tamar to get her back by kidnapping her father.
  • Gwen's mother, husband and daughter are held hostage by Olivia Colasanto in Torchwood: Miracle Day to blackmail Gwen into kidnapping Jack for her.
  • This is a favourite tactic of The Network in Utopia for blackmailing people by reminding them they can get to their loved ones at any time. "Jen's great, really great. It'd be such a shame to see her raped."
  • Vikings: Erlendur tries to coerce Torvi into killing Bjorn by threatening her son, who is in the custody of his people. She kills Erlendur instead though.
  • White Collar: In the cliffhanger ending of the third series mid season finale, Keller has kidnapped Peter's wife, El.
    • Keller likes this one; in "Payback" he kidnaps Peter to force money out of Neal.
  • Toyed with on The Wire: Brother Mouzone kidnapped and tortured Omar's boyfriend Dante for information, and then held him hostage, agreeing to release him to Omar on the condition that Omar work with him to take out Stringer Bell. Omar and Dante were on the outs anyway, Omar was unimpressed by the fact that Dante had given up information on him, and Omar had been looking for a chance ever since Stringer had his previous boyfriend tortured and killed two years prior; Dante is released to Omar, but they then part ways.
  • The X-Files:
    • Mulder makes it very clear very early on in the series that the only way to hurt him is to hurt Scully, and that he'll go to great lengths to get her back. So, Scully falls victim to this quite a lot. But as the bad guys quickly figure out, this never has the desired effect. If anything, it makes Mulder even more resistant to dealing with them and he gets her back in his own way, plus the Roaring Rampage of Revenge that goes along with this. This trope makes up about half of the 1998 movie Fight the Future.
    • It works the other way around, too. And if anything, Scully is even more frightening when Mulder is taken. In season 8, Mulder is missing and she unleashes hell on whoever gets in her way. Never mind that she's pregnant. It takes Skinner pointing out that Mulder wouldn't want her to risk her life and the baby's to get her to even take a breath.
  • Zero Zero Zero: Stefano tries to stage a coup against his grandfather Don Minu, leader of their 'Ndrangheta clan, but when push comes to shove, he secretly spares his grandfather. When Stefano's men learn of Stefano's conflicted loyalties, they kidnap his wife and daughter to force him to kill Don Minu.

  • Nomeansno's song "Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie" has the narrator inform the listener that they've kidnapped his wife, son, and daughter and demanding money in exchange for their safety... before revealing that they don't actually want anything from him and are coming for him too out of pure hatred.

  • In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the villain pulls this on Tom with his girlfriend Becky in order to get him close enough to stab him.
  • In Margin for Error, the Consul keeps his unhappy wife Sophie from running out on him by reminding her that he's protecting the life of her Czech father in Prague.
  • In Oedipus at Colonus, Creon, knowing Oedipus is necessary for victory, forcefully abducts Oedipus' daughters (on whom he is completely dependent) to get him to come. Fortunately, Theseus intervenes.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, when the Usean Satellite Network is destroyed in a simultaneous A-Sat strike by Osea and Erusea, the Erusean Radicals order Dr. Schroeder to take Ionela and Alma with him to the Lighthouse, to ensure that their grandfather, Mihaly, continues to cooperate with them.
  • The plot of Art of Fighting has Takuma Sakazaki forced to become Geese Howard's enforcer as the latter has Takuma's daughter Yuri held hostage. The SNES port slightly alters it: Takuma's gambling debts lead him to work for Geese, and Yuri's kidnapping was performed to make him assassinate Jeff Bogard.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Baron de Valois captures Bartolomeo's wife and tries to make him surrender.
    • Also in Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ahmet kidnaps and threatens to kill Sofia Sarto in order for Ezio to deliver the Masyaf Keys. Ezio gives in, and Ahmet releases a girl that's dressed like Sofia, but ends up being a doppleganger. Ezio eventually finds and reaches Sofia moments before she is killed by hanging.
  • Subverted in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn: Bodhi will warn you against continuing to oppose her lest you lose everything dear to you, and kidnap your love interest character, if any — but will offer no deal not to hurt them if you yield, presumably because she knows you have no choice but to follow her anyway and because she likes to be sadistic.
  • In BlazBlue, this eventually happens to Litchi Faye-Ling when Relius Clover took hostage of her boyfriend-turned-freaky... thing Arakune and told her to join NOL, or she'll never get the cure which NOL has, or even see him alive again. This plays up Litchi's Love Martyr qualities and by the end of the series, she pulls a Face–Heel Turn and hampers Ragna's quest to destroy NOL. It's not known how she'll end up since her Face–Heel Turn shows at the Cliffhanger ending.
  • Averted in The Caligula Effect, when Mirei thought that holding Kotono's boyfriend hostage would make her admit defeat. Unfortunately, Kotono absolutely despises her actually-ex-boyfriend and basically tells her to go ahead and drown him in a giant fish tank as planned.
  • In Clash at Demonhead, Bang is told that his girlfriend has been kidnapped and instructed to meet one of the bad guys at a specific location. It's a lie; she was never kidnapped.
  • Def Jam: Fight for NY has this happen to the Player Character's girlfriend, with the villainous Crow threatening her unless he wins back the territory he took for D-Mob. Sadly, the protagonist's girlfriend dies.
  • The plot of the original Double Dragon is about Billy and Jimmy being forced to fight their way into the Black Warriors' turf to save Billy's girlfriend Marian.
  • Dragon Age uses this a few times.
    • In Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, a nobleman begs the Warden-Commander for assistance because a group of thugs have kidnapped his daughter and are holding her for ransom.
      • Also in Awakening, you can actually use the trope yourself when deciding how to handle a group of disgruntled nobles. One of the available options for the scenario is to "invite" a member of each of the nobles' families to be a "guest" at Vigil's Keep, holding them hostage in a Gilded Cage in exchange for the good behavior of the nobles.
    • During Act 3 of Dragon Age II, a rebel mage group kidnaps one of your party members. Hawke's sibling is the first choice; if both of the twins are dead, they instead kidnap Hawke's love interest. If Hawke hasn't romanced anyone (or is a female romancing Sebastian, since he's DLC exclusive), they'll go for the companion with whom Hawke has the strongest friendship. In this case they're not so much trying to demand that Hawke cooperate, but rather are using the captive as leverage to keep Hawke from coming after them. They have apparently forgotten that Hawke is the Champion of Kirkwall for a reason.
      • Hawke's father Malcolm was in a similar situation years earlier, as revealed in the Legacy DLC. Larius threatened his pregnant wife to force him to seal Corypheus with Blood Magic.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, an Avvar warrior called the Hand of Korth captures several Inquisition agents and keeps them as hostages in order to force the player character to come and fight him. As one character explains it, he wants to be able to brag that he killed the Herald of Andraste.
  • Dragon Quest I: The Dragonlord kidnaps Princess Gwaelin to force King Lorik to surrender.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The Dunmeri Great House Telvanni is practically a breeding ground for Evil Sorcerers and Mad Scientists thanks to its rather lax rules. Telvanni Mage-Lords have been known to kidnap the wives, daughters, and other family members of their rivals in order to influence them. In Morrowind, two quests involve you rescuing these family members from their Telvanni captors.
    • In Skyrim's Hearthfire DLC, the Dragonborn may come home from a hard day's adventuring to find a ransom note from a thug called Rochelle the Red, who has taken the hero's beloved wife/husband captive. If the Dawnguard DLC is also installed, the spouse may be abducted by vampires; the vampires may also abduct one of their in-game friends instead. As the kidnappers quickly learn, it's not a good idea to antagonize the Dovahkiin in such a personal manner.
      • This can lead to some Fridge Logic with some of the available spouses; While the vampires might make sense, it stretches credulity that a petty thug like Rochelle was able to kidnap, say, Aela the Huntress, an Action Girl with years of adventuring experience who also happens to be a werewolf.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Cecil's Love Interest, Rosa, is abducted in Final Fantasy IV as soon as Golbez sees she's important to him. He doesn't actually give marching orders until a while later, but they're to bring him one of the world's Power Crystals. Cecil complies without hesitation; Golbez goes I Lied with equal lack of hesitation, but they manage to get her back anyway.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Cait Sith holds Barret's adopted daughter Marlene hostage in order to force the party to continue working with him as they head to the Temple of the Ancients, at least, sort of. He ends up working with the party, and protects Marlene when Midgar is in danger on Discs 2 and 3.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, Kuja pulled this off, holding the entire party hostage in order to get Zidane and the party members of Zidane's choice to go fetch the Gulug Stone from Oeilvert. (This was immediately followed up by him kidnapping Eiko, though in this case, it was for his own purposes, not because he wanted something from the party.)
    • Double Subverted in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Bhunivelze holds Serah's (Lightning's sister) soul hostage so that Lightning will follow his orders to prepare humanity for the end of the world and become the new Goddess of Death. Lightning eventually discovers that he doesn't have Serah at all and decides to kill him for lying to her; however, it's later revealed that Bhunivelze does have Hope's soul, which forces Lightning to continue doing God's bidding. At least until she can kill him and save Hope.
  • In the Attract Mode for Final Fight, Damnd (the Round 1 boss) calls Haggar and tells him to turn on the TV. It reveals his daughter Jessica with her hands tied behind her back.
    Haggar: What have you done to her?!
    Damnd: Nothing yet. But we'd enjoy the opportunity.
  • Used against Abel in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. The Archanea soldiers occupying Altea kidnap Est, forcing him to fight against Marth's army, although he can be persuaded to rejoin again after speaking to either Marth or Est.
    • In Genealogy of the Holy War, Travant kidnaps Hannibal's adoptive son Corple to force him to fight. Path of Radiance does the We Have Your Younger Siblings, Radiant Dawn is I Have Your Milk-Sister, and Awakening does this twice with Maribelle and later Emmeryn - both ploys by Gangrel in an attempt to get the Fire Emblem all for himself.
  • In The Force Unleashed 2, Darth Vader tries to force Starkiller to work for him again by kidnapping Juno Eclipse, the woman he loves.
    Vader: Find and kill General Kota. If you refuse, the woman dies. You will return to me and give yourself to The Dark Side. If you resist, she dies. And when your training is complete, you will hunt down and execute the rebel leaders. If you FAIL, SHE DIES!
  • The motivation for the protagonist in The Getaway. Hilariously parodied by the Unskippable crew:
    Charlie Jolson: I ring you, you do the job. You don't do what I tell you, the kid dies. You don't do it where I tell you, the kid dies. You don't do it when I tell you, the kid dies! Are you getting my drift? Now you want to see your kid again, you do exactly what I say. You talk to anyone, you're late, or you let me down, your kid dies! Do I make myself clear?
    Paul Saunders (as Mark): But what if I go skydiving?
    Graham Stark (as Charlie): Your kid dies!
    Paul: What if I forget to bathe?
    Graham: Your kid dies!
    Paul: But what if I kill my kid?
    Graham: Your ki—touché.
  • Happens in Grand Theft Auto V when Trevor kidnaps cartel boss Martin Madrazo's wife Patricia, partly as retaliation for not being paid for a job he did, and partly because he had a thing for Patricia the moment he laid eyes on her. In the end, the whole thing's Played for Laughs.
  • Spoofed in GTA: Vice City, as demonstrated by the page quote.
  • The whole point of the video game Kane and Lynch: Dead Men. Kane is forced into finding his mercenary friends' lost fortune when they take his wife and daughter hostage.
    • In this case, though, the wife gets killed, which starts the above-mentioned Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and depending on the ending, the daughter either hates Kane forever or is killed while trying to escape. The latter is the good ending.
  • This happens twice to Kairi in Kingdom Hearts II. She gets kidnapped by Axel, and then Saix kidnaps her while she's already kidnapped.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Maleficent pulls this on King Mickey, kidnapping Queen Minnie in order to try to get him to hand over the datascape. Her plans are thwarted by the timely intervention of Lea.
  • The reason for the actions of Dr. Cossack in Mega Man 4, as Dr. Wily has his daughter hostage.
  • Metal Gear really loves using this trope:
    • In the original Metal Gear 1, Ellen Madnar was held hostage by Outer Heaven so her father would cooperate in developing Metal Gear.
    • In Metal Gear Solid, the Pentagon arranges for Meryl Silverburgh to be captured by the Sons of Big Boss by deliberately sending her to Shadow Moses with full knowledge that she's being sent the same day they'll revolt. They do this in order to force Roy Campbell (whom the series eventually reveals is her father) to not only cooperate in halting the revolt, but also in keeping secrets from Solid Snake (such as Metal Gear REX's development and Snake being used as a vector for a bioweapon virus known as FOXDIE). In the in-game novel on the events in the sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, it's also revealed that not only were the Patriots behind the Pentagon's decision in regards to Meryl being sent, but also heavily implied that they would have had both Meryl and Roy Campbell killed if Campbell had even attempted to expose the secrets to Snake.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 has two instances of this in the game (three, counting the aforementioned in-game novel), and the Patriots are responsible for all. The first is with Olga Gurlukovich: The Patriots kidnap her child immediately after birth, and threaten to kill her child should Olga either disobey their orders or fail her mission (in this case, if Raiden ends up killed). The second time is to Raiden himself: Not only does he have to save Olga's child after she dies in an act of sacrifice, but must continue to live for Rosemary and his own unborn child, as they are holding her hostage, and she's pregnant, and it is implied that even after Raiden succeeds in the exercise, they are still holding them hostage.
    • Something similar is revealed to be the reason why The Sorrow and The Boss fought to the death in Dolinovodno: They had to fight due to The Boss's failure and her unauthorized usage of the Philosopher's spy network; otherwise, the Patriots would have murdered Ocelot - who is the son of The Sorrow and The Boss.
  • Used in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, where the Big Bad kidnaps Layton's adopted daughter in order to make absolutely sure that Layton will pursue him. The irony is that Layton, being Layton, would have gone after him anyway — all this trick did was make him mad.
  • The freeware RPG Game Quintessence - The Blighted Venom: Lunair kidnapped Reivier's wife Serai to Aeria under orders of the Duke, but after finding out that her own family betrayed her, struck a deal with Reivier that she would bring Serai back if he gets her the cure to the Quintessence's aftermath.
  • The plot of Red Dead Redemption is kicked off by the hero's wife (and child) being held hostage by a Knight Templar.
  • In the first Resident Evil game, Wesker blackmails Barry to do his bidding by using the latter's family as leverage - if Barry doesn't do what Wesker says, his family will die.
  • Sophitia Alexandra in SoulCalibur 4 is a sacred woman, a loving mother, and a holy fighter. Then her children get infected with the evil sword Soul Edge, and it tells her to destroy all its enemies, or else her kids will die. Sophitia's Mama Bear qualities drive her to betray everything for which she stands in order to save her children. She gets better... thanks to Algol suddenly growing sympathy for her and helping her destroy Soul Edge.
  • In The Space Bar, the police detective main character's partner is kidnapped and held hostage by the criminal they're chasing, and the Big Bad regularly calls the main character's PDA to taunt him with his partner's potential fate. Since the two seem to be good friends as well as work partners, it ends up being a rather significant motivation.
  • In Super Robot Wars BX, the SMS are forced to work for Marder because he held the Macross Quarter crew captive.
  • In Tales of Destiny, the reason why Leon Magnus betrays Stahn is because his Brainwashed and Crazy father Hugo Gilchrist took hostage of Leon's favorite maid/mother figure Marian; forcing him to fight Stahn off and the surrounding circumstances ended up killed him.
  • Eddy Gordo in Tekken is mostly a normal guy, who does love his mentor. In 5. mentor goes out of jail, but is sickly. He fought in the 5th tournament to get the cure, failed to win. Then, Jin Kazama, after apparently having a Face–Heel Turn as the new boss of Mishima Zaibatsu, moved his mentor to his hospital and offered Eddy the cure if he works for him in the upcoming war with the world. Eddy reluctantly accepted, but in the end, he found out that Jin was lying and his mentor is dead. Even though Jin turns out to be executing The Plan for a greater good, that's the last straw for Eddy and he quits the Zaibatsu.
  • Inverted in Wing Commander II, the traitor attempts to hold Spirit's fiancée for ransom. It doesn't quite work.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All did this in the last case, only with the hero's beloved assistant Maya rather than his significant other.
    • In the last case of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2, Blaise Debeste has his henchmen kidnap Judge Courtney's son to have her declare Patricia Roland "Not Guilty." However, his henchmen were morons who mistakenly kidnapped Sebastian, Blaise's son, instead of John. Then the Big Bad comes along and kidnaps John anyway so that Edgeworth would investigate the missing evidence for Roland's trial, which Blaise disposed of.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: Bobby Fulbright claims that his family being held hostage is what made him work for the phantom, the Big Bad of the game as a whole in order to throw off accusations of being him. But it turns out to be Blatant Lies, as when asked to specify who got taken hostage he utterly messes up his planned reactions and audibly starts deciding which answer would get the most pity.
    • In the last case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Maya gets kidnapped again to have Phoenix ensure that Paul Atishon can claim the Founder's Orb. This leads to him getting in a civil case against Apollo over a dispute for the Orb. Apollo gets Phoenix out of working for an obviously criminal client by proving that the kidnapper needs Maya alive and cooperative, and thus wouldn't hurt a single hair on her head.
  • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, every chapter, Monokuma provides the students with an artificial "motive" to entice them to kill one another. I Have Your Wife, or at least a variation of it, plays out as the "motive" of chapter 1: Monokuma shows each student videos of something horrible happening to either their friends or loved ones (Makoto Naegi's family, Sayaka Maizono's idol group, Mondo Oowada's gang, etc.). Monokuma teases the students with the possibility that the situations on the videos might be real, so wouldn't it be a good idea for a student to commit murder, "graduate" from the school, and thus be able to go find out? The student who finally takes Monokuma up on that is Sayaka, but it doesn't work because when she tries to kill Leon, Leon successfully defends himself, and then kills her.
    • And he later uses it again while holding Sakura Oogami's beloved dojo hostage and forcing her to be The Mole. She only gets out of the deal via killing herself.
  • Poor Grace in Havenfall Is for Lovers ends up used as a hostage against the player character and her Love Interest as often as not.
    • In Diego's season two, Antonio threatens Grace in order to compel the protagonist to cooperate with his "game" against Diego.
    • In Razi's route Grace seems to have initially been just a victim of opportunity, but as soon as Jonas realizes that the protagonist is Razi's weakness, he's more than willing to use Grace as leverage against both of them.
  • Midway through Heart of the Woods, Morgan encounters her mother Evelyn by chance, and Evelyn insists that Morgan come with her. When Morgan refuses, Evelyn proposes that she could have Morgan's new friend Tara take her place. Morgan immediately understands that Evelyn is threatening Tara and reluctantly complies.
  • In some of Ikemen Sengoku's routes, the female main character gets kidnapped by Nobunaga Oda's enemies because they know that she's become The Heart of the Oda forces and want to either bait the Oda forces into waging war against them for her or torture and kill her in front of her love interest to break his spirit.


    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Ferron forces Refan to work for him by threatening to kill Refan's son Gabriel if Refan refuses. Arawn kidnaps Kagetsu's wife Marya, forcing Kagetsu to work for him and preventing him from joining the Alliance.
    Kagetsu I: Release her.
    Arawn: Oh, I think not, my dear friend Kagetsu. I'm afraid I'll have to have some assurance of our friendship from here on in. I cannot have you joining yourself to the elf-lover and the wizard. Know that from this day onward, I own your precious wife.
  • The LoadingReadyRun episode "Ransom" took it to its illogical extreme. The villain kidnaps the hero's girlfriend and calls him with the demands. The hero counters by kidnapping the villain's henchmen. The villain escalates by kidnapping the hero's mother which the hero counters by capturing the villain's deaf brother. All this takes place in the span of five minutes with the hero and villain still engaged in the original phone conversation. The villain tries to end things by kidnapping the hero but the hero responds by kidnapping the villain (while still tied up in the villain's lair).
  • Subverted in Demo Reel, as Tom Collins makes Tacoma think something awful is or will happen to Rebecca, who appears to be alone in a big studio at night and who Tacoma thinks needs protecting after hearing about her past. Turns out she's fine and it was a trap so he could be kidnapped and delivered to her as a warning.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale the Sheriff's Secret Police kidnap family members to ensure people vote the right way at elections, storing them in the secret location of the abandoned mine shaft, which has been used for this purpose so frequently that it's actually quite nice, with king-size beds, wi-fi, and, as the Sheriff's Secret Police recently announced, now gets HBO.
  • Exploited in The Try Guys "Distracted Driving" video. Ned's personalized distraction during the test is to be given a note that says "We have your wife;" further down the course, Ned's wife Ariel is locked in a cage. He drives completely off the course to save her, giving him a huge penalty and causing him to lose the competition.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series parodies the example in the above page quote by giving the dialogue to Bandit Keith and Zombie Boy.
    Keith: Tim, they've got your wife!
    Zombie Boy: But I'm not married!
    Keith: You are now...(Glasses Pull) to AMERICA!
  • One of the (many) memes on Tumblr was a variation of this. Usually with their fandom or original character of choice
    Kidnapper: We have your daughter.
    Persona A: But I don't have a daughter.
    Kindapper: Then who do we have that is (Doing funny actions characteristic of Person B)
    Person A: Oh my god they have Person B!

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Lifestyles of the Sick and Twisted," Dr. Robotnik kidnaps talk show host Throbbin Screech's niece and dangles her over a Lava Pit to secure a spot on his show.
    • In "Pseudo Sonic," the titular mecha is being piloted by a character whose family is being held hostage by Robotnik.
  • Subverted in the "April Moon" episode of Batman Beyond. A gang kidnaps a cybernetic doctor's wife and holds her for ransom in exchange for him performing cybernetic upgrades on them. Only it turns out they didn't kidnap her, she's cheating on her husband with the gang leader and ran off with them of her own free will. He got his back, though; while he eventually discovered the ruse, they never found out that he did, and the leader ended up coming back still thinking the wife was leverage. The episode lets you imagine how things played out from there.
  • In the Biker Mice from Mars episode "Hard Rock," Lawrence Limburger manipulates Hard Rock into doing his bidding by using his girlfriend Darla as a bargaining chip.
  • Carmen Sandiego: In the special "Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal", VILE takes Carmen's sidekicks Zack and Ivy hostage to force her to steal for them.
  • The third Danny Phantom movie: Freakshow kidnaps his parents and sister as ransom for the Reality Gems.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons series, Hank the Ranger and his friend Bobby the Barbarian are kidnapped by Big Bad Venger, who keeps Bobby hostage and forces Hank to do his dirty work and not say a word about why is he doing it, much to the horror of the other kids in the group (especially Sheila the Thief, who happens to be Bobby's sister).
  • Subverted in an episode of Family Guy where in a flashback, Lois is captured by criminals who demand a ransom of her rich father. They put her on the line. His response: "Now honey, you know family policy, we don't negotiate with kidnappers."
    • In the episode where Peter discovers he had a black ancestor, his father in law, Carter Pewterschmitt, shows his grand kinds how noble his side of the family (i.e: their white ancestors) were, we see a picture of of one of them holding a knife to a Native American baby, while the horrified parents hand over a basket full of corn.
  • The whole problem between Zachary Foxx and Queen of the Crown in Galaxy Rangers. Zach has Eliza's body in stasis. The Queen has her Life Energy decorating her living room as a little red crystal, and a one-sided case of Foe Yay. Acts mostly as a subversion, as Eliza's the only human psychocrystal and just too good a tool to actually destroy. The closest it came to this was "Psychocrypt," where the Queen's relentless Mind Rape against both of them caused Zach to make a suicidal run to get his wife back.
  • Subverted in Gravity Falls. After using size-altering crystals to capture Dipper and Mabel, Lil' Gideon calls their Grunkle Stan to demand the Mystery Shack's deed in exchange for their safety. However, Stan doesn't believe the twins are in danger.
    Stan: Oh yeah. This has gotta be your worst plot yet. I saw them playing in the yard a few minutes ago. They're fine.
    Gideon: I have them in my possession! You don't believe me? I will text you a photo!
    Stan: ...Text me a photo? Now you're not even speaking English! (Hangs up)
  • Kaeloo: In one episode of Season 1, Mr. Cat takes Quack Quack, to whom Kaeloo is a Parental Substitute, as a hostage so she'll pay him money. It turns out that she doesn't have any because of the ongoing economic crisis. Mr. Cat then threatens to shoot Kaeloo if Quack Quack doesn't pay him, which also fails because Quack Quack doesn't have any money. Mr. Cat is subsequently punished by Kaeloo for what he did.
  • In Kim Possible: So The Drama, Dr. Drakken uses Kim's new boyfriend Eric as a hostage. Subversion: Eric is a synthodrone working for Drakken to distract Kim and ultimately bait her into a trap.
  • Inverted in Season 4 The Legend of Korra when the heroes kidnap Kuvira's fiancé in an attempt to get her to leave Republic City alone, threatening to keep them apart forever if she doesn't back down. Kuvira decides to Shoot the Hostage instead.
  • In "Peter's Great Escape" from Peter Rabbit, Mr. Tod and Tommy Brock kidnap Squirrel Nutkin and take him to Rocky Island, as a means of baiting Peter Rabbit and his friends because they know he's Peter's friend and he'll come, then hopefully they can finish him off once and for all. They tell Nutkin, however, that they're having a picnic together. Despite this being Blatant Lies, he believes it.
    Nutkin: They wanna have a picnic!
    Mr. Tod: And you are the guests of honor. And the main course. And dessert. And leftovers, if there are any. We can make sandwiches, but it's not your problem.
  • In Robot Chicken, the Mad Scientist kidnaps the Robot Chicken's wife once he learns that he has escaped from his laboratory, forcing him to battle all the original Robot Chicken characters in order to get to him.
  • The Christmas Special Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town has a humorous variant on this trope. Burgermeister Meisterburger forces Kris Kringle to turn himself in by capturing Kris's penguin companion.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, it gets revealed at the end of Season 1 that Mayor Jones is not actually Fred's father, but his kidnapper. After forcing the original Mystery Incorporated out of town, two members — Brad and Judy — attempted to come back to Crystal Cove with their newborn son. Jones, paranoid that they were still trying to look for the treasure, kidnapped their son and threatened to hurt him if they returned. Ultimately, Mayor Jones ends up Becoming the Mask and having Lima Syndrome from raising Fred like his own son, and the episode implies that he can't bring himself to hurt him, much less kill him, because of that.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons. Homer, Lenny, and Carl are waiting for Mr. Burns to leave the parking lot. The mailman talks with Mr. Burns a bit in regards to skydiving (which is not what they wanted to see, as they really wanted to leave). Homer then gets the idea of tricking him into leaving by calling him by claiming that he kidnapped his wife... and then changing it to his brother, and then to his dog, and despite it being a fairly obvious deception, the mailman still fell for it.
  • Star Wars Rebels: "Legacy of Mandalore" has a case of I Have Your Husbandit's revealed that Sabine's father is being held on Mandalore as a hostage in all but name in order to ensure Clan Wren's cooperation. His status was put in jeopardy after Sabine kills Imperial Viceroy Gar Saxon and starts another Mandalorian civil war. She and the rebels end up having to rescue him from a public execution in the beginning of Season 4.
  • The penultimate episode of Static Shock: Omnara kidnaps Static's father. Richie, Static's best friend and sidekick, also has the tendency to get kidnapped a lot.
  • The first season finale of Teen Titans: Slade injects Robin's four teammates with potentially deadly nanoprobes and has his finger on the button, forcing Robin to become his sidekick. The scheme falls apart when Slade cows Robin by engaging the probes on a limited setting; the combination of this sudden inexplicable pain that seems to be under Slade's control and Robin's frantic reaction to it tips off the Titans that they are being used as hostages to control their friend. And then Robin puts the nanoprobes in himself when Slade is about to kill his friends, and since they aren't selective, he'd die too.
  • An episode of Tripping the Rift had Darf Bobo tell one of the judges for his daughter's supermodel contest that he's kidnapped his wife, and if he knows what's good for her, he'll vote for his daughter. Upon seeing the picture Bobo provides for evidence, the judge tells him that's his mother-in-law, and that Bobo's free to kill her.
  • Ultimate Book of Spells: In "Shadow Land," the shadow creature working for Zarlak only does so because Zarlak is holding his family hostage.
  • Used in the Goultard special for Wakfu. The villain kidnaps Goultard's wife and children in order to lure him into a fight. He kills them before Goultard arrives, and taunts him about it in order to make Goultard angrier. This is actually all part of a plan to get a parasitic demon that feeds off of rage to see Goultard as a more appetizing host and jump from the villain into Goultard. The villain doesn't get to enjoy his new found freedom for long, however, as Goultard kills him immediately afterward.
  • Variation in The Zeta Project: Agent Lee gets held hostage by a sadistic mercenary threatening to kill her unless Zeta surrenders. Zeta, who she has been chasing, hunting down and treating like he's less than a sentient being, intervenes immediately anyway because that's just the kind of person he is. Setting aside their relationship, though, the rest of the trope is played like this, right down to the mercenary calling Lee Zeta's 'girlfriend' in several dubs.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures: In the season one finale, Zhang threatens Pepper in order to get Tony and Gene to retrieve the fifth Makulan Ring for him. Tony is her best friend and they have mutual crushes on each other. She is also close friends with Gene, who seems to harbor some romantic feelings for her and vice versa. Zhang keeps Pepper hostage while Tony and Gene go into the temple, but she manages to escapes from him and his ninjas.

    Real Life 
  • At some battle during the Chu-Han War after the collapse of the Qin Dynasty, the King of Chu, Xiang Yu eventually captured the father of his rival, Liu Bang. At one battle, Xiang Yu and Liu Bang faced one another across a ravine. Xiang Yu yells (more or less), "Just give up! I have your father, and I'm going to boil him alive!" Liu Bang famously responded, "Send me a cup of the soup!"
    • For the curious, Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu (founding the Han Dynasty in the process), and Liu's father didn't get the least bit boiled.
  • Another historical example, this time from 12th century England, concerns King Stephen threatening to hang the small son of one John Marshal if he didn't surrender his castle. John replied, rather crudely, that he still had the hammer and anvil to make even better sons. In justice to John, King Stephen was a coward and everybody knew it. Little William Marshal was not hanged and grew up to be the most famous knight in England and France.
  • During the Spanish Civil War, the Republicans (no, not those Republicans) captured the son of José Moscardó e Ituarte, the Nationalist commandant during the Siege of Alcázar. The Republican forces called Moscardó on the telephone, and demanded he surrender or they would kill his son. Moscardó asked to speak to his son, whom he told: "Commend your soul to God and die like a patriot, shouting 'Long live Christ King' and 'Long live Spain.'" His son's reply? "That, I can do."
  • It's been said that in the Joseph Stalin era, those with families were the first to "confess" to being "spies."
  • The German government tried to use this tactic against Joseph Stalin after his son Yakov was captured as a prisoner of war during World War II. The Germans offered to release Yakov in exchange for captured German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus. Stalin refused, responding "I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant." Yakov later died in a POW camp under unclear circumstances, either by suicide or being shot by camp guards.
  • During the Sengoku Jidai, the Matsudaira Clan attempted to form a alliance with the Imagawa Clan, and one of the requirements was for the Matsudaira Daimyo to send his son to live in the Imagawa capital of Sunpu as hostage. This the Matsudaira dutifully did; unfortunately, the boy was captured by the Oda Clan en route to Sunpu. The Oda, mortal enemies of the Imagawa, threatened to kill the boy unless the Matsudaira broke their alliance with the Imagawa. However, the Matsudaira called their bluff, and essentially dared the Oda to kill the boy, as that would demonstrate to the Imagawa how seriously they took their alliance. Unsure of what to do, the Oda detained the boy (in safety and comfort) for three years and eventually returned him to his father. The boy later grew up to be Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the rest is Japanese History.
  • A robbery technique involved calling a bank manager's wife at home and convincing her not to answer the phone for some reason (e.g. claiming to be a telephone company working on the line, which would cause the phone to ring at random). They would then call the bank manager and use this trope, telling him to fill a suitcase full of money and meet them in ten minutes or else. The manager would try to call home and of course, when there was no answer, he would assume the worst.
    • A similar ploy has targeted university students studying abroad, who are told not to contact their families in any way (including social media) and to go into hiding. The students' families (who are typically wealthy) are then contacted and told that the student has been kidnapped, and demand a large ransom for their release.

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): I Have Got Your Wife, I Have Your Daughter


Alice has been kidnapped

It is revealed that Alice was kidnapped by Ben Mott, holding her hostage in exchange for the rest of the manuscript.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / IHaveYourWife

Media sources:

Main / IHaveYourWife