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"When you're in prison, don't turn the other way

Keep your back against the wall

When you're in prison, don't turn the other way

Do not bend at all..."
—The Offspring, "When You're in Prison"

Jail, the Big House, the Slammer.

If a show is set in Prison, the wardens and/or guards usually contain at least one Drill Sergeant Nasty, and there is a prevalence of gang violence, drug abuse, and Prison Rape. Due to the need to present the setting as extremely violent, dangerous and chaotic, shows set primarily in prison, such as Oz, will frequently use Red Shirt characters.


See Prison Tropes and Crime and Punishment Tropes for tropes that frequently come into play in stories featuring prisons.

For Real Life background information:

Prison as the main setting:



  • Time Spike by Eric Flint and Marilyn Kosmatka, which is loosely connected with his Ring of Fire series. A modern American maximum-security prison, as well as several other groups, are moved back in time to the Cretaceous.

Live-Action TV

Video Games

  • Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay: A game based entirely on escaping from prison that was actually pretty fun.
  • Sanitarium: A great game based on escaping from a loony bin.
  • The Suffering is a third-person shooter that takes place on a prison... that gets attacked by monsters.
  • Half Life 2 had you breaking into a high security prison, Nova Prospekt. To do this you had to storm a fortified beachfront, run past several machine gunners, scale a steep cliff face and shoot down a pair of gunships just to make it inside. According to another character, this was easier than breaking out. Once inside, the largely empty Nova Prospekt turned out to be pretty eerie.
    • The Riot Act mod is about breaking out of Combine-operated prison.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: The entire game is set in the titular insane asylum/prison. Fortunately, it's varied enough to be entertaining the whole way through.

Web Comics

  • The Lydian Option is a sci-fi comic set on an asteroid prison run by a species that incarcerates criminals for every offense, no matter how minor.

Web Original

  • Survival of the Fittest version three has a jailhouse/prison/military stockade as one of the locations, frequently used as shelter by the students. So far it's one of the least bloody locations on the island, with only one person having died there. V3 characters Brad Kavanagh and Eduardo Trinidad-Villa are also mentioned as having spent time in juvenile hall, Brad on (false) murder charges, and Eduardo on assault charges. Brad was released when the real killer came forward and his case was overturned, but Eduardo served his entire sentence.

Western Animation

Prison is frequently used as a set:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • In All Fall Down, IQ Squared and Pronto end up here at the finish.


Live-Action TV