WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
File:ImprisonedZelda 4758.jpg

Diamonds are forever, which comes in handy when you want to make someone really suffer during a life sentence while keeping them (securely!) caged.

Characters in a Crystal Prison are put inside some gorgeous, colorful and exquisitely cut variety of gem. This crystal is usually made of Phlebotinum capable of keeping the captive alive despite the lack of air, either in suspended animation or forever awake. This escape proof prison may trap them bodily like a bug in amber; in fact, if the Crystal Prison isn't coffin sized it's going to be small enough to be worn as jewelry.

While breaking the gem can release the captive, attempting this literal jailbreak may not be a guarantee of getting the captive out alive. Breaking it could also shatter or kill the captive, or the gem may be unbreakable unless the jailer/creator somehow dispels it. That being said, a prisoner who is pushed into using Heroic Resolve may crack open the crystal through sheer force of will.

If the crystal is imprisoning a very important character, and if Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors is in-universe at the time, this can get a person or persons from all the various groups to combine their powers into one technique, preferably in a big Finale or at least a Swirly Energy Thingy that features Power Glows, and dis-integrate, not disintegrate (breaking, not incinerating or atomizing) the crystalline prison.

Contrast Soul Jar, where the Soul is put in a crystal, and Body to Jewel, where the character becomes crystal. Also compare Harmless Freezing, with ice blocks being the main difference. See also Mineral MacGuffin, Magic Mirror, Phantom Zone and Power Crystal.

As you can see from the example distribution, this is most common in anime and video games.

Examples of Crystal Prison include:

Anime and Manga

  • Sailor Moon:
    • In the first anime's first season, Jadeite got this for repeatadly failing to Queen Beryl.
    • In the final fight against Kaorinite in the third season, Tuxedo Mask gets sealed in a glass crystal by Senishenta and has to be released by the Senshi. Fiore pulled the same on him in the R movie, but he broke through on his own.
    • In the R series and their manga/Crystal counterparts, Neo Queen Serenity's comatose body was encased in glass after she was severely injured in the Black Moon's attack against Crystal Tokyo. After the enemy was defeated, she was healed and then released.
    • Sorta took place in the first anime's final season, Stars, when Nehelenia traps the Senshi in Magic Mirrors.
  • Hellmaster's signature move in The Slayers, whether a coffin-sized one on individuals or a titanic glacier on an entire city, copied by Rezo in the 4th season.
  • In Tenchi Muyo!, Washu was trapped in a gem on Kagato's ship until Mihoshi managed to break it.
  • Pandora in Violinist of Hameln.
  • Lisette in 11eyes
    • Happens to Yuka later. For some reason, her clothes are also gone.
  • Although ice is not usually considered a crystal, Snow of MAR evokes this trope by encasing herself in ice when she first appears, and the characters, good and evil, don't want to just bust the ice apart, possibly for fear of shattering her as well. They must find a fire ARM to melt the ice instead.
    • It's also made quite clear that she isn't preserving her life by doing this, one of the characters notes that they only have a handful of hours to rescue her before she'll die while trapped.
  • In the Naruto Shippuden three-tails filler arch, the Anti-Villain Guren's jutsus were centered on using crystals. She put Hinata in one of these and, while the crystal substance was extremely strong, the main problem was getting her out without shattering her if she was even still alive. Guren later put her Morality Pet Yuukimaru in one of these as well, but this time it's to protect him.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima's Asuna is briefly seen in one of these. It happened in her Dark and Troubled Past, after she's caught by the Lifemaker.

Comic Books

  • An early Justice League of America story, "The Doom of the Star Diamond!"
    • During the JLA Grant Morrison run, this happened to Triumph. He was a hero who turned bad due to a run of unbelievably crappy luck.
  • In Blackest Night, a Green Lantern story, this is one of the methods the Star Sapphires (Violet Lanterns) use to recruit new members. The crystals they encase people in become brainwashed to become more compassionate and compels them to join the Star Sapphires. A real mystery is that, as of the moment, the Star Sapphires comprise only of women. They've trapped men before, but all have either broken free or were rescued by someone else. (deadpantroper has never read Blackest Light, but knows that in the DC emotional spectrum compassion is associated with indigo and that violet is associated with love)
  • Cristalline in X-Men 2099 can produce crystals out of thin air. Apparently she can structure them to allow air through, so when she is in good mood her enemies will be trapped in a block of cristal but relatively unharmed.
  • The first book in the Franco Belgian Comics series Chroniques des pays de Markal is about a stone with this power.



  • In the The Elenium, Queen Elhena starts off in a crystal. Turns out it's not to imprison her, but to keep her alive until her knights can find a cure to her illness.
  • In Servant of the Dragon, third book in David Drake's The Lord of the Isles epic fantasy series, Cashel is served by the demon Krias, who is trapped in a large gem mounted on a ring.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian story "Tower of the Elephant" an evil sorcerer is trapped inside a plate-sized ruby, to suffer eternal torment from an extradimensional being he had previously trapped and tormented for power and knowledge.
  • One of the Magic Kingdom of Landover books had Ben trapped in a crystal.
  • In Dark Lord of Derkholm, Mr. Chesney keeps the demon that allows him to send Pilgrim Parties to Derk's world trapped inside what resembles a clear paperweight. He ultimately ends up taking the demon's place in the final step of his well-deserved Humiliation Conga.
  • The Keystones of The Seventh Tower act as this.

Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons and Dragons has a spell called Trap The Soul. When cast, it imprisons the target's soul inside of a gem.
    • There's also Magic Jar, where you willingly transfer your soul into a gem or crystal, then attempt to possess another living creature who comes near.
    • Dungeons and Dragons 1st/2nd Edition had a spell called Binding. One variation of the spell was Minimus Containment, which shrank a creature and held it inside a gem.
    • A demilich could drain the souls out of its victims' bodies and store them in its gemstone teeth.
    • Adventures
      • C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness. The Soul Gem could drain the souls of creatures and store them in itself.
      • "The Garden of Nefaron" in Dragon magazine #53. The evil psionicist Malakon had his mind trapped within his own psychogem.
  • Magic: The Gathering: In the Mirage storyline, Mangara was trapped in amber, as depicted on the card Amber Prison.
    • And, of course, the card itself does exactly what you'd expect.

Video Games


  • In the Skin Horse arc "Borrowers," Tip finds the maintenance staff trapped inside the living crystal entities in the basement. He gets captured too, but since the crystals are sensitive to noise, they release him when he threatens to start singing Madonna.

Western Animation

  • At the end of her episode of Adventure Time, Tree Trunks ends up inside a gem, (gem-apple, really). She seems quite fond of it.
  • During the two-part finale of Storm Hawks, many sky knights are captured and imprisoned in a giant crystal.
  • In Thundercats 2011 this is Parodied in "Omens Part Two," when The Lizard Army uses a giant geode as a Trojan Horse to enter Thundera, having been stuck waiting in there for two days, not counting the trip to Thundera. One complains to his general about the smell after being freed.
  • Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation had the characters trapped in a crystal chandelier by Dark Heart.
  • Galaxy Rangers: A Psychocrypt victim will have his Life Energy in one crystal, and his body entombed in a second. Merging the two will free the person.

Real Life

  • Amber is the fossil resin of ancient trees. Since resin evolved as a way of trapping insects and other small animals (to protect the tree from the damage they do), we naturally find a lot of insects, spiders, etc., trapped in amber.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.