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In the 19th century, the opera cape was a fashion accessory that upper class men wore At the Opera Tonight. It was grand, but not too flashy, and went great with a top hat, white tie and tails. But fashion changed, and the cape went out of style, destined to fade into the kind of outfit you would see only in Period Pieces.
But then Dracula was adapted into a hit stage play, and an even bigger hit film. Bela Lugosi used his old-fashioned cape, and turned it into something iconic, giving the garment a sense of grandeur and menace, especially as he flourished it whenever possible.
But all have to fit these three criteria:
- Long (at least knee length)
- Dark-colored (not necessarily black)
- Zero's cape in Code Geass, even though he is supposed to be a good guy. The show is full of Black and Gray Morality though.
- Oda Nobunaga from Sengoku Otome.
- Mushiban, the main villain in the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 Gogo movie, wears a cape like this. It also has that high collar.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the Endless Magician, Battler Ushiromiya, wears one of these from Episode 6 onward.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Oktavia Von Seckendroff wears one to complement Sayaka's Badass Cape.
- Dracula is the Trope Codifier from the aforementioned adaptations.
- To make it that much freakier, in the Castlevania series the damned thing is arguably alive and sentient.
- Darth Vader of Star Wars
- Parodied in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, when Khamen Ra pokes fun at Darth Vader. "And what's with the cape? Are we going to the opera? I don't think so."
- Standard wear for Sith Lords who don't go for full black robes, like Darth Malak and Count Dooku.
- The Phantom of the Opera wears one of course.
- Megamind: The Black Mambaaaaaaaaaa. Yes, there are that many A's in the name.
- Subverted in Don Juan DeMarco. Nobody finds the title character's cape frightening; on him it looks more dashing than sinister.
- In the Mind Screwy Sherlock Holmes pastiche "The Deerstalker" by Paul Cornell, a group of fictional and historic characters who have ascended to popular mythology try to shift Holmes from Doyle's character to the one that exists in the public conciousness by giving him a deerstalker. It's mentioned that for Moriarty, the equivalent item was an opera cape.
- De rigeur for Discworld vampires, along with every other Classical Movie Vampire trope. According to Arthur Winkings, Count Notfaroutou, this is because you need something flappy to transform into wings when you turn into a bat.
- The Shadow wore one in his books to help him blend into the shadows.
- In Doctor Who, The Master wears one in "The Five Doctors", which is ironic because, for once, he isn't the villain of the story.
- Kamen Rider villain Dr. Shinigami.
- The Hammerites in Thief have armor like this, making it much harder to knock them out with a blackjack.
- Subverted by Siegfried in Soul Calibur, but played straight by Nightmare. Those familiar with the series' storyline will get why this is funny.
- The Lich King, to EPIC effect.
- Per his favoritism of watching opera movies, Relius Clover wears it all the time.
- Pretty much every villain in Dissidia Final Fantasy. Namely, Garland, Emperor, Cloud of Darkness (it being all she wears), Golbez (who has the option of stripping down to just the cape, too), Ex-Death and Gabranth. Note that, subtracting The Emperor and the Cloud, these guys also get the Evil Overlord Armor, to boot.
- Bun-Bun from Sluggy Freelance, after suffering burn wounds, wears one of these as part of a Phantom of the Opera theme he's got going on.
- Eridan of Homestuck and his purple, high-collared opera cape. He goes to great lengths to try and portray himself as a Magnificent Bastard, but ends up more of a clingy, self-conscious Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
- he gets rid of the cape just before he stops being an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and upgrades himself to Total Bastard status.
- Drake from Gold Coin Comics is a villain with a dark cape to match.
- In Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara was reviewing The Others #1, and thought it was silly that a wolfman (not a werewolf though) would wear one of these.
- The Queen of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs wears a black cape, but with white trim, just for a touch of grandeur.
- Jenner wears one in The Secret of NIMH.
- Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Bonus points for the flame-like fringe.
- Jafar from Aladdin.
- Doc Ock and Vulture wore those in an opera-themed episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man.