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Extranormal Prison

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In most worlds where extranormal or paranormal powers exist, there are people who try to use them for personal gain, societal disruption or plain eeevil. These people should be isolated from society, but where exactly? A plain old Big House will be too easy to escape. A Tailor-Made Prison is the most reliable option, but it's overkill and too expensive to build one for every petty evil mage, dark space knight or dastardly super.

The solution? The golden mean, as usual. The Extranormal Prison is much more secure than any muggle prison, and it's specifically secure from extranormal powers of any inmates therein, almost always containing some sort of built-in Power Nullifier. It's large and versatile enough to contain many inmates with varying powers. Only the most important baddies will be too tough for this institution to contain, so they'll be put in a Tailor-Made Prison, or, if even this fails, sealed in a can.

However, The Empire can also acquire the know-how to build this sort of prison. In this case, they'll be used to contain heroic empowered individuals. However, Imperial extranormal prisons are characterized by shoddy construction and lax security, so they are still Cardboard Prisons for the heroes.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, whenever one of the obscenely powerful martial artists of YAMI are defeated and incarcerated, they're taken to the prison "Big Lock" to serve sentences. However, this is subverted into a Cardboard Prison when the guards eventually realize that the prisoners could easily escape any time they want, but stay put as a matter of honor in having lost their fights. Once YAMI requires their services again, they break right out.
  • The main setting of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, the Green Dolphin Street Jail, wasn't designed specifically with the intent of containing Stand users - and in fact its warden is a non-User and therefore not privy to The Masquerade - but since, in-universe, fate is explicitly stated to draw Stand users together, once one User wound up inside, coincidental events started drawing in more and more, and some of the prison's staff ended up being Stand users with abilities specially suited to keeping other users contained. The captain of the guards, Miuccia Miuller, had Jail House Lock, which blocked anyone that touched it from acquiring new memories, and the prison chaplain, Enrico Pucci, had Whitesnake, which could remove the stands of others. Pucci turns out to be corrupt, distributing stolen Stands to non-User prisoners as bribes to make them help him achieve his own goals.
  • Tartarus of My Hero Academia is a maximum security prison used to hold superpowered villains too tough to be contained in a regular jail, including Stain, All for One, and Kurogiri. We've only seen one cell in detail, which admittedly belonged to the strongest villain of all time, but if we are to assume that that one cell is representative of the others, containment procedures in Tartarus include prisoners being strapped into wheelchairs and straitjackets at all times, fed by IV drip, and hooked up to a brain scanner that detects if the prisoner even thinks about using their quirk and then signals the multiple automated gun turrets set up around the room to open fire. Additionally, following his capture, Kurogiri is apparently kept in a chemically induced coma at all times.
  • One Piece's great prison Impel Down serves as this, as well as being a Hellhole Prison. It holds particularly notorious and dangerous criminals, with 5 different levels of hellish punishments. Meanwhile the secret level 6 qualifies more as a Tailor-Made Prison.
  • Super Crooks (2021)'s Supermax Prison ostensibly is a prison for villains, as it suppresses many superpowers and inmates are electrocuted if they misbehave. However, they're in the pocket of the villainous Network and Christopher Matts.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, those Ghouls that aren't outright killed are sent to Kokuria, a special prison in the 23rd Ward. Prisoners are housed according to their threat ranking, and used as informants or for research materials. The walls are made from a special metal (created by combining steel with melted down Ghoul corpses) and a gas that weakens them is pumped into the air to keep them from using their full strength.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Belle Reve Penitentiary in Louisiana is used to hold metahuman criminals. It is also the headquarters of Task Force X (a.k.a. the Suicide Squad), which allows prisoners to perform dangerous missions in return for a reduction in their sentences.
    • Legion of Super-Heroes: In the 30th century, Takron-Galtos is a prison planet used by the United Planets to hold high risk inmates, such as super criminals.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The Amazons run a particularly beautiful prison that is specially suited to hold magic users since it is in the same mobile pocket dimension as Themyscira on a little well guarded island floating high above the sea that is absolutely covered in molly.
    • In Superman, Stryker's Island started as a regular prison, but has been redesigned by John Henry Irons to contain the sort of villains that Superman fights.
    • Slabside Penetentiary in Green Lantern and Joker's Last Laugh. Nicknamed "the Slab", because that's the only way you leave.
    • Batman (Grant Morrison) introduced Basement 101, the UK's superhuman prison beneath the Tower of London.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Project: Pegasus has been used to hold (and study) high-powered super-criminals. It was succeeded by The Vault, which unlike Pegasus (a research facility) was purpose-built as a prison.
    • The Raft was a super-max prison for supervillains operated by S.H.I.E.L.D., near the mundane prison of Ryker's Island.
    • During Civil War, a group of heroes led by Iron Man, Mister Fantastic and (a Skrull posing as) Yellowjacket created Prison 42, a massive prison in the Negative Zone to house captured non-registering heroes as they waited for them to be tried.
    • There was a prison introduced in She-Hulk called the Big House, nicknamed the Ant Farm, where super-criminals were shrunk by Pym Particles during their sentence. The guards used Ant-Man helmets to have ants to control inmates, as the facility essentially was a large ant farm.
    • Augustus Roman — first appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, and then introduced to the mainstream Marvel universe in The Amazing Spider-Man (Dan Slott) — is a private businessman who owned a facility called the Cellar which was really a front for him to use technology to leech superpowers from villains before moving on to take all the superheroes' powers.
    • One arc of The Incredible Hulk arc introduced the God Complex. Created from salvaged alien technology and built five miles below the surface, it was built to hold prisoners no other prison could, which was mostly giant sentient monsters. When the door was blown off at the end of the arc, they were all too institutionalized to want to leave.

    Fan Works 
  • Massively Multiplayer Crossover fanfic Blood and Revolution has the Japanese government, and later PrivateMilitaryContractors KaibaCorp, creating prisons for the youkai, both legitimate prisoners and political versions. The original was a The Alcatraz-type destroyed by Kenshin and Aoshi, but they get more high-tech and more effective as the decades go on.
  • In Child of the Storm and its sequels, SHIELD is building the Raft for superhuman criminals, described as being like Azkaban with "all the knobs turned up." Except for the soul-sucking demons floating around causing misery and despair, which Fury objects to on ethical grounds. But unfortunately, they come with the prison, so he can't do much about them... the Congressional Oversight Committee, that is.
    • Azkaban itself is also mentioned, though it has not appeared at the time of writing.
    • The 'Dark Levels' of Real Life British prison 'Strangeways' (now officially known as HM Prison Manchester), under the prison. They're run by MI13 and are designed to hold superpowered prisoners of all kinds.
  • In the Animorphs fanfic The Day the Earth Stood Still, Tom is sent to a temporary prison for human-Controllers who can morph, so it has anti-morphing rays mounted on the walls.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Ghostbusters' containment unit holds all the ghosts they capture.
  • In Men in Black 3 there's a prison for alien criminals on the moon. The guards have futuristic technology, and the fact that escape means exposure to vacuum also helps.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The dungeons of Asgard, which are used to contain threats to the Nine Realms. They all escape in Thor: The Dark World due to the machinations of Malekith, with the exception of the recently imprisoned Loki.
    • The Raft in Captain America: Civil War, which is used to contain superpowered individuals. Several of the Avengers are imprisoned there after the battle in Germany, but they are busted out by Steve at the end of the movie.
  • General Zod and his cronies are banished to the Phantom Zone in the 1978 Superman: The Movie. The Phantom Zone is portrayed as an interdimensional wasteland with no hope of escape. Unless, of course, someone therein is needed by the plot, in which case, the Phantom Zone is a horrible vacation spot.
  • In Goosebumps (2015), R.L. Stine imprisoned every monster he has ever created inside the original Goosebumps manuscripts, essentially turning his bookcase into a prison of sorts. Whenever a monster escaped, he was forced to capture it and move to a new town, much to the chagrin of his daughter Hannah.
  • X-Men Film Series:
  • Independence Day: Resurgence: After the War of 1996, the Harvesters invaders that weren't killed by the military were imprisoned in Area 51. This works great until the the Harvesters launch a second invasion, meaning they pose a serious threat to the base when they escape, which happens at the worst possible time.
  • Zoom: Academy for Superheroes has the power neutralizing isolation room, which Dylan gets to spend a little time in.
  • Sky High also has a power suppressing detention room.

  • In the Diogenes Club series, The Men in Black maintain a prison in a remote location for dangerous supernatural entities who are too useful or too difficult to just kill. It was originally founded at the order of Elizabeth I to house two sorcerers who weren't noticeably slowed down by being beheaded for treason. The sorcerers are still in residence (with their bodies, heads, and tongues all being kept in separate cells), and the other inmates include Omnicidal Maniacs, members of The Fair Folk, vampires, and a worm said to be unknown to science.
  • The Divine Comedy's Ironic Hell features horrid weather, cliffs, monsters, demons, and a doorway marked "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
  • Azkaban in the Harry Potter universe is a prison for dark wizards, guarded by soul-sucking Eldritch Abominations called Dementors. Sirius Black and Barty Crouch Junior are the only prisoners known to have escaped before the Dementors mutiny in the fifth book, though Dumbledore makes a Blasť Boast that he could easily break out as well if he needed to. Given his status as The Archmage, he's probably not bluffing.
  • Kholomi in Labyrinths of Echo is a prison for mages where magic just doesn't work.
  • In Myth-ing Persons, Aahz is arrested and imprisoned in a city of vampires. Because a normal jail cell can't hold a vampire, he's placed inside the mouth of an animated dragon-head statue, which can swallow a prisoner who tries to break free or inhale them if they turn into mist.
  • Renegades has Cragmoor Penitentiary, a prison specializing in holding prodigies whose powers could help them escape a more ordinary cell.
  • In Worm, the Birdcage was specifically designed to be proof against escape even by the most powerful parahumans.
    • There are at least two in the sequel Ward. Due to the interdimensional portals left around after Gold Morning they are located on uninhabited alternate earths in order to make escape more difficult.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The protagonists of The Flash (2014) stored captured metahumans in a failed particle accelerator re-purposed to be a prison, which is eventually shown to be very much illegal and is therefore only used on a very temporary basis after Season 1. In Season 2, once the existence of metahumans becomes common knowledge, the ordinary Iron Heights prison is refitted to be able to handle metahuman prisoners. We're never shown how it works, though. Presumably, though, Cisco is consulted on each prisoner. The cells in the particle accelerator remain, though, and are used occasionally to temporarily hold people thereafter. Additionally, Zoom holds his special prisoners in small transparent cells that only he can enter by vibrating his body. Barry is able to escape it by copying Zoom's trick.
    • In the crossover Supergirl (2015) episode, Barry helps the National City justice department do the same to their prison, allowing it to contain individuals with superpowers, as well as to be afforded the same rights of due process as everyone else.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Tartarus of Classical Mythology, where the souls of the worst of humanity are tormented for eternity along with the monsters that have been banished there.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions has Stronghold, a prison specifically designed to hold super-powered criminals. Exceptionally powerful inmates are kept in Tailor-Made Prison cells.
  • Claim the Sky: BASTION's Station Zero, an Underwater Base capable of holding about 100 superpowered prisoners. As with Stronghold, its cells can be configured to become Tailor Made Prisons for particularly difficult prisoners.
  • The Spellhold, a prison designed specifically to hold rogue mages, in Forgotten Realms. It is also featured prominently in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.
  • Hunter: The Vigil has the Lansing Facility, an "ultramax" prison the Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit uses to store slashers who are too dangerous to be brought to trial. Surprisingly, it's actually really good at it - to the point that not only is it a massive aversion of Cardboard Prison, it's starting to run out of cells, to the point VASCU is considering opening another one.
  • Freedom City has Blackstone Penitentiary, which is deep underground, on (or rather in) an island, with every cell a Tailor-Made Prison lined with Force Fields, and Knockout Gas ready to be piped anywhere if that doesn't work.

    Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham had special prisons for the super-powered individuals. Poison Ivy, for example, was kept in a reinforced greenhouse.
  • Dragon Age:
    • The Aeonar is a prison mostly reserved for convicted mages. What distinguishes it from a normal prison is that the veil (the incorporeal barrier between the physical world and the Fade) is damaged due to a brutal massacre of Tevinter mages that took place there several centuries prior, allowing spirits and demons to easily pass through. This makes it a particularly dangerous and hostile environment for mages, who are connected to the Fade and thus are in constant danger of possession by spirits and demons (the latter of which are technically just malicious spirits), giving the Chantry ample excuse to routinely execute its prisoners in a world where magic is deeply feared. The location of the prison itself is unknown to everyone except for a small number of Templars (knights enlisted by the Chantry to hunt down hostile mages).
    • It's not just mages who are sent there, either - anyone caught conspiring with blood mages or other maleficarum are sent there as well. At the end of the Magi origin in the first game, Lily, a Chantry sister-in-training, is willfully sent there as punishment for being in love with the player character's friend Jowan, who had been practicing blood magic without her knowledge. The prison is essentially used as a brutal test to weed out hostile mages among the Chantry's prisoners simply by waiting and seeing who doesn't get possessed.
    • As of the end of Dragon Age II, the Aeonar is empty with no sign of violence or struggle after the start of the Mage-Templar war.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Belsavis, an entire planet used by the Republic as a prison for the kinds of convicts and POWs that can't be kept in regular jail cells. The most slippery escape artist, the most brutal mass murderers, species with abilities that can't be contained, and all of it built on the ruins of an ancient prison built by the Rakata for a race they were terrified of. And that's not even the planet's true purpose.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Arcatraz is being used by the Naaru as a prison for some of the most dangerous entities in the universe.
    • The Violet Hold is the prison of Dalaran and is designed to hold beings with magical abilities. As of Legion, it's had major breakouts twice, and Lt. Sinclari thinks it's about time they found someplace else to keep these prisoners.

  • Grrl Power zigzags this trope. On one hand, Maxima points out that there is no such thing as power negators. On the other, ARCHON gets pretty creative when making up prisons for supers. The girl who can make portals is placed in a pressurized cell, where the depressurization would immediately kill her if she tried to make a portal, and the guy who feeds on violence is kept high as balls and provided with cutesy entertainment. However, unlike the situation in the page image there is no General Population area, as there is no way to stop everyone's powers at once, which Hench Wench is informed of when she has an imagine spot of getting in and working for said "feeds on violence" character to start a prison riot.
  • Monster Soup's Oubliette Castle's facilities themselves have not yet shown any ability to keep the main cast — a zombie, a ghost, a vampire, a werewolf, and a gypsy with magical capability — from running. The warden, however, has declared himself up to the task.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has a lot of Tailor Made Prisons, but the foundation also has standard cells if the SCP doesn't require any special containment procedures yet risks breaking the Masquerade if it is discovered.
  • The unnamed prison within Hell in Void Domain. Designed to hold demons. Permanently if need be.
  • Whateley Universe: The US has at least five 'ultramax' prisons for holding superhumans[1]: Wheeling Federal Paranormal Detention Facility in West Virginia (AKA 'The Jug'), Thunder Mountain Federal Prison Complex in Colorado (AKA 'The Rat Trap'), Atascadero State Penitentiary (which is likely the one referred to at times as 'Mt. Prometheus') and Mt. Diablo State Prison in California, and Roxbury Federal Paranormal Detention Facility in Massachusetts ('The Pit', which gets nearly destroyed during a breakout attempt). Most major cities have smaller detention facilities for immediate use, as well. In addition, there is The Prison With No Name, which is a secretive Azkaban Expy run by sorcerers to detain magical threats (it is deliberately never given a True Name to reduce the ability to gain power over it). Finally, there is Arc Black, a Cryo-Prison for those who cannot be controlled otherwise.
    • In the Gen 2 stories, it is mentioned that there is an orbital prison, The Rock, which is used to hold the worst prisoners.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has the Crystal Citadel, a prison for people guilty of the most terrible "cosmic crimes". It's a gigantic six-pointed crystal in an inaccessible Pocket Dimension, watched by colossal Crystal Guardians, where the inmates are entombed in Crystal Prisons. This doesn't slow down the Lich in the slightest when he comes to recruit the inmates.
  • There were several prisons for benders in Avatar: The Last Airbender, built by the Fire Nation. They were built with precautions regarding the element the inmates were capable of bending: for example, a prison designed to hold earthbenders was built from iron over water, with nary a piece of earth in sight... except for the coal that fuels the place's smokestacks, that no one ever thought about beforehand.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:
    • There are four to start with: the Big House, a prison with three layers of security consisting of: all robot guards (no hostages), Power Nullifiers and having the whole prison shrunk to 1/60th scale, so escapees are still small; the Cube, which specifically housed gamma-mutated criminals (but is actually looking for a way to control them); the Vault, for tech-based villains, which has the least anti-power measures, relying on separating them from their gadgets; and the Raft, a secret prison at the bottom of the East River for the really dangerous ones. The opening two-parter has a break-out at all four simultaneously.
    • Later on, a new prison is built in the Negative Zone. Here, escape means that you end up in the middle of (breathable) outer space.
    • When Yellowjacket appears, he seemingly vaporizes criminals before they can be brought in. In reality, he's shrinking them into a subatomic facility of his creation, but the shrinking destabilizes and everyone has to be evacuated before they're crushed as it shrinks out of existence.
  • Season One of Loonatics Unleashed housed super-powered criminals such as Mallory Mastermind and the Sagittarius Stomper in the Acmetropolis Prison, miles below ground in a bedrock bunker. Season Two moved many of these criminals to a prison satellite in orbit, adding Otto the Odd and Massive to the inmate roster.
  • The Alliance in Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends has a prison facility for all the various alien they've arrested, many of whom have special abilities.
  • SilverHawks has the Penal Planet (which actually looks to be a manmade space station). Since most of the escaped inmates that make up the show's Rogues Gallery are powerful enough to require a team of cyborg lawmen to have any hope of recapturing them, calling it a supervillain prison seems reasonable.
  • The Citadel from Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a prison built by the Republic to contain Dark Jedi and other Force-using criminals. The Separatists found that it's perfectly capable of holding good Jedi.
  • Young Justice (2010) features Belle Reve as a sort of prison for supervillains, where the inmates wear collars that inhibit their powers. The compound itself has extremely tight security, including walls not even Superman himself could break through.


Video Example(s):


The Panopticon

The Panopticon is a prison within the Oldest House used to contain Altered Items.

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