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"Somewhere, in our darkest night, we made up the story of a man who will never let us down."

The Cape as an ideally good person. Generally associated with older protagonists and often invokes elements of the Messianic Archetype. Has now become nigh-synonymous with the "classic" Super Hero. This trope is used to evoke admiration amongst other good guys in certain ways.

Capes don't need to actually wear capes (especially if Edna Mode has anything to say about it), although a distinct outfit and some kind of special ability is part of the image. The most important feature is these heroes adhere to a strict moral code and sense of authority; capes can be notoriously inflexible and perceive things in black and white, and even be painfully straightforward and selfless. They often downplay their own heroism and will act heroically even when no one will know. They almost universally subscribe to Thou Shalt Not Kill. Capes usually have secret identities, but make public appearances in costume and actively try to keep a good public image. While they’ll likely be adored by the public and a Friend to All Children with a reassuring sense of charisma, they're also extremely likely to be a Humble Hero, pointing out others they say are The Real Heroes.

One major reason for this is it serves as self-imposed safety to keep them from abusing their powers. Most Capes have Evil Counterparts who do whatever they want and eventually devolve into villains. A second is to set an example for others to follow, as in the page quote and image quote.

Capes are usually born with their powers, or get them in a unique fashion (or are given them to act as champions of Good). Though this is not absolutely necessary; it's the mindset (or self-perception) that's critical.

Capes are contrasted with the The Dark Age of Comic Books which saw the emergence of vigilantes and Anti Heroes who have become more extreme (sometimes to ludicrous effect), mainly as a response to the perception of comic books as "kid stuff." Nearly all Super Hero series eventually address the idea that Capes and Badass Normals have unspoken issues: Capes can impose their morality because they have the power to back them up. In a setting where Capes and Anti-Heroes coexist, the former usually consider the latter to be unstable, amoral Smug Supers. In more cynical universes, the Smug Super might consider himself to be a Cape, but very much isn't.

If they do have powers, expect them to be a Flying Brick.

This trope is named, appropriately enough, for Oliver Queen's term for certain superheroes, as opposed to Badass Normals who live otherwise relatively mundane lives.

See Superheroes Wear Capes for the actual wearing of capes.

Sub-Trope to Ideal Hero. Note that while there is significant overlap between the two archetypes, they can best be differentiated by their subtle expressions: an Ideal Hero is someone with an iron-clad understanding of right and wrong that's always aligned with what helps the most people. Arguably, they are following a strict set of ethics.

Meanwhile, The Cape is more accurately described as "The People's Hero," with a more wholesome and approachable demeanor, who inspires others, and tries to get them to believe in themselves. The Cape could then be said to be an expression of morals.

Compare the Knight in Shining Armor (the medieval version of this character), Captain Patriotic, The Paragon, The Paladin.

Contrast '90s Anti-Hero.

Compare and contrast with The Cowl.

If you're looking for NBC's canceled series of the same name, go here.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Son Goku of Dragon Ball, especially in later stories. He flies on a cloud that only supports the pure of heart; he is a firm believer that Rousseau Was Right, sparing his enemies sometimes and often turning most of them into friends. He respects the pride of an individual, yet draws the line when that pride would hurt others; he always keeps his promise, no matter how little he understood when making it; and, above all, he never demands recognition or fame, instead preferring to live quietly and discreetly with his wife and sons, and then emerge from nothingness when the world—or even the universe—needs saving once more.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, we are introduced to Jiren, the strongest fighter of Universe 11. Jiren's personality (in the Manga at least) is closer to that of a classic superhero. He's more concerned with saving civilians than learning about Goku, and initially refused to the enter the tournament of power because it would mean the death of seven other universes.
  • Fire Force: Shinra looks like a central casting choice for, at best, an Anti-Hero: red eyes, a shark-like grin (with a tendency to come out at inappropriate times), and a power literally named "The Devil's Footprints". However, he is very much this trope, with a selfless desire to help and protect those around him.
  • Lycoris Recoil has Chisato, who while using guns unlike most capes is as heroic as any cape here, even outright using non-lethal bullets and methods. While she's in a setting where this makes her come off more as a Bunny-Ears Lawyer where everyone else is either a child soldier, mercenary, or terrorist, her skill and desire to make her good not only makes her stand out as something special, but her skills and abilities make her stand out so much that despite the former everyone in story has to at least respect her capabilities and achievements.
  • Fate Testarossa of Lyrical Nanoha spends one or two seasons as a Dark Magical Girl. Flash forward 10 years in StrikerS and she's a law enforcer donning a white cape instead of her old completely black attire. Out of the main trio, she is the most classically heroic and focused on enforcing justice and has neither Hayate's trickster attitude nor Nanoha's Blood Knight characteristic. This is also evident in the climax of StrikerS, where she gets the honor of punching out and arresting the Big Bad.
  • All Might of My Hero Academia is an Affectionate Parody of this trope while also managing to play it straight. He is a typical Silver Age Super Hero who also happens to be the world's most powerful hero as well as being considered the "symbol of peace" and the main source of inspiration not only for the main character, but also several other ones. Also somewhat of a Deconstructed Character Archetype since a critical wound has left him unable to maintain his powers or appearance for more than a short time, which is a secret to the general populace so he has to limit his power usage for the sake of keeping up his image. Adding to the Deconstruction is the fact that In-Universe he has set the bar for being a hero so outrageously high that numerous characters develop inferiority complexes from not being able to measure up. And then he retires, due to losing his powers entirely in the process of defeating the most powerful villain in the world, prompting all sort of other villains who were previously too afraid to act to come out of the woodwork.
  • Saitama in One-Punch Man is an odd example. Initially he comes off as an aversion since he just wants fame, fortune, and a good fight to alleviate the soul-crushing ennui that's affected him since he became the World's Strongest Man. However, as the story progresses, we get glimpses of a more idealistic side of his character, tying into the fact that unlike many heroes who really are just in it for money or acclaim, he's wanted to be a hero since he was a kid and thus has a good idea of what a hero should be like. Thus, he starts making himself into a Silent Scapegoat, willingly painting himself as a scam artist who mooches off of other heroes' hard work, in order to maintain the public's trust in other heroes—not just the noble ones, but the selfish Jerkasses too. Over time this hurts his image with the public, but he accrues a small circle of True Companions who know him for the good person he really is, and this seems to make him happy. Probably reaches its peak in the climax of the Hero Hunter arc, where Saitama talks Garou down by correctly surmising that rather than hating heroes, he loved them and simply got disillusioned by the dark side that came from making heroics a profession.
    • One can't talk about OPM without giving a nod to Mumen Rider. He might just be an ordinary man on a bicycle, but he's noble, kind-hearted, and above all else brave. When a giant monster who had defeated a dozen other heroes threatened innocent civilians, Mumen fought him despite knowing that he stood no chance, all while delivering an epic speech. There's a reason he's one of the most beloved heroes, both in-universe and out; if his body were as strong as his heart, Mumen would give Superman a run for his money.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Sayaka Miki declares herself an ally of justice who will keep the city 'super safe'. She is one of the few magical girls who fights familiars in addition to witches to reduce the number of muggles that are killed by them, and of the five main characters her Magical Girl outfit is the only one with an actual cape. Homura explains why these magical girls are always the first to die or be corrupted. Because they fight familiars (which don't drop grief seeds) they engage in many more battles which means more chances to die in battle. Also, all of this fighting taxes their magic supply which accelerates the rate at which their soul gem darkens. Because they run on lofty ideals like selflessness and heroism and justice, they are more vulnerable to despair, which also accelerates the rate at which the soul gem darkens, ultimately turning them into the very witches they fight.
  • Lazenby, from Rave Master was made as a parody of this.
  • Mr. Legend and Sky High from Tiger & Bunny. Kotetsu wants to be this but his destructive approach to justice usually gets in the way.
    • In an interesting turn of events Mr. Legend turns out to be a Subversion of this trope, and while well-intentioned, Sky High is a bit of a ditz.
  • Atem from Yu-Gi-Oh! zigzags this trope. While far more of an anti-hero than other examples, he nevertheless has a strict honour code and is initially very black and white in his views about justice and punishment. He plays the rest of the trope straight as he is incredibly selfless and downplays his own heroism to the extent of writing himself out of history to save his people. He plays the example straight the most in his life as Pharaoh Atem (revisited in the last arc of the manga) when he literally wears a cape and has to be the upholder of Ma'at i.e. law and justice.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Superman is usually considered the most famous modern example of a Cape. He could just about be considered the Trope Codifier; the fact that he wears a cape is one of the main reasons why capes are associated with costumed superheroes.
    • In the Novelization of Kingdom Come, Wonder Woman probes his reasons for being so visible. He easily could have done all of his superhero work anonymously instead of "showing off like Apollo". Superman replied that he felt that "an ounce of prevention" would do more good preventing crime. She counters that that was the source of all of the other metahumans' desire to do good—through his example.
    • In Superman: Brainiac, Jonathan Kent explains that his son's real and greatest power is not being mightier than a locomotive or faster than a speeding bullet.
      Jonathan: Your greatest power isn't being able to fly or see through walls. It's knowing what the right thing to do is.
  • Supergirl is traditionally very much a Cape.
    • During the Silver Age in particular she was one of the most caring and humble superheroes, perhaps more so than her cousin himself since for her first few years she had to do her heroism in secret.
    • Kara died a hero in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. When the Anti-Monitor attempted to destroy The Multiverse, she sacrificed her own life so that her cousin might live. In so doing, however, she severely set back the Anti-Monitor's plans, making victory possible for the heroes of the surviving Earths. The greatest tragedy of all, however, was that with the destruction of the Multiverse and changes to the timestream, Kara was erased from history, and no one at all remembered her heroic life and death. And still she accepted this, though, because she accomplished her goal: save them all.
    • Post-Crisis Supergirl acted like a selfish emo teen for a while when she showed up on Earth because she suffered from Kryptonite poisoning and it was messing her head up and altering her behavior. For all her problems, though, Kara was headed strongly in this direction by the time of the New 52 reboot. She'd put the past behind her, adopted Superman's attitude towards dealing with issues, built strong friendships with other heroes, and was well on her way to being the same sort of paragon as her cousin.
    • New 52 Supergirl didn't want to hurt anyone and was willing to help people, but her obsession with bringing Krypton back and her anger and loneliness issues were holding her back. During the Red Daughter of Krypton arc she finally faced her inner demons and outgrew her angst and anger. When Supergirl (Rebirth) starts out, she has become the kind of hero who will punch criminals and monsters but also try to reach out to them.
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Kara is nice, good-natured, selfless and trusting. And she always tries to do the right thing. Unfortunately, Lex Luthor used her innocence against her, earning her trust so he could manipulate her.
    • Argued in Demon Spawn: Kara is a real hero, not because she is perfect—she is not—but because of her powers allowed her to do anything, and she chose to be a good person.
      "And part of her goodness is being torn away with it... for it was her heritage, her superiority over ordinary mortals, that forged her to make the ultimate decision to use her powers for good rather than for evil..."
  • Oddly enough, the classic Cape on Justice League Unlimited is not Superman, but Golden-Age boy scout Captain Marvel. The series also frequently has subplots involving Superman's motivations and temptations despite being The Cape everyone looks up to.
    • To some extent it depends on the writer exactly how different The Big Red Cheese and Billy Batson actually are (they talk about each other in the third person, but there's substantial overlap). Given that Billy, even if he is not literally a Boy Scout, certainly tries to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent, it makes a certain amount of sense that his super-powered alter ego is usually shown to be pretty much pegged at one edge of the sliding scale from idealism to cynicism. For that matter, one assumes this is exactly why the wizard Shazam picked Billy for the job.
    • Kyle Rayner once observed that Captain Marvel is essentially 10-year-old Billy Batson's concept of the perfect adult, made real.
  • The Flash Barry Allen. A CSI with Super-Speed powers, a trained police officer, and founding member of the Justice League, he sacrificed himself to save the multiverse in a last ditch attempt to defeat the Anti-Monitor, this was one of the longest lasting comicbook hero deaths until he came back in Final Crisis.
  • Batman holds himself to enough standards that he is often closer to this than an Anti-Hero, just more on the pragmatic side. But regardless, there's a reason his comics are the Trope Namer for Joker Immunity.
  • When Superman was dead, Steel took up the role of The Cape and fought "to keep the spirit of Superman alive."
  • The Martian Manhunter is an example of this trope, as (in his 90s ongoing) he is the most well-loved superhero in the entire southern hemisphere of Earth, and he is (Depending on the Writer, of course), more powerful than Supes.
  • Nightwing is considered one of the greatest capes in the entire DC universe (right up there with Superman himself) as he's one of the most experienced superheroes who ever operated (having started around age twelve). Even Superman and Batman are willing to defer to him on occasion. Ironic, because he hates wearing capes.
  • Batgirl II Cassandra Cain is a very surprising example of a Cape. If you only read her very troubled backstory, you'd think she'd be an Anti-Hero Substitute for Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. But her experiences shaped her into being a very idealistic character instead of an anti-hero. This is mostly because she views Batman more as a symbol than a person, and in many ways upholds Batman's edicts better than the man himself. Even with her communication problems, she has enough charisma she can inspire others around her simply by being a hero.
  • A number of the early DC heroes from the Justice Society of America era were and often still are this trope, most notably Green Lantern/Sentinel and the original Flash.
  • Captain America is probably Marvel's best capeless Cape. As a youth, he tried out for World War II, but was rejected on physical grounds, so he volunteered to be a guinea pig in a military experiment. He did not know there had already been successful trials, and the risk was much less than is commonly advertised; the experiment turned him into a soldier with physical and mental capabilities very slightly above peak human. In the modern era (how he survived is another story), he is such a tactical and moral exemplar that while powerless and wielding nothing more than an indestructible shield that doesn't obey the laws of physics, he leads a team consisting of powerhouses like Thor, Iron Man, Wonder Man, Ms. Marvel, and the rest of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes".
    • Further punctuating his status as The Cape, Cap makes it clear on numerous occasions that he does not stand for America as a nation specifically, but for "the Dream", to the point where he is willing to fight and die for his beliefs against his own government.
  • Spider-Man is Marvel's second greatest Capeless Cape after Captain America; he radiates the ideals of responsibility and hope for others. He once was originally a young man whose goal was just to get into university and study science, but while on an excursion to a museum, he was bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him super-powers. After he discovers the responsibility that comes with the power he now possesses, he protects his city and loved ones from whatever may threaten them. Like Cap, Spidey is one of the most trusted and beloved heroes in the franchise, and one of the friendliest and most selfless of the entire heroic roster. Many heroes, including Cap, enjoy his presence, along with his heroism, determination, and lightheartedness, due to the fact he is the heart of the Marvel Universe.
  • Justice of the New Warriors.
  • The leading example in Astro City is unarguably the Silver Agent. A natural leader and All-Loving Hero, he selflessly helps anyone in need regardless of the risk to himself. He ends up being an inspiring figure for over 43 centuries to beings throughout the universe.
    • Samaritan is the world's most famous hero and always a reassuring sight in times of danger. Despite the never-ending pressures he faces trying to help everyone, the harshest he'll get is a stern-voiced frown.
    • The Gentleman is so nice and polite that he makes Fred Rogers look like a drunken sailor by comparison. Stylishly dressed and unerringly chivalrous, The Gentleman is a constant example of impeccable civility.
  • Hyperion of the Squadron Supreme.
  • In Irredeemable, the Plutonian was seen as one of these until his Face–Heel Turn. The comic book series is essentially exploring what would happen both if Superman went bad and, by extension, what would happen if someone who ultimately did not have the moral fibre to be The Cape was given this role.
  • Bright, Cheery, Mentally-Sound Man from Dark Brooding Mentally Disturbed Man. An "evil" counterpart to DBMD Man (even though they are both vaguely good-ish), BCMS Man is trusting and gentle to a fault. In that he believes violence is not the answer when dealing with armed lunatics and gives mad scientists a stern talking to before escorting them back to their hidden volcano bases to think about what they have done.
  • The eponymous Empowered might well qualify. For all her faults and frailties, she knows what is right, and will go to tremendous lengths to do just that. In the last story in volume 5, she is willing to very probably die to save Mindf*** , and she only slightly knows the other woman. Mindf*** had to resort to using mind control to force Empowered to save herself instead.
    • She later literally went with Sista Spooky to Hell in an attempt to rescue Mindf***. Spooky simply cannot understand why the woman she has belittled, embarrassed, and humiliated time and again would do that. Emp did it because it was the right thing to do.
  • In Johnny Saturn, Johnny Saturn wouldn't call himself a cape, due primarily to his reputation for brutality and his unwillingness to compromise. The Utopian, especially later in the series, is a Cape, and his father Elect is the archetypal Cape (in-setting, he was the first caped superhero). However, the series deconstructs the idea slightly with Elect, who has been shown to possess absolutely terrible judgment and political blindness. Yes, he is a tremendously successful superhero and a loving husband, but he is also unable to adapt to the times or pick the right horse with political policy. He is seen cavalierly endorsing pointlessly discriminatory party platforms and disrespecting his gay son, among other slights.
  • The title of Thom Zahler's independent comic-book sitcom Love and Capes says it all. Issue 10 reveals some practical reasons for superheroes to wear capes.
  • Thundermind of DC's Great Ten fulfills this archetype despite lacking a cape. As a result, he's the only member of the Great Ten deemed capable of being a media darling.
  • Atlas in PS238 seems to be a mild deconstruction. His chronic heroism destroys his marriage since he's never there for his wife, and he ultimately abandons Earth and his depowered son in order to take control of his homeworld in order to try and fix it. Julie 84 is a much straighter example and is in the process of being trained as his replacement (insofar as an eight year old girl can be allowed to take on such things).
  • Cyclops in X-Men, though Depending on the Writer. Some play up his "boy scout" image, others play up his "emotionally conflicted and badass leader" image, so he varies on either a Cape in charge of the group, or a somewhat reckless, Crazy-Prepared Four-Star Badass that often makes him look like a Jerkass. In general, the most consistent thing about Cyclops is that he is a skilled field leader who lacks the natural charisma of a true "Cape".
  • The Mighty Thor is another Marvel Comics Cape.
  • Another Marvel one is The Sentry. When he is sane. In theory.
    • He wants to be one, and his Sentry persona is essentially the expression of his desire to be Marvel's answer to Superman. Unfortunately, his Superpowered Evil Side is having none of it.
  • All Fall Down has the superhero veteran, Paradigm. Of all the victims of the Fall, he handles it best.
  • Deconstructed in Power & Glory: while A-Pex may appear to be an all-American blonde, blue-eyed, virtuous superhero, in reality he is nothing of the sort—the guy is actually a government-created nationalist fantasy whose fear of germs leaves him incapable of fighting anyone, and it is his handler who has to take care of things from behind the scenes.
  • X-23 is increasingly showing aspects of this, as opposed to her genetic father's cowl. This has become especially noticeable in the aftermath of The Death of Wolverine, first in her issue of self-reflection of The Logan Legacy, and particularly during Wolverines; Laura rescues Fantomelle from Siphon because it is the right thing to do, not just because the group needs her. And when she later realizes that Siphon is as much a victim as the rest of the Paradise experiments, she manages to talk both Blade and Daken out of killing him in order to try and help him, even though she would be fully justified putting him down due to the immense threat he presents. Notably, when Laura visits the Ultimate Universe and learns the origin of mutants in that reality, she actually starts to break down in frustration that no matter where she goes because she cannot find something noble to aspire to.
  • Jerom from Suske en Wiske has pretty much all of the attributes described here, even with his eventual flaws such as badly speaking Dutch and being very impulsive. Willy Vandersteen eventually noticed this and created the Jerom franchise, in which he is a hero fighting crime.
  • Wonder Woman, up until that business with Max Lord was used to make her Darker and Edgier, has always been an ideal loving hero who strives to help everyone, even her own villains.
  • Alan Scott, the original Golden Age Green Lantern. Within the canon of the DC Universe itself, Alan, not Superman, is considered as the FIRST Cape, having started his superhero career since before World War II, and both Superman and Batman have referred to him inspiring them to become heroes since childhood, he is even quoted as the heroic inspiration for other heroes of his era, such as Wildcat. He is this to such a degree, that when Dr. Manhattan prevented him from reaching the Lantern in his origin story (thus killing him), it caused the ENTIRETY of the New 52 DC universe to become a much bleaker, cynical place. After Dr. Manhattan corrected his mistake, the DC Universe is back to (closer to) normal, meaning the magnitude of the influence of his heroism cannot be overstated.
  • In an age when so many of Marvel's old guard heroes are being depicted as morally compromised for the sake of drama, Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, is one of the most stand-up and earnest heroes around, and the citizens of Jersey City are generally very proud of their hometown hero in a way that's rare in the Marvel Universe.
  • The WildStorm universe has Mr. Majestic, who is basically that universe's equivalent of Superman, except that he's a former alien warlord, and thus takes a more militaristic approach to fighting injustice.
  • Super-Goof is a cheerful, heroic, superpowered Flying Brick who is a bit less bright than the usual examples of this trope, but ultimately is an archetypical hero through and through. This is in sharp contrast to Paperinik, who's a Terror Hero.

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in Calvin and Hobbes with Stupendous Man, whose powers (not counting his costume) exist only in Mild-Mannered Calvin's imagination, and whose actual motives are purely selfish.
    Stupendous Man: I was just about to use my stupendous powers to liberate some cookies being held hostage on the top shelf of the pantry! Now if you'll excuse me, duty calls!

    Fan Works 
  • Cassandra Cain, the lead of Angel of the Bat, was already the Cape during her time as Batgirl, but becomes even more hopeful and and strong after her religious conversion to Catholicism and changing her title to Angel of the Bat.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Jor-El sends the rocket to Earth hoping helping them and guiding them this way. As he grows up Shinji aspires to be a good person and help people as much as he can. This mindset helps him to overcome some of his childhood traumas and become Superman. When someone says he can not fight fate, he replies "You watch me".
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: The real point of this story is Asuka donning the Supergirl identity and growing out of being an immature kid and into this trope and as well as an Ideal Hero.
  • In The Secret Return of Alex Mack, the titular character is this. Being the first superhero to go public, she is also the most well-known and is always at the forefront in every disaster. Serving as an inspiration for later heroes. Half of the team she gathers only becomes heroes due to her influence.

    Film — Animation 
  • While it is possible that all of the superheroes displayed in The Incredibles can qualify as this, Mr. Incredible and Syndrome's dynamic can qualify as a deconstruction of this trope. Mr. Incredible is shown to be a popular and inspiring hero, having many flattering articles of his super heroics, a fan club and even a key to the city of Metroville given to him by the mayor. This leads to him inspiring his "number one fan" Buddy to want to become a superhero just like him and trying to be his sidekick "Incrediboy." Because Mr. Incredible only wants to work alone (or, maybe more importantly, had just had a long day "at the office" which Buddy did not make any easier), he inadvertently crushes the boy's dreams in an attempt to keep him safe, leading to him to becoming a sociopathic supervillain whose plot is to become a superhero in the eyes of the public. This involves killing off various veteran heroes, unleashing a giant robot into populated areas and then "stopping it", as a bastardization of The Cape.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The titular character in Captain America: The First Avenger. The movie is able to play this trope straight, and beautifully so, by giving him a deep need to prove himself and making him come off as adorable.
    • The trope is also played straight in The Avengers where Cap gives Tony Stark a lecture about his selfishness and lone wolf behavior. Which gets turned around at the end, when Tony is actively working with the other Avengers while battling all over New York and ends up nearly performing a Heroic Sacrifice, only being saved at the last moment by the Hulk.
    • The Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He has a great respect for humanity and even has some sympathy for Ultron. Notably, he's the only Avenger besides Thor - and later, Cap - who is worthy enough to wield Mjölnir.
    • Spider-Man is naturally this and it extents to all of his variants in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Notably, only Raimi-Verse Spidey takes this a step further and is an Ideal Hero.
  • Superman: The Movie: As should be expected, Christopher Reeve as Superman plays this straight as well.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • While Henry Cavill's Superman is not quite there yet in Man of Steel, due to being a version of the Man of Steel going through a Decon-Recon Switch, he shows shades of this, Humble Hero, and The Paragon, and has come to fit the three roles much better two years later (in universe) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He becomes this completely in Justice League.
    • Wonder Woman starts out this way through her first movie, being motivated purely by her empathetic need to help people. However, she becomes a Knight in Sour Armor in the end, but rediscovers it in time for Justice League.
    • In SHAZAM!, Billy Batson doesn't quite start out as an all-loving boyscout. When he initially gains his powers, Billy is more interested in abusing his powers to skip school, buy alcohol, and making money. However, after getting called out for his selfishness and realizing that he needs to own up to his shortcomings, Billy matures into an inspirational hero, though he still has issues with the status as of SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods.
  • The titular hero Tenório Cavalcanti, from the O Homem da Capa Preta presented himself this way for promoting his image. The titular cape also served the purpose of concealing his MG-34 at indoor environments, like in the famous I-just-shoot-at-men scene.

  • Captain Carrot of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. He has no overtly superhuman abilities, but he combines a strong sense of justice, a solid punch and a fountain of charisma — he assumes that everyone else is basically a decent person, and somehow, they can't help but live up to his expectations.
  • I Did NOT Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence!: He is a Humble Hero who never attacks villains in their personal lives, is hesitant to feed even the most bloodthirsty heroes and villains to Mourning Dove at first, and is one of the few seventies heroes to express open concern for the civilian victims of supervillains.
  • Sarah, the titular character in Tales of an Mazing Girl. But that's just the character she plays. On the inside she's snarky, and egotistically self-satisfed. But she hides it as the Big Good. Or maybe that's who she really is.
  • X-Wing Series:
    • Tycho Celchu. He's a brilliant pilot but not superhuman. What makes him a Cape — well, there's an exchange in Wedge's Gamble that illustrates it.
      Horn: So, you don't even know, really, if you are an Imperial agent waiting to happen or not?
      Celchu: I know I'm not. Being able to prove it is something else again.
      Horn: But being constantly under suspicion, that's got to wear on you. Why put up with it? How can you put up with it?
      Celchu: I put up with it because I must. Enduring it is the only way I can be allowed to fight back against the Empire. If I were to walk away from the Rebellion, if I were to sit the war out, I would have surrendered to the fear of what Ysanne Isard might, might, have done to me. Without firing a shot she would have made me as dead as Alderaan, and I won't allow that. There's nothing in what I have to live with on a daily basis that isn't a thousand times easier than what I survived at the hands of the Empire. Until the Empire is dead, I can never truly be free because I'll always be under suspicion. Living with minor restrictions now means someday no one has to fear me.
    • Wedge, his CO, probably qualifies too. One example: during the Borleias evacuation, the shuttle he's supposed to ride out is destroyed, so he grabs a damaged X-Wing from the vehicle bay. A freighter warns him of nearby Vong ground troops, so he goes and destroys them. Then, while escorting the transport up, they're jumped by a squadron (12, for those of you keeping score at home) of Vong fighters. Wedge proceeds to pull them off the freighter and annihilate the squad, losing his shields in the process. Another squadron catches up to the freighter in this time, and Wedge pulls them away too, despite knowing that there's no possible way he can win...except the Rogues showing up.
      Gavin Darklighter: Blackmoon Eleven, what did you think you were doing going after an entire squadron?
      Wedge: My job.
  • Luke Skywalker is almost always shown as this, especially in works such as Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. He's a perfect example of Beware the Nice Ones-yes, he is a Living Legend and Big Good, but he's also kind, gentle, compassionate, and willing to give a second chance to everyone, unless they're absolutely steeped in the Dark Side-and even then, he'll still defeat them as quickly and painlessly as possible. It's telling that even when there's anti-Jedi sentiment, it's almost never directed at him personally. Even after going through enough to make anyone into a Woobie, he always remains a good guy.
  • Subverted viciously in Minister Faust's From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain. Omnipotent Man is a semi-literate idiot, The Flying Squirrel is a racist, Iron Maiden is a self-loathing depressive etc.
  • Played straight in the Nightside novels with Julian Advent, who could've been another Dr. Jekyll, but chose to drink a formula that brought his Good side to the fore instead.
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Captain Steele, a full blown superhero. Roger drew him in order to have a really powerful ally but discovered it took too much to get him out of the painting. Uses him in the end, though whereupon Kevin kills him with an Evil Weapon. Roger reveals that he didn't bring him out, he brought Kevin into his painting.
  • Gently subverted in Wearing the Cape. The more powerful and photogenic superheroes are major media celebrities, who often publicly play to the Golden Age Hero stereotype and have whole marketing campaigns and PR departments to back them up.
    • Of course, Atlas did start out as, and remained, pretty much the closest thing they had to The Cape. This was even lampshaded when Astra comments you could have put a big S on his chest and dared someone to claim it wasn't appropriate. However, it's subtly deconstructed by implying that Atlas feels a great amount of pressure to live up to people's expectations of the Cape and would have become rather burnt-out if not for Astra.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Daniar is a Flying Brick who enforces her father the king's justice. More than simple fighting she tries to set a moral example with her insistence of showing mercy to her enemies instead of killing them.
  • Michael Carpenter from The Dresden Files, although he'd never trivialize his work as a Knight of the Cross by comparing it to comic-book superheroism, fits this trope. Knights have all the virtues, including humility. When Harry has repeatedly compared him to everything from Superman to Dudley Do-Right, Michael has usually seemed to actually find it moderately funny, somewhat complimentary, and not in the least embarrassing. Which pretty much doubles down on the trope.
  • Stannis Baratheon of A Song of Ice and Fire is what would happen if a non-superhero Cape existed in real life. He stands for truth and justice, but comes off a vengeful Jerkass. He always does his duty but has little to show for it which fuels his quest for the throne. He wants to bring peace to the realm and the people in it, but has no problem sacrificing a few to save all.
  • American Eagle, of Legacy: The Tale of the American Eagle. His idealism and code of "No One Dies", (even when running through Vietnamese jungle after a drug cartel and getting repeadtedly ambushed), annoys the team of mercenaries accompanying him to no end.
  • Archvillain: Mighty Mike, a Flying Brick who spends his time saving kittens from trees and stopping forest fires.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, Lone Star.
  • In The Supervillainy Saga, Ultragod is this to the entirety of the superhero world. His daughter Gabrielle is viewed as this but is actually more of a Pragmatic Hero. Both of them are Expy for Superman and Supergirl so this makes sense.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: The Groosalugg. Angel grumps about how he's better at being one than Angel himself.
  • Benton Fraser of Due South, a Mountie who came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father, exemplifies this trope, being genuinely polite, noble, selfless and heroic to everyone he meets. In something of a subversion, everyone consequently assumes he's unhinged.
  • For bonus points, genre television show The Cape. Ironically the title character is actually The Cowl.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Hercules, as portrayed by Kevin Sorbo. He doesn't have a literal cape or secret identity, but in all other aspects he pretty much fits the bill.
    Opening Narration But wherever there was evil, whenever an innocent would suffer, there would be Hercules!
  • Kamen Rider often has protagonists like these for the Heisei lineup, and with some shows this is done to contrast from the rest of the morally ambiguous cast. While having just motives, the older Showa Riders often fought terrorists groups out of revenge.
  • All of the Super Sentai series always present the group of heroes as heroic characters who help protect the public. It is a child-friendly tv show franchise after all, so they have to show good role models to inspire the younger generations.
  • All Power Rangers from the first six seasons are this; it's all but stated to have been among Zordon's recruitment criteria, and he sets non-negotiable rules as conditions of retention. In later seasons, the Rangers who don't start out this way learn better and come around.
  • Raymond from The Thin Blue Line, or at least Raymond's self-image.
  • Barry Allen, the main character of The Flash (2014). Many critics and fans have pointed out that Barry is a sort of anti-anti-hero. It also gets pointed out in the series itself, since he's sharply contrasted with the Arrow, who is very much The Cowl.
    Oliver Queen: You come from Central City, where it's always sunny and you give your enemies cutesy codenames.
  • Supergirl. In the television series, Supergirl straddles between being The Cape and The Heart.
  • A Doctor Who Christmas special introduces one to the show. The Ghost is clearly a Superman Substitute (justified, since Grant was a huge fan of Superman as a kid), protecting New York, while also working as a babysitter for his crush (who, as befits a Lois Lane Expy, has no idea that her babysitter and the Ghost are one and the same).
    The Ghost: (to the Monster of the Week) Please understand it is against my personal code to cause lasting harm to any individual. (Throws him against a wall) However, light to moderate injury is fine.
  • Many Ultra Series heroes and their human hosts fall under this category, especially during the Showa era. Heisei era Ultras and humans tended to be more fallible, but still remain equally admirable characters.
  • The Letter People: Mister S is characterized as a Flying Brick superhero.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): Wonder Woman is an Ideal Hero who strives to do good for the sake of doing good, rehabilitate villains if possible, and, to quote her theme song, "stop a war with love".

  • The Crash Test Dummies song "Superman's Song" is actually fairly interesting, in that it contrasts Superman with Tarzan, to explore the concept of The Cape, as sort of a Reconstruction of the concept before Deconstruction of it became popular.


    Pro Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 

  • Optimus Prime, from any incarnation of the Transformers franchise, is a non-superhero example, somewhat like Carrot above but played a great deal straighter. To be fair, Optimus and the rest of his race do fall under the Super Robot category, so to us Puny Earthlings, he seems pretty strong... But his respect for sentient life, his inspiring oratory, his dedication to justice, his courage in the face of impossible odds, as well as being one of the finest warriors and most well-constructed Transformers in history... He's a shining example of this trope, and a beacon of light in a war without end.
    • A much less publicized character called Countdown is, if possible, even more so. He's no more powerful than Optimus (though his recent Ultra-class figure gives ridiculous statistics for him), but in attitude, morality, determination, intelligence, and so on, he's sort of a cross between Captain Picard, Superman, Thor (from Stargate SG-1), and Carl Sagan.

    Video Games 
  • The central figure of the "mythology" behind City of Heroes, Statesman, is a classic Cape. Strict moral code, no-kills rule, monochrome vision, enforces his code upon others and backs it up with literally demigod-like powers. Naturally, he comes complete with an Evil Counterpart, Lord Recluse.
    • He is also canonically over 100 years old and has been in the superhero business since the 1920s. So being a little jaded and tired of it all is somewhat understandable.
  • Ky Kiske from the Guilty Gear series exemplifies this, minus the actual cape. Always standing up for peace and justice, his flaw is his primarily black-and-white view that leads him to be at odds with the lawless-yet-positive Sol Badguy.
  • In many RPGs the player can become The Cape, examples include the Fallout series, Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic.
  • Haran Banjo and Rom Stol get turned into these in Super Robot Wars. When all seems lost, Haran Banjo will arrive on the scene (sometimes with a distinct yell of "DAIITAAAARN...COME HERE!!!") and will deliver his Bad Ass Creed and Boast of how Daitarn 3 is here to smash evil ambitions (along with fixing whatever the problem was). Rom Stol one ups this by always interrupting the villain with a yell of "MATE!" (HALT!) before going into a speech about justice, love, punishment et al., sometimes in improbable places (like on top of the stage boss' cockpit). Inevitably, he will be asked who he is, whereupon he declares that they "do not deserve to know [his] name."
  • The Warrior of Light was made out to be a MASSIVE cape in Dissidia Final Fantasy. He's unwaveringly loyal to Cosmos, flatly shoots down Ultimecia's Hannibal Lecture, and even vows to save his Evil Counterpart Garland from his fate. No wonder Cosmos' Batman Gambit worked so well.
  • Mario. He may be something of a Flat Character, but his defining quality is his unrelenting altruism. He is an incorruptible do-gooder. He even gets a cape in Super Mario World.
  • While the "No kill" rule is obviously not in effect, even before the final battle and possible Heroic Sacrifice to save all the advanced species in the entire galaxy, now and in the future of Mass Effect 3, a completely (or close to it) paragon Commander Shepard is damn near worshiped as a deity by multiple species and civilizations across the galaxy for his/her altruism, courage, and decency.
    • And in the Extended Cut DLC, The Control Ending shows that Shepard's personality can live on as an actual cybernetic deity that is dedicated to protecting and helping all life, real and synthetic, in the galaxy.
    • Like Superman, Paragon Shepard's best friend is the Mass Effect universe's equivalent of Batman, Garrus Vakarian. It's lampshaded in the third game that when they work together they make an unstoppable team.
  • Kat from Gravity Rush is a Gravity Master who uses her powers to help the people of Hekseville. Usually she uses her powers to fight off the monstrous Nevi, but she also fights thieves, supervillains, and corrupt officials. She's always nice to everyone, and is always willing to help everyone with expectation of a reward.
  • Notorious from No More Heroes III is a textbook técnico, a heavyweight wrestler who works as a superhero and is easily the most morally upstanding of Travis's group of assassins and other partially-reformed ne'er-do-wells. He takes out the #4 Galactic Ranking Superhero and helps Travis in a battle against Destroyman True Face.
  • Pokémon: Palafin, introduced in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, is essentially a dolphin version of Superman, complete with mild-mannered secret identity, which has pathetic stats and looks near-identical to its pre-evolved form, Finizen. You must switch it out mid-battle and then switch it back in to give it time to change into costume, at which point it will have stats on par with or even exceeding that of most legendary Pokémon.

    Web Comics 
  • Bob and George. George, though, sometimes has to be reminded
  • In The Adventures of Gyno-Star, Gyno-Star embodies a feminist version of the trope, attempting to abide by a strict feminist code (although often failing).
  • Several characters in the Johnny Saturn series could qualify, but the most blatant is The Utopian, the local Superman Expy, he's one of the series' most moral characters, and his powers are actually fueled by his idealism, the one time he (completely accidentally) breaks the Thou Shalt Not Kill rule, he is Brought Down to Normal instantly. He claims he's powered by his "Devotion to the Utopian ideal", but it's never made clear if he lost his powers for breaking the code, or if his guilt and horror over doing so caused him to somehow shut his powers off since genuinely believed he didn't deserve them.
    • For reference, the guy he killed was a supervillain, who had killed dozens of people and was responsible for multiple atrocities, and the killing itself was a complete accident. No-one would blame him or deny it was justified, but Utopian still views it as My Greatest Failure, and, for a while, his Moral Event Horizon.
    • Plus he wears a white and gold costume, and defeats a Face–Heel Turn-ed friend of his by forgiving him and flying away, since he believed the guy would do the right thing, he is not only one hundred percent sincere, he's also completely right!
  • The unashamedly corny and Silver-Agey Lady Spectra of Lady Spectra & Sparky.
  • Elliot of El Goonish Shive is brave, kind, chivalrous, and is the most straight up-and-down member of the eight True Companions. He hates injustice and bullying more than anything else, and his greatest fear is that he might begin to do bad things.
  • Airstrike and Clash from Wake of the Clash both happen to wear fluttery red capes that intentionally catch the eye. Clash seemed to be regarded and well liked as the classic hero type pre-Disaster, his fitting of The Cape stands in direct contrast to the antagonist role he takes on for the rest of the series. Airstrike on the otherhand, has an earnest and bombastic personality. It seems like she wears the cape to visually fit herself into the image of a classic, well-liked hero as she wants to be.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog with Captain Hammer, who is treated like a cape by most characters, even though he is really a Jerk Jock.
  • In Worm, anyone who dons a costume is referred to as a 'Cape' though few indeed fit the actual trope. However there are several clear examples, Legend is a crystal clear case. Chevalier and several other heroes may well be examples and a couple of the Brockton Bay Wards fit as well. A great many others seem to fit the trope at first, but later turn out not to do so as well as might be hoped.
  • The titular villainess of Interviewing Leather has nothing but respect for the "old-school" superheroes.
  • The <3-Verse has Mr Perfect of the Brat Pack as a Cape-in-Training, as well as Thunderbolt and Uncle Sam as full-fledged Capes.
  • In the Whateley Universe, there are plenty.
    • The Headmistress of Whateley Academy is a retired Superhero and very much fits the The Cape trope, even if her current superheroine garb is a body suit without cape. Since she's been fighting villains since 1943, she has a 1940's sensibility about superheroing... along with over sixty years of experience. She still looks early- to mid-thirties.
    • And don't forget the 'Future Superheroes of America', better known around the school as... The Cape Squad.
  • Web reviewer The Cartoon Hero uses a heroic persona and a typical cape outfit.
  • Captain Galhardo of Galactiquest wears one. Notably, he only wears it on his ship, and it's implied that no other captain does this. In one episode, it's revealed that he keeps a collection of them in the engine room.