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Crystal Prison
Secure and decorative.

Diamonds are forever, which comes in handy when you want to make someone really suffer during a life sentence while keeping them (securely!) caged.

Characters in a Crystal Prison are put inside some gorgeous, colorful and exquisitely cut variety of gem. This crystal is usually made of Phlebotinum capable of keeping the captive alive despite the lack of air, either in suspended animation or forever awake. This escape proof prison may trap them bodily like a bug in amber; in fact, if the Crystal Prison isn't coffin sized it's going to be small enough to be worn as jewelry.

While breaking the gem can release the captive, attempting this literal jailbreak may not be a guarantee of getting the captive out alive. Breaking it could also shatter or kill the captive, or the gem may be unbreakable unless the jailer/creator somehow dispels it. That being said, a prisoner who is pushed into using Heroic Resolve may crack open the crystal through sheer force of will.

If the crystal is imprisoning a very important character, and if Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors is in-universe at the time, this can get a person or persons from all the various groups to combine their powers into one technique, preferably in a big Finale or at least a Swirly Energy Thingy that features Power Glows, and break the crystalline prison, in a show of Dramatic Shattering.

Contrast Soul Jar, where the soul is put in a crystal, and Body to Jewel, where the character becomes crystal. People Jars are sometimes this trope with "science." Also compare Harmless Freezing, with ice blocks being the main difference. See also Mineral Macguffin, Magic Mirror, Phantom Zone and Power Crystal.

As you can see from the example distribution, this is most common in anime and video games.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Used several times in the first Sailor Moon's anime:
    • In the first season, Jadeite got this for repeatedly failing Queen Beryl. Later, the people who once were the Seven Demons get kidnapped and imprisoned by either Kunzite or the Brainwashed and Crazy Mamoru into the Black Crystal that pinpointed their "heritages", but are released by the end of the episode.
    • In the final fight against Kaorinite, Tuxedo Mask also gets sealed in a glass crystal by Senishenta. It also happened to him in the R movie, with Fiore as the culprit. In the first case, he has to be unsealed by the Senshi; in the second, he breaks out when Fiore tortures Moon via sucking her out of her Life Energy almost to death.
    • In the second season, Neo Queen Serenity was trapped in a coffin-like crystal during the Bad Future. Subverted: the Queen had been very gravely injured after Taking the Bullet for Chibi-Usa during the invasion of the Black Moon Clan. Her wounds and the Dark Energy inside them caused her to fall in a coma, so the Senshi of said Bad Future encased the Neo Queen in crystal to protect her from any other threats. She's healed and released when Wiseman is defeated.
    • Used in the fifth season, when the Inner and Outer Senshi are one-by-one sealed within mirrors by Nehelenia. When Usagi goes "Take Me Instead" and gives Nehelenia a You Are Not Alone speech, the magic weakens and the Senshi are released.
  • This is Hellmaster Fibrizzo's signature move in The Slayers, whether a coffin-sized one on individuals (like the ones he crafted for Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Sylphiel, Martina and Zangulus — and he starts crushing Gourry's to taunt Lina and provoke her into summoning the Lord of Nightmares) or a titanic glacier on an entire city ( like Sylphiel's Doomed Hometown.) It was copied by Rezo in the 4th season.
  • In Tenchi Muyo!, Washu was trapped in a gem placed inside a closed Pocket Dimension located inside Kagato's Cool Spaceship. When Mihoshi stumbles into said dimension almost by accident and starts fighting a monster inside it, the energy released starts cracking the gem's surface; once the monster somehow becomes Taken for Granite (and just few inches away from poor Mihoshi), Washu is able to break free safely.
  • Towards the end of Tenchi in Tokyo, Sasami is abducted by Yuugi, whom she's a Morality Pet for and is locked inside one of these so she won't escape. She's wearing a bracelet with a powerful gemstone (part of the MacGuffin), and when it begins to react to Tenchi and the girls's own shards, it breaks through the big gem and Sasami is saved.
  • Pandora in Violinist of Hameln.
  • Lisette in 11eyes. Happens to Yuka later, and for some reason, her clothes are also gone.
  • Although ice is not usually considered a crystal, Snow of MÄR evokes this trope by encasing herself in ice when she first appears, and the characters, good and evil, don't want to just bust the ice apart, possibly for fear of shattering her as well. They must find a fire ARM to melt the ice instead.
    • It's also made quite clear that she isn't preserving her life by doing this, one of the characters notes that they only have a handful of hours to rescue her before she'll die while trapped.
  • In the Naruto Shippuden three-tails filler arc, the villain put Hinata in one of these. While the crystal substance was extremely strong, the main problem was getting her out without shattering her if she was even still alive.
  • In Saint Seiya 's anime exclusive Asgard saga, there's an extremely nasty version. The God Warrior of the Megrez Delta star, Alberich, can summon the "Amethyst Shield" —an attack that sends shards of amethyst flying from his body and towards the enemy, encasing him/her in a shell of translucent gemstone. If they're not freed, victims will be robbed of their Life Energy, and eventually become skeletons trapped in amethyst. And the only way to really free them is to kill Alberich himself. That almost happens to Marin and later Seiya, and Shiryu has to save them both via fighting Alberich to the death.
    • Also happens to Hyoga in the anime, but this is an ice prison rather than a mineral one. Shiryu, Seiya and Shun find him, and then Shiryu uses one of the Twelve Weapons from the Libra Cloth to unseal Hyoga's body before he actually freezes to death.
  • In Blue Exorcist this happens to Rin, when he blows his cover.
  • Lorelei in Saber Marionette J while trapped in the Mesopotamia.
  • Kaname Kuran from Vampire Knight is seen in one of these in the Grand Finale, after he destroys his own heart and falls in a coma. It's actually a case of ice made by Aidou with the intention of protecting his comatose body.
  • Happened to Asuna Kagurazaka in Mahou Sensei Negima!, during her days as a Barrier Maiden.
  • In Attack on Titan Annie "Female Titan" Leonhart invokes the trope and seals herself in one when the Survey Corps capture her, so they won't be able to interrogate her.
  • The Noozles has the Crystal Place at the center of Koala Walla Land, which is filled with colored orbs that permanently entrap anyone who touches them with bare hands, such as Sandy's grandfather.
  • A frequent tool used by Genre Savvy villains in Sgt. Frog to nerf Angol Mois.
  • Meliodas from Nanatsu No Taizai briefly gets sealed within a small crystal charm.

    Comic Books 
  • An early Justice League of America story, "The Doom of the Star Diamond!"
    • During the JLA Grant Morrison run, this happened to Triumph. He was a hero who turned bad due to a run of unbelievably crappy luck.
  • In Blackest Night, a Green Lantern story, this is one of the methods the Star Sapphires (Violet Lanterns) use to recruit new members. The crystals they encase people in brainwash them to become more compassionate and compel them to join the Star Sapphires. A real mystery is that, as of the moment, the Star Sapphires are comprised only of women. They've trapped men before, but all have either broken free or were rescued by someone else.
  • Cristalline in X-Men 2099 can produce crystals out of thin air. Apparently she can structure them to allow air through, so when she is in good mood her enemies will be trapped in a block of crystal but relatively unharmed.
  • The first book in the Franco-Belgian Comics series Chroniques des pays de Markal is about a stone with this power.
  • The Ogdru-Jahad, ever present Bigger Bad of the Mignolaverse, are sealed away in hunks of cloudy yellowish crystal floating through an interdimensional void, only able to interact with the world through telepathic communication with anybody stupid and/or evil enough to help them break out and cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles imprison the immortal Mammoth Mogul inside a Chaos Emerald.

    Fanfiction 
  • Sassette as a real young female Smurfling was put into suspended animation inside a crystal in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf.
  • Hefty, Toughette, Baby, Babette, and the Smurflings find themselves in one during the events of "How Things Smurf" in The Smurfette Village series.

    Film 

    Gamebooks 
  • One of the two Zelda installments in the Nintendo Adventure Books, The Crystal Trap, had Link being the victim of this due to a curse laid by Ganon on the Triforce pieces (which got Link on a technicality since the Triforce of Courage was in his heart). The reader followed the plot of Zelda on a Fetch Quest trying to find the three items that would work together to free him from the curse before it became permanent — one of the "failure" endings depicted the crystal turning to stone with Link still inside.

    Literature 
  • Prior to the The Elenium, Queen Elhena is sealed in a diamond. The diamond slows her body down drastically, including the effects of the poison currently killing her, giving Sparhawk time to find a cure.
  • In Servant of the Dragon, third book in David Drake's The Lord of the Isles epic fantasy series, Cashel is served by the demon Krias, who is trapped in a large gem mounted on a ring.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian story "Tower of the Elephant" an evil sorcerer is trapped inside a plate-sized ruby, to suffer eternal torment from an extradimensional being he had previously trapped and tormented for power and knowledge.
  • One of the Magic Kingdom of Landover books had Ben trapped in a crystal.
  • In Dark Lord of Derkholm, Mr. Chesney keeps the demon that allows him to send Pilgrim Parties to Derk's world trapped inside what resembles a clear paperweight. He ultimately ends up taking the demon's place in the final step of his well-deserved Humiliation Conga.
  • The Keystones of The Seventh Tower act as this.
  • In the Incarnations of Immortality novel "Wielding a Red Sword", the Incarnation of War finds a beautiful princess trapped in a smooth sphere. He is only able to enter the sphere as a soul (not with his body) but when he does so, he finds it is a trap by Satan. Satan then brings both of them into Hell.
  • In the Dresden Files, Demonreach is a prison in which each cell is a crystal. Each crystal holds an Eldritch Abomination. The tunnels holding the crystals go on for miles.
  • Spren imprisoned in gemstones power The Stormlight Archive's Magitek fabrials.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, the Fortress of Solitude had been used to imprison Clark in Blue and Persona and Davis in Bride.
  • Olaf the troll was trapped in a crystal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer until Willow broke it.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a spell called Trap The Soul. When cast, it imprisons the target's soul inside of a gem.
    • There's also Magic Jar, where you willingly transfer your soul into a gem or crystal, then attempt to possess another living creature who comes near.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 1st/2nd Edition had a spell called Binding. One variation of the spell was Minimus Containment, which shrank a creature and held it inside a gem.
    • A demilich could drain the souls out of its victims' bodies and store them in its gemstone teeth.
    • Adventures
      • C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness. The Soul Gem could drain the souls of creatures and store them in itself.
      • "The Garden of Nefaron" in Dragon magazine #53. The evil psionicist Malakon had his mind trapped within his own psychogem.
  • Magic: The Gathering: In the Mirage storyline, Mangara was trapped in amber, as depicted on the card Amber Prison.
    • And, of course, the card itself does exactly what you'd expect.
  • In the Exalted Shard "Gunstar Autochthonia]], the Magnus is imprisoned in a cell carved into Autochthon's Elemental Pole of Crystal.
    • Gods have a Charm, "Chrysalis of Preservation" that lets them do this. They can even imprison concepts inside their crystals.

    Video Games 
  • At the halfway point of Chrono Cross, Kid is taken from your party and disappears for the remainder of the game (unless you count her dark doppelganger, harle). She turns up during the final battle inside a crystal, which is actually the backside of the Time Devourer. Freeing Kid without killing her is how you unlock the Golden Ending.
    • In the DS remake of Chrono Trigger, this same awaits Schala when you face the bonus boss, Dream Devourer. Additionally, one of the exiles from Zeal, Melchior, is trapped in a crystal on the Mountain of Woe's peak.
  • Mega Man X2 features Crystal Snail and his weapon, the Crystal Hunter. Getting hit by it will trap you in crystal, and you have to mash buttons to get out. When you beat him and get his weapon, you can do the same to weaker enemies and use the trapped enemy as an Improvised Platform. And if you dash into them, they shatter into pieces.
  • The Arcane Warrior whose soul was trapped within a gem for thousands of years in Dragon Age comes to mind.
  • In The Legend of Spyro trilogy, Spyro, Cynder, and Sparx are trapped in a gem between the second and third games.
    • In the first game of the original Spyro the Dragon series, most of the characters were (depending on whether you read the manual or play the game) either sealed in crystal or turned into crystal statues.
  • Sonic Adventure, Perfect Chaos was released from the Master emerald.
  • Krystal in Star Fox Adventures .
  • Towards the end of Ocarina of Time, Princess Zelda is imprisoned in a crystal. This is of course, the page picture.
  • The Unholy Crystal boss in Splatterhouse 2, which contains the soul of Jennifer.
  • Oblivion has soul gems, which are gems in which you can trap souls.
  • Starting in Soul Calibur IV, Soul Calibur starts using this trick in quite a few character endings where it defeats Soul Edge. The biggest example is Patroklos, who's in the receiving end after the spirit of Soul Calibur turns on him.
  • Something of a recurring theme in Valkyrie Profile and Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria; apart from the Valkyrie's ability to temporarily trap monsters in a crystal (ice for Lenneth, light for Silmeria), Silmeria, Lenneth and Brahms all end up in crystals during VP 1 and 2. Rather like this, really.
  • Myzrael is a princess (elemental princess, note) trapped in a crystal in a quest in World of Warcraft.
    • A few enemies and bosses, notably some crystal giants, can do this to you. A few ice using bosses can imprison you in an ice block as well.
    • Warlocks can trap the souls of their enemies in crystals in order to fuel their stronger spells. And it happens to the warlock himself in this episode of "Chronicle of the Annoying Quest"
  • In the musical Edutainment Game Julliard Music Adventure, the player must rescue a Queen who is trapped in an amulet.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Five years before the game begins, Cloud confronts Sephiroth at the Nibelheim power reactor when the latter returns to retrieve Jenova. Thanks to Cloud mortally wounding him, Sephiroth tumbled off the catwalk and fell into the Mako pool below the reactor, eventually winding up in the Lifestream. In the present, Cloud and his party chase "Sephiroth" across the planet, unaware it is Jenova imitating his appearance; the real Sephiroth is frozen in a block of Mako, having drifted to the North Crater during his travels.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Once branded a L'Cie by the Fal'Cie, Crystal Stasis is the reward for fulfilling their focus, in contrast to failing and becoming a Cie'th (i.e. transforming into a twisted, zombie-like horror). But this also means the Fal'cie can reawaken them and use them as puppets as much as they want. This is what happened with Serah and Dajh, and Vanille and Fang were originally Pulse L'Cie brought to Cocoon and awakened by Barthandelus as his Unwitting Pawns. Ultimately, this also happens to Lightning, Snow, Sazh and Hope by slaying Orphan, but soon awaken as a result of Vanille and Fang's double Deus ex Machina Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The entire plot of Kingdom of Loathing comes about because the Naughty Sorceress imprismed King Ralph. In a prism.
  • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 had several Toads and Lumas trapped in crystals (possibly by Bowser), and Mario/Luigi had to spin said crystals to set them free.
    • There are also Goombas trapped in crystals as well. Makes players wonder why Bowser wanted to trap his own minions in crystals along with his enemies.
  • In Runescape, the goal of the "Merlin's Crystal" quest is to rescue Merlin, who has been trapped inside a crystal by Morgan le Faye.
  • An Archaeology item of ancient amber in World of Warcraft allows characters to do this, but only to themselves. As one might imagine, it's not a particularly useful item.
  • In Warcraft III, a Soul Gem shows up in the last mission of the Orc campaign; it's used to imprison Grom Hellscream so he can be captured without killing him.
  • The Big Bad does this to your entire party at the end of Breath of Fire II. The Hero breaks out of it, but this angers the Big Bad and he shatters the remaining crystals. (The Hero's Eleventh Hour Super Power brings them Back from the Dead soon after.)
  • In Realm of the Mad God, Mysterious Crystals are scattered throughout the Realm, literally begging you to smash them. They are actually the prisons of bosses that summon demon PONEHS.
  • Several enemies are trapped inside crystals in the Crystal Caves -level of MediEvil.
  • In Dark Souls, Dusk of Oolacile was trapped for centuries inside a Crystal Golem. Defeating the Golem frees her and allows you to summon her later so she can teach you a few nifty spells.
  • League of Legends champion Nocturne is imprisoned in a nexus shard when not fighting on the rift. Despite this, he's constantly slashing away at the barriers between him and the outside world, causing his powers to have a slight influence around the nexus shard.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi features several dozen binchotite crystals scattered across the game world. Each one contains a kidnapped member of the palace's staff, and can only be broken by Lumina. Not only will the freed palace staff be helpful later on, but breaking a crystal will increase your maximum MP.

    Toys 
  • Toa in BIONICLE can create or destroy absurdly strong Protodermis by using their powers as a team - even Makuta Teridax can't break free of a prison made of it.

    Webcomics 
  • In the Skin Horse arc "Borrowers," Tip finds the maintenance staff trapped inside the living crystal entities in the basement. He gets captured too, but since the crystals are sensitive to noise, they release him when he threatens to start singing Madonna.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time
    • At the end of her episode, Tree Trunks ends up inside a gem, (gem-apple, really). She seems quite fond of it.
    • The Lich is encased in amber as of the beginning of "Mortal Folly".
    • The Citadel uses these to imprison cosmic criminals. It doesn't work so well on the Lich.
  • During the two-part finale of Storm Hawks, many sky knights are captured and imprisoned in a giant crystal.
  • In ThunderCats (2011) this is Parodied in "Omens Part Two," when The Lizard Army uses a giant geode as a Trojan Horse to enter Thundera, having been stuck waiting in there for two days, not counting the trip to Thundera. One complains to his general about the smell after being freed.
  • Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation had the characters trapped in a crystal chandelier by Dark Heart.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: A Psychocrypt victim will have his Life Energy in one crystal, and his body entombed in a second. Merging the two will free the person.
  • In Aladdin: The Series, recurring villain Mozenrath loves these—the plots of two episodes revolve around him trying to entomb the Genie in one.

    Real Life 
  • Amber is the fossil resin of ancient trees. Since resin evolved as a way of trapping insects and other small animals (to protect the tree from the damage they do), we naturally find a lot of insects, spiders, etc., trapped in amber.


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