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File:JustOutOfJail BluesBrothers 923.jpg

Paden: Did you offend anyone?

Emmitt: Not for five years.

Paden: Jefferson City?

Emmitt: No, Leavenworth.

Bob is on his way somewhere, when he gets dragged into a heist, shootout or other illegal activity. It doesn't matter if he's a hostage, an innocent bystander, or trying to stop the criminals, he just got out of jail, so he knows the cops won't listen to him. Or he knows they're corrupt. Either way, he's either a Retired Outlaw or just that much more determined not to get caught.

Note that this trope applies to people who were released either on parole or due to their sentence being complete. A character who just got out of jail is likely to be Genre Savvy. Expect a Retired Gunslinger to have Just Got Out of Jail about half the time. The same can be said of virtually any protagonist with a criminal background.

If a genuine villain just got out of jail, he is a Civilian Villain or Karma Houdini.

Examples of Just Got Out of Jail include:


  • The Blues Brothers begins with "Joliet" Jake Blues being released from the prison that provides his nickname.
  • Hudson Hawk starts with Eddie getting out of prison. He's almost immediately forced to participate in an international burglary operation.
  • Ocean's Eleven begins and ends with Danny Ocean being released from prison.
  • Happens Once an Episode in Olsen's Gang movies. Every movie starts with Egon leaving prison (usually with the new plan ready) and ends with him getting locked up again.
  • Silverado provides the page quote. One of the heroes, Emmitt, has just been released from jail when he's ambushed, breaks another character out of jail, infiltrates a group of bandits, and winds up on the wrong side of a fight with a corrupt sheriff.
  • The Spitfire Grill begins with Percy being released from a five-year prison sentence.
  • Con Air happens on the hero's flight back from jail.
  • In The Italian Job, Charlie is first spotted being released from prison and is promptly given the plan for the titular job.
  • Buffalo Sixty Six opens with Billy getting let out of jail. He has to whiz so bad he asks to be let back in for just a sec, but they won't let him.
  • Sin City has John Hartigan get released from prison on parole just so he could tie up a loose end. This was intentional on his part, however.
  • This is the premise of Carlitos Way. The newly-released Carlito tries to make a legitimate living, but the FBI still want to see him put away. It doesn't help that he constantly gets tangled up in his colleagues' shady activities.
  • At the end of the initial gunfight in Judge Dredd, Dredd arrests a man for tampering with a vending robot. When he realizes that the man he arrested was just released from prison (That very day), he adds a few years to the sentence. The reason the man had tampered with the robot was to have a hiding place from the shoot-out, which he had unknowingly walked into.


  • American Gods starts with Shadow being released from prison; he quickly gets recruited as an assistant to Mr. Wednesday, who spends most of his time grifting despite being a Physical God.

Live Action TV

  • In the first episode of Hustle, Micky is released from prison after serving two years, and upon release, assembles a gang of fellow con artists.
  • Minder opens with Terry being released from prison having served several years for Grevious Bodily Harm and attempted armed robbery. Lacking job prospects, he ends up as a "minder" (bodyguard, heavy, etc.) for Honest John Arthur Dailey. Throughout the series, Terry is treated with suspicion and hostility by police as a result of his criminal record.
  • Prison Break: Linc (after his name was cleared the first time) kills a Mook and tells LJ and Sofia to run since he rightly assumes the police won't care if its self-defense.
  • In My Name Is Earl, Earl gets released from prison, but finds he no longer has the apartment, the job, or girlfriend he acquired in Season 2...and that life has gotten a lot tougher, since no one wants to hire an ex-con. Even though he was in for a crime his ex-wife committed. This causes him to lose faith in Karma, and go back to his old ways.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect 2, Jack a.k.a. Subject Zero joins The Squad after you bail her out of the galactic prison.
  • While not exactly jail, the Jedi Exile in the second Knights of the Old Republic has just come back to Republic space after a ten-year sentence of exile pronounced on him/her by the Jedi Council.

Western Animation

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