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.
- 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 of Asskicking so that Rider can't pull away while Archer pummels the shit out of him.
- My Hero Academia: In the English dub, Aizawa, getting away from a group of reporters, wonders how All Might managed to get anything done with the media "stepping on his cape".
- Even Batman has had this problem. In a Batman/Superman crossover, 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.
- A 1966 Mad Magazine 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.
- As Robin (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.
- In the Marvel Universe, Taskmaster has admitted he recognizes the problems with wearing a cape, but wears one anyway because it looks impressive.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Subverted in All Fall Down. Wearing a cape is what saves Paradigm's life.
- The Scarlet Witch had a pair of cases in Avengers West Coast, and tried a new costume without cape. It didn't stick.
- In issue 23 of the Mega Man 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 and the extended Marvel Family have no issue with this because their capes are short and only reach the elbows.
- 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 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.
- Wonder Woman (1942): 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 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.).
- 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 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- The Incredibles is the old Trope Namer. It isn't hard to see why, as it lampshades the topic quite heavily.
- Costume designer, Edna Mode hates adding capes to costumes solely because of this trope. 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. 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 the villain Syndrome's cape gets caught in a jet turbine in the climax, leading to his death.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The real reason for "no capes" was that Pixar didn't want to animate flowing capes.
- Costume designer, Edna Mode hates adding capes to costumes solely because of this trope. 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.
- 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.
- Inverted from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Roc inadvertently bites off Marina's Duffle Parka-Robe
- 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 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.
- 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, though.
- 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.
- 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.
- The remake 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.
- In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Snotlout spends a lot of time on missions hanging off the scenery by his cape.
- 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.
- 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.
- Inverted in Superman Returns. Superman is saved from drowning because Lois is able to grab him by the cape.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- In Blood of Olympus the villainous Octavian's praetor's cloak — and his hubris — cause his death.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Averted in Sluggy Freelance. Sam wears breakaway capes.
- Code Name: Hunter:
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Star Wars: Clone Wars, Shaak Ti manages to temporarily defeat General Grievous by using the Force to tie his cape to a passing train.
- Inverted in one of the Superman Theatrical Cartoons. Superman saves Lois from a torrent of molten steel by sheltering her under his cape.
- Darkwing Duck: plays with this trope somewhat.
- In one episode, the titular hero got his rip-proof cape trapped in the hood of a car just as a giant monster was bearing down on him. Later in the 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.
- 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 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.
- 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?"
- In the Christmas episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.