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In Real Life, kidnapping is recognized as a criminal act and it is not considered nice at all to abduct someone. However, there will be that person who does just that and sees the act as a kindness to the victim. The modus operandi of The Kindnapper will vary according to the work and intended audience, but he invariably fulfills these requirements:

  1. He has kidnapped one or more people and
  2. the kidnapper's reason for having abducted said person or people, involves a belief that it is a benevolent act toward his victim(s).

Male pronouns will be used throughout this trope because The Kindnapper is traditionally a male role due to its usual associations with Abduction Is Love and Captive Date, though there are also female examples.

Expect The Kindnapper's victim(s) to be in a Gilded Cage to highlight his good intentions. The Kindnapper usually intends to woo his victim, make them a better person, make them happy, take them on a date, or even just to keep them in the Gilded Cage! Scenarios where the victim(s) come to think of their kidnapper as a benefactor go under Stockholm Syndrome. Sometimes The Kindnapper's victim(s) develop Stockholm Syndrome, but not always. The Kindnapper thinks of himself as kind and that's all that counts in order for him to count as one. The most sympathetic portrayals of this kind of kindnapping will highlight The Kindnapper's good intentions, but also make it clear that abducting people is no way to actually be kind. This type is otherwise known as The Obviously Misguided Kindnapper due to the dearth of portrayals of this type of kindnapping being portrayed as actually benevolent. Many of those that you will find in the Real Life section are of this type.

Another flavor of The Kindnapper is usually seen kidnapping someone to protect them from an immediate threat of being maimed, raped, tortured, or killed. Yes, in these cases, it actually was benevolent of him to save them from certain danger, even if it involved capturing them or transporting them against their will. However, these situations that somehow require for the endangered person to be abducted in order to successfully resuce them are highly implausible and are highly unlikely to occur in real life. Additionally, the fact that the kidnapping was done for the purposes of a rescue does not change the fact that the rescuee was kidnapped. This flavor of The Kindnapper is more likely to have a sympathetic portrayal. In some cases, it will be made clear that the rescuee was also a kidnap victim and he may even be called out on his actions, but you can reasonably expect this type's actions to be glossed over. Also known as The Heroic Kindnapper due to the fact that his paricular brand of kindnapping is part of an act of undeniable heroism.

Compare the Well-Intentioned Extremist, who similarly uses a wide variety of questionable means in an attempt to do good on a large scale. In fact, part of his well intentioned extremism may be kindnapping!

Examples of The Kindnapper include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Ghost in The Shell Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society this is one interpritation of The Puppetmaster's MO (since it hacks the cyberbrains of parents and forces them to hand over their children). Of course it got this idea from being built from part of The Major's psyche and she certainly doesn't approve...
  • Dragon Ball Z: This is basically what Picolo did with Gohan at the start of the Saiyan saga. He took him away in order to train him to fight the coming saiyans without bothering to ask for permission from Gohan's mom.
    • During the same saga Gohan meets a group of orphans living together as an extended family. While staying with them a group of social workers arrive to take the children under the justification that they'd be better off in a orphanage. (not an unreasonable belief, really)


  • The titular V of V for Vendetta by Alan Moore kidnaps Evey twice, and each time is meant to be for her own good. The first time is of the second type, in which he saves her from being raped and murdered by Fingermen (members of the government secret police) and takes her to his Shadow Gallery. The most notable is the second time, which is of the first kind, in which V puts her through an ordeal very much like the one he suffered, complete with torture, a Traumatic Haircut, and a threat of execution as a Secret Test of Character, which she passes. However, this is obviously meant to be horrifying to readers.
  • Silver Dagger, one of Doctor Strange's foes, once wounded him and stole his lover Clea, intending to save her soul from corruption by Strange's dark magic. (The irony that he was a black sorcerer himself was lost on him).


  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington comes to love everything about Christmas so much that he wants to run the show himself! Of course, the one who already does run it hasn't shown signs of wanting to step down... So Jack decides to ask Lock, Shock, and Barrel to kidnap "Sandy Claws" from Christmas Town so that he's out of the way. But he clearly intends it to be a break for Santa, as evidenced by his telling Santa to consider it a vacation and a reward and sternly telling Lock, Shock, and Barrel to "see that he's comfortable" while Jack delivers the presents. However, Lock, Shock and Barrel have their own plans in mind for Santa...
  • John Kramer, the Jigsaw Killer of the Saw film series, says that he kidnaps people and puts them in lethal deathtraps to teach them to appreciate their lives and help them overcome some "flaw" that he considers them to have.
  • Black Snake Moan. A man takes a woman prisoner because he believes it is his spiritual duty to heal her of her sinful ways and refuses to release her until he does so.
  • As noted below in Literature, Annie Wilkes from Misery. She finds Paul Sheldon, the main character and her favorite author, severely injured in the aftermath of a car accident, and decides to take him home with her and tend to his injuries herself since she's a trained nurse. However, the movie makes it look less like kidnapping and more like good old Annie Wilkes has just called his agent and is just having him stay in the guest room until the help she called arrives, and then Annie walks in and tells him that she never did tell anyone where he was and from that point on, it's clear that Paul is Alone with the Psycho.
  • The six of the titular brothers of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers who are bachelors at the beginning of the show are inspired to kidnap wives for themselves by the rape of the Sabine women, which they misinterpret as "sobbin' women." However, they do want to "make them sobbin' women smile" as well as end up marrying them.
  • In Darby O'Gill and the Little People, King Brian manipulates Darby's horse into knocking Darby himself down a well so that he'll go down into the leprechaun kingdom. Once Darby arrives there, King Brian doesn't intend to let him leave. The whole reason King Brian did this is because Darby has been kicked out of his house and he wants to provide Darby with a place to stay in the leprechaun kingdom instead. Note that he didn't ask Darby himself what he thought of this and the fact that Darby isn't willing, either.
  • The film version of V for Vendetta has V kidnap Evey twice just as in the original comics by Alan Moore, except with an Abduction Is Love angle to it as Evey falls in love with V over the course of the plot.
  • A Brainwashing for the Greater Good example in Drop Squad. A group of black Americans kidnaps and deprograms (brainwashes) blacks who are considered to have betrayed their race. The intent is to restore their pride in their own race (DROP stands for Deprogramming and Restoration of Pride). The movie justifies this by having the black man who's kidnapped working for a company that acts in an blatantly racist manner that would never be accepted in Real Life. Other kidnap victims include a corrupt politician and a drug dealer.
  • This was Willy Wonka's intentions toward Charlie Bucket in the second adaptation of Charlie and the chocolate factory. After Charlie wins the ultimate prize of being named his heir Wonka planned to take him away from his family and raise him because Wonka, due to his own childhood felt family was unnecessary. But in the end Charlie convinces Wonka that family is important after all.
  • The protector of the Terminator Twosome in any film of the Terminator film franchise always ends up doing the second variant of kindnapping as part of protecting their assigned charge(s) from whatever Terminator has been sent back in time to kill them.
    • In The Terminator, Kyle Reese kidnaps Sarah Conner to save her from the titular character.
    • The T-800 kidnaps John Connor in the second film in order to save him from the T-1000.
    • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-850 kidnaps Kate Brewster to save her from the T-X.


  • Erik, the titular Phantom of the Opera intends to make Christine his wife by any means necessary. He periodically kidnaps her and keeps her in a luxurious bedroom where she is comfortable and he gets pretty things for her. He is so nice to her that Christine shows obvious signs of Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Misery provides us with Annie Wilkes, who, upon finding Paul Sheldon, the protagonist and her favorite author, at the scene of a car accident, decides to take him home with her rather than at least attempt to call the hospital or for other emergency help. She's figured that since she's a trained nurse, she could take care of Paul herself! And she loves him, so surely he'll love her, too, once he gets to know her...
  • In her autobiographical novel Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen describes the circumstances under which she ended up confined in McLean Hospital. After going to a therapy session, the psychiatrist decides that she needs a rest, by which he meant that she needed to be hospitalized. She agrees because she thinks he means that she needs a nap, and indeed she is fatigued. However, when she finds out what she really means, she verbalizes her disagreement with him, telling him that she's supposed to go out for lunch with a friend. Despite her protests, he put her in a cab and told the driver to take her to McLean and not let her out until he made it there.
  • In the Donald E. Westlake novel Good Behavior, a millionaire hires a deprogrammer to "rescue" his daughter from the Catholic Church! (She had just taken her vows as a nun.)
  • This is the entire plot of Stolen by Lucy Christopher, with a kidnapper of the 'Obviously Misguided' variety.
  • Bard Lynell in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar novel kindnapped Stefen off the streets (without bothering to explain herself first). He was later eternally grateful for her intervention, but at the time he thought he'd been sold into slavery or worse.

Live Action Television

  • On an episode of Law & Order, a mentally-unbalanced woman kidnaps a young girl from a neglectful mother and keeps her in a secret room in her basement. At the end of the episode the woman is acquitted of kidnapping and is planning on suing for custody of the girl.
  • Soap: Jodie's daughter Wendy is kidnapped by her mother Carol. Whether for Rule of Drama or Hollywood Law, apparently the authorities can't do anything about it "because she's her mother" DESPITE the fact that Carol sued for custody and lost prior to the kidnapping.
  • Bones: The case of the week involves a kidnapped child, who it turns out has been kidnapped by his father, who thinks his ex-wife is an unfit mother. The father changes the child's name and hair color to hide him at his cousin's house.
  • The kidnapper in The X-Files episode "Unruhe" kidnapped and lobotomized his victims to free them from the eponymous "Disquiet" (in German).
  • Criminal Minds has multiple examples of these.
    • The unsub in the episode "Today I Do". She even says to one of her victims, "I want to help you fix yourself."
    • Another episode focused on a guy who kidnapped multiple women. He treated each one of them to a romantic evening that would go well until she rejected him when they got to the bathtub part. Then things got ugly...
  • A later episode of House has House kidnapping his Jerkass amputee neighbor who suffers from chronic phantom limb pain. He straps him down, sticks his missing arm in a mirror box that creates the illusion that he has two arms again and orders him to "open" his missing hand to release the tension. It worked, and the neighbor broke down in tears thanking him.
  • Sherlock has Mycroft, who always kidnaps Watson whenever he needs to meet with him. The most significant example is in A Study In Pink where he's forced go into a suspicious cab with no knowledge of where he's being taken, in order to meet Mycroft in an abandoned building just to tell Watson he's worried about his brother and give him large sum of money to pay for the rent.


  • Jonathan Coulton's "Skullcrusher Mountain" involves a Mad Scientist who kidnaps his lady love for a date after unsuccessfully attempting to woo her with his scientific talents.

Video Games

  • Taro Namatame from Persona 4 kidnapped people who appear in the Midnight Channel and threw them into the TV world, having the misguided belief that it will "save" them from being killed, when in reality it was the other way around.

Web Original

  • One of the theories about the Slender Man is that he kidnaps children who are going to die in an accident

Real Life

  • Josef Fritzl infamously lured his 18 year old daughter Elisabeth into the house cellar, where he locked her up in the bunker he had been building for several years beforehand and raped her enough times that she gave birth to seven children and had one miscarriage. He says that he kept Elisabeth down there to keep her away from the outside world and considers himself to have been a good father to the incestuous, ill-gotten family he kept down there. His descriptions of his relationship with Elisabeth and the three of their children he kept in the bunker make it seem like they were a second nuclear family for him, with Elisabeth as the wife that he brought flowers to and had consensual sex with.
  • There are several examples of parents hiring "deprogrammers" to kidnap their children from cults and religious sects with the intent to un-Brainwash them. Unsurprisingly, this practice has been used as a source of drama in multiple works.
  • In January 2010, a group of American Baptists were caught attempting to take 33 Haitian children across the border into the Dominican republic, despite their protests and requests to be taken to their parents and relatives.
  • In March 2011, Teresa McGee kidnapped two boys she had babysat with the intention of protecting them from their father.


  • This tends to pop up in shrunken women fetish fiction: women will be reduced to doll size and kept in a Gilded Cage by someone who wants to keep them all to themselves.