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. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome can come into play here. See Also: Not Wearing Tights, where the characters refuse costumes entirely, Killer Outfit, when it's the rest of your wardrobe trying to taking you out, and Pinned to the Wall.
- 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.
- Fate/Apocrypha has a variant toward the end of the series, with Archer of Black stepping on Rider of Red's scarf so that Rider can't pull away while Archer pummels the shit out of him.
- My Hero Academia: In the English dub, this is used as a metaphor when Aizawa, getting away from a group of reporters, wonders how the veteran #1 hero All Might managed to get anything done with the media "stepping on his cape". (All Might's literal costume is a bodysuit that seems to have been described in keeping with "no capes". His "Silver Age" costume did include a cape, though)
- Subverted in All Fall Down. Wearing a cape is what saves Paradigm's life.
- Even Batman has had this problem. In a crossover appearance in Superman: The Animated Series, 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 a 1966 MAD bit by Sergio Aragones, "A Mad Look At Batman" (capitalizing on the then-hit ABC show), a panel has Batman getting his cape caught in a toilet.
- Robin (1993): As Tim has always had a quick release cape which he uses in fights any time his cape seems to get him in trouble it's an early hint that what is being seen is staged and Tim is playing a part.
- Inverted in Batgirl Year One when Black Canary yanks Batgirl out of the way of Killer Moth's flamethrower by her cape.
- Captain America:
- The page image is from a time when Cap 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.
- Parodied in The Avengers: Back to Basics, where a super villain uses the Cosmic Cube to turn Cap, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Iron Man back into their "weakest forms" (Steve was put back into his Nomad costume, Carol in her original Ms. Marvel gear, Tony back in the Model 1 and T'Challa in... some weird get-up). Steve tries to get Carol and T'Challa to stop arguing over their costumes only to trip over his cape again and mutter as to why he wore one in the first place.
- Defied by Doctor Zero. He wears a cape as part of his carefully crafted (and deliberately misleading) benevolent superhero persona. But when he's ambushed on a submarine and knows he'll be forced to fight at close quarters, without using his usual flight and ranged attacks, he immediately detaches and discards it so that it won't cause problems.
- During the Hawkeye edition of Generations (Marvel Comics), Clint pulls this on Taskmaster, complete with a quip about how capes are always a bad idea.
- The Incredible Hercules: When battling against The Sentry, Hercules temporarily disposes of the more-powerful hero by dodging an attack and tossing him by his cape. Herc cites this trope as the reason he stopped wearing the Nemean Lion skin. (Although, his outfit in Chaos War featured a cape.)
- In issue 23 of the Mega Man (Archie Comics) 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, Mary Marvel and the extended Marvel Family have no issue with this because their capes are short and only reach the elbows. It also helps that their costumes are magic.
- The Man of Steel 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.
- The Krypton Chronicles provides an humorous example: when Superman is about to take off towards planet Rokyn excitedly, Supergirl tugs on his cape◊ before reminding him that they need a spaceship to get there, what with Rokyn orbiting a red star.
- In The Killers of Krypton, Kara gets into a bar brawl and gets hindered by a thug grabbing onto her cape.
- In the Marvel Universe, Taskmaster has admitted he recognizes the problems with wearing a cape, but wears one anyway because it looks impressive.
- 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 Scarlet Witch had a pair of cases in West Coast Avengers'', and tried a new costume without cape. It didn't stick.
- Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana attempts to capture Serva by grabbing her cape, but Serva slips out of the cape and leaps from the moving car in one motion.
- The cape-wearing mutant baddie Exodus from the X-Men usually makes his cape work as only a Superpower Lottery winner can, but during one fight against the X-Men the wily Cajun Gambit was able to blindside Exodus by grabbing his cape from behind and using his kinetic charging ability to make it go boom.
- 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.
- In Amazing Fantasy, it's mentioned that Peter disapproves of Izuku's insistence on having an All Might-inspired hood, as it could be easily grabbed by someone or snag on something in the middle of a brawl. They compromise by making it detachable.
- Mentioned In DragonBall Z Abridged. When Gohan requests a uniform similar to that of his Parental Substitute Piccolo, (which includes a cape with very wide shoulder arches) Piccolo immediately recommends that Gohan practice walking around with it to avoid this, and gives Gohan advice for dealing with potential obstacles.
- Fates Collide:
- After their first fight ended in a draw, Oda Nobunaga tries to challenge Weiss Schnee to a rematch, but an annoyed Okita Souji grabs Nobunaga's cape and drags her out of the room.
- During their fight, Archer grabs Ruby Rose's cape and pulls it over her head to blind her.
- In Power Girl fanfic A Force of Four, one of the three villains grasps Fury's cape to prevent her from helping Power Girl during a battle.
"No!" cried Fury, trying to hurl herself at him. But Kizo grabbed her cape and then her arm to hold her back.
- 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.
- In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Razoul uses his scimitar to attempt to stop the Titular King of Thieves, who's actually Aladdin in disguise.
- Barbie in Princess Power: Baron von Riverdale grabs Super Sparkle by the cape, but she escapes by unclasping it.
- 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.
- Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Joker tries this against Batgirl, but she detaches it before he can do anything.
- 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.
Prof. Poopypants: I bet he thought that was gonna be cooler.
- The Death of Superman has Doomsday constantly grabbing Superman by the cape and slinging him around, at one point grabbing it and wrapping it around his neck to strangle him.
- In G.I. Joe: The Movie, Serpentor's cape gets tangled in his air chariot's turbine, causing him to fly out of control.
- A later 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.
- In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Snotlout spends a lot of time on missions hanging off the scenery by his cape.
- The Incredibles is the old Trope Namer. It isn't hard to see why, as it Lampshades the topic quite heavily.
- Edna Mode has a good reason to never add capes onto superheroes' costumes again solely because too many have gotten into accidents related to them. When Bob requests one on his new costume, she shoots him down:
Bob: Something classic, like — Dynaguy! Oh, he had a great look! Oh, the cape and the boots...!
Edna: [throwing crumpled up paper at Bob] No capes!
Bob: Isn't that my decision?
Edna: Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers? Nice man, good with kids.
Edna: 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 Syndrome's cape gets caught in a jet turbine in the climax, leading to his death.
- Edna Mode has a good reason to never add capes onto superheroes' costumes again solely because too many have gotten into accidents related to them. When Bob requests one on his new costume, she 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.
- Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World: Just as Ratcliffe is about to kill Pocahontas with a sword, John Smith grabs his cape and yanks him back.
- Inverted from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Roc inadvertently bites off Marina's Duffle Parka-Robe.
- Another early Disney example occurs in Sleeping Beauty when Prince Phillip's cape gets caught in the branches of Maleficent's forest of thorns. Merryweather alerts the fairies to this and they use their magic to free his cape from the thorny branches without a single tear.
- A very early Disney example as shown in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs during Snow White's terrifying flight through the spooky forest, her cape, along with her skirt gets caught in the tree branches, twice. But she manages to free herself without any signs of tears. Later on, her cape gets caught on another branch in a different part of the forest, but her animal friends free it for her.
- 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, even if it costed her a nice fashion piece.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- The Batman (2022)
- In the final battle, the Riddler's followers grab Batman's cape to drag him down and almost manage to hurl him off the scaffolds they are fighting on until he breaks free.
- There's a variation when Batman uses his wingsuit and deploys a small parachute to break his momentum so he can land on top of a truck. Unfortunately he fails to take account of the bridge the truck is passing under. The parachute snags on the bridge, slamming him into its underside before sending him crashing painfully to the ground.
- 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.
- The action-fantasy film Dr Wai In "The Scripture With No Words" has a variant with a scarf (Scarf Snag?), where the climax has Dr. Wai fighting the main villain. Wai's partner, Shing, managed to assist him by grabbing the villain's scarf, slowing him down enough for Wai to gain an upper hand.
- Halloween (2018): Oscar tries to run away from Michael Meyers and climbs over a fence, but the cape of his Halloween costume gets caught on the fence, allowing Michael to catch up and kill him.
- 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.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- 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.
- This tactic is used as an attack in Avengers: Infinity War: the Cloak wraps itself around the Infinity Gauntlet and pulls it in the opposite direction of Strange, preventing Thanos from using any of Infinity Stones to attack Strange.
- Inverted in Superman Returns. Superman is saved from drowning because Lois is able to grab him by the cape.
- In Blood of Olympus the villainous Octavian's praetor's cloak — and his hubris — cause his death.
- 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.
- Defied in Mistborn. Mistcloaks consist of many easily detachable ribbons, so snagging one would just break it off the cloak.
- Averting this trope was the reason Batman and Robin's capes were shorter (around knee length) in the 1960s Batman (1966). 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.
- 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 knife.
- Game of Thrones: Syrio Forel disables one guardsman by grabbing his cape in "The Pointy End".
- And thus why Bronn refused to wear the City Watch uniform, which featured a cape.
- 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.
- In the first episode, there is a period where it's more like he's just a mentally ill person in a superhero suit, and when the police take him to a mental hospital, he's forced to embarrassedly note "my cape..." getting caught in the police car door for a second.
- In From the Cold: Anya kills Tomas by grabbing onto his coat and getting it trapped between the train doors so he would be dragged into a wall and crushed.
- 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 makes 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.
- Queen Rhea grabs Supergirl's cape and throws her through a rooftop's air conditioning unit.
- In the Cold Open of The Wheel of Time season 1, episode 7, an Aiel Maiden of the Spear takes down one of her fully-armored foes by grabbing his cape as she runs past, yanking it so that he falls on his back. She then stabs him through the visor of his helmet with her spear to finish the job.
- One fight in Moon Knight (2022) had one of the adversaries of the title character grabbing his cape to prevent him from going forward. Of course this means that Moon Knight turns around and beats him to get free.
- The pro wrestler Último Dragón 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.
- RWBY points out the drawbacks to Ruby's cape a couple of times:
- Episode 8 of the main series, the Nevermore fires Feather Flechettes, one of which pins Ruby to the ground by her cape. Only Weiss's intervention saves her life.
- Episode 6 of RWBY Chibi has a short dedicated to how impractical her cape is: it gets caught in a slammed door, she nearly hangs herself from her top-level bunk bed because it gets caught in the sheets, and her sitting on the floor means Jaune can just nonchalantly walk all over it with muddy shoes.
- 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.
- Defied in Setback. Ms. Ribbon wears a cape with her ensemble but keeps it at least near her waist so it won't be too long and, since her power allows her to manipulate her clothing, she trains herself to instinctively have the cape rip from where it's snagged to avoid such a problem since she can just re-materialize the torn part easily.
- Averted in Sluggy Freelance. Sam wears breakaway capes.
- Code Name: Hunter:
- Aitana decides to wear a majestic costume in Spacetrawler, including a cape which is about three times as long as her body. It serves as a convenient way to prevent doors and airlocks from fully closing, ensnares passing pedestrians, and even works as a means by which to transport coyotes.
- In the first episode of Galactiquest, Captain Galhardo gets his cape caught in the door shortly after his introduction.
- 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.
- In The Batman, while Batman and Catwoman were fighting Ragdoll, Batman's cape got caught between some moving gears. What's worse, his cape is connected to his mask, meaning if he wants to survive, he has to take his mask off to escape. Fortunately, Catwoman helps him out by cutting his cape off.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Darkwing Duck: plays with this trope somewhat.
- In "Bad Luck Duck, the titular hero got his rip-proof cape trapped in the hood of a car just as a brought-to-life Hamburger Hippo stand was bearing down on him. Later in the same episode, it is shown that Negaduck has enough foresight to buy rip-able capes.
- In another episode, Darkwing gets trapped by his rip-proof cape at a bad time, so he switches to rip-able capes, only for his next cape to rip and send him into a long, painful fall after initially saving him from the fall.
- When Omni Man fights what are essentially a group of cyborg zombies in Invincible (2021), they jump onto him while he's flying low to the ground and one of them blinds him by wrapping Omni Man's cape around his face, which causes Omni Man to immediately plummet to the ground.
- In Justice League, Draaga and Captain Marvel have yanked Superman around by his cape.
- In Justice League Action, Batman trips up Mister Miracle by stepping on his cape, much to his indignation.
Mister Miracle: You grabbed my cape?! There's a cape code! What about the cape code?"
- Looney Tunes: In the opening of "Stupor Duck", the titular character (a.k.a. Daffy Duck) tries to leap a building like Superman, but ends up getting his cape caught on the flagpole on top.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 grabs Maxima by the cape and drags her into the sky.
- Inverted in one of the Superman Theatrical Cartoons. Superman saves Lois from a torrent of molten steel by sheltering her under his cape.
- 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.
- In the Christmas episode of Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), 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.
- 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 (1966), one of his biggest problems was going to the bathroom while in costume because his cape would get caught in the toilet.