"I will not wear long, heavy cloaks. While they certainly make a bold fashion statement, they have an annoying tendency to get caught in doors or tripped over during an escape."Ah, capes, the ultimate accessory. Whether they're the mark of a hero or an indicator of evil, they're always badass, right? Wrong. A somewhat postmodern take on capes; that they are Cool, but Inefficient. Not only that, but they're a liability, with a nasty habit of getting tripped over, snagged on things, caught in jet turbines or grabbed by pragmatic enemies during a fight, leading to inconvenience or worse. Never don one unless you're a master of the art of Giving Them the Strip. Often shows up during Superhero deconstructions/parodies, specifically with regards to the Superheroes Wear Capes/Badass Cape tropes. See Also: Not Wearing Tights, where the characters refuse costumes entirely, Killer Outfit, when it's the rest of your wardrobe taking you out, and Pinned to the Wall.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Bleach: While traveling through the Dangai during the Soul Society arc, Uryuu Ishida's cape gets caught in the sludge. Chad has to rip it so he can escape before the Kōtotsu monster gets him. Ishida complains about having to pull out his backup cape so soon, while Ichigo gets annoyed by his apparent vanity.
- Even Batman has had this problem. In the Batman/Superman crossover episode, Batman gets his cape caught in the Daily Planet's printing press while fighting a robot drone. The cape and cowl are pulled off, revealing his secret identity to Lois Lane.
- In the typical DC universe, Batman's cape clasp has a quick-release mechanism that automatically detaches his cape from his cowl if it gets caught in something specifically for this reason. It helps that the cape has (in many versions) a practical function: as a glider, or at least a parachute, and numerous iterations have him using the cape in close combat to stun or ensnare opponents.
- In Batman: Gothic, it's even noted, that in addition to a quick release function on the cape, the part where it attaches to the cowl also has a built in neck brace to protect him from whiplash or getting his neck broken if the cape is caught by something especially heavy or fast.
- In Batman Beyond, a flashback by Dick Grayson has him note that one reason Bruce wore the cape was that it made it harder for his enemies to actually target him in fights, due to it concealing most of his body.
- In the Marvel Universe, Taskmaster has admitted he recognizes the problems with wearing a cape, but wears one anyway because it looks impressive.
- Superman is well aware of this problem, to the point he has used it against other cape-wearing enemies. In this animated short he grabs Bizarro's cape and throws his defective clone away.
- Supergirl has also ran into this problem. In an 80's issue, Parasite grabs her cape, and after spinning Kara around, slams her into a railroad track.
- Watchmen: In the Backstory, the corporate hero Dollar Bill was ordered by his sponsors to get a cape as a part of his outfit, in order to increase his marketability. However, one day, when he tried to stop a bank robbery, his cape got caught in a revolving door, allowing the bank robbers to shoot him to death. Nite-Owl notes (somewhat bitterly) in his memoir that Dollar Bill would likely be alive today were he allowed to design the costume himself. The same section of the memoir notes that Nite-Owl experimented with a caped costume in his early days, but gave it up because he was unable to master the art of walking around his own home without the cape catching on things.
- The page image is from a time when Captain America briefly operated as the superhero Nomad, adopting a cape while experimenting with a new identity due to his disillusionment with the American government. After tripping on it, he immediately tears it off.
- Subverted in All Fall Down. Wearing a cape is what saves Paradigm's life.
- The Scarlet Witch had a pair of cases in Avengers West Coast, and tried a new costume without cape. It didn't stick.
- In issue 23 of the Mega Man comic book Mega prevents Break Man from fleeing by grabbing onto his iconic yellow Scarf of Asskicking.
- In PS238, Julie Finster gets her cape stuck to a wall by a glue-gun shot. However, since she's a Flying Brick the cape doesn't resist her Super Strength. It also happens to be her Berserk Button, since the special fabric of the cape is expensive and her family isn't rich.
- Shazam/Captain Marvel and the extended Marvel Family have no issue with this because their capes are short and only reach the elbows.
- Calvin and Hobbes: In one of Calvin's earliest attempts at playing a superhero, he strikes a dramatic pose in his cape and says, "This is a job for..." He then proceeds to trip over his cape and fall to the ground (tangling himself up into a ball in the process), before finishing his sentence: "...someone else."
- U.S. Acres: Power Pig's cape is stuck at the phone booth's door.
Power Pig: This looks like a job for... (phone booth falls on him) the paramedics.
Films — Animation
- An early Disney example occurs in Sleeping Beauty when Prince Philip's cape gets caught in the branches of Maleficent's forest of thorns. Merryweather alerts the faeries to this and they use their magic to free his cape from the thorny branches without a single tear.
- Another early Disney example occurs in The Great Mouse Detective when Ratigan's cape gets caught in the gears of Big Ben. That isn't what kills him, though, it just delays his pursuit of the heroes. An Invoked Trope as well, as it's done deliberately.
- The Incredibles is the old Trope Namer. It isn't hard to see why, as it lampshades the topic quite heavily.
- Bob requests a cape on his new costume, but Edna shoots him down:
Bob: Something classic, like — Dynaguy! Oh, he had a great look! The cape, the boots—
Edna: No capes!
Bob: Isn't that my decision?
Edna: Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers? Nice man, good with kids. November 15th of '58! All was well, another day saved, when... his cape snagged on a missile fin!
Bob: Thunderhead was not the brightest bulb...
Edna: Stratogale! April 23rd, '57! Cape caught in a jet turbine!
Bob: E, you can't generalize about these things...
Edna: Meta Man, express elevator! Dynaguy, snagged on takeoff! Splashdown, sucked into a vortex! NO CAPES!
- Given an Ironic Echo of sorts when the villain Syndrome's cape gets caught in a jet turbine in the climax, leading to his death.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The real reason for "no capes" was that Pixar didn't want to animate flowing capes.
- Bob requests a cape on his new costume, but Edna shoots him down:
- In Mulan, Shan Yu is defeated when Mulan stabs his cape with his sword holding him in place so Mushu can shoot him with a rocket.
- In the Golden Films version of Aladdin, the villain Hasseem during a sword fight with Aladdin accidentally trips over his cape and ends up stabbing himself.
- Darkseid tries this against Superman in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Superman goes with the snag and punches Darkseid in the face hard enough to send him flying across half of Kansas.
- In Batman: Under the Red Hood, Red Hood pins Batman's cape with a dagger and punches away at him until Batman is able to rip the cape.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, one of Ziro's IG-86 sentinel droids grabs Padme Amidala's cape as she tries to escape from being imprisoned. She successfully does this at the cost of her cape which finally ripped as it fell on IG-86. Very smart of her, though.
- Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie: Captain Underpants tries to fly out the school window... only for the window to close on his cape, leaving him dangling. After a few struggles, the hem of the cape rips, and Captain Underpants falls to the ground.
- In the final battle in Superman: Doomsday, as Superman is fighting his clone, at one point he grabs his clone by the cape and swings him around.
Films — Live-Action
- Subverted in The Dark Knight during the Batpod chase. The costume makers designed Batman's cape to fold into a backpack using the same memory cloth tech that makes the glider, as they thought it would be snagged on the wheel. However, during test runs the cape flowed freely without getting caught, which looks fucking awesome. It's applied for regular fist fights.
- Inverted in Superman Returns. Superman is saved from drowning because Lois is able to grab him by the cape.
- In Man of Steel, General Zod grabs Superman by the cape and throws him across the city, sending Superman crashing through half a dozen buildings before his motion slows down.
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a mook yanks Batman to the ground by his cape, allowing his comrades to attack him. It only lasts a few seconds before Batman regains the upper hand.
- Played for Laughs in Doctor Strange, since the Cloak of Levitation is sentient: Strange wants to go one direction, his Cloak insists they should go another. Cue Cloak yanking on Strange's neck as if it were caught on something in midair.
- In Soon I Will Be Invincible, supervillain Dr. Impossible admits that his cape gets in the way during the inevitable fight scene, and is uncomfortable in hot weather, but feels that the psychological advantage imparted by a dramatically billowing cape outweighs the disadvantages.
- In Blood of Olympus the villainous Octavian's praetor's cloak - and his hubris - cause his death.
- In Worm, this is one of the reasons very few parahumans wear capes along their costumes.
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 parahuman was "cape", and so few of us wore them.
- On the "Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia" episode of Deadliest Warrior, Teddy wraps Lawrence's keffiyeh around the wrist of his weapon hand, allowing Teddy to stab Lawrence with his Bowie hunter.
- Game of Thrones: Syrio Forel disables one guardsman by grabbing his cape in "The Pointy End".
- Subverted in, of all places, The Greatest American Hero — Ralph's cape only extends down to his rear end and is just about the only part of his Supersuit not to give him problems.
- Averting this trope was the reason Batman and Robin's capes were shorter (around knee length) in the 1960s Batman. The fast shooting schedule didn't allow for much in the way of reshooting for flubs and the original full length capes on their costumes were too easy for other actors to step on accidentally, half strangling Adam West or Burt Ward when they tried to move to hit their marks in a scene and ruining the take. The capes were swiftly shortened to stop this.
- In Supergirl:
- Averted in the first episode; Wyn rejects a cape when making Kara's early costumes, but then realizes the drag helps her fly better. Then when the first cape shreds, he make the next one out a reinforced polymer.
- Evil Kryptonian Astra comments, "You might wanna rethink the cape!" before grabbing Supergirl's cape and throwing her across the room.
- In Supergirl's first fight with Draaga, when she attempts to fly away, he grabs her cape and yanks her down, knocking the wind out of her.
- The pro wrestler Ultimo Dragon usually wore a cape to the ring. But at WrestleMania 20 he humiliatingly tripped over it during his entrance to the ring (which, if you watch WWE, is pretty much the worst possible time you could have an accident like that).
- The inevitability of a Cape Snag happening in real action is precisely why every wrestler who wears a cape takes it off before entering the ring.
- In one page of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures this is addressed, showing someone in a cape getting sucked into a jet.
- Evil, Inc. researched "the cape gun", which is fired at the hero. If it hits the cape, it spins and winds up the cape, strangling the hero (or the intern they were demonstrating it on).
- Homestuck features a minor incident in which an ally of the caped hero gets caught in it while they were grappling over a mix of cabin fever and culturally incompatible conceptions of a reasonable romantic setup. The guy with the cape had to suplex the guy caught in it to free him.
- Averted in Sluggy Freelance. Sam wears breakaway capes.
- Code Name: Hunter:
- A version of Batman's detachable clasp is shown in Batman: The Animated Series when his cape becomes trapped in the grip of a robot Joker henchman — Batman quickly detaches his cape and spends the rest of the episode capeless. Whether Batman's cape is attached to his cowl or not is inconsistent in the series, seeming to rely on the script.
- Superman: The Animated Series:
- Batman's cape gets snagged on a Daily Planet press. Apparently it was attached to his cowl, and its removal exposed his identity to Lois Lane.
- Superman grabbed Maxima by the cape and dragged her into the sky.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Michelangelo decides he wants to be a superhero and sets himself up with a costume, complete with cape... which proceeds to trap him in the door of a bus falling into the river. Oops.
- A comic example in The Super Hero Squad Show, where Doctor Strange gets his Cloak of Levitation caught in a portal, spoiling what would have been a pretty good entrance.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Green Arrow tries to fill in for an injured Batman by wearing his costume, but finds his usual fighting style hampered by the cape.
- In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Shaak Ti manages to temporarily defeat General Grievous by using the Force to tie his cape to a passing train.
- Inverted in one of the Superman Theatrical Cartoons. Superman saves Lois from a torrent of molten steel by sheltering her under his cape.
- In one episode of Darkwing Duck, the titular hero got his rip-proof cape trapped in the hood of a car just as a giant monster was bearing down on him. Later in the episode, it is shown that Negaduck has enough foresight to buy rip-able capes.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Spike mocks comic-book hero Hundrum's cape as impractical and pointless. Sure enough, in "Power Ponies", Spike is turned into Humdrum, and he trips on his cape.
- In Cyber Six you could make a Drinking Game out of how many times the titular character takes a blow because a Fixed Idea managed to grab onto her cape.
- In Justice League, Draaga and Captain Marvel have yanked Superman around by his cape.
- In the Christmas episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, while in the middle of a Let's You and Him Fight moment with Moon Knight, Spidey thwarts Moon Knight's initial offense by grabbing his cape and throwing him against a wall, stating that this is the reason he never wears one himself.
- In Robot Chicken Darth Vader's gets caught in the toilet. In this case he was already stuck there since his arm got caught while trying to figure out how to remove his suit, so the cape simply made things worse.
- Madonna had this happen to her at the 2015 Brit Awards. In spite of meticulous planning of her routine, the cape she'd been wearing didn't break away as intended, pulling her◊ off the stage and onto her back. Luckily for her, she wasn't hurt and continued with her performance.
- In an interview, Adam West once mentioned that during the shooting of Batman, one of his biggest problems was going to the bathroom while in costume because his cape would get caught in the toilet.