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File:Evil queen dark cape 1996.jpg

In the 19th century, the opera cape was a fashion accessory that upper class men wore At the Opera Tonight. It was grand, but not too flashy, and went great with a top hat, white tie and tails. But fashion changed, and the cape went out of style, destined to fade into the kind of outfit you would see only in Period Pieces.

But then Dracula was adapted into a hit stage play, and an even bigger hit film. Bela Lugosi used his old-fashioned cape, and turned it into something iconic, giving the garment a sense of grandeur and menace, especially as he flourished it whenever possible.

Since then, any similar cape has become an iconic accessory for major villains everywhere, from The Dragon to the Evil Overlord. Also a standard outfit of the Classical Movie Vampire.

But all have to fit these three criteria:

  • Long (at least knee length)
  • Flowing
  • Dark-colored (not necessarily black)

High Collar of Doom is the Sister Trope, as it is often paired with this trope, and was also codified by Lugosi's performance. It also often overlaps with Black Cloak.

Compare Cape Swish, Badass Cape, Spikes of Villainy, Superheroes Wear Capes (which can include villains), Pimped-Out Cape.

Examples of Ominous Opera Cape include:

Anime and Manga


  • 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.

Live-Action TV

Video Games

  • 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.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • 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.

Western Animation

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