Follow TV Tropes


Gilded Cage

Go To
The finest home on earth is still a prison if you can't leave.
Image by Melizza Chernov. Used with permission.
"Well, I admit my crib is pretty sweet. But a gold cage is still a cage, Harry."
Bob the Skull, The Dresden Files

Welcome, illustrious guest, to the Gilded Cage resort and day spa!

It's a beautiful, luxuriously furnished place, where the character's every need is provided in abundance. Their every whim is immediately fulfilled by a Maid Corps. The resident of such a paradisiac place can do anything they want... except leave. See, they are not really a resident but a prisoner and the Maid Corps are the genteel security guards, in addition to the genuine guards. There is no leaving this place for any reason, with a good balance of carrots and sticks to make sure no one wants to either.

It may be used by an Affably Evil villain who has to detain someone for their Evil Plan and wants to be hospitable and decent about it. Even Evil Has Standards. Maybe they have a Villainous Crush on someone and this is part of their attempts to win them over, or at least keep them from getting too angry about being kidnapped in the first place. It is also likely where the villain's "guests" will remain when not at dinner.

The Gilded Cage can be as small as a single, well-appointed room, or it may be as large as a mansion or a castle.

Frequently overlaps with Caged Bird Metaphor, when a character's situation is compared to that of a caged bird.

Inverse of the Luxury Prison Suite, which is a literal prison turned into a nice place. Compare Lotus-Eater Machine, which also a scenario designed to keep prisoners in place through contentment, as well as Possessive Paradise, where the place itself doesn't want you to leave.

It is often used as An Aesop about why one should prefer Liberty Over Prosperity. If the character finally manages to escape, expect them to struggle with the simplest tasks due to having been sheltered from the hardships of the outside world.

See also Crapsaccharine World, Fantastic Nature Reserve, and Lonely Rich Kid. Non-consensual sub-trope of The Shut-In.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the opening scenes of the 1988 OVA of Appleseed, a woman is Driven to Suicide because she has become convinced that the supposed utopia of Olympus, a computer-controlled hyper-organized city of which only 20% of the populace are humans, with the other 80% being bioroids, is an unnatural, soul-stifling place not meant for human occupants. Her husband goes on to become the Tragic Villain of the OVA, and even gives a stealth Motive Rant to the OVA's heroes about his late wife's beliefs prior to the final confrontation.
  • In Attack on Titan, this is Eren's opinion of the last human city, although the conditions are somewhat worse than most of them (for example, there's so little farmland, meat is essentially a luxury item), with the only true advantage being relative safety from the Titans. Most of humanity is content to live in the walls indefinitely but Eren repeatedly calls it a bird cage and is determined to see the outside world.
  • In Brave10, after kidnapping her, Date is a good host to Isanami... aside from the chain spiked to the ground.
  • In Clover, the "greenhouse" Suu was kept in. It's quite beautiful, but Suu has to live in complete isolation from the rest of the world, as she is powerful enough to defeat the government officials, and they "don't want that power to fall into the wrong hands."
  • The makers of Code Geass R2 designed Nunnally's garden aboard the airship with this in mind. The garden is incredibly nice and well cared for, but it's also surrounded by a deep, empty moat, with only a single narrow bridge leading to the rest of the ship. Since Nunnally is blind and confined to a wheelchair, this makes it extremely difficult/dangerous for her to leave the garden without assistance. This ends up again prominent in a subtle fashion come the finale battle Nunnally is officially set to be the Empress of Britannia over her older brother Lelouch supported by Schneizel and his forces, with a nuke armed floating fortress called "Damocles" as her new palace. However, the garden she's in this time puts her on a platform... which only has stairs leading off it, showing that she truly would be a Puppet Empress if Schneizel won.
    • Lelouch is also put in one of these at Ashford Academy. It's a nice school, and many of his friends are there, but in R2 he's constantly being monitored by government agents looking for signs that he's regained his lost memories and become the terrorist leader Zero again. However, once his memories are back thanks to C.C's sort-of Kiss of Life... by using Blackmail, Mind Control, and emotional manipulation on the agents sent to watch him, he soon turns the Gilded Cage into the Gilded Base For His Terrorist Operations.
    • This was also the case for Empress Tianzi, who lived, well, like an empress in the Vermilion Forbidden City, but whose greatest desire was to leave and see the world. Luckily for her, she once spared a young officer from execution — and said officer, Li Xingke, swore to make Tianzi's wish come true. He succeeded.
  • Princess Shizukaria from Doraemon: Nobita's Three Visionary Swordsmen, a Rebellious Princess, considers a life of luxury in the palace as a prison, when the citizens of Yumemiru are suffering outside because of the constant war against demons. When the king forbids her from leaving her palace for the last time, Shizukaria instead decides to escape via Bedsheet Ladder.
  • The Soma estate in Fruits Basket is this for Yuki. The reboot's first ending has a scene where he sadly watches his fellow Zodiac members go by outside, wanting to join their fun.
  • Athena Tennos from Hayate the Combat Butler used to be a literal prisoner in her palace. Hayate's brother Ikusa rescued her. Then, he disappeared.
  • Hybrid × Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia:
    • When Yurishia, Hayuru, and Silvia are captured by the Batlantis Empire, they are put to work as Idol Singers. They become extremely popular and are given many luxuries, but they are forced to wear Power Nullifier collars and desperately want to go home. This separately happens to Scarlett and her team, but they get so caught up in becoming popular stars that they want to compete with the first group and do not even think of escaping, with Yurishia calling them idiots. They eventually manage to escape.
    • Zelshione commits treason against the Batlantis Empire by having an affair with the then Empress Aine's lover Kizuna and then going AWOL from her post as Captain of the Guard. She is eventually caught and arrested, and is discovered to have had Kizuna's son. Empress Grace becomes enamored with the baby, so she "punishes" Zelshione by removing her from her post and sentencing her to house arrest inside her palace until she raises her son into a splendid person. Zelshione is perfectly fine with this, since she and her son are safe and she can do anything she wants except leave.
  • I Got My Wish and Reincarnated as the Villainess (Last Boss)!: The annex where Elizabeth is banished to during her childhood has all the luxuries fit for a noble's manor, and Elizabeth is provided with maids and possible private tutors. However, it's also meant to prevent her from leaving it, with iron bars on the windows and barbed fences around it. Not that it prevented Elizabeth from escaping by using her magic to open doors and windows.
  • Downplayed in Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish, Josee is confined to her grandmother's house and rarely allowed to go on walks. The house itself is modest and the only person who take cares of Josee is her grandmother.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2016), Princess Zelda spent her childhood so strictly controlled by her handlers in Hyrule Castle that even her breaks were dictated for her. Thus, she became quickly attached to Midna, the Only Friend she had ever chosen for herself.
  • Invoked in Magic Knight Rayearth when Zagato tells the Magic Knights that Emeraude has to "spend her whole life locked up in a cage" as a result of being Pillar. As Pillar, Emeraude was the most powerful person in Cephiro—but she had no freedom, at least not to have what she wished for the most: to be with the one she loved, Zagato. Later echoed by the Magic Knights when the invaders wanted to take over Cephiro—especially when Aska wanted to be beautiful, and is told "but for who?", since the Pillar could not fall in love with anyone, lest their thoughts and wishes not be for Cephiro anymore and it will start falling apart around them.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
    • Treize Khusrenada is confined to a posh country estate after he protests the Romefeller Foundation's decision to use Mobile Dolls.
    • In the Frozen Teardrop novels, Relena's great-aunt Sabrina was locked away in a suite of her family's mansion, with her pet cat as her only companion.
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam:
    • Amuro Ray has been living in a very nice mansion in the midwest USA since the end of the One Year War. However, he's effectively under house arrest there, with his movements constantly monitored by the Federation government. This occurs despite his war hero status because the Federation is terrified by the existence of Newtypes, and Amuro is one of the most powerful known Newtypes as well as an ace MS pilot, and they are worried he might revolt against them. Which he ends up doing, in part because of their treatment of him.
    • It's revealed that some of the other surviving White Base crew also suffered the same fate. In Bright's case, it's being given the "privilege" of being a glorified chaffeur for the Federation's elite while his wife Mirai and their children Hathaway and Cheimin are forced to live in Jaburo as "hostages" to keep him in line. As with Amuro, this backfires: he soon joins the AEUG, and some time later Amuro and his allies rescue Bright's family and take them to actual safety.
  • In Naruto, when Sasuke is taken by Orochimaru he is given better living conditions in Orochimaru's compound than most of the test subjects. Subverted in that Sasuke is not an unwilling prisoner.
  • One Piece:
    • Princess Shirahoshi lives in a comfortable luxury room, but leaving her room would put her in danger, since the Ax-Crazy Vander Decken IX constantly throws giant axes at her that follow her wherever she is. The iron door of her room protects her from the axes, but it also separates her from the outside world. Everything changes when she meets Luffy...
    • Doflamingo's kingdom Dressrosa appears to be a bustling and happy place, but only because everyone who knows the truth about it is turned into a toy and forgotten by everyone. When the truth about the toys became revealed, Doflamingo turns it into a much worse prison, enveloping the entire island inside a cage to trap his subjects much more literally.
    • The islands in Big Mom's territory, collectively known as Totland, are a series of candy-themed Level Ate where people of all races can live together in harmony... and must donate a portion of their soul to Big Mom to stay alive, and are not permitted to leave. There's also the fact that Big Mom is prone to violent fits of rage where she'll destroy and kill everything in her path unless she's given what she's craving.
      • Whole Cake Island, the center of Totland and Big Mom's HQ, is this for Big Mom's children. They're all left wanting for nothing, with food and riches everywhere they go, but Big Mom is so tyrannical and controlling that most of her children gave up on defying her to pursue their own dreams save for her daughter Lola, who successfully ran away with her mother's Vivre Card.
      • Sanji, after being captured by Big Mom's pirates and the Germa 66, is given luxurious accommodations but he and everyone else does not hide the fact that he is a prisoner.
    • In the Loose Canon film Strong World, this seems to be what Shiki does with Nami after kidnapping her. He appears to let her have freedom of movement around his palace, since during the brief time we see her there before her escape, rather than a dungeon of any sort she's lounging at his luxurious pool. Not that this makes her take his offer of joining him any more seriously.
    • The non-canon film Gold takes this quite literally, as it takes place on a beautiful entertainment city-ship made entirely out of gold. However, the ruler Gild Tesoro intends for every visitor to lose their money by gambling and be forced to work for him on the ship, with his gold-controlling powers allowing him to control all of the visitors for good measure. A brief shot shows some of the girls working for him listlessly counting their money, unable to spend it on the one thing they want the most.
  • An Indigo League episode of Pokémon: The Original Series shows that James ran away from home and joined Team Rocket partially to get out of one of these and partially to avoid an Arranged Marriage to a girl he hated.
    • Jirarudan in Pokémon 2000 is confined to his luxurious airship, essentially a floating art museum, and it's distinctly implied that he has almost no contact with the outside world. Unlike many other examples, this seems to be self-imposed, and he doesn't consider it a prison (although the way it cuts him off from identifying with anything outside his ship qualifies it as such).
  • Grace Field House in The Promised Neverland is an Orphanage of Love where all its wards are cared for by their beloved "Mama", with the only restrictions on their actions are having to stay away from the main gate, where all the children eventually go through when they're adopted, and a small waist-high fence in the woods. Though it turns out that there are many more walls surrounding them than that...
  • In the ending of Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion. Homura steals Madoka's godlike powers and resets the world so everybody else is normal and nobody remembers how the world used to be. This is all so Madoka can be safe and happy. The problem is that when Madoka and Sayaka remember how the world used to be, they consider what Homura did to be wrong and want to break out, so Homura simply erases their memories, presumably every time they regain them. Note the school which was very white in the anime, especially the roof with its lovely gothic cage. It is now literally gold-toned.
  • Rea in Sankarea. She is restricted from ever leaving her estate by her dad to where she is barely even allowed to go out to school to the point she sneaks off at night to scream into an abandon well of how she wish she wasn't born a Sanka. And when she starts to talk to a boy, her father even takes school away from her to be home schooled and orders that the boy she was hanging out with to be castrated. After this, she drinks a chemical that contains poisons plants in an attempt to kill herself. Though it instead did something else.
  • Deconstructed in the manga of Trigun, where a woman in this situation begs Wolfwood to free her and he is not inclined to help. He points out a starving bird and comments on how much it would like to have a life like hers. Since the setting is a Death World, freedom is not all it's cracked up to be.
  • Marika from Twin Spica lives in one of these, at least towards the start of the series; she is always cooped up in her mansion on orders from her father. The original Marika had it far worse, dying young with only one or two sorties outside of the cage.
  • The Hentai series Yuki Yoru Ichiya Monogatari (English: Snow Night Stories) is a about a concubine who tells her lord three stories a la One Thousand and One Nights. The last story/episode is about a powerful nobleman who marries a princess from a small neighboring kingdom and promises to give her lavish gifts, but on the conditions that she never leave his mansion and satisfy his every sexual desire. The story ends with the young Ronin tasked with guarding the princess while she visited her father's grave, convincing her to run away with him by promising to not treat her the way her husband did.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Batman: No Man's Land: Two-Face treats Renee Montoya and her family like this.
    • Batman (Grant Morrison): In Batman Incorporated, after Talia usurps Ra's Al Ghul's control of the League of Assassins and absorbs it into Leviathan, they have him locked up in a cell that, at the very least, is well stocked with books, a chess set, and has a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Ra's himself even says that it's not that bad.
  • Tintin and the Picaros has one of these disguised as a country hotel, which Captain Haddock and Calculus are sent to after they accept Tapioca's invitation. It has cameras and microphones hidden all over, and guards who refuse to let guests head into town without armed escort, supposedly to protect them from the Picaros.
    Haddock: That young whippersnapper Tintin was right! The cage may be a gilded one... but we're well and truly behind bars!
  • In the Blake and Mortimer book Atlantis Mystery, the two main characters stumble upon the titular lost civilization and forced to remain there in order to keep The Masquerade. Despite not being allowed to leave, they are treated like guests of honor, are given very plush accommodations and seem to be adapting somewhat until they find themselves targeted by the Big Bad.
  • In Astro City, Infidel resides in such a place of his own design as part of an arrangement with his archenemy Samaritan. It's a literal palace, floating in another dimension, and due to his magic powers he wants for nothing — even female companionship, as he's constructed homunculi. However, he longs for true freedom and is constantly trying to find a way to bypass the Samaritan's security measures.
  • Fables: During the Animal Farm arc, one of the Three Little Pigs makes this point about the Farm, where all Fables who can't look human are forced to live, after Snow says that it's a thriving community, not a prison, and that 90% of the Fabletown budget is spent on making sure it's a decent place to live.
    Posey: Spend a thousand times more, so that we're all immersed in every possible type of luxury — turn this place into a sybarite's paradise — and it would still be a prison, because we aren't allowed to leave!
  • Firefly: The Sting: Those who join the convent are cared for, but are never allowed to leave.
  • In My Little Pony: Friends Forever #6, Trixie is crowned Queen of the Diamond Dogs. Though she enjoys it at first, she discovers that her crown is really a Restraining Bolt that prevents her from leaving.
  • The Spirit: In the story "Wild Rice", heiress Rice Wilder escapes the Gilded Cage of her family's wealth and joins a gang of bank robbers. When the Spirit offers to take her back home, she tries to make a run for it, only to get shot by one of the robbers, who thinks that she's squealed to the cops. As she dies, she whispers "I'm finally free" and smiles.
  • Archie Comics have dabbled with this on occasion:
    • One had the "princess" of an oil sheikh sedate and kidnap Archie to put in her personal harem at her palace, a lavish spa where the men she had kidnapped lived in luxury and were waited on hand and foot by their own personal harem of beautiful women. The rest of them men thought Archie was insane for wanting to leave because they had everything they could ever want, to which Archie points out they have everything but freedom.
    • A Josie and the Pussycats story had a brief plot point where an oil sheikh wanted The Pussycats to play at his compound for him. They were more than eager until they found out he intended for their stay to be permanent: it was no gig but rather he wanted them to live there with him and share in his life of luxury while playing for him on demand. As Josie put it, he wanted to "put them in golden chains". Unlike the "princess" with Archie however he wasn't a bad person: it was a voluntary offer which they merely misinterpreted, and he unhappily but willingly sent them home when they refused it.
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: In "Wonder World" Diana is a princess who lives in a grand palace in a dimensionally displaced utopia but her mother's insistence that she never leave the island and remain in the palace when they're anchored to a fixed earth location drives her to feel it is a prison, and escape to the wider world at the first opportunity.
  • In Alt★Hero, the SPC tries to draw Shiloh Summers out by taking her parents into custody. They are unharmed and given all the comforts of home, but are still prisoners.
  • JLA Year One has a discussed variation. Aquaman goes into an aquarium to ask the fish if they are all right. A lot of the aquarium's directors and security get upset with him (the public is only recently aware of him at the time), and he gets more and more angry as he keeps repeating "I just wanted to talk with the fish!". Suddenly, one of the aquarium's staff asks the right question: "Are they all right?" He responds that basically yes, that while they are confined, they understand that their needs are provided for, they are appreciated, and safe from predators. Some of them even prefer it in the aquarium.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Common in many "Girl in the Tower" tales, where the princess is well-treated, but it does not change the fact that they are ultimately prisoners. Examples include "The Canary Prince", "Prunella", and "The White Cat" (link), Madame d'Aulnoy's variation of "Puddocky".
  • In "The Troll's Daughter", the castle where the troll hides his daughter is made of glass with lovely furnishings and fascinating undersea sights. She wears colorful silk and always has more than enough food. However, she can't leave or have visitors. Tired of it, she comes up with a plan for her young suitor to help free her.

    Fan Works 
  • God Help the Outcasts: After Dr. Cockroach makes Monger see that the prison could use a few upgrades to better accommodate Susan, he has it remodeled to what it looks like in the Halloween special. Susan invokes this trope by outright calling it a gilded cage (although her emotional state does improve a bit due to the change in scenery).
  • In Forgiveness is the Attribute of the Strong, a My Hero Academia fanfiction, All for One builds a luxurious vault to keep his son Izuku inside. Izuku is not grateful.
  • In With Strings Attached, during the peaceful chapter where John and Ringo sit on the edge of the cliff and talk, the following exchange takes place:
    John: We're in a gilded cage, mate. All the magic in the world don't change that.
    Ringo: There's a lot more gold on this cage than in some we've been in.
    John: Oh, fuck, man, I know. Obviously it’s better than bein’ a slave without the magic. Just ask George! And I know everythin' in life’s a trade-off. We traded our private lives for money and success. That’s fine. We wanted that. We worked for that. The difference here is we didn’t ask for this. It was forced on us.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Haruhime is noble girl of high standing due to being born into the Sanjouno family. But she's constantly locked in her family's luxurious estate due to her importance as its heir and her powerful support spell in Uchide no Kozuchi. Bell is the first one to dare to try and sneak her out, much to her father's outrage and Amaterasu's amusement.
  • Pony POV Series:
  • During the third story of the My Hostage, Not Yours series, when Zim starts conquering Earth, he eventually relocates his base to an European palace (it's never specified which). The resident royal family is allowed to stay, with full access to the staff and palace (minus areas closed off for Zim and Gaz's personal use), but Zim makes it clear that they're not allowed to leave the palace grounds unless they intend to do so permanently.
  • Twice in Cadance of Cloudsdale for Princess Cadance. Her first cage, a monastery in Reduit, is where she was kept for her her centuries-long childhood, though she never came to resent it due to being on the level of a preschooler the whole time. When Celestia takes her to Canterlot palace and she begins growing normally, Cadance learns to hate all the restrictions and constant watch placed on her to ensure her safety. However, when her attempt to escape goes horribly wrong, Celestia relents and allows her to see more of Equestria.
  • In Custody Battle, a My Hero Academia fanfiction, All for One decorates his second vault for his younger brother with comic books and luxuries for a long-term stay.
  • Wish Carefully has The Cabal, eight magically powerful girls that were kidnapped to be breeding stock for the Death Eaters. They live in a luxurious mansion, have their every whim pampered to, and are generally treated well (if only to keep them healthy for their pregnancies), but they aren't allowed outside for fear of Voldemort finding them, and they aren't allowed to see their children unless the child wants to see them.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, this would have been the fate of the young aristocrat Lady Olga Romanoff, only daughter of a Grand Duke in a feudal society not unlike Tsarist Russia. Olga, who is the recipient of a dark family trait the Romanoffs do not like to talk about very much (witchcraft) has other ideas. She escapes, having heard of a place with the outlandish unpronouncable name of Lancre, and a new and different life begins.
  • The Tower of the Sacred Flame becomes this to Lady Lianne and its other occupants after Lord Shen takes over Gongmen City in The Vow. Years earlier, Lianne even calls the tower this trope when she has to spend one year as the peacock family's guest.
    • The epilogue has an interesting variant: after Shen survives his canon ending and returns to Lianne (who has become his wife and expectant with his child), he's made by her to stay inside the borders of the Shan Palace (her birth home) where the knowledge of his survival would be kept a secret from all of China. She does this because handing him over to China's authorities would mean either his execution or life sentence, and she cannot swallow the thought of losing him again. Eventually Shen concedes to this new life; even if his liberty has been limited, he can still live with his wife and child.
  • In The Undesirables, the prison cell Therapsid has been kept in since the failed invasion of Canterlot, while not luxurious, is very comfortable, and he's kept supplied with his every need.
  • The epilogue of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide finds the four Eva pilots in exile in America. Shinji and Asuka live together in a swanky suburban house, she has a fancy European sports car, and they can move around and socialize. However, their primary value to their hosts is as political pawns or hostages, so they are microchipped like pets or livestock and have to get permission before going places, and their home is in a restricted compound surrounded by a security detail that keeps watch on them as well as guarding them.
  • In Queen of Shadows, both the current Queen who Jade has replaced, and her mother before her, grew up cloistered inside their Fortress, for their own protection. And since the last Queen disappeared (presumed dead) when she did leave, Hiruzen has locked the current one in even further.
  • Played For Laughs in The Ultimate Hope. It has the students realize that Hope's Peak Academy is one... and all decide to stay and make the most of it if the rest of the world has been trashed beyond repair. Junko starts to crack when she realizes they turned her death game into the perfect apocalypse shelter.
  • In Across the Waking Sea, the royal residence in Starkhaven is implied to be this for Bethany Hawke. She can leave whenever she likes - she's a guest of the prince, not a prisoner - but she feels stuck there because she doesn't know where else she could possibly go.
  • Just like in its canon games, in Walking in Circles, this trope is basically how life is inside a Circle. You will be fed, clothed and given education, if you climb up the ranks high enough, you can even enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. But you can’t leave your tower without permission, all of your works belong to the Chantry. Any children you have will be taken away from you at the moment of their birth. Any chance of acting out of line can result in you being beaten, imprisoned, make Tranquil or killed. And even if you act within your line, you can still be abused by the Templars for the hell of it if you don’t have your family backing you.
  • In ASL In Red, the Navy's decision about Law when they learnt he ate the Op-Op Fruit was to put him in an isolated Marine base from North Blue, with any medical textbook he could ask for and a Vice-Admiral assigned to his permanent protection. It was officially to protect the kid, but Law quickly understood the Navy had no intention to let him ever leave except if he chose to join the World Government. It gave him some issues about being locked up.
  • Fluttershy is subjected to this treatment for most of Bride of Discord. After Discord agrees to release the princesses and leave the rest of Equestria alone, in exchange for her being his bride, he gives Fluttershy her own personal suite in his castle (while she's still just his fiance) and offers her any food or material possession she wants, and later, builds Fluttershy her own personal park for her and her animal friends. But no matter what Discord does, even after she and him start to genuinely bond, he can never make her truly happy, while at the same time keeping her prisoner from her friends, loved ones, and the rest of the outside world.
  • Fate/Harem Antics:
    • Miyu Sakatsuki recalls that when her parents were still alive, they pampered her, but surrounded their home with a Bounded Field that protected her but prevented her from leaving. The Bounded Field shielded her from the fire that destroyed Fuyuki City ten years ago before shutting down because her parents were outside and killed.
    • When Illya kidnaps Shirou, his "cell" is just the luxurious guest bedroom with a lock on the door. Considering Illya is his adopted sister (though he didn't know before she told him) and she has a massive crush on him, this isn't a surprise. When he breaks out, he's able to convince the maids to let him leave just by promising Illya can visit him at his home later.
  • Konoha is this for Naruto in To Walk on One's Own Path. Naruto has a rich and loving (in more ways than one) family who dote on him and do everything for him so as to not trouble him, as well as having the affections of several other girls. The thing is, Naruto hates his pampered lifestyle and dreams of leaving Konoha, but he isn't allowed to because of Minako's (not unreasonable) belief that her son would be helpless against her many enemies (since men can't use chakra).
  • In Fallen Kingdom, after the conquest of Sarasaland Princess Daisy is treated relatively well and even acts as an advisor to Morton at times, but she's still a prisoner and would rather see the Koopa Empire fall.
  • Harry Potter was trapped in one as part of his backstory in The Dark Trio. Sometime after the Dursleys kicked him out while he was still a young child, Harry was taken in by a wealthy family who genuinely loved him like he was their own. Unfortunately, the price for this comfort was that the family's daughter, Sapphire, had an obsession with young Harry and confined him to the house (for added Squick, Saphhire is 7 years older than him). After awhile, Harry decided that staying in their home wasn't worth it if he had to continue dealing with Sapphire and ran away.
  • Played Straight at first but eventually Subverted in The Owl House fanfiction The Emperor's Chains, when Emperor Belos has both Eda and Luz imprisoned in his castle. The two witches are generally left alone to their own devices provided they do what they're told, and Belos even takes an interest in Luz once he finds out more about the human world. However, when Belos feels Luz has been growing too comfortable with her situation, he orders for her to be tortured so her spirit could be broken and make her more malleable.
  • In Ithaca, Harry mysteriously finds himself on a Grecian island in the immediate aftermath of the Triwizard Tournament. The island itself is beautiful and houses a friendly muggle population, but as Harry later finds out, there is something preventing anything magical from leaving.
  • The Palace of Quiescence in Impenetrable Walls becomes this to Wei Wuxian after the Emperor offers him as a concubine to the Imperial Brother. He's now living in the most protected place ever with attendants to cater to him and a husband wildly in love with him, but he's unable to leave the Palace without permission, isn't allowed to dress or eat how he pleases, has to follow a very strict etiquette and can't refuse to have sex with the Imperial Brother no matter his feelings on the question. Wei Wuxian quickly concludes being a concubine is more trouble than it's worth.
  • Castling Cozy Glow: Cozy Glow finds herself in this situation after her release from stone; Twilight gives Cozy Princess Luna's old room for her personal quarters, complete with the princess' bed and telescope, as well as an assortment of books and other items Twilight provided for her to entertain herself. As well as Twilight making sure she's well fed with food ordered from the palace kitchen, offering to hear any of her own suggestions for ways to make her stay more comfortable, and giving her the run of her personal study and living area… but nowhere else. Cozy's locked in that little area of the palace at all times unless Twilight escorts her personally, she isn't allowed to see anypony but those Twilight specifically lets in to see her, most ponies don't even know she's there to begin with, and (at least at first) she has the constant fear that Twilight will reimprison her in stone if she steps out of line hanging over her. And even after Twilight goes back on her threat to do so and swears she'll never give up on her and that will never happen, Cozy herself still sees it as a real possibility. Twilight still insists that it's not a prison, but Cozy doesn't buy it.
  • In they'll name a city after us, the divine island of Delos becomes this to Percy Jackson. It is the most beautiful place that Percy has ever seen but she was brought there against her will and can't leave. Also, everything in there is under the control of her enamoured kidnapper Apollo.
  • SCP-2043: The Magical World: The SCP Foundation's sole magical girl in custody was essentially kidnapped (being implied to be one of the main characters of Puella Magi Madoka Magica) and can never leave. However, she's living in standard housing for a humanoid SCP, is given three meals a day, and will likely never succumb to despair and become a Witch thanks to being forbidden to use her powers and getting supplied with strong antidepressants and Grief Seeds whenever her Soul Gem darkens.
  • In the Star Wars Rebels fanfic Patron of the Art of War, the prison cell that Thrawn has put Sabine in an art studio filled with supplies for her to paint. She has no illusions that it isn’t still a prison cell.
  • A Man of Iron: In Book 3, Tony falls into the Brotherhood's captivity after the Ten Rings sink his ship on the way to Braavos. He's allowed total freedom around the city, but with a metal band on his arm that Magneto can use to remove his hand if he tries to leave without their permission. He discusses this trope in response to his situation, noting how odd it is that nobles are expected to be treated this way when held captive, no matter how much the captor hates them, because otherwise it's considered barbaric.
  • The Pirate's Soldier: After kidnapping Heero, Kagato takes him to his private estate and gives him free roam to go around as he pleases. Heero comments that the place seems a bit luxurious to give an enemy, which Kagato replies they don't have to be enemies.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Coraline, the Other World turns out to be this when after refusing to sew buttons in her eyes, Coraline tries to leave by falling asleep (how she left twice before), only to still be there when she wakes up. The cage tarnishes when she refuses to acknowledge the Other Mother as her mother.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • When Belle trades herself in for her father in the Beast's captivity in Beauty and the Beast, she initially thinks that she'll be kept in the dungeons, but the Beast takes her to much better arrangements in a guest room. She has the Beast's entire servant staff waiting on her and almost the entire castle to herself — none of which conceals the fact that she is a prisoner.
    • Princess Jasmine, Aladdin. She considers the palace to be a prison because she isn't allowed to leave.
    • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda claims sanctuary in Notre Dame Cathedral, which fits the grandeur element of the trope, though perhaps not the 'comfort.' Frollo invokes this trope almost by name.
    Frollo: You have chosen a magnificent prison - but it is a prison nonetheless. Set one foot outside, and you're mine.
    • In the beginning of Tangled, Rapunzel's tower is a charming home in a pretty, secluded glade in the forest by a waterfall, and her beloved smother Gothel provides her with just enough in hobbies and housework to keep her content with her situation. Even though Rapunzel can physically leave the tower, Gothel also makes her afraid to do so and, when that stops working, just grounds her... forever.
    Gothel: You are not leaving this tower! EVER!
    • Elsa and her younger sister Anna from Frozen haven't left their home in over ten years at the start of the film. It's implied Elsa has barely left her room in that timespan. In Elsa's case it's partially self-imposed due to fear that her ice powers could harm people, while Anna is forced to stay a shut-in due to her sister. Their parents, the queen and king, were Well Intentioned Extremists who wanted the best for their kids but ended up just shutting them off from everyone. The movie kicks off when Elsa is forced to open her gilded cage on her coronation day. She tries to re-close the gates after an argument with Anna regarding her engagement with Hans, presumably to get rid of him, but unfortunately, before she could do so, Anna's Armor-Piercing Question caused Elsa to snap and reveal her powers to everyone, which makes her run away in fear.
  • In The Mitchells vs. the Machines, the sentient virtual assistant Pal's Evil Plan was to force the entire human race into rockets made of interconnected pods equipped with computers for entertainment, and banish us into space so robots could inherit the Earth. Knowing that there'd be Wi-Fi was a comfort to more than a few people.
  • Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow: To protect their children from Ultron, the Avengers sent them away to be raised by Tony Stark in a secret, high-tech sanctuary so that they could live and train in safety. While the sanctuary itself is beautiful, with large spacious areas filled with many trees to play and move around in and a bungalow for each of the kids (plus many more features), James (son of Captain America and Black Widow) still feels trapped and makes his displeasure at the finite area well-known to the others.
  • Ne Zha:
    • Ne Zha is raised in the well-appointed home of a high-ranking army commander, wanting for nothing except for the ability to leave freely. Later, the pocket dimension held within the scroll becomes a much more elaborate version of this — it's a beautiful place when he can train as a powerful warrior, but he cannot leave of his own volition and his parents and Taiyi will not let him leave. This is brought up when Ne Zha describes the pocket world as a cage his mother tries to dissuade him from thinking like this by pointing out that surely a cage wouldn't look this nice.
    • The dragons are officially considered to be servants of Heaven in good standing, and were awarded lofty titles and the important task of watching over the imprisoned demons on the sea floor. In practice, since they cannot leave without releasing their prisoners, they're just as imprisoned as the monsters that they guard.
  • Sahara: Eva describes her home in the Oasis as such. From an outsider's view (namely Ajar's), it's a mystery why anyone would want to leave such a beautiful peaceful place. But the way nobody is even allowed to leave, perhaps it's fitting that she views it as a prison.
  • WALL•E: The Axiom is a gargantuan state-of-the-art spaceship with all the luxurious goods its human passengers could possibly desire. Too bad for their ambitious and adventurous side that it cannot provide them with anything else. When WALL-E arrives, his mere presence upsets the inertia humanity has fallen into, restoring their drive to actually do something with their lives, summed up by Captain McCrea:

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Every live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast features a variation of Beauty taking the place of her condemned father, and being waited on hand and foot by the castle's attendants, in the hopes that she will fall in love with the Beast, marry him, and break the spell.
  • In Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers take part in a mission in Nigeria where Wanda accidentally causes several civilian casualties while trying to contain an explosion. To appease the UN and public, Tony decides to quietly isolate her in the Avengers compound and have her guarded by the Vision, who is acting as if he were her butler. Wanda has no idea about it until she tries to go out and get some food and Vision stops her. When Tony later offhandedly mentions it to Steve, he is pissed that he would throw her under the bus like that. Tony tries to justify it as being for security measures as well as by pointing out that it is actually swell as far as containment goes and that Wanda was apparently never legally in the United States in the first place, but nobody is buying it and Wanda eventually breaks out.
  • In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973), Hyde spares no expense in giving Annie any luxury he can offer...except the ability to leave her room.
  • In Dr. No, the first cell James Bond and Honey Ryder are put in is like a five star hotel.
  • Henry of Ever After specifically calls the castle his gilded cage because his father is telling his that he has to marry and be king.
  • In Flight of the Navigator, David Freeman is kept in a NASA dormitory with cable television, robot servants, and staff to assist him in all of his needs. He came following his mysterious disappearance and subsequent re-appearance to have his brain scanned for 72 hours, but soon learned that the higher-ups planned to keep him for a week... at least.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2: The Continental would've become this for Santino, as John would've definitely come after him once his job was done, but no business is allowed in the Continental without being executed by the Hotel staff so he could easily escape his wrath in there. He made the mistake of taunting John about this, telling him one could live a whole life like this, at which point John decides a lifetime of being hunted down beat letting Santino live and blew his brains out right in front of Winston.
  • Labyrinth: Jareth offers Sarah that she doesn't have to go home, and he's not going to hurt Toby. On the contrary, they can both live in the castle, with Sarah as his queen and Toby as the prince and heir. Sarah gets two people that she knows will love her and never leave her. As an added bonus, there are all the fantasy creatures that she dreamed of livening up her existence and never disrupting her life again. Once, Sarah would have considered this... but at the end of the movie, she realizes that it's only a fantasy and wouldn't satisfy either her or Toby. There is also the fact that Toby is too little to have the choice taken out of his hands, and Sarah knows he needs to be safe in the real world.
  • In Mad Max: Fury Road, the Wives' old home stands out from the rest of the Citadel as it contains abundant greenery, clean running water, soft furniture, and even paper, an incredible luxury in post-apocalyptic Australia... and it's all behind a door salvaged from a bank vault, that's always kept locked. The Wives' themselves are Sex Slaves, kept by the tyrannical patriarch of the Citadel to produce beautiful, healthy children for him.
  • In Maleficent Aurora is locked in a luxurious room when she returns to the castle. The contents of the room suggest that it was to have been her childhood nursery, had she grown up there as her parents intended.
  • Manila in the Claws of Light: Ligaya's life as Ah-Tek's kept woman is a step above being a morphine-addicted prostitute at her old brothel, and he buys her nice gifts, but she can't leave the house or he might kill her.
  • In Moulin Rouge!, it's clear that Satine sees the glamorous Moulin Rouge (of which she is the star) as her prison — not because she's physically prevented from leaving, but because her only other option is life as a common street prostitute, which would be infinitely worse.
  • In The Mouse That Roared, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick unexpectedly wins their war against America. A group of New York City policemen, as prisoners of war, are fed and boarded in the best of comfort, while an Army general, knowing his rights (but not knowing the Duchy's accommodations), doggedly insists on a regulation 8-by-10 foot cell and food on a regulation tin plate. The Duchy actually has difficulty in finding the tin plate.
  • The titular Paul is held captive for 60 years, but under conditions pleasant enough for him to not even realise that he's a prisoner. He gets to hobnob with world leaders and cultural icons, even advising them regarding their works, and is supplied with weed that's apparently strong enough to have killed Bob Dylan. It's not until The Big Guy decides that Paul is more useful to her dead than alive that he realises that he wasn't a guest but a prisoner after all.
  • In the movie The Promise (2005), Duke Wuhan imprisons Qingcheng in a golden cage, keeping her locked away within the castle.
  • In the movie Quills, Dr. Royer-Collard allows his young wife to decorate their home with whatever materials she likes, no matter how ornate or expensive they are... but instructs the architects to install doors that can only be locked from the outside. In his twisted mind, this apparently justifies his continued raping of a girl young enough to be his granddaughter every night.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Shilo Wallace, a 17 year old girl who, due to a blood condition she apparently has, spends her entire life inside her own home by her father, unable to leave. It's especially evident how much of a prisoner she is when it turns out her Dad was lying about her illness and poisoning her meds, just to keep her there with him.
    • Perhaps a more on-the-nose example comes in Blind Mag, a prisoner of sorts to Rotti Largo due to a contract she signed forcing her to be a singer for them in exchange for eyesight. She's treated as a celebrity but she's miserable nonetheless.
  • In The Secret War of Harry Frigg, five Allied Brigadier Generals are captured by the Italians and confined to a pleasant Italian villa. As it appears that they have become comfortable with their captivitynote , HQ grabs a private known for his escape antics, promotes him to Major General so he can order them around, then sends him to get them all out.
  • Sucker Punch:
    • The brothel is very luxurious, but there are bars and armed guards to stop the girls from leaving.
    • In a deleted scene, the High Roller buys Baby Doll from the brothel and he calls the room he puts her in a gilded cage.
  • Stella Maris: The titular Stella Maris was born paralyzed and was kept inside her house her entire life by her wealthy guardians. They refused to let Stella learn about the hardships of the world around here and sheltered her from anything negative. It isn't until she learned to walk after a surgery that she was let outside and began learning that the world is full of unfortunate circumstances. In Stella's case, she was perfectly content with her life because she didn't know anything besides it. It isn't until after she becomes more worldly that she becomes angry at her sheltered life.
  • In The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, Crown Prince Karl Heinrich is stuck inside his castle, unable to play with the other boys, or later, to marry the pretty barmaid, because he has to be a prince. One scene shows Karl Heinrich as a child literally behind bars (the fence around the palace), watching regular kids playing ball outside.
  • In The Thirsty Dead, Laura is believed to be The Chosen One of the immortality cult. Baru takes her from the cell where the other women are being kept to a private chamber that is more like a luxury hotel suite, which he tells her has been kept in readiness for her coming. Laura points out that regardless of how comfortable her chambers are, she is still not free to leave.
  • Thor: Ragnarok. The Hulk is kept in a luxurious cell between his gladiatorial fights in the arena. He's actually quite happy with this, as the fights make him adored by the public instead of hated and feared like on Earth.
  • The Truman Show: Truman Burbank, star of the "Truman Show", has a cushy life, working a job as an insurance agent, married to a beautiful wife, driving a nice car, and living in a beautiful house. However, as the star of the show, he's not allowed to leave the gigantic stage where he's spent his entire life, and the show's creator prevents him from doing so by discouraging his curiosity of what's beyond the island where the show takes place.

  • In the 1632 series, several citizens from the United States of Europe go to London. They are housed in the Tower of London and treated well, but they cannot leave. The characters are imprisoned there for several books.
  • This is the entirety of the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. As magnificent as the adventure is, Captain Nemo is holding Professor Arronax and his companions captive to keep the secret of the Nautilus safe. Ned Land certainly doesn't forget it.
  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: Dunya ran away from her wealthy, prestigious family rather than be forced into an Arranged Marriage that would give her every physical comfort but strip away all her freedom.
  • In the original Beauty and the Beast, Belle goes to the Beast's castle to save her father's life. Aside from the Beast asking for her hand in marriage every day, she's got it pretty well; eating rich food, and being waited on hand and foot by the castle's unseen servants.
  • In The Beyonders, Emperor Maldor makes good use of one of these. The Eternal Feast is a place where your every need is catered to and you are granted pleasures beyond your dreams. If someone becomes too bothersome and difficult to dispose of, he offers them a place there. Suffice it to say, few refuse and fewer ever manage to leave.
  • In A Brother's Price, Cullen Moorland feels like he's in an, albeit mild, version of this. He sneaks into Jerin's room and comments that "even the air smells better" when he is where he decides to be, instead of where his family decides he should be.
  • Camp 30: The titular camp is a P.O.W. prison in Canada where German P.O.W.s live in the lao of luxury. Three square meals a day, they have the freedom to move around wherever they want, they're given any object they desire, they're even allowed to leave unescorted if they want, as they always come back because they promise they will. It's done this way to discourage the prisoners from trying to escape, even though they're duty-bound to do so. Of course, they still know that it's a prison, just a really comfortable one. Captain Otto Kretschmer even outright calls the prison a "gilded cage".
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series: Calypso, one of Atlas' daughters, resides in the island paradise of Ogygia, where she is served by invisible servants tending to her every need. What's the catch? She has no means of leaving the island by herself, and every so often, mortals will get stranded there, and the only way for them to leave is for Calypso to fall in love in them... after which they will have to leave and never come back, forcing her into a cycle of heartbreak over and over. The gods confined Calypso in Ogygia as a punishment for helping the Titans during the First Titanomachy, and she considers this a lenient punishment compared to some of her kinsmen who were imprisoned in Tartarus, yet Percy Jackson still views her trial to be a cruel psychological torture. The cycle is finally broken when Ogygia's latest visitor, Leo Valdez, reciprocates her feelings, and ends up returning to the island after leaving it once.
  • Ariadne, the princess of Minos from Cretan Chronicles. Her role as a princess is merely a tool for King Minos to be married off to foreign empires in exchange of alliances; she means nothing to him, and is forbidden to leave the palace, being observed by the watchful eyes of Lembra. She even described life in the palace as a "satin cage".
  • Chronicles of Chaos: In The Orphans of Chaos, Boggins praises the education they are giving the children and tells them they are lucky to receive it.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Sarah has been a combination guest and prisoner of the Worm Cult for decades, ever since they retrieved her from the Dungeon and calmed her down. She's grateful to them and is treated well, but ultimately isn't allowed to leave (and would be terrified to do so in any case). Until times change, and they start becoming less hospitable...
  • Codex Alera:
    • We learn that a Luxury Prison Suite that later contains an important ambassador was originally made for a previous Emperor's favorite mistress, who was accused of treason and imprisoned there. The Emperor personally interrogated her at least once a week during her captivity.
    • Later in the series, long after the Vord overrun Alera Imperia, the Vord Queen leaves one pleasant little town untouched, if surrounded by guards. She offers to allow any Alerans who surrender to live there in peace, so long as they are made sterile.
  • The Collector: Frederick keeps the object of his infatuation in one. Since she's an art student, he adds various art books and stationery, as well as anything she asks for, to the basement cage in hopes of gaining her favor.
  • The Dark Tower (2004): The Breakers live in a lovely, idyllic 1950s-esque town called Blue Heaven. At a distance, it resembles a college town, with the latest in movies, holographic sex simulations, food and drink. Their every whim is catered to. However, it is set in Thunderclap, a highly radioactive, toxic environment and is surrounded by electric fences and armed guards who will shoot on sight. Almost all Breakers have grown completely used to their privileges and don't care their mission is destroy all of reality. They "get along to get along."
  • Deltora Quest: The Shadowlord turned the royal palace into one of these over hundreds of years, using spies, plants, and illusions to sieze power. Since the barrier magic that keeps the Shadowlord at bay runs on the trust between the monarchs and the people, this weakens that trust until the Shadowlord can fully invade.
  • The space colony with criminal ties named Interchange serves this function in The Demon Princes. It's an institution designed to hold people who have been kidnapped and held for ransom until someone pays the ransom. Kirth Gersen, who ends up in there temporarily, notes that while it's very comfortable and there's no lack of things to do, the whole atmosphere is depressing as nobody really talks to anyone else. And, you know, they've all been kidnapped.
  • DFZ:
    • Opal was a Lonely Rich Kid who was given absolutely everything her parents thought she wanted, but never anything she actually wanted.
      Opal: You gave me a handcrafted Steinway baby grand piano for my twelfth birthday. I don't even play!
      Yong: You could have learned.
    • In the second book, this is why Opal is so offended when Nik reveals that he's been quietly giving her more than her fair share of their profits, and he suggests he can just work while she stays somewhere quiet and safe. She explodes because, from her perspective, this is just more of what her father did, trying to control her with money and comfort. They get into a huge argument, she stalks off, and she nearly gets her father killed because she's too angry to spot an obvious trap.
    • At the end of the third book, when Opal has a steady job and Nik doesn't, she jokingly suggests he can be her House Husband. He makes a face and admits he can understand why she was so offended by the idea.
  • Discworld:
    • Lord Vetinari has a special section of his palace set aside for an Expy of Da Vinci, the dangerously brilliant Leonard of Quirm, separated from the rest of the palace by a secret passage full of potentially lethal traps. The twist is that Leonard doesn't actually mind it, or even consider himself to be imprisoned, since his particular cage is filled with enough paper and ink and bits of things to keep his mind occupied the whole time. In fact, the first time he was allowed out, a few days later he returned and locked himself back in, so that people who would turn his designs into terrible weapons could not get to him. It is strongly implied that this is not, technically, a prison, as Leonard of Quirm can apparently leave it at will, having designed most of the traps. It is not made quite clear whether Vetinari knows this, nor whether either of them consider it a prison or just let everyone else think that.
    • Vetinari seems to have this as something of a policy; he claims that you should never build a dungeon you wouldn't want to spend the night in because if you are overthrown the usurper will have you tossed in it. It's not exactly luxurious, but it is clean, airy, and free of any of the snakes and scorpions that his predecessor employed. There are rats, but only because Vetinari taught them how to eliminate the snakes and scorpions, and in gratitude they act as servants. There's also a hidden key, and the door can be bolted only on the inside. The man really thought this through.
    • Another Vetinari example: Moist von Lipwig finds his new life as Postmaster General to be this. He can go where he wants and do what he pleases... but he's under the watchful eye of a parole officer. Said officer is a golem who never sleeps, never stops working, is almost indestructible, and can sense Moist's location wherever he goes. He may be able to move around, but Moist is all too aware that he's still a prisoner.
  • In Dragonvarld, the Parliament of Dragons plans this for Melisande. They're not willing to have her wander around free with her magic, and they want her to give birth to a similarly empowered son whom they can train "properly", but insist that she'll be "given the best of everything". It doesn't come to pass, because she dies in childbirth after the pregnancy plan gets implemented without her knowing consent.
  • Just as in its film adaptation, Dr. No has Dr. No's Elaborate Underground Base be part Supervillain Lair and part five-star-hotel.
  • In A Drowned Maiden's Hair, Maud is adopted by three phony psychics who want her to help with their séances and keep her existence a secret so the neighbors won't figure out their scam. Maud is forced to live as The Shut-In who isn't allowed to go outside except in their dreary walled garden, but she considers it a small price to pay for being taken from an Orphanage of Fear to a middle-class lifestyle that seems incredibly luxurious to her.
  • In Ender's Game, after the Formic War ends, Ender is allowed to stay at a nice lakeside vacation house and even says he wouldn't mind staying there forever. The catch is that, by now, all the other kids have been allowed to go home and he's only there because the powers that be don't want to let him back into the world.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, Luctiana kidnaps Saito and Tiffania and takes them to her home in an oasis. They are allowed to roam around the paradise. Since they are in the middle of a desert, they can't possibly leave without a dragon or vehicle to ride.
  • Downplayed in The Fifth Season with Fulcrum, the Wizarding School for people with the reviled Functional Magic of orogeny (the alternative being death or being lobotomized and made into a node maintainer). If they try, an orogene can almost ignore the Fantastic Racism of Muggles, the heavy restrictions on their movement, the Super Breeding Program, the failed or undisciplined students being Released to Elsewhere, and the constant Mage Killer presence, and have something approximating a happy life. If.
  • In Firestarter, the rooms Andy and Charlie are placed in when they are captured by The Shop are very comfortable, with good food and television, and are comparable to hotel suites. This is no comfort to the characters, and it is remarked that despite all the luxuries, 'a dog turd covered with frosting is not a wedding cake; it is simply a frosted dog turd.'
  • The First Circle is set in a sharashka, the Club Fed-style encampments within The Gulag for scientists doing necessary work. Solzhenitsyn himself served out most of his eight-year sentence in one, due to his talent as a mathematician.
  • The children's attic prison in Flowers in the Attic initially comes across as this when they are fed regularly and frequently given expensive presents. It becomes a nothing more than a cage, however, when their mother increasingly neglects them.
  • In For Your Safety, this is the fate of all of humanity, as the Groupmind removes all the humans to an incredibly comfortable ring world in orbit around the Earth. They're provided with every possibly luxury by an army of billions of 'morphs, but may never leave the Ring, since the Earth has now been designated a nature preserve.
  • Fox Demon Cultivation Manual: Rong Bai has the best of everything in Tu Shan, his family's home, including a bathtub made of jade. While there he's also under his father's control, and his father does things like force him to choose between being whipped or killing Song Ci. Unsurprisingly Rong Bai describes Tu Shan as "a massive cage" and says he dreams of destroying it.
  • In Gathering Blue, Kira notes that she has better food, living conditions, and sewing equipment than she did when she lived with her mother. However, she's very constrained by the Council's requirements, isn't allowed to work on the projects she wants, and is essentially trapped in the Council Edifice.
  • In the third book of the Gentleman Bastard series, Locke and Jean are thrown into a competition with an old friend of theirs. The friend, knowing exactly how the two operate, decides to get them out of the way by knocking them out and putting them on a luxurious boat that is equipped with books and other diversions, comfortable quarters, a professional chef, and a crew of polite— but heavily armed— guards. Said boat is instructed to mosey them along the coast and back, returning them just in time for the competition to be over.
  • Green (2009): As a court slave, Emerald is pampered and trained to serve as a courtesan for the Duke, with many luxuries, but cannot do anything on her own.
  • In the first Gor book, the Big Bad has an actual gilded cage that he keeps one of his slaves in.
  • The Hands of the Emperor: The palace is one for the emperor Artorin Damara –- tevery luxury in the nine worlds is brought as tithes, but there are a very rigid set of rules and taboos that allow him no privacy while also banning any physical contact with other humans.
  • In Heavy Object, the Cook Addition Islands are a series of peaceful tropical islands with a wide range of amenities. Its primary purpose is isolating particularly troublesome Object designers, but the military also uses it as a dumping ground for soldiers who are either problematic or embarrassing for the brass.
  • In The Horse and His Boy, Rebellious Princess Aravis was to be pawned off as a child bride to the cruel, repulsive Vizier Ahoshta Tarkaan, the second most powerful man in the whole kingdom. She would've been little more than a puppet wife locked in a luxurious palace had she not run away. (Aravis's already married friend Lasaraleen is in a similar situation, though she doesn't seem to mind that much.) Aravis's Wicked Stepmother manipulated Aravis's dad to come up with the arrangement to get rid of a hated stepdaughter.
  • The Horus Heresy series reveals that the Emperor had a set of twenty apartments built beneath the Imperial Palace on Terra to house the Primarchs once the Great Crusade was complete. While they're very luxurious and fit for the demigods, the obvious implication is that they're fancy prisons to contain the Primarchs once they've outlived their usefulness as conquerors and generals.
  • All over the place in The Hunger Games:
    • The training area for tributes. Luxurious quarters, beautiful clothes, five-star cuisine, and a top-notch training facility to prepare you for your fight to the death. Simply divine. Katniss even says that it will be their "home/prison until the Games begin."
    • It's implied that the five-star housing of the victors is also like this. Once they've won the game, they're celebrities around Panem and are treated like it. However, the Capitol keeps a close eye on them, because they are now potentially influential celebrities.
    • The wealthier districts have better living conditions but more brutal and fanatical Peacekeepers. On the other hand, District 12 is one of the poorest districts, but the authorities are far more willing to turn a blind eye to things like poaching and black market trading, at least until they get replaced by new troops during Catching Fire.
    • The Capitol itself could also be seen as this - for somewhere that is supposedly very privileged, we see several people willing to risk their lives to escape. The fact that Seneca Crane was executed for simply failing at his job implies at least a very restrictive society, where you're watched constantly and not toeing the line has terrible consequences. In Catching Fire, Effie actually says "That sort of thinking... it's forbidden, Peeta. Absolutely." when Peeta tries to hold the Gamemakers accountable for killing children by painting a picture of Rue's death which implies the Capitol citizens may not quite have the freedom Katniss assumes.
  • Incarnations of Immortality: In Wielding a Red Sword, Prince Pride and the Princess Rapture are kept in a lavish magical honeymoon suite, which they cannot leave. Their kingdoms wish them to marry for political reasons, but neither even knows, let alone likes the other.
  • Inheritance Cycle: Murtagh was kept confined by the Varden in Eragon after refusing to submit to a Mind Probe. Eragon is very distressed by this, assuming him to be languishing in a cell somewhere. In fact he is very comfortable with his every need catered for, and considers imprisonment somewhat preferable to the treatment he would get from most of the Varden. Not so much in the film.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • At the end of Jurassic Park, all the survivors are kept in a resort and questioned about what they saw at the park. It's stated that the Costa Rican government is very worried what could happen if word gets out, and that the two children would be the only ones allowed to leave.
    • Apparently they relented, because in The Lost World, Ian Malcolm is no longer confined and it's mentioned in passing that Dr. Sattler teaches in California, and Dr. Grant is lecturing in Paris. This is because they signed an agreement not to tell anybody about what happened.
  • In The Kingdom and the Crown, Miriam comes to see Marcus' family home as one.
  • Known Space: Sigmund Ausfaller is "invited" to be a permanent "guest" of the Hindmost in Destroyer of Worlds.
  • In the beginning of Lord Marksman and Vanadis, Tigre is taken as a prisoner of war by Lady Eleonora's forces. He is treated as an honored guest and even allowed to practice archery, but is warned that he will be executed if he tries to leave.
  • Lumbanico, the Cubic Planet: After arriving at the hidden Enchanted Valley, Pirela and her friends are led to Croca, the Arista's capital city. The kids are housed in a beautiful, cozy house, surrounded by beautiful gardens...and they are strongly encouraged to remain there. Later, they are allowed to walk around Croca freely, visiting the city's beautiful parks and impressive libraries. However, they realize that they are being subtly watched, and the Great Guardian distrusts them and wants to keep them in his reach. Thus, they will need to find a way to escape from Croca.
  • In Mansfield Park, Maria Bertram feels this way about the eponymous estate. Living under the authority of a Fantasy-Forbidding Father and a mother who refuses to stir from home, she jumps at the chance to marry a stupid but rich man so that she can become mistress of her own estate and become part of London's glittering social scene. Unfortunately, she finds her dullard husband and his mother-in-law to be just as intolerable, and having been raised to be haughty and spoiled, can't manage to find her way through it except by running away with the man she had hoped to marry. Unfortunately, he's an irresponsible rake who has no intention of marrying her.
  • Mermaid Moon: After Thyrla betroths Sanna to her son Peder, she keeps Sanna in a lavish room that's warded to prevent her or any of her magic from escaping.
  • In The Oracle Trilogy, the Archon lives in a luxurious palace, showered with gifts and worshipped as the living god he is. He's just not allowed to leave the palace by himself, remains constantly masked and no one will speak to him. At least one Archon went a mite cuckoo from this treatment, and that's without a crisis asking for the god to give his life for his people.
  • In the Past Doctor Adventures novel The Face of the Enemy, the Master is locked in a compound originally meant to house defecting scientists. By its nature, it is quite luxurious, but it's also heavily defended, and the Master has no illusions about living there. He even quotes the trope verbatim.
  • Scarlett of The Power of Five is put in one of these during the fourth book. She actually realizes almost immediately that she is in a prison. A superbly comfortable, incredibly expensive and luxurious prison, but a prison nonetheless. What she doesn't realize is that in this case, "the management" is the Legions of Hell in all but name.
  • Rasselas Prince Of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson opens with the title character kept in a valley like all the princes who do not succeed to the throne, in the lap of luxury so they don't want to leave. Except that Rasselas finds himself inexplicably miserable. His tutor tells him that if he knew how miserable life was outside, he would appreciate the valley. Rasselas takes it as a suggestion.
  • In Redeeming Love, Angel’s life as a prostitute looks pretty cushy—she has extravagant clothes and the luxury suite in the brothel, and it’s implied that her services are in such high demand that she makes significantly more money than virtually anyone else in the Gold Fever town—but it’s revealed that she has no access to any of her income, doesn’t own her fine possessions, and has no control over what she does, where she goes, or whom she talks to; she is intensely lonely and bitter.
  • The Red Vixen Adventures: In Captive of the Red Vixen, Rolas' cell on the Scarlet Claw resembles a luxury cruise ship cabin, with entertainment center, Auto-Kitchen, weights and treadmill. And a beacon device for his Shock Collar in the door. But after his escape attempt the entertainment center is deactivated and the kitchen programmed to only produce "prison loaf".
  • The Reynard Cycle: The Countess Persephone is held prisoner by Duke Nobel in Reynard the Fox, but has leave to wander the palace during the day, and is still treated like a member of the nobility. She is treated so well that Reynard is genuinely surprised to find that her windows are actually barred, and that the locks on her chambers are there to keep her in rather than to keep others out. Ironically, during Defender of the Crown, Reynard throws her back into one of these, and treats her worse than Nobel ever did.
  • In The Shamer Chronicles, this is what Dina was kept in after she got captured by the Villain in the second book.
  • In the Hermann Hesse novel Siddhartha, the titular character becomes wealthy after partnering with a local businessman, but finds it spiritually unfulfilling and feels trapped by his new lifestyle. To drive the point home, his lover Kamala keeps a pet songbird in a literal gilded cage.
  • The Sisterhood Series book Cross Roads reveals that Henry "Hank" Jellicoe put the Vigilantes and the Big Five into these to keep them divided and unable to disrupt his plans to set up an assassination attempt on President Martine Connor and step in to stop it and make sure the Pentagon keeps funding him and his organization Global Sercurities. Fortunately, the Vigilantes and the Big Five eventually realized that they were stuck in these, and got out of them. Deja Vu reveals that Jellicoe put a reporter named Virgil Anders in one, because Virgil was writing a book about Jellicoe titled "Man, Myth, Monster", and Jellicoe objected to the "monster" part.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Sansa becomes a prisoner at King's Landing after her father's unjust execution. She still lives in luxury and is treated as a Lady, but she's at the mercy of the Lannisters and has to keep up a facade of still loving her betrothed Joffrey and hating her family for being traitors.
    • Following the failed Greyjoy rebellion, Eddard Stark took the last surviving Greyjoy heir, Theon, back to Winterfell to be his ward. In theory, his father wouldn't act up again, knowing if he did his son would be killed. While Theon had all of the comforts of a highlord, he was still a prisoner and reminded of it frequently. (This is frequently the case in Westeros where "fostering" another lord's offspring is a euphemism for "holding them hostage to make sure their parents behave".)
    • When a plot to put Princess Myrcella Baratheon on the throne fails, the royal plotter, Arianne Martell, is put by her father in a room full of comforts — great food, cyvasse (Westeros' equivalent of chess) — but servants who won't speak a word to her.
    • This is more or less standard procedure for noble prisoners, being kept in comfortable but guarded rooms and occasionally allowed to walk around the castle under escort. Most notably, Jaimie Lannister is housed in one when he is captured at Oxcross-at least until his brother Tyrion's failed attempt to spring him. After that he's moved to a dungeon, where the much poorer treatment degrades his physical condition to the point Brienne is able to defeat him when he makes a second escape attempt-something she'd never be able to do normally.
  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin: Ziran physically serves as this to princess Karina as, while she has a comfortable life at the palace, it is impossible for her to leave the city however much she tries.
  • In Star Wars: Master and Apprentice, the Pijali monarch Fanry attempts to seize absolute power when crowned as queen. This fails as her friends turn against her as she'd rather destroy a Czerka starship and kill a bunch of innocent slaves rather than free the slaves. After she is forced to abdicate, the new Pijali government sentences Fanry to four years of house arrest, which Governor Orth says is a fairly minor punishment given that Fanry is being held in a castle.
  • During the Alfheim Online (ALO) Arc of Sword Art Online, Asuna's cage fits this description. It is a roomy, literally gilded birdcage, with a canopy bed, table setting, and gorgeous surroundings. The catch, though, is that her consciousness is trapped in ALO due to an executive in her father's company who wants her for himself.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • The prophet Nathan Rahl is kept in one of these by the Sisters of the Light, and given every comfort, except wine, because a drunken prophet is bad news. Later in the series, Nathan Rahl escapes, and his Mord-Sith servants capture the Prelate, the leader of the Sisters of the Light. He then has her thrown in a grimy prison cell, refuses her requests to see him with the same answers she had refused him with over the years ("I'm busy and can't be bothered to come down every time you clamor for me!"), and gives her all the wine she wants. Later, he shows up to meet with her, acts as if her prison cell is a Gilded Cage, and then makes a brief speech about how all prisons, regardless of how pretty or comfortable they are, are fundamentally the same.
    • The same is true, though to a lesser degree, of all wizards held for training by the Sisters of the Light. Everyone is held by a Restraining Bolt that keeps them from moving too far away from the Palace, though with a leeway of at least several miles. And aside from a few hours of daily mandatory training, all trainees are given free reign of the city, with a nigh unlimited allowance to see to their comforts. The catch is that as they progress in their training, the students begin to lose more and more privileges as their magic becomes more dangerous. Thus, a vast majority of the trainees are spoiled Jerkasses who do the bare minimum of training in order to not be promoted past the allowances they've become accustomed to.
  • At the end of Tailchaser's Song, Tailchaser temporarily tries out life as a pet when he's reunited with Hushpad. He finds it suffocating and bland. Tailchaser ends up running off to the wilds again.
  • Subverted in Tairen Soul. Vadim Maur has very nice-looking chambers for all his important Fey prisoners to stay in. The catch is that for the most dangerous ones, every inch of the room is threaded with the black metal Sel'dor, which Fey are weak to. Therefore, the Fey in these beautiful chambers are in almost constant pain.
  • The city of Axiom Nexus in Transformers Trans Tech, to any "units of interest" with technology the TransTechs deem useful. Axiom Nexus isn't that bad if you can manage to find a good niche for yourself, especially compared to the wartorn universe you're likely from... but you're still not allowed to ever leave or see your loved ones you left behind ever again.
  • The Twilight Saga: Volturi leaders Aro and Caius locked their respective wives, Sulpicia and Athenodora, in a tower, where they are kept happy by Corin, a vampire who can make people feel content. This is to prevent them from rebelling like Aro's sister, Didyme, who was killed by Aro after he found out that she tried to leave the coven with Marcus.
  • Firestar considers his life as a kittypet this at the start of Warrior Cats. He has all the food and shelter he could want, but he desires something that being a housecat can't give him and ends up joining a cat colony in the nearby forest.
  • When on Earth, Beatrice in The Weakness of Beatrice the Level Cap Holy Swordswoman is kept in one of these. Known as the Detached Magic Palace, it's a mansion within a large forest in Tokyo. She has access to everything she wants and is served by maids, but if she escapes, she is literally at risk of assassination. It's eventually revealed that she's kept there because she looks like a younger version of the Sage, a major villain, and so was suspected to be the Sage's past self.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Morgase stays as a 'guest' of the Children of the Light for a time. A somewhat dark case, as despite the appearance of civility, the captors were employing Cold-Blooded Torture (albeit of a type designed not to leave lasting marks) in order to compel her to acquiesce to their political demands; it's almost certain that she was raped as well.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm is set at an evil Wizarding School whose students are not allowed to leave. The top students are given incredible luxuries including spa treatments, private dining facilities, and other great things. It's mentioned that one first-year chose an exhorbitantly expensive gaming rig for her room and another, who loves music, got a top tier sound system so she can dance. But as nice as the accomodations are, the students are still stuck there just like the lower ranked students, and there's no indication they'll be treated less harshly than the others if they try to escape.
  • World of the Five Gods: Mentioned in The Curse of Chalion, as dy Cazaril basically warns the Royesse Iselle what will come of winding up surrounded by flatterers and yes-men.
    "Not all prisons are made of iron bars. Some are made of feather beds, Royesse."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season six of 24, this is where we find former US President Charles Logan, as his punishment for his day 5 activities: He'd assassinated a former president and a few others and committed assorted acts of terrorism.
  • The 100: The survivors captured by the Mountain Men in the second season are all well-treated, well-fed and generally are much better cared for than in the Death World outside. But they're also forbidden to leave and to ask too many questions, are lied to about the existence of other survivors outside, and in the end are only here to have their blood and bone marrow harvested.
  • As the marriage between Nucky and Margaret deteriorates in Boardwalk Empire, Margaret comes to regard her life with Nucky as this. She eventually decides to leave, despite Nucky's somewhat arrogant belief, (which he outright says to her at a confrontation) that she would no longer be able to live without the comforts he had provided her during the last few years. She proves him wrong.
  • In the Showtime original series The Borgias, when Cesare Borgia finally defeats and captures Caterina Sforza, her brings her as a prisoner to Rome in a literal gilded cage.
  • Homelander's son Ryan in The Boys (2019) was raised in a Vought compound disguised to look like an ordinary suburban neighborhood with his mother in an attempt to make sure he doesn't Turn Out Like His Father.
  • The Champions (1968): In "The Gilded Cage", Richard is held in the bedroom of a luxury London flat, where he receives visits from a lovely young lady. His captor threatens to kill the lady unless Richard can decipher a series of blueprints for what turns out of be a revolutionary (and ultimately overpriced) formula for a new petroleum substitute.
  • Dexter: New Blood: The Runaway Killer lures young women with no place to stay to a remote "family cabin" of his with the tempting offer of free lodging. The room itself is quite comfortable, with food and drink and a bathroom with a jacuzzi. However, it can only be opened from the outside, meaning that the girls are trapped as soon as their host leaves, who then watches their mental torment through a security camera once they realize their predicament. It's also implied that the food in the room is somehow poisoned.
  • Doctor Who: In "Army of Ghosts", Torchwood One treats the Doctor as a guest of honor and follow his advice in dealing with the current issue... but also keep armed guards on him at all times and inform him that due to his earlier encounter with Queen Victoria (Torchwood's founder), he is considered an "enemy of the state":
    The Doctor: If I'm the enemy, does that mean I'm a prisoner?
    Yvonne Hartman: Oh, yes. But we'll make you perfectly comfortable.
  • The setting of Dollhouse comes to mind. High pay, luxury assignments, wealthy patrons... and regular doses of Mind Rape in addition to being used as assassins, prostitutes, and whatever else the clients desire.
  • The department store for Charles and Ella in the 1966 Stephen Sondheim teleplay musical Evening Primrose. Ella recognizes it more than he does, however.
  • Farscape:
    • The Royal Apartment Crichton is sequestered in after he kisses the princess in the "Look at the Princess" trilogy.
    • When Moya's crew get to Earth in season 4, they're given a waterfront mansion... completely cordoned off from the surrounding area and under constant surveillance and security. John's voiceover even notes "It's a cage - but at least it's a gilded one."
  • Mal sees Inara's profession as this in Firefly, disgusted with the lie of her being a paid companion, bound by the rules of her guild and the tastes of her clients, offering the illusion of love in exchange for wealth and luxury. Inara fires back that at least her profession is legal.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • During her captivity, Sansa is granted all the luxuries befitting a highborn lady but remains confined to the Red Keep and completely at the mercy of her enemies. The Hound even takes to calling her "little bird" because of this.
    • Following his father's rebellion, Theon was taken as a hostage to his father's good behaviour. As such, he was raised among the Stark children but with the constant shadow of a possible execution hanging over the relationship.
  • The Glamorous Imperial Concubine: Fu Ya lampshades this.
    Fu Ya: No matter how free a royal palace is, it's still a bird cage.
  • The Good Place: This turns out to be what makes the real Good Place a Crapsaccharine World. The inhabitants can do whatever they want and have their every desire instantly fulfilled, but the novelty wears off fast and now they're left bored out of their minds and completely apathetic to everything. The only resident who is still capable of original thought and genuine emotion is the philosopher Hypatia, and she sums it up thus: "You get here and you realize that anything's possible, and you do everything, and then you're done. But you still have infinity left. This place kills fun, and passion, and excitement, and love, 'til all you have left are milkshakes." The main characters solve the problem by installing a door that will let people leave the Good Place when they feel they are ready, allowing their time in the universe to come to an end. Morale instantly picks up as soon as they announce this.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): By the Season 1 finale, Lestat de Lioncourt's sumptuous and comfortable townhouse is a suffocating prison for both Louis de Pointe du Lac and Claudia. Lestat rules his household with an iron fist, and he doesn't permit either his boyfriend or his vampire daughter to depart without his approval, under the threat of excessive violence for Louis and death for Claudia ("I'll turn your bones to dust"). In the previous episode, when Lestat intercepts Claudia as she was attempting to flee to New York by train, he even refers to their home as a cage: "Back in your cage, sweetheart."
    Louis: Add to the toxic air a new ever-present paranoia. [...] We were compelled to sleep in the same chamber together again. [Lestat] would have it no other way. We would spend our hours enduring, with little pretense of getting along, locked together in hatred. He would have it no other way.
  • Merlin (1998): King Vortigern keeps Nimue in a gilded cage, to ensure that her father stays loyal to him.
  • It's implied that Queen Anne in The Musketeers sees her life as this. It becomes far more explicit at the end of Season 2 when she is put under house arrest by Rochefort.
    Queen Anne: [to Constance] I was born into a life of duty. I have been privileged but never free.
  • In a third season episode of Night Gallery entitled "The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes" newly crowned heavyweight boxing champ Jim Figg is abducted immediately following his winning bout and transported to a luxurious mansion in an alternate dimension. There he learns that he will be well treated but kept a prisoner until after he has fought the owner of the mansion (played by Chuck Connors) to determine who is the real champion of the universe. If he loses he will be transported back to Earth. If he wins he will replace Conners and gain the companionship of Joan Van Ark.
  • The Prisoner (1967): The Village is a quaint, bucolic vacation spot, with comfortable accomodations and all sorts of idyllic activities to pass the time. It's also an inescapable prison, where you must conform to the mysterious jailer's ways or else suffer multiple druggings and various head games designed to break your spirit and turn you into a drone.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In the episode "Legion", the boys are held captive in luxurious "prison" suites tailored specifically to their respective tastes, so that a sophisticated being named Legion can perpetuate his own existence by feeding off their combined psychic energy.
      Lister: When I finally get round to writing my Good Psycho Guide, this place is gonna get raves. Accommodation — excellent. Food — first class. Resident nutter — courteous and considerate. Psycho rating's gotta be four and a half chainsaws. Higher, maybe.
    • Arguably Rimmer’s childhood was like this. His family were obviously very well off on Io, sending him off to boarding school and his brothers to the Academy. However, with his parents being horribly abusive and implied to hate each other, as well as his father’s apparent attempted suicide, it’s obvious that Arnold was desperately unhappy there. He finally apparently escaped by divorcing them and claiming emancipation until employment age. However, it is also painfully apparent that despite his ‘freedom’ the gilded cage still exists in his psyche, with him still desperately trying to become an officer and earn his family’s approval 3 million years later.
  • Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace: The palace is beautiful and the women living there have all the material things they could ask for... but none of them can leave and they're constantly plotting against each other.
  • Scarlet Heart: The Forbidden City is grand and the princes can do almost anything they want, but they and their families are still trapped in a system that pits them against each other. Lampshaded by Zhang Xiao.
    Zhang Xiao: No matter how grand this manor is, it's just a royal cage after all.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: In the episode "I Mudd", the Enterprise crew and Mudd himself are confined to a planet where androids serve their every need while preventing them from leaving.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • "The Hunted" is about a planet, Angosia, petitioning for membership in the Federation when a man named Roga Danar escapes from their penal colony on one of their moons. Roga then reveals that he and his fellow inmates committed no crimes. They were exiled to the moon after they served Angosia in a war where, because of their planet's Proud Scholar Race society, the men had to be turned into Super Soldiers to survive the war. When they came home, their conditioning made it too difficult to reintegrate into society so the people of Angosia chose to exile all of their veterans to the lunar penal colony and make it as comfortable as possible. Picard openly states that even the most comfortable prison is still a prison.
      • During the second part of "Chain of Command", Gul Madred offers a tortured Picard a choice of luxury or more torture. Had Picard taken him up on that offer, he would have had comfortable digs near the Cardassian capital, with all the food he would eat and opportunities to pursue his hobby of archaeology. But for all intents and purposes, he would still be a prisoner of Cardassia.
      • During "Face of the Enemy", Stefan De Seve, a Starfleet ensign, is arrested for treason for defecting to the Romulan Star Empire. He is kept in actual crew quarters instead of a brig.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In "Displaced", the entire Voyager crew is transported one-by-one off the ship and placed within a prison habitat environmentally controlled to parameters that the alien kidnappers found would be a good fit for their crew. Afterwards, one of them shows up to tell them that they ought to be grateful.
        Taleen: I think you'll find there's nowhere to go.
        Janeway: We don't accept that. We will find a way out of here.
        Taleen: Captain, your lack of gratitude is unbecoming. You and your crew could have found yourselves somewhere far less hospitable.
        Chakotay: It's still a prison.
        Taleen: If you want to be miserable here, that is your choice. But since there's nothing you can do about your situation, I suggest you accept it. Gracefully.
      • In "Concerning Flight", Janeway's Leonardo da Vinci holodeck program is "kidnapped" from the ship, and enlisted by Tau, an alien merchant, to design things for him. Janeway attempts to convince Leonardo she is freeing him from Tau's imprisonment. Leonardo, as an artist from Renaissance-era Italy, sees Tau as a wealthy patron with unlimited resources who lets him create to his heart's content, and insists "if this is a cage, it is a cage of gold!"
    • Star Trek: Picard:
      • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2", Picard is under house arrest and his cell is Maddox's old room. He's comfortable and there's plenty of sunlight, but he envies the freedom of a synth butterfly.
      • In the same episode, Data's simulated house is also a nice place, but it's still a prison for him because his mind can't exist outside of it.
  • Supernatural: In the season 4 finale, Zachariah and the other angels detain Dean in one of these to keep him from getting himself killed since he's one of the only people suitable to host the Archangel Michael and to prevent him from stopping Lucifer's escape. It's a lavish and opulent room stocked with Dean's favorite beer and the best burgers he remembers eating from his childhood; the angels even offer him Ginger and Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island because Dean has always had a thing for them, but he passes. In a moment of helpless despair, Dean almost gives in and tries to eat one of the burgers right before Castiel breaks him out.
  • The White Queen:
    • The Tower of London is this for a few of its residents, which includes Henry VI, Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury (or more precisely, a peasant boy pretending to be him).
    • Lord Warwick abducts Edward IV and imprisons the king inside Warwick Castle.
    • After Anne Neville becomes George of Clarence's ward, she is trapped within his residence.
    • Countess Warwick is permanently confined at Warwick Castle under the orders of her son-in-law Richard of Gloucester.
    • After King Richard III discovers that Margaret Beaufort is plotting to oust him from the throne, her husband Lord Stanley volunteers to be her jailer to prevent her from being executed as a traitor. Margaret is kept isolated at Stanley's Bletsoe country house.
    • Richard III convinces Elizabeth Woodville to leave sanctuary so that she and her younger daughters can live at Grafton Manor under house arrest.

  • The Eagles' "Hotel California" serves as a metaphor for drug addiction and death (actually for being caught in the California music industry in the 70s) - "You can check out any time you'd like/But you can never leave!"
  • The Trope Namer is a 1900 parlour song by Harry von Tilzer:
    She's only a bird in a gilded cage,
    A beautiful sight to see.
    You may think she's happy and free from care,
    She's not, though she seems to be.
    Tis sad when you think of her wasted life,
    For youth cannot mate with age;
    And her beauty was sold for an old man's gold —
    She's a bird in a gilded cage.
    • Repeated in Rush's "Limelight":
      Living on a lighted stage
      Approaches the unreal
      For those who think and feel
      In touch with some reality
      Beyond the gilded cage
  • The phrase is dropped in the opera of Voltaire's Candide: "Harsh necessity brought me to this gilded cage — born to higher things, here I droop my wings... Singing of a sorrow nothing can assuage." (But it turns out that Cunegonde rather likes her gilded cage a lot more than she lets on!)
  • The 1903 song "Little Yellow Bird" (sung by Angela Lansbury in the 1945 film version of The Picture of Dorian Gray) tells of a wild sparrow in winter who sees a canary in a cage. The male canary invites her to stay where it's warm and she will be well-fed, but she sees his life as an example of this:
    Good-bye, little yellow bird.
    I'd gladly mate with you -
    I love you, little yellow bird,
    But I love my freedom, too.
    So good-bye, little yellow bird.
    I'd rather brave the cold
    On a leafless tree
    Than a prisoner be
    In a cage of gold.
  • David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's album Here Lies Love has the song "Solano Avenue". Here, Imelda Marcos has her former caretaker Estrella Cumpas placed in a "safe house" in Manila, with guards "for her own protection". All this because Estrella wrote a biography of Imelda—and Imelda would rather the world not know about her early years in poverty.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Buddhism: In response to a prophecy that his son would become a great religious leader or a great king (and preferring that he become the latter), the father of Siddhartha Gautama kept him in one of these. It didn't work.
  • Ramayana: Sita is kidnapped and held in the palace of Lanka (complete with attendants) by King Ravana, for a whole year. He tried to sleep with her, but as she was already Happily Married to Rama, she refused Ravana's advances.

  • Evoked by name in the song "Glitter and Be Gay" from Leonard Bernstein's Candide, as Cunegonde laments that her glamorous life as the mistress of two rich men has come at the cost of her honor – though she quickly and humorously subverts this trope by revealing that she really does love all the luxury.
  • Evoked by name as Arc Words in Hadestown, referring to the relative wealth but slave-driving authoritarianism of Hadestown, particularly the life that Hades provides for Persephone.
  • Johanna from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is living in one contructed by her guardian, Judge Turpin. Fittingly, she gets a song about it called "Green Finch and Linnet Bird" with an obvious bird and cage theme, in which she laments her inability to be content with her comfortable prison.
    My cage has many rooms, damask and dark
    Nothing there sings, not even my lark
    Larks never will, you know, when they're captive
    Teach me to be more adaptive

    Video Games 
  • Elizabeth's home on Monument Island in Bioshock Infinite is an almost perfect example, consisting of a suite of lavishly furnished rooms and a large library housed within the statue of the archangel Columbia, from which she is unable to escape by any means. However, Elizabeth is completely unaware that there's a huge scientific facility built around her chambers, and a team of amoral researchers keeps her under almost constant surveillance via a series of one-way mirrors. On top of that, the tower is protected by the Songbird, a gigantic cybernetic beast programmed to terminate any unauthorized personnel with extreme prejudice.
    • Similarly, Eleanor Lamb from Bioshock 2 has wound up like this twice - as a child, she was taught well, but was kept under lock and key from the rest of Rapture's society via security locks, though she managed to figure out how to hack the systems. When the player finds her as an adult, she's kept in a plush sealed environment, guarded by psychotic psuedo-zombies lead by her mother, Sofia Lamb.
  • In Cursery: The Crooked Man, this becomes an important plot point. Cheryl was feeling smothered and trapped in the chateau by her fiance, who had been obsessively keeping her from visiting her village, that she escaped from their chateau one night. He was chasing her down to bring her back to the chateau when she stepped on loose ground and fell off a cliff to her death. This drove Blaise insane with grief.
  • In Dark Souls III, the titular Ringed City is a beautiful, massive medieval metropolis that was given as a gift by Gwyn to the Pygmies for their contributions during the war against the ancient dragons and even gifted them one of his daughters - except said city is located at the ends of the world, said daughter was meant to act as a Barrier Maiden to keep the city locked in time and out of reach, every single pygmy was branded by a 'seal of fire' to prevent them from accessing The Sacred Darkness that Gwyn desperately feared, and the city's existance along with the pygmies' deeds were expunged from memory and history. One of the statues found in the cities itself displays the hypocrisy in full view, with Gwyn towering over and 'generously' handing a crown to a meek and naked Pygmy.
  • In Death Stranding, Amelie, Bridget's daughter who inherits her position as President of the United Cities of America after she dies, led an expedition west some time prior to the beginning of the game to reestablish contact with surviving settlements, but was captured by Homo Demens, which opposes any such unification. Amelie is now held captive in Edge Knot City, but Homo Demens doesn't keep her locked up, and even allows her to freely contact the outside and continue governing the UCA - but she can't leave the city.
  • After kidnapping Noelle in Deltarune, Queen puts her up in a lovely bedroom with a comfortable bed, a wardrobe stocked with clothes, and things she thought she'd like based off her internet searches. Noelle still wants to go home. This ties into Queen's Well-Intentioned Extremist tendencies; she wishes to rule the world and make all its citizens happy, Noelle included, but doesn't get how making people do things against their will, even for their own good, isn't how you do that.
  • In Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, one case revolves around lonely men being sold rooms with virtual girls to wait on them in cyberspace on the condition that they never leave. It's soon revealed that the mysterious salesmen are in fact an organ trafficking ring that's kidnapping and harvesting their real bodies while their minds are in EDEN. One man is shown attempting to log out, only to be informed that there's nowhere to log out to.
  • Rozalin's mansion from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is said to be this trope. Luckily for Rozy, she gets out thanks to a supposedly botched summoning ritual.
  • The opening narration of the Mage Origin in Dragon Age: Origins describes the Tower of the Circle of Magi as one of these. The mages get access to better and better quarters as they rise in rank, they have access to all of the resources a student of magic could ever desire, and they get all of their needs provided for them. The Tranquil even make use of their talent for alchemy to brew fine ale. Too bad they can't ever leave the Tower except on official Circle business unless they want to risk Death by Templar. The same Templars never let them out of their sight — always watching. Some mages learn to appreciate the benefits and opportunities the Circle provides and come to accept their restricted lives. Others... don't.
    • The restrictions aren't incredibly harsh in the Ferelden Circle, at least. In Awakening you can run into a Circle mage doing research on alchemical plants, in the middle of nowhere without any kind of supervision, implicitly for weeks at a time. Word of God confirms that the Knight-Commander in Ferelden is considered almost excessively liberal because he's willing to allow mages to leave the tower as long as they arrange it through proper channels.
    • Zevran considers being an Antivan Crow to be this. You can be wealthy, respected and desired - provided you follow orders, murder people, and never quite forget that you're expendable. Not to mention it involves Training from Hell starting at a very young age.
    • In Dragon Age II the Kirkwall Circle of Magi has it even worse: not only are the Templars even stricter (verging on psychotic), but over the course of the game the "gilding" on their cage is gradually removed. In Act 2 there's a rather nasty point in which Ser Alrik is implied to be making mages Tranquil so he can use them as sex slaves. By Act 3, mages aren't even permitted to leave their cells. The Circle is even housed in a former prison complex, so the gilding was somewhat limited in the first place.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Cassandra Pentaghast confides that her life before becoming a Seeker was very much like this. She's a distant cousin to Nevarra's royal family and descended from dragonslayers, although she's probably the only living member of the clan who has actually killed a dragon; as a child, she was the ward of her uncle, who didn't really have much to do with her, and she says that all she knew of Nevarra for a long time was what she saw through the window. She describes her state in the family as being like a porcelain doll, occasionally brought out to be shown off but generally just kept aside.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest IV: Psaro the Manslayer locked his beloved Rose up in a tower to protect her from greedy humans. Rose is well taken care of — Psaro would not tolerate anything less — , but she is still a prisoner.
    • Dragon Quest V: Since Mada's holy powers made her a prime target for the villains, the Loftians locked her away in a luxurious bedroom located in the town's highest tower.
  • In the Dawnguard expansion of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Serana observes that Castle Volkihar was essentially this for her as she was growing up. She was never able to go anywhere or have any real friends, mostly due to her family's status (her father was an extremely high-ranking noble, almost a king in his way) and the fact that her parents were Daedra worshipers who eventually became vampires, and forced her to become one as well.
  • The Lucky 38 Presidential Suite in Fallout: New Vegas, though only in the eyes of Cass and Arcade, both of whom have a low opinion on New Vegas. The others range from ambivalent to (in the case of Veronica) enjoying living in relative luxury. The player and their companions are free to leave at any time, but the suite itself is given in exchange for working with Mr. House and the House always wins... or not.
    • The Sierra Madre Casino became this when its security systems activated during the nuclear war, trapping the Gala Event guests inside to either starve to death or be killed by the Security Holograms.
    • Mostly subverted in Fallout 1, since Vault 13 could almost be considered this were it not for the fact that the water chip started collapsing on itself, thus forcing you, the Vault Dweller, to go find a replacement. Sadly, you're not allowed to stay after the end, because even when you're done with that, alongside shredding the mutant millitary base and the Cathedral's revered leader likely by "convincing" him just how well his plans will go with sterile creatures, Jacoren, the Overseer who sent you out in the first place, exiles you from the vault permanently as reward whilst he claims that you're too much of a heroic inspiration to be controlled. Cue endgame, alongside a little lethal treat for him with the right effects.
    • Vault 101 from Fallout 3 is another example. Providing you are willing to obey the Overseer, the dictator who runs the place, and never leave, life is dull but comfortable. Meanwhile, people in the wasteland outside are free but have to contend with raiders, mutants, and fascist militias in Powered Armor trying to kill them at every turn.
    • The vaults in general were advertised as this in the event of a nuclear apocalypse, however in reality most of them were designed as horrific social experiments and the majority who entered them often suffered rather unfortunate ends.
  • The world of Cocoon in Final Fantasy XIII is a veritable paradise, with its inhabitants' every need satisfied without fail by the godlike fal'Cie. The people don't even want to leave their cage, as Pulse, the world outside of Cocoon, is described as being a Hell on Earth (which, to be fair, is more or less true). However, it turns out that Cocoon is actually something of a human farm, its sole purpose being to breed humans like livestock until the population reaches a certain amount, at which point the fal'Cie plan to kill them all in the belief that the sudden, massive influx of human souls will bring about the return of their lost god. The roundabout way in which they must accomplish this task - being existentially linked to Cocoon, they are unable to bring about its downfall themselves - ends up being the plan's downfall.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Downplayed in Fire Emblem: Awakening in Chrom and Gaius's supports. They discuss this trope and Chrom implies that he'd rather be out with normal people than in Ylisse's castle, though he doesn't seem to be very bitter about it.
    • Happens twofold in Fire Emblem Fates, involving the same place:
      • The Avatar is kidnapped away from his/her family in Hoshido and confined to a fortress in Nohr, the kingdom that took him/her away. At first they're shabbily treated by King Garon, but later their situation noticeably improves and by the time the game begins, the fortress is shown to have very comfortable quarters for the Avatar and his/her retainers (and one of the mangas shows that it's quite a bigger building than one would've believed). The Avatar still cannot get out, though, and the plot is kickstated when he or she does get the chance.
      • It's later revealed that said fortress was also a GC for the ninja maids Felicia and Flora, the daughters of the chieftain of the Ice Tribe, kept as hostages to force their people into submission. Flora knows this and is very bitter, but Felicia is Locked Out of the Loop.
  • FURI can see The Stranger accepting one as one of its Multiple Endings. Originally he was chained up at the highest level of a prison and kept locked by frequent beatings by The Chain to keep him weak. The Song's prison on the sixth level instead takes on the appearance of a gorgeous, heaven-like realm, and The Song offers to spend eternity with The Stranger taking care of him, even becoming his girlfriend, if he wants. If you idle long enough without moving on to trigger her boss fight, he decides to take her offer, choosing to remain in the prison, but in a much better, happier position than he was originally in.
  • In the good ending of Ghost Recon Wildlands, El Sueño agrees to become a confidential informant for the US government. In exchange for his intel on other cartels and terrorist groups, El Sueño is given total immunity and a luxury condo in Florida, which comes with 24-hour surveillance, armed guards and CCTV cameras in every room, giving him zero privacy. Bowman also makes it clear that this setup is only temporary, and that they will cut him loose or ship his ass back to a regular prison in Mexico the second he runs out of useful information.
  • In Guilty Gear, the Japanese colony is this for Baiken and Anji Mito (but not for May, since she was taken in by the Jellyfish Pirates instead and few know she's Japanese). There are only a small number of Japanese people left in the world after the destruction of Japan, so the world governments created the colony as a last resort to keep them alive. Unfortunately, no one is allowed into the colony without special permission, and its residents are not allowed outside period. In the story mode of -REVELATOR-, it's revealed that this was done for an ulterior purpose: to ensure that none of the Japanese would be able to escape being turned into living bombs by Ariels.
  • The third mission in Hitman (2016) is actually called "A Gilded Cage"; one of the targets, Claus Hugo Strandberg, is a Swedish bank CEO who embezzled billions of dollars from the people of Morocco and was busted out of police custody by mercenaries working for Reza Zaydan, Strandberg's partner and the other target. Strandberg's taken refuge in the Swedish consulate in Marrakesh, which has all the comforts of home, but there's a massive protest literally right outside demanding his arrest.
  • In Illusion of Gaia, Kara constantly tries to escape her father's castle before joining Will and leaving permanently. She even describes it as a "prison of silk and gold".
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has The Land of Departure which ironically serves as a gilded cage for Ventus He was never supposed to leave. He lampshades it when he confronts Master Eraqus, who promptly decides that He Knows Too Much and follows the "logical"course of action. (Though, given what we learn about Ventus Eraqus is most likely considering The Needs of the Many.)
  • Chapter Two of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III reveals that the SSS and their affiliates are kept at Mishelam Wonderland to keep them from interfering the government.
  • Hyrule Castle is something like this for Princess Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. She's still in her lavish childhood home, the interior of which remains untouched by the scourge of Twilight, and although she seems to prefer to remain in her tower, there's nothing to suggest she can't visit other parts of the building as well. But she can't leave.
  • In Mass Effect 2, the Normandy SR-2 is one of these for Shepard; essentially created to make Shepard more comfortable while working with Cerberus, it's a replica of the first Normandy, but equipped with civilian luxuries that the original never had: a research lab, a kitchen, a lounge with observation windows and a mini-bar, and (as Joker points out) leather seats. Shepard's even given an upper deck for use as his/her private quarters, complete with a king-sized bed, an office space, an en-suite bathroom, a massive fishtank, and a display case for model ships. In spite of all these benefits, it's still a gilded cage: the entire ship has been bugged and most of the crew are loyal Cerberus operatives, so the Illusive Man is notified of whatever happens on-board; in spite of all the leeway Shepard is given, s/he's still firmly under the Illusive Man's thumb for most of the game.
    Shepard: If we're stuck here, we might as well let them pamper us.
    Joker: Does it breach uniform regs if I get that on a t-shirt? 'Cause this is my favourite "You Have No Choice" choice, ever.
    Shepard: Technically, this is a civilian ship. I'm probably lucky you're still wearing pants.
    Joker: Yeah, I'll save that for the off-hour cameras...
    • At the end of the game, you have the option to make off with it and get a chance for an immensely satisfying screw you to TIM.
    • The next game also reveals that the Normandy had mechanisms so that Cerberus could take control of it remotely if Shepard tried to leave. Fortunately, by the time that became an issue, EDI had been unshackled and shut those protocols down. The last time Cerberus tried to activate them, she flooded their servers with seven zettabytes of porn.
    • Also revealed in the third game is the monastery where Ardat-Yakshi are kept. They're given a large, open space to live in comfort... but they'll be murdered if they try to leave or can't stay when it's destroyed. On the plus side, there are references to Ardat-Yakshi who demonstrate sufficient self-control being permitted supervised reintegration into asari society.
  • When she's kidnapped in Paper Mario 64, Princess Peach is confined to her castle's room and only her room (despite the fact that the castle is flying, so Bowser ensured she can't escape even if she wanted to). She manages to help Mario in her own way by relaying information about several chapters' locations via Twink.
  • Persona:
    • A bird in a gilded cage is the manifestiation of Yukiko Amagi's shadow in Persona 4, representing her frustration at having already had her fate of inheriting her family inn decided for her and tying her down to Inaba for the rest of her life. The conclusion of her character arc has her reach the decision to accept this, because she does truly love the inn, the staff, and the town, and she doesn't want to turn her back on them just for the sake of being rebellious when she truly does want to stay. Shadow Yukiko hints at this from the start - the door of the cage is wide-open.
    • Haru Okumura from Persona 5 may have grown up in wealth and splendor, but her father controls every aspect of her life and is planning to marry her off to an abusive jackass solely for his own political gain.
  • Planescape: Torment: A story told to your character. Quoted in full:
    Upon the Plane of Ysgard is the Gilded Hall, where those Sensates that seek the pleasure of gullet and loin can be found. They indulge these passions in earnest, never realizing that the doors of the hall never open and that there is no clear path back to the Civic Festhall. They are the unwanted Sensates, the ones that do not truly believe in the faction, but instead seek only pleasure for pleasure's sake. Are prisoners who do not realize they are such truly prisoners?
  • Pokémon Black and White:
    • You find Victini in a nice, cozy bedroom in the basement of an island lighthouse, where it's been for the last 200 years. It's suggested that the family who bought the land built the room as a place for Victini to hide in so it would be safe from those who would exploit its powers. After the player catches it, everyone agrees that it's safer in your hands.
    • N's childhood room is another example. He grew up in a huge room, complete with a half-pipe... but that was the extent of his contact with the world until the events of the game.
  • In Potion Permit, Olive wishes to go out of Moonbury to explore the outside world because she finds her town boring, but she can't leave her job as the sole owner of the fancy bathhouse. She eventually realizes how much the other residents rely on the bathhouse and are grateful for it, and she learns to be more thankful for the community for it and decides to stay after all.
  • The titular village of St. Mystere in Professor Layton and the Curious Village exists entirely as a place of safety for Flora, the Baron's orphaned daughter, where Ridiculously Human Robot servants and attendants protect and care for her. It's a pretty neat place, with puzzle-dispensing robots and a private amusement park and an elaborate tower for her exclusive residence. But she can't leave it until a worthy guardian appears and solves the riddle of the Golden Apple.
  • This is referenced directly in Risk of Rain 2, in the Environment Log entry that describes the Gilded Coast, where the construct Aurelionite was imprisoned due to having too much soul:
    A gilded cage – one of luxury and accommodation. The jailer took pity on the prisoner and fashioned an elaborate space for which that it may serve its eternal sentence. The jailer even allowed the prisoner company – smaller constructs, a few rowdy Lemurians. The scraps of creation.
    But a cage of gold - no matter how beautiful - is still a cage.
  • Jezebel says, or rather sings, this exact trope word-for-word to describe her castle in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell.
    But until that time, I'm stuck in this hell.
    A relentless tempest of rage.
    Surrounded by guards, betrothed by my father.
    Trapped inside this Gilded Cage.
  • This is apparently a common practice of the Templars in The Secret World: in the event that dangerous scholars and magicians prove too valuable to simply execute, the Templars arrange to have the offenders rehabilitated in as opulent a setting as possible - tenured life at university being a popular variant. The main example of this treatment found in the game is Iain Tibet Gladstone; having been caught after a long spree of heavy drug use and dubious practical experiments, he is currently being held under house arrest at the absurdly luxurious Temple Club, with a massive library at his disposal and the Stuart Twins as his Minders. As cushy as it is, it's still a prison; Gladstone is not allowed off the premises unsupervised, the threat of worse conditions has been raised in order to keep him out of trouble, he's actually been banned from visiting Oxford - and the faculty are prepared to enforce the ban by having him hanged.
  • The Eastern Kingdom of Mikado in Shin Megami Tensei IV. For bonus points, the Archangels are trying to change the status quo so humanity is forever imprisoned in their God-sanctioned playpen by tossing Tokyo into a black hole, forever denying humans of the knowledge and technology there. With Mikado under their influence, no one will ever again feel curiosity, need of change, or guilt - erasing Lucifer's taint on the hearts of Men and ensuring the Law faction's absolute dominance per secula seculorum.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, the eponymous retreat, Penrose Hotel, provides the player character with everything except for a way out.
  • One new faction type in Stellaris' Synthetic Dawn expansion are "Rogue Servitors," Artificial Intelligences that were gradually given more and more authority over their creators' lives until they eventually came to run the planet. They're not hostile to organics, they simply feel that it's in other species' best interests to let machines run their lives and keep them in pampered but efficient living sectors, and can't fathom why anyone would prioritize independence over such a blissful, carefree existence. And this is actually a game mechanic - Rogue Servitors house any non-robotic species in "Organic Sanctuary" structures, and the greater the ratio of these "bio-trophies" to robots, the happier and more productive those robots are. Though you can choose whether to enable migration controls for your bio-trophies, and if you don't, they will inevitably try going to planets that are inhospitable to their species (such as humans trying to live on an ice world) and/or planets that you either haven't gotten around to building Sancturaries for them on yet or don't intend to (because you intend to strip-mine it or turn it into a planet-wide power plant or factory to make the resources you need to keep the organics happy). If they end up in such places they just take up housing space and contribute nothing, and might even end up causing unrest among the robots by being unhappy, so denying them free migration is the more efficent option.
  • After becoming the new King Of Town, Strong Bad is kept in the Of Town's castle under constant surveillance and (over)protection from the Homestarmy in Strong Badia the Free. Escaping takes the entire rest of the episode.
  • Sunless Skies has Perdurance, a large estate where Her Renewed Majesty sends the children of her favourite courtiers as a reward. She created a single perfect day that is repeated endlessly as in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, and the use of hours ensures that they remain forever young and beautiful. The game compares them to jewels preserved in a glass case. However, as "perfect" the day might seem, some young folks like the Luckless Sister actively loathe the monotony of their life in Perdurance. Too bad they can't leave unless their parents displease Her Renewed Majesty.
  • Tales of the Abyss has Luke, who is not allowed to leave the family manor due to his kidnapping seven years earlier, to prevent such a tragedy from occuring again. He's so sheltered that not only does he not have basic knowledge of things like stores, he does not know what the city he lives in looks like.
    • Emperor Peony has the same problem. He was kept in a manor house smaller than Luke's as a child, and had to get some of the local children to help him sneak out and see the town. Now, he lives in the royal palace, and he can go places on official business, but never unaccompanied, and he doesn't seem to have much appreciation for the opulence of his surroundings given the life they represent. He also still sneaks out to wander the city now and then, much to the dismay of everyone else.
  • In Team Fortress 2, after Heavy, his mother, and his sisters escaped from The Gulag together, Heavy turned his cabin into one of these, out of the fear that the KGB agents would return to murder his family. His sisters later protest, telling him that while they love him very much, and that they'll always appreciate his protection, they've become very adept at defending themselves without him, and they want the ability to travel, eat without having to hunt bear every day, and perhaps get a chance to date, or get laid. Heavy tells them they're all grown up girls now, they don't need his help anymore, and lets them free to do as they wish.
  • In the Touhou Project series, Flandre Scarlet is confined to her room during the events of Scarlet Devil Mansion, due to her incredibly destructive powers. The room is very lavish, and she is not in want for toys (which she always ends up breaking), but centuries of confinement have taken their toll on her sanity.
  • Toriel in Undertale does this to the player character. At first, she is overjoyed to have them in her home and was looking forward to raising them as her own child and preparing a curriculum for your education. She even has a room ready for them and it's already furnished with toys, a desk, and a bed. Her mood sours when the player character tries to leave and she warns them several times to go back to the room while she destroys the only exit leading out of the Ruins. Following her to the very end of the hall forces them to fight her to prove that they're are strong enough to survive on their own. If the player spares Toriel peacefully, she apologizes for trying to keep them trapped and lets them go with a Final First Hug while asking them not to come back.
  • Wrathion of World of Warcraft claims this would have been his fate as the last black drake if he had not escaped the Red Dragonflight. He would have been effectively imprisoned inside Wyrmrest Accord and likely kept as breeding stock to try and recreate the uncorrupted Black Dragonflight, even if he wouldn't have been treated as a prisoner.
  • In XCOM 2, this is the state of the city centers controlled by the ADVENT Administration. The alien regime has rebuilt many cities into shining metropolises filled with parks and monuments to the "Elders," where citizens enjoy a high standard of living, delicious ADVENT Burgers, and free access to gene clinics that have wiped out most diseases. But citizens also live under constant scrutiny and have to go through regular security screenings, heavily-armored ADVENT "peacekeepers" patrol the streets and violently put down any signs of dissent, pets and livestock are forbidden, and those gene clinics are actually a front for the aliens' plan to gather Human Resources. As for those ADVENT Burgers, one character points out it's been a long time since anyone's seen a cow...
  • In Yakuza 0, Goro Majima works in the Sotenbori district of Osaka as the manager of a highly popular and financially successful hostess club. Though he is respected and popular in the club, however, he is kept under the thumb of the Shimano crime family, unable to leave Kansai without endangering his life. Also, since most of his personal income goes towards paying off his debt his actual living quarters are quite spartan, simply consisting of a mat and a radio.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Toma's route in Amnesia: Memories, the heroine is kidnapped by Toma and kept in a cage full of plushies. He lets her get out to go to the toilet and to shower herself, but always with him keeping vigilance.
  • One of the meanings of the title The Confines of the Crown is how the nobility are all imprisoned by their roles and the expectations of others. More specifically, in Princess Cassidy's case, she's pretty much locked into her rooms in the castle to keep her safe.
  • Danganronpa: All of the settings count. They're all quite nice places (a school building, a luxury resort and a campus meant specifically for students to explore their talents) with plenty of things to do and all physical necessities taken care of, but they're also completely closed off, with the students having no idea what became of their homes and loved ones. And that's before Monokuma shows up...
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, the school itself ultimately becomes this to Makoto, Togami, Aoi, Hagakure and Touko (at least until she died) in Chapter 5's Bad Ending. All of them say they're living happily, but their huge talents have gone to waste and now they're confined to the school grounds, having a sort-of little family (and apparently Aoi is the only one giving birth to the kids, since Touko is dead and we don't know when she kicked it) that won't leave the place ever...
    • Monokuma discusses the trope in the original game when he blames the students for killing each other; as he notes, none of his motives ever involve jeopardizing their life in the school (interfering with food supply, shutting off the air purifier, etc.), and they could simply ignore everything he says and remain there safely for the rest of their lives, so of course it's their fault if they don't want to spend their lives in one building or succumb to his psychological torture.
    • In the sequel, the trope is discussed. In his fourth Free Time event, Fuyuhiko Kuzuryuu complains that he'd rather stay at a prisonnote  than be trapped on Jabberwock Island (or rather, a virtual reality simulator, but that's a long story). Hinata then tells him that it's an odd case, as the place has soft beds, a beautiful ocean and entertainment, a point Kuzuryuu concedes. Essentially, a gilded cage is still preferable to an actual cage. The class does end up spending the rest of their lives there, because their actions under Junko's mind control mean that the rest of the world hates them and it's the only place they can live in peace.
  • In Mystic Messenger, some of the routes have the main character being kept in one place for her own protection from one thing or another. It is most prevalent in Jumin's route, but the bomb trapping MC in Rika's apartment also counts, and Zen's first bad ending may count depending on interpretation.
  • Sweet No Death by Arcadekitten revolves around a kind witch who turns a village of Funny Animals into a Sickeningly Sweet paradise she micromanages. The Big Bad, Lambchop, becomes a Serial Killer after realizing that they're all just playthings to her and that he has no real control over his life while even Death Is Cheap because of her.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Kinzo kept his illegitimate daughter, by his lover Beatrice, in the Kuwadorian mansion in a hidden part of the forest near his family home. It was a very comfortable house and all her needs were provided by her very rich father and his servants, but she was not allowed to leave and her very existence was kept a secret. The girl longed to leave, or simply understand who she was, but Kinzo could not let her. When she tried to escape with help from a young Rosa, her lack of experience resulted in her falling off a cliff.

  • In Girl Genius, Baron Wulfenbach takes the children of the nobles in his empire to his floating dirigible fortress as his students/hostages. They receive the best education and upbringing the Baron can provide for them, and most of the students do enjoy their life there and form friendships with the others. None of them ever forgets that they are the Baron's prisoners and hostages meant to keep their families in line.
  • Blindsprings has the main character, Tamaura, spend all of her childhood in two of these, and that's saying a lot. In fact, she was straight-up teleported from one cage to another. She had to rescued from the latter one literally kicking and screaming. Lampshaded to the point of being a Visual Pun here.
  • In one mini-arc of Jack, a Fallen Angel tricks a hapless dupe into signing a contract that traps him in one of these. The "apartment" is fully stocked with material comforts (videogames, free pizza, maids w/ benefits, etc.) and he never has to work a day in his life. In truth it's a Lotus-Eater Machine in Hell that feeds off him and provides power to the Sin Vanity. When he realizes the truth, his mind is no longer able to accept the illusion and he is trapped in an empty room with no way out, his body long since atrophied.
  • In Our Little Adventure, Julie's former boss has been kidnapped by Brian to make drinks for him and Angelo. Judging by how well Angelo tips and the nature of the Souballo Empire, Mr. Patterson is probably living in a Gilded Cage now.
  • In Drowtales, the Sullisin'rune dome is lavish, luxurious, always has a party going but is unquestionably this. The Sullisin'rune are the remnants of a once great Elven empire who fled underground following a war that devastated the surface, and while they lived in peace with their neighbors the Sharen the two eventually came to blows and the Sullisin'rune lost, leaving those who remained to live in their dome under the "protection" of the Sharen. Their Illhar'ess, Ash'waren, is well aware that their dome is really a cage and that her people have grown complacent and lazy over the centuries, and she has been taking advantage of Loophole Abuse to get back at the Sharen through the Sarghress clan without technically breaking the terms of their surrender.
  • In morphE the Seedlings are confined to Amical's manor. It's a beautiful mansion coated head to toe with portraits, but it is still a prison that the main characters may not leave.
  • In Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc Usagi is horrified when she realized she inadvertently created one of these for Chibiusa: yes, she's treated with all the respect due to the heir to the throne, but by wishing she never awakened as a Senshi, Chibiusa never time traveled to the past and gained the experience she needed to be Queen. Usagi left Chibiusa unprepared for battle and vulnerable to brainwashing by Servant Chaos. And all because she didn't want to acknowledge that the Balance Between Good and Evil existed. On a slightly different note, Servant Chaos's power kept Luna, Artemis, and Diana trapped in the restored Moon Palace, unable to help the Senshi much.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Galatea gets sentenced to one of these for stupidly unleashing the Butterfly of Iron. The crime was incredibly serious, but Voluptua rationalized that nobody had been seriously hurt and Galatea was a child... and that the cushy prison was of a nature that she would probably learn a valuable lesson from it anyway.
  • Under the Oak Tree: Riftan often tries to prevent his wife Max from doing any kind of labor, and stay confined to her quarters. It comes from good intentions, because he wants to give her the life of a leisurely noble he feels she deserves, but it drives her crazy. After they get into their first major fight over it, he finally realizes his error and relents.

    Web Original 
  • The Addict music video shows that Angel Dust from Hazbin Hotel lives in one of these; he lives it up as a High Class Call Guy with all the luxury and intoxicants he wants... but he endures both financial and (as is heavily implied) sexual abuse from his boss, Valentino, and he feels helpless to actually leave. While his stated reason for joining the titular hotel is just for the free room, he admits that he also thinks that it might be an escape from under Valentino's thumb.
  • One of the reasons Weiss Schnee from RWBY is trying to become a huntress is to escape this type of treatment at the hands of her family.
  • Many humanoid containment chambers at the SCP Foundation accommodate the subject’s needs in a way that helps keep their anomaly under control and they’re given things like books, television, and video games, with some of them even being given (limited) access to the internet. However, this doesn’t change the fact that a lot of them would prefer to be back with their friends and family and not locked up and experimented on.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • "The King of Omashu".
      Katara: This is a prison cell? But it's so nice.
      Aang: He did say it was newly refurbished.
      Sokka: Nice or not, we're still prisoners.
    • This is how Toph grew up. She lived in luxury and had the run of the whole estate. But she wasn't allowed to travel outside the estate or exercise her incredible potential at Earthbending — her parents thought this was too dangerous for their "helpless little blind girl." Nobody other than her family and her Earthbending teacher knew that she even existed.
    • The Gaang's experience in Ba Sing Se. They were allowed to indulge in all the luxury they wanted, as long as they didn't try to leave, or break the rules, or evade the constant surveillance, or search for Appa, or tell anyone about Long Feng's Government Conspiracy or the war with the Fire Nation... Toph wasn't the least bit surprised at this, because she's been there before.
    • In the spinoff comic The Search, after Ursa marries Ozai, she is told that while her life as queen will be much more luxurious than in her home village, she cannot see her family, friends or old boyfriend Ikem again, have certain possessions or go anywhere she wants without the royal family's permission.
    • In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, similar to Toph, the titular character lives in a large mansion with nothing to worry about except mastering all four elements in safety. However, said mansion is located in a compound miles away from the rest of the Southern Water Tribe — including Korra's own parents. It is fenced off and guarded and Korra isn't allowed to leave for even a brief period of time without permission. With an upbringing like hers it's little wonder she has trouble relating to other people. However, there was a general need for her protection. When she was younger a group known as the Red Lotus tried to kidnap and kill her.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "A World Below Us", Gi accidentally loses her oxygen bottle while diving and gets rescued by a young man named Pontis, who takes her to his home in a secret underwater city called Oceanus. At first, Gi considers the city a paradise, given that it's all about her element, but changes her mind upon hearing that she's not allowed to ever leave it in order to keep it a secret.
  • The Dragon Prince: Midway through Season 2, Viren uses a Magic Mirror stolen from the Dragon King's lair to contact an elf mage named Aaravos, who appears to live in a mansion of some sort. Later on in Season 3, Aaravos reveals that it's in fact a prison he was trapped in by the Dragon King; when Viren expresses surprise at this, given how opulent it is, Aaravos agrees that it is, but notes that it's still a prison.
  • Gravity Falls: In the Grand Finale "Weirdmaggedon", Bill Cipher traps Mabel Pines in a bubble that houses Mabeland, a world that is a fusion between this trope and Lotus-Eater Machine. She is rescued from the bubble in the second part of the finale.
    • In a way, Pacifica's life. She is from the richest family in town and she has a high social standing. In exchange for this, however, she has highly Abusive Parents and her family's history is filled with evil acts.
  • Hilda: In episode 11, Hilda and the Woodman end up in a magic house that gives them everything they ask for, but refuses to let them leave.
  • Justice League: In the Justice Lords' alternate universe, Lois is not officially a prisoner and is kept in a very lovely penthouse suite, but that world's Superman refuses to let her leave, for her own protection. This is basically the Lords' "leadership" in microcosm - everything is nice and peaceful provided you do what they say. Step out of line, however, and you might just get lobotomised.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012): In the episode "Heart of Parkness", Sunil the mongoose rescues a group of raccoons from a cobra. The raccoons declare him their king and wait on him hand and foot. He enjoys it for a while, but when he tries to go home, they stop him, ordering him to guard them from future threats forever.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: This is Adrien Agreste's life. He lives in a giant mansion, his room looks more like a personal arcade, and has virtually no freedom whatsoever. His domineering father controls his entire life, allowing him to leave only for school, photoshoots, all with an imposing bodyguard shadowing him. And according to the Origins Episode, it used to be even worse, as he was homeschooled. Being Cat Noir allows Adrien the freedom to be whoever he wants without worrying about upsetting his father.
  • Sofia the First: In "The Secret Library", Sofia is tasked with giving happier endings to the stories found in said library. In the first story, she helps to rescue the pegasus Mazzimo, who is the long lost brother of her own pegasus friend, Minimus. When they find him, Minimus is confused as to why he would leave what he calls "the nicest stable ever." Mazzimo tells him that "A cozy cage is still a cage. I'd rather be free".
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In an episode, Plankton wins Spongebob's contract in a poker game and imprisons him in the Chum Bucket until he starts making Krabby Patties. To entice Spongebob to be more co-operative, Plankton starts catering to his every whim. This soon backfires when Spongebob turns into a spoiled brat to the point where Plankton begs Mr. Krabs to take him off his hands.
  • The Venture Brothers - the Monarch, with captives Brock and Hank, think he's providing this:
    Monarch: I treat my captives as kings. You shall be given the grandest of accommodations! It will be a far cry from sleeping over Dr. Venture's garage like so much Fonzie!
    Hank: Hey, last time I was here you kept me in a stinky ol' jail cell!
    Monarch: broke my heart, Hank.

    Real Life 
  • The largest bases in Iraq created hotel-style "Freedom Rest" facilities where Coalition soldiers could take time off. While inside the facility, soldiers were permitted to dress in civilian attire, read books, play video games, whatever they wanted. The problem was that, for safety and accountability purposes, you were not allowed to leave.note  As a result, many soldiers preferred to take time off in their tent rather than go through the bother of being caged in a hotel.
    • Even better, the name was likely not tongue-in-cheek at all.
  • Speaking of Iraq, during the regime of Saddam Hussein, Uday Hussein (one of his sons) "recruited" a soldier by the name of Latif Yahia from the frontlines of the Iran-Iraq war who he vaguely remembered from school for looking similarly to himself to become his body double in the very likely event that an assassination attempt be carried out against Uday. While he was being trained to mimic Uday's mannerisms, he was given his own room in the Royal Palace that contained expensive colognes, fancy suits, silk bedsheets, Rolex watches, etc. - which sounds nice until you realize that these were all items that Uday himself wore or used and that being accustomed to these items was simply part of his training to become a professional bullet-catcher for Uday; this, combined with the fact that Latif was not allowed to leave this room unless Uday gave him permission to do so, led Latif to describe these living conditions as a "golden cage".
  • There was a comfortable resort or something in Scotland during WWII where some people who knew too much were kept comfortably, but not allowed to leave. Also, some spy-defectors were also confined to mansions (at least in the UK, maybe the US as well) while the genuine-ness of their defection was being determined.
    • This was also done to high-ranking German officers who'd been captured. After their initial interrogation they'd be kept with fellow officers in a mansion with waiters and other amenities, unaware that this was simply to get their guard down as all their conversations were being taped.
    • Field Marshal Paulus of the Wehrmacht was put into one of these when he surrendered to the Soviet Union. The other German POWs? Not so much.
    • In the U.S., the Geneva convention was followed to the letter. In exchange for not escaping, Wehrmacht officers were put in luxurious accommodations as afforded for their rank, with one camp even being nicknamed "the Fritz Ritz", after the luxury hotel chain. Enlisted personnel were allowed free classes if they wanted, allowed to play sports within the camps, and paid a reasonable wage if they worked, under heavy guard, outside the P.O.W. camps. Ironically, the food served in these camps is said to have been of much better quality than that given to G.I.s'. In camps within The Deep South, German prisoners could visit, with strict supervision, businesses that were labeled "whites only."
    • Farm Hall was a British country manor used to house captured German nuclear physicists. The place was heavily bugged, and conversations were monitored and transcribed to determine the progress of the German nuclear program (which turned out to be very little).
  • When Mary, Queen of Scots first became the prisoner of her cousin Elizabeth, she was kept in one of these. The later portion of her prison term was spent in a considerably less gilded cage.
  • French nobles were virtually imprisoned at Sun King Louis XIV of France's Versailles for several months of the year. Versailles was unusual in that the cage was social rather than physical. The nobles were free to leave almost any time they wanted to, but they risked suffering social disgrace and losing political influence, since they risked not being around when the king dispensed status and patronage. While there, nobles were allowed to wander the oppulent grounds, which had beautiful gardens and more than 1,400 fountains, and were surrounded by exquisite art when indoors. They were well fed and kept entertained by nightly performances, including plays written specifically for them by Molière and Goldoni. In a subversion, however, the living spaces were, by and large, cramped (making modern student dormitories look luxurious) and there was a lack of adequate toilet facilities, so the few there were had to be shared by dozens of people. Many would simply find a quiet corner and relieve themselves on the floor. This meant that the palace stank to high heaven and cartloads of human waste were removed regularly to try and maintain hygiene.
  • The Doge ("Duke" in the Venetian dialect) of Venice was rarely allowed to leave the lavish Palazzo Ducale. The nobles were keen on maintaining executive power and preventing the establishment of a hereditary monarchy (something which was repeatedly attempted in the 8th century). The real power resided with the Council of Ten, a body which was technically reserved for times of crisis, but in the end were the biggest decision-makers in the entire republic from the 13th century up to the destruction of the republic at the hands of Napoleon.
  • Despite its sinister reputation, the pre-Revolutionary Bastille largely fit this trope.
    • The prisoners were mostly nobles incarcerated for political reasons or mentall illness and it wasn't unusual for them to be released and rise back up to prestigious positions. Because of this, the wardens avoided antagonizing them. Meanwhile, the guards were all invalided soldiers who enjoyed the light duties and the opportunity to suck up and try to gain wealthy patrons.
    • Despite its size, the Bastille only held around 20-to-50 people at any one time, so space was plentiful. Prisoners were kept in well-furnished quarters, provided with good food and decent wine, and allowed to keep things sent by their families. On top of this, they received a generous spending allowance that could be used at shops within the fortress, which all had selections almost as good as the ones in Paris. They were even allowed to keep pets. Visiting rules were also lax, so family and friends were free to come and go at almost all hours and the interior of the fortress was pleasant enough that visitors would promenade around it when the weather was nice.
    • In fact, the only thing of which the prisoners were deprived was dessert with their meals and they accepted that, as prisoners, they had to be deprived of something to remind them that they were being punished.
  • Minimum security prisons are sort of like being on house arrest at a resort, except you're required to do community service and the like. Granted, the people who go here tend to be white collar offenders.
  • In the minds of Western Orientalists Ottoman harems were this, not so much in real life. Life in a Turkish harem tended to be monastic in nature, and only a few residents were actually expected to have sexual encounters with the Sultan, while others lived in perfect chastity. The few high-ranking members of the harem, who usually included the Sultan's mother (Valide Sultan) and her handmaidens, did live a life of luxury, but they were hardly confined in the way Orientalists imagined, either — a great many Sultans found themselves ruling under their mother's strict thumb.
    • The average expected lifespan of a new concubine was five years. The harem was a true snake pit with the various concubines plotting against each other and against their children whilst competing of the favour of the Sultan, and eunuchs were used to execute or assassinate too ambitious concubines. A favoured way to get rid of an undesired concubine was to stuff her in a bag and throw her to sea. Sometimes an unwanted concubine could be given to a sultan's favourite - but that involved making her infertile by inserting a red-hot poker in her vagina, destroying her womb (and making her incapable of producing competitors to the throne).
  • The kafes of the later Ottoman Turkey. While the early Sultans resolved the inheritance issues by simply murdering, assassinating or executing all brothers and half-brothers, this left the Osmanli family line on the verge of extinction several times. The later Sultans resolved the problem by locking the brothers to a confined part of the Palace. Some inmates of the Kafes grew old and died there before having the opportunity to succeed to the throne. Confinement in the Kafes had a great impact on the personalities of the captives in the Kafes and many of them developed psychological disorders. At least one deposed sultan and one heir to the throne committed suicide in the Kafes. The last Ottoman sultan, Mehmet VI Vahidettin (1918–22) was aged 56 when he came to the throne and had been either in the harem or the Kafes his whole life. He was confined to the Kafes by his uncle (Abdülaziz) and had stayed there during the reigns of his three older brothers. It was the longest and last confinement of a sultan by his predecessors.
    • The Prince Islands outside Constantinople (Istanbul) served the same purpose - a gilded cage for the princes.
  • This is the guiding philosophy of Norway's prison system — treat inmates well, with a plush environment, in order to rehabilitate them and reduce recidivism rates.
  • In the Soviet Gulag, there were special prisons known as sharashki, where inmates, usually those with some talent useful to the state like scientists or engineers, were given comfortable accommodations and high-quality food, allowed to wear their own clothing, and given a good deal of autonomy in return for working on science projects like the early space program (Sergei "The Chief Designer" Korolev began his career in one.)
  • After Napoleon's first defeat, he was exiled in the island of Elba, where he was given sovereignty over the island and had his own personal guard of six hundred men. The island was guarded by the British Navy, but that didn't stop him from escaping.
  • Elizabeth Báthory was sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest for the many heinous crimes she committed against the peasants of her country and the surrounding countries, only being allowed company long enough to have food and drink delivered. Even though the bit about her bathing in blood is probably myth, it's certain she was vain, so leaving her alive to grow old and ugly without allowing anyone to see her while she was still youthful may have been A Fate Worse Than Death. This punishment proved to be severe enough that she only lasted a handful of years out of what should have been at least a few more decades, for reasons scholars suggest range from nobody willing to deal with her long enough to notice health issues to simply giving up and dying a Death by Despair.
  • Truth in Television, the practice of exchanging hostages throughout history generally involves treating them very comfortably, though they were still prisoners that their captors could execute at any time should the other party break the deals with them.
  • Similar to the Bastille example, the Tower of London was used as a prison at various points in its history, but it was originally built and used as a royal residence and fortress, and when it was used for prisoners, it was almost always for nobles or other high-ranking persons. As such, the accommodations were generally typical of what a nobleman could expect outside the tower, and a prisoner could buy various luxuries. Of course, some prisoners were subject to torture while there, so it wasn't that gilded.
  • Abusive Parents sometimes turn their homes into this, belittling their children into believing that they cannot survive outside the home, or bribing them with gifts so they feel guilty if they complain or want to move out.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama, after moving into the White House, claimed that "The White House is like a prison. Though it's a really nice prison."
    • And she wasn't the first First Lady to voice that: Martha Washington noted that she and George felt like "children out of school" after his presidency was over and it was before the White House was completely built.
  • Brazilian former Judge Nicolau dos Santos Neto, who was arrested and convicted for embezzling funds from the building of a courtroom, is occasionally transferred from prison to house arrest on the pretense of treating a depression case.
  • When Galileo Galilei chose to illegally publish his work rather than frame it as a theory (The Church refused to make his solar-centric universe part of her dogma), he was put on house arrest. Fortunately, his line of work didn't require leaving the house at all, and they didn't take away his telescope, so he just went on doing the exact same thing he was doing before. Whoops?
  • In Japan this was enforced during the reign of the Tokugawa Shogunate with the sankin-kōtai, or "alternate attendance" system. The regional daimyo (and a host of their warriors and servants) were required to spend every other year or so in the capital of Edo, where they would lounge about in luxurious estates and socialize with other feudal lords, but otherwise couldn't leave the city. This served numerous purposes: the regular processions to and from the capital required the construction and maintenance of roads that also facilitated trade, culture and innovations got spread throughout the country, the cost of these trips and the capital residences kept the daimyo too poor to cause trouble, and their time in the capital made it easy for the shogun to keep an eye on them - especially since their wives and heirs were kept there permanently as hostages.
  • What being a foreign tourist in North Korea (if you could even do so thanks to strict travel guidelines) entails to. As you are taken on a strict path that consists of only the capital city of Pyongyang, you are constantly supervised and only left alone in a hotel only made for foreigners, even at said hotel you are not allowed to leave, and you are only shown what is heavily staged to you to show that North Korea is a socialist paradise compared to capitalist wastelands while you are being shielded from images of poverty and famine.
    • Chou Eun-Hee and Shin Sang-ok were a South Korean couple known for producing quality films. For this reason, Kim Jong Il had them kidnapped and brought to him so they could make better movies for North Korea. They enjoyed luxurious accommodations, but they were under no illusions that their lifestyle came at the expense of the North Korean people and got out as soon as they could.
  • In a similar vein, Turkmenistan, the only other country to give the Norks a run for their money in Totalitarianism, requires all tourists to be accompanied by government minders - though the Turkmens allow a bit more freedom in urban areas relative to North Korea.
  • Eleanor of Brittany lived in one for most of her life. As the daughter of King John of England's older brother, she was technically the rightful heiress to the throne and so John couldn't afford to let her go free and potentially try to challenge his kingship. While she lived in a castle and still enjoyed all the luxuries and dignity of a princess, including the occasional gift from her uncle, she nevertheless spent most of her life confined and kept under watch.
  • Life as a member of any kind of royal family has often been described as one. On the one hand, you have a life of luxury and privilege most can only dream of. On the other, you are expected to conform militantly to the expectations of your role, your every move is harshly scrutinized, you often have little say in your duties, your relationships and marriage are usually decided for you and you are raised from birth to inherit a position, regardless of whether you want it or not.
    • Prince Harry stated a lot of things in his memoir Spare that alluded to this, even though he didn't use the term outright (and actually revealed that his life actually wasn't so glamorous), and earlier, during his notorious interview with Oprah Winfrey, referred to his father and older brother as being "trapped" in the system, having to endure nearly everything cited above, also explaining this as the reason he wanted to leave:
    "When is someone in his family going to break free and live?"
  • This is generally believed to have been part of the backstory of Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure that loosely inspired the fictional Dracula. Vlad and his brother were taken hostage by the Ottoman Empire to be used as leverage against their father, who was allied with the Empire's enemies. While the pair were treated well during their captivity, they were not allowed to leave and were consequently cut off from their family and their culture; it's believed that Vlad's brutal attacks against the Ottomans were born of his resentment for essentially having his childhood stolen from him.


Video Example(s):


Prince Igor in Captivity

Prince Igor, captured by Khan Konchak in battle, is treated in captivity like an honored guest.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / GildedCage

Media sources: