From the internet; all undeniably real and dangerous:
- On the outbreak of the South African War in 1899, Winston Churchill went out as war correspondent for the London Morning Post. Within a month of his arrival, he was captured when acting more as a soldier than as a journalist, by the Boer officer Louis Botha (who subsequently became the first prime minister of the Union of South Africa and a trusted friend). Taken to prison camp in Pretoria, Churchill made a dramatic escape and traveled via Portuguese East Africa back to the fighting front in Natal. His escape made him world-famous overnight.
- In 1756 Italian writer Giacomo Casanova famously managed to escape from one of the most secure prisons of his time: the Doge's Palace.
- The Great Escape, 76 Allied POWs (primarily Commonwealth airmen) escaped from Stalag Luft III during World War Two. 50 of the escaped POWs were rounded up and shot by the Gestapo, while only 3 succeeded in reaching neutral territories.
- The Libby Prison Escape occurred on 10 February 1864, when 109 Union officers escaped from Libby Prison, a Confederate POW camp in Richmond, Virginia during the U.S. Civil War. Of the 109, 59 succeeded in making it back through Federal lines.
- Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin escaped from 'inescapable' Alcatraz Island; although the fate of the escapees is unclear.
- In December 1979 political prisoners Tim Jenkin, Stephen Lee and Alex Moumbaris escaped from South Africa's maximum-security Pretoria Prison. After 18 months of plotting, testing, preparing, and learning how to pick locks and forge keys, the trio escaped the prison the same way they came in: through 10 locked doors.
- Soviet spy George Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs on 22 October 1966, assisted by Pat Pottle, Michael Randle and Sean Bourke. Both Blake and Bourke reached the safety of the Soviet Union.
- German Naval Air Service KapitÃ¤nleutnant Gunter PlÃ¼schow escaped from the Donington Hall prisoner of war camp in 1915.
- Colditz Castle was used as an 'escape-proof' prisoner of war camp during World War II; over the course of 300 escape attempts 130 prisoners escaped, of which 30 eventually managed to reach friendly territory. Escapees tunnelled, disguised themselves as guards, workmen or women, snuck away through sewer drains, and even planned to use a glider to get over the wall. (Further research has proven that the glider attempt would almost certainly have been successful, but the War ended before it was to be put into action. By this time the glider had been fully assembled.)
- AndrÃ© Devigny, a French Resistance Fighter during World War 2, escaped Montluc Military Prison in Lyon with his cellmate in April 1943.
- Safe cracker Alfie Hinds became famous for escaping from Nottingham Prison after sneaking through the locked doors and over a 20-foot prison wall for which he became known as "Houdini" Hinds. He later escaped from the Law Courts at the Old Bailey. Escorted by two guards, he went to the lavatory where they removed his handcuffs outside. Once inside, Hinds bundled the handcuffs and snapped the padlock onto screw eyes inserted on the door by his unknown accomplices and escaped into the crowd on Fleet Street. Hinds sealed his notoriety by making a third escape from Chelmsford Prison.
- Jack Sheppard escaped from prison several times, using elaborate planning, and careful noting of the time that guards patrolled certain areas.
- Before being sentenced to 12 years in the Federal Corrections Institution at Petersburg, Virginia in April 1971, Frank W. Abagnale is said to have escaped from both a British VC-10 airliner, and the Federal Detention Center in Atlanta, Georgia. His autobiography was later adapted to the screen for the 2002 release of Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
- Richard Lee McNair has escaped from custody three times, including from a federal maximum-security prison in April 2006