Villains love to wear a long, dark cape.
In the 19th century, the opera cape was a fashion accessory that upper class men wore At the Opera Tonight. It was grand, but not too flashy, and went great with a top hat, white tie and tails. But fashion changed, and the cape went out of style, destined to fade into the kind of outfit you would see only in Period Pieces.
But then Dracula was adapted into a hit stage play, and an even bigger hit film. Bela Lugosi used his old-fashioned cape, and turned it into something iconic, giving the garment a sense of grandeur and menace, especially as he flourished it whenever possible.
Since then, any similar cape has become an iconic accessory for major villains everywhere, from The Dragon to the Evil Overlord. Also a standard outfit of the Classical Movie Vampire. Even Dastardly Whiplash has been known to twirl one.
But all have to fit these three criteria:
- Long (at least knee length)
- Dark-colored (not necessarily black, but it wouldn't hurt)
Compare Cape Swish, Badass Cape, Spikes of Villainy, Superheroes Wear Capes (which can include villains), Pimped-Out Cape, Simple, yet Opulent. All-Encompassing Mantle is when this trope goes overboard.
- Battle Royale: Kazuo Kiriyama's Coat Cape looks so much like this you'd think it was this to begin with.
- The Count from Gankutsuou.
- Zero's cape in Code Geass, even though he is supposed to be a good guy. The show is full of Black-and-Gray Morality though. And Zero sees himself as doing evil for the greater good.
- Oda Nobunaga from Sengoku Otome.
- Mushiban, the main villain in the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 Gogo movie, wears a cape like this. It also has that high collar.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, the Endless Magician, Battler Ushiromiya, wears one of these from Episode 6 onward.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Oktavia Von Seckendorff wears one to complement Sayaka's Badass Cape.
- Batman, who uses his cape in a very Dracula-like fashion. Bob Kane himself cited Lugosi's Dracula as one of Batman's inspirations.
- In the Supergirl story Demon Spawn, villain Nightflame wears a long, flowing, black cape which has a high collar.
- Judge Dredd:
- Judge Fear, the largest and most imposing of the four Dark Judges, is also the only one who wears a huge black cape.
- Judge Death himself adopts a black cape after repairing his body in the hospital on Dominion.
- Megamind: The Black Mambaaaaaaaaaa. Yes, there are that many A's in the name.
- The Queen of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs wears a black cape, but with white trim, just for a touch of grandeur.
- Jenner wears one in The Secret Of Nimh.
- Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Bonus points for the flame-like fringe.
- Jafar from Aladdin.
- Dracula (1931) is the Trope Codifier from the aforementioned adaptations.
- Darth Vader of Star Wars.
- Parodied in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, when Khamen Ra pokes fun at Darth Vader. "And what's with the cape? Are we going to the opera? I don't think so."
- The Phantom of the Opera wears one.
- Subverted in Don Juan DeMarco. Nobody finds the title character's cape frightening; on him it looks more dashing than sinister.◊
- In The Butchers, Jack the Ripper wears an opera cape and top hat (which he almost certainly didn't in Real Life). Later used for some Sexy Coat Flashing (It Makes Sense in Context).
- In The Hands of Orlac: Vasseur wears an opera cape to conceal his sinister metal hands and forearms.
- In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Dreyfus wears an opera cape while making his threat to destroy the world. Doubles as an Actor Allusion, as Herbert Lom had played the Phantom of the Opera.
- In the Mind Screwy Sherlock Holmes pastiche The Deerstalker by Paul Cornell, a group of fictional and historic characters who have ascended to popular mythology try to shift Holmes from Doyle's character to the one that exists in the public conciousness by giving him a deerstalker. It's mentioned that for Moriarty, the equivalent item was an opera cape.
- De rigeur for Discworld vampires, along with every other Classical Movie Vampire trope. According to Arthur Winkings, Count Notfaroutou, this is because you need something flappy to transform into wings when you turn into a bat.
- The Shadow wore one in his books to help him blend into the shadows.
- Doctor Who:
- Kamen Rider villain Dr. Shinigami.
- Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine wore a large, black cape while performing on various stages, to compliment her macabre tone of song.
- The Hammerites in Thief have armor like this, making it much harder to knock them out with a blackjack.
- Subverted by Siegfried in SoulCalibur, but played straight by Nightmare. Those familiar with the series' storyline will get why this is funny.
- Gehrman in Bloodborne normally does not have cape, but when you finally get to fight him or submit your life, he wears a long cape to bid a farewell to you.
- World of Warcraft: The Lich King, to EPIC effect...in the opening cutscene. Model limitations prevent this from being achieved in-game.
- ''BlazBlue: Per his love of opera, Relius Clover wears one all the time.
- Pretty much every villain in Dissidia Final Fantasy. Namely, Garland, Emperor, Cloud of Darkness (it being all she wears), Golbez (who has the option of stripping down to just the cape, too), Ex-Death and Gabranth. Note that, subtracting The Emperor and the Cloud, these guys also get the Evil Overlord Armor, to boot.
- The members of the Society of the Free Mind in An Epic Comic wear these with the symbol on the back.
- Bun-Bun from Sluggy Freelance, after suffering burn wounds, wears one of these as part of a The Phantom of the Opera theme he's got going on.
- Homestuck: Subverted with Eridan Ampora. He has a purple, high-collared opera cape to compliment his high status and goes to great lengths to try and portray himself as a Magnificent Bastard, but ends up more of a clingy, self-conscious Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. He gets rid of the cape just before he destroys the Matriorb (the thing that was supposed to repopulate his dying race), kills Kanaya and Feferi, and blinds Sollux.
- Drake from Gold Coin Comics is a villain with a dark cape to match.
- The Order of the Stick: In keeping with his nature as an Invoked Darth Vader Clone, General Tarquin, Elan's father, wears one of these, along with other notable accessories.
- In Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara was reviewing The Others #1, and thought it was silly that a wolfman (not a werewolf though) would wear one of these.
- In The Venture Bros., an Ominous Opera Cape and a Mystical High Collar are the signature of Dr. Orpheus, who is largely an homage to Marvel's Doctor Strange. It took Hank and Dean some time to stop calling him "a Dracula". Dermott once joked that on Halloween he expected to see Dr. Orpheus in sweatpants.