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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 
  • In 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 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.
  • TV Movie 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.
  • 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.
  • The main plot of The Big Lebowski is the ransom demanded for the title character's Trophy Wife. The Dude is tasked to drop the money from a bridge into a river. But then things go sideways.
  • Thunderball requires the British Government to pay SPECTRE a diamond ransom. The ransom is to be airdropped on a certain location at a certain time.
  • Dumb and Dumber's plot is kicked off by one of the main characters being a Spanner in the Works. When the woman he loves drops off the briefcase with the money, Lloyd sprints through the airport to grab it to give it to her.
  • A botched ransom drop is one of the key turning points in Man on Fire, leading Creasy to vow revenge on Pita's kidnappers.
  • In Juggernaut, 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).
  • Ransom, 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.
  • In Along Came a Spider, the police officer in charge of the case 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.
  • In High and Low , the ransom for Aoki's son is being dropped off from a fast moving train as per the kidnapper's meticulous instructions.
  • The kidnappers in Unknown 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.
  • Dirty Harry. Inspector Callahan is run from one phone booth to another by the Scorpio killer to reveal a tail. Problems he encounters include an attempted mugging and the wrong person picking up the public phone 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.
  • In Séance on a Wet Afternoon, Phony Psychic Myra Savage makes her husband Billy kidnap Amanda Clayton, daughter of a wealthy industrialist, and then sends Mr Clayton instructions to put £25,000 in a blue BOAC overnight bag and wait in a phone box in Leicester Square for further instructions. Clayton is accompanied by two plainclothes policemen, but Billy uses a disguise and the crowds in the Piccadilly Circus Underground station to grab the ransom bag and board a departing train before Clayton or the plainclothes officers can catch him.

  • The book Ransom Drop by Mike Sullivan is, not surprisingly, about this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Soap Burt & Danny have to exchange a paper bag filled with 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.
  • 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 facefull of blue dye for his troubles.
  • In Castle, the 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 on 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.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show had 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.
  • 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. 
  • Ransom has the CR team use this as a means of making contact with the bad guys responsible for kidnapping people their clients know about.
  • Ripcord has an episode called "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.
  • One episode of Barney Miller 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.
  • 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.
  • The CSI shows do this a few times. Once on CSI NY the drop gets blown and a different plan has to be made.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Classic Traveller supplement The Traveller Adventure. When the people who kidnapped Lisa Fireaux realize that the PC 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 
  • Early in the original Grand Theft Auto, the boss's daughter is kidnapped. 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 towards the garage where the girl is being held (in the trunk of a car).

    Visual Novels 
  • Done in 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.