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Tailor-Made Prison

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"...she did confine thee,
By help of her more potent ministers
And in her most unmitigable rage,
Into a cloven pine; within which rift
Imprison'd thou didst painfully remain
A dozen years..."
Prospero, The Tempest

A personal Alcatraz made with special precautions to stop this one person from escaping. If they have a super power, then it likely incorporates either a Power Nullifier or mechanisms that are power-proof.


Eventually the villain will break out, but to be fair to the prison's designer, they usually can't escape on their own. They might get some help from their henchmen, some Unwitting Pawn, or an ill-advised upstart villain exploiting the prison's Fantastic Fragility. Since such prisons are designed for one occupant, they may be ineffective against the powers of another, leading to a variant on the Opponent Switch.

The purpose of the Tailor-Made Prison in a story is usually one to give a villain street cred: they must be really bad to merit it. Also, a previous Big Bad can be considered to be Commuting on a Bus when in the prison. They’re being kept around with a plausible reason to be cooling their heels instead of raising hell and can be sprung out when dramatically convenient. Considering that any villain who merits such attention very likely has Joker Immunity in a world of Cardboard Prisons, the builders of the place may be fully aware that this is a temporary solution but hope it will give them, at least, a few months of peace.


There are generally skeletons — Back Story Red Shirtshanging about to indicate that this is not a normally escapable place.

Sometimes this is the purpose of the Phantom Zone. Compare Sealed Evil in a Can for those immortal villains who can't be held by a mere custom-designed prison but can overlap if their can is custom made. Compare also Shipped in Shackles, which is the mobile version of this trope. For added psychological trauma, may be paired with The Aloner. Sometimes combined with Gilded Cage. See also Crystal Prison for a common cage.

Cardboard Prisons occur when these are circumvented way too often and way too easily.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mag Mel from Bakugan got this treatment, both because he's a very powerful villain and because he is the former Big Bad, the power hungry Emperor Barodius, who in his quest for more power than he already had attempted to perform genocide on the peaceful planet of Neathia. Code Eve imprisoned him in armor created from his own evil, sealed him in another dimension, and bound him to his own throne with magical webbing. Yeah, this guy was so evil he got an entire dimension turned into a prison and then had more levels of imprisonment put in place just for him. He eventually breaks free by absorbing energy from his Psychic Link with The Hero, which Code Eve didn't know about when she put him in there.
  • In Bleach, The Man Behind the Man in the Muramasa Filler Arc was imprisoned in one of these, which for some contrived reason is located inside of Karakura for no real adequately explained reason other than to give the villain the ability to threaten Ichigo's friends And Your Little Dog, Too! when released. The arc's Filler Villain releases him in the arc's climax, only for both to end up the way all Filler Villains do.
  • Prisons to hold espers appear in A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun. Among other things, they contain AIM Jammers, devices which reflect an esper's AIM diffusion field to make them lose control of their power.
  • Elfen Lied had the Diclonii in underground research facilities, for lack of a better term, trapped in meters thick full body casings much like Iron Maidens, being fed through IV tubes, with a perimeter marking that no one was allowed in lest their hands get to them. The only reason that any of them got out is because either a) someone stupidly dropped a PEN inside of the circle or b) they were let out to take care of the Diclonius released in a).
  • Lab 5 in Fullmetal Alchemist combines this with a sort of "Area 51" kind of place. It is guarded by living suits of armor containing the souls of serial killers believed by the public to have been executed, as well as fierce chimeras. One prisoner in all versions is the Mad Bomber Zolf Kimblee who has his hands in "minature stocks" which prevent him from using his powers. In the first anime, the homonculus Greed was imprisoned there for about two centuries until a fortuitous explosion frees him. At this point, the lab takes on Cardboard Prison qualities, as he proceeds to free the other prisoners. It was custom-designed to hold alchemists, not Homunculi, after all.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, the defeated and captured members of Yami (an organization of villainous martial arts masters) are sent into one of the series of so-called "Big Locks" — massively built prisons designed specifically to keep the Yami members inside for good. But it's later revealed that this trope is subverted. The prisoners are fully capable of just walking out of the prison. The only reason they stay there is because of their pride as martial artists, which dictates that they must obey the winner's orders.
  • My Hero Academia: All For One's cell in the Tartaros prison has him restrained in a chamber full of weapons that will fire on him all at once if they detect he's trying to use his Quirk. He's a jovial Person of Mass Destruction with no regard for human life, so this is the only way they can safely contain him.
  • In One Piece it seems to be standard practice to create prisons made entirely out of seastone, which is not only indestructible but also serves as the local Kryptonite Factor for Devil Fruit users.
    • Impel Down serves as this; the World Government puts some criminals down in Level Six, and everyone is supposed to forget that they ever existed. In fact, most people don't even know that Level Six itself exists, including most of the prison's inmates, thinking that it stops at Level 5.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Team Rocket has a long history of locking Pikachu in cages made of glass, plastic, rubber or other non-conductive material. Sometimes he can break out on his own, though usually he needs help from the others.
  • In Sonic X, when Sonic is arrested for a crime, he's put in a cell that's underwater because they know he can't swim. Chris and his butler Mr. Tanaka get him out, dressed like they're the stars of The Green Hornet.
  • The Kishin Asura in Soul Eater was trapped in a bag made out of his own skin. Even then, Shinigami-sama has to use most of his power to keep him trapped, which binds him to Death City.
  • The very first Tenchi Muyo! movie featured Kain, an amorphous evil entity which broke out of his subspace prison at Galactic Police Headquarters and then escaped into the past to try and kill Tenchi's mother.
    • The initial plan to stop him was to put him into another Tailor-Made Prison (an alternate dimension), but when he grabbed Tenchi's parents along the way they had to go inside and finish the job with a galaxy-destroying cannon.

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority has a prison located in a distant prehistoric era, before mankind ever evolved.
  • In Captain America, Bullseye, who can throw anything with deadly accuracy (literally), was kept in a straitjacket in a cell with no furniture. He was fed a nutritional paste (nothing solid, since he could even use a solid bowel movement as a deadly weapon) that was piped in a bowl that was set in the floor. He eventually escaped by slamming his head into a wall until he broke off a tooth and then feigned unconsciousness, using the tooth fragment to kill the guard who came to check on him.
  • Pretty much any cell Diabolik and his accomplice Eva Kant are put into is made specifically to keep them in and prevent the currently free one from breaking the other out. The fact they still can break each other out is more a testament to Diabolik and Eva's skills than the prisons being easy to break out from.
  • Superman:
    • Carl Draper, at times The Master Jailer, or Deathtrap, was originally the architect of a tailor-made prison for Superman's convicted criminal enemies, who could not be kept in in a standard prison. The prisoner's own powers were used to keep each other locked up. This fell apart when Draper got mad that no one — not even Lana Lang, who he was obsessed with — acknowledged his work, and he became a threat to Superman — ironically the only person who gave him credit for his work and skill — and even Supergirl.
    • The Phantom Zone is a parallel dimension where Kryptonians lock up their worst criminals.
    • In H'el on Earth, Lex Luthor is the only prisoner in a prison that he designed himself. He built the prison when Superman challenged him to create a prison that even he couldn't break out of.
    • Also of note is the way Superboy-Prime has been confined over the years. When the Flashes drew him into the Speed Force, he was kept in a place with only red sunlight until he was able to build a set of armor that converted it into yellow sunlight. When Infinite Crisis ended, the Guardians Of The Universe locked him in a special Sciencell inside a red Sun Eater, which was itself guarded at all times by fifty Green Lanterns. Then after he was rescued by the Sinestro Corp and landed in the future, he was sent back to Earth Prime. This was maybe the most hellish prison of all, since he got what he wanted and was sent home, only to find his parents knew everything he'd done and he was hated and unloved by everyone, unable to get back to the comic book world - not that he wanted to. When he finally did get drawn back, he tried to kill Conner Kent and ended up imprisoned in the Source Wall for his trouble.
    • During the New Krypton arc, Lex Luthor designed all kind of tailor-made prisons for Kryptonians.
    • In Supergirl (Rebirth): Plain Sight, the D.E.O. makes Feminum-enhanced glass cells to hold Supergirl after capturing her (Feminum being the metal the Amazonian bracelets are made of):
      Chief Bones: I have to thank you, Magog. Testing our new Feminum-enhanced glass-cells has been a valuable service. Thanks to our arrangement with Doctor Mokkari, the D.E.O. should even be able to hold a Kryptonian.
  • Batman:
    • Despite being an infamous Cardboard Prison, Arkham Asylum is actually partially built on being a tailor made prison for the psychos of Gotham. For example, the crazed serial killer Zsasz is permanently restrained due to his Ax-Crazy psyche, Poison Ivy is kept in a glass prison with no space for her to control plants to break herself out, and Mr. Freeze is given a modified meat locker for his cold body. Not that any of these ever stop the more unpredictable criminals like the Joker from breaking out at will more easily than the power specific villains.
    • During Knightfall, the Corrosive Man was sealed away in a special room that constantly sprayed him with material that suppressed his acidic abilities. He ended up covering his hand long enough to allow him to use his powers and escaped.
  • Chuck Dixon's Avalon: Fazer is imprisoned in a facility for specials. Conditions are designed to neutralize their various powers or debilitate them if they try to use them. Fazer himself, for example, is given drugs that prevent him from concentrating and if he overcomes those, the electrical charges running through his cell door and walls stop him from phasing through them.
  • Fantastic Four: Reed Richards once tried to end the threat of Doctor Doom for good by trapping both of them in a Tailor-Made Prison; this being the only way he could be sure Doom would never escape. The team discovered Reed's sacrificial plan in time to rescue him, but Doom got out too. Note that Reed only trapped Doom inside of that prison because he didn't think Hell would be secure enough, and he was right. Doom has been known to escape from Hell.
  • Iron Man: There was a period where War Machine was able to assimilate any technology into his body. After being arrested, he was imprisoned in a special cell made entirely of plastic and ceramics so that he couldn't interface with any nearby metal or technology.
  • X-Men:
    • One version of containment for an incarcerated Cyclops has him held in a giant cube of ruby quartz, the only substance immune to his optic blasts and from which the containing lens of his visor is made. This is a precaution in case the massive ruby quartz headpiece comes loose.
    • In the Crimson Dawn story arc, Psylocke is forced to concentrate all her telepathic power on the Shadow King (an extremely powerful and malevolent psychic entity which feeds on the hatred of humanity) in order to keep him permanently trapped in the Astral Plane.
    • Some time later, after the Shadow King escapes and comes looking for vengeance, Psylocke ends up trapping him inside a mutant that eats psychic energy. Because she'd already lobotomized said mutant, there's no way for the Shadow King to get out again.
    • During the Fall of the Mutants storyline, the X-Men were fighting a monster known as the Adversary, and the only way to defeat him was to sacrifice their lives and souls to seal away into the form of two stone tablets. Needless to say, even Roma sees this as only a temporary set-back for the villain and once the smoke clears, she resurrects the X-Men so that they can get on with their lives while Adversary takes his time out.
  • Incognito: The Black Death is an extremely powerful supervillain who is kept in a specially made cell that uses up massive amounts of energy and acts as a Power Nullifier.
  • Invincible featured the Superman-esque villain Conquest beaten into a coma, then sealed in a 400-ton block of solid steel kept in an unmanned facility seven miles below ground, with motion sensors designed to collapse the entire compound if he so much as twitched. He escaped in a single page.
  • Justice League of America:
    • One recurring rogues is The Key, who in recent years can count among his powers the ability to open any door or lock. He's escaped everything from interdimensional prisons to being imprisoned within an infinitely-branching mental prison created by the Martian Manhunter. At one point, he decided to try and trick Batman into killing him so he could impress the hero by escaping from death itself. Ultimately, Batman neutralized him by claiming that the only thing that would impress him is a prison the Key couldn't escape from, prompting the villain to voluntarily enter Arkham Asylum and instruct everyone on exactly how to imprison him for good, one step at a time.
    • Another JLA villain, the Queen of Fables, was a Wicked Witch who had formerly been trapped in a book of fairy tales, and could reshape reality to her whims using the same tales and other imaginative fantasy, turning Manhattan into an enchanted forest and cursing Wonder Woman with a thousand-year slumber. Wonder Woman recovered, however, and did away with the Queen by trapping her in a very different book, the U.S. Tax Code, where she'd never find anything to use as a weapon.
  • In the Marvel Universe, the only way to imprison the Absorbing Man, a supervillain whose body becomes any form of matter he touches, at one time was to put him in a cardboard box and put it in a prison cell since he would otherwise become the materials of the cell (like stone and steel) and smash his way out. Unfortunately, there was eventually a water leak that dripped on the box, allowing him to change into water, move to the cell floor, change into stone and break free.
    • A later issue of Avengers Academy used his difficulty in controlling his water for against him; having the cell made from water programmed to act solid by Hank Pym's technology. If he absorbed it, he would be susceptible to the water-bending technology until his transformation wore off.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe comics:
    • The multiple-series comic arc Vector focuses on a Jedi named Celeste Morne who lived 4,000 years before the films. The arc ends 130 years after the films. Morne survives the first nearly-4,000 years thanks to the Tailor-Made Prison of Lord Dreypa, which works as basically an indestructible Bag-of-Holding version of this trope. How does she get out? She's released 18 years before the original trilogy. Who's the idiot who releases her? Darth Vader. Another one figures in the Knights of the Old Republic comic series (where Vector begins), but this time it's used only as suspended animation to hold an old woman for a month or so to keep her from dying. It also keeps her from stopping the Big Bad from ripping a nice schism in the Jedi Order, in a Xanatos Gambit planned out by said Big Bad. She gets released eventually and dies within thirty minutes.
    • Dark Empire introduces the universal energy cage, a transportable cell designed to hold Jedi by suspending them in an antigravity field, electrifying the bars, and featuring feedback systems that would cause the use of Force powers to rebound upon the user.
  • If you want to make real sure a Transformer isn't going anywhere for a while, you take his spark out of his body and put it it in a box. Standard feature of a TF prison in the comics; rare in shows but has happened once or twice.
    • Though if Arcee is to be believed, it's actually rather pleasant.
  • In The Trigan Empire, The Worst Man On The Planet a.k.a. The Prisoner Of Zerss (we never learn his actual name) is kept in a cell on top of a tall pole surrounded by walls on an island in a "monster-infested sea". A henchman blackmails Peric, the Omnidisciplinary Scientist who designed the place to show him how to escape. There's an Air-Vent Passageway right under the rug in the middle of the cell.
  • Almost every comic book has some sort of "super villain" prison where they set up specific cells to confine the villain depending on his abilities. The Sinister Six from various Spider-Man incarnations are usually confined in this way.
    • An especially good example is 42, a prison in the Negative Zone built by the pro-reg side during the Marvel Civil War. Not only is it nearly impossible for the villains inside to escape, but even if they do, they're still in the Negative Zone with no easy way home.
    • An older one is the Cube, literally a giant cube-shaped prison in the middle of the desert. It was intended to hold superpowered supervillains, especially those possessing Super Strength.
    • The Vault was designed as a Tailor-Made Prison by the government to hold super-villains, but it turned out largely ineffective, becoming more of a Cardboard Prison. Fortunately, the government eventually realized its flaws, and shut it down, which led to smaller, more efficient facilities being designed.
    • Genetically-altered super-villains get sent to the Big House, an complex where everyone inside is shrunk by Pym Particles, and where even the strongest can be stopped by the pointer finger of a normal-sized S.H.I.E.L.D. guard.
  • Judge Dredd: Since the four murder-happy Dark Judges are actually immortal spirits, Justice Department decided to imprison them in a high-security containment facility known as 'The Tomb'. It's deep underground, with a Psi-Division detail on permanent stand-by and manned by robot guards in the innermost layer so they can't possess living hosts should they ever break out of their crystals. It's said that dropping a nuke on the place wouldn't be enough, and this looks to be true; every time they have escaped since it's because of an inside job.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Kandrakar's prison, the Tower of Mists, traps its occupants by forming the cells according to one's flaws, as shown by the two known examples: Cedric, a shape-shifter who can lie extremely well and is extremely cultured is locked in his (fake) human form and surrounded by books that contain only fiction and lies (he liked it, and when he got a visitor he started saying Blatant Lies to keep up with the joke), and the power-hungry Phobos, who had drained the magic of an entire world and tried to steal his sister's immense power, was tied up to tendrils that constantly drain his magic.
  • In Wynonna Earp, Black Rock is The Alcatraz built to house paranormal criminals. Each cell is specifically designed around the inmate it holds. The immortal cannibal Boone Helm is held in restraints that shackle his arms to the ceiling and his feet to the floor, has a mask affixed over his face, and is kept in a permanently sedated state.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): When Atomia proves capable of escaping Reformation Island Aphrodite herself comes up with a new set of restrains for the "queen", by welding her permanently into a Venus Girdle. This is ironic considering how Atomia destroyed minds in order to create her own brainwashed loyal minions.
    • Wonder Woman (1987):
      • When the Sangree Empire captured "Julia" of Daxam they tore out her eyes and stuck her in restraints that depowered her, while keeping her on display to the slaves on Hope's End as a warning against trying to revolt.
      • When the Amazons imprison Circe her cell is a garden of plants that nullify magic, and is in a prison on a small floating island semi-detached from reality making escape incredibly difficult all of those imprisoned there.

    Fan Works 
  • Alchemilla asylum is an interesting case in Bird, as it is not expressly a prison, and even among the violent patients, most are voluntary residents. There is a lot of specialized equipment left over from the early days of the parahuman initiative — in which Alchemilla was considered as an alternative to the Birdcage, but many low and medium security patients do not actually require heavily specialized containment procedures or equipment. That is, until the story moves down into the bowels of the asylum and the high and specialized security wings...
  • In the Character Blog Ask Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Blofeld is jailed in a pretty normal prison… except that the warden is James Bond.
  • Escape From the Moon: Doa's lunar station was designed as one for her.
  • In Glass, Kaiba's prison is truly inescapable and meant to drain his psyche, as everything he needs to live is only seen and accessed through the other side of the wall. Joey and Ryou Bakura have it even worse, being locked in the dungeons for months.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Book 1 mentions the Raft, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new specially designed super-max for heavyweight superhumans, on a couple of occasions, comparing it to a purpose-built Azkaban (minus the Dementors) before revealing it in the sequel. It has specially designed cells for current inmates Count Nefaria, the Abomination, the Leader, the Absorbing Man, the Juggernaut. They also have special cells prepared for Lucius Malfoy, Arnim Zola, Baron Zemo, and — in case he pulls another Face–Heel TurnMagneto. There's also one for The Incredible Hulk, at Bruce's own request, just in case. It also ends up temporarily holding Sabretooth and the Winter Guard. While the latter very quickly escape, it was part of a Batman Gambit by Nick Fury.
    • Demonreach functions as this, as in The Dresden Files, with Doctor Strange mentioning that it was built by him and Merlin with notes cribbed from Agamotto's original design for the Rock of Eternity.
    • As it turns out, Yggdrasil was a very carefully designed one for Surtur a.k.a. the original Dark Phoenix by the Alliance of Realms (the Nine Realms minus Helheim/Niflheim and Muspelheim, Surtur's own realm), reaching across multiple dimensions. It's also specifically designed to function as an energy siphon to drain power off him and enhance a champion (originally, Frey, the First King of Asgard) to take him on and stall him for long enough to lock him away, with the bearer of that power, now known as the Odinforce, taking the role of Chief Warden. Due to the nature of its construction, there are only two ways in or out: one is through Niflheim/Helheim, which as a Realm of the Dead siphons life and power off spirits in particular — something Surtur, an Energy Being, is particularly vulnerable to. The other, the only real flaw in the entire prison, is through a relatively small crack in Nidavaellir, which is covered by the Seal of Muspelheim. Despite numerous escape attempts, and Surtur's most powerful servants, the Great Captains, remaining at large, it's held for over a million years. Unfortunately, the events of Book 1 lead to the Seal being cracked, and a lot of Book 2 is spent trying to prevent it from cracking further (or at least, not until everyone's prepared to deal with the consequences).
  • In The Great Alicorn Hunt, Apple Bloom figures out how to build one of these to contain Malfunziona, whose powers and nature drive him to break machines but mean that he literally can't fix anything. Apple Bloom takes advantage of this by building and locking him inside a complex clockwork container that stays locked because its intentionally flawed design means it's already broken, and any attempt to break it open will actually make it work better, which is anathema to Malfunziona.
  • In the Supergirl fic Hellsister Trilogy, Satan Girl is shackled and locked up in a prison cube. The walls are made of inertron and her shackles contain traces of Kryptonite.
    Within her prison cube, Satan Girl seethed. Even at her full power, these metal walls would be proof against her. And, thanks to the trace of Kryptonite in her shackles, she was hardly at her full power.
  • In the crossover fanfic The Legend of Ruby there is one introduced in an early chapter, built out of solid iron, since in the story proper metalbending has not been discovered. Sadly, it still doesn't quite seem to hold Roman Torchwick, but then again, he does have help from the outside.
  • Queen of All Oni: When Lung captures Jade's astral form, he seals her inside a glass sphere that can't be broken from the inside, and rings it with industrial-strength lights, denying her any shadows to work with. (They also make handy torture devices.)
    • There's also the cage Jade has prepared for if they ever capture a hero — held upside down by a chain, feet handcuffed together, wrapped in a straightjacket, neck tied to the floor to restrict any remaining movement.
  • Chapter 8 of Vengeance of the Star reveals that Twilight herself set one up in the abandoned Diamond Dog mines, run by Starlight Glimmer. Said prison has various collars for certain criminals, as well as five separate levels for them depending on their crimes. Not only are the prisoners stripped of their Cuties Marks, but hey are also shackled with limiter collars (which keeps non-pony criminals in line as well). The prison itself is also practically inescapable, and trying to flee is a death sentence for Black Collars (who are on the death penalty anyway), as the Dazzlings who patrol the moat are allowed to eat the black collars if they ever try to. Any other color prisoners are immediately hypnotized by their songs and sent back to the prison. Past the moat is an entire forest full of plunder vines that will capture and ensnare prisoners (or rather anyone not wearing Royal Guard Armor) the moment they get too close, draining their magic and leaving them easy to capture when the guards make their rounds. Being a pegasus (or any flying creature) makes no difference since there are spiked clouds in the prison's airspace that are enchanted to gravitate towards prisoners, ensnaring them before shocking them into unconsciousness.
    "It was like someone took everything that was lethal and menacing about Everfree and dropped it all into this one area."
  • In What Costs Nothing, it's revealed that the metal of Lord Tirek's cage in Tartarus is made of blessed iron. As Tirek is a demon, he can't so much as touch the bars without being badly burned.
  • After being arrested, Sabrina in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines is locked up in a confinement cell designed specifically to block her Psychic Powers (and she's even forced to wear a device in her head to act as a Restraining Bolt for additional precaution).
  • Still Stand in the Sun: As in the show, the Fire Nation keeps imprisoned waterbenders in cages suspended off the ground, far away from water. And they are given only the bare minimum of food and water to survive.
  • With This Ring: Paul has some difficulty restraining the Zamaron Pirates, who are resistant to his constructs, and also to his ring scans, so he can't analyse their physiology to determine a safe sedative, and they all have enough Super Strength and Super Toughness to make short work of any mundane bindings. He does manage to take an alien locomotion suspension unit and augment it with multiple kinetic barriers, though, which works.
    Amalak: Where did you get the technology to do this?
    Paul: Here and there.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney's Hercules sees Zeus imprison the Titans in an undersea vault in the prologue; the vault only becomes visible and vulnerable when the planets align, and even then, only another god could release the seal.
  • The Incredibles has Syndrome put the family into special restraints that involve a large metal ball around each hand and foot and the balls are then suspended by electricity, preventing most movement. This is shown to have two flaws. One, when it's just holding Mr. Incredible, he still has enough leeway for movement to lunge, grab, and super-strength-bear-hug anyone who gets too close. Two, it has no contingency for Violet's force fields, which she can simply put around herself to block the electricity and free herself from the device.
    • Incredibles 2: When she gets captured by Evelyn, Elastigirl is held inside a cell chilled to well below freezing, so not only can she not stretch very far, if she tries, as her captor puts it, she'll break.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Tai Lung's prison Chor Ghom was built specifically to hold him and no other prisoners. Built into a mountain, it consisted of multiple levels with the bottom level holding the evil snow leopard with some sort of acupuncture needles paralyzing him and his front paws held by iron chains fastened to massive boulders hanging over the chasm. The upper layers included pulley elevators, ballistae, dynamite tied to huge stalactites, and 1000 rhino guards (several hundred of them archers). He got out by using a fallen feather to pick the lock on his restraints — a feather from a duck sent there specifically to make sure that Tai Lung didn't escape. He then uses everything that was used to imprison him to pull off an elaborate escape.
  • Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return: When he captures the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, the Jester places them in individualized containment that would be the worst for them to experience. Scarecrow is on a spinning wheel surrounded by magical flames that flare up at whim. The Tin Man is in a clear box filled to the top with water so that he would continue to rust. And the Lion is in a cage the tends to shrink and squeeze him whenever the Jester feels like it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers (2012), we are introduced to a SHIELD prison designed to hold, and if needed, kill the Hulk. The audience never gets to see if it lived up to its designs but both Loki and Thor ended up escaping it. For what it's worth, Loki actually needed someone to free him. Thor managed to smash his way out, his only real trouble was getting into a good position. Given that Thor could smash his way out, the Hulk probably could too.
  • Used by the villain in the film First Knight. As described above, Maligant lowers a bridge, marches Guinevere over to a ledge, then raises the bridge, trapping her within "walls of air."
  • In Furious 7 we get a prison specifically designed to contain Jason Statham's character.
  • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Cobra Commander and Destro are being kept floating in suspension tanks, pumped full of a drug that allows their eyes and their breathing to function, but nothing else.
  • In Glass (2019), The Overseer and the Horde are placed in rooms designed to counter their abilities. The Overseer's room is outfitted with high-pressure water hoses designed to subdue him. The Horde's room is outfitted with bright lights that can trigger a different personality, preventing them from using the Beast's strength to escape. Mr. Glass just gets drugged into a coma since his powers are to be fragile.
  • The planned punishment for Louis in Interview with the Vampire is "Eternity in a box" (which, combined with the vampire fact, adds a healthy dose of And I Must Scream). He's released by the sympathetic vampire Armand in a few hours, but too late to prevent Claudia's death.
  • Jason X begins with Jason being held in a facility seemingly built for the sole purpose of containing him. He's chained up in a big room, has guards and guns trained on him at all times, is stuck in multiple straightjackets that appear to be made of burlap, and is kept in a constant state of sedation by a pillow-sized IV bag hooked up to his head and neck.
  • In Judge Dredd, Rico was held on an island surrounded by a bottomless pit. On the walls surrounding the pit were guards with guns and Sentry Guns trained on the prisoner. It tries to keep the prisoner in by offering nothing in the way of tools or weapons, and possibly even binding him with chains on top of that. He got out when a Well-Intentioned Extremist judge sent him a gun to take the warden hostage with.
    • He was originally supposed to have been executed, but the same judge decided to keep him around, just in case.
  • In Mortal Engines, Shrike is kept on a prison in the middle of the ocean, in a windowless metal box suspended over the sea apart from all the other inmates.
  • In The Keep, the titular edifice was designed as a prison for the Eldritch Abomination ensconced inside it.
  • The Big Bad in The Mummy (1999) gets shut into one of these after being mummified alive. Rather than being because the imprisoners believed Thou Shalt Not Kill, it was because they felt that death was too good for him.
    • Likewise, Ahmanet in the 2017 reboot is also sealed alive in a sarcophagus and submerged in a pit full of mercury to weaken her magical powers. Subverted later in the movie. The folks at Prodigium are able to restrain the mummy pretty well, even though they had to improvise a prison based on the little information they had about her beforehand.
  • In the movie Runaway Train, Alaska's Stonehaven Maximum Security Prison has had only four escapes in its history, three of them by Manny, the protagonist of the movie. The deputy warden gets so fed up with him that he orders the door to Manny's cell be welded shut, at least until a judge decides this represents cruel and unusual punishment and he's put back into the general population. He rather quickly escapes again.
  • In the film of The Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Lecter's home for most of the movie is his cell in a Baltimore insane asylum. It is a standard cell with one exception: Instead of having a fourth wall of bars it has a thick sheet of plexiglass to prevent him from reaching through the cell at orderlies. The extradiegetic reason for the plexiglass is the filmmakers not wanting to film through bars, as long closeups are a key part of the visual style. In the novel, Lecter's cell has regular bars but also has a nylon net to serve the same purpose as the plexiglass.
  • Silva gets imprisoned in one inside MI6's temporary headquarters in Skyfall. This does not end well, but only after the power is turned off.
  • In Sky High (2005), villains are kept within stark white prisons with power nullifiers trained on them. A similar design is used with the titular school's detention room.
  • Star Wars: In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan is held inside a force field cage that appears to be electrified and nullifies his powers. Unlike the more complicated comic book version it simply shocks him repeatedly, thus preventing him from focusing on anything other than nullifying the pain.
  • In Suicide Squad (2016), Harley's cell is a cage within a cage, the obvious intent to limit her reach and protect anyone outside of it. (She's clearly modeled after the far-more insane version in the New 52.)
  • In Superman: The Movie, General Zod, Ursa, and Non are trapped in the Phantom Zone, a hellish dimension which the people of Krypton uses as a prison. Their only window out is a flat plane resembling a sheet of glass that's impervious to everything except a nuclear explosion.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: At the end, Magneto is locked in a cell made entirely of plastic. He gets out in X2: X-Men United, thanks to Mystique giving one of his guards an "iron supplement", actually at least half a pound of the stuff, in liquid form. In real life, this would have given him iron poisoning, but he didn't survive long enough to find that out.
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: Magneto attacks a mobile prison convoy that contains several dangerous mutants. Juggernaut is manacled to the wall 24 hours a day so he cannot build up any momentum.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Played with. The concrete cell under the Pentagon was not built specifically for Magneto, but simply constructed that way because steel was being rationed at the time. It still holds him quite well, though. And other aspects of the prison are specifically for Magneto, such as the plastic guns issued to the guards to prevent him from controlling them.

  • In 20 Years After, D'Artagnan and Porthos have been captured on the orders of Cardinal Mazarin and are imprisoned in Rueil Castle. Mazarin requests thirty extra soldiers to guard exclusively the two "special guests". Unsurprisingly, they manage to escape anyway.
  • Downplayed in Animorphs. Visser Three (by then, promoted to Visser One) is tried and imprisoned in a special "Yeerk box", built by the Andalites that lets him hear and speak, and then he's shipped off to a special max-security prison until he dies. The 'downplayed' comes from the fact that he's a sentient slug that can barely move under its own power and is deaf and blind. The reason he's imprisoned now is that he led the Yeerks trying to take over the human race.
    • Also, David. He was trapped in rat form (by being kept in a space too small for him to resume human form, thus unable to change back before Shapeshifter Mode Lock set in) and kept on a rocky island with not much life on it for being willing and able to destroy the Animorphs and any hope for the world with a few words to the Yeerks and repeatedly trying to kill them. Books later, Crayak and the Drode give him a chance at revenge at Rachel, but when Rachel ignores Crayak's offers for super strength, Crayak and the Drode leave. Rachel catches David and David pleads to be killed, as being put back on the island would be a fate worse than death. It is left unclear at the end whether Rachel killed him or sent him back to the island.
  • Isaac Asimov published books that were a collection of short stories. One involved an alien species trying to deal with an alien murderer and considered the constrictive prison to be inhumane. They created a much larger building for that alien to reside in, with food deliveries through a Pneumatic Tube system, and no way out other than a fatal 50-foot drop. The prisoner opened its wings and flew away.
  • Circleverse: The Will of the Empress has Sandry kidnapped by a man who intends to force her into marriage. He locks her in a prison made for tailors, that is, one that will hamstring her thread-based magic. It's described as "unraveling" whenever she tries using it. Fortunately, her link with her foster siblings is made up of all their magics, so she's still able to use it and get them to free her.
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series has several mentions of prisons made to hold particular types of crafters. Earthcrafters are held in cages off the ground to prevent contact with the earth, windcrafters are held in windowless stone cells to prevent breezes (or buried up to the shoulders), watercrafters are held in a ring of fire that dehydrates the air around them, and so on. Since it's not that rare for normal people to have more than one kind of fury, these measures tend to have a 'mix and match' quality to them, but High Lords and Ladies have access to all six, so a prison for them has to be incredibly complicated, often tailored to the specific individual.
  • In the first book of the Coldfire Trilogy, the Hunter is captured and rendered totally helpless by being placed in a simple bonfire. A normal human who can manipulate fae could easily extinguish the flames and escape, but the Deal with the Devil the Hunter made for immortality long ago robbed him of his ability to manipulate anything related to life or light, like fire. All he can do is tap into the weak currents of earth fae to constantly heal himself to avoid being burned to death. Damien wonders what is more painful to the Hunter: being burned alive, or the blow to his pride due to being rendered powerless through such mundane means.
  • In Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga novels, very serious but non-capital crimes are punished by a one-way trip to the surface of a prison world, which is much the same as being cast back into the Stone Age, as there is no real civilization or technology. No visitors, and a military blockade ensures no rescuers will get close enough to even see the world.
  • In Lawrence Yep's Dragon Series, the protagonists come onto a deserted island sealed by a barrier that prevents the use of any magic within it and stops anyone or anything from leaving. Anything, that is, except earth, to prevent the beach from piling up endlessly. Once Thorn figures this out, they make a raft from ceramic jars and escape. Of course, they only realize afterward that they accidentally helped the island's designated prisoner, The Nameless One, to escape as well.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon, Conan the Barbarian is thrown into a prison with a skeleton and taunted with the fact that only the slaves and their master know of it, and he will die there like the last one.
  • The Gordon R. Dickson short story "Danger — Human!" had the aliens construct an escape-proof cell, consisting of metal physical enclosures, an impenetrable force field, constant armed surveillance, and access only for carefully monitored brief periods to provide food and water, to study a human they'd abducted to try and find out why humans kept conquering the galaxy. Didn't work.
  • The first part of Dante's The Divine Comedy was thick with this, not so much due to the fact that Hell was escape-proof, but due to the fact that sinners were punished via creative means that fit the crimes they had committed in life. To give one example, thieves had their very forms stolen from them, and continually shifted from one monstrous form to another.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • The Indestructible Man, a Past Doctor Adventures novel by Simon Messingham. The eponymous character's Evil Counterpart, Captain Taylor (an Expy of Captain Black) is immersed in a (now-solidified) ball of reinforced liquid concrete, sealed in titanium, and placed in an underwater habitat on the bottom of the ocean constructed for this sole purpose, monitored by sensors, a small team of guards and automated Sentry Guns. For years there's never been a flicker of brainwave activity until the events of the novel. Taylor then casually melts his way out of the concrete, slaughters all the guards and sails off in a submarine that happened to be docked.
    • In Harvest of Time by Alistair Reynolds, a Third Doctor and UNIT story, the Master is imprisoned in a windowless cell that is usually submerged in water at the bottom of a disused nuclear power station which is still notably radioactive. The radioactivity doesn't affect Time Lords, but it discourages visitors from hanging about long enough to be hypnotized.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In the short story "Love Hurts", the villain lovingly describes the cage for Dresden — or rather, for his best friend, to provoke her into attacking. It's covered in spikes so that he can't fall asleep, inside a half-bowl so he must stand in his own waste, and there's a rack with three needle-nosed spears on it outside so any passing evildoer can participate.
    • Demonreach is revealed to be this in Cold Days, with Dresden having unwittingly become the Warden in Turn Coat — he thought that it was just an ordinary, if horrifyingly powerful and creepy, Genius Loci powered by a very strong dark Ley Line. As it turns out, it's the ultimate super-max for dark gods and immortals, with each inmate getting their own Crystal Prison, and it was built in both space and time (and, Bob — who's initially stumped by it and has to have it dumbed down significantly to get it, before dumbing it down further for Harry — implies, several dimensions beyond that), its defenses are so strong that once Harry works them out, he's pretty confident (but not totally certain) that he can take Mab while on the island, with a physical embodiment of it being theoretically capable of imprisoning her. Oh, and if it's ever broken open, it'll trigger 'the Banefire', an explosion that would apparently take out approximately half of the Mid-Western United States. This is justified: it's a prison so hard that six borderline Physical Gods are in minimum security, with seven apparently infinite tunnels full of dark gods and Eldritch Abominations.
  • In The Eyes of Kid Midas by Shusterman Neal, Kevin creates a prison for the school bully full of fish. Fish being one of the few things that Kevin knows that the bully is afraid of.
  • Fablehaven has several examples of this. One of the most unique examples is Olloch the Glutton — he isn't trapped anywhere, he's just Taken for Granite... until someone feeds him.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Zarracka has a custom-made cell to negate her ice powers. It has successfully held her for ten years, and she never escapes from it. Her jailer, Daniar, was so paranoid about her breaking free while she was gone that she took Zarracka with her to another country, and she escaped from a weaker cell.
  • In The Black Prism, the first book of The Light Bringer Trilogy, Gavin Guile creates a blue luxin prison with a hellstone floor. It's designed to hold a Prism, such as his brother. There's more cells beyond the first, each with the same design. Notably enough the difficulty of creating the prison is made explicit and the immense cost of the power nullifying hellstone is pointed out, offering an early hint that the prison's designer wasn't exactly sane.
  • In Suldrun's Garden (the first book of the Lyonesse trilogy) by Jack Vance, Aillas is lowered into an Oubliette ("a bell-shaped cell fourteen feet in diameter and seventy feet underground") for impregnating King Casmir's daughter and left to die. Aillas finds a dozen skeletons sitting around the oubliette, with a note scrawled on the wall welcoming him to their "council". Just before he figures a way out, he starts to hear them talking to him. Taking months, he constructs a ladder from the bones of the previous occupants, and escapes.
  • In Myth-ing Persons, Aahz is imprisoned on Limbo in a special jail cell designed to hold vampire criminals. It's the mouth of an animated dragon's-head statue, which is mobile and aware enough to swallow a would-be escapee who tries to rip out its teeth/bars with vampiric strength, or inhale them if they turn into mist.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, the extremely powerful shapeshifter Chimera was kept in one. He's bound in shackles that will slice off his limbs and neck if he grows too big, and if he tries to shrink they'll electrocute him.
  • The Sinister Six Trilogy has Electro, who's first seen in a sealed plastic box suspended in water.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible: Deconstructed with Baron Ether, whom Dr. Impossible seeks advice from. His arch-nemesis The Mechanist has trapped him in a house designed specifically to hold him, but it does little to prevent others from breaking in to see him.
  • Star Bridge has Vantee, aka "Prison Terminal". It's an inverse prison, in that the prisoners are free to roam the (barren) surface of the world, while the guards are locked inside a fortress with the Tube terminal, the only way on or off the planet. At one point after bragging of Lil's ability to break him free of any prison Wu says that Vantee could perhaps hold him... if they could keep him in custody long enough to get him there.
  • Star Shards Chronicles: In Shattered Sky, Dillon Cole has the power to see patterns and create order from chaos. No ordinary prison could hold him — locks would spontaneously unlock themselves in his presence, guards would bow to his whim, and he could easily tap into the resonant frequency of a wall to tear it apart. The millionaire genius Elon Tessic manages to design a specialized prison that won't be affected by his powers. Naturally, Dillon, being a protagonist, manages to escape anyway.
  • Star Wars Legends: Spore, in Galaxy of Fear, is harmless in the vacuum of space. It needs air to spread and bare skin to infect; being stored in a sealed room in a deep pit on an airless asteroid, with plenty of warnings outside of the door, is ideal. The Ithorians didn't kill it because of their dedication to pacifism. Unfortunately, in the three hundred years since the outbreak was contained they started letting people mine the asteroids, even that asteroid. Partly this was out of the knowledge that if they said what Spore was, The Empire or others would try to use it, whereas if they just warned people away, it would just make treasure hunters more determined.
  • Digitized personalities run in virtual environments in Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs series are effectively immortal if their environment is not sophisticated enough to include death or the possibility of suicide. Someone running in a simple, low-power simulator could remain there for a very long time indeed, made worse by the fact that simulations run faster than normal time. Few hundred years of boredom sound like fun?
  • Tortall Universe: In The Immortals and The Numair Chronicles, there are rooms in the Carthaki university and the palace that completely cancel out magic abilities from the Gift. Particularly unruly students are threatened with a stay in these rooms. In Emperor Mage, Daine is locked in one of those rooms by Emperor Ozorne. It ensures that the Tortallan mages can't find her... but does nothing whatsoever to cancel out her wild magic, allowing her to escape.
  • In War of the Dreaming, Azrael de Gray's imprisonment in Dreamland takes the form of a cage made of inward-pointing, sharpened hooks, suspended on a mile-long chain off the rim of a Flat World. Food and water are provided by the cage's momentum swinging him periodically through the rim-waterfall. The Fae invented this type of prison specifically for him.
  • The Emperor's Soul: The Rose Empire's special cells for Forgers have walls made of many different types of stone from many different locations. In order to make a soulstamp to Forge a hole through the wall, the Forger would have to identify every type of stone used to make it and address all of them in the soulstamp. And then there's a plate of ralkalest, the unForgeable metal, behind the stones in case the Forger does figure them all out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • When the protagonists of Alphas are brought to Binghamton, they're put in custom-made cells too sturdy for Bill's Super Strength and soundproofed and signal-proof to block the abilities of Rachel and Gary.
  • In an episode of Angel the gang is plagued by a sadistic ghost named Pavayne who feeds other dead souls to hell in exchange for not going there himself. He tries to do this to Spike (a ghost at the time) but they stop him by corporealizing him. Since they cant kill him, which would put them back to square one, Angel has him locked in a box in the basement of Wolfram & Hart. A coffin like box with a small window in which he can live "forever".
    • Connor does this to Angel and drops him in the harbor for a couple of months, too.
    • Billy is kept in a Pocket Dimension, inside a cube of fire suspended above the ground, guarded by the affable demon Skip. Angel gets him out as part of a Deal with the Devil, and ends up regretting it.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel is essentially a tailor-made prison for his evil side Angelus.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit", the Tenth Doctor encounters one of these, designed for an entity known as the Beast. It was imprisoned at the bottom of a pit on a planet orbiting very close to a black hole, designed so that if a power source was destroyed, the planet would fall in.
    • In "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang", one of these is constructed for the Doctor by a huge number of his enemies working together, to stop him from destroying the universe. The Doctor, through timeline wonkiness, literally lets himself out (as in, an Eleventh Doctor on the outside releases the one on the inside, albeit by proxy).
    • The Eleventh Doctor gets stuck in another one during the opening of "Day of the Moon". It's assembled around him (while he's chained and straitjacketed) from bricks of dwarf-star matter and is completely impregnable. This time, however, it's part of his plan to get himself and his friends away from their enemies' eyes and ears — he's been sitting next to the cloaked TARDIS the whole time.
    • The Twelfth Doctor finds himself in a bespoke haunted castle prison in "Heaven Sent", with a monster taken out of his own personal childhood nightmares. This becomes a major clue that the mountain of skulls under the surrounding sea are all his skull; there couldn't have been other previous prisoners in a prison designed just for him.
  • In The Flash (2014), Team Flash starts putting criminal metahumans into the Pipeline, the non-functional tunnel of the particle accelerator. Each cell is configured by Cisco to contain a specific type of metahuman (even though visually they're identical). For example, the cell of Kyle Nimbus (the Mist) is hermetically sealed, meaning he can't escape even through a tiny crack. Shawna Baez (Peek-a-Boo) is a teleporter, but her ability requires that she see her destination. So, her cell is entirely opaque from the inside. Later on, Cisco's expertise is used to design the special metahuman wing of Iron Heights Penitentiary, although later they upgrade the wing with a Power Nullifier, so any cell will do.
  • Building 26 in the eponymous Heroes episode has one of these for Tracy Strauss: she's chained to a chair in an extremely hot room. Which turns out to be a really bad idea, as trying to "make ice in an oven" has supercharged her powers in a weird form of Charles Atlas Superpower. Level 5 is where the Company kept all the most dangerous super powered criminals, usually keeping them drugged. Flint's cell was fireproof, Echo was gagged, and Knox was kept in a straitjacket.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): The episode "The Sentence" features a mental version of these. People serve out their sentences within a day of real time, but in their minds, they experience their entire captivity in a prison like this.
  • Person of Interest: Finch locks Root up in a section of the library base where she'll have no access to any electronic devices, which are her biggest strengths. She also ends up wearing an ankle monitor, and just in case she somehow ends up smuggling a device into her cell, Finch turned the entire thing into a Faraday cage, so no signals would get in anyway. She ends up escaping rather easily anyway with some assistance from the Machine, which is ultimately revealed to be able to communicate with her in high-pitched Morse code, which the cell wouldn't be able to block out.
  • The Slammer: Erica the Critic is kept with a special cell in solitary confinement that is chained shut from the outside.
  • Supernatural, being a show that runs on Sealed Evil in a Can, has a few of these. In all cases escape requires extensive outside intervention.
    • Lilith et al merely get out of the general Hell at the end of Season 2, and Dean goes there and is not considered a particular escape risk at the end of 3, but Season 4 revolves around keeping Satan in his, referred to as The Cage and locked with six hundred seals. And Season 5 winds up being about putting him back in it — this time with his brother Michael, Sam, and Sam's half brother Adam. Sam gets out half a season later, but only with the help of Death.
    • From Season 6 onwards there's Purgatory, which in this setting is the holding tank for non-human souls, apparently including vampires, however that works. It later turns out to have originally been built to contain the Leviathan, a race of horrible unkillable shape-shifting black slime things God didn't know how to unmake and was worried would "consume the rest of creation".
  • The criminal alien Jeanio from Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger (and his Power Rangers S.P.D. counterpart) gets this as his punishment; when he's first introduced, it's stated that he has the ability to escape into the reflection of any mirrored surface, so all mirrors are removed from his cell and anyone who meets with him uses black duct tape is used to cover anything metal (such as an SPD badge) on their clothing and wears black matte sunglasses over their eyes. He escaped by forcing one of the Rangers (whose family he killed) to cry and escaping in his tear's reflection. When he was recaptured in the next episode, they stepped up their security by transferring him to a prison on a planet devoid of any starlight, and no light means no reflections.
  • The Umbrella Academy has a soundproof cell underneath the Academy meant to hold Vanya. It fails. Very badly.

  • The Labyrinth was build by Daedalus to be a prison for the Minotaur.
  • In Norse Mythology, the god Loki can shape-shift his way out of any kind of fetters, talk his way out of any kind of incrimination, and seemingly almost by reflex think up plots to bring down the invincible. So the gods turn his sons into wolves ripping each other's guts out and tie him up with said guts, entomb him in an isolated cave beneath the world, and place a snake over his head that constantly drips venom into his eyes to keep him distracted. He is sprung by his children on the eve of Ragnarok. His monstrous children that is — not his humanoid children, whose intestines bind him.
    • Fenris Wolf, Loki's monster son, was imprisoned with a specially crafted, unbreakable, ribbon-like chain, made from women's beards, cat's footfalls, bear's sinews, the roots of mountains, fish's breath and bird's spit. The reason that these things can't be found anymore is because the dwarves had to use them all up to create the chain.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Champions setting includes Stronghold, a prison specifically designed to hold supervillains. And unless your GM changes things around, it does a pretty good job of holding them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Tharizdun, The Chained God. Ironically, Torog, the patron of slavers, torturers and prison guards as well.
    • The Ravenloft campaign setting. Yes, the setting is composed of prisons tailored to hold and torment a very special guest.
      • A large chunk of the Meta Plot of the setting (back when it had one) was woven around the Lich Azalin's elaborate plans to get out of his particular custom prison regardless of the fallout. He almost succeeded once, with another notable failure. In an unusual take on this trope, so far the prison is still holding.
      • Although there is a tendency for significant figures of other campaign settings to make their escape one way or another.
      • There's Lord Soth of Dragonlance, who was released for just completely giving up on either escape or furthering any of his goals. This either made him too boring to keep around, or made him the first to make the personal change required to be released. Ravenloft punishes the Dread Lords by forever denying them their evil obsessions. Giving up that obsession (briefly) could be considered redemptive. Or a Dragonlance author was annoyed that Ravenloft had usurped a character she wanted to use and let him out.
      • And, of course, the demi-god/lich Vecna, whose complicated escape was engineered well before he was ever imprisoned and allowed to him to obtain true godhood and invade Sigil simultaneously, nearly toppling the D&D cosmology entirely. The particulars of his escape are sometimes considered the canon reason for the changes in 3rd Edition.
    • Several editions of D&D (not to mention 3.5's spiritual successor Pathfinder) have had the imprisonment spell, which puts the target in stasis and traps them underground until such time as the proper counterspell is cast.
    • The 3.5 Edition supplement Fiendish Codex 1: Hordes of the Abyss has Layer 73: the Wells of Darkness, which is an entire demiplane containing nothing but these. Doubles as a combination of a 24-pack of sealed evils and, since most prisoners can't communicate from within their cells, And I Must Scream.
      • 5th Edition goes even further with the Maze spell. Powerful, boss level monsters are capable of ignoring most powerful disabling spells with their "Legendary Resistances", which lets them automatically succeed saving throws when they fail. The Maze spell seems to be custom designed to get around that limitation, as Maze does not give the enemy a saving throw and it requires an intelligence check, rather than a saving throw, to escape.
    • The Pathfinder adventure path Legacy of Fire introduces a construct called the tophet that's essentially an ambulatory Tailor-Made Prison. They're often commanded to convey prisoners out into the desert at noon... or underwater. (And that's just the ones that don't have nasty enchantments built right in.)
    • The god Rovagug was trapped in one of these by an alliance of all other gods to stop him from devouring reality. He's sealed in a prison plane known as the Dead Vault located at the center of the planet Golarion (which is itself referred to as The Cage by interstellar observers), forged by the gods. One component of his prison, the Star Towers which prevent him from hearing the prayers of his worshippers, has been crumbling since their benevolent creator become the malevolent Zon-Kuthon, and on occasion his spawn escape.
  • Exalted: While not for a single individual, the prison-realm of the Yozis fits this trope perfectly. It was made from the mutilated body of Malfeas, the King of Primordials, and reinforced with the "surrender oaths," a ritual combination of physical and spiritual torture intended to permanently bind the creators of the world to the body of their King, such that they could never escape.
    • As appropriate to this trope, the Yozis have struggled for Ages to free themselves from their prison. Their most recent attempt was the creation of the Infernal Exalted, though it remains to be seen whether this plan will work any better than their previous ones.
    • While this trope applies to all the Yozi to some extent, Oramus, the Dragon Beyond the World has an even more extreme example. With nigh-omnipotent control over the concept of Boundaries (physical and abstract), the gods and Exalted feared that any binding, no matter how clever, wouldn't be enough to lock him away permanently. Thus, in addition to the surrender oaths and being placed in Malfeas, they also fashioned him into his own prison, breaking his seven wings into restraints that he couldn't simply ignore or command.
  • Legend of the Five Rings has the Tomb of Iuchiban, built when the Bloodspeaker was captured and turned out to be unkillable. The tomb encircles him with multiple levels of mundane and magical wards, and surrounds those with a Death Course of traps — not to keep him in, but to kill any of his followers trying to free him.
  • Mage: The Awakening has a spell called "Oubliette", which forces someone into a nightmarish pocket dimension, where all sense of space and time breaks down, they see and feel future images of themselves at different points of their imprisonment, and are physically and mentally tortured. Using this spell will ding your Karma Meter unless you're at such a low Wisdom that trapping someone in a prison of inescapable eternal torment doesn't bother you.
  • In Planescape, if the Lady of Pain decides, for whatever reason, that simply passing over you and letting her shadow reduce you to shredded meat isn't the right punishment, she seals you away in a personalised planar labyrinth, a "Maze" as the locals call it. There's always a portal out, though the trick is finding it before you go utterly mad or die of old age.
    • And of course there's the persistent rumor that Sigil itself is a tailor made prison. For the Lady of Pain. Yup, the absolute supernatural ruler of the City of Doors is unable to leave.
  • Scion has a Justice Boon called "Personal Prison" where the subject is tossed into an inescapable prison for years to face the true horror of their crimes... and then the effect ends, and they realize that their experience lasted a few minutes in real time.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The C'Tan, being ancient evil gods that have only recently woken up, tended to get hit with this trope. Strictly past tense at this point.
    • The Nightbringer was trapped in a two-part dimensional prison with his star-eating ship of the same name. Uriel Ventris prevented the ship from being freed, but not the entity itself.
    • The Martian Dragon is believed to remain trapped in a prison the God-Emperor himself fashioned for it. Which means it was on Terra at some point.
    • The Outsider was supposedly trapped in an extra-galactic prison by it's kin, who feared it. But the Tyranids are giving that part of space a very wide berth, so...
    • This has been downplayed after the 5th edition retcon, as Necrons revolted and enslaved the C'tan. They now keep the C'tan in Tesseract Labyrinths, which are basically Pokéballs made by Doctor Who. However, said labyrinths are not totally reliable, and there is also the problem of what happens if multiple shards of the same C'tan merge together. Namely, a pissed off star god who is very upset with its former slaves...
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy has, among others, the Tower of the End where the poor fellow who killed Abel was incarcerated by Imperium, after becoming inadvertently something much worse. It's described as a pocket dimension where time repeats again and again, and he's bound with thousands of chains able to retain a god

  • BIONICLE: Belonging to a species that was subjected to an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong, Avak received the power to conjure cages made out of absolutely anything at will. These only exist as long as he keeps focusing, and require a knowledge of the captive's strengths and weaknesses rather than automatically disabling their abilities.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, the Caladonian authorities have a special jail cell that was custom-built by one of Arcanum's finest engineers to imprison J. T. Morgan, the world's greatest lock-picker.
  • The Expansion Pack to Baldur's Gate II, Throne of Bhaal, adds one of these in the form of Watcher's Keep. It's a huge, elaborate prison, full of traps, puzzles, and even dips a little into alternate planes of existence. All to keep its prisoner safely under lock and key for all eternity. Said prisoner is none other than Demogorgan, Prince of Demons.
  • Killer Croc in Batman: Arkham Asylum is kept in the deepest, darkest depths of Arkham, where the guards occasionally drop down some food for him and try to forget he even exists. This is because physically, Croc is the most dangerous inmate, and his feeding habits make him even worse.
    • Even the standard cells in the place are tiny, barely large enough to lie straight, and the inmates seem to spend long times locked in them with no means of recreation, judging from the ways some walls have been 'decorated'.
    • Mr. Freeze similarly has a unique prison cell, but in his case it is to keep him alive without his suit and its assorted powers.
    • Clayface's cell is completely hermetically sealed, impossible for one person to open and has warning signs explaining that the occupant is a shapeshifter and will try to impersonate someone else to trick passersby into letting him go.
  • BioShock 2's Persephone prison has solitary confinement cells and the prison itself is suspended over a deep underwater trench.
  • The Borderlands games have the Vault, designed to hold the Destroyer in 1 and the Warrior in 2. There's also the custom Eridium device used on Angel.
  • The MMO Champions Online features a couple of these, for sealing demons or villains with mental powers. The best example comes in the Adventure Pack "Resistance", in which you travel to a Mirror World, and your main mission is to break two members of that world's resistance out of a couple of these prisons. In one of the prisons (Stronghold) this has backfired, with the most powerful psychic villain in the world having broken free of his restraints and taken over the prison from the inside using other prisoners and villains.
  • The Allied victory in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge has Yuri Prime being captured, escorted by mind-shielded guards, and put in a special capsule where he would be unable to use his powers. It's literally like a hyper-advanced coffin, with dentist equipment near his head.
    General Carville: He won't be able to mind-control a fly.
  • In Deltarune, Queen captures the Delta Warriors and Noelle and puts them in holding cells that incorporate their search history, since she's the personification of the Library's main computer. Fortunately, thanks to Lancer popping out of Kris' "pants hole" and ordering a thousand shovels for the room, Kris is able to escape and free the rest of the gang.
  • Baal of the Diablo universe was imprisoned in a soulstone along with his two brothers. His, however, cracked and in order to contain him it was driven into the mind of the mage Tal Rasha, who would engage in an eternal battle with the Prime Evil. On top of that, Tal Rasha was chained both literally and magically inside a very tightly sealed tomb, among several, several other identical on the outside tombs in the middle of a killer desert. It didn't end well. On the other hand, it was apparently the only prison of the three that wasn't subverted from within by the Prime Evils — sucks to be Tal Rasha, but it did keep Baal trapped until Diablo showed up to break him out.
  • In Dragon Age II, the Grey Wardens constructed a fortress in the Vinmark Mountains that serves as a prison for numerous demons, but mostly to hold Corypheus, one of the first darkspawn. Notably, the magical seals on the prison must be occasionally renewed with Blood Magic from an untainted Mage, requiring them to use apostates outside of the Circle. Malcolm Hawke is revealed to have been the last mage to do so, having been forcibly coerced by the Warden unless he wanted anything bad to happen to Leandra, who was pregnant with Hawke at the time. The Legacy DLC revolves around Hawke (and possibly their sibling) travelling to the prison to find out why the Carta are so determined to use their blood to break the seals and get into that prison.
  • Dragon Quest IX has one of these for Corvus. Guess what you're forced to do?
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: The Great Porch of Dragonsreach was built specifically to imprison a dragon captured by Olaf One-Eye back in the first era. This becomes important when Alduin goes into hiding and you need to interrogate one of his minions — a dragon — to find him.
  • In Final Fantasy V, the Interdimensional Rift acts as one; a prison for the worst demons in history, with its entrance sealed away in a space between dimensions. For example, when speaking of Omega and Shinryu, the game says that "Inside the Rift the demons were interred; so should they stay until forever's end, their names to stay unspoken evermore." Unfortunately, it turns out that the Rift is home to the power of the Void (or it may be the same thing, the game is unclear), which means that it was necessary to seal the prison itself, because it had become a weapon.
  • Adel, the tyrant sorceress and former ruler of Esthar in Final Fantasy VIII, is imprisoned in a stasis capsule suspended in orbit above the planet, and her powers are suppressed by an Anti-Magic field so powerful that radio communication on the planet's surface is next to impossible.
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Esper Ultima is sealed in Giruvegan's Great Crystal, behind a maze of force fields and teleporters, for leading the Espers' rebellion against the Occuria.
  • Hollow Knight
    • The Black Egg Temple was made specifically to house the Hollow Knight. The door was hermetically sealed by the Dreamers, and your entire journey through the game takes place in order to find a way to open it. After opening the door, you find a large room filled with massive Seals of Binding, all enveloping the Hollow Knight's prison. The prison itself is a relatively small room, filled with chains, all keeping the Hollow Knight bound and suspended above the ground. The Hollow Knight's armor even has big metal loops on the shoulders for the chains to go through.
    • In essence, both the player character and the Hollow Knight are prisons to contain the Radiance. The Pale King created all of the Vessels specifically to house the Radiance, since her corruption of people's minds and wills wouldn't have an effect on a creature that lacked both. Out of the thousands of Vessels created, the Hollow Knight was the only one deemed "empty" enough to house the Radiance. This turned out to be a mistake, as the Hollow Knight did end up having a will and was taken over by the Radiance, becoming a Leaking Can of Evil.
  • As might be expected based on the source material, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream heavily features this trope. AM keeps its five human prisoners trapped in specially-made cells that reinforce their own personal hells (Ellen, for example, is sealed inside an elevator car that's painted yellow, reflecting her being raped by a man dressed in yellow inside an elevator). Later, AM expands the cells into full-on virtual reality simulations of the group's worst nightmares; players are tasked with choosing the right actions to overcome AM's traps and beat the insane computer at his own game.
  • Metroid
    • Gorea from Metroid Prime: Hunters had an interdimensional prison to lock him away and keep him from demolishing the Alimbic Cluster. His means of egress are a forged psychic message and the eight Octoliths that power the device necessary to open it again... too bad the person responsible for opening the door just happened to be Samus.
    • The eponymous creature in Metroid Prime was trapped in the impact crater by a forcefield erected by the Chozo. In the American localization of the game, Space Pirates accidentally free it by digging under the forcefield and take it to be studied, although it escapes and returns to its lair. This was retconned in the European localization and the English version of Metroid Prime Trilogy where it never got out. Samus has to collect the artifacts needed to open a passage into the crater and kill it.
  • The Big Bad of Mother 3, Porky Minch, has lived for thousands of years, and is both immortal and immobile. By his request, Dr. Andonuts created an Absolutely Safe Capsule for him, to keep himself safe after his mecha breaks down. The catch is, being absolutely safe, there's no way out of the capsule, making it the only way to remove him from the fight permanently.
  • Frequently appears in the Myst series. Linking Books can transport you to whatever sort of world is described on their pages, but if there's no Linking Book leading back you're trapped for good.
    • The so-called Trap Books featured prominently in the game also might count. They work like Linking Books; however, due to a slight alteration, they link to a Void Between the Worlds where a person can end up trapped forever, unable to move or interact with anything, their only view of the outside world being the panel they touched, and only if the book is open. A Trap Book only holds one, however, and if another person touches the panel while the book is occupied, the two switch places.
    • After the retcon in Myst IV: Revelation, the Trap Books seen in Myst and Riven are explained to simply link to Prison Ages — worlds where, as described above, there are no Linking Books leading back.
    • In Riven, Catherine is imprisoned in a tower on the former Great Tree island, which has drifted out of sight of the other islands and is only accessible via the linking book from Gehn's 233rd Age, after cracking the access codes and imprisoning Gehn in one of the aforementioned trap books.
    • In Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, the set of fortresses in the Gahreesan age rotate, specifically so that there's no place to link in safely except the very center. In the second (and larger) fortress, a number of usually inescapable prison chambers are found above, usually with some bones in them. The implication is that prisoners were linked to precisely one point, but the rotation of the cells meant that they could store quite a few bodies up there with the right timing.
  • In Mask of the Betrayer, you and your party find Gannayev in a small, windowless prison cell covered from floor to ceiling in magical runes. The reason for this is because has the ability to travel through people's dreams and, while he can't use this ability to escape, he can use it to get hot dream-sex when he should be being punished.
  • A secret teleporter in Pathways into Darkness traps you in one.
  • Persona 5 inverts this, as the Velvet Room, an Eldritch Location which changes into a locale tailor-made for its current guest, becomes a prison for P5's Protagonist.
  • Being based on Planescape, the Mazes naturally featured in Planescape: Torment. A major part of the game is finding your way into the Maze of Ravel Puzzlewell (who had found the exit long ago, but either no longer wants to have anything to do with the wider planes or is too muddled in the head to be able to comprehend leaving). You can also get trapped in your own Maze and attempt to find your way out. This is considered a Bonus Level of Hell for several reasons.
    • Furthermore, Ravel implies that Sigil is the tailor-made prison of the Lady of Pain. The reason Ravel invaded the city with an army of devils was apparently an attempt to free her.
  • You can build one in your house in RuneScape, and drop people in through a trapdoor in the throne room. Unfortunately, you build a door in the cage holding the prisoner, so they can escape, usually. The oubliette's floor can be covered with spikes, a murky pool with tentacles, fire, or a weak monster.
  • SaGa Frontier: An entire world is turned into a massive prison, originally built to house one single prisoner: the prison's own warden.
  • CR-S01, the amnesiac general surgeon from Trauma Team who's serving a 250-year prison sentence for allegedly orchestrating a bioterrorism attack on a college eight years prior to the start of the game, is kept in a refrigerated cell that's maintained at zero degrees Celsius in order to inhibit the growth of weaponized bacteria. Interestingly (and for obvious logistical reasons), when he's being held at Resurgam First Care while working there, nothing is done to the temperature of the room he's staying in (though he's still under heavy guard).
  • At the end of the story mode of Injustice: Gods Among Us, Injustice Superman is brought to the normal DC universe where they lock him up in a cell illuminated with lamps that simulate a red sun, nullifying his powers.
  • Relius Clover from BlazBlue has a variation of this in his Astral Finish, where he captures the oponent and teleports them somewhere in his lab, where they'll be restrained just before the door closes so he can begin his "experiments" on them. Each character gets a different pose that serves either to nulify their abilities (Werewolf Valkenhayn gets tied and muzzled so he can't transform, Noel, Mu, Nu and Lambda get locked inside Murakumo Units Tubes, Tager gets immobilized by magnets) or simply trap them with a touch of Death by Irony..
  • Furi is a game all about this trope. The main character, The Stranger, is attempting to break out of his custom super-prison made of nine islands floating in orbit above the planet below. Each island was custom-built for the Guardian that lives there, each of them one of the planet's mightiest warriors, forcing the Stranger to fight on terrain best suited for each of his enemies. And he has to fight them; the only way onto the next island is a portal that only activates upon its Guardian's death. The "tailor-made" aspect of the trope becomes very poignant when the end of the game revealed that The Stranger is a Walking Wasteland who could render miles of land desolate simply by going for a run. It becomes even more poignant as well as undermined when you find out that the Stranger was just one of dozens, if not hundreds of mass-produced clone soldiers called Riders; there's no telling how long it would be before the mothership decided to simply deploy another one to assimilate the planet.
  • Half-Life: Alyx: The gigantic floating Vault you see above you throughout most of the game is eventually known to be a prison of this sort. The sheer amount of measures taken, from merely advanced machinery for confinement, backup shield and antigravity generators in case of attack and failure of the ground-based facilities to enslaved Vortigaunts (which the Combine cannot control and usually exterminate due to being part of the rebellion) who need to be restrained and wired up just to siphon their Vortessence to power whatever utterly unconventional mechanisms the prison needs to function, indicate that whatever is inside is something the Combine are bowel-voidingly terrified of. The Rebellion is convinced it's Gordon Freeman... it actually turns out to be the G-Man, who takes his imprisonment as nonchalantly as a man waiting for a doctor's appointment and thus leaves one wondering if even all that was enough.

  • Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer!, of Girl Genius is introduced imprisoned in one of these in Castle Wulfenbach. He tries to get Agatha to release him from it, thinking her to be the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter (she didn't do it, not wanting to be the easily duped minion that sets the insanely dangerous experiment free). "Professor Phil Foglio" is later found and inadvertently freed by a group seeking to rescue Agatha in Sturmhalten. He's singing "Oubliette, oubladaa, life goes on, yeah!". It was a pit filled with the bones of all those who pissed off the local Prince. The rescue party also ended up in another one but a comrade they'd been separated from earlier showed up through a secret door and let them out.
  • In Grrl Power, some of the supervillains from the "brawl" are shown in prison cells specifically designed to inhibit their powers. One who could create portals is put in a pressurized cell so that opening a portal would cause explosive decompression, while the violence-powered guy who started the whole thing is kept in solitary confinement with cute video games, My Little Pony posters, and a constant stream of marijuana smoke.
  • Lok's prison in Juathuur. He still gets visits, sort of.
  • In Roza, old Gil.
  • In The Dementia of Magic, Marzos was imprisoned by other mages, but escaped.
  • In Hero Oh Hero, three of the four "Special Prisoners" in the Baron's castle (Moe the Shifter, Ariara, and "Magic Shoes") were kept in these.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation makes these, both for anomalies which are dangerous to humanity and for harmless anomalies which would break the Masquerade if they got loose. The prisons can range from as extreme as keeping a regenerating Omnicidal Maniac immersed in a vat of concentrated hydrochloric acid to as minor as fencing off areas where weird stuff happens.
    • In fact, the Foundation is (indirectly) named after this. The Foundation calls a paranormal entity/object/etc an SCP, which comes from "Special Containment Procedures"; the list of things which must be done to keep a paranormal thing locked up, or at least reduce the danger it causes and keep the public ignorant of it, and the rules which must be followed by any researcher who wants to study it. SCP also stands for their unofficial motto: Secure, Contain, Protect.
  • Tech Infantry has the Federation (and later Imperial) Prison in the R45 system, a Death World with orbiting warships and magical fields to prevent escape or rescue, where the most dangerous supernatural criminals are sent. The more mundane version of the trope is seen when Andrea Treschi kidnaps Xavier Pollos and holds him prisoner in a deep pit to force him to carry out an assassination on Treschi's behalf.
  • The web novel Worm features the Birdcage, a prison designed to hold supervillians on life sentences. It is designed to counter a huge variety of superpowers through both active and passive measures, most of which are spectacularly lethal to those who attempt to escape. An escape is eventually effected with the aid of an individual on the outside who has the ability to create dimensional portals, but even that required cooperation from the prison's controllers.
    • Worm's sequel Ward features a lack of such a prison as a plot point: what exactly do you do with superpowered criminals when you don't have the resources to build a tailor-made prison? They eventually arrive at the solution of dumping criminals in uninhabited alternate dimensions, isolated and alone, but with regular supply drops to ensure they have the tools they need to survive. Everyone's aware that this isn't a very humane or sustainable solution, but they simply don't have the ability to construct a second Birdcage.
  • In the Whateley Universe, there are a few of these for the really high-class super-powered individuals, from Roxbury C (around Boston) to the Thunder Mountain Penitentiary, which is specially prepared for bricks and ragers. The biggest of all we've seen so far is the Arkham Research Consortiate's, at that Arkham, where they don't just keep the most demented Reality Warpers on ice, but a number of Eldritch Abominations as well.

    Western Animation 
  • As people with Elemental Powers are widespread in Avatar: The Last Airbender, they have to be kept in specialized prison. Most of those shown are used by the Fire Nation:
    • The Boiling Rock, which includes firebenders, uses special "cooling cells" to imprison rowdy firebenders. The cells were so cold they couldn't muster up the heat to firebend. Zuko used his fire breathing to keep warm and remove the fastening bolts from the inside.
    • Waterbenders were likewise kept suspended in metal cages far from the ground and water, as well as having hot, dry air pumped in. When they were given water, their arms and legs were fastened. Hama got out by learning to manipulate the blood in living beings.
    • Earthbenders are imprisoned on an offshore metal rig. They eventually broke free by using the coal from the boiler room to earthbend. Later, Toph gets trapped in a steel cage, with her captors convinced that she can't escape because she can't bend metal. However, this just helped Toph to discover metalbending. Next time, she was locked up in a prison... made of wood. Thankfully, Katara was with her and she was able to collect enough sweat to waterbend blades that cut through the bars.
      • Folks in Korra were able to get around it by making cells from platinum, which doesn't have any of the impurities that make metalbending possible.
    • Even airbenders can't escape the Fire Nation's obsession with tailor made prisons. When Aang was captured by General Zhao, he was bound hand and foot in taut chains to avoid him airbending. Though he could still blow with his mouth, he was trapped so completely Zhao threatened they would keep him imprisoned until he died of old age to avoid the hassle of searching for the next Avatar. Good thing the Blue Spirit came along!
    • In third season of the sequel series The Legend of Korra, Zaheer and his gang of benders were kept in these by the White Lotus. Earthbender Ghazan was caged on a wooden platform in the middle of the ocean, waterbender Ming-Hua was suspended over a volcano, and firebender P'Li was kept deep underground in a glacier. Zaheer himself was a non-bender and was simply taken to a secluded location high on a mountain. Unfortunately for the White Lotus, he develops the ability to airbend following Harmonic Convergence. This gives him the edge he needs to escape, whereupon he sets out to free his teammates.
      • In Book Four, the recaptured Zaheer gets a new and improved one. This time, it's in a large cavern inside a mountain. He is manacled hand and foot and chained to the ground, limiting his movements to a well-defined circle in the center, and the only way in or out is through a double set of massive, bulkhead-like sliding doors that require several metalbenders to lift or lower. He doesn't escape from this one.
  • Probably the most dangerous villain in Batman Beyond is Inque. She came closer to killing Terry than any other villain — even Blight — likely did, and he was never able to defeat her alone. She is vulnerable to severe cold, however, so when he apprehended her that way, they figured the best way to hold her was to simply keep her frozen. And it might have held her for good if the guy in charge of watching her hadn't developed a weird crush on her.
  • Used against the heroes by the villain in Buzz Lightyear of Star CommandGreen-Skinned Space Babe with phasing powers Mira Nova was put in a cell that played loud noises to keep her from concentrating, The Big Guy Booster was stuffed into a cell with bouncy sides so he couldn't break out, and Robot Buddy XR was manacled with all of his limbs extended to their limits. Backfired hilariously, as Booster considered the bouncy cell to be the funnest thing ever (it's the ultimate bounce house), and XR saying Zurg was doing a better job than his chiropractor. Mira meanwhile comments that the alarms are "a little annoying", but hardly torture. Zurg counters that the true torture is seeing her teammates being tortured in front of her, unable to do anything but watch. Mira looks at her teammates having the time of their lives, looks back at him and smirks.
  • Parodied in Freakazoid! when Freak ends up not only revealing his weakness to Gutierrez, but also helps build the cage to trap him. Freakazoid kicks himself for it while Gutierrez lampshades it all.
  • The Inhumanoids from Inhumanoids were sealed up in their own personal prison at the beginning of the series: Tendril, chained up in an underground cell; D'Compose, petrified in a massive hunk of amber; and Metlar, trapped in another creature's magnetic field.
  • In the finale of Justice League, the Thanagarians put the League into these: Superman is put under a red sun lamp to drain his powers; J'onn is encased in a forcefield to stop him shapeshifting or phasing through the walls; Flash is subjected to high gravity so he can't move and build up any speed; and Wonder Woman is tied up in the Lasso of Truth, which she can't break to escape. Wonder Woman is able to escape her cell without breaking the Lasso and release the others.
    • Lord Batman creates restraints to hold the League, which League Batman finds impossible to get out of, since his counterpart thought of every trick he would use to escape. He also had some extra precautions, like a shield over Superman's eyes to stop him using his heat vision. However, he only thought of everything Batman would do, and Flash tricks him into letting him out by faking a heart attack.
    • Doomsday from Justice League Unlimited was imprisoned in one by Project Cadmus after Justice Lord Superman lobotomized him, as he was literally impossible to kill. He escapes from it with the help of a wronged minor villain, goes right back to getting his revenge on Superman, is encased in magma from a volcanic eruption, and banished to the Phantom Zone.
  • Referenced in the Kim Possible episode "Stop Team Go", when Hego reacts to the appearance of an old enemy:
    • There were a couple episodes in the Post-Script Season where other villains broke Shego out of prison (while leaving Drakken behind to rot). Presumably her cell was made tough enough that she couldn't use her powers to break out on her own.
  • In the TV series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness episode 'Owl Be Back', there are two; an owl-shaped cage for Fenghuang, and a panda shaped one for Po when it's feared he's turning evil. It also lampshades the above example from the movie by stating Po "obliterating" Tai Lung put the guards out of work, and one in particular really holds a grudge toward Po about it.
  • In ReBoot the heroes create a Firewall to seal off Megabyte's entire infected sector of Mainframe. It works against Megabyte, keeping him imprisoned at least until Enzo's Time Skip. Hexadecimal, on the other hand, easily overloads the Firewall and leaves Mainframe at Megabyte's mercy.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Professor Pericles is kept in a special isolated cell (visually based on Magneto's cell from the X-Men Film Series) in the maximum security animal asylum.
    • The treasure of Crystal Cove is actually a Tailor-Made Prison for the Nibiru Entity. The device that trapped it was also its only connection to our world.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: In "Sonic Breakout", Sonic lets himself get captured in order to break a comic artist out of Robotnik's newly constructed prison, but he overestimated Robotnik's stupidity. Point of fact, Robotnik had built an entire specialized wing of the prison just for Sonic: an isolated tower of nuclear-forged steel with a small nuclear-forged steel cell in the center of it to keep Sonic from buzzsawing his way out. And if he does manage to escape the cell, deadly weapons in the ceiling are programmed to activate when their sensors detect anything blue, like Sonic's fur. Robotnik's only mistake is leaving the dimwitted Scratch and Grounder to keep constant guard: Sonic escapes by duping the system's color-trigger with a poster of himself taped to Grounder's back, which causes the security system to attack Grounder and Scratch, destroying the cell and leaving him free to get away.
  • On The Spectacular Spider-Man, Norman Osborn's company is hired to make these for all the new supervillains (which is ironic, since he was also involved in their creation). Sandman's was designed to use air pressure to keep him from escaping, while Rhino's released tranquilizer gas if he tried. Their escape was due to Electro blowing the power to the whole prison.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, it's revealed that Captain America and the Red Skull have been stuck in what is one of these, "outside of time", since the ending days of WWII. When they get released, Skull gets back to his old shenanigans, and is such a hassle that Cap makes a Heroic Sacrifice by dragging him back into the machine that sent them into the pocket dimension all over again.
    • Dr. Octopus was kept in a prison cell that were made to hold his tentacles.
  • Livewire in Superman: The Animated Series got an electrically insulated cell. She escaped when a ditzy janitor let her borrow his tape player.
    • Superman in the DCAU has several point been held up in cells that had red sun light sent in to cancel out his powers. When Hawkgirl betrayed the team in Justice League, each of the team was put in a personalized cell to counter their powers, as mentioned above.
    • Fire-based super villain Volcana got this treatment. Her cell was a hermetically sealed vacuum filled with fire-retardent gases, with the only source of oxygen being a face mask hooked up to a tube, which can be cut off if she gets any ideas.
  • In an episode of X-Men: Evolution, Professor X is called away to deal with a situation at the Tailor-Made Prison holding his brother (usually best known as the Juggernaut), whose security has been tampered with. Since the prisoner's supervillain name often gets prefixed with "the unstoppable" for very good reason, he's kept asleep in a liquid-filled tank without his helmet and still chained up just in case. Tension mounts when the safeguards need to be shut down and restarted properly, which allows him to start waking up... but while he does snap his chains without even trying hard, he's rendered unconscious again at just about the last moment before he can really start to move. (It turns out that the whole threat of Juggernaut getting loose was merely a distraction to get the Professor out of the way, allowing a shapeshifted Mystique to infiltrate the school and acquire Cerebro's files on the X-Men without getting caught.)
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, the Plumbers planned on placing Vilgax in one of these. To prevent Vilgax from manipulating anyone into helping him to escape, the Plumbers were going to send him to an entirely automated prison complex with him as the sole inmate.
  • The Electric Eel on Underdog was captured in a large glass jar, which neutralized his "electric shocking power".
  • In Samurai Jack, Lazarus-93 was kept in a prison drifting through outer space. There was an entire crew tasked solely with monitoring it and containing it if it ever broke loose, and onboard was a weapon designed specifically to kill Lazarus if things got out of hand. The prison-spaceship is also designed so that anyone who wanders through the hallways will wind up in random areas of the ship, presumably as a means to keep an escaped Lazarus from emerging outside. This all goes awry when the ship impacts an asteroid — while the ship is physically unharmed from the collision, it sends the ship off course and onto Earth, upon which Lazarus breaks out and kills everyone else on board, requiring Jack and his new friend Ashi to defeat it.
  • Teen Titans (2003):
    • When we are first introduced to Plasmus, his human form is submerged inside a tank full of a green liquid, completely unconscious, because as soon as he is removed from said tank and wakes up he transforms into a huge purple monster that starts destroying everything in its path.
    • When the Hive Five are hunting Kid Flash, Madame Rouge specifically instructs them to not feed him or speak to him, and to hold him in a "level 4 containment field" at all times. Unfortunately, this conversation happens after they've captured him and are keeping him in a regular cage, which he phased out of several times to grab food, having completely missed that he can phase through solid matter.
  • Atomic Puppet
    • Professor Tite-Gripp's prison in the Mega City Maximum Security Prison for the Criminally Motivated resembles any normal jail cell, with the exception of the gargantuan manacles that leave him suspended from the ceiling, intended to prevent him from using his massive bionic arms to smash his way out of jail. However, he's escaped several times, so it seems the cell isn't foolproof (though it may have more to do with the incompetence of the guards and Tite-Gripp taking advantage of mealtime — the only time they unshackle him).
    • When the Power Parasite Absorbo Lad is captured by the Justice Alliance, they use a giant juicer-like machine, trapping him inside a glass case and squeezing out superpowers he's stolen in the form of a drink. It doesn't last long, as Absorbo Lad eats the device's wiring to absorb the Justice Alliance fortress' electrical power and escape through electric current.

    Real Life 
  • Back in the 19th century the worst prisoners spared from death penalty were boxed in into tiny alcoves that were then bricked shut save for a window through which they were fed. In practice this was a far more cruel punishment than death, as it meant slowly wasting away from infections — apparently the builders thought that Nobody Poops. Or they didn't care.
  • Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed of Sixteeth Century Hungary allegedly tortured and killed hundreds of young girls over several years. Upon being convicted, she was placed under house arrest for the rest of her life, where she was immured in her bedroom with only a small opening to provide her with food. She died after living this way for four years.
  • Stammheim Prison was the first supermax prison in Germany, purposely built to keep captured members of the Red Army Faction. As with many improvements in public security of the period, it was a huge failure; the captives were quite able to communicate with each other and even had firearms smuggled inside their cells.
    • The guns in question were allegedly used to commit suicide. However, persistent and not entirely baseless theories have circulated that, actually, the Baader-Meinhof gangers were executed by the German government. (Andreas Baader, for instance, fired his gun at least 3 times and supposedly shot himself in the back of the neck so the bullet exited his forehead.) So, how much of a failure the prison was is debatable.
  • Robert Maudsley, a British serial killer, was sent to prison in 1973. Whilst there he tortured and killed several people, allegedly cannibalizing one, until in 1983 it was decided he was too dangerous for a normal cell. He now is kept for 23 hours a day in a glass cell where the bed is a concrete slab, the toilet and sink are bolted to the floor, and the only other thing he has is a chair and desk made from compressed cardboard. He is escorted for one hour a day to an empty yard to exercise under the supervision of six guards. The cell was made eight years before Silence of the Lambs used it for our other famous cannibal.
    • The regime has been relaxed a little in recent years, however, and Maudsley is allowed a stereo in his cell and on rare occasions is permitted contact with people besides his guards, including at least one press interview.
  • The alternate name for the page, "The Oubliette", is a dungeon in the shape of a well or bottle (hence "bottle dungeon") with a trap door at the top to let people in via a rope or rope ladder. Seeing how these were only talked in the 1880s it's very likely these alleged "dungeons" were likely places to store ice or ammo for siege weapons like catapults.
  • There is the famous Man in the Iron Mask. He was held in various prisons throughout France in the late 17th and early 18th century, but was forced to always wear an Iron Mask and the man's identity was kept hidden from all the guards. It was often theorized that the Man identity was so confidential as the man was a secret brother of King Louis XIV to prevent any Succession Crisis. Other theories was that it was an Italian diplomat, so the identity was hidden to avoid a major diplomatic incident.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Oubliette


Rioichi's Cell

Rioichi's prison-cell is suspended over a gorge where the only bridge leading to it has fire-spewing dragon-statues and flashlight guards.

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Example of:

Main / TailorMadePrison

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