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Do I look like I have wings and a beak?! Okay, fine, I guess I have the beak part down...

"This will be your home, where I can find-a you always!"
Stromboli, Pinocchio

It appears The Hero has found himself captured. But where would the evil overlord put him? Seems a regular prison isn't around or just wouldn't do.

So the bad guy sticks The Hero in a birdcage. This is usually done both to legitimately keep him locked away and to taunt him. On some occasions, the animal may be kept in the cage with the hero. Note that it doesn't necessarily have to be a birdcage, but is the most common form of this trope.

Another common invocation of this trope is when the Team Pet is captured along with the hero. The hero will usually be placed in a normal prison while the Team Pet is confined in the birdcage. If the pet is left outside altogether, Pet Gets the Keys may occur.

This becomes even more common when a character is shrunken or otherwise much smaller than their captor(s).

May overlap with Caged Bird Metaphor. Not to be confused with Gilded Cage, which is not literal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Puck winds up in a birdcage when he is captured by the Count in the Guardians of Desire arc of Berserk, and spends some time getting to know the Count's daughter Theresia.
  • In Deadman Wonderland, the Carnival of Corpses is shaped like a giant birdcage, fitting in with the whole 'bird' motif of the Deadmen.
  • Non-villainous example in Doraemon: Nobita and the Steel Troops, when Riruru, the reformed Robot Girl spy, decides to sentence herself to Improvised Imprisonment after her Heel–Face Turn. Doraemon and friends obviously doesn't want to be too harsh on her, having becoming attached to Riruru at this point, so Doraemon instead use his Shrink Light to turn Riruru doll-sized and put her inside Shizuka's birdcage.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, one of the Witches that Homura fights, named Roberta, seems to be a pair of disembodied legs in a dark birdcage. The stripper motif is augmented by her Familiars, weird bird-men who crowd around her and whom she apparently hates. Note that, like all Witches, she used to be a Magical Girl, so the "trapped hero" idea still fits.
  • Seven Mortal Sins: The end credits sequence shows Maria Totsuka naked in a bird cage next to her master, Lucifer.
  • During Sword Art Online's "Fairy Dance" arc, Asuna is held prisoner in a luxurious human-sized bird cage atop The World Tree of Alfheim Online, not only behind bars, but unable to log out from the virtual reality game.
  • Played for laughs in Yaiba, with a cover showing Yaiba holding a shrunken Kotaro (a resurrected ninja who just turned into a bird man) in a bird cage.

    Comic Books 
  • All-Star Comics: When the JSA travels to the year 2442 the Atom is captured and put in a bird cage as an odd pet due to his small size. He then escapes on the back of an actual bird kept as a pet by the same woman in a cage next to the one he'd been put in.
  • In one Golden Age Justice Society of America story, Hawkman is shrunk and placed in a birdcage.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In a flashback to Diana's childhood the Sky Riders shoved her in a large birdcage to hold her captive and make her mother obey them during their invasion of Paradise Island. She got the thing swinging and knocked into their leader, retrieving her mother's magic girdle, then tore right through the bars and returned the girdle to her mother.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): When Diana's supporting characters come tearing after her to save her from Neron he puts Cassie and Artemis in giant spiky birdcages to watch as he tortures their friends.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, one of the things Jafar does after taking control of the lamp is to turn Rajah, Jasmine's pet tiger, back into a cub. Rajah is later seen imprisoned in a birdcage.
  • Fievel is put in a cage in An American Tail after Warren and the Mott Street Maulers catch him. He is taken out after befriending his jail guard, Tiger.
  • The Lion King (1994): When Scar takes over Pride Rock, he traps Zazu inside an animal's ribcage. Also this seems to also be to keep the hyenas out, as they would likely eat Zazu if nothing else was available.
  • Pinocchio: Pinocchio is locked in a cage by the evil puppeteer Stromboli to keep him from going back home.
  • Recess: School's Out: Principal Prickly and T.J. are put in one in the school's cellar by Benedict and his anti-recess legion to prevent them from ruining their plan to destroy summer vacation, and during this time, T.J. accuses Prickly of not caring about summer vacation, to which the latter gives the former a "Reason You Suck" Speech of how Growing Up Sucks. Afterwards, Prickly reveals he managed to steal the keys before they were locked up in order to free themselves.
    Principal Prickly: I'll let you in on a little secret, Detweiler. Every adult you've ever known was a kid at some time in his life. You think we don't remember summer vacation? Riding bikes down by the creek, catching polliwogs in a jar, camping out under the stars? Well, you're wrong! Some days, I sit there in my office, looking out at you kids on the playground and I think, 'They don't know how good they got it. In a few years, they're all going to be grownups like me and all those good times will just be memories for them, too.' So go ahead. Put a whoopie-cushion in my chair. Cover my carpet with fake vomit. Make fun of my big, saggy butt. But don't you ever say I don't care about summer vacation, (voice breaking) 'cause those memories are the last part of childhood I got left.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, Mrs. Brisby is caught inside the farmhouse by a human boy and put in a cage. She makes a daring escape after learning that NIMH is coming for the rats.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Bowser has Luigi, the Penguins (who are literally birds), the Kongs, and Lumalee all locked up inside birdcages hanging over a pit of lava which he then plans to lower into during his wedding to Peach. At the end of the film, Bowser himself gets locked up inside a birdcage during the credits after he is shrunk upon his defeat during the final battle in Brooklyn.
  • In Valiant, the one captured in the first few minutes of the film and Bugsy were, naturally, imprisoned in a birdcage. Justified as they are birds and all.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, the shrunken princess is kept in a birdcage.
  • On The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The King of the Moon puts the Baron and Sally in a birdcage, where they find the Baron's old friend Berthold.
  • In the sexploitation film The Arena, two female slaves (one of them Pam Grier), are brought to a Roman orgy inside a golden cage. The poster for Women in Cages also has this, despite the movie being a completely different trope.
  • Batman Returns sticks Max Shreck in one of these when Penguin crashes his ball. Penguin intends to make him watch as the kids he's kidnapping sink into a deep puddle of Shreck's industrial byproducts before making him join them. Shreck gets out when the Organ Grinder's monkey gives him a key, but unfortunately for Shreck, Catwoman hasn't even started with her revenge on him.
  • Stardust: When Tristan gets turned into a mouse, Ditchwater Sal throws him in a small cage for passage to the market town.
  • The 1951 version of Othello starts with a How We Got Here scene where the villain, Iago, is hung outside the walls of a citadel in a cage, presumably until he dies.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: In the film, the Pensieve flashbacks to the trials of Igor Karkaroff and Barty Crouch Jr. are combined into just Karkaroff's trial. Karkaroff is depicted being brought before the Council of Magical Law in a cage like this.
  • Return to Oz: Mombi is put in a cage by the Nome King, and is later paraded in one in the Emerald City.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: At the beginning of the slapstick comedy, Thor is chained in Surtur's hanging cage. He is telling someone a story, who turns out to be just a skeleton.
  • Time Bandits: The team of time-traveling bandit protagonists are eventually trapped in a series of hanging cages over an abyss, followed by an elaborate escape sequence involving hanging from one cage and swinging to the next.

  • Artemis Fowl: At the end of The Lost Colony, one bloodthirsty villain gets his mind trapped into the body of a hamster. He is then put into a small cage, where scientists throw toy swords into the cage and watch him try to pick them up.
  • In Hansel and Gretel, Hansel is locked in a cage by the witch, to fatten him up.
  • In The Hollows, Rachel Morgan gets turned into a mink, and stuck in a cage.
  • In Masques, Aralorn, undercover as a slave at the time, is put into a giant bird cage. And then, an illusion that makes her look like a snow falcon is placed on the cage.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf traps baby Sunny Baudelaire in a birdcage and threatens to drop it from a high tower if her siblings don't cooperate with his plans.
  • The heroine of Monica McCarty's Romance Novel The Viper was locked in one of these outdoors hanging from a tower for months as a form of Come to Gawk (in contrast with her Love Interest who was locked in an oubliette underground).
  • Wolf Pack: After being captured by Dr. Monk, Tora is kept in a cage in his van, and is fitted with a shock collar to try and make her change into her human form.
  • Happens to Mercy Thompson in Silence Fallen. While in coyote form, she gets captured by Mary’s Vampire Seethe and locked in a dog cage. Mercy unfortunately spends the rest of the novel completely naked and locked in the cage that’s sealed by Mary’s magic until Adam rescues her in the last chapter. Thankfully, it was also a slight good thing as Mercy was able to stop the Gollum she revived earlier from its rampage and it couldn’t smash the cage thanks to the magic protecting it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Avengers (1960s): In "The Girl From Auntie" Emma Peel gets stuck in a rather feathery outfit and locked in one of these.
  • Doctor Who: In "Last of the Time Lords", the Master keeps an artificially-aged Doctor in a birdcage to humiliate him.
  • One of the obstacles on the game show Double Dare is a giant birdcage.
  • Happens to Tony and Roger in a episode of I Dream of Jeannie.
  • Fort Boyard: If contestants fail to escape a game cell in time, they are locked in a birdcage on an inner wall of the fort.
  • Lost: During the first few episodes of the third season The Others lock Sawyer and Kate in large outdoor cages that were built by the Dharma Initiative to contain the polar bears they were experimenting on.
  • Rome. Titus Pullo keeps rival ganglord Memmio in a cage to Make an Example of Them, feeding him on scraps like a dog. Unfortunately he's able to pick the lock and comes looking for revenge.
  • The Netflix adapatation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, preserves the plot point where Count Olaf traps baby Sunny Baudelaire in a birdcage and threatens to drop it from a high tower if her siblings don't cooperate with his plans.


    Puppet Shows 
  • In Fraggle Rock, a shrunken Mokey is placed in a dollhouse.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons. The Prison of Zagyg is a magic item in the form of a small birdcage. When the command word is given, the victim is shrunk to three inches high and stored in the cage.

    Video Games 


    Western Animation 
  • In the Teen Titans episode "How to Make A Titananimal Disappear", Raven is turned into a rabbit and then housed in a birdcage.
  • Not only is The Tick shrunk and put in a birdcage, he is also turned into a two-headed bird that speaks French.
  • In the first episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, "Sneaky, Lying, Cheating, Giant Ninja Koopas", the heroes, minus Mario, are placed in a giant parrot cage by a pack of recently giant-sized Koopa Kids. The cage in question belonged to the parrot owned by the Koopa Kids' captive, Prince Hugo the Huge of Giant Land, whom King Koopa planned to turn into a miniature poodle. Being that it is Giant Land, the cage is more than large enough to fit all three of them.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes one of the maximum security prisons for supervillains is like this. They are shrunk using some of Hank Pym's technology, so the prison is small enough to fit on a large table.
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode "A Gummi in a Gilded Cage" sees Sunni captured and stuck in a birdcage to serve as the Vulture King's 'songbird'.
  • In the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Zipper Come Home", Chip, Dale and Gadget are trapped in a bird cage by a tribe of beetles, and placed near a rising river that threatens to drown them if they don't get out in time.
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Stop, Look, and Ed" ends with the Eds hanging from a tree in a cage made of hockey sticks after Edd calls everybody's parents due to everyone else committing anarchy.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Zatanna does this to Abra Kadabra in "Chill of the Night!".
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Trixie traps the Mayor in a giant birdcage after taking over Ponyville in the episode "Magic Duel".
  • In the second part of the Demon World duology in Jackie Chan Adventures, Viper is first introduced while being locked up in a birdcage and having to sing for Hsi Wu the Sky Demon.
    Hsi Wu: Sing for me, my little caged songbird.
    Viper: Twit, twit.
  • Happens to Wilykat in the ThunderCats episode "The Tower of Traps". While investigating the titular tower, he gets caught in a trap which leaves him imprisoned in a cage suspended from the treasure room's ceiling. Lion-O and Wilykit must get past the rest of the traps and reach the top of the tower in order to rescue him.
  • One episode of Sky Dancers had Queen Skyla, in her shrunken Sky Dancer form, imprisoned in a cage and taunted by the imps comparing her to a bird.
  • The cliffhanger of the Trollz episode "When Good Girlz Go Bad" has Obsidian captured, hypnotized, and placed in a birdcage.