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Glassy Prison

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Prisoners in glass boxes shouldn't throw shade.

So a character has been busted, caught, kidnapped, jailed ... whatever. They now have to be contained somewhere, and what better choice than a transparent cell with zero privacy?

Being imprisoned in such a manner, functionally on exhibit for the captors, may be a demeaning moment, or an opportunity to show how self-assured the character is. Possibly a result of the character falling victim to The Collector. A Poisonous Captive might take advantage of the transparency to communicate with their captors. Overlaps with Human Popsicle if the character is rendered immobile. That said, having one or more walls be see-through does have practical advantages for a jailer - if the guards can casually look into the room at any time, then it becomes a lot harder for the prisoner to do things like make shivs, attempt to saw through the window bars or dig an escape tunnel without getting caught.


This trope comes into action when a character is deliberately placed within a transparent cage to hold them. This transparent material can be glass, another material, or Some Kind of Force Field. If only one wall is transparent, then it's a Force-Field Door or a material version thereof. Often comes with a side-order of Nobody Poops. Compare Cardboard Prison and Crystal Prison.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Baki the Grappler: Ryukou Yanagi is first shown imprisoned in a tempered glass box, the walls of which are perfectly transparent and able to withstand a missile strike. He breaks out of it with minimal effort.
  • Naruto: The Water Prison Technique traps the target is unable to move due to the sheer heaviness of water.
  • Snow of MÄR interestingly averts this trope, as though she encases herself in ice when she first appears it's made quite clear that she can only stay in her ice prison for a couple of hours before she freezes to death.
  • Pokémon:
    • Team Rocket’s boss, Giovanni, puts Meloetta, Ash, and Pikachu in two of these as part of his plan in the Best Wishes episode “Meloetta and the Undersea Temple”.
    • Team Rocket puts Pikachu in one of these in the Best Wishes episode "The Name's N".
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-: R! Sakura and R! Syaoran voluntarily enter one of these, where they are separated from each other for a long period of time as their :price for one of Yuuko's wishes.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman Eternal, after capturing Hush, Batman keeps him imprisoned in a transparent cell in the Batcave.
  • Depending on the Writer, Arkham Asylum's cells are sometimes portrayed as this (see Western Animation section below). Other creators portray them with quasi-Victorian or even Medieval-style iron-doors with only a food- and eye-slot.
  • Mega-city one's incarceration cubes, in Two Thousand AD, have sometimes been portrayed this way.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • The blue canine-like alien Stitch, of Lilo & Stitch is introduced to the audience in a holding cell of this variety, trying vainly to break out.
  • Titan A.E. features Cale Tucker being held in the brig of the Drej mothership. The entire cell is made of translucent energy.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Raoul Silva in Skyfall is captured by Bond and incarcerated in a glass cell in MI6 headquarters before being interrogated by M.
  • Species: The young Sil is held inside a confinement area with glass walls. When the project director decides to kill her with poison gas, she breaks through the glass and escapes the laboratory.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Hannibal Lecter's cell at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane has a glass wall facing the hallway, as he's by far the most dangerous inmate there.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Magneto is imprisoned within a plastic, transparent prison at the end. Also doubles as a Tailor-Made Prison as Magneto would be able to use his powers to escape from a cell that used metal in its construction.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Large panes of glass form the ceiling of Magneto's cell underneath the Pentagon.
  • In Clockstoppers, the corporation responsible for creating the hypertime watch keeps an accomplice who attempted to escape earlier in a prison cell made of glass in the center of the lab floor. He was in hyper-time, meaning that the onlookers couldn't see him, but he wrote disdainful messages on the walls of his cell that could be seen after spending a week in hypertime and aging prematurely.
  • In Austin Powers Goldmember, Dr. Evil was imprisoned in transparent prison where every one can see his every move, including the unsanitary ones.

  • In His Dark Materials The Authority is shown to have been imprisoned in a glass box by his henchman, Metatron.
  • In Kur of Gor Tarl Cabot is imprisoned in what the narrator calls a "glassine" tube. The narrator means "glass-like" but that's not what glassine means.
  • In The Butterfly Garden, the Garden consists of corridors of glass-walled cells. Heavy walls lower when the gardening staff arrives to hide the kidnapped girls. Then there are the display cases along the hallways; when a Butterfly turns twenty-one the Gardener murders her and preserves her body in a glass cell filled with resin, the butterfly tattooed on her back facing out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack has Alex and her family trapped in one of these.
  • Alias: Irina Dereveko is held in one of these by the CIA.
  • Nikita: After being overthrown by his Dragon Ascendant Amanda at the end of season 1, Percy ends up in one of these. Naturally, he eventually escapes.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Silence", Jamie Tennyson lives in a glass cell in the basement of his club for a year to prove that he is fulfilling his part of the bargain and remaining silent.
  • The Blacklist:
    • Done to Raymond Reddington after he turns himself in to the FBI.
    • Interestingly subverted in one episode where a gang of killers infiltrate the FBI compound and Reddington locks himself in the bulletproof, airtight cage, effectively turning his prison into a bunker so he can wait for rescue.
  • On Good Eats Cocoa Carl is being kept in one of these (in a Shout-Out to Silence of the Lambs), as Alton comes to question him about the ingredients in a protein bar manufactured by his company that was being marketed as "health food."
  • The US military lock Carl Creel in one in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Shadows".
  • Sherlock episode "The Final Problem" reveals that Sherlock has a sister and she is housed in a maximum-security psychiatric facility, inside a glass chamber. Cue a Window Love scene between the two siblings. She actually uses this trope to her advantage, setting the scene to look like it's in play, when actually the glass pane isn't there at all, giving her the chance to surprise Sherlock when he thinks he's physically safe from her.
  • Dracula2020: Count Dracula gets stuck in one after reaching England after his regenerative coma. He is quickly let out of it with the help of a lawyer though.
  • Jake 2.0 featured one of these, a glass-walled holding cell (with no facilities) in the middle of an empty room with constant surveillance. Its use in the series emphasized that the characters held there (various terrorists) were dangerous not because of any special Jake-style abilities but because of the threat they posed to national security. (Ironically, Jake's nemesis DuMont, who could have used special looking after, ended up in a regular prison, which he easily wormed his way out of.)
  • An improvised version occurs in Titans (2018) when Dr. Adamson is kept handcuffed to a rail in a glass-walled shower room in one of Bruce Wayne's (many) luxury apartments.

    Video Games 
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: At the end of the game Regime Superman is imprisoned in one of these, with red sun lamps bathing the entire cell in red light, hence the clear walls. One of the stages in Injustice 2 takes place in front of it, with Regime Superman pacing back and forth and watching the fight.
  • Spyro: Season of Ice has all the faeries encased in ice by an evil sorcerer named Grendor.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum Clayface is in one and in Batman: Arkham City Calendar Man is in another.
  • In Portal 2, when the protagonist Chell is tricked into GLaDOS's trap, she is contained in a glass cell, similar to the cell at the start of Portal.
  • Constructing one of these is an early objective in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and you are treated to a brief cutscene of the captive alien inside it whenever your team brings in a sample of a new species alive.
  • Splatoon and Splatoon 2 feature a variation on this, as DJ Octavio is repeatedly captured and imprisoned in an oversized snow globe after being defeated. And we do mean repeatedly: redoing the Final Boss stage is a case of him simply breaking out of the snow globe, either by himself when no one was looking or one of the characters letting him go themselves.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Hanna-Barbera's Superfriends has a Mad Scientist called The Raven imprisoned in a glass cube. Nonetheless, The Raven is able to construct a lifelike robot duplicate of himself and escape.
  • The Archons of "The Sleeping Planet" believe that Josie and the Pussycats In Outer Space have stolen their Robotron, and imprison them in a huge transparent bubble.
  • The most secure cells in the below-ground Acmetropolis Prison are an isolated circular platform with a transparent dome. The Sagittarius Stomper was put in one, alongside his mother. Likewise for Mallory Mastermind. And for four of the six Loonatics Unleashed.
  • The cells in Arkham Asylum in Batman: The Animated Series have one wall that is made out of glass.
  • Professor Pericles in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is imprisoned in a see-through cage.
  • In the Totally Spies! episode "Future Shock", the Spies' adult counterparts have a version of this that can be carried like a suitcase (by two people) and can still fit a prisoner inside, useful for both arrest and holding of prisoners. (Mandy is apprehended this way, but unfortunately, it does nothing to quiet her.)