[[quoteright:246:[[Webcomic/TheNonAdventuresOfWonderella http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wonderella_superhero_cape.png]]]]

->"Doth mother know thou weareth her drapes?"
-->--'''Iron Man''' to '''Thor''', ''Film/TheAvengers''

If you are a superhero (whether main hero, {{Sidekick}}, or even just part of a heroic army), odds are you wear a cape.

Okay, not really that likely anymore, especially since the SilverAge, but capes are a typical thing for superheroes.

The reason for the cape goes back to the first ComicBook {{Super Hero}}es. Most prominently, Franchise/{{Superman}}'s outfit specifically mimics that of early 20th-century circus strongmen, who often wore a similar cape/singlet design as a costume. Their simple bold colors were also conveniently easy to reproduce in early print comics.

Capes have long been a feature of comics and animation, as these media both work through visuals while allowing the creators to control the character's environment. Thus, any capes used can always be made to look cool. They were a particular feature of the golden age of superheroes.

More recently (as in, more recently than 60 years ago) there's been a bit of a trend against them, due to becoming something of a DeadHorseTrope and because of [[CapeSnag some awareness of the practical downsides]]. Most Marvel heroes are capeless, for example. The ones that do wear them tend to have some combination of otherworldliness, moral ambiguity and a less physical method of attack than others. [[Comicbook/TheAvengers The Vision, the Scarlet Witch]] and Comicbook/DoctorStrange all hit at least two of these.

On the other hand, capes have remained very popular with villains, especially the most important ones. DoctorDoom fears no [[TheIncredibles jet engine]]. This probably relates to EvilIsCool.

By and large, if any character wears a cape, and it's not a historical or pseudo-historical setting, it should be taken as read that he is either very powerful/important (and probably a villain), or a vainglorious dolt with an inflated opinion of himself. Bonus points if you've got a huge collar and shoulderpads as well. Some rare ones would even be a PimpedOutCape.

Often paired with SuperheroesWearTights.

Compare HeroesWantRedheads, HeroesPreferSwords, BadassCape (a cape used to signify a {{Badass}} character), CapedMecha, RequisiteRoyalRegalia, OminousOperaCape.

Not to be confused with TheCape, which is a character type.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' gives us AntiHero MagnificentBastard Lelouch Vi Britannia as [[MyHeroZero Zero]], who is [[InvokedTrope invoking]] this trope. After all, Lelouch's goal is to set himself up as a comic book hero of justice, so it would make sense for him to draw on every trope that will make people associate him with fictional heroes.
** [[spoiler:Jeremiah "Orange" Gottwald]] in his later appearances.
** Also Susaku Kururugi, along with the other Knight Rounds as part of their non-battle outfit.
* Lance from ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}''. In the anime Marina has an admiration for men in capes, which causes Jackson to start wearing one like Lance to get her attention.
* The Great Saiyaman from ''Manga/DragonBall Z'' wears a cape, as it's Gohan intentionally invoking super hero tropes to sell the whole "costumed hero" thing without making anyone suspicious of superhuman martial arts powers or his alien heritage.
* Miki Sayaka in Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica.
* Mr. Legend, from TigerAndBunny.
* Luffy lampshades this in ''OnePiece'' when they meet Usopp's alter-ego Sogeking who is supposedly a hero. Luffy immediately knows Sogeking is a hero, and when Chopper asks why, Luffy replies "because he wears a cape! To be a hero, you have to wear a cape!"
* ''{{Franchise/Anpanman}}'' justifies the reason why the superhero characters wear capes: they contain the flight abilities for the heroes, and if they're torn, they can't fly until they get them mended again.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Superman}}
* Franchise/{{Batman}} is possibly the straightest example of a useful one... short of people who have magic capes, anyway. He uses it to glide (yes, even before ''Film/BatmanBegins''), he uses it to hide his arms (so nobody knows whether he's about to throw a punch or a Batarang), it makes him seem larger and scarier than he is (going along with his motif of fear), and it gives a large amount of useless space for mooks to target. It's kinda necessary if you want to look like ''a giant bat.''
** And it's got breakaway fasteners (that woefully underused yet extremely inconvenient bane of the "No Capes" DeconstructorFleet), just in case some thug who watched ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'' tries to get all GenreSavvy and tangle up Bats' cloak.
** Comicbook/{{Robin}}, although when the original became Nightwing, he dropped the cape.
** [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]], now that Dick Grayson is Batman, he keeps complaining about how impractical the cape is, pointing out that he lost his as soon as possible, and anyway it was a short fabric thing, not a couple of square metres of kevlar.
* Lampshaded in a story arc of ''ComicBook/SupermanBatman''. Batman and Superman find themselves in an alternate universe where there are still superheroes, but none of them wear capes. When Superman appears, the locals find him strange not because of his powers, but because he's wearing a garment that went out of fashion centuries ago.
* Deconstructed (like everything else in ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'') with the character of Dollar Bill. He was a former football player hired by a bank when they realized that having their own personal superhero on payroll was a great way to cash in on the masked vigilante craze. The costume was designed by the marketing department, who were going for style over practicality and thought that the cape added visual appeal. It ended up [[spoiler: getting caught in a revolving door while he was trying to stop a robbery, at which point one of the robbers shot him point-blank in the chest.]] Aside from Captain Metropolis and the second-generation Nite Owl, none of the other superheroes wear capes.
** Nite Owl I's original costume had a cape, but when he failed to master the art of walking around ''his own house'' with it on without the cape catching on things, he got rid of it.
** This deconstruction was carried over into the CGI animated film ''TheIncredibles'' with heavy nods to Watchmen.
* In ''LoveAndCapes'', it is said that the reason superheroes favour capes is because they cover your butt (an important consideration when you're running around in spandex).
* Generally, characters designed by JackKirby tend not to wear cape, unless they are supposed to appear regal (Thor, Magneto, Doom...)
* Comicbook/DoctorStrange: Justified since it's 1) part of the inheritance of the Sorcerer Supreme and 2) very useful.
* [[{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]]
* ''ComicBook/AstroCity'' examples: Samaritan, Beautie, The Confessor and Altar Boy, El Hombre and Bravo, Mermaid, Starwoman. The series, typically, acknowledges the potential disadvantages but posits that people will work around them, for instance by applying low-friction coatings that prevent adversaries grabbing the cape during a fight.
* When CaptainAmerica stopped [[WearingAFlagOnYourHead wearing the stars and stripes]] and took the name "Nomad", he stitched himself a costume and decided to include a full-length cape. Why not? He'd always sort of wanted one. The first time he went into action, he tripped on that cape and missed catching the bad guys, one of whom snarked as she was escaping that she'd always hoped she'd see that happen. Promptly he tore the cape off. It was never seen again.
** This old desire for a cape was revisited with one of the revamped and expanded origin story issues - Steve Rogers, training during the day to toughen himself before being hit with the SuperSerum, spent his evenings drawing the imaginary superhero "American Eagle", writing in the margins that he had to have a cape, capes were ''boss''. The military rifled through his drawings, based the design of his costume off of them without telling him, much to his embarrassment, and left out the cape.
** Cap's spoof, Major Glory from ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'', wears a cape. Of course, he's also a Superman spoof, so he probably doesn't have the same problems Cap did.
* ''TheSpectre''
* ''{{Spawn}}'', his cape is a BadassCape all by itself thanks to its VoluntaryShapeshifting.
* There's a Polish superhero spoof ''ChinchillaMan''. Chinchilla Man's team employs one caped hero, who is rather useless, but teams with caped heroes receive funding from European Union.
* As befits its founding in the 1940s, the JusticeSocietyOfAmerica has had a multitude of caped members: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Scott the first Green Lantern]], Doctor Fate, the Spectre, Hourman, the Sandman, the Atom, Doctor Mid-Nite, Batman, Superman, Robin, Power Girl, the Huntress, Red Tornado, Miss America, Captain Marvel, Obsidian...
* TheMightyThor
* TheSentry, Marvel's [[AlternateCompanyEquivalent version of Superman]].
* {{Storm}} from ''ComicBook/{{X-Men}}''
* ScarletWitch
* ''BoosterGold'' was told by Superman that he couldn't handle wearing a cape.
* Spider-Man villain Mysterio
* [[QuantumAndWoody Quantum]]. Woody thinks they're stupid.
* ComicBook/OrientMen, as part of his [[TheArtifact origins as a parody superhero]].
* {{Magneto}} and Mr. Sinister, both of X-Men books usually wear capes.
* Deconstructed: the protagonist of Joe Hill's ''The Cape'' had a blanket that was turned into a costume cape, and he wore it as a kid when playing with his brother as superheroes. As an adult, he discovers that the cape makes him able to fly. His full "costume" is just his cape.
** [[spoiler: Then he kills his ex-girlfriend and we discover that, as a child, he played the supervillain. In its first issue, the main character starts as the Woobie, becomes an IronWoobie and then treats us to a sudden FaceHeelTurn to became a VillainProtagonist. Brilliant.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''CalvinAndHobbes'' presents: "'''''[[http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1987/06/04 This]]''''' is a job for..."
** Outside of the above example, one of Calvin's alter-egos, Stupendous Man, also wears a cape.
* Mandrake wears a cape.
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[[folder:Film]]
* In ''TheCannonballRun'', Victor dons a cape when his 'Captain Chaos' alternate personality takes control.
* Carefully averted in TheIncredibles, citing numerous superhero fatalities that have stemmed from their capes.
** [[spoiler:Of course, this doesn't stop the villian, who is killed in one of the ways that had been spelled out earlier, in the No Capes rant.]]
* Given the RealityEnsues treatment in ''Film/ManOfSteel''. Superman's cape puts him at a disadvantage in a fight several times, being so easy for his enemies to grab.
* Lampshaded in ''Film/TheAvengers'', with [[Film/IronMan Tony Stark]] poking fun at [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Thor's]] cape. Thor and Loki are the only characters in the movie who actually wear capes.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''SoonIWillBeInvincible'', Dr Impossible grumbles about the impracticality of his cape a couple of times (it gets in the way of fighting and is heavy and cumbersome when he's fleeing), but continues to wear it because "I promised myself I wouldn't go down in street clothes".
* in ''Literature/TalesOfAnMazingGirl'' 'Mazing Girl Wears one, which has the slight practicality that its Flame Reitant and Kevlar which helps occasionally when saving people who aren't as bulletproof as she is.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Ralph's alien-bestowed super suit in ''Series/TheGreatestAmericanHero'' comes complete with a hip-length cape.
* SesameStreet's entry into the world of superheroes, "Super Grover" also includes the requisite cape -- along with a decidedly non-standard knight's helmet.
* ''Series/TheCape''.
* In ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'', Harvey's superhero alter ego in one episode, "Mighty Teen" does indeed wear a cape.
** Sabrina comments on this when she's yelling at Hilda for running in the election:
---> '''Sabrina:''' "I will not let you make a mockery of what this town stands for! (pause) [[LampshadeHanging That would sound a lot more convincing if I was wearing a cape"]].
* On an episode of ''The A-Team'', Murdock created a superhero alter ego named Captain Cab (the team was helping a cab company at the time), complete with cape and mask made out of a tablecloth.
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[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* The Hurricane regularly wore a cape to the ring. Early on, he'd put it on during matches whenever he went to the top rope.
** As did his first sidekick, Mighty Molly.
** During his "Super Hero In Training" phase, Rosey wore a towel tied around his neck as a cape. He later got a real one when he became a full-fledged superhero.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* This is one of the many, many costume options in ''CityOfHeroes''. Annoyingly, you normally have to reach level 20 and [[AndYourRewardIsClothes do a specific mission]] to get one.
** Notable cape wearers among [=NPCs=] are Statesman, whose former cape was refashioned into the flag atop Paragon City City Hall; his EvilCounterpart Reichsman; Hero 1, whose disappearance at the end of the Rikti War is the reason new heroes can't wear capes, and Rikti warrior [[SignificantAnagram Honoree]], who wears a suspiciously familiar cape.
** Nowadays you can unlock certain capes that can be worn before level 20, including a Comicbook/DoctorStrange-style 'magic' mantle with a huge collar and even bigger cape. Looks [[RuleOfCool extremely awesome]] when done right.
* ''PajamaSam'' is only regular Sam without his cape. He puts it on automatically in ''No Need To Hide When It's Dark Outside'', but asks the player to help him look for it in ''Thunder and Lightening'' and ''You Are What You Eat'' and before he can start his adventure.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Preferred by Ms. Terial in the [[http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_KAMics/5108842/ Fashionably Heroic]] cartoons of ''TheKAMics''.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' Elliot as a superhero [[http://egscomics.com/?date=2010-10-01 wears a cape,]] though this is used to show that most of his knowledge of superheros comes from PopCultureOsmosis.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Spinnerette}}'', the Canadian superheroes greet the American ones as "Caped Crusaders." Tiger notes that [[SubvertedTrope no one is actually wearing a cape]].
* In ''{{Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=1698 Slick wears a cape while heroically intervene to unite.]]
* In ''Webcomic/AxeCop'', illustration of the concept of [[ItMakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext the Moon turning into a superhero that kills all the bad guys on it]] involves the Moon wearing a cape. There are also plenty of other caped superheroes in the stories.
* [[Webcomic/LadySpectraAndSparky Lady Spectra]] follows many old-school superhero traditions, including this one.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Capes are worn by several members of the ''LeagueOfIntergalacticCosmicChampions''.
* Comes and goes in the WhateleyUniverse. Shroud of Team Kimba wears a cape, because she is animating all the parts of her uniform with her powers and can use it as a weapon. Gloriana has found another advantage: provides warmth when wearing a skimpy costume that is nothing more than a maillot.
** Delta Spike wears a cape to hide the power harness she wears on her back to jack up her superstrength and blaster powers.
* Very much averted in ''Literature/{{Worm}}'':
--> ''It was hard to make capes look good. They had a way of clinging to the body, or flowing the wrong way, getting caught around an arm… it took a measure of majesty to make it work...Ironic, that the slang for a [[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual parahuman]] was ‘cape’, and so few of us wore them.''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck
* [[TheScrappy Corporal Capeman]] in the second season of ''InspectorGadget''.
* [[CaptainCavemanAndTheTeenAngels Captain Caveman]], the superhero who wears ''only'' a cape.
* Quail Man, WesternAnimation/{{Doug}}'s superhero alter-ego, wears a towel for a cape, going with the character's general make-believe nature (he even wears his underwear on the outside!).
* This trope is [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom''. When Danny [[SplitPersonality split in two]], his superhero side donned a cape to emphasize his 100% dedication to world-saving. The cape spends the better portion of the episode bellowing in DramaticWind.
* Robin in ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' wears one, what with his [[Franchise/{{Batman}} origins]]. Raven wears more of an AllEncompassingMantle with a [[InTheHood hood]]. None of the other Titans wear capes.
* When Fry and Leela gain superpowers in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', they form a team with Bender, and all wear capes.
* Played with in ''{{Rugrats}}'' where Chuckie and the other babies thought that he's a superhero but he needed a cape to have super powers. So, Chuckie put on a towel and began to think of himself as a superhero.
* Prevalent, though not universal, in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice''. Robin and Miss Martian both wear capes, as do several other superheroes.
* Taz-Man, Taz's makebelieve superhero persona in ''TazMania'', wears a cape (of the bath towel tied round your neck variety).
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', a superhero by the name of "The Mysterious [[JustForPun Mare Do Well]]" ([[spoiler:actually just some of the main characters teaching another an important {{Aesop}}]]) appears and saves the day several times, and is shown to wear a stylized cape. This persona is an obvious ShoutOut to both WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck and {{Batman}}, and even looks the part.
** Averted in the Season 4 episode ''Power Ponies'', where the main cast become in-universe comic book superheroes, yet Spike, filling in the standard powerless sidekick role, is the only one to wear a cape.
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