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Vulnerable Convoy

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In a movie or TV show with police in them, any time a convoy transporting a prisoner or more is shown, it will almost always be attacked. Sometimes, a convoy may even be sent out for exactly this reason.

Occasionally, a convoy may not even need to be attacked. Something can simply go awry during the trip, especially if it involves prisoners, and the transports never make it.

This can be prevented with a Decoy Convoy (or two, or three, or...)


For video games, this trope only applies if the player attacks a convoy. If the player is tasked with defending one, it's an Escort Mission. Compare and contrast Armed Blag, where the target is transporting money rather than a prisoner.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Post-World War Hulk, Bruce Banner is being transported in a convoy which gets attacked. But it turns out he's in a different convoy.
    • During the Civil War arc, a convoy of captured resistance members is attacked as it passes through the streets of NYC in an attempt to free the prisoners. The ensuing chaos, where neither side seems all that interested or concerned with the safety of nearby civilians on his old block, is the final straw as far as the ever-loving blue-eyed Thing is concerned. He walks away from the conflict in disgust and spends the rest of the civil war in Europe, fighting crime and hanging out with some Euro-heroes.
  • Birds of Prey: The "Apokolips Express" kicks off when Oracle gets a tip-off that there is a planned breakout from a train transporting metahuman prisoners to The Slab. The breakout happens... by teleporting the train to another planet!
  • In DK III: The Master Race #2, Carrie arranges for the convoy transporting her to hit by a remote-controlled tank, allowing her to escape.

  • The Fugitive. While being transported to jail, a fight breaks out on the prisoner bus which ends up killing the driver and causing the bus to topple onto train tracks, effectively forcing the protagonist to escape.
  • In U.S. Marshals a plane carrying prisoners crash lands after one prisoner attempts to use a smuggled gun to assassinate another prisoner and the bullet makes a hole in the fuselage.
  • The Dark Knight, where it's done to lure out the Joker. It works, but the vehicle carrying Dent is the only one that survives.
  • Fast Five opens with the protagonists raiding a prison convoy to free one of their friends.
  • Mission: Impossible III: the big bad has just been arrested, so naturally his convoy is attacked and he gets away.
  • Die Hard 2. Terrorists take over an airport to free a drug lord being flown into the U.S. on a jet.
  • Patriot Games. While being transferred to Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight, terrorist Sean Miller's escort convoy is ambushed by his ULA comrades who kill the police officers and free him from custody. Despite the fact that three identical convoys head out from the prison (the real one is betrayed by The Mole).
  • James Bond movie Licence to Kill. Drug lord Franz Sanchez offers a reward to anyone who releases him from custody. During a prisoner transfer the convoy carrying him is attacked from the inside and he gets away.
  • The Gauntlet. Clint Eastwood's cop character must get a prostitute from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to testify in a mob trial. They're attacked several times en route.
  • Inverted in 16 Blocks. A one-man detail is assigned to take a prisoner downtown while escaping a gauntlet of angry rogue cops.
  • S.W.A.T. - The whole plot is effectively one long Escort Mission after the perp yells out while he's being carted away that he'll handsomely reward whomever busts him out.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) - The first cracks in the titular couple's relationships happen when they both try to take out the same target, someone being transported via convoy, except it turns out it's actually a Contract on the Hitman.
  • Iron Man - Tony Stark's convoy is attacked by terrorists while it's on its way back from a test fire demonstration.
  • Happens repeatedly to the British troops in The Patriot, including Benjamin's rescue of his arrested son Gabriel. The Brits eventually wise up, at one point laying an ambush using a supply wagon.
  • John Frankenheimer's The Train centers around a German train carrying French art treasures, and the efforts of the French Resistance to stop it.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand - Magneto attacks the prison convoy transporting Mystique, Multiple Man, and the Juggernaut.
  • In the Pam Grier movie Black Mama, White Mama, a prison convoy transporting Lee (Grier's character) and Karen, an American woman helping the native freedom fighters is attacked by the guerillas in an attempt to free Karen. The attack is repulsed when police reinforcements arrive, but Lee and Karen manage to escape, still manacled together.
  • In Teenage Crime Wave, Mike ambushes the prison van taking Terry and Jane to the reformatory: killing the driver, wounding the prison matron, and freeing the girls.
  • The bumbling protagonists of La Vengeance du serpent à plumes are arrested due to being mistaken for members of the terror gang (Dressing as the Enemy has its risks). As they're driven to prison along with members of a drug cartel, the convoy is attacked by the rest of the cartel and the prisoners broken out. Then those "killed in the attack" get up and congratulate each other...
  • The Soldier (1982). Renegade Russians attack a convoy transporting nuclear material, to make an atomic bomb.
  • In The Criminal, the gang arranges for Johnny to be transferred to another prison, then intercepts the prison van and busts him out.

    Live Action TV 
  • In NUMB3RS, Colby escapes his convoy with his cuff partner ridiculously easily. Is it really that easy to smuggle a key in and shoot your guard? Really?
  • 24:
    • At the end of season 5, this is how Bierko escapes. Also at the end of season 8, the ambulance convoy carrying Jack Bauer, who was shot, gets attacked by a team sent to drag him to a remote area to execute him.
    • 24 uses it straight but also double subverts it during Season 8. Jack sends an ambulance carrying a captured villain to an hospital for treatment and interrogation, expecting that the villain's business partners will attack it to kill him and prevent him from talking to CTU. Unknown to them the villain is already dead and the ambulance is sent as a mobile bait. However, thinking that they are safer attacking the hospital once the villain is carried there, the partners leave the ambulance alone.
  • Done in an early episode of The Shield, with a van transporting evidence rather than one transporting prisoners. The catch: the attackers are none other than the Strike Team, launching a last ditch effort to get rid of evidence they planted that would've sent an innocent man to jail.
  • In one episode of Castle, they set up a prisoner transport with a decoy prisoner in order to catch a contract killer. The cops are forced to shoot the killer before they can capture him.
  • Several Doctor Who stories have attacks on UNIT convoys, usually transporting dangerous technology, including "The Ambassadors of Death" (space capsule containing alien visitors), "The Mind of Evil" (decommissioned nuclear missile), and "The Time Monster" (reinforcements). In "Battlefield", for a change, the convoy (transporting another decommissioned nuclear missile) just gets bogged down due to bad weather — and then the villains discover it and attack.
  • An episode of The Pretender starts with a news report of this, which kidnapped the key witness in a mafia trial. The attack was planned by Jarod himself, who was told the aim was to rescue prisoners in a war.
  • On Strike Back Stonebridge and Scott are escorting a van transporting a prisoner when the van is blown up. They were Genre Savvy enough to put the prisoner in the trunk of their car instead
  • This is used multiple times on Burn Notice though it is usually subverted. In one episode the team attacks a prisoner transport van to free a gangster's brother but the van and the guards are fake and they are trying to trick the gangster into releasing the hostage he is holding. Another time Micheal pretends to be a fellow prisoner that helps a mobster escape during transport so the mobster can lead them to where his boss is hiding.
  • Gotham: In "Harvey Dent", the Russians break Ian Hargrove out of custody by attacking the van being used to transport him from Blackgate to St. Mark's Psychiatric Hospital.

    Video Games 
  • In some of the Grand Theft Auto games there is at least one mission where the player must attack a convoy:
    • In III, the main target in the convoy is an ambulance. And of course, in the very beginning, the prisoner convoy that carries the main character is attacked by drug cartels.
    • In Vice City, the player has to steal the tank from a miltary convoy.
    • In IV, Niko has to attack a prisoner convoy. In a twist, though, your actual intention is to kill the prisoner and dump the body after losing the police.
  • Red Faction Guerrilla spawns EDF convoys and sure enough the player is expected to destroy or hijack them before they reach their destination.
  • Happens rather often in Just Cause 2.
  • In Far Cry 2, the weapons dealers ask the player to destroy convoys driven by their business rivals so that news weapons are unlocked. Strangely, the convoys never actually go anywhere, as they are alway endlessly driving around in a circle. Bizarrely, they are also completely empty, which means that someone in your information chain is either screwing up big time or having one over on you.
  • In Mirror's Edge, Faith intercepts a police convoy that transports her sister to prison after an unfair trial.
  • Happens in Great Train Robbery mission in StarCraft II.
  • Enemy supply convoys are frequent targets in the Naval Ops series, though not in the only game where the player is allowed to drive a submarine.
  • In the SNES version of the Area 88 shoot-em-up game (UN Squadron Stateside), enemy supply convoys are a source of easy money (and extra lives for the patient).
  • In Star Wars Rogue Squadron, you have to rescue Wedge from a prisoner transport convoy on Kessel after he is shot down and captured in the previous mission.
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour, the prison bus transporting protagonist Murphy Pendleton and other inmates from Ryall State Penitentiary to Wayside Maximum Security Prison takes a tumble and rolls off the road into woodland. Murphy wakes up and escapes the wreckage on foot, eventually arriving in Silent Hill.
  • In the side-scrolling RTS Armor Alley, each side tries to sneak convoys past the other's helicopter assaults.
  • The player can accept a mission to raid a convoy hauling weapons in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, and actually gets to keep the weapons as loot (you even get more if you keep the transports intact while destroying their escorts). You can raid the convoy a second time; this time the escorts are stiffer and include enemy Mechs, but are beatable. If you take on the mission a third time, though, it's a trap — there's no convoy at all, only several lances of very tough Mechs out for your blood.
  • Finding and engaging enemy convoys takes up about half the players time in the Silent Hunter games. The other half is spent trying to survive the enemy counter attack.
  • Resident Evil 0's Billy Coen escaped from a convoy when it was attacked by zombie dogs.
  • In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the Brahmin caravan merchants are highly susceptible to attack by raiders, Super Mutants, Radscorpions, Yao Guai, Deathclaws, and in the latter game, Legionaries. An evil player can also raid and loot caravans themselves. At the beginning of the Honest Hearts DLC, the caravan the player was traveling with is slaughtered by the White Legs raider tribe.
  • The Green Bridge mission in PAYDAY The Heist has the crew breaking a prisoner out of a prison transport moving in a convoy. The mission starts after the crew destroys part of the bridge, stopping the convoy and allowing them to move in and saw open the doors of the four transport vans, one of which holds the prisoner they are trying to free.
  • In XCOM2, you play as La Résistance against the ADVENT Coalition, and sometimes, they have captured a resistance scientist, engineer, or one of your own MIA soldiers. Your mission is then to release the captive VIP and lead them to extraction.

    Western Animation 
  • The teen heroes of Young Justice were charged with guarding trucks containing the pieces of the disassembled Amazo android, a convoy that included decoys. Sure enough, the trucks carrying the deadly machine parts are MONQUIS!
  • In the Generator Rex episode Badlands, Rex was part of a Providence convoy transporting unstable nanites and toilet paper. It isn't long before they are besieged by desert-dwelling anarchists.
  • The first episode of the G.I. Joe five-parter "Revenge of Cobra" opens with the Joes transporting a high-tech device, and a Cobra strike force attacking the convoy and making off with it (along with Duke and Snake Eyes).

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television. In war, convoys are one of the favorite targets of guerrilla fighters, especially supply convoys. For a while, the most dangerous job in Iraq was military truck driver.
  • This is the reason why category A prisoners in the UK are moved between prison and court with armed police escorts.
  • Zigzagged at sea, where convoy tactics generally do serve to make shipping less vulnerable to attack because the convoy isn't much easier to spot than a single ship out on the open seas and both escorts and escortees can more easily support each other both in and out of combat than if they were individually scattered over a larger area. Of course, this can then make convoys look vulnerable because if the tactic is heavily used there won't be many non-convoys around anymore in the first place...and because would-be enemy attack missions that never found a target (a sign of the tactic working, in other words) tend to go mostly unnoticed by definition.


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