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Ransom Drop

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Making the drop.

Picking up your ransom can be tricky because it's the obvious way to physically track the money to the kidnapper. To avoid this fate, a convoluted sequence of events is engineered to avoid detection. Switching trains, phone directions, identical bags and so on may be required. Most of the times, ransom exchanges will be done at either secluded/abandoned places like a Parking Garage or public places to avoid drawing the attention of law enforcement and intelligence agencies alike. Expect an order to Come Alone.

Most thrillers with a kidnapping will have a stab at including a novel method.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Big O: Roger Smith delivers ransoms on several occasions. He presents a Briefcase Full of Money, which is armed and also rigged to fly away with the money if he subsequently finds that the ransomed person is a fake. And if attacked by the kidnappers, he's backed up by a Humongous Mecha.

    Comic Books 
  • Ace McCoy: Lightning Comics v1 #5 has Ace and Bill air-dropping the money needed to rescue a kidnapped movie star. The kidnappers then rob the plane in order to circumvent any possible traps at the stated drop site.

    Fan Works 
  • Sea Change Series: Having the ridiculously huge ransom he demanded delivered to him doesn't go as well for Hayaji as he'd hoped.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Along Came a Spider: After Soneji's plot to kidnap Dimitri, the son of the Russian president is foiled, the authorities get a call from him demanding ten million dollars in exchange for Megan Rose's life, and Cross has to make the hand-off. After being forced to follow the requisite convoluted path, he's made to jump on a train just before the doors close, and then, while it's moving, break the windows and throw the ransom out.
  • The Big Lebowski: The Dude is tasked to drop the ransom money for the title character's Trophy Wife from a bridge into a river. But then things go sideways.
  • Dirty Harry: After kidnapping a young girl, Scorpio demands a $200,000 ransom to be delivered to him by one man holding a yellow bag. Inspector Callahan volunteers to be the courier, and is given instructions to race from one public phone booth to another so Scorpio can see if he's being followed. Problems encountered by Callahan include an attempted mugging, and the wrong person picking up the payphone before he reaches it. Callahan wears a Hidden Wire and sends instructions to his partner Gonzales which is just as well as Scorpio has no intention of letting Callahan or his kidnap victim live.
    Scorpio: If I even think you're being followed, the girl dies. If you talk to anyone, I don't care if it's a Pekinese pissing against a lamppost, the girl dies...No car. I give you a certain amount of time to go from phone booth to phone booth. I ring four times. You don't answer by the fourth ring, I hang up and that's the end of the game. The girl dies.
  • Dumb and Dumber: When the woman he loves, Mary, drops off the briefcase with the money, Lloyd sprints through the airport to grab it to give it back to her. By being a Spanner in the Works, he prevents Mary's husband from getting his money and the movie's plot is triggered.
  • Fargo: The ransom is supposed to be delivered by the kidnapped woman's husband who ordered the kidnapping in the first place. He will pocket his share of the money and deliver the rest to his partners. However, in the last moment the woman's father decides to deliver the money himself and refuses to hand it over until he sees that his daughter is alive. The kidnapper shoots him dead.
  • High and Low (1963): As per the kidnapper's meticulous instructions, the ransom for Aoki's son has to be dropped off from a fast-moving train. The kidnapper specifically states that the briefcases can't be any wider than 2.5 inches or otherwise they wouldn't fit through the gap in the window of the train's toilet, which is the only window in the train that opens to any degree.
  • Juggernaut (1974): The ransom demanded by the bomber is to be left in a certain locker at a bus station. The police stake out the locker, but the man who comes to pick up the money turns out to have been hired to collect it and drop it somewhere else, with no knowledge that can lead back to the bomber. He also inadvertently screws up the bomber's plan when he doesn't have enough money to pay the excess baggage fee (having spent it already).
  • Man on Fire:
  • The Nice Guys: Exploited. Tally tasks March and Healy with delivering money for a ransom exchange. Unknown to March and Healy, the money is fake and the mission is a trap set up by Tally.
  • Obsession: A Briefcase Full of Money gets delivered in a riverboat to a dock in the Mississippi river.
  • Ransom: The film unsurprisingly has a pivotal scene around this, where the protagonist is made to go from phone to phone to get subsequent directions, instructed to jump into a pool to destroy any electronics he might have on him, etc. When he finally gets to the drop it turns out the police have been following him the whole time, and the hand-off goes bad very quickly.
  • Sťance on a Wet Afternoon: As part of the kidnapping scheme, Myra makes Billy put together a ransom demand for £25,000 in a blue BOAC overnight bag to be handed over in the centre of London. As Clayton is accompanied by two plainclothes officers during the handover, Billy has to rush in and out of tunnels in Piccadilly Circus Underground station before grabbing the bag from Clayton before he and the police officers have time to react, then blending in with a crowd to board a departing train and change his disguise.
  • Speed has one of these in a garbage can on a busy street. The villain cut a hole in the concrete so he can get the bag in the subway below the garbage can.
  • Thunderball: The British Government is required to pay SPECTRE a diamond ransom. The ransom is to be airdropped at a certain location at a certain time.
  • Ugly: Downplayed when Shalini is told by the kidnapper to drive to some remote place and drop the bag with the money from her car and drive off.
  • Unknown (2006): The kidnappers order the ransom to be stashed in a public locker. Though the police are surveilling the area with cameras, they fail to realize that the locker has no bottom and the ransom fell through into the station's basement where it was picked up.
  • Velvet 1984: The villains demand a ransom be taken in a bag to a marine park. A guy grabs the bag and throws it into the nearby ocean, where it's picked up by a woman on a jet ski. When questioned, the guy says he was paid to do what he did - he had no idea what the bag contained.

  • Mike Sullivan's Ransom Drop is, not surprisingly, about this.
  • Two Little Girls in Blue: Three-year-old twins Kathy and Kelly are kidnapped and the criminal's leader, who calls himself the Pied Piper, demands $8 million in exchange for their release. After the $8 million ransom is raised, the Pied Piper instructs the FBI to put $7 million in a bank account and then have Franklin Bailey (an acquaintance of the family) deliver $1 million in cash to a specific location. The feds try to discreetly follow Bailey to the drop-off, but end up losing track of him due to the convoluted instructions of the Piper. Once the money is collected, the Piper calls back to tell the FBI where Kathy and Kelly can be found: sitting in a car in the car parking of an abandoned restaurant. However, when the feds arrive they discover one of the kidnappers dead from a gunshot and only Kelly in the vehicle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Superman: In "Beware the Wrecker", the eponymous villain asks that the money be left on a certain stump in a park, which turns out to be a conduit to a pipe system that could go anywhere.
  • Barney Miller: One episode has the kidnappers demanding that a police officer drop off the ransom while running in the park, which the victim's family decides to pay. Wojo ends up running for a good few miles before the kidnappers actually show up to claim the ransom and release the victim.
  • Castle: In "Little Girl Lost", the 750,000-dollar ransom is delivered by a local relative of one of the kidnapped girls.
  • Criminal Minds: One episode has a kidnapper order the abductee's twin sister deliver the cash in a parking lot at night. Unfortunately, he has no desire to get the money, but to kidnap the twin (which he's obsessed over and is using the kidnapped sister to bait). The BAU is able to figure this out and arrives just in time to scare the kidnapper away.
  • CSI: Throughout the series, there are plenty of kidnapping cases. As a result, this trope has equal chances of being Played Straight as it is of being defied by either heroes or villains. Often, the victims will ask the team to oversee the ransom exchange process from afar, thus granting some measure of protection to the victim and, depending on the circumstances, ambushing the criminal(s). Sometimes this fails and the whole operation blows up, so they have to employ an alternate plan. In any case, the ransom drops have ranged from simple (go to this location and leave the money there) to convoluted (take a train to this city, check in a hotel with the money, and leave it in the room).
  • Due South: In "All the Queen's Horses", after receiving a call with the terrorists' demands for cash, Ray is tasked with obtaining a bag of money and leaving it in a catcher pouch (a mail bag used by old-fashioned trains), which is then picked up with a hook when the train passes by.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: There's an episode where the script was stolen and a ransom demanded. Dick is asked by a tramp for some money and asks if he should first put it in the trash can (as earlier agreed); the tramp is disgusted, thinking Dick van Dyke just wants to humiliate him.
  • My Name Is Earl: The list item was stealing some antique silverware from the local library. Having been unable to melt it down for the silver content they try to ransom it back to the library, but a bum picks up the bagful of cash from the garbage can where it was to be dropped — and just as well too since he gets a faceful of blue dye for his troubles.
  • The Pinkertons: In "Frontier Desperados", a young woman's husband is abducted and his kidnappers demand a ransom. She's instructed to leave the money hidden in a farmyard's trough. She hires the Pinkertons to oversee the process but then everything goes to hell because they are spotted by the criminals.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: In "The Great Egg Caper", Artie gets the demons to put $20,000 in a recycling bin while he drops them the monster egg with a remote-controlled helicopter. The "egg" he drops is just a bouncy ball, and the recycling bin is tied to the jet ski Artie is driving, allowing him to speed off with the money. 
  • The Professionals: In "The Acorn Syndrome", Bodie hides in the boot of a car to follow the man driving it to a ransom drop. Unfortunately, the kidnappers have the driver change cars, and Bodie barely gets out of the boot in time to attach a Tracking Device to the second car before it drives off.
  • Quincy, M.E.: In "Tissue of Truth", a criminal kidnaps a boy, buries him alive, and demands money in exchange for the boy's location. The police plan to meet with the man to give him his ransom and then follow him.
  • Ransom: The CR team uses this as a means of making contact with the bad guys responsible for kidnapping people their clients know about. These exchanges sometimes involve improvising to make things easier such as making Niko turn on his brother Yannis by appealing to his hatred for being beaten up.
  • Recht Op Recht: Two of these were ordered during the episode "De Rietdekkers". The first one involved a drop-off at a small chapel, followed by a taxi driver picking up the bag. The second one involved a (moving) transaction with a biker.
  • Ripcord: In the episode "Ransom Drop", Ted McKeever can't understand why Dana Oliver demands his company prove they can drop a crate of eggs by parachute without cracking a shell. When Ted's team demonstrates its capabilities, she reveals the reason for her strange request - she wants Ted, Jim and Chuck to airdrop a top-secret and extremely fragile missile instrument to ransom her father who is being held prisoner in the mountains by technology-savvy kidnappers.
  • Scream: TV Series: Mayor Maddox is instructed by his blackmailers to bring $100,000 to an old storage unit outside town. He only brings $10,000. Nose breakage ensues.
  • Soap: Burt & Danny have to exchange a paper bag filled with the ransom money to get Danny's wife back. While waiting for the kidnappers to show up they "practice" but they both switch the bags, so Burt-as-the-kidnapper ends up with the empty paper bag he originally had.
  • Starsky & Hutch: Hutch participates in one in "The Psychic," running between public phones with the money. At one point he encounters two thieves in an alley and has to fight them to get past, attracting the notice of two other cops. The kidnappers see their car parked outside a building and assume Hutch called them.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "As Ye Sow", Devoe arranges the money Leo's paying to have Sejac killed in a locker at the bus station, and puts the key to the locker in the mail.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Traveller: In the classic supplement "The Traveller Adventure", when the people who kidnapped Lisa Fireaux realize that the Player Character's group includes the Vargr character Gvoudzon, they demand that he drop off Lisa's ransom. If he does so, they kidnap him as well, keep the ransom, and don't release Lisa.

    Video Games 
  • Max Payne 3: Chapter III has Max and Pasos attempting to deliver a large ransom to secure the release of Fabiana, who was kidnapped at the nightclub in the previous chapter. The drop by Max and Pasos with the kidnappers was supposed to have been made at a football stadium in the middle of the night, but apparently, word got out and some third party got wind that a lot of money was about to change hands there — thus, a firefight breaks out that Max and Pasos have to escape from.
  • Grand Theft Auto 2: The boss's daughter is kidnapped early on in the game. Claude is sent to drop off the ransom, which is picked up by the kidnappers via boat. Unusually for a GTA game, everything goes exactly as planned — the kidnappers take the money and point Claude toward the garage where the girl is being held (in the trunk of a car).

    Visual Novels 
  • 428: Shibuya Scramble: When Hitomi Osawa is told by the kidnappers of her twin sister, Maria, to the statue of Hachiko in Shibuya. It gets botched when the kidnappers attempt to get her killed, leading to an escalation in the city when the UA virus is released. This forces the Japanese government to quarantine the city.

    Web Video 
  • ALZI Production's Batgirl: In the second season's sixth episode, this gets invoked by one of the "False Faces" gang members. He says he wants to see the money in cash. This gets defied by his accomplice (and the fake victim's husband), who rebukes that it's better to make a bank transfer.

    Western Animation 
  • Paradise PD: In "Paradise PD Meets Brickleberry", Woody and Poachmaster General do this but Poachmaster General gets his Briefcase Full of Money just before Randall gets his bag of bear, allowing for Poachmaster General to screw Woody over and run off with the cash and the bear.
  • Winx Club: In "Date with Disaster", Stella is kidnapped and replaced by a shapeshifted Darcy who is frantically looking for Stella's Solaria ring. After the girls realize she's an imposter, Darcy flees. This is later revealed to have been a trap to lure the girls to the same fake restaurant Darcy and her sisters are holding Stella captive. There, they demand the aforementioned ring in exchange for freeing Stella. Now, the trope is Played With because the heroines aren't aware the situation is a ransom drop, but the villains did plan it out that way.