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Thrown Down a Well

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Jealousy can get you in a hole lotta trouble.
"It's a place you put people... to forget about 'em!"
Hoggle, Labyrinth

A character gets rid of another character by physically or magically trapping them within some uncomfortable location so remote it will be impossible for them to escape by themselves.

This is a way to do the death/resurrection plot without cheapening death, since the trapped character is always brought back.

A fun word for a prison of this type is "oubliette" where a prisoner would be thrown to be literally forgotten about (from French oublier = "to forget").

Related to Prison Dimension, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Put on a Bus and Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere. Compare And I Must Scream and Anti-Interference Lock Up.

Not related to Timmy in a Well, although they can both involve someone in a well.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Excel♡Saga: The titular character is temporarily held prisoner in a deep well when she accidentally stumbles onto a military group, where she finds the Man in the Iron Mask at the bottom and slowly loses her sanity over the course of a few hours before finally escaping.
  • Maria no Danzai: Kumiru's ultimate fate is being dropped down an empty well... which has a puddle of honey at the bottom along with a colony of cockroaches, centipedes and assorted nasties. These proceed to crawl all over Kumiru and enter her orifices while she's powerless to do anything but scream as her arms are bound behind her back.
  • One Piece: Impel Down officially has only five levels. Level 6, the Eternal Hell, is the prison for the most dangerous and heinous criminals whose only sentences are life imprisonment or execution. Just as the floor doesn't exist, prisoners sentenced to this floor are considered to no longer exist. After Blackbeard leads a mass breakout during the Marineford arc, the World Government decides to cover it up instead of issuing wanted posters for the Level 6 escapees, as it would hurt their reputation if word got out that they are free once more. This decision pisses off Sengoku so much that he resigns as Fleet Admiral in protest.
  • Ranma ½: This is how Soun Tendo and Genma Saotome get rid of Happosai the first time: they tie him up, put him in a barrel, seal the barrel, tie it in seals, tie it up again, then throw it in a cave, dynamite said cave, and sealed the entrance. It kept him away for about a decade before lightning re-opened the cave.
  • Sailor Moon: In DiC's dub first season finale, the Doom and Gloom girls trap each of the Sailor Scouts, except for Sailor Moon, when they enter the Negaverse. Sailor Moon's magic frees them all and wipes their memories in the next episode. In the original however the DD Girls (rather graphically for a show aimed a young girls) killed every Sailor Senshi except for Sailor Moon in the first season penultimate episode, with Moon's dying wish in the next episode, made on a Power Crystal whose magic is Cast From HP, resurrecting everyone (herself included.) Japanese kids apparently got sick watching the original, so it is not that bad it was censored.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Yugi is trapped this way in mid-season 4. Different in that it's not done specifically to trap him, but as part of a bigger plan.

    Comic Books 
  • In Star Wars Tales #5, Yaddle's Tale: The One Below, the title character was imprisoned in a well by a tyrannical dictator after he killed her master as a potential bargaining chip. The wardens and villagers kept taking care of her well after the dictator forgot her and she was able to use the isolation to strengthen her connection to the Force. An earthquake ends up providing her an escape and she helps the villagers defeat the dictator's son when he comes to collect the planet as his inheritance.
  • Superman:
    • In Starfire's Revenge, the titular crimelord throws - a supposedly depowered - Supergirl and her own minion down in a pit built in the deepest basement of an abandoned castle.
    • In Reign of Doomsday, Lex Luthor traps the Superman Family in a dimensional maze located inside an invisible abandoned spaceship located on the far side of the Sun. Luthor also throws into his trap a bunch of Doomsday clones so the Supers are being permanently hunted down. However, Supergirl throws one Doomsday down an endless tunnel, and it does not return. Superman ponders it may be a way to get rid of the Doomsdays.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Wolverine catches Cyclops as he's just about to fall down a chasm (depth unknown) whilst they're in Genosha, fighting some machine monster. Wolverine decides this is the best time to get rid of the competition for Jean Grey and chucks him down. Luckily for Cyke but not really for Wolvie, Cyke survives, and after various hijinks (being rescued by the badguys) eventually confronts Wolverine a few weeks later. Wolverine goes "I was a twat. Do what you have to." What Cyke "had to" do was ZORT him with a single high-power blast, leaving him naked, scorched, and knocked the FUCK out in an Alaskan terrain. Scott leaves him there, saying that he's off the team. He does think better of it later, as much to prove that he can forgive as to bury the hatchet between them so that they don't end up like Xavier and Magneto.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • In Power Girl fanfic A Force of Four, Superman imprisoned Mala, Kizo and U-Ban in a Kryptonite globe which he left drifting about the edge of the solar system. Decades passed before Badra released them.
    In the reaches of outer space, a green-glowing globe floated, undisturbed for 31 years. The three beings inside it were numb, in suspended animation, as they had been for almost all of their imprisonment.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, villain Blackflame is arrested and banished to the Phantom Zone forever after her final attempt on Kara's life fails.
  • Averted in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. To keep Paul from causing problems, the Circle planned to teleport him to a remote island far away from any potential rescue. However, their two attempts to immobilize him and take him there failed miserably.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Enchanted, Narissa does this to Giselle after telling her it's a wishing well.
  • In First Knight, Malagant, the errant knight of the Round Table, stashes Guenevere in one, to lure Arthur and the other knights into a trap.
  • John and the Hole: John drugs his family and drags them into a remote hole in the forest of their rural home. They try to climb out but can't. He eventually returns to let them out.
  • In Labyrinth, Sarah falls into an oubliette, where she would've stayed if Hoggle hadn't rescued her.
    • Subverted in that Hoggle was supposed to be there to rescue her and lead her back to the beginning to break her spirit. Jareth failed to take The Power of Friendship into account though and Hoggle did a classic Heel–Face Turn.
  • In The Pit and the Pendulum, Nicholas ties up, gags and places his wife Elizabeth in an Iron Maiden (though it is one without spikes, which eventually makes her situation worse) in a Torture Cellar. After he is killed while trying to murder several other people, Elizabeth watches helplessly as they (not knowing she is there) exit the dungeon proclaiming that "No one will ever enter this room again".
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Belloq leaves Indiana Jones trapped inside the Well of Souls, the underground temple where the Ark was hidden. He taunts Indy thusly: "You're about to become a permanent addition to this archaeological find. Who knows? In a thousand years, even you may be worth something."
  • The Ring:
    • Samara is tossed in a well by her mother.
    • The book has it that Sadako was tossed in by a guy she threatened to kill.
    • Sadako's father in the movies.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan leaves Kirk and company trapped inside the Regula planetoid, "...marooned for all eternity, in the centre of a dead planet...buried alive."

  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Nathaniel threatens to do this to Bartimaeus if Bartimaeus gets him killed... although in this case it also invokes the Genie in a Bottle trope.
  • In Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King, Dolores leads her drunk husband on a wild goose chase to make sure he falls into the well, then she throws a rock on his head to make sure he died.
    • King uses the trope to nightmarish effect in the short story "A Very Tight Place," as well. The titular "place" is, rather than a well, a Port-O-Potty.
    • Discussed in Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption, in terms of older prison methods in the state of Maine. Rather than a well, Red describes a hellish fate called gaol, used to punish minor offenses such as leaving the house without a handkerchief on Sundays.
  • The literal fate of Miss Taylor in John Harding's Florence and Giles, thanks to an assist from our narrator, Florence.
  • Joe Pickett: In Endangered, Liv is kidnapped by the Cates clan and held prisoner in an old cellar on their property. When they decide they no longer need her, they intend to murder her by filling the cellar with sewage.
  • In Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden by Jack Vance, Aillas is thrown into an oubliette by the king. He discovers a number of skeletons all sitting against the walls as if in a conference, with a message scrawled on the wall, "Welcome to our brotherhood." Aillas manages to escape with his sanity more or less intact.
  • In Vulkan Lives, Vulkan is imprisoned in one of these. He escapes by climbing the subtle imperfections in the walls.
  • In Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the narrator is thrown down a well in a somewhat symbolic episode. Actually, the author has a bit of a thing for wells.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the defining moments of Grant Ward's childhood in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was his younger brother Thomas being stuck in the well. Grant blamed his older brother Christian for the incident, but a discussion with Thomas himself in the third season revealed that it was Grant who threw Thomas down the well.
  • A memorable storyline on All My Children in 1991 involved crazy Janet throwing her sister Natalie down a well in order to take her place.
  • In Angel, his son trapped the title character in a box and then tossed the box into the ocean.
  • Charmed stuck Leo in a giant block of ice for most of the last season (referred to by many as "The Doltsicle") before bringing him back for the series finale. (After the show's budget got slashed they couldn't afford the actor, but didn't want to kill Leo and Piper's near series-long marriage.)
  • In a segment of Da Ali G Show, Borat went to the southern U.S. to learn about country music. When he tries to sing a supposedly real Kazakh song translated to English, it turns out to be about throwing "transport", Jews, and finally his own family down a well.
  • In the game show Fort Boyard: if the team do not have enough keys to open the treasure room door, one of their number can be sent to the "oubliette": a dark chamber under a barred trapdoor, where they remain for the rest of the game.
  • In Heroes, Hiro Nakamura disposes of Adam Monroe/Takezo Kensei in this way.
    • Another Heroes example, with an interesting twist: in season 3, Future-Peter gets Present-Peter out of the way by shoving him into someone else's body.
  • Jessie: The titular character was pushed down a well by her stepsister Darla.
  • Discussed on The Millers. Debbie figures they can't afford to pay for Tom to live in a nursing home, so she tells him "We're going to have to throw you down a well."
  • Stargate SG-1 has a clever variation using artificial gravity. Baal has O'Neill thrown into long cell with no door. Artificial Gravity then kicks in and causes the back wall to become the new floor. What was a corridor is now a deep pit with absolutely smooth walls. This leads to some fun interactions with guards and visitors, as the door is now a hole in the "ceiling", and those outside the cell seemingly standing on the wall.
  • Happened to Callisto on most of her appearances on Xena: Warrior Princess, until it was time to bring her back for another episode. This was especially true once she became immortal.

  • The main conflict and the fate of the titular character of Sound Horizon's Märchen.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Joseph (of the Dreamcoat) gets thrown in a pit by his brothers in Book of Genesis. Although they pull him out and sell him as a slave, that was the original plan.
    • Book of Jeremiah: Jeremiah gets lowered down an (almost) dried-up well, with the implied intention that he starve to death there. Fortunately some friends in high places spoke up for him and he got pulled out.
    • Book of Daniel: Daniel was thrown into a well with hungry lions. He was pulled back out when he was just fine the next morning.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Planescape, the Lady of Pain is well known for getting rid of those who displease her by banishing them to one of her Mazes, which are magical prisons removed from the rest of the Planes. There's always a way out, but it's practically impossible to find it.

    Video Games 
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, Gruntilda is defeated by being thrown from her tower and being buried below a giant rock. Naturally, she's rescued in the next game by her sisters, but being buried for 2 years left her as a living skeleton.
  • In Crusader Kings II, you can throw prisoners into an oubliette if you want them to hurry up and die but can't or won't execute them yourself for whatever reason.
  • Die Young starts with Daphne having been thrown down a well and left for dead. Escaping the well is the first Trial for vetting those who are worthy of a place in the Community.
  • You have the option to do this to someone during a quest in The Elder Scrolls Online. After helping an Adventurer Archaeologist through two tombs you get to what was supposed to be a Treasure Room but is now empty. Off to one side of it is a well. When you talk with the archeologist to complete the quest you can trick him into thinking that perhaps all of the treasure is down the well. When he walks over and looks down you can then push him in.
  • Fallen London has Mr. Eaten who was apparently thrown down a well among other things in the game's backstory. Although it might have been metaphorical. Unfortunately, it didn't really work and what's left of him is now out for revenge. A reckoning will not be postponed indefinitely.
  • This can be one of the fates in store for the courier in Fallout: New Vegas add-on "Dead Money". Should the player reach the vault at the bottom of the Sierra Madre, they have a choice to read a message on the computer nearby. Doing so will seal the room, immediately forcing an ending for the player and killing them, as the courier ends up accidentally getting permanently trapped in a death trap left for Dean Domino that the courier unknowingly activated. Additionally, this can be done to Father Elijah. By performing specific speech checks, he can end up stuck in the vault, and the ending even states that the only inevitable fate in that room is eventual death by dehydration and starvation. Once Elijah dies, the Sierra Madre will make a new hologram in his likeness that will patrol around the hotel much like the previous ones you've encountered. While it implies the possibility of him living forever as a hologram, the holograms that have been seen up to this point simply act as guard dogs and fire on any potential intruders, once again locking him in a state of never being able to leave, the hotel itself becoming his new oubliette.
  • The plot of Furi, almost in its entirety, consists of The Stranger attempting to escape this fate.
  • Ghost of a Tale implies this was the fate of Captain Otto Powderkeg, after you find a rat skeleton with a pirate hat in one of the cells. Turns out, he's just been Faking the Dead, and is very much alive - and indeed, isn't even imprisoned.
  • In the bad ending of the Marathon scenario Gemini Station, you are convicted of Jack Melville's murder and sent to an oubliette where you are forced to kill yourself with a Descending Ceiling trap.
  • Done in Metroid Prime: Hunters on a Cosmic Horror Story scale: The resident Eldritch Abomination, Gorea, is sealed away in the Seal Sphere, which is then sealed away in the Oubliette, which, in turn, is sealed away in a rift between dimensions known as the Infinity Void. He comes back by tricking the Hunters into freeing him.
  • Myst and its sequels feature trap books, which look similar to the linking books that are gateways to other ages but are instead one-man prisons from which there is no escape other than someone replacing the current captive.
  • Romancing Saga 3 has the Dead Man's Well dungeon. According to the game, during the time the world was ruled by the Archfiend and the Four Sinistrals, the sick and old were thrown into the well located in Mazos until it became a mass grave.
  • In Silent Hill 2, when entering the Historical Society, James jumps into a well with no apparent way out, until you examine the loose bricks, which can be broken with a board or pipe.
  • This is the driving force in the plot in Vanish. You're thrown into a sewer filled with birdmen and have to escape.
  • This happens to Adol a few times in the Ys series, and Dogi or another character usually has to smash the wall for him to escape.

    Web Comics 
  • In Looking for Group, Richard was sent to an empty white space he dubbed "The Plane of Suck" for several pages before being put on trial.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, in the Harry Potter parody "Torg Potter and the Sorcerer's Nuts", Torg puts a sleeping Ralfoy Malfoy in a trunk and has him sent to Antarctica. He's later shown trying to escape by bungee jumping (???). Of course, in the next installment he's back without any particular explanation.

    Web Original 
  • THE MONUMENT MYTHOS has an episode dedicated to the idea that the President of the United States can choose any one person to seal inside a dark space behind a mask of Abraham Lincoln for the years until their presidential term or terms are over, simply because they don't like that person. It isn't until some time after 1980 that a tourist finally discovers the 'Lincolnlookers' as they're called were trapped inside the Lincoln Memorial all along.
  • This very wiki has the Permanent Red Link Club.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Oubliette