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Perp Walk

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The neighbors have come out in full force, congregating en masse around the waiting police car, watching with fascination as I am pushed down into the backseat. The belt is drawn across me and the door beside me slams. The large officer gets into the front, his radio still crepitating; the younger one gets into the back, beside me. The neighbors are closing in now like a slow wave, leaning, peering, pointing, their mouths opening and closing with silent questions.

All of the threads have been pulled, The Summation has been made, the suspect has given his Motive Rant, and the lead detective has given the order to make the arrest, homages/shout-outs to Hawaii Five-O ("Book 'em, Danno!") optional.

Cue the Walk of Shame, i.e. the Perp Walk, to the police car, past a group of onlookers that may include family, friends, enemies, or the media. In Fiction Land, this is often done in Slo Mo, and poses a much more significant risk for a Vigilante Execution than in Real Life. In some places (like Japan, for instance), the suspect is often offered the "dignity" of a cloth covering their cuffed hands and underaged suspects' faces are blacked out; in America, only shows like COPS will blur suspects' faces (to avoid any possible jury pool poisoning), but any objects covering hands and/or faces are generally self-provided.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka, after he had attempted to blow up the school, Suguru Teshigawara happens to pass by his father while being led away by the police and see for himself what an utterly deluded and broken man his father had become.
  • In Azumanga Daioh Tomo and Chiyo-chan dress up as a policewoman and a criminal doing the perp walk with a coat over their head for a costume contest.

  • In Kingdom Come, the superhero Magog kills the Joker as he is escorted to court—a subversion of Joker Immunity.
  • The Far Side has the Chicken Coop Three, a trio of dogs being led away by police, one of them hiding his face behind his paws.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • An Invoked Trope in The Batman (2022). Batman arrests Carmine Falcone and walks him through his own nightclub to the army of Gotham police outside. Falcone is Defiant to the End, mocking the idea that he might break down in fear and reveal secrets, but it turns out the Riddler has been anticipating this all along and is waiting to snipe Falcone once he's brought out into the open.
  • In S.W.A.T. (2003), the bad guy yells out a reward of one hundred million dollars to the person that frees him as he walks to the police station, setting up the story in the rest of the film.
  • Happens to Ian at the end of the first National Treasure movie. He glares back at Ben, who simply shrugs.
  • Happened in the film version of In Cold Blood, when Richard Hickock and Perry Smith are arrested.
  • At the climax of Wall Street, a crying Bud is walked across the trading floor in handcuffs in front of his coworkers.note 
  • The Paper: Two black kids are arrested for the murders of two wealthy businessmen, and all the media outlets in town are involved in a Media Scrum to try to get a photo or video of them during the perp walk. As a result of the scrum nobody can get a good shot.
  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail: A major point of contention is the decision by authorities to take indicted Abacus employees out of the courthouse in a literal chain gang, where they were all handcuffed together. The Sungs charge that this was a deliberate humiliation.
  • After the first stage show in Now You See Me, The Four Horsemen (and their bags as per Henley's request) are walked out through the hotel lobby casino by the FBI. Subverted by the fact that they are smiling and nodding to the cheering and applauding fans. They would probably even be waving if they weren't handcuffed.

  • The Untouchables by Oscar Fraley. When Al Capone is led off to prison, he's handcuffed to a small-time crook who tries to hide his face with his coat only to be berated by Capone, who tells him to place the coat over the cuffs instead to hide them. Capone himself struts before the army of news photographers without trying to cover his face, noting proudly: "You'd think Mussolini was coming through!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Just about Once per Episode in CSI and its spinoffs.
    • Ditto the Japanese CSI clone Boss.
  • Both Cold Case and Without a Trace often feature the Perp Walk interlaced with a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue with each person involved in the case.
    • Memorably subverted in the Cold Case episode "Mind Hunters". The perp gets away, and he gets a slow-mo walk as he triumphantly walks out of the precinct.
  • In COPS, usually with the cops leading a perp to the back seat of a police car, saying, "take a seat".
  • In the Dateline series To Catch a Predator, after the predator is interviewed by Chris Hansen, he is told that he is free to go, but when he leaves the house, we get to see police officers approach and arrest him.
  • Law & Order:
    • The show and its spinoffs most often feature the "Up (or Down) the Courthouse Steps" version, and is the number one cause of Karmic Death for a perp who has otherwise escaped the long arm of the law. If this trope occurs before the half-hour mark, a Vigilante Execution is guaranteed. One exception occurs in a Season 14 episode. The perp doesn't get shot, but one of the detectives does.
    • This trope was lampshaded in one episode where the detectives' investigation crossed paths with a long-running investigation of the same person in New Jersey. In the ensuing Jurisdiction Friction, the DA in New Jersey decided he was fine with McCoy prosecuting the suspect, but demanded that his people get to do the Perp Walk since he wanted the publicity for his re-election campaign.
  • Law & Order: SVU:
    • Particularly the earlier seasons, the writers seemed to be having a contest to come up with the most publicly humiliating situations a suspect could get perp walked out of: the detectives arrested a college professor mid-lecture and marched him out in front of his students, a CEO got perp walked out of a huge corporate meeting, etc.
    • And, in a season 14 episode, Amaro comes to arrest a Pedophile Priest. Because it's Christmas, and because one of the parishoners pleads with him, he decides to allow the priest to finish saying Mass before making the arrest. However, one of the priest's victims shoots him before Amaro can make the arrest, in a rare instance where the humiliating perp walk might have actually averted the Vigilante Execution.
  • In Life On Mars, when Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler are arresting a prominent gangster in his nightclub, Gene asks whether he would like to be escorted out the front, in full view of the patrons of his club, or discretely through the back exit. The gangster chooses the back exit. So naturally, Gene and Sam take him out the front.
  • The Professionals
    • At the end of "Everest Was Also Conquered", Bodie and Doyle make a point of dragging a Corrupt Corporate Executive in handcuffs through a party being held by his favourite granddaughter. He'd hired a hitman who killed several people including a fellow CI5 agent, so they were not inclined to be merciful.
      Turvey: Handcuffs? What are you...there's no need for handcuffs! Oh for pity's sake, my family is out there! My granddaughter...all her friends...please, take them off, I'm begging you! What kind of men are you?!
      Doyle: The kind of men who catch your kind of man.
    • In "Need To Know", Bodie and Doyle are ordered to bring in their boss George Cowley for questioning. Afterwards Cowley berates them for not putting him in handcuffs as per procedure, but adds: "I appreciate it, though."
  • Veronica Mars:
    • This rarely involves an actual arrest, but the jerk of the week usually gets some kind of public shaming... that occasionally involves getting taped to a flagpole.
    • There is episode where Veronica herself is arrested by the sheriff in front of the school. "Gosh, I hope they use that photo in the yearbook" indeed.
  • Occurs in Battlestar Galactica, Boomer gets a perp walk. Complete with slo-mo and vigilante execution.
  • Malcolm in the Middle featured Hal being falsely accused of embezzlement and perp walked in nothing but an open bathrobe and his underwear. With several news crews and about a dozen photographers. Oh, and the police tazed him.
  • The Wire:
    • Invoked by Valchek at the end of Season 2, as the whole purpose of the case for him is to ruin his rival Frank Sobotka. While the rest of the suspects are taken in a carefully synchronized dawn raid, the ones tasked to take Sobotka are told to wait until he's at the union office, and once they've gone in they wait until a suitably sizeable press gang has assembled before Valchek personally walks him out to the car.
    • Discussed by the Baltimore Sun staff in Season 5, after they miss Clay Davis' perp walk.
  • Daredevil (2015): Wilson Fisk gets one when he is being arrested in the season 1 finale and being taken to the FBI convoy to transport him to jail. A corrupt senator in Fisk's pocket also gets the perp walk after Marci Stahl and Detective Hoffman sell him out.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes gets perp-walked out of his nightclub by Misty Knight after shooting and killing her partner Rafael Scarfe, accompanied by the upbeat melody of "People Make The World Go Round" by The Stylistics. Then it turns to be all for naught as the NYPD is afraid of the corruption headlines in light of the Wilson Fisk ordeal.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode "Bull-E", Homer is arrested and walked for being a bully. However, Homer had just set up a Slip 'N Slide in the front yard, and so he slips and slides straight into a police car.
  • In one of the many Scooby-Doo crossovers with Batman, the Gang and the Dynamic Duo has the Joker and Penguin captured and arrested. Batman tells the officers there to take the two away. The two officers lead the criminals away side by side before Batman stops them and tells them he meant the other way, going to this trope.

    Real Life 
  • Lee Harvey Oswald was shot during his Perp Walk.
  • Bernie Madoff was punched in the gut during his. Whoever did it jumped over police barricades and pushed his way through a scrum of press photographers to do it, so they must have been pissed off.
  • Mexican Federal Police show off any cartel member or other significant criminal they arrest like a prize, giving them body armor if they see the target as in danger of assassination.
  • Let's not forget the one that backfired, of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Thanks to Values Dissonance, people in his native France were furious he was being paraded in front of the cameras before being proven guilty.
  • Then there's the one of Jerry Sandusky being led to jail after he was found guilty, through a crowd cheering the verdict.
  • Subverted by Judd Hirsch's son Alex who, while being perp-walked by the Chicago PD on a felony marijuana charge (later dropped), plugged his band's next show to the TV cameras.
  • Some countries have actually outlawed showing this on the news because it's considered prejudicial.
  • Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani was known for popularizing this during his tenure as US Attorney to publicly shame Wall Street investment bankers and Mafia bosses.