Glassy Prison
Prisoners in glass boxes shouldn't throw shade.

So a character has been busted, caught, kidnapped, jailed ... whatever. It's not uncommon for characters to be captured, in fact it's par for the course for most villains. But the situation does call for a character to be contained somewhere, and what better choice than a transparent cell where your captors can trace your every move and expression? Maybe if they're feeling generous, a little conversation wouldn't go amiss.

Being imprisoned in such a manner, where you are displayed in the same style as an exhibit, can either be a riveting or a demeaning moment for our characters. Possibly could be a side effect if the character falls victim to The Collector, or could overlap into Human Popsicle stage if taken to a sinister extreme.

This trope comes into action when a character is deliberately placed within a transparent cage to hold them akin to a prison cell. This transparent material can stretch past glass such as plastic, ice, water, resin or any material where the captor can visually see the captive.

Compare Cardboard Prison and Crystal Prison.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto: The Water Prison Technique fits this trope perfectly. Once trapped within one, the target is unable to move due to the sheer heaviness of water.
  • Snow of MÄR interestingly averts this trope, as she encases herself in ice when she first appears though its made quite clear that she can only stay in her ice prison for a couple of hours before she freezes to death.
  • Pokémon: Team Rocket put Pikachu in one of these in the Best Wishes episode "The Name's N".
  • Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: The Pleiades Saints, Kazumi's teammates, are horrifically doing this to other magical girls after harvesting their soul gems effectively turning them into human popsciles.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-: R!Sakura and R!Syaoran voluntarily enter one of these, where they are separated from each other for a long period of time as their price for one of Yuuko's wishes.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman Eternal, after capturing Hush, Batman keeps him imprisoned in a transparent cell in the Batcave.
  • Depending on the Writer, Arkham Asylum's cells are sometimes portrayed as this (see Western Animation section below). Other creators portray them with quasi-Victorian or even Medieval-style iron-doors with only a food- and eye-slot.
  • Mega-city one's incarceration cubes, in 2000 AD, have sometimes been portrayed this way.

    Film — Animated 
  • The blue canine-like alien Stitch, of Lilo & Stitch is firstly introduced to the audience in a holding cell of this variety. He's not happy to be in one to put it lightly.
  • Titan A.E. features Cale Tucker being held in the brig of the Drej mothership. The door to his cell is a transparent energy barrier.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Raoul Silva in Skyfall is taken captive by Bond and is incarcerated in a glass cell before being interogated by M. Due to the visable nature of him within the cell, this makes his escape all the more chilling.
  • Species: The young Sil is held inside a confinement area with glass walls. When the project director decides to kill her with poison gas, she breaks through the glass and escapes the laboratory.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: The Big Bad, John Harrison (Cumberbatch), looks quite smug from within his cell.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Hannibal Lecter's cell at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane is the only one in the unit to have a glass wall facing the hallway whereas the others have normal bars, as he's by far the most dangerous inmate there.
  • The Avengers: The SHIELD Helicarrier contains one as a Tailor-Made Prison for the Hulk but they are using it to hold Loki that can be dropped 30,000-odd feet out of the bottom of the ship at the push of a button. He escapes (surprise, surprise) and traps Thor in it, who escapes by smashing his hammer through the glass.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Loki ends up in one of these again in Asgard's dungeons, with energy fields instead of glass.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Although not made out of glass, Magneto is imprisoned within a plastic, transparent prison at the end.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Large panes of glass form the ceiling of Magneto's cell underneath the Pentagon.
  • In Clockstoppers, the corporation responsible for creating the hypertime watch keep an accomplice who attempted to escape earlier in a prison cell made of glass in the center of the lab floor. He was in hyper-time, meaning that the onlookers couldn't see him, but he wrote disdainful messages on the walls of his cell that could be seen after spending a week in hypertime and aging prematurely.
  • In Austin Powers Goldmember, Dr. Evil was imprisoned in transparent prison where everyone can see his every move, even when he takes a wizz.

  • In His Dark Materials The Authority is shown to have been imprisoned in a glass box by his henchman, Metatron.
  • In Kur of Gor Tarl Cabot is imprisoned in what the narrator calls a "glassine" tube. The narrator means "glass-like" but that's not what glassine means.
  • In The Butterfly Garden, the Garden consists of corridors of glass-walled cells, heavy walls lower when the gardening staff arrives to hide the kidnapped girls. Then there are the display cases along the hallways; when a Butterfly turns twenty-one the Gardener murders her and preserves her body in a glass cell filled with resin, the butterfly tattooed on her back facing out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack has Alex and her family trapped in one of these.
  • Alias: Irina Dereveko is held in one of these by the CIA.
  • Nikita: After being overthrown by his Dragon Ascendant Amanda at the end of season 1, Percy ends up in one of these. Naturally, he eventually escapes.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode, "The Silence", a chatty fellow lives in a glass cell in the middle of a Gentlemen's Club so he can prove he's keeping his wager to stay silent for an entire year.
  • The Blacklist: Done to Raymond Reddington after he turns himself in to the FBI.
    • Interestingly subverted in one episode where a gang of killers infiltrate the FBI compound and Reddington locks himself in the bulletproof, airtight cage; effectively turning his prison into a bunker so he can wait for rescue.
  • On Good Eats Cocoa Carl is being kept in one of these (in a Shout-Out to Silence of the Lambs), as Alton comes to question him about the ingredients in a protein bar manufactured by his company that was being marketed as "health food."
  • The US military lock Carl Creel in one in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Shadows".
  • Sherlock episode "The Final Problem" reveals that Sherlock has a sister and she is housed in a maximum-security psychiatric facility, inside a glass chamber. Cue a Window Love scene between the two siblings.

    Video Games 
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: At the end of the game Regime Superman appears to have been placed in one of these.
  • Spyro: Season of Ice has all the faeries encased in ice by an evil sorcerer named Grendor.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum Clayface is in one and in Batman: Arkham City Calendar Man is in another.
  • In Portal 2, when the protagonist Chell is tricked into GLaDOS's trap, she is contained in a glass cell, similar to the cell at the start of Portal.
  • Constructing one of these is an early objective in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and you are treated to a brief cutscene of the captive alien inside it whenever your team brings in a sample of a new species alive.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Hanna-Barbera's Superfriends has a Mad Scientist called The Raven imprisoned in a glass cube. Nonetheless, The Raven is able to construct a lifelike robot duplicate of himself and escape.
  • The Archons of "The Sleeping Planet" believe that Josie and the Pussycats In Outer Space have stolen their Robotron, and imprison them in a huge transparent bubble.
  • The most secure cells in the below-ground Acmetropolis Prison are an isolated circular platform with a transparent dome. The Sagittarius Stomper was put in one, alongside his mother. Likewise for Mallory Mastermind. And for four of the six Loonatics Unleashed.
  • The cells in Arkham Asylum in Batman: The Animated Series have one wall that is made out of glass.
  • Professor Pericles in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is imprisoned in a see-through cage.
  • In the Totally Spies! episode "Future Shock", the Spies' adult counterparts have a version of this that can be carried like a suitcase (by two people) and can still fit a prisoner inside, useful for both arrest and holding of prisoners. (Mandy is apprehended this way, but unfortunately, it does nothing to quiet her.)