For many years, prison escape shows have been a staple in the world of television, captivating audiences with their suspenseful plots and high-stakes action. These shows provide a thrilling escape from reality as viewers are taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, watching characters attempt to break free from the confines of a correctional facility.
Prison escape shows remain a fan favorite because of their diverse range of characters and thrilling storylines. From the initial planning stages to the execution of the escape, these shows keep viewers on the edge of their seats, wondering whether the characters will successfully evade punishment or be caught in the act.
These shows offer a deeper understanding of the complexities of prison life, delving into the difficulties faced by the incarcerated as they navigate the legal system. Through the lens of these shows, viewers can gain insight into the psychological toll of imprisonment, as well as the potential for redemption and second chances.
So sit back, grab some popcorn and get ready to be transported into a world of prison escapes and all the drama that comes with it. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best prison escape shows on TV.
The best prison escape shows on TV: Prison Break
Prison Break is a popular American television series that premiered in 2005 and ran for five seasons until 2017. The show follows the story of Michael Scofield, played by Wentworth Miller, who devises an elaborate plan to break his brother Lincoln Burrows, played by Dominic Purcell, out of prison after he is wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.
The show gained immense popularity for its intricate plot, intense action sequences and dynamic characters. The first season sees Michael, an engineer, purposely getting himself incarcerated in the same prison where his brother is being held and then trying to find a way to escape.
As the series progresses, Michael and Lincoln find themselves on the run, trying to evade the authorities who are hot on their trail. Prison Break‘s success also spawned a number of spinoff shows, including a comic book series, a video game and a limited series revival in 2017.
The show’s legacy continues to live on as one of the most thrilling and unforgettable prison escape stories ever told on television.
Prison Break is available for streaming on Disney+.
The best prison escape shows on TV: Escape at Dannemora
Another great prison escape show to check out is Escape at Dannemora. This limited series, which aired on Showtime in 2018, is based on the true story of a 2015 prison escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
The show follows the lives of two convicted murderers, Richard Matt, played by Benicio del Toro and David Sweat, played by Paul Dano, who develop a plan to escape the maximum-security prison with the help of a prison employee, Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, played by Patricia Arquette. The series takes a deep dive into the characters’ lives and motivations, as well as the complex relationships between them.
Escape at Dannemora received critical acclaim for its stellar performances, direction and writing. Patricia Arquette won a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for her portrayal of Tilly Mitchell and the show itself was nominated for multiple awards.
Escape at Dannemora is available for streaming on Showtime.
The best prison escape shows on TV: Oz
One of the earliest and most iconic prison escape shows is HBO’s Oz. The show, which aired from 1997 to 2003, was created by Tom Fontana and depicted life inside the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in New York.
Oz is known for its realistic portrayal of prison life, including graphic violence and explicit language. The show’s central storyline follows the character of Tobias Beecher, a wealthy and educated lawyer who is sentenced to prison for driving under the influence and killing a young girl.
Beecher struggles to survive in the harsh and unforgiving world of prison, where he is constantly bullied and harassed by other inmates. Along the way, he develops a complex relationship with the leader of the white supremacist group Aryan Brotherhood, Vern Schillinger.
Oz is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The best prison escape shows on TV: Wentworth
Wentworth is an Australian television drama series that premiered in 2013, based on the classic TV show Prisoner, which aired in the late 70s and early 80s. The series follows the story of Bea Smith, played by Danielle Cormack, a woman who is sent to Wentworth Correctional Centre after being charged with the attempted murder of her abusive husband.
As Bea tries to navigate the harsh and violent world of prison life, she forms alliances with other inmates and confronts corrupt guards and powerful criminal gangs. Wentworth is known for its complex characters, compelling storylines and raw depiction of life behind bars.
The show has been praised for its strong female characters and its honest portrayal of the challenges faced by women in the criminal justice system. Overall, Wentworth is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys prison dramas.
With its compelling storylines and gripping plot twists, it is a standout in the genre and a worthy addition to any list of the best prison escape shows on TV.
Wentworth is available for streaming on Netflix.
The best prison escape shows on TV: Breakout Kings
Another show that should be mentioned when talking about the best prison escape shows is, Breakout Kings. The American drama series premiered on A&E in 2011 and ran for two seasons.
The show revolves around a task force made up of US Marshals and ex-convicts, who team up to track down escaped prisoners in exchange for reduced sentences. The series features a diverse cast of characters, including a former FBI agent, a street-smart hustler and an ex-gang leader.
Each episode focuses on a different fugitive and their unique escape plan, making it a thrilling and suspenseful watch. One of the standout elements of Breakout Kings is the complex relationships between the characters.
As the team works together to catch the escaped prisoners, they must also confront their own personal demons and past mistakes. This adds depth to the show and makes it more than just a typical procedural.
Breakout Kings is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The best prison escape shows on TV: Alcatraz
One of the more unique entries in the prison escape genre is the short-lived TV series Alcatraz. The show, which aired on Fox in 2012, was created by J.J. Abrams, the mastermind behind hit shows like Lost and Alias.
Alcatraz follows the story of a team of investigators who discover that a group of inmates who disappeared from Alcatraz Island in 1963, have started to reappear in modern-day San Francisco. As they try to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearances, the team must also deal with the dangerous criminals who have returned from the past and are wreaking havoc in the present.
Although the show only lasted one season, it has developed a cult following thanks to its unique premise and engaging storytelling. If you’re a fan of both prison escape shows and supernatural thrillers, Alcatraz is definitely worth checking out.
Alcatraz is available on Amazon Prime Video.
The best prison escape shows on TV: Conclusion
Whether it’s through the use of cunning plans, intelligence and strategy or sheer brute force, prison break shows always deliver exciting action and intense drama. With a wide range of shows available, there’s always something for everyone who loves this genre.
Another reason why prison escape shows are popular is that they often feature complex and well-developed characters. The protagonists are usually inmates who are serving time for their crimes but are often portrayed as sympathetic characters who are looking for a chance at redemption.
The audience is invested in their journey, rooting for them to succeed in their escape, while also wanting to see them grow and change for the better. Lastly, prison escape shows are a reflection of society’s fascination with crime and punishment.
They provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the criminal justice system and highlight the flaws and injustices within it. These shows are a way for viewers to explore the darker side of humanity and to better understand the motivations behind criminal behavior.
Are you a fan of prison break shows? What is your favorite prison escape show?
Share your thoughts and answers in the comments below!