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"I'm breakin' rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law, and the law won.
I fought the law, and the law won.
I needed money 'cause I had none.
I fought the law, and the law won."
The Bobby Fuller Four, "I Fought the Law"

The jail. The nick. The cooler. The joint. The slammer. You get the gist.

If a show is set in Prison, the wardens and/or guards usually contain at least one Drill Sergeant Nasty, and there is a prevalence of gang violence, drug abuse, and Prison Rape. Due to the need to present the setting as extremely violent, dangerous and chaotic, shows set primarily in prison, such as Oz, will frequently use Red Shirt characters.

See Prison Tropes and Crime and Punishment Tropes for tropes that frequently come into play in stories featuring prisons.

Prison as the main setting:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 


  • Time Spike by Eric Flint and Marilyn Kosmatka, which is loosely connected with his Ring of Fire series. A modern American maximum-security prison, as well as several other groups, are moved back in time to the Cretaceous Era.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Diacrisis is set in Excillar Supermax Security Penitentiary, which houses murderes, mob bosses, and the like.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is based on escaping a prison.
  • Sanitarium: A great game based on escaping from a loony bin.
  • The Suffering is a third-person shooter that takes place on a prison... that gets attacked by monsters.
  • Half-Life 2 had you breaking into a high security prison, Nova Prospekt. To do this you had to storm a fortified beachfront, run past several machine gunners, scale a steep cliff face and shoot down a pair of gunships just to make it inside. According to another character, this was easier than breaking out. Once inside, the largely empty Nova Prospekt turned out to be pretty eerie.
    • The Riot Act mod is about a prisoner breaking out of Nova Prospekt during the break-in mentioned above.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: The entire game is set in the titular insane asylum/prison. Fortunately, it's varied enough to be entertaining the whole way through.
  • Prison Architect puts you in charge of building and maintaining your own private prison for profit. You can make a humane prison that takes care of the inmates' wellbeing and works on rehabilitating them. Or you can make a Hell Hole Prison.
  • The Escapists and The Escapists 2 mostly take place in prisons.

    Visual Novels 

  • The Lydian Option is a sci-fi comic set on an asteroid prison run by a species that incarcerates criminals for every offense, no matter how minor.
  • Last Res0rt features a deadly reality show with prisoners (and a few volunteers) as the contestants, taking place on a space station that provides (among other things) the prison complex the players are being held in.

    Web Original 
  • Survival of the Fittest version three has a jailhouse/prison/military stockade as one of the locations, frequently used as shelter by the students. So far it's one of the least bloody locations on the island, with only one person having died there. V3 characters Brad Kavanagh and Eduardo Trinidad-Villa are also mentioned as having spent time in juvenile hall, Brad on (false) murder charges, and Eduardo on assault charges. Brad was released when the real killer came forward and his case was overturned, but Eduardo served his entire sentence.

    Western Animation 

Prison is frequently used as a set:

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, IQ Squared and Pronto end up here at the finish.
  • The Outside Circle: Pete is first sent to Edmonton Maximum Security Prison, and then transferred to Drumheller Medium Prison so he can take part in the "In Search Of Your Inner Warrior" Program.
  • Suicide Squad. The Squad is based in a prison when not out on missions.


    Live-Action TV