A series picked up for NBC's 2010-2011 season.The Cape is Vince Faraday, a cop in the highly corrupt Palm City whose police force has been privatized under the ARK corporation. Vince uncovers evidence against ARK's CEO, Peter Fleming, who is really a costumed terrorist known as Chess. Fleming responds by having Vince framed for Chess' crimes. Vince then "dies" in an explosion, only to be rescued by the "Carnival of Crime", a shady underground circus troupe.With the world believing Vince dead, he takes on the persona of his son's favorite superhero, a Batman-esque figure known as The Cape. The circus troupe trains him in a combination of martial-arts, stage magic, and using a specially designed cape as a weapon. Teaming up with the Carnival and an investigative blogger called Orwell who has an interest in bringing Fleming down, Vince sets out to expose ARK, save the city and clear his name.Though the series debuted fairly well, ratings tanked soon after, and NBC decided to cut the episode number down from 13 to 10 in response. The final episode was an online-only airing, with NBC cancelling the series for good in March of 2011.Not to be confused with the trope by the same name, regarding morally upright and inspirational costumed heroes. The Cape is much more of a Cowl anyways. Neither should it be confused with another series of the same name about astronauts.
Acquired Poison Immunity: The Cape, after a bad run in with a serial killer specializing in exotic poisons. Subverted as well, due to not actually being used, since Cain winds up trying to stab him instead of poisoning him.
Though there may be no subversion, since Cain poisons his knives (this was how he poisoned him the first time)
Action Girl: Orwell. Especially when she uses her taser.
Affably Evil: The Carnival of Crime, especially its leader Max Malini, to the point where both the hero and the audience may forget the evil part. At least until they rob a train.
Armor Is Useless: Despite wearing some sort of breastplate, Vince gets stabbed right through it not once, but twice, in the first two hours alone. By more or less regular people. At least one of these stabbings was near his shoulder where the armor cuts away to give room for free movement of the arms. This has a little bit of Truth in Television, as most bullet-resistant vests are not much help against stabbing attacks. At least it helps against the taser. See however Bulletproof Vest below.
Max: You know I think it's worth reminding you, Scales; by profession I make people disappear. Sometimes they don't come back.
Badass Cape: Vince is able to grab , throw, or strike things with it. True to the source material as well, the cape seems to gain and lose length (among other things) as needed for the scene (in part due to the switch between CGI and prop). Notably for instance where The Cape is chasing Orwell who has several yards ahead of him and yet manages to use his ankle length cape to grab something that's ahead of Orwell. The cape seems to be able to hide most or all of its length in the leather mantle, due to the material. The length of the cape seen during most scenes is only a small part of the material. The weighted edge allows it to wrap around objects at range, like a whip or lasso. It was custom built for stage magician in the past, and it takes a skilled sleight-of-hand artist to extend the cape to its full length usefully and at will.
Max reveals that almost all previous owners of the cape used it for their own gain. One used it to go on a killing spree.
Batman Gambit: Run by a villain of all people. Chess kills the new chief of police in a city with a history of organized criminal activity in order to have the city's police force privatized and turned over to his company. He then frames Vince Faraday and makes it look like he was Chess, and makes it look like Chess was killed on live television in broad daylight. End result: Chess controls the city's police and is believed to be dead while his alter ego operates with impunity and is believed to be an upstanding, well meaning corporate executive.
Berserk Button: Nobody puts Scales in a cage. He also doesn't like midgets.
In "The Lich, Part 2," Vince, Max and Rollo show up just in time to rescue Orwell.
In "Razer," Max puts on the cape and rescues Vince in a way that shows everybody how it's done.
Black Best Friend: While he is his best friend, he is also a traitor. It's implied that this is under duress. Played semi-straight with his mentor Max, except for having to tolerate his side job as an armed robber.
Body Horror: The Lich seems to suffer from a condition where his body is constantly rotting.
Bullet Proof Vest: The cape apparently acts as one. Slightly justified as spider-silk is incredibly strong and actually is bullet proof (though being exceptionally flexible, while the material won't get punctured by a bullet, it won't actually stop the bullet from making a wound). Also slightly subverted as while the cape does protect Vince, he's still hurt by the sheer kinetic force of being shot (the bullets draw blood and leave visible welts).
Busman's Holiday: Naturally, almost the instant that Vince tries to take a day off to rest up from his injuries, a pair of assassins come gunning for him.
Camp: Even though it takes itself entirely seriously, the Camp is almost intentional in quantity and quality.
Captain Ersatz: The Cape wants to be Batman so bad it hurts. Some may see him as a modern day interpretation of The Shadow, however (Batman may have popularized a lot of those tropes, but he sure didn't invent them). He also takes aspects of The Phantom. In detail: costume and use of superstition from Batman, legacy back story from the Phantom, tactics (information control and hypnotism) from The Shadow.
Chess Motifs: Peter Fleming. He even takes on the supervillain alias "Chess". Also, he has contacts that look like chess pieces, and a holographic terminal (with the projector hidden under a chess board!) that projects his files in a chessboard layout. When he is having a bad day he hallucinates a chessboard with red and black pieces and on one occasion himself as Chess telling him to kill people.
Chekhov's Skill: In the pilot Vince goes through a training montage to learn the circus trade. Later he is chained and thrown into deep water, as per a famous escape artist trick.
Chronic Villainy: Even though Peter Fleming's plan in the pilot involved killing his "Chess" persona with Vince as his patsy, in the very same episode he seems compelled to continue carrying out his crimes as Chess.
It now appears that the Chess persona is a Split Personality of Fleming, one he's not necessarily happy to see come out even if he does make use of it.
Averted with Chess/Flemming the only pictures of him as Chess are blurry and when he goes to make a deal with his Scales as Flemming he sends a rep so that Scales can't get close enough to notice.
Played straight with the Cape/Vince. Neither Fleming nor Vince's Black Best Friend recognize Vince while he's wearing a tiny mask and not changing his voice. Slightly justified in that they believe Vince to be dead. He also turns his head away from them.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Trip's friend Jerry, who establishes his credentials within two minutes of introduction.
Combat Pragmatist: Just shoot him? Shooting is almost always the first thing the mooks do upon seeing The Cape. They always miss, of course, but it is the thought that counts. More rarely, even Chess, the Big Bad, is quick to grab a gun and shoot. Still misses though unless it's with a knife.
Comic Book Time: The show runs on this heavily at times. How much time passed between Vince's fake death and completing his training with Max? How much time did he spend building up his immunity to poison? How much time passed between his "death" and his family getting a new job/starting fights at school?
Death Dealer: Playing poker with Gregor is hazardous to your health.
Defrosting Ice Queen: As Orwell spends more time with Vince, we get to see her... girlier side. In one conversation with Vince, she admits that she would normally be getting her nails done on a Saturday if she wasn't Orwell.
Designated Girl Fight: Averted in "Dice," despite the promos making it look that way. The closest we get is Dice pistol-whipping Orwell in one scene and then Orwell handcuffing her at the end.
Dueling Shows: Though the style of the two shows beyond throwbacks to the Golden/Silver Age is null, it can't be unintentional that the show appeared shortly after No Ordinary Family, another superhero show. Humourously, NOF has a Marvel (edgy, gritty) flavor within a DC (four color) universe, while The Cape is more DC (Batman, more defined moral lines) in a Marvel (cynical, city of corrupt cops) universe.
Dynamic Entry: The Cape specializes in these, but becomes especially notable in "From Russia With Love" when Gregor reveals himself and taunts "Where is a hero when you need one?" Well, when you give Vince a straight line like that....
EMP: Used by Goggles and Hicks To prevent Orwell from tracking them.
Enemy Mine: In "Scales" the Cape and Fleming have to work together to stop a runaway train.
Also in "Lich", where the Cape has to work with Marty to stop the titular villain. All Vince has to say to convince Marty is that Lich is real, as every cop in the city knows about the mysterious crimes.
Orwell to Eyes Only. A cyber-journalist/hacker with a Secret Identity trying to stem the tide of corruption. There are also parallels to be drawn to Oracle. She is a super-tech oriented person who is unable to fight the corruption she hates directly; so she acts as Mission Control for a Badass Normal ultra detective who specializes in theatrics and deception and dresses in a long black cape, she also is a uber-hacker who uses her improbable, phenomenal skills to assist him.
Scales is very similar to Killer Croc, in terms of being a thug with a skin condition who wants to get respect. There is also the fact that Dominic Raoul and Waylon Jones were both sideshow freaks before turning to crime.
Fleming/Chess has a few similarities to Norman Osborn/Green Goblin.
The Carnival of Crime to Marvel's Circus of Crime.
Eye Scream: Poker Face's eye drops being replaced with turpentine.
Golden Age: It can be argued to be a modernization of this era; it is not quite as ludicrous as some of the things the Silver Age was (in)famous for.
Gratuitous Russian: The prison in the first scenes of episode three (though the spoken phrases don't match the subtitles).
Green Lantern Ring: The cape is something like this as it tends to develop new abilities as required (though often justified previously) such as being bulletproof in "Goggles and Hicks" and, judging by said character's thermovision, blocking Vince's heat signature.
Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Genre Savvy tropers probably didn't take too long to figure out where/who Max was on "Scales on a Train" - the grim reaper, the only person completely covered up from head to toe in a train of people mostly dressed in a small mask.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Fleming demands Scales payment and give up some low-level cronies in exchange for letting him be the Godfather of Crime in the "bad" part of the City. In the season finale, after ARK's corruption is exposed, Marty is forced to take the fall and the Cape rescues him, Scales turns their deal around and demands Fleming to pay him to kill Marty and the Cape
Idiot Ball: Fleming picks it up at the end of "Goggles and Hicks", firing Hicks just as he is about to hand him The Cape's Identity.
I Have Many Names: In the pilot episode Max told Vince that the cape was made for Kozmo the Russian escapist Kozmo is one of Max's known aliases. In the third episode, it is revealed that there were multiple Kozmos. Each one used the cape.
Instant Sedation: In the pilot, when Vince is jumped after finding the bombs being smuggled into the city. In an interesting case, this one actually makes sense; the sedative is injected directly into Vince's neck, ensuring it hits his brain very quickly.
In the Hood: Played with. The Cape spends a lot of time with his hood up, but in several fight scenes shown thus far it has fallen down, or he wears a mask to conceal his face.
Luke, I Am Your Father: "The Lich Part 2" confirmed the suspicions of many Genre Savvy fans by revealing that Fleming is Orwell's father. note Then again, this tidbit was revealed in several interviews, so it wasn't exactly a surprise to people who have been paying attention.
Manly Tears: When "the Cape" gives Trip a message "from his father."
There are some hints in the third episode that the cape may be something more than just a very elaborate stage prop. It's suggested it could be Merlin's robe or have belonged to Jack the Ripper as well. Some of the things Kozmo does with it (such as throwing a man across the room just from the draft of flapping the cape) should not be physically possible either. Then again, maybe it's just a cover mythology and some more advanced tricks. Max suggests that the cape can wear the user and bring out their dark side if not careful; this could be taken literally, or it could be seen as symbolic of the training and skill required to use the cape (that is, power corrupts) means that it's tempting to use said talents for selfish reasons since few would be able to stop them.
In "Dice", we also see that Max had a chart that apparently predicted Vince's arrival and that he would become the cape. The flashback in question followed a conversation concerning the existence of Destiny or Fate, suggesting higher powers at work. However, the same episode also involves a savant who can predict the future using math. It also indicates that either he's very good using them quickly, or Chess doesn't wear contacts.
Reconstruction: Whether it will be successful or not remains to be seen, but the series seems to be an attempt at a throwback to more traditional superhero stories (secret identities! costumes! clear-cut standards of good and evil!) after the deconstruction seen in Heroes. It also bears similarity to old serials like The Shadow and Dick Tracy.
Running Gag: Vince can never seem to win against Scales in a fist fight.
Secret Identity: Obviously, it's a superhero series. Though played with as well since, as far as most people are concerned, Vince is dead. Thus for the most part, Vince runs around as generic drifter or The Cape not to prevent people from knowing who he is but from knowing he's alive.
Orwell, too. Even the audience doesn't learn her real name until the eighth episode, and no one else in the show has learned it yet. It's Jamie Fleming.
Secret Test of Character: In the second episode, Max withholds the Cape from our hero, and offers him train tickets to run away with his family. Faraday says no, and goes off to fight crime on his own. Max's smile when he leaves indicates he was at least partly testing Faraday's resolve.
"British Bartitsu ... Kodokan Judo ... the warrior dancers of the Tang Dynasty used their robes as weapons, and so will you!" A pleasant surprise to hear this wasn't an example of getting Dan Browned. The writers did their homework.
The toxin that The Lich uses is also a real thing, commonly used in Voodoo.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: In "Kozmo", Gregor is in the middle of a long winded victory speech when Vince comes up behind him, punches him, and says "Don't you ever shut up?!"
Sympathetic Criminal - The entire Carnival of Crime. Criminals because they rob banks (in circus attire and with carnival music playing in the background), and sympathetic because they don't actually seem to hurt anybody directly, and because they are willing to help a former cop become a superhero. Though to be fair, while they're not fairly loyal to Vince, their initial bargain was that Vince provide them with police access to various things.
Tarot Motifs: There's a secret society of tarot-themed assassins, with tattoos of their major arcana. So far we've met:
The Tower, LeFleur, who specializes in poison and knives.
The Chariot, actually a duo consisting of Goggles (Mission Control, hacking, surveillance) and Hicks (who performs the actual wetwork).
The promotional material alone has copious amounts of this between Vince and Orwell. Which makes things awkward since Vince is a married man and part of his whole origin story is getting back to said wife and kid. Take Upto Eleven when Orwell is dreaming about marrying Vince.
There appears to be something between Vince's "widow" and her new boss. When they accidentally touch hands in a bar, she runs home and cries in bed, trying to convince herself it's not flirting.
X Meets Y: Heroes meets Silver-Age comics. Given that the show is on NBC and uses some of the same visual motifs (like the way the title cards fade into the scene, and the comparability of the in-universe's comic panels to 8th Wonders) comparisons to Heroes are inevitable.