The Most Famous Prison Escapees: Notorious Jailbreaks and Elusive Fugitives

Choose the prison escapees you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 17, 2024 07:58
Step right up and cast your vote in the ultimate ranking of the most famous prison escapees of all time! At StrawPoll, we've compiled a thrilling list of the most daring, cunning, and notorious jailbreaks that have captivated the world. From the infamous Houdini-esque escapades of El Chapo to the legendary escape from Alcatraz, we've got them all! But the real question is, who will claim the top spot? That's where you come in! Vote for your favorite escape artist, share your thoughts on the most audacious breakout, or even suggest a missing fugitive who deserves a spot in the limelight. Don't miss out on the chance to participate in this exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat ranking that will leave you questioning your own security measures. Join the conversation, make your voice heard, and let's uncover the ultimate escape mastermind together!

Who Are the Most Famous Prison Escapees?

  1. 1
    Frank Abagnale Jr.
    Frank_Abagnale.jpg: Marcus JB derivative work: SoWhy · CC BY 2.0
    Abagnale was a notorious con artist who escaped from prison twice. His story was depicted in the movie "Catch Me If You Can."
    Frank Abagnale Jr. in other rankings
  2. 2
    John Dillinger
    FBI · Public domain
    Dillinger was a notorious bank robber who escaped from prison twice. He was ultimately shot and killed by law enforcement.
    John Dillinger in other rankings
  3. 3
    In 1962, three inmates escaped from the infamous Alcatraz prison and were never found. Their escape is still widely talked about today.
  4. 4
    Ted Bundy
    Unknown photographer · Public domain

    Ted Bundy

    Ted Bundy
    Bundy escaped from prison twice before his eventual capture and execution. He was a serial killer who murdered dozens of women.
    Ted Bundy was an American serial killer who terrorized the country during the 1970s. He was known for his charm and good looks, which he used to gain the trust of his victims before committing heinous acts of violence. Bundy's crimes were characterized by abduction, rape, and murder of young women. His case captured national attention due to the scale and brutality of his crimes, as well as his ability to evade capture for an extended period of time.
    • Number of Victims: Confirmed 30+, suspected over 100
    • Method of Killing: Strangulation, bludgeoning, and blunt force trauma
    • Victim Profile: Young women, usually college students
    • Crime Spree Timeline: 1974-1978
    • Modus Operandi: Attraction and deception to gain trust before abducting victims, often impersonating authority figures
    Ted Bundy in other rankings
  5. 5
    Henri Charrière, also known as Papillon, was a French criminal who escaped from multiple prisons, including the notorious Devil's Island. His story was depicted in the book and movie "Papillon."
    Papillon is a French word that translates to 'butterfly' in English. It is a term used to refer to the beautiful winged insects known for their vibrant colors and graceful flight. The word 'papillon' can also be metaphorically used to describe someone who is lively, free-spirited, or elegant.
    • Gender: Papillon is a masculine noun in French.
    • Pronunciation: The word is pronounced as 'pa-pee-yon.'
    • Meaning: It means 'butterfly' in English.
    • Symbolism: Butterflies represent transformation, beauty, and freedom.
    • Usage: The word 'papillon' is commonly used in poetry, literature, and everyday conversations.
  6. 6
    John Anglin and Clarence Anglin
    US Federal Government · Public domain
    The Anglin brothers were two of the three inmates who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962. Their fate is still unknown.
  7. 7
    James Earl Ray
    Federal Bureau of Prisons · Public domain
    Ray was the man who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. He escaped from prison in 1967 and was recaptured a few days later.
    James Earl Ray in other rankings
  8. 8
    Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán
    DEA · Public domain
    Guzmán is a notorious drug lord who has escaped from prison twice in Mexico. He is currently serving a life sentence in the United States.
    Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán in other rankings
  9. 9
    Faïd is a French criminal who has escaped from prison multiple times, including a helicopter escape in 2018. He was recaptured in 2019.
  10. 10
    Hayes was an American who was imprisoned in Turkey for drug smuggling. He escaped from prison in 1975 and wrote a book about his experiences called "Midnight Express."

Missing your favorite prison escapees?


Ranking factors for famous prison escapees

  1. Notoriety of the individual
    The fame and notoriety of the prison escapee can play a major role in determining how famous their escape is.
  2. Method of escape
    The method of the escape, including the level of planning and execution, can also play a significant role in determining the fame of the escapee.
  3. Time spent on the run
    The amount of time that the escapee was able to evade capture after the escape can also contribute to their level of fame.
  4. Impact on society/crime
    If the escapee was a high-profile criminal, or their escape had a significant impact on society or crime, it can also increase their level of fame.
  5. Pop culture references
    If the escapee's story has been referenced in pop culture, such as in movies or TV shows, it can also contribute to their level of fame.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous prison escapees. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or escapee is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 222 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each escapee once every 24 hours. The rank of each escapee is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


More information on most famous prison escapees

Prison escapes have fascinated people for centuries, with some of the most famous escapees becoming legends in their own right. While the reasons behind each prison break may vary, the desire for freedom is a common thread that connects them all. Whether through cunning strategies, sheer determination or sheer luck, these escapees have managed to break free from some of the most secure and well-guarded prisons in the world. From famous bank robbers to political dissidents, the list of prison escapees is long and varied, with each one leaving behind a legacy that still captures the public's imagination today. In this article, we will explore some of the most famous prison escapees of all time, from their daring escapes to their eventual recapture or continued freedom.

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