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Put on a Prison Bus

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The wheels on the bus go round and round!
We're all prison bound!
Having a character get arrested is often a convenient way to have them exit the story. This is especially common for villainous characters, in which case their arrest will be treated as their final defeat in the story. This is a good way to get rid of the villain if the creator doesn't want them to die, but still get punished for their crimes. Sometimes you may see a lesser villain being arrested, while the main villain ends up dying, especially if it's a case of Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey.

Sometimes, this may be followed by a quick scene of the villain in jail. This makes for a good The Stinger scene. However, we will usually see nothing more than that. The character's trial and other events leading up to their imprisonment will almost never be shown due to The Law of Conservation of Detail.

This trope works on the Offscreen Inertia principle: if a character is last seen in legal custody, the audience assumes they remain in custody (though presumably moved to an actual prison at some point) until shown otherwise.

May overlap with Cardboard Prison if the character gets arrested at the end of one episode or entry, and breaks out of prison at the beginning of the next, especially if it keeps happening. May also overlap with Big Damn Heroes if the police show up just in time to arrest the villain.

This trope is frequent in crime shows, mysteries, and superhero comics. Not so much in superhero movies, though. See Superhero Movie Villains Die for that.

In medieval/fantasy settings, a common variation is to have a character be taken to a dungeon, which is usuallly located below a castle. The ruler will often tell their guards "Seize him!" or something to that effect.

Sister Trope to Sealed Evil in a Can, when a villain is defeated by being magically sealed away. Contrast Karma Houdini, along with Killed Off for Real, Disney Villain Death, and other Death Tropes.

Not to Be Confused with Role-Ending Misdemeanor, in which a Real Life arrest leads to an actor or other creator disappearing from the public eye. Related to Put on a Bus to Hell. Could overlap with May It Never Happen Again.

No Real Life Examples, Please! People get arrested all the time, but although they may disappear from the public eye during their sentence, they will still be known by other prisoners, prison staff, or other people around them. Even if someone died during their own arrest, other people would still have to deal with their body, records, etc. One does not simply disappear from the story of real life, not even by arrest.

This is an ending trope, so beware spoilers!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Bora is taken into Magic Council custody once Natsu exposes him as an imposter at the end of the first chapter. The anime version reveals that he eventually was released after serving enough time.
    • Once he's defeated by Lucy, Duke Everlue is eventually arrested off-screen for his misdeeds.
    • At the end of the Oración Seis arc, Jellal allows himself to be arrested by the Rune Knights. Eventually, Ultear and Melty bust him out of prison so they can form Crime Sorcière.
    • Towards the end of the Key of the Starry Sky arc, Velveno's last seen being arrested by the Rune Knights.
    • Ivan Dreyar and the Raven Tail team are taken into custody after his son Laxus exposes their cheating in the Grand Magic Games. However, Obra escapes and joins Zeref, never to be seen again. The Token Good Teammate Flare Corona performs a Heel–Face Turn and returns to the Sun Village.
    • At the end of the Avatar arc, Gajeel Redfox and the Magic Council arrest the Avatar cultists and haul them off to jail.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: After Onizuka foils Teshigawara's kidnapping of Azusa and subsequent mental breakdown, the police show up to take Teshigawara into custody.
  • GTO: The Early Years:
    • Several of the villains (Fumiya, Akutsu, the Yokohama Cavalry) get arrested for their crimes.
    • In Chapter 187, Fumiya gets out of juvie and meets up with the Oni-Baku again. He mentions helping Akutsu break out, and Akutsu is seen in Chapter 193. Fumiya and Akutsu also reappear in the sequel GTO: Paradise Lost.
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files, many a culprit in a given murder case would be under arrest and taken away to prison should they remain alive by the time said murder case concludes.
  • Towards the end of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Ezalia Joule and her Radical Faction associates are last seen being arrested by Clyne Faction loyalists.
  • One Piece:
    • At the end of the Arlong arc, the Arlong Pirates are taken into Marine custody. However, Hatchan escapes into the seas, opens a takoyaki restaurant, becomes an ally of the Straw Hats, and eventually returns to his native Fish-Man Island.
    • Sir Crocodile and the Baroque Works officers are eventually taken to Impel Down at the end of the Alabasta arc. Miss Goldenweek helps most of the officers escape custody, while Crocodile, Daz Bones and Galdino eventually escape Impel Down thanks to Luffy and Buggy's efforts. Bentham is the only member of Baroque Works to stay at Impel Down in order to let everyone else escape.
    • A subversion occurs after the Enies Lobby arc. Spandam has CP9 turned into scapegoats for their failure and tries to have them arrested. However, they prove to be too strong to take down, and post-Time Skip shows Kaku and Lucci allowed back in Cipher Pol and actually promoted to the even more elite and secret CP0 agency.
    • In the Fish-Man Island arc, King Neptune has Hody Jones and his subordinates thrown into the palace prison. Wadatsumi avoids this fate simply because he's so big he wouldn't be able to fit in a cell, so he's instead banished from Fish-Man Island forever (but he later performs a Heel–Face Turn).
    • Donquixote Doflamingo and most of his his pirate crew are taken to Impel Down after the Straw Hats free Dressrosa from his ten-year grasp. Baby 5 is the only one shown avoiding this fate because she performed a Heel–Face Turn (Monet and Vergo also technically avoided going to jail, mostly because you can't go to jail if you're dead).
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In Heroes, Annie and Oakley are sent to jail once the heroes thwart their plans to steal the Soul Dew.
    • In Zoroark: Master of Illusions, Grings Kodai is never heard from again after he's taken into police custody.

    Comic Books 
  • The Shadow Hero: Both the fake Ten Grand and Mock Beak are last seen being arrested in the first book. In the case of the latter, Hank actually debates killing him because Mock Beak killed Hank's father, but Hank ultimately decides to take Mock Beak to the police because killing him wouldn't be the right thing to do.
  • Superman:
    • At the end of Who Took the Super out of Superman?, Superman visits Xviar in his cell to check on him and boast that Xviar's bosses will not bother to spring him out of prison after his failure. He was right, since Xviar was never seen again.
    • At the end of New Krypton, Superwoman is defeated, locked away in S.T.A.R. Labs so her powers may be removed, and never seen again.
    • At the end of Starfire's Revenge, Supergirl turns crimelord Starfire over to the police. Although Starfire swears revenge as she is being taken into custody, she is not seen or heard of again.
    • In The Krypton Chronicles, Black Flame reappears after an absence of 18 years only to run afoul of the law, get arrested and disappear again.
    • Strangers at the Heart's Core: After The Visitors -three alien criminals nicknamed Invisible Rogue, Elastic Crook and Electric Man-, Supergirl takes them back to Kronis, the prison planet. Warden Sargoes promises they will not escape again, and he makes good on his promise because that was their last appearance. Ditto with villain Klax-Ar, whom Supergirl dumped into Kronis in the next issue.
    • Way of the World: After being defeated, villain Aftermath is turned over to the police and taken to a padded cell. He is never seen again.
    • Day of the Dollmaker: The titular villain makes no further appearances after being taken out and arrested.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys (2022):
    • In an unusual variation, the titular "Bad Guys" allow themselves to be arrested, and the movie ends with them in the back of a police car. They do this because they feel the need to make up for their past crimes. However, they have already made Heel Face Turns at that point, and since the governor is aware of their good deeds, it's very likely that their sentence won't be too harsh.
    • Professor Marmalade, the true villain, is arrested at the end of the film when he is accused of being the infamous thief, the Crimson Paw. He did commit a number of crimes and definitely deserves to be arrested, but interestingly, he is being accused of the wrong crimes. What will happen to him after his arrest remains to be seen.
  • Near the end of Big Hero 6, Callahan gets arrested after taking on the identity of the Yokai. He is seen in a couple of episodes of Big Hero 6: The Series, still in prison and remorseful of his actions.
  • Near the end of Dennis The Menace In Cruise Control, Kraigor is last seen being sent to the dungeon for high treason against the kingdom of Mimosa after Dennis, Joey, Margaret, Ruff and Mr. Wilson rescue Princess Liana and foil his plan to take over the kingdom, though not before he is tricked by Dennis into hypnotizing himself.
  • Frozen (2013):
    • Once he's been exposed, Prince Hans is jailed aboard the brig of a ship before being deported to the Southern Isles for manipulating Anna and trying to kill Elsa in a bid to illegally take over the kingdom of Arendelle. Frozen Fever shows him in servitude back home, shoveling horse poop for his crimes. To his dismay, the nearby horses laugh at his misery when he's pummeled into a wagon full of literal Road Apples by a giant snowball accidentally launched by Elsa. The Tie-In Novel A Frozen Heart revealed that it was Anna who declared him Persona Non Grata, whereas Elsa wanted him to stand trial for his actions.
    • Likewise, the Duke of Weselton and his guards are escorted to their ship to be deported back home for their attempts to kill Elsa. The Duke even throws a tirade when told that Arendelle will cut its trading relations with "Weaseltown".
  • In Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Cousin Mel is last seen being led away in handcuffs after she confesses to the entire scheme to take over the Spankenheimer store and arrest and sue Santa Claus.
  • Towards the end of Hey Arnold! The Movie, the Big Bad Alphonse Perrier du von Scheck is last seen being arrested by the police after his plans to destroy Arnold's neighborhood backfire.
  • At the end of Home on the Range, the Big Bad Alameda Slim is last seen being Bound and Gagged as he's led away in a police wagon.
  • The Big Bad of Incredibles 2, Evelyn Deavour a.k.a. Screenslaver, is last seen being arrested and sent to prison, after being saved by Mrs Incredible.
  • Near the end of The Iron Giant, the Big Bad Kent Mansley is last seen getting arrested by US soldiers after being stopped by his titular arch-nemesis.
  • Monsters, Inc. has the Child Detection Agency place Henry J. Waternoose in their personal vehicle once his involvement in the child-kidnapping scheme is exposed.
  • In Over the Hedge, Gladys Sharp is taken into police custody for possessing the contraband De-Pelter Turbo.
  • Pinocchio was originally going to have a scene near the end where the con men Honest John and Gideon are arrested. However, this scene was cut, leaving their fates ambiguous.
  • Pocahontas ends with the Big Bad, Governor Ratcliffe, being taken back to England in chains. He returns for the sequel, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, only to be arrested again at the end.
  • Towards the end of The Princess and the Frog, Lawrence is taken into police custody for conspiring with the Big Bad Dr. Facilier to take over New Orleans. Facilier himself meets his end at the hands of his supernatural Friends on the Other Side.
  • At the end of Recess: School's Out, Phillium Benedict is last seen being placed into a police car after T.J. and his friends foil his plans to destroy summer vacation.
  • Plankton is arrested at the end of The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie for taking over Bikini Bottom and framing Mr. Krabs for the theft of King Neptune's crown, which almost lead to Krabs being fried by Neptune. Since the movie is meant to be the end of the series proper according to Word of God, despite lasting several more seasons and two movie sequels, this can be considered Plankton's final fate. Very later episodes after this movie have shown that Plankton has gotten arrested many times, and you better hope that Plankton doesn't somehow escape that.
  • Toy Story of Terror ends with police officers coming to arrest the motel manager, who had been stealing guests' toys and selling them online. The suspect tries to get away in their squad car, but crashes into the motel sign and then runs away, with the implication that he didn't get far.
  • The Wild Thornberrys Movie: The evil poachers Sloan and Bree Blackburn are arrested after being cornered and scared into submission by the elephants they were planning to hunt. Bree can be heard struggling with the police and claiming that she and Sloan were only trying to help the elephants.
  • Zootopia: Bellwether ends up getting caught and arrested by the ZPD after being tricked into revealing herself as the mastermind behind the Night Howlers conspiracy by Nick and Judy, and is last seen unhappily in prison watching the Dance Party Ending.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 101 Dalmatians (1996), Horace and Jasper willingly surrender to the police and find Skinner upon entering the van. Later, Cruella De Vil joins the trio thanks to the police having an arrest warrant for her. Cruella herself comes back for the sequel, only to be arrested again at the end.
  • At the end of Annie (1982), Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis are sent to jail for trying to abduct the titular character.
  • Back to the Future:
    • Back to the Future Part II: Griff Tannen and his Gang of Bullies are last seen being arrested after their chase against Marty ends with them crashing their hoverboards into the courthouse. The newspaper confirms their arrest.
    • Back to the Future Part III: Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen and his henchmen are all arrested after Marty beats up Buford at the end.
  • Beverly Hills Ninja: It initially seems like Martin Tanley is going to be killed by the time bomb landing in his truck, but he jumps out after the explosion no worse for wear. Martin and his gang are last seen being taken away by the police.
  • In The Dark Knight, Batman has the opportunity to let the Joker fall to his death, but following his Character Development, he instead catches the Joker with his grappling hook, letting him dangle upside down for the police to take him away. He was made absent in The Dark Knight Rises due to Heath Ledger passing away, but the novelization confirms he's still in Arkham. Or so it's hoped.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Lex Luthor goes to prison at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Batman makes sure to have him transferred to Arkham Asylum. Justice League shows that Luthor managed to get out of prison.
    • Suicide Squad: Every surviving criminal that was coerced into the Suicide Mission team gets put back in prison. Harley Quinn gets busted out by The Joker just before the end credits.
    • Aquaman: Arthur/Aquaman defeats King Orm in battle and deposes him, he's then taken into Atlantean custody.
    • SHAZAM!: Dr. Sivana ends up in prison after being depowered, though Mr. Mind has plans and talks to him about them in his cell.
  • Switchblade Sam's last scene in Dennis the Menace involves him being arrested and put in a police car after being defeated by Dennis the night before, with the cops telling Sam he can tell everyone in the big house that he met Dennis. Before the police car leaves, Dennis notices that Sam left his switchblade behind and gives it back to him. Sam is about to stab Dennis with it, but Dennis is saved when one cop shuts the door on Sam, causing him to drop his switchblade down the sewer.
  • Rambo in the film First Blood is placed into handcuffs, arrested, and put into the back seat of a police car at the end of the film. The original ending, like the book, was for the character to be Mercy Killed by Colonel Trautman, but Sylvester Stallone didn't like that and had the ending re-written to allow the character to live.
  • The Flintstones ends with Cliff Vandercave's henchwoman Sharon Stone being taken into police custody after Fred Flintstone thwarts Cliff's plans.
  • In The Fugitive the last time Dr. Nichols and one-armed man Sikes are seen are when they are handcuffed and placed inside a squad.
  • In The Great Muppet Caper, Nicky Holliday, Marla, Carla and Darla are never heard from again after the police arrest the quartet for the Baseball Diamond heist.
  • Home Alone:
  • In The Italian Job (1969), as soon as The Professor finishes his part of the heist, he wanders off in search of big women. After a scene of him groping a particularly large woman who gets stuck in a tram door, we last see him getting hauled into the police station. The same woman from before gets stuck in the door, again, and The Professor gropes her again, in full view of the police.
  • The James Bond franchise has a few examples, which particularly stand out because usually the villain winds up dead (whether killed by Bond, one of his allies, Hoist by His Own Petard or Killed Offscreen):
    • In Dr. No, Bond deals with Dr. No's spy underling Miss Taro by calling the local police to take her away.
    • The Man with the Golden Gun: Non-villainous example with sheriff-turned Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist J.W. Pepper, who's last seen being taken away by Thai police.
    • The Living Daylights: In a rare case of a main villain not being killed outright, the wily Georgi Koskov is ultimately arrested by the KGB after all his schemes unravel. His last scene leaves it open to interpretation whether they're going to imprison him or simply execute him but in either case, he's taken away and never seen again.
    • Casino Royale: Villain Mr. White ends up victim of Karma Houdini Warranty after fleeing with the $150 million that Bond won at the Casino Royale poker tournament, as Bond catches up with him thanks to Vesper's last SMS, knee-caps him with a submachine gun and arrests him. White escapes in the next film.
    • Quantum of Solace: Bond finds out Yusef Kabira (the man responsible for seducing Vesper Lynd into becoming a Double Agent, leading to her death) is alive and finds him in Russia, holding him at gunpoint. Despite the case being personal since he loved Vesper and saw her die, Bond lets MI6 arrest the guy since what he knows is too invaluable.
    • Spectre: For the first time in the franchise, Ernst Stavro Blofeld neither escapes nor dies. He gets arrested instead, with Bond sparing his life. He shows up again in No Time to Die, still in prison, but that hasn't stop his power of nuisance.
  • Johnny English: When English is accidentally crowned king of England, he himself places Sauvage under arrest for attempting to take over England. Afterwards, a Spinning Paper tells the audience of Sauvage's arrest, and adds that he may be executed for his crimes.
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle: The US President is last seen being handcuffed and escorted away from the White House (after being impeached, of course) for conspiring to have the victims of Poppy's Poison and Cure Gambit die just so he could say he won the War on Drugs. This included his own Chief of Staff, who only started using to keep up with the president's demanding workload. As soon as the Kingsmen release the antidote, the Chief of Staff exposes his crimes to the public.
  • Knives Out: After a failed, last-ditch attempt at killing Marta, the Big Bad is last seen being taken away by the police.
  • In Legally Blonde, Chutney Windham is taken into custody after she confesses to inadvertently killing her father.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Senator Stern is last seen getting arrested towards the end of the film. Considering that his actor died two years after the movie's release, we can safely assume that this is the last appearance of the character in the franchise.
    • Captain America: Civil War: Helmut Zemo is taken to prison by Black Panther before he can commit suicide, ultimately sitting out the next few years until his return in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Unlike most MCU villains, Adrian Toomes/The Vulture is arrested and sent to prison instead of dying. There is a quick scene near the end showing Toomes in prison, where he meets Mac Gargan, a minor villain from earlier who also got arrested.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Sonny Burch and his associates are last seen being arrested by the FBI.
    • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever confirms that W'Kabi, T'Challa's former friend and Okoye's ex-husband, was sent to prison after he sided with Killmonger in Black Panther (2018).
  • In Miss Congeniality, Kathy Morningside is last seen driven away in the back of a squad car after she and her son tried to kill the winner of the Miss America pageant.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Due to a combination of writer's block, No Budget, and everyone getting fed up with the film's Troubled Production, Arthur and his knights prepare to storm the French castle and are then promptly arrested by modern police officers for the murder of a historian killed by a random knight halfway through the film, without so much as closing credits.
  • Ian, the lead villain of National Treasure, exits the scene when Ben sics the Federal agents on him.
  • In Ready Player One, Nolan Sorrento willingly surrenders to the police and is placed in a police car along with F'Nale Zandor.
  • In Speed Racer, Cruncher Block and his henchmen are last seen being taken away by Inspector Detector's team. Later, E.P. Arnold Royalton is tried and sent to jail off-screen.
  • Superman: The Movie and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace both end with Superman taking Lex Luthor to prison.
  • In The Warriors, when Ajax lags behind the others to chat up a woman, he becomes sexually aggressive with her and she handcuffs him to a bench, revealing herself to an undercover police officer. Snow and Cowboy go back for him, only to see him being taken away by the cops and they're unable to help him. In a 2009 comic miniseries, the Warriors bust Ajax out of jail but in the film itself, this is the last we see of him.
  • At the end of Yogi Bear, the Big Bad Mayor Brown is taken into police custody after the heroes expose his evil schemes to shut down Jellystone Park.
  • In Zoolander, the Big Bad Mugatu is last seen being tackled by the security guards and hauled off to jail off-screen. He returns in the next film.

  • In the first volume of Accel World, Araya, the resident bully who frequently torments Haruyuki at Umesato Junior High School, is taken into police custody a second time after his attempt to kill Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime fails. After that, he's never seen again.
  • In The Asterisk War, the Starter Villain Silas Norman is last seen being captured by Claudia Enfield and Eishiro Yabuki.
  • In The Expanse series, Corrupt Corporate Executive Jules-Pierre Mao is last seen being jailed in a max security prison, and RCE expedition's sadistic security chief Murtry ends up being deported back to the Sol System to be tried for his crimes.
  • Flawed: At the end of the sequel, Crevan's crimes end up being known country-wide. Not only is he voted out of his guild leadership, but he's also sentenced to jail off-screen.
  • Harry Potter:
  • Kim: A pair of antagonists are arrested due to an incidental breach of rules at a railway station, i.e. largely unrelated to the reason that they're antagonists. This is the end of their involvement in the story.
  • In Volume 10 of Magika Swordsman and Summoner, tabloid journalist Turtle Oota is preemptively captured by the Knight Order and put in "protective custody".
  • Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot: Every book ends with the Villain of the Week getting locked up in the same prison building, which gets increasingly full as the series goes on- and just so happens to have nine windows for all nine villains.
  • Sacred Monster: The book ends with Jack telling Hoskins that he'll be back in approximately twelve years after he's arrested for drunkenly killing Buddy.
  • In the Star Wars Legends series Legacy of the Force, after terrorizing the galaxy for decades Psycho for Hire Aurra Sing was finally arrested by Jacen Solo after a failed assassination.
  • In Sword Art Online, Nobuyuki Sugou disappears from the story once the police apprehend him.
  • Walker's Crossing: Gil, Matt's father, and several of their cronies are arrested for shooting down a Game & Fish plane they thought belonged to the ATF, and are awaiting trial at the end of the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The warlock Ethan Rayne was a repeat antagonist for Buffy the Vampire Slayer in early seasons. He was last seen being taken into custody by Riley and The Initiative in season 4 and does not appear again.
  • In the Angel episode "Sanctuary", Faith turned herself in for her cross-series crime spree and was sent off to prison. Aside from a cameo in "Judgment", that was the last she was heard from in either series until Season 4.
  • The Brokenwood Mysteries: As a Detective Drama, criminals are arrested at the end of each episode. However, the show combines this with The Bus Came Back for a murder that takes place at the local women's prison, as three culprits from previous episodes return as members of the victim's cell block.
  • In Cobra Kai, the bus makes several round trips:
    • After the West Valley Brawl in season 2, Stingray is briefly seen amongst the Cobra Kai students who've sided with Kreese...but by the season 3 premiere two weeks later, he's been arrested and placed on probation, and can no longer come within 500 feet of minors, so can't attend the dojo anymore.
    • Stingray tries to rejoin Cobra Kai after his probation ends in Season 4, but he suffers a brutal assault for which Kreese is carted off to jail. The latter is absent for the first half of Season 5, then the second half spends some time showing his life in prison and attempts to be released.
    • Season 5 ends with Silver getting his turn on the bus.
    • This was also the explanation given for why Dutch didn't join the rest of the OG Cobras on the road trip for Tommy.
  • An integral part of practically every single episode of Cold Case is the killer being arrested for their crimes and taken away. Trials are never shown, nor is it discussed what's going to happen to any of them in prison - presuming they make it that far. There are a couple of exceptions in the over 150 episodes, including "Mindhunters" (which ends with the killer walking free), "A Perfect Day" (where the killer was already dead so Stillman had to do a replacement of having his photograph taken down; and in "Torn", every single character except the maid's daughter has already died so there's nobody to arrest. Every other episode follows the pattern. There are also semi examples that play with the formula, like in "The Road" where the killer was arrested at the beginning of the episode, so it couldn't technically happen at the end of the episode, but it did end with the police taking him into custody.
  • Control Z: Raúl's father is arrested on his corruption due to the former ratting him out beforehand.
  • Dark Desire: Both Lys and Darío are arrested for their involvement in Julieta's murder.
  • Decisiones Extremas: Implied in "Falsa inocencia", as Paty narrates that after her confessions, her Evil Uncle Jorge ended up in jail for charges of slander and extortion.
  • The Flash (2014): In season 7, just after splitting from Caitlin and finally becoming her own person with her own life, Frost is prosecuted for her past crimes. The prosecution demands that she be sentenced to forcibly take the metahuman "cure" to neutralise any possible danger she could still pose. Frost requests lifetime in prison without parole rather than setting a precedent that would allow for metahumans to be legally disempowered against their will, and the judge grants her the request. She is subsequently locked away in Iron Heights for good, leaving Caitlin devasted. Circumstances make the bus come back eventually.
  • Glee: Puck was absent for two episodes near the start of season two, having earned a two-week stint in a juvenile detention center for driving his mom's car through a gas station window.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015): The first season ends on a triumphant note with Wilson Fisk's criminal empire being dismantled, Matt Murdock stopping Fisk as he attempts to escape custody, and Brett Mahoney recapturing him. The last shot is of him in a prison cell, staring reflectively at the white walls which are reminiscent of the walls in his childhood apartment. We don't see him again until a two episode arc late in Season 2, which comes to show how he's spent his prison time amassing new resources to take control of the prison from its existing kingpin, eventually allowing him to manipulate Frank Castle into taking out said kingpin for him before setting him loose. The third season is then kicked off when Fisk manipulates the FBI into letting him out of prison. At the end of the season, he's sent back to prison thanks to a posthumous video confession by Ray Nadeem, and the last we see of Fisk is him once again being taken into custody by Brett.
    • Jessica Jones (2015): Because of the Netflix Marvel shows' cancellations, the last we see of Trish at the end of season 3 is her being sent to the Raft for murdering three people, including the person who killed her mother, and attacking Jessica. Many fans have speculated that as the secondary lead of the show, Trish was likely going to have a redemption arc in season 4 since it was unlikely the show would keep her locked up in the Raft for the entire season.
    • WandaVision: This is ultimately the fate of S.W.O.R.D. Acting Director Tyler Hayward; he ends up being arrested by the FBI after his experimentations on Vision's body to turn him into a weapon for his needs, attempting to gun civilians such as Tommy and Billy, and also restraining FBI agent Jimmy Woo.
  • Madam Secretary: In a close variant, the last we hear of nationalist French President Leon Perrin is that the French parliament is in the process of impeaching him for taking bribes from the Russians to betray NATO.
  • In Misfits this happens to one of the main characters (albeit the Token Evil Teammate), as a way of putting him on a bus. Nathan is last seen in season 3 being arrested in Las Vegas, and never rejoins the other characters.
  • Only Murders in the Building shows that this trope is not the end:
    • At the end of episode 8, Teddy and Theo Dimas are arrested after the trio uncovers their smuggling ring and assumes that they killed Tim Kono. This is an interesting case where the villain didn't commit every crime they are arrested for, as they weren't the ones who killed Tim. They are not seen throughout the rest of season 1, but are out of jail in season 2.
    • Near the end of the season 1 finale, Jan is last seen being pushed into a police car after the trio obtains proof that she killed Tim Kono. Her trying to kill everyone in the building with a gas explosion doesn't help her case. Charles would visit her in prison throughout season 2.
    • The main trio are all arrested at the end of season 1 because they were at the scene of Bunny's murder (although we know that Charles and Oliver didn't do it, and Mabel claims she didn't do it either.) They are released for lack of evidence and spend the second season clearing their names.
  • In Oz, corrupt prison guard Healy is last seen being arrested after O'Reily sells him out to Warden Glynn. The last time he's mentioned is when O'Reily refuses to testify against him.
  • In The Secret World of Alex Mack, the Big Bad Danielle Atron is last seen being taken into police custody.
  • The Sopranos: At the start of season 5, Feech La Manna is released after nearly twenty years in prison, a member of the "Class of '04" (alongside Angelo Garepe, Phil Leotardo, and Tony Blundetto). As a sign of respect and as a reward for not snitching, Tony allows Feech to collect money from various illegal activities. However, Feech stills sees Tony as a kid, completely ignores Tony's status as boss and begins to cause headaches. First he breaks the arm of landscaper Salvatore Vitro to force him to give up some of his routes. Vitro is forced to go to Tony for help and ultimately suffers enough financial difficulty that he has to pull his son from college and landscape both Tony and Johnny Sack's large homes for free. Feech apologizes to Tony and pledges his respect, but when he hears Dr. Ira Fried speak of his daughter's lavish, expensive wedding he organizes a mass hijacking of the guests' expensive cars, causing more headaches for Tony. Because he cannot have such a respected gangster killed, Tony has to resort to alternative means to get him out of the way. To do this, he has Christopher Moltisanti and Benny Fazio trick Feech into storing stolen plasma televisions in his garage, then they tip off his parole officer. The last scene of Feech in the series is him on the bus to prison, catching as much of the outside world as he can before he returns to prison for the rest of his life.
  • At the conclusion of the Touched by an Angel episode "What Are Friends For", one of the longtime best friends of the angels case of the week is seen doing this, having finally confessed and pled guilty to the statutory rape complaint filed against him.
  • Most Villains of the Week on Walker, Texas Ranger typically end up being imprisoned by the end of each episode, though not before being beaten to a quivering pulp upon confrontation and then tried in a court of law.
  • The Wire:
    • The last we see of Ziggy Sobotka in Season 2 is him on his way to prison in the ending montage.
    • This trope is not in effect for Avon Barksdale's first arrest and conviction at the end of season 1, since Avon still gets a storyline and subplot of his own in season 2 from behind bars where we see him orchestrate a scheme to move up his first parole hearing and get early release from jail, which ultimately happens in season 3. But it is the case for his re-arrest and return to prison at the end of season 3 after Stringer double-crosses him and sells out the location of his weapons cache to Major Colvin, to show how the Barksdales have crumbled as a result of the war with Marlo Stanfield. He does come back for one last appearance in season 5, when Marlo has to go through him to get access to Sergei Malatov, a member of the Greeks' organization from season 2.

    Video Games 
  • Bug Fables: At the end of the "Explorer Check!" sidequest, when Team Snakemouth defeats Cenn and Pisci (who attempted to impersonate the exploration team to smuggle items from the Ant Storage Service worker), they end up attempting to escape but were thwarted by Gen and Eri, who sedated them with the Sleep Bomb trap. Gen and Eri then thank Team Snakemouth for their assistance in apprehending criminals, and the two ruffians were shipped off into prison. Much later, when Team Snakemouth visits said prison in the penultimate chapter during its occupation by wasps, Cenn and Pisci can be seen there, sitting in their prison cells despite the fact that they have a perfect opportunity to escape, implying that they genuinely want to atone themselves by serving out their sentence.
  • Clam Man: After Clam Man exposes the crimes of Mr. Bosman and "Loud Mouth," who he suspects to be the Big Bad Duumvirate, it transitions to a police car pulling away, with the dialogue making it clear that Bosman and "Loud Mouth" were arrested. However, it turns out that they were only pawns of the real Big Bad, who ends up dying at the end.
  • Detective Grimoire:
    • At the end of the first game, when Grimoire finishes The Summation, we cut to the killer, Pete Nubhat, screaming, and it transitions to him behind bars. Cue credits.
    • In Secret of the Swamp, after the killer, Echo, confesses to the crime, he suddenly tries to run away, only to be stopped by Boggy the swamp monster, who is Real After All. He is then arrested by Officer James.
  • Driver 2 ends with Pink Lenny being extradited back to Chicago from Rio to face charges from his role in the gang war.
  • At the end of The Exorcism Of Annabelle Sunray, after Annabelle and Roxanne manage to escape The Church and run into the police, the last we see of The Preacher/Jason is being subdued by Father Martin, and subsequently the narration stating that the villain was arrested for running an Orphanage of Fear among other crimes.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: Ludveck is sent to prison following his failed coup at the end of Part 2, and is unmentioned afterwards.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: Abdul Alhazred is last seen being taken to the dungeon by Cassima's guards after Cassima incapacitates him by stabbing him with a dagger.
  • Inazuma Eleven:
    • Near the end of the second game, it turns out all the supposed alien attacks are actually from middle-school kids who were given superpowers by a Magic Meteor - except their strongest team, Genesis, which was specially trained to surpass the powers of the other teams from Aliea Academy. This was all part of Seijirou's plan of overthrowing the government for not bringing justice to his son's death, but in the end, he realizes the whole project was a mistake. Even though he pulls a Heel–Face Turn, he's still brought into custody by the police, which is how his screentime in the original series ends.
    • After the Aliea Meteorite is destroyed, Kenzaki slips off with some fragments and forms the Dark Emperors. Unlike his boss, he just wants to take over the world for unexplained reasons. After the remaining fragments are completely nullified, he gets arrested by the police and is neither seen nor mentioned again.
  • Mega Man 6 closes out the NES era with Doctor Wily at last arrested and behind bars. Of course, this isn't the end of Wily, as he gets freed at the start of the next game by Burst Man, Freeze Man, Junk Man, and Cloud Man.
  • Spider-Man (2000) ends with a scene showing Rhino, Mysterio, Scorpion, Doc Ock, and a random Mook sharing a prison cell. The sequel, Spider-Man 2 – Enter: Electro has a similar final scene, with Hammerhead, Shocker, and Electro sharing a cell, with the final shot revealing their cell is right next to the one from the first game.
  • A heroic variant occurs in Yakuza 6: Taiga Saejima willingly goes back behind bars to finish his sentence after the events of Yakuza 5, while Goro Majima and Daigo Dojima are arrested as a result of Katsumi Sugai's plot to take over the Tojo Clan. All three protagonist characters spend nearly the entire game out of the picture as a result.
  • If you won't attack anyone in Deltarune and warn enemies so Susie won't hit them, the first chapter will end with the King being overthrown and send to prison while his son, Lancer, becomes the king. Chapter 2 shows he ended up imprisoned regardless of the ending, though you can talk to him in his cell.
  • DuckTales Remastered ends with Glomgold and the Beagle Boys getting hauled off to jail. Despite her involvement, Magica isn't with them, implying she escaped arrest.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: After Regime Superman is defeated by his mainstream counterpart, many of his allies are carted off to prison, barring Flash, who is paroled for helping to take down the Regime. Yellow Lantern is taken to Oa for rehabilitation. Regime Superman is shown being locked up in a red-sun cell that renders him powerless.
  • In River City Girls, series villain Sabu is stated to be in jail during that time, which is why his never-before-mentioned daughter Sabuko is the Final Boss.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: Most episodes in the series end with the real killer being arrested, which is usually the last we hear of them. Key word being usually as the Ace Attorney universe has the afterlife, ghosts, spirit mediums, and the death penalty. Put all four together...

    Web Animation 
  • ATTACK on MIKA: Saki and Yuki's parents are taken away by the police after the former explains to them the abuse they put her through, including being locked out in the veranda for talking back to them.
  • Epithet Erased: Mera and Indus are arrested at the end of the first arc for trying to steal the Arsene Amulet from the museum and subsequently disappear from the story. In a similar vein Sylvie, who was injured during the attempted robbery, makes no later appearances after being carted off to the hospital at the end of the arc.
  • Minilife TV: After the X-Team gets their plan to stop the 28th Legondo World Martial Arts Tournament foiled, the organization's members get taken to prison in "A New Terror Arrives", and a few of them reappear in "Happiness Is A Sparked Lake" being forced to do community service in the park.

    Web Original 
  • At the end of Season 2 of the Dream SMP, Dream gets locked in Pandora's Vault in the aftermath of the Disc Confrontation, temporarily preventing him from interacting with the story. Subverted by the fact that it is later shown that Dream still holds incredible power over the server even when locked away, and is still able to heavily influence the plot through various means. In the Season 3 finale, this gets turned on its head altogether when Dream makes his Great Escape from prison with help from the Syndicate, and returns to the plot with a malicious vengeance.
  • In the Season 3 finale of The Magnus Archives, Elias Bouchard is arrested for murder and is taken to prison, though he does appear again in the following seasons.

    Western Animation 
  • The Flintstones: "Dripper" follows the titular sealasaurus almost being kidnapped by an unknown criminal mastermind by the name of "Mrs. Big", because her two incompetent henchmen, Blinky and Muscles, end up kidnapping Barney by mistake. When Dripper follows the henchmen to their hideout and calls the police for the kidnapped Barney, he is caught, as well, just moments before the police arrive to arrest their captors. Moments after Blinky and Muscles are arrested and Fred (who rode along with the officers) rescues Barney and Dripper, "Mrs. Big" is later unmasked to be Dripper's own trainer, who was jealous of the latter's fame and plotted to remove him from the limelight, at which point he, too, is arrested.
  • Gravity Falls:
  • In Harley Quinn, Dr. Psycho is left to rot in Arkham after betraying the crew at the end of Season 2. The Bus Came Back near the end of Season 3, although he's Reformed, but Rejected.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "The Lone Stranger and Porky", the Stranger is called to save Porky from a bandit who kidnapped and robbed him. The bandit seems to have the upper-hand during the final fight, but Stranger recovers and defeats him, giving him a good punch that causes him to fly into a giant boulder. After the bandit collides with said boulder, it converts into a jailhouse, where he is last seen bursting into tears.
    • "Corn On The Cop" has Daffy and Porky, playing the roles of incompetent policemen, chasing after a bank robber disguised as Granny on Halloween, and try to arrest either her or the real robber. At the end of the short, the real robber is arrested after being given a Comedic Spanking by Granny, who believed he and the two incompetent cops were kids in costumes.
  • Mega Man: Fully Charged: At the end of the final episode, Sgt. Night is defeated by Mega Man and arrested by the Good Guild. The comic continuation confirms early on that he is still in jail at the time they take place.
  • Mission Hill: Ron, the Bad Boss who owns the waterbed store Andy and Gwen work at, is arrested by the IRS for tax evasion in the eighth episode. Had the show gone on, he would have been replaced with a man named Don, who was essentially exactly the same character except he would have been a corrupt hick instead of a Funny Foreigner.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Most of the show's villains either make a Heel–Face Turn or get sealed away somehow after being blasted by the concentrated Magic of Friendship. It's rare to see them arrested, but not completely unheard of:
    • Lord Tirek in "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 2" is an odd example. He gets blasted with the latest upgrade to the Magic of Friendship, and this time the power of Harmony strips Tirek of his stolen magic, then teleports him into a jail cell in Tartarus.note 
    • "School Raze - Part 2" ends with that season's villain, Cozy Glow, hauled away by the Royal Guard, then locked up in a cage of her own in Tartarus.
  • Ninjago: When the villains aren't either killed, sealed off, suffer some horrific non-lethal fate or outright leave before they can be caught this trope is what usually happens to them. Among these villains being Pythor in Season 3, The Sons of Garmadon in Season 8, Lord Garmadon himself in Season 9, and Aspheera in Season 11.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, character Aloyse von Roddenstein is seen being arrested in the ending of Phineas And Ferb Save Summer and is never seen again.
  • The Proud Family episode "Thelma and Luis" sees LaCienega's Papi being sent to a nursing home called Happy Endings, only for them to find out it's actually a front for an illegal okra plantation farm where the residents are imprisoned and enslaved, and Suga Mama, being the only one of the adults who believes the kids, helps them bust him out. By the end of the episode, the families of the residents are soon made aware of what's really going on at Happy Endings, and its administrator, Helga, while trying to recapture the escaped Papi and likely add Suga Mama to the plantation, is arrested along with her staff, and according to Sunset, will be serving a long prison sentence.
  • In The Raccoons, the last episode Milton Midas appears in is "The One That Got Away!", where his last scene involves him getting arrested for hiring the Pigs to dump toxic waste into a lake.
  • Scooby-Doo. The early seasons of the TV cartoon almost always had the villain who perpetrated the "Scooby-Doo" Hoax being arrested by the police for the criminal operation the hoax was intended to cover up.
  • In The Simpsons, Artie Ziff got arrested at the end of the episode "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner". While the ending to the episode implied that Ziff was gonna get killed off, he continued to make appearances in flashbacks, and eventually out of prison, alive and well.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • Sergeant Slick is last seen being taken into custody, with no further word on his fate. However, as Scum and Villainy revealed that clones don't get due process and Slick committed treason (it's noted that Mace Windu had to negotiate to get Boba Fett a lighter sentence in the form of prison time), things don't look good for him.
    • Dogma is last seen being arrested for killing a Jedi, and his fate afterward is currently unknown. The Jedi eventually did learn that Krell was a traitor, but it's also noted in Scum and Villainy that clones don't get due process, so nothing can be said for sure of his fate.
    • Barriss Offee is never heard from again after her fall to The Dark Side and arrest. In Star Wars Legends comics and deleted scenes from Revenge of the Sith it's shown that she was killed in Order 66 but Shrug of God refuses to tell us if this is still canon, only asserting that she was not executed nor turned into an Inquisitor.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): After sporadically antagonizing the Turtles throughout, Don Visiozo is finally arrested by the police in the final season's first story arc, and unlike the Purple Dragons (which this tended to happen to them as well) he doesn't reappear afterwards.
  • In the fifth season of Total Drama, Duncan, the juvenile hall resident, attempts to defy his Badass Decay, by blowing up Chris' "summer cottage" (actually an elaborate mansion). Chris wastes no time in not only voting him off, but also sending him to big-boy jail for arson.
  • Many episodes of WordGirl end with one or more police officers walking into the scene and leading off the villain of the day after their latest scheme is foiled. Of course, these villains tend to reappear somewhat frequently.


Video Example(s):


Duncan gets arrested

In a desperate move to keep up his bad-boy image, Duncan blows up Chris's cottage. However, it results in him being arrested and hauled off to a more adult prison for acts of arson and vandalism.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / PutOnAPrisonBus

Media sources: