The Alcatraz

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Heh, yeah, good luck with that.

"Hey, the only reason no one's ever escaped is that I've never tried!"

Greetings, convicts. Welcome to The Alcatraz. Around here, we like to call this place "The Rock". I'm sure you've heard of this place. We're on an island surrounded by boiling acid that just happens to be infested with sharks. There are guard towers every twenty feet and there are more Mooks here than you've had warm meals. The only way on or off this miserable spit of land is a narrow bridge, with explosives wired to it so we can destroy it at a moment's notice. So don't think about trying to escape, you miserable swine. We've got a perfect record here. You try to escape, and you're likely to end up a blackened skull, if that. There's no hope for any of you.

Well, except for you, Mr. Protagonist and your Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. I'm sure a combination of blind luck, poorly guarded air vents, the stupidity of my own men, and Deus Ex Machinas will be enough to ensure that you escape and continue on your quest. It's almost inevitable, whether you're breaking a loved one out or just escaping yourself. No one's ever escaped from here before, so of course you'll be the ones to do it. So enjoy your time here, you scum. God knows you won't be here for long. Now, guards! Take them to their cells, and let them rot!

What? Who says we're Tempting Fate?

Oh, and just so you scum know- This ain't your daddy's Cardboard Prison. Folks have been breaking out of that one for years now. Sometimes we make special precautions for a particularly bad prisoner: a Tailor-Made Prison that takes advantage of an Achilles' Heel you super freaks have or a Room 101 whenever prisoners need Cold-Blooded Torture or a Fate Worse Than Death in order to behave. Ain't no one gonna remember you now. Might as well go to a happy place now, scum.

If you are looking for the 2012 TV series, it's here.

Examples of The Alcatraz include:

Anime and Manga

  • There was once an entire inescapable prison planet with high gravity in Outlaw Star. Naturally, it was only inescapable until Gene got involved. The fact that nobody had ever escaped is helped by the fact that the gravity has disastrous effects on the prisoners' health; nobody's ever served out their sentence because they all get heart attacks eventually.
  • Impel Down in One Piece, seen above as the page picture. It probably takes the cake as the worst prison in fiction. Seriously. The prison is built from the seafloor up, which means the only exit is also the entrance. It is also surrounded entirely by water. Since most of the powerful pirates in the series get their strength from Devil Fruit, Mystical Fruit that gives people super powers but robs them of the ability to swim, this automatically places Super Drowning Skills onto them. In addition, the only way to easily get there is past one of two highly-guarded government fortresses and across a stretch of water infested with whirlpools and sea monsters, unless you are a Marine or government worker deemed important enough, in which case the way is opened. It has six levels, each progressively worse than the last to house progressively dangerous criminals, and is filled with things just waiting to kill the unlucky prisoners, including the staff.
    • Level One is mostly a normal floor, though guarded by hulking guards with equally hulking axes. The highlight of Level One is the "Crimson Hell," a forest within the prison made up entirely of bladed "saber trees" and "needle grass." Prisoners are forced into it, being cut up at every turn and every step, giving the forest it's trademark red color. The only way out is a pit located within the Lotus Hell. Adding to the sadism of it all, the pit leads to Level Two.
    • Level Two is called the "Wild Beast Hell" and is patrolled by ravenous creatures that feed off the prisoners kept within if they don't stay in their cells. Such creatures include manticores, basilisks, and a sphinx as the boss. Keep in mind that dozens of them (prisoners) appear to be packed in somewhat small cells, so their only choices are to be killed by the inevitable spread of disease and infection (or Chief Warden Magellan's poison), or run for their life and be hunted down like rats.
    • Level Three, where bounties of 50 million and higher are kept, features "Starvation Hell", a vast, dry, perpetually hot desert. The prisoners here are kept floating in-between life and death with barely any water or food. There are corpses lining some of the cells, similar to level 5.
    • Level Four, the "Hell of Scorching Flames," is even hotter than Level Three (in fact, it's the heat from this level that keeps the above one hot), as a gigantic "Lake of Blood" is kept boiling hot at all times, which prisoners are dropped into regularly. Other prisoners are used to keep wood on the fire at all times, where they face the risk of getting into a fight and being thrown into the "Lake".
    • Level Five, the "Hell of Freezing Cold," is the polar opposite of previous level with below freezing temperatures and wolves (which are so vicious, they actually preyed upon Level Two's magical beasts when they were initially introduced there, forcing their relocation). Similar to the famous depiction of the lowest hells by Dante. The prisoners kept here have given up on escape and rebellion completly, as they all stay locked in their freezing cells waiting to die. As mentioned above, there are many frozen corpses inside the cells (Which, when you think about it, is probably where the blood for Level Four's "Lake of Blood" is taken from...)
      • Level Five-point-Five DRAG REVUE!: Unknown to even the Warden and his staff, there is a hidden "Paradise" where prisoners can find a relative freedom. Prior to Luffy's infiltration, it is ruled by Emperio Ivankov, who has the ability to, among other things, gender bend people. With this ability, he offers newcomers to his "New Kama land" the opportunity to be whichever gender they choose. Or, in at least one case, whichever gender he chooses, though in all fairness said victim did attack him unprovoked. As of the Time Skip, Ivankov and the bulk of the prisoners he had recruited have returned to his homeland, and Bentham, better known as former Baroque Works agent Mr. 2 Bon Kurei, has taken over. And bear in mind that this will probably come up in the future, as Bentham has been an ally of the Straw Hats' ever since his defeat.
    • The generally unknown Level Six, the "Eternal Hell." Every (non-political) prisoner within is either a Lifer or on Death Row who caused incidents so serious the World Government sought to erase them from history. Among its inmates are an ex-jailer who went on an Ax Crazy rampage among the prisoners, former arc Big Bad Crocodile, and the target of Luffy's intrusion into the place: Portgas D. Ace. Aside from the perpetual abandonment from the world, nothing else actually goes on here, mainly because people tough enough to deserve being there have passed through ALL the ordeals of previous levels without batting an eye. You just can't do anything much to such badasses.
    • There's also the people running the place. Keeping the prisoners in line, we've got Sadi-chan, a chick with a dominatrix feel and tries her best to find the most painful way to torture prisoners. We've got Hannyabal, who, even during a very panicked situation, was able to keep most of his cool and take a huge beating from the stronger prisoners. Worst of all? Magellen, the chief warden. He is made of poison, so you can not touch him or even hurt him. One touch, and you're deathly poisoned. He can cover an entire prison level in poison. He can create poisonous gas. He can create hydras from his poison. If you managed to find a cure or have a resistance to one of his poisons, he can change his poison on the dime. And just to tease you, there is a cure to his most commonly used poison, but if you don't obtain it within a few minutes, you're too late.
    • To highlight just how bad this prison is, one need only look at the attempts to escape it. Buggy managing to even get out of his cell was a feat in and of itself (he hid his Devil fruit power, then used it to escape). The only self-escapee had to cut off his feet (which he replaced with swords) to get out. When Luffy finds his way there, he ends up causing a massive riot of virtually every prisoner being kept there, and by the end of it only 241 prisoners (out of what was certainly a much larger number) manage to claw their way out. And even then, escaping only left with the option of going to another Marine base (Marine Headquarters, to be precise, though Luffy was going there anyway).
    • Also, the prison is surrounded by enourmous, bloodthirsty Sea Monsters known as the "Sea Kings". So, even if you DON'T have a devil fruit power and you DO (somehow) manage to get on the outside, unless you can hi-jack the Sea King repellent Marine ships, swimming is only going to get you ripped to pieces. And besides, Impel Down is in the middle of the ocean, so unless you have Super Swimming skills like Silvers Rayleigh, you're not going anywhere, anyway.
    • You also have the Marine ships surrounding the prison- and the Marines of One Piece are oh so very jumpy with their rifles, and shotguns, and pistols, and cannons.... In short, to wax Laconic, the tortures of Impel Down are fire and ice. And transvestites. And if you do manage to escape, survive all of the dangers, managed to get yourself a ship, you still have to deal with the giant Gate of Justice, which is basically two fifty story doors that can only be opened by an order from the high ranking staff. So pretty much, there is no escape unless your name is "Monkey D. Luffy", "Shiki", or if you were associated with either of the two during their time of escape. It should also be noted that this is a rare case of someone (Luffy) intentionally breaking into Impel Down in the first place.
  • Dead Leaves sticks one on the Moon.
  • The Baccano!! Light Novels go the extra mile and use the Alcatraz as the setting of the "Alice in Jails" arc.
  • The moon of planet Micro in Transformers Victory. Almost the entire surface is covered in lava. On one of the few landmasses is an energy production plant, crewed by Decepticons who are given just enough energy to function, and are in constant danger of falling into a lava flow and melting.
  • In Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo, there's Cyber City. Ruled by Giga and the 6 Cyber Knights who runs many tortures for prisoners who tried to rebel against the Bald Empire.
  • Mega Unit, from Rave Master is said to be one of these. Unfortuanatly, it's never mentioned until Big Bad Lucia makes his intrance by breaking through it's several yard thick solid steel walls with his bare hands and slaughtering all the guards, which gives it more of a Cardboard Prison feel
  • The anime of Wild ARMs opens in a prison that set on a piece of rock that floats around on its own gravity above a bottomless chasm. The only way to get in or out is to either have flight transportation or wait a year till the rock passes the only bridge off it.
  • Toriko gives us THREE. Sky Prison, the Undersea Prison and, the biggest, Honey Prison. Only Honey Prison has been shown in detail. Do not let the name fool you, Honey Prison is a nightmare, very reminiscent of the aforementioned Impel Down. Amoung other things, the prison lies above a forest of vicious monsters that will destroy anything that moves, "Execution Beasts" guard the inside, all of whom are controlled by the warden, and prisoners are served food with their favourite parts of them removed (In the Toriko universe, this is FAR worse than it sounds). That's the first level. The other levels get progressively worse, with the final few levels being execution zones.
    • Let us expand on this. First off, one must go through a lengthy tunnel before arriving on a cliff. From the cliff hangs the Prison, shaped like a Beehive, under which is a forest of razor sharp grass, not unlike Impel Down's Crimson Hell. To enter the prison, one must endure multiple checkpoints with 1 kilometer long bridges to bar the way, with Grade A execution beasts waiting on the sidelines. Beasts that make One Piece wildlife look like complete and utter wusses, from there you reach the reception desk, a room surrounded by at least a dozen more Execution beasts, with a chamber where many more are kept right below the floor. From there you've reached the cells.
    • The First Level is the Appetizer course, which has been described already, but let's look at the others. The Second Level aka Soup Course involves edible, yet disgustingly smelly and bad tasting food, after that comes physical harm. With Fish, comes actual starvation, with the Meat dish, dehydration. People hardy enough to stand all that are then kept in Solitary Confinement with the Main Course, but then comes the Salads, Desserts, and Drinks. Respectively, those lead to being sliced up by knives, boiled alive, then finally seared with flame, before they drop your carcass over into the Death Season Forest, home to razor sharp trees and grass where the Shrike would feel at home. Of course, none of this is without the regular executions like quartering.
    • Oh, and yes, Death Season Forest had its name for a reason. You see, every fall comes with a cloud of fog that just happens to be toxic enough that three seconds of exposure will stop your heart, with winter comes blizzards of -200 Celcius and freezing winds that rip up the razor blade like grass of the Forest. During Summer, the forest floor disappears under a carpet of lava, and the surface temperature spikes to a degree where being close will give you burns. Finally, there is spring, a relatively 'easy' season where all you have to worry about are hordes of Monsters with a capture level average of 60. Oh, and keep in mind that a Level 5 creature is more than capable of tearing apart modern tanks with their bare hands. So, have fun!
  • The setting of Mazinkaiser SKL is an island prison where three armies (well, really only two—Aira's Octagon faction is a peaceful Crystal Spires and Togas Amazon Brigade land implied to be the leftovers of a third, more violent faction) are kept contained by a gravity field. The Octagon, the Mad Max-esque Kiba faction and the feudal Galan faction all have a component of the field's generator. Unfortunately, the field is about to break and destroy the world...
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn gives us the Vindicare Prison. A place where those who break The Mafia law, are kept in a comatose state in liquid People Jars for eternity. Only known people to escape are Mukuro and his group. However, it is noted and shown that someone on the outside can negotiate someone out through a deal.
  • Although it hasn't been shown, Big Lock from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple certainly qualifies. The description itself is not all that intimidating; "A prison for Master-level martial artists." Except that in this universe, "Master-level martial artists" are people who can run across water, move faster than the eye can see, make fissures by punching the ground, knock out Muggles with only a Death Glare, destroy tanks bare handed and punch holes in the hull of a battleship. And Big Lock can hold these people reliably enough that the good guys feel perfectly safe sending them off to there. Yowza.

Comic Books

  • The Vault was the original super-villain prison in the Marvel Universe; its record was... pretty bad.
    • A second superprison was created in the Negative Zone dimension by Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, though it turned out that he was tricked into doing so as part of a plan by the Mad Thinker. Later, another prison was again built in the Zone, this time to hold the arrested superheroes during the Marvel Civil War series; no reference is made to the previous one there (or the problems it faced.)
    • There was also the Big House, designed by Hank Pym where villains were shrunk down to action figure size using Pym Particles so that even if they did escape, what harm could they do? Diabolical Mastermind the Mad Thinker organized a mass breakout, but the indication is given that nobody below his nearly superhuman level of intelligence could've done the same.
      • Pym and Janet Van Dyne would later expand on the theme with the Lang Memorial Penitentiary, which is similar to the Big House with the added addition of Pym's trained swarms of ants used as security, the human guards using a version of the Ant Man helmet to control them.
    • Marvel also has the Raft, which was introduced way back in New Avengers #1... where it was the site of a mass breakout. That's got to be some kind of record.
  • The Slab in The DCU. How secure was it? It was designed by Shiloh Norman, the greatest escape artist in history, to be escape proof. This man escaped from a black hole, but specifically designed the Slab to be too much even for him. The Joker organized a mass breakout in the Joker's Last Laugh event.
    • How long did it take him to think up the plan? Well, he was sort of thrown by being told he had terminal cancer, so it might have been closer to 10 minutes than his usual five.
      • Admittedly it is now much harder to escape from now that it has been relocated to Antarctica.
    • In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, The Atom is forcibly shrunken and kept in one of his own petri dishes, where he must constantly fight for survival against bacteria that are the relative size of dinosaurs.
  • Meanwhile in Teen Titans, they have re-opened the original Alcatraz, which is right next door to the Titans, so they can keep an eye on it. Unlike its namesake and like every other prison in The DCU, it is a Cardboard Prison.
  • The "High Rock" from the 2000 AD serial Harry 20 on the High Rock, which added to its inescapability by being in orbit.
  • The Phantom Zone from the Superman comics keeps prisoners in a ghost-like state in another dimension. It is so secure it survived the destruction of Krypton.
  • Belle Reve Prison is a special max security prison, with a secret purpose of being the secret headquarters for the Suicide Squad.
  • Peña Dura, the birthplace of Batman foe Bane.
  • Devil's Due Publishing's G.I. Joe: America's Elite series had 'the Coffin'; a top-secret G.I. Joe-run prison facility in Greenland used to hold to captured Cobra operatives. It was extremely efficent until a mass breakout was orchestrated at the start of the "World War III" story arc.
  • X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain has Genosha Bay. It's on an island, next to a military base. Prisoners aren't allowed contact with one another or the outside world, and only get out of their cells for one hour of daily exercise, weather permitting. When Thomas Halloway, the Angel, gets out of his cell and spooks the warden, Professor Xavier catches him. Thomas manages to escape after about a week of sleep deprivation torture, and at the end of the series he's about to spring his buddies Captain Logan and Eugene.
  • Prison Barek in Les Legendaires seems to be this.
  • Idees Noires: Three gags feature a man trying to escape from an impossibly-to-escape prison.
  • Diabolik has Asen, a supposedly unescapable prison mentioned in the first story as part of Diabolik's records: he was the first and only person who had ever broke out from there. A later story shows how Diabolik did it: he had been arrested while wearing one of his perfect masks before people knew of them, so when two guards arrived to 'soften' him up a little Diabolik beated up and killed the guards, disfigured the one looking vaguely alike his mask, stole his uniform and walked out maskless.
    • After his second arrest and the consequent trial with him swapping place with a drugged Jerkass Victim guy masked as him one hour before being executed, every time Diabolik is arrested he's kept in cells made only to prevent him from breaking out or Eva from breaking him out. He still breaks out every time, to the point that in one occasion two guards shot him as soon as they found out their prisoner was a masked Diabolik (he had broken out five minutes earlier).
  • The Evrons from Paperinik New Adventures have the so-called Well, a planetoid where you can't escape but could be pulled out if the Evrons have a particularly dangerous job for a prisoner (hence the name). Keeping it unescapable is the simple fact that the only two Evron presences there are the heavily fortified and garrisoned spaceport and a facility where the most dangerous prisoner of all, Trauma, is kept under constant surveillance from thousands of elite troops ready to disintegrate him from safe distance as soon as he tries and do anything strange. The only one who has ever broke out from the Well is Xadhoom, who had broken in to kill the second most dangerous prisoner (a cyborg that the guards kept there using his remote), killed him and then flew away, as she could survive and fly in space and the guards weren't stupid enough to even try and stop her.

Fan Works

  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic Prison Island Break Shadow has apparently tried to escape Prison Island and failed - and apparently he's actually gotten the furthest of any convict. He's pretty angry at Sonic for insisting that he can.

Shadow: First the ankle cuff. Then the cell. Then the locked doors. Then the fences, the jungle, the MILES AND MILES OF FUCKING OCEAN! And all the fucking way, there's the Guard Robos, the cameras, the grasses, and that mother-fucking bastardated sonuvabitch Mephiles. You think you're the first to try?

    • In fact, Sonic talks so much about escaping this inescapable prison, that the other cons and guards think he's kidding.


  • The dungeons of Aquila from Ladyhawke: "Nobody ever escapes from the dungeons of Aquila. The people accept that as a historical fact." But of course, Phillipe 'The Mouse' Gaston escapes anyway, during the movie's opening moments...
    • For bonus irony, that line is actually spoken after the discovery of Mouse's escape, to impress upon the captain of the guard the importance of recapturing him to maintaining the Bishop's power/reputation.
      • Or, perhaps, the importance of not telling anyone that Mouse had escaped, in hope that the incident can be covered up.
  • Butcher Bay from The Chronicles of Riddick is a triple-max security prison facility built on a barren desert planet. Its highest security level is especially bad; the prisoners are kept in cryogenic sleep inside vats (prolonged contact to which seems to have damaging effects on one's psyche and/or mental abilities), and are only awakened for exercise five minutes per day. Of course, Riddick gets out. The second movie, simply called The Chronicles of Riddick, also has Crematoria, where the prisoners stay in their underground prison because the sunrise sets the atmosphere on fire. Of course, Riddick outruns it.
  • Rura Penthe in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country combines deadly surface conditions with being an otherwise uninhabited asteroid in the middle of Klingon space. Survival by Deus Ex Vulchina.
    • Somewhat a special case; Kirk and McCoy's escape was engineered by someone farther up who hoped to kill Kirk (a big deal for Klingons) for escaping.
  • Arguably, The Matrix may be an example of this, as it's a prison that's supposed to be inescapable due to no one realizing that it's a prison.
  • The entire point of the film The Shawshank Redemption is retaining hope against such an oppressive establishment and overcoming it.
  • Escape from New York, where it's Manhattan itself.
    • And on a similar note is Escape From L.A., where L.A. has broken away from the mainland and is now a prison island.
  • Fortress is a feature-length escape from a futuristic Alcatraz. Fortress 2 is a feature-length escape, by the same character, from an entirely different futuristic Alcatraz. In space.
  • Double Team
  • This is the entire premise of the film No Escape.
  • Face Off has the secret Erehwon Prison, located on an offshore oil rig, where every prisoner wears magnetic boots that can lock them in place on command.

You are now the property of Erewhon Prison. A citizen of nowhere. The Geneva Convention is void here; Amnesty International doesn't know we exist. When I say your ass belongs to me, I mean exactly that.

  • Area 52 in Monsters vs. Aliens, an ultra-secret facility where monsters are locked away for... well, being monsters. No one escapes, however; they're released to fight the Alien Invasion.
  • Outland. Marshall O'Neil keeps a prisoner in an airless zero-gravity cell, suspended in a spacesuit. Unfortunately the prisoner's helplessness makes it all too easy for someone to kill him by cutting his air hose.
  • The prison Jack Sparrow escapes from at the beginning of the second Pirates of the Caribbean film.
  • Most of the film The Rock takes place on Alcatraz island. Inverted since the bad guys capture it and turn it into a fortress, so the Navy Seals get help breaking in from the one person who successfully escaped.
  • Escape from Alcatraz, a 1979 Clint Eastwood movie centering around Frank Morris' and the Anglin brothers' escape from the actual Alcatraz Prison.
  • Bexhill "refugee camp" from Children of Men
  • The prison camp in The Bridge on the River Kwai was allegedly inescapable due to its remote location deep in the Burmese jungle. Naturally, this was proved incorrect.

Colonel Saito: "A word to you about escape. There is no barbed wire. No stockade. No watchtower. They are not necessary. We are an island in the jungle. Escape is impossible. You would die."

  • The prison camp in The Great Escape was specifically designed to be escape-proof and housed the most frequent troublemakers/escape-attempters among the POW populace.
    • Put all the best escapers in a single prison? Whose brilliant idea was that?
      • To be fair, only three of them actually got away - everyone else was either recaptured or killed.
  • From Toy Story 3, Sunnyside Daycare takes an unusually dark turn when Lots-O-Huggin Bear refuses to let the toys escape back to Andy, and has them jailed in the daycare's storage crates.


  • The title prison in the Escape From Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith, a hellhole where skinless mutant dogs, a demonic warden, humongous sociopathic guards known as 'Blacksuits', and 'wheezers', humanoid things with gas masks sewn into their faces roam. The really, really, horrible part of it is that Furnace Penitentiary is for kids and kids only, for the rest of their lives. Or maybe the really horrible part is that the wheezers randomly abduct kids and take them to who-knows-where. There is nothing comedic about it.
    • It's even worse when you learn that the abducted prisoners taken are brainwashed and mutated into new Blacksuits.
  • Gouffre Martel in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination isn't a rock in the middle of the ocean but instead an underground labyrinth in the Pyrenees always in darkness. Still, Gully Foyle and Jisbella McQueen manage to escape.
  • La Dolorosa in Kushiel's Legacy.
  • Azkaban from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter combines the "rock in the middle of the sea" with guardian creatures called Dementors who suck all happy feelings out of you, ensuring that prisoners go depressed or insane long before they can escape. It's stated that Azkaban has high iron walls but doesn't need them, since the Dementors make the inmates imprisoned in their own minds. Sirius Black broke out, because he could transform himself into a dog which has less complicated emotions than a human (and thus couldn't be sensed by the Dementors).
    • Bartemius "Barty" Crouch, Junior also broke out of Azkaban. In this case, his dying mother switched places with him, and the blind Dementors only sensed one person coming in, one going out.
    • Not to mention the mass breakout in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, albeit with the cooperation of the aforementioned guards. It's also implied that there are later breakouts, but that the government tries to cover them up.
  • The Warden Diamond from the Jack Chalker series The Four Lords of the Diamond is an entire solar system with four habitable planets infested by a microrganism that kills anyone who tries to leave, making for one huge, seemingly inescapable prison colony.
  • The titular prison in The Omega Cage by Steve Perry and Michael Reaves. It's on a Death World, and many hundreds of kilometers from any way to get off the planet.
  • The narrator in Adam Roberts' novel Stone must escape from a prison (which, judging by its description, bears a disturbing resemblance to Teletubby Land) in the core of a star, and can only do so with the aid of a conspiracy of the Nanomachines that keep the society's technology running.
  • The Lusankya facility in the Star Wars Expanded Universe is supposedly inescapable until a member of Rogue Squadron shows up. It's actually unknown whether or not anyone else escaped- the guards returned those who apparently tried to escape as blackened corpses, making it impossible to tell if they were really the ones who escaped. They tried this same trick for the one who did escape.
    • Lusankya is known to be where the Big Bad turns Rebels into Manchurian Agents; apparently there had been several times when a Rebel who had been captured came back into service after escaping a lesser prison, and had no memory of Lusankya until Isard started telling them what to do. Tycho Celchu escaped a lesser prison but actually remembered Lusankya, which put him under suspicion.
  • The prison planet Hades in the Honor Harrington series. She escapes. With 500,000 other prisoners. Although to be fair, the guards thought she was dead, and she "smuggled in" two spaceships plus enough weaponry for a small army.
  • In The Book of D'ni, Veovis escapes not once, but TWICE from the inescapable Prison Ages, the second of which was written explicitly for him, by four different writers, checked and altered by the highest of the high council, and the book burned after he was linked through.
  • The Stars' End interstellar prison in the Star Wars novel Han Solo At Stars' End. Han Solo blasts it into orbit. Still intact. And with him inside.
    • Well, not quite orbit, exactly. It's more of a high-arc trajectory. Does it even count as a prison escape when you take the whole prison with you?
    • From the same galaxy far, far away is Oovo IV, a supermax-style prison built into a barren, airless asteroid that's constantly pelted by meteor showers; if you somehow get out, chances are you'll want back in.
  • Camp Green Lake in Holes is just a camp. But there's hundreds of miles of desert in every direction and no cars.
    • Its "camp" status (not to be confused with the other kind of camp) is entirely superficial. It's basically a prison camp for adolescent boys.
    • That said, it doesn't look like a prison. Mr. Sir even points out that there are no towers, fences, or barbed wire. The kids are free to run off anytime they want, but there's no way they'd last more than three days, dying either from thirst or the hostile fauna. Even the guns most of the staff carry on them aren't for keeping the kids in line. They're for killing any stray scorpions or yellow-spotted lizards that enter the camp.
  • In the book I Want To Go Home! by Gordon Korman, Camp Algonkian Island is nicknamed Alcatraz, and the two protagonists spend the entire summer trying to get off the island.
  • Subverted in the Forgotten Realms novel, The City of Ravens, where the protagonist, despite what powerful magic and magical artifacts he possessed, really couldn't get out of the prison. It took the hiding warlord who got him imprisoned in the first place to get him out and she was able to do so because she was hiding as the city's mayor.
  • In the Miles Vorkosigan story Borders of Infinity Miles has to organize an escape from the "escape proof" Dagoola IV Top Security Prison Camp #3. The "camp" is a masterpiece of psychological warfare, quite possibly the most terrifying prison in existence while still meeting the future equivalent of the Geneva Conventions. It's just a giant dome over an open space on a remote planet, with no resources, no buildings and no guards, just ten thousand prisoners. The captors drop the legally required amount of food in a huge pile out in the open, ensuring that prisoners riot and fight to get it. Pretty soon, most of the prisoners are all in armed tribes too busy fighting each other over supplies to organize an escape, and the rest are too starved or demoralized to do anything. Miles is sent to enact a two-prisoner rescue, but circumstances change...
    • It was escape-proof... just not rescue-proof. Miles plans ahead. For Miles, Plan B is always Refuge in Audacity, so instead of rescuing two prisoners, he rescues all of them.
  • The Chateau d'If from The Count of Monte Cristo where Edmond Dantes was sent after being betrayed by Fernand Mondego. Prisons such as these back in medieval and renaissance times were for people who were too politically important to simply execute or have murdered, as maintaining the prison and feeding the prisoners cost serious money.
  • Xintan Prison from The Six Sacred Stones is situated atop twin mountain peaks, where the only way out is a single train line. The main prison is on one peak, with a torture wing on the other peak, and the only way out is a train line into the main prison. Naturally, the mountains are too steep to ski down and they have helicopters ready to chase down anyone stupid enough to parachute. Naturally, it's inescapable until the heroes try it.
    • In Seven Ancient Wonders, the heroes break a guy out of Guantanamo Bay in a surprisingly straightforward plan. Notably, it involves landing a 747 on the facility's golf course as a diversion.
  • The Codex Alera has the Grey Tower, a prison structure built to be able to hold the most powerful Furycrafters around, up to and including the First Lord if need be. Along with the many powerful Furies guarding the building, the prison's guards, the Grey Guard, are hand picked for loyalty to the Realm and have never taken a bring in over 500 years. due either to honesty or the fact that they can receive twice the amount of the bribe by turning in the person who tried it. Only two breakouts have ever been successful, both perpetrated by the main character Tavi. The first was fairly straightforward, but the second ran into trouble thanks to security upgrades Tavi himself introduced following his first attempt. Notably, however, these breakouts happened because the Grey Tower was initially designed to specifically contain and neutralize furycrafting. As was the case with a lot of Aleran engineering, no one ever even considered the possibility that someone would be insane enough to attempt a breakout without using furies, which is exactly how Tavi managed it the first time. The second time, Tavi exploited his own designs to get in and out of the prison.
  • Barad-dur in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien states that those who enter as prisoners do not leave. Ever. Gollum claimed to have escaped, but Gandalf implies it was part of Sauron's plan to get the ring and therefore he was released.
  • The prison cells in the Aerie in A Song of Ice and Fire are actually ridiculously easy to leave: this is because they are lacking an outside wall, meaning that prisoners can just step outside. Since the Aerie is several miles up, however, doing this would result in a gruesome death.

Live-Action TV

  • The Prison Luff in Space Cases, where troublesome prisoners are punished by a Mind Wipe, erasing their memory.
  • The Tandaran Detention Centre for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Detained" could also qualify. Amusingly enough, it's run by Dean Stockwell, Scott Bakula's old co-star from Quantum Leap.
  • For season 3 of Prison Break, hero Scofield is manipulated by the recurring shadowy conspiracy to break a man out of Sona, a fictional Panamanian prison with a perfect record, surrounded by brutal military forces, and that's run by the convicts.
    • What about Fox River? It did take them a whole season to break out.
      • Fox River was never that distinctive from other maximum security prisons except that the protagonist had access to the blueprints. Sona was both a unique prison and one that's notoriously escape-proof—the whole reason why they had to bring in a "prison escape expert" and threaten his loved ones in the first place.
  • Supposedly, in Andromeda, "no one escapes from a High Guard prison". It's shown to be a small cell with a bench, with sophisticated technology like 24/7 monitoring, pressure sensitive walls, isolation, and walls, floors, and ceilings that can't even be scratched without expensive tools (mostly made of plastic, actually). However, in that same episode, Dylan and Harper escape because someone paid off the jailer, and an assassin escapes with the help of her brother. So, it would be more accurate to say "no one escapes a High Guard prison without help".
  • Stargate SG-1 had to break into and then break out of Sokar's prison moon that was designed to be a literal hell on earth <insert random planet>.
    • Another episode featured a Race-Of-The-Week whose Hat was a ridiculously harsh justice system, and who created their prison by removing the DHD on a planet and sending prisoners on a one-way trip through the gate. Of course it goes without saying that SG-1 annoy the locals and are sentenced to go there.
      • Notable in that aiding the release of a fellow prisoner was shown to be a very bad thing when they turned out to be insane and evil, making it a prime example of why you should be careful when freeing people from a super prison.
  • Inverted with Stalag 13 from Hogan's Heroes. It's the only German POW camp with a perfect record, but specifically because the prisoners keep it that way. If anyone escaped their kommandant would be replaced with someone who was actually competent and they wouldn't be able to run their underground organization from inside it.
  • The Pandorica in Doctor Who. A cube a few metres across, stated by The Doctor to contain the most dangerous being in the Universe and to have multiple locks. When The Doctor comes across it it is being unlocked apparently from within, while many powerful species are gathered around it. When it finally opens, the Pandorica is empty, as it is revealed that the most dangerous being in the Universe is The Doctor himself, who is then imprisoned in it. His future self breaks him out. Interestingly, despite the claimed security of its locks, they are easily opened by a sonic screwdriver. It's actually a set up by all of the Doctor's greatest enemies, working together to trap him forever.
    • It's so impenetrable that it can survive the very end of the universe.
    • Obviously, the only safety measure they forgot was a deadlock seal.
    • Another supposedly "perfect prison" is brought in later by Canton Delaware III to trap the Doctor. It is made of over a hundred bricks of the densest material in the universe, while it's prisoners are left inside with no food or water. It would've been perfect, had Delaware not been merely pretending to work for the Silence.
  • The prison in the episode "Angels in Chains" of the 2011 series of Charlie's Angels. Oddly for this trope, the Angels don't actually manage to escape and are instead caught during their escape attempt.
  • In Real Life, nobody escaped from Devil's Island until 1901. This makes that penal colony The Alcatraz for James West to escape from in the 1870s, in an episode of The Wild Wild West. He gets out, but the man he was sent in to rescue doesn't.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Batman: Arkham City: The titular prison is an interesting example: Inmates are dumped into the Gotham Slums and allowed to do anything they want if they don't try to escape. If they do, the guards are authorized to kill them.
  • The Gothic game series features one in the first game mixed with Penal Colony. The prison is the magic barrier that surrounds the penal colony, but inside the colony you can do whatever you want. However, in keeping with the trope, the barrier makes escape pretty much impossible, and the whole point of the game is try and find a way past the magic walls.
  • Skies of Arcadia has the Valuan Grand Fortress. It consists of a mountain high stone wall (that is at least 30 yards thick) that has hundred of canons mounted on one side. The stone wall can revolve so it can shoot at either side and there are multiple ports on the inside that can allow an entire armada of airships to pour out and attack. How do the protagonists respond to such a threat? Escape of course. For good measure they do it twice.
  • The Illsveil Prison in Wild ARMs 2. It makes a reappearance in Wild ARMs 4, though in that case, it was The Very Definitely Final Dungeon that the heroes need to break into.
  • Duke Nukem II begins with aliens capturing Duke and sending him to a dungeon. When he escapes, he even remarks, "This is too easy!"
  • Hellana Prison in Legend of Dragoon, which the main characters visits twice to save two characters. And both times, the boss of the area doesn't get a chance to chop your head off.
  • Corel Prison in Final Fantasy VII can be escaped from...the problem is, it's in the middle of an endless desert and you'd probably die of thirst before you made it out. The desert has quicksand too.
  • The D-District Prison in Final Fantasy VIII is pretty hard to escape from, given that it sics guards with Sleep spell training on you, lots of monsters and mechs of varying types, has powerful anti magic barriers, and even requires heavy machinery to even reach certain parts of the place. (The main body of the prison is actually three giant vertical screws, allowing it to dig into and out of the sand.) Like Corel prison, it is also in the middle of a desert - so even if the prisoner escapes, without any way of getting back safely, they're not going to be surviving.
  • Final Fantasy X has Via Purifico, an underground labyrinth that even requires swimming to get anywhere. It can be escaped...but of course, there's only one exit, so it's not exactly tough to guard and kill any survivors that make it out.
  • World of Warcraft has one of these in the Instanced dungeon The Arcatraz. It requires a fairly lengthy quest just to get the key to open the place. However, once inside you find out that the warden was enslaved by the Cosmic Horror from the deepest cells and has unleashed everything. The final encounter said warden unleashing five Sealed Evil in a Can on the party, the fifth one being the Cosmic Horror that kills him right away. Well, he calls down four technically. He builds up the Second to be a Sealed Evil in a Can , but he turns out to be an Innocent Bystander Gnome Mage who'll help you fight after a minute or so. The guy later reappears to be fully evil too.
  • Tixa from Jagged Alliance 2 makes "Alcatraz look like Disneyland".
  • Shadow Hearts: From the New World actually has the party break into Alcatraz.
  • Rainbow Islands, a sequel to Bubble Bobble features eleven victims who've been transformed into bubble dragons and locked in small individual cells atop a mountain on an island that has been fully underwater (before it rose to the surface) with no hope of escape... unless Bub can reach them and not suffer that fate himself.
  • Minera Prison Island from Castlevania Order of Ecclesia was once a prison populated by petty thieves and criminals long forgotten by society. Now it's just a breeding ground for demons and other horrors, as well as the "Wake-Up Call" Boss that can easily dispatch Shanoa in a few hits.
  • During the events of Silent Hill 2, James gets to visit the remains of the Toluca Prison localed beneath the Silent Hill Historial Society.
  • The San Francisco Rush series of Driving Games has, in every single installment barring the original arcade version, a course that is set on Alcatraz. Alcatraz in-game looks much bigger than its real-life counterpart.
  • Mass Effect 2 has Purgatory, a prison-ship run by a group of mercenaries. It's actually a subversion, as the Warden has connections to the slave trade and sells prisoners frequently. So it's fairly easy to get out, just not on your own terms. Shepard visits there to gain Subject Zero, AKA "Jack", the most dangerous of the criminals into his/her party.
  • Butcher Bay. The point of this place is that you don't leave.
  • In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Crystal Bearers, there is the Aerial Prison. a giant prison compound filled with deadly guard robots, laser defenses, etc. But the worst part is the fact that it is floating in the sky, at such a height that jumping off would kill you. And even if you do manage to escape your cell, dodge the guard 'bots, make it outside, and somehow get to the ground without dying (our heroes ended up crashing the entire prison to get to the ground), all you've managed to do is land yourself in the Prison Sands, another desert-based prison located directly beneath.
  • The Gulag in Modern Warfare 2, too much has been said.
  • Prison Island from Sonic Adventure 2 is based off of Alcatraz. No fewer than three characters are trapped there over the course of the story.
  • An old Xbox game called Prisoner of War has the character escape from five German prison camps from WWII, including Stalag Luft and Colditz Castle (see Real Life below). While foiling a Nazi rocket program at the same time. In fact, he escapes from the fourth prison camp, just so he can go to the fifth! Guy is a damn Houdini.
  • New Folsom in StarCraft II is this. Siege tanks, Ravens, ghosts, and more marines and marauders than you'll ever need guarding the Terran Dominion's political prisoners and an assortment of other galactic plagues, and it only took fifty years since its founding for Raynor's Raiders, with help from rogue Spectre Gabriel Tosh, to thwart its security measures.

Raynor: Damn, Nova must've tipped them off. We'll need an army to break inside.
Tosh: Even an army can't break through. But one man - one Spectre in the right place - can find a way in.

  • It's never actually seen in Dragon Age, but the Mage PC Origin and a codex entry reference The Aeonar, a prison run by the Chantry. Apostate mages and maleficars and their conspirators are sent here. This trope doesn't apply to any prisons actually seen in the game, as the ease at which you escape or free others from them suggest they're somewhat more fragile.
    • "The Gallows" from the the second game swings between being one of these and a Cardboard Prison. For the first half of the game, the Mage Underground performs numerous prison breaks, with sympathetic Templars either aiding or chosing to turn a blind eye. By Act III however it becomes a full on Alcatraz as the Templars crack down on sympathisers, the Mage Underground is completely obliterated and the Right of Tranquility performed on Mages for the slightest infractions.
  • Bargate Prison in the Fable games, which you have to escape from after being captured in the first. Then there's the Spire in the second game, where you've been as a guard for ten years trying to rescue a character. You then fight your way past legions of guards and sail a ship out of the Spire back to the mainland.
  • In Destroy All Humans! 2, the expy of San Francisco level has an expy of Alcatraz just off the shore called The Rock. At the time it is used as the secret base for the KGB.
  • In Infinite Space, the planet Skantzoura in the SMC and Lari and Belgirate in the LMC are used to imprison dangerous criminals and the politically inconvenient.
  • Nova Prospekt in Half Life 2.
  • Star Wars The Old Republic the Republic has a huge prison called the tomb, which was used to contain war criminals and Sith.
  • The Legend of Zelda has a few stages based on this setting, including Gerudo Fortress (Ocarina of Time), Forsaken Fortress (The Wind Waker), and the catacombs of Hyrule Castle (Twilight Princess).
  • The Rank 23 stage in No More Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle.
  • The first level of Bomberman 64: The Second Attack is called "Lost Planet Alcatraz". It's about what you'd expect from a name like that.
  • Sly 2: Band of Thieves has Sly and Murray thrown into one of these in the 4th chapter at the hands of The Contessa. The only way for them to break out is for Bentley to break in.
  • The protagonist must ecape from one of these in the first mission of Saints Row 2.

Web Comics

  • Girl Genius‍'‍s Castle Heterodyne is a sentient (if badly damaged) psychopath's funhouse filled with deathtraps and run by an insane and fragmented AI. (It's also the titular heroines' ancestral home.) Until it was repaired by Agatha Heterodyne, the ever-pragmatic Baron Wulfenbach dealt with troublemakers by sentencing them to join the repair crew, thus killing two birds with one stone.
  • In Antihero for Hire, there's one of these in orbit, a "Valkyrie" class satellite called "The Afterlife" (or sometimes "The Rock" because "every escape-proof prison gets called The Rock", to which people get disappeared.
  • Bob and George: Mini Rick says the Author's prison is this.

Web Original

  • In one of the most terrifying Let's Plays out there, The Terrible Secret of Animal Crossing, the town to which the hero is sent to is not an adorable land of fuzzy morons. It is in fact an inescapable prison that slowly turns humans into animals, who are then used as replacement parts for the insane warden. And it's awesome!
  • In the Whateley Universe, the Red and Black Sections of ARC (the Arkham Research Consortium) are used as uncrackable prisons to hold people and things too dangerous to ever let loose. When Fey, Carmilla, and Bladedancer go to ARC (knowing from a seer that the day will be a good day to try to help Carmilla's friend Merry break out), they find out why: a villain has set timers so that a horrific supervillain will be able to escape on that day.
    • So the horrific supervillain doesn't actually escape, and Merry only gets away with the help of the head of Red Section!
    • Plus Roxbury C, the Massachusetts facility for supervillains, set 70 feet underground in solid bedrock and magically warded. It had never been cracked at the start of "Ayla and the Boston Brawl."
      • Roxbury C's 'inescapable' status was, naturally, a lead-up to the inevitable - there were a million ways to keep prisoners from escaping, but one too few protections against an unauthorized party getting in, as they found out in Ayla and the Birthday Brawl.
  • Tech Infantry has the Federation (and later Imperial) Prison in the R45 systiem is a Death World and prison planet from which escape (or even survival) is almost impossible. Orbital forts and warships in orbit to prevent rescue, powerful magical incantations and a natural anti-magic field to prevent magical teleportation escapes, and a toxic ecosystem overrun by insane stranded Bugs make it a not at all nice place to be sentenced.
  • Dusk Peterson's fantasy series Life Prison.
  • In Vigor Mortis, Site 4 is presumably the most secure prison in the country of Valka - its escape record has yet to be stated, but they have been holding someone incredibly dangerous for around 20 years, with most people unaware of this notorious criminal, let alone the prison itself. Site 4 is technically a "correctional facility", not a prison - at least for most inmates. The protagonist is also imprisoned in Site 4, and it's unclear if she'll ever escape.
  • The Birdcage, the parahuman prison, from Worm.

Western Animation

  • The Boiling Rock in Avatar: The Last Airbender is probably the most over-the-top example that isn't for humor: It's a maximum security prison, on a tiny island, in a lake heated to boiling by hydrothermal vents, in the caldera of a remote volcanic island, so that the only way in or out is an aerial tram to the docks. Sokka and Zuko break out Suki, Hakoda, and a random inmate named Chit Sang ("Hey, I'm new").
  • Belle Reve in Young Justice is a supermax facility located in the Louisana bayou, and built to house most it not all of the strongest and deadliest of super villains. The only thing keeping all the inmates at bay are special collars designed to negate their individual powers, and shock them into submission if they break the rules. Then somebody figured out having the baddest villains under the same roof was a plus, so the evil cabal known as the "Light" engineers an failed escape attempt, (by having ice-based villains purposly caught and brought to Belle Reve to freeze the walls solid and smash through them), that allows one of their agents to be put in charge of the facility. Despite all the major villains being unable to escape, Edward Ngyma, aka "The Riddler", is the only one that manages to break out during the ice-villains' attempt, after being harrassed for so long, and called a loser and second-rate criminal.
  • Superjail, from the series of the same name, seems almost ridiculously inescapable. For one thing, it's on top of a volcano... which apparently grew right in the middle of another volcano (so, you know, lava moat), which is on a desert island and it's probably in another dimension. One character manages to escape by the end of the first episode. It's a good thing too; in Superjail, you go in... and that's about it.
    • This soon proves to be a running gag that occurs Once an Episode, where by some strange coincidence he manages to escape at the end of every episode only to be brought back at the beginning on the next one.
  • The Fairyworld Maximum Security Prison, recently renamed Abra-Catraz, in The Fairly OddParents.
  • Walker's prison stronghold in Danny Phantom. Naturally the main character got all the Rogues Gallery he's faced so far to help create havoc and escape. All this for a present.
  • In the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, the "Prison of Agony" is an enormous prison suspended over a lava lake in a volcano by four enormous chains.
  • Bionicle has the Pit, where those who break the law of Mata Nui are sent by a being named Botar after being defeated in battle. Due to recent events, it filled up with mutagenic water.
  • Chorh-Gom Prison, Tai Lung's mountain prison in Kung Fu Panda. He's the only prisoner, chained to the floor in a deep pit, wearing a tortoise shell-shaped suit with acupuncture needles that keep him paralyzed, and covered from above by massive crossbows at all times. There are one thousand guards responsible for containing him alone. He obtains one solitary feather, picks the lock and defeats the defenses in a few minutes.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Smile Away Reformatory. Need we say more?[context?]
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes uses the Vault, the Big House, and the Raft mentioned in the Comic Books section, while also using the Cube, a prison specifically designed to deal with gamma-powered supervillains. The series is kicked off by a simultaneous jailbreak from all four prisons.
    • Then there's prison 42: a prison designed by Ant-Man, Reed Richards, and Iron Man later in the series. This prison is based off the Negative Zone prison mentioned in the Comic Books section, and much more like a more traditional Alcatraz. The only entrance is through the Baxter Building, and that entrance is key-card and hand-scanner protected. Each cell is protected by a transparent forcefield, and since the prison is in the negative zone, they can lock the door if anyone tries to break out (nobody has yet). It used to be patrolled by hundreds of Ultron robots, but after their destruction in the war against Kang, it currently is under SHIELD control with hundreds of armed agents patrolling at all times. Thus far, it has proved its worth, as no villain who ends up in the negative zone has ever escaped (yet).
  • Storm Hawks gives us the Cyclonian prison on Terra Zartacla. Since the actual prison complex is surrounded by a dense jungle, escaping the prison proper doesn't mean you're home free. What's more, the warden, Mr. Moss keeps dangerous animals bred for tracking down escapees. And since a 'terra' in Storm Hawks means a tall peak surrounded by a volcanic wasteland, without a pre-arranged ride you'd be out of luck. Aerrow manages to escape, and spends the episode dodging Mr. Moss' forces until his friends who by this time have freed the rest of the prison while it was left defenseless because Moss called all of his men on the search.
  • The prison satellite of Incarceron in Ben 10.

Real Life

  • The Trope Namer is Alcatraz, the famous prison in San Francisco Bay set out on a rock. The most successful escape attempt was a man (John K Giles - a pretty awesome guy in his own right) who stole an Army uniform, snuck onto an Army laundry boat, and took it to Angel Island (another island in San Francisco Bay) where he was immediately apprehended. It says something that this is considered successful.
    • Another escape attempt in 1962 may have been successful, at least in the sense that the three prisoners -- John Anglin, Clarence Anglin, and Frank Morris -- made it off the island and were never apprehended. The general opinion is that they perished in San Francisco Bay, but the MythBusters proved that they could have made it to land.
    • This trope is so famous, that in direct competition of the 140.6 mile Iron Man endurance triathalon, San Francisco now holds an Escape from Alcatraz triathalon, which starts with the athletes diving off the prison island, swimming to shore, before completing a bike race and foot race.
  • The prison (and escape) in The Great Escape was based off a real one, Stalag Luft III.
  • While somewhat more famous in Britain, Colditz Castle was another 'inescapable' WWII POW camp. The population was composed entirely of men who had already escaped from other prisons and 15 managed to escape even here (there was a 16th who got out, but he wasn't heard from again).
  • Devil's Island.
    • Yet Henri Charrière, according to the novel and film Papillon managed to escape from there.
  • Intersecting with Literature: Chateau d'If in The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Fort-Montluc in A Man Escaped (and history)
  • Giacomo Casanova (yes, the Trope Namer) managed to escape from the supposedly inescapable Doge's Palace.
  • Arguably, all of West Berlin. East Germany spent enormous amounts of money to keep people from breaking in. Truth be told, a subversion - there were so many attempts (many successful) to breach the Berlin Wall that there is now a museum on the site dedicated to them.
    • The entire GDR probably fits this trope even better. With an over 1300-kilometer long border, complete with cleared death zones and spring guns, guarded by a 50,000 man strong paramilitary unit, all of it only to stop people from leaving the country.
  • The British prison on the Rock of Gibraltar.
  • Though technically not a prison, many a harried recruit going through United States Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island dreams of finding a way to get off the island and back to a comfy, civilian life. What they don't realize is that pretty much every person who lives anywhere near the Island is either related to, married to, or works to support the personnel on the island, and on the exceedingly rare occasions where a recruit manages to get off the island, they're easy to spot - almost completely shaven bald, only having cammy utilities on their back (Marines are not supposed to wear them off base), all wrinkly, and often wearing the infamous "BCG's", aka Birth Control Glasses. The civilians merely stall any such recruits they see, and MPs come by within a very short time and haul the hapless proto-Marine back to the Island - where they'll be in a lot of trouble.
    • Among other things, you sign a contract. Supposedly you can walk away at any point up until the moment you set foot on the plane or bus headed to Boot Camp, though that is doubtful. Also, at any point in your first twelve months in the Corps, you can request a 'Failure to adapt to military lifestyle' discharge - which counts as a General Discharge, not an Honorable Discharge. Neither of these options applied when the Draft was active.
  • Portlaois Prison in the Republic of Ireland contains Ireland's most dangerous criminals, members of dangerous drug gangs and criminals serving life sentences for serious crime. A number of Irish Republican prisoners are still in the old E Block. Anyone charged under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act must be sent to the prison because of its unique security measures. The prison has a capacity for 203 prisoners, but because of the security sensitive nature of its inmates, it operates below this capacity. A large number of well armed Irish Defence Forces soldiers guard the prison 24 hours a day, making it one of the most secure prisons in Europe.The security features include a army detachment consisting of approx Company strength, armed with assault rifles and anti-aircraft machine guns, who guard the prison complex. An air exclusion zone operates over the entire complex. The perimeter consists of high walls, cameras, sensors and acres of tank traps.
  • Elba was supposed to be this for Napoleon. Despite being an island guarded by the British Navy, he managed to escape after 300 days. After Waterloo, he was exiled to Saint Helena, a barren and isolated chunk of rock in the South Atlantic. He didn't escape that time.
  • Australia was a penal (prison) colony for Britain for the greater part of the 19th century, and well beyond swimming distance to someplace better, and certainly prohibitively far from England, which was the point. Everything Is Trying to Kill You is in effect for continent, on land or at sea.
  • During World War II, Nazi concentration camps were, of course, heavily guarded, both to keep people in and to keep people out. They had armed guards, attack dogs, and many, if not all, were surrounded by mine fields. However, prisoners of the Sobibor extermination camp staged a revolt and fled the camp. (This was one of the few successful revolts by prisoners in the concentration camps.) Some died in the mine fields and others were shot down by guards before they could escape into the surrounding forest. Some were recaptured by the Nazis soon after they escaped. However, some did survive to tell their tale.
  • In federal Supermax prisons, inmates are allowed out of their cell for only one hour a day and otherwise are kept in solitary confinement, being fed through a slot in their cell door. The escape rate from these facilities is virtually zero.
  • Black Dolphin Prison is Russia's version of Supermax. This prison is for the worst of the worst criminals in Russia, as in, the worst terrorists, pedophiles, and serial killers, all of them lifers. Possibly the most notorious criminal there is Vladimir Nikolayev, who killed a man, cooked and ate part of him, and gave the rest to the victim's family by claiming it was kangaroo meat. As yet, there have been no successful escapes, as of 2022.