Follow TV Tropes


The Patient Has Left the Building

Go To

Dr. Hayward: You're not going anywhere!
Special Agent Dale Cooper: Doc, when the will is invoked, the recuperative powers of the physical body are simply extraordinary.

Doctor's Orders are powerful things, often able to keep even the most badass characters in line... but not this guy!

Whether he's just woken up from a Convenient Coma or the surgeon has just finished stitching him up after getting the bullet out, the medical advice either straight from the lips of The Medic or suggested by a concerned loved-one is for him to rest up and hang around for observation in case of complications or side-effects. But no, Heroic Resolve will see him through.

To qualify, there should be someone arguing the case that the patient should stay in bed, or an obvious attempt to evade hospital staff as he sneaks out. If he just gets up, grabs his coat and waves to the nurse on his way out, it's not this trope.

Said patient will often Pull the I.V. and leave while only wearing an Embarrassing Hospital Gown. It may also happen if the patient is Afraid of Doctors. Potential visitors will most likely be told that the patient is No Longer with Us.

See also You Can Barely Stand, I Can Still Fight!, Just a Flesh Wound.


    open/close all folders 

  • Averted and Played for Laughs in a 2011 Nike commercial with a couple running cross country to each other. While the girl is in prime shape (and is wearing Nikes, of course), her boyfriend has an average build and sneakers to match. At one point he is hospitalized and attempts to still run to her, but is quickly led back to his bed.

    Anime and Manga 
  • AKIRA: Tetsuo runs away from the secret hospital with gauze still wrapped around his head.
  • Dragon Ball Z: After being beaten up by Vegeta and sent to the hospital, Goku repeatedly tries to escape the hospital to train (he actually succeeds once, but he's sent back to the hospital).
  • Fruits Basket: Rin is taken to the hospital to be treated for malnourishment. She wakes up when no doctors are around to check on her and, having no idea what she's doing there or why she was not imprisoned in the Cat's room as she promised, she promptly left and began wandering the streets in a dazed stupor. She did this repeatedly in the past, with an understandable reason — a hospital was where her parents disowned her.
  • Itazurana Kiss: When Yuuko Matsumoto is admitted due to a duodenal cancer or ulcer (depending on the subtitles), and is required to have surgery and rest, she refuses to listen to any doctor's orders and leaves the building, in her hospital clothes, to get to a meeting related to the company she started!
  • Monster: Johan is supposed to be in bed after brain surgery for a while, but Johan sneaks out and takes his sister with him. This however gets on a later stage with the locksmith, which becomes the first victim we see Johan execute in the series (the doctors he murdered are on another issue, that is indirect and as a "favor" to Tenma).
  • Sword Art Online: At the end of the first arc, Kirito pulls this after two years in a coma from the titular game to find Asuna.
  • Yona of the Dawn: The Dragons pull this in a chapter, escaping their tent, under Yoon's nose, to join Hak in battle against Kai's rogue soldiers despite being ill and feverish. It does not go well until Zeno joins the fray.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: When Big Ethel wanted to care for a badly injured Jughead (he got hurt trying to run away from her), he fled the hospital.
  • The Pulse: While Jessica's out of the room calling Ben Urich after she and Luke are attacked by Lucia Von Bardas, Danny Rand sneaks Luke out of the hospital. Unfortunately, he doesn't tell Jessica he was going to do this.
  • Wonder Woman (2006): Etta is still in the hospital recovering from being tortured when aliens attack Washington DC. She responds by telling Steve Trevor that while it's sweet of him to keep her company she'd prefer some pants and her gun. The two of them are next seen helping deal with the invaders.
  • Superman:
    • Who Took the Super out of Superman?: Clark Kent comes around after being struck by a car and finds out he has been admitted in a hospital. A doctor orders him to stay in bed, but Clark needs to know why he appears to have been depowered; so as soon as the doctor leaves the room, Clark retrieves his Superman costume from its hiding place, puts it on and sneaks out.
    • Starfire's Revenge: Linda Danvers is bound to a stretcher and brought into the emergency ward after walking out of a burning building. She can't let the doctors examine her and find out her secret identity, so Linda waits until nobody is watching her, wraps herself in a sheet, and darts out of the hospital.
    • Superboy (1994): When his body is degrading Superboy leaves S.T.A.R. labs to rescue people on a boat stuck in a powerful storm even though his powers are quickly weakening and doing so speeds up the degradation.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Herman cartoon featured a doctor telling the nurse, "Keep a close eye on this one," in reference to a patient half-out of bed and wearing roller skates.

    Fan Works 
  • In this series of Emergency! fics, John Gage sneaks out so many times that Dr. Brackett once threatens to put him in restraints in the psych ward if he doesn't quit. Brackett wouldn't have gone through with it, since restraining John in this series is a very bad idea, but he wanted to get the message across. Roy isn't thrilled either, because it usually ends with John being hurt worse than he is already.
    • Another time, Roy found him drunk and soaked from the rain after running off. He dropped John at Dixie's place because he needed watching and Roy didn't have time to return him to Rampart (plus, John was hating himself for the death of Dixie's niece, and Dix was mad because of a misunderstanding about what happened, so Roy hoped it'd get them talking again). They have to undress him to wash and dry his clothes, but Dixie deliberately delays giving them back because she knows he can't leave naked and it'll force him to stay put a while and rest.
  • From Kill la Kill AU, Snowflakes, due to wanting to play in the snow, Ryuuko has often tried to "escape" from the hospital. When she succeeds, her parents are justifiably displeased.
  • Fanfic author CrystalOfEllinon has quite a few of these for the G.I. Joe fandom. Between Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Beachhead, the Joe medics have their work cut out keeping their patients in the infirmary.
  • In the Real-Person Fic, Astral Journey: It's Complicated has Melanie escaping from the psych ward, twice after being sectioned when her eating disorder being discovered. Both ended up with her being caught, one of them results her in a wheelchair. Her second attempt ended so disastrously, not only she ends up injured but got the narrator finding it funny. Many thought she was brave but crazy for doing that.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged ends up subverting the example from canon. At the end of the first season, upon finally escaping from The Most Dangerous Video Game, Kirito gets out of his hospital bed to go staggering off in search of Asuna, only to be hit with a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome.
    Kirito: Gotta find Asuna... gotta find- wait, is that a catheter?
    (SPLORCH followed by a horrific shriek of pain)

    Film Animated 
  • The Rescuers Down Under: Wilbur attempts to escape from the doctor mice before the operation. Apparently they're used to this because they have a sign: "Patient Escaping".

    Film Live-Action 
  • About Scout: Sam's father was suicidal, like Sam. He was in a mental institution when he stole the director's car and drove it off a cliff.
  • Blue Ruin: Dwight is on a mission to find the killers of his parents. He gets shot in the process and collapses at the hospital reception. As soon as he wakes up after the operation that fixed his wound, he leaves the hospital through the backdoor.
  • Flareup: After Michele is brought to the hospital by the cops, they try to put her under their protection. Although she's being pursued by a psychotic killer, Michele is very averse to the idea, so she takes her clothes, jumps out a window and runs off to her boyfriend's apartment without waiting for the doctor to discharge her.
  • Kate: Kate is told she has acute radiation poisoning and will be dead by tomorrow. Determined to kill the person responsible before this happens, she steals a nurse outfit, then a gun from a detective which she uses to force a doctor to issue her with enough stimulants to keep going.
  • OSS 117: Lost in Rio has a hilarious Low-Speed Chase variant in which both the hero and the Nazi Grandpa Big Bad, Von Zimmel, find themselves in a hospital after falling off an Inevitable Waterfall. Von Zimmel, who wasn't too injured, escapes after waking up using a walker, while OSS 117 is more severely unjured, tethered to a transfusion rig (which he also uses as a walking stick) and his butt is naked. Cue a very slow pursuit with the appropriate spy movie chase music.
  • Secondhand Lions: After Hub collapses, Garth and Walter take him to the hospital. A while later he wakes up and comes storming out of his room, demanding to know who put him there.
  • Thor: Thor is exiled to Earth, where he is hit by a van and hospitalized. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, so he flees the hospital, beating up everyone who tries to restrain him.
    • And then promptly knocked down by the same van and driver.
  • Under The Influence: A family patriarch, admitted to the hospital for his alcoholism, breaks out of the hospital because he's so desperate for a drink, despite having been explicitly told that another drink will kill him. Sure enough, by the time his son (developing a drinking problem of his own) finds him, he's downed two bottles of whiskey and died.
  • Unknown (2011): The hero gets into a car accident that almost gets him drowned and leaves him in a Convenient Coma. He wakes up four days later in hospital but immediately checks out against the doctor's advice, still feeling drowsy from the aftereffects of his coma and the Identity Amnesia coming with it.

  • The Dresden Files: Harry always checks himself out of hospitals the minute he's mobile enough to do so. Justified because he's a Walking Techbane and fears that some innocent patient's life-support might short out if he stays.
  • Going Postal: Groat hates being kept hospital after the fire, because their ideas about health clash badly with the bizarre home-remedies he swears by. When he tries to leave, a Battleaxe Nurse insists he still needs to be kept under observation, to the point where Moist finds it necessary to point out the difference between a hospital and a prison. Luckily, the chief of staff is Reasonable Authority Figure Dr John "Mossy" Lawn, who takes the view that if Groat's self-medication hasn't killed him, the after-effects of the fire aren't likely to either.
  • Stickfigure: A Diary of my Former Self: Lori ends up being sent to the hospital because her anorexia has her starving herself to dangerous degrees of skinniness. At one point, fearing the doctors will resort to force-feeding her via a tube down the throat, she tries to escape the hospital. The plan fails when the taxi driver she calls refuses to take her anywhere, since she still is wearing a hospital bracelet and thus has not been discharged. She then manages to pull the bracelet off, but is too dizzy from lack of food to get anywhere.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Booth in the Bones episode "Two Bodies in the Lab". He insists on leaving the hospital to go save Brennan.
  • DI Alec Hardy checks himself out of hospital early and against strong advice in Broadchurch. It comes back to bite him in the bum when he's ambulanced in a second time: the doctors inform his DCI of his previous, secret visit, and she takes him off the case.
  • Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (episode "This Year's Girl") wakes up from a coma and leaves without authorization. (She doesn't sneak around, but she knocks out a few personnel on the way out who try to stop her.)
  • Tony from California Dreams does this the night before he was to face shoulder surgery after Sly accidentally causes him to drop an amplifier that they were trying to carry out after a show. Upon being located hiding at Lorena's, he is soon convinced by Sly to go back by saying that although Tony could sue him (which he understandably threatened him with), he rather be broke than to have his best friend be crippled for the rest of his life.
  • Cheers: In "Dark Imaginings", Sam is hospitalized with a hernia, but checks himself out rather than listen to the doctors because he doesn't want to feel old. He's back in the bar less than five minutes before Woody gives him a pat on the back which sends him right back in again.
  • Cold Case's Lily does this despite having suffered a concussion in a car accident. Sure enough, she spends the rest of the episode suffering from the effects of the injury, only to have it revealed at the end that she never got out of the car to begin with and has been dreaming.
  • In Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa, Himura is hospitalised after ingesting a non-fatal dose of aconite as part of Moroboshi's Deadly Game. She gets in contact with him again, and Arisugawa rushes to Himura's room to discover too late that he's escaped out of the window, leaving only a written apology for Arisugawa.
  • A variation happens on Degrassi: The Next Generation: in the aftermath of Jimmy being shot, Craig and Marco managed to successfully break him out of the hospital (while distracting a guard) so he could go to a concert. Not as if that weren't a great moment in and of itself, while at the concert Jimmy had accidentally bumped into a tough biker guy and made the guy spill his food. The man not only shrugs it off, but as Jimmy unintentionally gets separated from his friends and is unable to see much from his spot, the same man was able to help clear a path and wheel him closer to the stage.
  • Subverted in Desperate Housewives. Mama Solis wakes up from her coma in the middle of the night and tries to leave the hospital on her own, but suffers a Staircase Tumble and dies.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Spearhead From Space": The Third Doctor, freshly regenerated, spends an episode evading doctors in the hospital he's in, stealing clothes and an antique car in the process to effect his escape (he takes a liking to both and gets something similar while working for UNIT).
    • "Robot": The Fourth Doctor, again right after regenerating, once again attempts to evade UNIT's doctors and slip away in the TARDIS, getting into an argument with Dr. Harry Sullivan in the process.
      "You might be a doctor, but I'm the Doctor."
    • Though the TV Movie shows the Doctor has good reason to do this trope. The Seventh Doctor gets accidentally killed on the operating table by a doctor unfamiliar with his Bizarre Alien Biology, then regenerates and escapes from the hospital morgue instead.
    • "The Tsuranga Conundrum": The Thirteenth Doctor tries to do this after waking up in a medical facility, despite the medics' protests, and barges in on a few other patients while looking for the exit before realizing she's on a spaceship.
  • ER: In the episode "The Dance We Do" Dr. Mark Greene suffers a seizure which Dr. Carter immediately begins treating him for. Not wanting the rest of the ER to truly know what's going on and that he was just diagnosed with brain cancer, when Greene wakes up he is quite adamant about leaving and tells Carter that he'll have any testing or further treatment done on an outpatient basis before leaving the treatment room. Later on when Carter finds him out back shooting hoops, Greene tells Carter that he has an aggressive type of brain tumor called glioblastoma which is apparently inoperable.
  • Fawlty Towers: In "The Germans", Basil discharges himself from hospital after concussion, because he is certain the hotel cannot function without him.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: In the episode "Ill Will," Will gets checked into the hospital for a tonsillectomy, but he gets scared and escapes from the hospital. After being convinced to go back to the hospital, Will is seen calmly returning into his hospital room with the Banks accompanying him, as well as a buff bouncer. After Will reasures the family that he will not run away, Uncle Phil gives the bouncer $20, with the explicit order that if Will tries to leave again, "to sit on him."
  • Friends: In "The One That Could Have Been: Part 1," Phoebe says that she was once offered a job by an executive from an investment firm she was giving a massage to because "she was good at stocks" (never mind that Phoebe didn't have a degree in economics, or any type of education past middle school). When the What If? plot kicks in, Phoebe is a shrewd businesswoman who regularly argues with her colleagues and superiors, and belittles the subordinates. When the stress of her job, combined with her chain smoking, lands her in the hospital, Ross answers her cell-phone, since it's from work and is informed that Phoebe's fired because a bad investment cost the firm millions of dollars, he decides not to tell her yet for fear it could trigger another heart attack. In "Part 2," Phoebe, not knowing she's been fired, is desperate to get back to work, and manages to sneak out of the hospital by bullying a fellow patient into helping her escape. Back at the firm, she's informed that she was fired, and is sent back to the hospital when she has another heart attack.
  • In an episode of Home Improvement, Tim gets hurt celebrating getting an award for most driveways paved and is admitted to the hospital. Fearing that he would loses the award to rival Bob Villa, Tim sneaks out of the hospital and paves the driveway so he can officially claim the award. Unfortunately he incurs the wrath of the big man living in the house used for the location shoot when he crushes a toy car that belonged to the man's son. Mark then voices his disappointment when getting beaten up by the big man meant that Tim couldn't take him to the air show as he was readmitted to the hospital. When Tim arranges to have a Blue Angels pilot to take Mark to the air show, the pilot invites the rest of the family to go behind the scenes at the air show, and Tim, a big fan of big powerful machines, tries to sneak out again, only to be stopped from leaving the room by a burly orderly.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: After the fight with the FDNY in "Maltese Cross" that left him with several facial cuts and a possibly broken or at the very least bruised rib, Logan decides to leave triage (and rip out the IV in the crook of his elbow) just as Wheeler informs him that he's about to be admitted to a room.
  • Monk: In the series finale, Monk escapes a hospital by drugging the police officer guarding his room, so he can go after the man who ordered Trudy's death.
  • In Picket Fences, Kenny seems to be so determined to uphold his tough guy image that he self-discharges from hospital the day after he is almost fatally shot. He even goes as far as to insist on going back to work straight away and visiting the gun range to target practice, resulting in him pulling out his stitches and getting a stern lecture about dealing with trauma from Dr. Jill.
  • In an episode of Psych, Shawn breaks a patient out of a mental hospital to stop him from receiving electric-shock treatment and as part of a plan to clear the patient's name in a murder case.
  • Rome. After surviving condemnation in the arena, Titus Pullo wakes up in a hospital to be told he's so famous in Rome no woman would say no to him. Pullo being The Hedonist, he steals a horse and tries to ride back to the city, only to collapse off his horse before arriving. Fortunately he's found and taken to his friend Vorenus' house where he can recover properly.
  • Attempted but ultimately averted on Saved by the Bell when Zack hurt his knee so badly that it tore some ligaments and required surgery. Although he dressed like a doctor (complete with a mask) and was able to fool some nurses, his surgeon Dr. Turtle (Lisa's mother) wasn't and had him sent back to his room.
  • In True Detective, Rust decides to slope off from hospital during a smoke break when he's only recently come out of a coma. His partner almost starts to talk him out of it, but gives in and helps him to the car.
    Marty: I'd protest, but it occurs to me you're unkillable.
  • In Twin Peaks, Dale Cooper insists to his doctor after being shot three times (only two being stopped by his Bulletproof Vest) that the human body has amazing recuperative powers "when the will is invoked". Played for Laughs when he then awkwardly struggles to get out of bed and contritely admits that he's going to need "a few hours to get dressed", but ultimately played straight barring the occasional wince of pain.

  • The Tarot Cafe has a rather unwilling example. The abused child of an alcoholic is sent to the hospital by a tree spirit, after the kid's beaten so badly he'll likely die. The father, upon finding out about this, breaks into the hospital and steals his son out of it, arguing that he can't afford to pay for the care. The dad is not mourned, when he dies by the story's end.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto V: In the aftermath of the "Freighter" version of the Merryweather Heist, Lester bails out of a scheduled treatment for his wasting disease and rushes to the docks dressed in nothing but a backless surgical gown to warn Trevor that the object he just stole was a nuclear device that will make him and everyone else on the team the subject of an international manhunt if he doesn't put it back immediately.
  • Ultimately averted in Horizon Forbidden West, where after barely escaping the HADES Proving Lab and learning the location of MINERVA, Aloy makes it incredibly clear that she'll crawl if she has to despite her debilitating injuries. The only thing that stops her is realizing that her determination is preventing her friend Varl from spending time with his new romantic partner Zo, since he instinctively knows Aloy will try to run off if he leaves. Thus, she stays put for his sake.
  • In the level "Trauma" from Hotline Miami, your character (who has just awoken from a coma) must sneak out of the hospital. It's the game's only Stealth-Based Mission, and your character will pass out if he exerts himself too much.
  • In It Came from the Desert: Antheads, the player has to escape from a hospital controlled by the evil antheads... in a wheelchair.
  • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne opens with Max waking up in a hospital and making an escape while armed thugs hunt him down. Later chapters provide a continuation to this escape and reveal how he ended up in the hospital in the first place.
  • Akihiko Sanada makes a lousy patient after being injured at the beginning of Persona 3, due to his eagerness to return to fighting. As Mitsuru is the one looking after him, the main character only sees occasional hints of this when he expresses boredom and frustration, or schemes to rejoin the fight behind Mitsuru's back. Later in the game, however, the main character becomes ill following a minor event. Afterwards, Mitsuru specifically requests that s/he rest quietly until well again and NOT subject her to a repeat performance of what she went through with Akihiko, indicating she really had her hands full during that time.
  • Late into the main story of Persona 4 Detective Ryotaro Dojima winds up in the hospital after a car accident, but proves to be a restless little cuss who won't stay put. Granted His daughter, Nanako, is currently in the same hospital due to being the latest kidnap victim so he had sympathetic reasons for worrying like a dog on a bone, but it still irks the staff to no end when he leaves his room without supervision.


    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Batman: The Animated Series, an injured Bruce Wayne considered his Batman duties important enough to defy his doctor's orders to stay in bed and recuperate.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Voices", Master Yoda's been confined to the medbay because the other Jedi are worried about him since he's supposedly been talking to the dead, complete with Temple Guards on duty. He shanghais Anakin into helping him escape so he can go on a Vision Quest.
  • In The Hair Bear Bunch episode "Love Bug Bungle", keepers Peevly and Botch are committed to a padded room at a hospital after Botch tells two traffic officers they were chasing three bears on an invisible motorcycle and said bears and a gorilla were under their examination table. The keepers use bed springs to bounce and crash out of their room to pursue the animals. The officers see them.
    1st Cop: Same two kooks still chasing bears.
    2nd Cop: Well...I didn't see it if you didn't.
    1st Cop: I didn't see nothin'.