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Throw the Jew down the well, so my country can be free...

A character gets rid of another character by physically or magically trapping them within some uncomfortable location so remote it will be impossible for them to escape by themselves.

This is a way to do the death/resurrection plot without cheapening death, since the trapped character is always brought back.

A fun word for a prison of this type is "oubliette" where a prisoner would be thrown to be literally forgotten about (from "oublier" = "to forget").

Related to Out of Sight, Out of Mind and Put on a Bus. Compare And I Must Scream.

Examples of Thrown Down a Well include:


  • In DiC's Sailor Moon dub the Doom and Gloom girls trap each of the Sailor Scouts in the Negaverse except for Sailor Moon in the first season finale, Sailor Moon's magic frees them all and wipes their memories in the next episode. In the original however the DD Girls (rather graphically for a show aimed a young girls) killed every Sailor Senshi except for Sailor Moon in the first season penultimate episode, with Moon's dying wish in the next episode resurrecting everyone.
  • Excel is temporarily held prisoner in a deep well when she accidentally stumbles onto a military group, where she finds the Man in the Iron Mask at the bottom and slowly loses her sanity over the course of a few hours before finally escaping in the typically hilarious manner Excel, well, excels at.
  • In Ranma One-Half, this is how Mr. Tendo and Genma get rid of Happosai the first time: they tie him up, put him in a barrel, seal the barrel, tie it in seals, tie it up again, then throw it in a cave, dynamite said cave, and sealed the entrance. It kept him away for about a decade before lightning re-opened the cave.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi is trapped this way in mid-season 4. Different in that it's not done specifically to trap him, but as part of a bigger plan.


Fairy Tale


  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Belloq leaves Indiana Jones trapped inside the Well of Souls, the underground temple where the Ark was hidden. He taunts Indy thusly: "You're about to become a permanent addition to this archaeological find. Who knows? In a thousand years, even you may be worth something."
  • In Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, Khan leaves Kirk and company trapped inside the Regula planetoid, "...marooned for all eternity, in the centre of a dead planet...buried alive."
  • In Supergirl, the villainess Selena did this to the title character by sending her to the Phantom Zone.
  • Samara in The Ring is tossed in a well by her mother.
    • The book has it that Sadako was tossed in by a guy she threatened to kill.
  • In Labyrinth, Jareth stuck Sarah in an oubliette, where she would've stayed if Hoggle hadn't rescued her.
    • Subverted in that Hoggle was supposed to be there to rescue her and lead her back to the beginning to break her spirit. Jareth failed to take The Power of Friendship into account though and Hoggle did a classic Heel Face Turn.
  • The basic plot of Enchanted.


  • Joseph (of the Dreamcoat) gets thrown in a pit by his brothers in The Bible (book of Genesis). OK, they pull him out and sell him as a slave, but that was the original plan.
    • The prophet Jeremiah gets lowered down an (almost) dried-up well, with the implied intention that he starve to death there. Fortunately some friends in high places spoke up for him and he got pulled out.
    • Another prophet (Daniel) was thrown into a well with hungry lions. He was pulled back out when he was just fine the next morning.
  • There's a horrible oubliette scene in the novel Lyonnesse: Suldrun's Garden by Jack Vance - Aillas, the book's hero, is thrown into one by the king... and escapes. With his sanity more or less intact.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Nathaniel threatens to do this to Bartimaeus if Bartimaeus gets him killed... although in this case it also invokes the Genie in a Bottle trope.
  • In Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the narrator is thrown down a well in a somewhat symbolic episode. Actually, the author has a bit of a thing for wells.
  • In Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King, Dolores leads her drunk husband on a wild goose chase to make sure he falls into the well, then she throws a rock on his head to make sure he died.

Live Action TV

  • In Angel, his son trapped the title character in a box and then tossed the box into the ocean.
  • In Heroes, Hiro Nakamura disposes of Adam Monroe/Takezo Kensei in this way.
    • Another Heroes example, with an interesting twist: in season 3, Future-Peter gets Present-Peter out of the way by shoving him into someone else's body.
  • Happened to Callisto on most of her appearances on Xena: Warrior Princess, until it was time to bring her back for another episode. This was especially true once she became immortal.
  • Charmed stuck Leo in a giant block of ice for most of the last season (referred to by many as "The Doltsicle") before bringing him back for the series finale. (After the show's budget got slashed they couldn't afford the actor, but didn't want to kill Leo and Piper's near series-long marriage. I'm very embarrassed about knowing this.)
  • Stargate SG-1 has a wonderful variation. O'Neill is tossed into what looks like a normal cell. Then the gravity gets rotated so now he's at the bottom of a well with absolutely smooth walls. Very creative, I must say.
  • A memorable storyline on All My Children in 1991 involved crazy Janet throwing her sister Natalie down a well in order to take her place.
  • Literally done to Desmond in the last season of Lost


  • The main conflict and the fate of the titular character of Sound Horizon's Märchen.

Video Games

  • In Banjo-Kazooie, Gruntilda is defeated by being thrown from her tower and being buried below a giant rock. Naturally, it's rescued in the next game by her sisters, but being buried for 2 years left her as a living skeleton.

Web Comics

  • In Looking for Group, Richard was sent to the "Plane Of Suck" for several pages before being put on trial.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, in the Harry Potter parody "Torg Potter and the Sorcerer's Nuts", Torg puts a sleeping Ralfoy Malfoy in a trunk and has him sent to Antarctica. He's later show trying to escape by bungee jumping (???). Of course, in the next installment he's back without any particular explanation.

Western Animation

  • In one episode of South Park Cartman locked Butters in a storm cellar (convincing him that the world was ending) so that he could take his place at Kyle's birthday dinner, causing the whole rest of the town to think he was abducted or missing.
  • Norm the Genie on The Fairly Odd Parents has been trapped a lot like this by Timmy. First, sent to Canada in a smoof lamp, then sent to Mars in the same smoof lamp and then Jorgen later took his lamp to be put on urinal cake. Genie in a Bottle, just like The Bartimaeus Trilogy example.
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