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Gwen Stefani is dreaming of being free from this 24 karat prison.


Kryten: "Sirs, we must not be seduced by all this fine living. However munificent our captor, we are still prisoners. And with every second that passes, we lose yet more ground on Red Dwarf."

Lister: "You're right, Kryten. Cat, caviar niblet." *is passed the food and eagerly snacks on it* "Bucks fizz." *is passed the drink and pours himself a glass* "Let's talk about how to get out of this hellhole."
Red Dwarf, from the episode Legion
"A fancy prison is still a prison."

Welcome, illustrious guest, to the Gilded Cage resort and day spa!

We are honored to entertain your presence, and hope you enjoy your stay. Your patron has given us instructions to host you, and has also given us to understand that you are 1) a prominent noble in line to the throne, 2) in possession of sensitive state secrets, 3) a beautiful young lady he means to woo, or 4) another upstanding person of import. Rest assured, we will treat you with the very best care by keeping your presence here a complete secret, even to friends, family, and your government.

Your room is the Presidential Suite, our most lavish accommodation. It comes with a fully stocked kitchen and team of chefs, entertainment rooms, library, indoor pool, solarium, Swedish massage and spa room and bowling alley. We are sure you will find it delightful. The Gilded Cage resort itself also has a first class restaurant, the "MacGuffin Girl", where you can dine with your patron and your fellow guest, Mr. Bond. We urge you to eat. We also boast a ballroom, and regularly host the Damsel Ball for guests who enjoy dancing.

Because We Care about your safety, we have provided 24 hour, full week Elite ninja bodyguard coverage, camera surveillance of every area, titanium reinforced walls and airlocks with Novichok gas dispensers, automated 30mm Gatling gun turrets mounted on walls, sniper-protected guard towers, a fleet of interceptor aircraft ready to scramble and radar-homing surface-to-air missiles with electro-optical backup guidance systems around the resort's perimeter. But don't let our ominous and imposing staff and defenses worry you, they will in no way inconvenience you. All our staff, from maids to Mooks, have been "re-trained" to never speak to you, and since you will never need it, there will be no news of the outside world.

As part of our care package you get a fruit basket, evening wear, and this matching gold chain and GPS tracking manacle which we insist you wear. For your safety, of course.

The best part? You don't need to worry about the bill or checking out! Ever. Or until your parents or patron decide you can leave.

If there is anything you need, no matter the time, please let us know and one of our staff will see to your request.

—The Management

P.S. For other resorts in our chain, please consider visiting the Luxury Prison Suite and Fantastic Nature Reserve.

Examples of Gilded Cage include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the Kuwadorian mansion where 1967 Beatrice stayed fits this trope perfectly. Arguably, the meta-world itself also qualifies for Battler - the surroundings are implied to be quite nice.
  • Athena Tennos from Hayate the Combat Butler used to be a literal prisoner in her palace. Hayate's brother Ikusa rescued her. Then, he disappeared.
  • Treize from Gundam Wing is confined to a posh country estate after he protests the Romefeller Foundation's decision to use Mobile Dolls.
    • Frozen Teardrop reveals that due to family tradition, Relena and Zechs' grandmother Sabrina Peacecraft was separated from her twin sister Katerina and locked away in one of these, with only her cat as constant company. She was able to escape and reunite with Katerina only when they were teenagers.
  • The makers of Code Geass R2 designed Nunnally's garden aboard the airship with this in mind. The garden is incredibly nice and well cared for, but it's also surrounded by a deep, empty moat, with only a single narrow bridge leading to the rest of the ship. Since Nunnally is blind and confined to a wheelchair, this makes it extremely difficult/dangerous for her to leave the garden without assistance.
    • Lelouch is also put in one of these at Ashford Academy. It's a nice school, and many of his friends are there, but in R2 he's constantly being monitored by government agents looking for signs that he's regained his lost memories and become the terrorist leader Zero again. However, as soon as he does remember everything thanks to C.C... by using Blackmail, Mind Control, and emotional manipulation on the agents sent to watch him, he soon turns the "cage" into the Gilded Base For His Terrorist Operations.
  • The "greenhouse" Suu was kept in in Clover. It's quite beautiful, but Suu has to live in complete isolation from the rest of the world, as she is powerful enough to defeat the government officials, and they "don't want that power to fall into the wrong hands."
  • In Sanka Rea, Rea could fit this trope to a T. She is pretty much restricted from ever leaving her estate by her Overprotective Dad to where she is barely even allowed to go out to school to the point she sneaks off at night to scream into an abandon well of how she wish she wasn't born a Sanka. And when she starts to talk to a boy, her father even takes school away from her to be home schooled and orders that the boy she was hanging out with to be castrated. After this, she drinks a chemical that contains poisons plants in an attempted to kill herself. Though it instead did something else.
  • The Sohma Estate in Fruits Basket. It's a gigantic sort-of mini city with more than one traditional Big Fancy House (including Shigure's home whrere he lives with Tohru, Kyo and Yuki) where the members of the clan (cursed or not) live in; it also hosts several amenities like a hot spring, a cottage, a dojo, an hospital, some businesses owned by the clan (like the lovely building where Momiji's father works), etc. However, the entrance of any outsiders is extremely limited (ie., Shigure had to ask for permission to allow Tohru work and live at his house) and the leader, Akito Sohma, is the Big Bad of the series and keeps a very tight control of the clan as a whole via mood swings, Corporal Punishment, etc. And there's the "little matter" of the Cat's Room. . .
  • Tekken the Motion Picture has the fighters about to attend the King of the Iron Fist Tournament spend the night in a extremely luxe hotel. Jun's partner Lei, however, notes that the security is so tight that it feels like a prison more than an hotel.
  • In Psycho Pass, Oso Academy is this to a T. It's a Boarding School for girls from rich families that has an extremely beautiful and ample (if somewhat old-school) campus with lots of commodities... But the girls' parents send their daughters there to keep them separated and isolated from the Crapsack World that Tokyo has become; that way their hues/potential criminal coefficients will stay low, keeping the girls "pure" and ready for "good marriages". Some of the girls like Touko Kirino, Mika Shimotsuki and Rikako Oryou, are rather critical of the school's atmosphere... but while Touko tries to sneak out on her own and Mika is mostly seen ranting yet not daring to go much further, Rikako decides to do... more.
    • While the cells in the rehabilitation facilities tend to be pretty empty or simple, Professor Saiga's is pretty much a small library with a living room attached and he's even allowed to wear normal clothes rather than standard robes, plus brew coffee for Akane when she drops by.
    • To a smaller degree, the Enforcers' individual quarters can be this. Each one gets a pretty nice and seemingly rather ample studio apartment and they can outfit it as they wish (ie, Kagari has arcade machines in his flat, Masaoka's has some space for his painting hobby plus his artwork, and Ginoza's has enough space to bring his adorable dog), but they can't ever leave them without having an Inspector as a monitor.
  • Horrifically downplayed in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Obanai Iguro aka the future Serpent Hashira spent the first years of his life being locked up in a jail-like room and pampered by his female relatives... because he was slated to be a Human Sacrifice and fed to the clan's benefactor, a Serpent-like Demon. But even when he was well taken care of by the women of the clan, the boy felt anything but comfortable: the room was clean yet poorly ventilated, the smell of the delicious food he was given made him feel sick, and he could still sense someone (read: the Demon) was watching over him all the time...

Comic Books

  • Batman No Mans Land - Two-Face treats Renee Montoya and her family like this.
  • Tintin and the Picaros has one of these disguised as a country hotel, which Captain Haddock and Calculus are sent to after they accept Tapioca's invitation. It has cameras and microphones hidden all over, and guards who refuse to let guests head into town without armed escort, supposedly to protect them from the Picaros.

 Haddock: That young whippersnapper Tintin was right! The cage may be a gilded one... but we're well and truly behind bars!

  • In the Blake and Mortimer book Atlantis Mystery, the two main characters stumble upon the titular lost civilization and forced to remain there in order to keep The Masquerade. Despite not being allowed to leave, they are treated like guests of honor, are given very plush accommodations and even seem to be adapting somewhat until they find themselves targeted by the Big Bad.


  • In Dr. No, the first cell James Bond and Honey Ryder are put in is like a five star hotel.
  • In the movie Quills, Dr. Royer-Collard allows his young wife Simone to decorate their home with whatever materials she likes, no matter how ornate or expensive they are...but instructs the architect to install doors that can only be locked from the outside. In his twisted mind, this apparently justifies his continued raping of a girl young enough to be his granddaughter every night. She ends up running off... with said architect.
  • In the movie The Promise, Duke Wuhan imprisons Qingcheng in a golden cage, keeping her locked away within the castle.
  • In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when Esmeralda claims sanctuary in Notre Dame Cathedral, Frollo invokes this trope almost by name.

 Frollo: You have chosen a magnificent prison - but it is a prison nonetheless. Set one foot outside, and you're mine.

  • Henry of Ever After specifically calls the castle his gilded cage because his father is telling his that he has to marry and be king.
  • Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast is told that she can go anywhere in the beautiful castle except the West Wing. And of course since she took her father's place, she is a prisoner.
  • Princess Jasmine, Aladdin. She considered the palace to be a prison because she wasn't allowed to leave.
  • In a deleted scene in Sucker Punch, the High Roller buys Baby Doll from the brothel and he calls the room he puts her in a gilded cage.

Live Action TV

  • The Village in The Prisoner.
  • Jack is confined to one of these in Kings - along with his clingy wife.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Legion", the boys are held captive in luxurious "prison" suites tailored specifically to their respective tastes, so that a sophisticated being named Legion can perpetuate his own existence by feeding off their combined psychic energy.
  • In a third season episode of Night Gallery entitled "The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes" newly crowned heavyweight boxing champ Jim Figg is abducted immediately following his winning bout and transported to a luxurious mansion in an alternate dimension. There he learns that he will be well treated but kept a prisoner until after he has fought the owner of the mansion (played by Chuck Conners) to determine who is the real champion of the universe. If he loses he will be transported back to Earth. If he wins he will replace Conners and gain the companionship of Joan Van Ark.
  • In the 1998 series Merlin, King Vortigern keeps Nimue in a gilded cage, to ensure that her father stays loyal to him.
  • In the 'Star Trek: The Original Series episode I Mudd, the Enterprise crew and Mudd himself are confined to a planet where androids serve their every need while preventing them from leaving.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Janeway's Leonardo da Vinci holodeck program is "kidnapped" from the ship, and enlisted by Tau, an alien merchant, to design things for him. Janeway attempts to convince Leonardo she is freeing him from Tau's imprisonment. Leonardo, as an artist from Renaissance-era Italy, sees Tau as a wealthy patron with unlimited resources who lets him create to his heart's content, and insists "if this is a cage, it is a cage of gold!"
  • The setting of Dollhouse comes to mind.
  • In the season 4 finale of Supernatural, Zachariah and the other angels detain Dean in one of these to keep him from getting himself killed since he's one of the only people suitable to host the Archangel Michael and to prevent him from stopping Lucifer's escape. It's a lavish and opulent room stocked with Dean's favorite beer and the best burgers he remembers eating from his childhood. In a moment of helpless despair, Dean almost gives in and tries to drink one of the beers right before Castiel breaks him out.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Army of Ghosts", Torchwood One treats the Doctor as a guest of honor and follow his advice in dealing with the current issue...but also keep armed guards on him at all times and inform him that due to his earlier encounter with Queen Victoria (Torchwood's founder), he is considered an "enemy of the state":

 The Doctor: If I'm the enemy, does that mean I'm a prisoner?

Yvonne Hartman: Oh yes, but we'll make you perfectly comfortable.

  • The department store for Charles and Ella in the 1966 Stephen Sondheim teleplay musical Evening Primrose. Ella recognizes it more than he does, however.


  • A Song of Ice and Fire, when after a plot to put Princess Myrcella Baratheon on the throne fails, the royal plotter ( Arianne Martell) is put by her father in a room full of comforts — great food, fantasy counterpart chess — but servants who won't speak a word to her.
    • Following the failed Greyjoy rebellion, Theon Greyjoy became Eddard Stark's ward. While Theon had all of the comforts and status of the Stark children and was essentially treated as one of the family, he was still a prisoner being kept to guarantee good behavior from Theon's father. In theory, if Theon's father "acted up" again, Eddard would kill Theon.
  • At the end of Jurassic Park, all the survivors are kept in a resort and questioned about what they saw at the park. It's stated that the Costa Rican government is very worried what could happen if word gets out, and that the two children would be the only ones allowed to leave.
    • Apparently they relented, because in The Lost World, Ian Malcolm certainly isn't confined to Costa Rica, and it's mentioned in passing that Dr. Sattler teaches in California.
      • It is mentioned that they had to go through a lot of questioning and had to sign an agreement not to tell anybody about what happened on the island.
  • In Wielding A Red Sword in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, Prince Pride and the Princess Rapture are kept in a lavish magical honeymoon suite, which they cannot leave. Their kingdoms wish them to marry for political reasons, but neither even knows, let alone likes the other.
  • In Stephen King's Firestarter, the rooms Andy and Charlie are placed in when they are captured by The Shop are very comfortable, with good food and television, and are comparable to hotel suites. This is no comfort to the characters, and it is remarked that despite all the luxuries, 'a dog turd covered with frosting is not a wedding cake; it is simply a frosted dog turd.'
  • In the first Gor book the Big Bad has an actual gilded cage that he keeps one of his slaves in.
  • The space colony with criminal ties named Interchange serves this function in The Demon Princes. It's an institution designed to hold people who have been kidnapped and held for ransom until someone pays the ransom. Kirth Gersen, who ends up in there temporarily, notes that while it's very comfortable and there's no lack of things to do, the whole atmosphere is depressing as nobody really talks to anyone else. And, you know, they've all been kidnapped.
  • In The Horse And His Boy, when Prince Rabadash is captured, the narrator notes the day afterwards that from the way he was carrying on, one would think that he had been thrown into a cold, wet cell for the night and given no food or water, but actually he was held in a Gilded Cage.
    • More importantly, this trope was the fate that Aravis was running from.
  • Sigmund Ausfaller is "invited" to be a permanent "guest" of the Hindmost in Destroyer of Worlds.
  • This is the entirety of the book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. As magnificent as the adventure is, Captain Nemo is holding Professor Arronax and his companions captive to keep the secret of the Nautilus safe. Ned Land certainly doesn't forget it.
  • Scarlett of The Power of Five is put in one of these during the fourth book. She actually realizes almost immediately that she is in a prison. A superbly comfortable, incredibly expensive and luxurious prison, but a prison nonetheless. What she doesn't realize is that in this case, "the management" is the Legions of Hell in all but name.
  • Subverted in Tairen Soul. Vadim Maur has very nice-looking chambers for all his important Fey prisoners to stay in. The catch is that for the most dangerous ones, every inch of the room is threaded with the black metal Sel'dor, which Fey are weak to. Therefore, the Fey in these beautiful chambers are in almost constant pain.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, the prophet Nathan Rahl is kept in one of these by the Sisters of the Light, and given every comfort, except wine, because a drunken prophet is bad news. Later in the series, Nathan Rahl escapes, and his Mord-Sith servants capture the Prelate, the leader of the Sisters of the Light. He then has her thrown in a grimy prison cell, refuses her requests to see him with the same answers she had refused him with over the years ("I'm busy and can't be bothered to come down every time you clamor for me!"), and gives her all the wine she wants. Later, he shows up to meet with her, acts as if her prison cell is a Gilded Cage, and then makes a brief speech about how all prisons, regardless of how pretty or comfortable they are, are fundamentally the same.
  • Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson opens with the title character kept in a valley like all the princes who do not succeed to the throne, in the lap of luxury so they don't want to leave. Except that Rasselas finds himself inexplicably miserable. His tutor tells him that if he knew how miserable life was outside, he would appreciate the valley. Rasselas takes it as a suggestion.
  • In John C. Wright's The Orphans of Chaos, Boggins praises the education they are giving the children and tells them they are lucky to receive it.
  • In the Wheel of Time, Morgase stays as a 'guest' of the Children of the Light for a time. A somewhat dark case, as despite the appearance of civility, the captors were employing Cold-Blooded Torture (albeit of a type designed not to leave lasting marks) in order to compel her to acquiesce to their political demands; it's almost certain that she was raped as well.
  • In Codex Alera, this is part of the backstory. A Luxury Prison Suite that later contains an important ambassador was originally made for a previous Emperor's favorite mistress, who was accused of treason and imprisoned there until, with the Emperor going and personally interrogating her at least once a week.
  • In The Shamer Chronicles, this is what Dina was kept in after she got captured by the Villain in the second book.
  • Murtagh was kept in a palatial residence with every need catered for in Eragon once the Varden found out who he was. Not so much in the film.
  • Vetinari has a special section of his palace set aside for an Expy of Da Vinci as well as a series of traps from preventing anyone from getting in or out. The twist is that he doesn't actually mind it since his particular cage is filled with enough paper and ink and bits of things to keep his mind occupied the whole time.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Cross Roads reveals that Henry "Hank" Jellicoe put the Vigilantes and the Big Five into these to keep them divided and unable to disrupt his plans to set up an assassination attempt on President Martine Connor and step in to stop it and make sure the Pentagon keeps funding him and his organization Global Sercurities. Fortunately, the Vigilantes and the Big Five eventually realized that they were stuck in these, and got out of them. Deja Vu reveals that Jellicoe put a reporter named Virgil Anders in one, because Virgil was writing a book about Jellicoe titled "Man, Myth, Monster", and Jellicoe objected to the "monster" part.
  • The city of Axiom Nexus in Transformers Trans Tech, to any "units of interest" with technology the TransTechs deem useful. Axiom Nexus isn't that bad if you can manage to find a good niche for yourself, especially compared to the wartorn universe you're likely from... but you're still not allowed to ever leave or see your loved ones you left behind ever again.
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle is set in a sharashka, the Club Fed-style encampments within The Gulag for scientists doing necessary work (See below under "Real Life"). Solzhenitsyn himself served out most of his eight-year sentence in one, due to his talent as a mathematician.
  • The training area for tributes in The Hunger Games. Luxurious quarters, beautiful clothes, five star cuisine and of course, a top-notch training facility to prepare you for your fight to the death. Simply divine.
    • It's implied that the five-star housing of the victors is also like this. Once they've won the game, they're celebrities around Panem and are treated like it. However, the Capitol keeps a close eye on them. And the prettiest ones have quite grim prospects in store...



 She's only a bird in a gilded cage,

A beautiful sight to see.

You may think she's happy and free from care,

She's not, though she seems to be.

'Tis sad when you think of her wasted life,

For youth cannot mate with age;

And her beauty was sold for an old man's gold --

She's a bird in a gilded cage.

    • Repeated in Rush's "Limelight":

 Living on a lighted stage

Approaches the unreal

For those who think and feel

In touch with some reality

Beyond the gilded cage

  • The phrase is dropped in the opera of Voltaire's Candide: "Hard necessity brought me to this gilded cage — born to higher things, here I droop my wings... Singing of a sorrow nothing can assuage." (But it turns out that Cunegonde rather likes her gilded cage a lot more than she lets on!)
  • "Luxury Cage" by Republica

Mythology and Religion

  • In response to a prophecy that his son would become a great religious leader or a great king (and preferring that he become the latter), the father of Siddhartha Guatama kept him in one of these. It didn't work.
  • In Hindu Mythology, Sita is kidnapped and held in the palace of Lanka (complete with attendants) by King Ravana, for a whole year. He tried to sleep with her, but as she was already Happily Married to Rama, she refused Ravana's advances.

Video Games


 Upon the Plane of Ysgard is the Gilded Hall, where those Sensates that seek the pleasure of gullet and loin can be found. They indulge these passions in earnest, never realizing that the doors of the hall never open and that there is no clear path back to the Civic Festhall. They are the unwanted Sensates, the ones that do not truly believe in the faction, but instead seek only pleasure for pleasure's sake. Are prisoners who do not realize they are such truly prisoners?

  • If you do well enough in Rayman: Raving Rabbids, your prison cell becomes one of these.
  • In Illusion of Gaia, Kara constantly tries to escape her father's castle before joining Will and leaving permanently. She even describes it as a "prison of silk and gold".
  • The opening narration of the Mage Origin in Dragon Age Origins describes the Tower of the Circle of Magi as one of these. The mages get access to better and better quarters as they rise in rank, they have access to all of the resources a student of magic could ever desire, and they get all of their needs provided for them. The Tranquil even make use of their talent for alchemy to brew fine ale. Too bad they can't ever leave the Tower except on official Circle business unless they want to risk Death by Templar. The same Templars who never let them out of their sight — always watching. Some mages learn to appreciate the benefits and opportunities the Circle provides and come to accept their restricted lives. Others... don't.
    • The restrictions aren't incredibly harsh in the Ferelden Circle, at least. In Awakening you can run into a Circle mage doing research on alchemical plants, in the middle of nowhere without any kind of supervision, implicitly for weeks at a time.
    • Zevran considers being an Antivan Crow to be this.
    • In Dragon Age II the Kirkwall Circle of Magi has it even worse: not only are the Templars even stricter (verging on psychotic), but over the course of the game the "gilding" on their cage is gradually removed; apart from that rather nasty point in which Ser Alrik was implied to be making mages Tranquil so he could use them as sex slaves, the most spartan it got was in Act II, when mages aren't even permitted to leave their cells. Of course, the Circle is even housed in a former prison complex, so the gilding was somewhat limited to begin with.
  • Hyrule Castle is something like this for Princess Zelda in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess. She's still in her lavish childhood home, the interior of which remains untouched by the scourge of Twilight, and although she seems to prefer to remain in her tower, there's nothing to suggest she can't visit other parts of the building as well. But she can't leave.
  • The titular village of St. Mystere in Professor Layton and the Curious Village exists entirely as a place of safety for Flora, the Baron's orphaned daughter, where Ridiculously Human Robot servants and attendants protect and care for her. It's a pretty neat place, with puzzle-dispensing robots and a private amusement park and an elaborate tower for her exclusive residence. But she can't leave it until a worthy guardian appears and solves the riddle of the Golden Apple.
  • After becoming the new King Of Town, Strong Bad is kept in the Of Town's castle under constant surveillance and (over)protection from the Homestarmy in Strong Badia the Free. Escaping takes the entire rest of the episode.
  • Pokémon Black and White: You find Victini in a nice, cozy bedroom in the basement of an island lighthouse, where it's been for the last 200 years. It's suggested that the family who bought the land built the room as a place for Victini to hide in so it would be safe from those who would exploit its powers. After the player catches it, everyone agrees that it's safer in your hands.
    • N's childhood room is another example. He grew up in a huge room, complete with a half-pipe... but that was the extent of his contact with the world until the events of the game.
  • Rozalin's mansion from Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories is said to be this trope. Luckily for Rozy, she gets out thanks to a supposedly botched summoning ritual.
  • The Lucky 38 in Fallout: New Vegas of course, especially for your followers, Cassidy even refers to it as the "Gilded Cage"
  • In Mass Effect 2, the Normandy SR-2 is one of these for Shepard; essentially created to make Shepard more comfortable while working with Cerberus, it's a replica of the first Normandy, but equipped with civilian luxuries that the original never had: a research lab, a kitchen, a lounge with observation windows and a mini-bar, and (as Joker points out) leather seats. Shepard's even given an entire upper deck for use as his/her private quarters, complete with a king-sized bed, an office space, an en-suite bathroom, a massive fishtank, and a display case for model ships. In spite of all these benefits, it's still a gilded cage: the entire ship has been bugged and most of the crew are loyal Cerberus operatives, so the Illusive Man is notified of whatever happens on-board; in spite of all the leeway Shepard is given, s/he's still firmly under the Illusive Man's thumb for most of the game.

 Shepard: If we're stuck here, we might as well let them pamper us.

Joker: Does it breach uniform regs if I get that on a t-shirt? 'Cause this is my favourite "You Have No Choice" choice, ever.

Shepard: Technically, this is a civilian ship. I'm probably lucky you're still wearing pants.

Joker: Yeah, I'll save that for the off-hour cameras...

  • Happens twofold in Fire Emblem Fates, involving the same place:
    • The Avatar is kidnapped away from his/her family in Hoshido as a young child and confined to a fortress in Nohr, the kingdom that took him/her away. At first they're shabbily treated by King Garon, but their situation noticeably improves and by the time the game begins, the fortress is shown to have very comfortable quarters for the young adult Avatar and his/her retainers (and one of the mangas shows that it's quite a bigger building than one would've believed). S/he still cannot get out, though, and the plot is kickstated when they're finally allowed to leave.
    • It's later revealed that said fortress was also a GC for the ninja maids Felicia and Flora, the daughters of the chieftain of the Ice Tribe, kept as hostages to force their people into submission. Flora knows this and is very bitter, but Felicia believes they've simply been sent there to work and train.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Hapi from the Ashen Wolves lived in one for years. A girl from a village who ran away to see the outside world, she accepted an offer from a "mysterious lady" (the Court Mage Cordelia) to be given good housing and food in Faerghus... in exchange for becoming her guinea pig for hideous magical experiments.
  • In Guilty Gear, the Japanese colony is this for Baiken and Anji Mito (but not for May, since she was taken in by the Jellyfish Pirates instead and few know she's Japanese). There are only a small number of Japanese people left in the world after the destruction of Japan, so the world governments created the colony as a last resort to keep them alive. Unfortunately, no one is allowed into the colony without special permission, and its residents are not allowed outside period. In the story mode of -REVELATOR-, it's revealed that this was done for an ulterior purpose: to ensure that none of the Japanese would be able to escape being turned into living bombs by Ariels.


  • In Our Little Adventure, Julie's former boss has been kidnapped by Brian to make drinks for him and Angelo. Judging by how well Angelo tips and the nature of the Souballo Empire, Mr. Patterson is probably living in a Gilded Cage now.
  • In Girl Genius, Baron Wulfenbach takes the children of the nobles in his empire to his floating dirigible fortress as his students/hostages. They receive the best education and upbringing the Baron can provide for them, and most of the students do enjoy their life there and even form friendships with the others. None of them ever forgets that they are the Baron's prisoners and hostages meant to keep their families in line.
  • In one mini-arc of Jack, a Fallen Angel tricks a hapless dupe into signing a contract that traps him in one of these. The "apartment" is fully stocked with material comforts (videogames, free pizza, maids w/ benefits, etc.) and he never has to work a day in his life. In truth it's a Lotus Eater Machine in Hell that feeds off him and provides power to the Sin Vanity. When he realizes the truth, his mind is no longer able to accept the illusion and he is trapped in an empty room with no way out, his body long since atrophied.

Western Animation


 Katara: This is a prison cell? But it's so nice.

Aang: He did say it was newly refurbished.

Sokka: Nice or not, we're still prisoners.

    • This is how Toph grew up. She lived in luxury and had the run of the whole estate. But she wasn't allowed to travel outside the estate or exercise her incredible potential at Earthbending — her parents thought this was too dangerous for their "helpless little blind girl." Nobody other than her family and her Earthbending teacher knew that she even existed.
      • The Gaang's experience in Ba Sing Se. They were allowed to indulge in all the luxury they wanted, as long as they didn't try to leave, or break the rules, or evade the constant surveillance, or search for Appa, or tell anyone about Long Feng's Government Conspiracy or the war with the Fire Nation...
      • In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, similar to Toph, the titular character lives in a large mansion with nothing to worry about except mastering all four elements in safety. However, said mansion is located in a compound miles away from the rest of the Southern Water Tribe — including Korra's own parents, Tonraq and Senna. It is fenced off and guarded and Korra isn't allowed to leave for even a brief period of time without permission. The series begins when the teenaged Korra finally manages to get out and start experiencing the real world. It's later revealed that she was kept locked away for her own safety, due to the Red Lotus making an attempt on her life when she was very young.

Real Life

  • The largest bases in Iraq created hotel-style "Freedom Rest" facilities where Coalition soldiers could take time off. While inside the facility, soldiers were permitted to dress in civilian attire, read books, play video games, whatever they wanted. The problem was that, for safety and accountability purposes, you were not allowed to leave.[1] As a result, many soldiers preferred to take time off in their tent rather than go through the bother of being caged in a hotel.
    • Even better, the name was likely not tongue-in-cheek at all.
  • There was a comfortable resort or something in Scotland during WWII where some people who knew too much were kept comfortably, but not allowed to leave. Also, some spy-defectors were also confined to mansions (at least in the UK, maybe the US as well) while the genuine-ness of their defection was being determined.
    • This was also done to high-ranking German officers who'd been captured. After their initial interrogation they'd be kept with fellow officers in a mansion with waiters and other amenities, unaware that this was simply to get their guard down as all their conversations were being taped.
    • Field Marshal Paulus of the Wehrmacht was put into one of these when he surrendered to the Soviet Union. The other German POWs? Not so much.
  • The earlier part of Mary, Queen of Scots' prison term was spent in one of these.
  • Legend says that Pablo Escobar's cell was exactly like this.
  • Sun King Louis XIV of France's Versailles was like this, as a very comfortable prison for a few months of the year for all the nobles, including plays specifically written for them by Moliere and Goldoni, more than 1,400 fountains, and more.
    • The living spaces were infamously small for the grand majority of them, however, and the quality of the lavatories was abhorrent. Basically, most of the fancy courtiers lived in rooms that made the modern student boxes seem huge, and shared the lousy toilets with dozens of their fellows.
  • The Doge ("Duke" in the Venetian dialect) of Venice was rarely allowed to leave the lavish Palazzo Ducale. The nobles were keen on maintaining executive power and preventing the establishment of a hereditary monarchy (something which was repeatedly attempted in the 8th century). The real power resided with the Council of Ten, a body which was technically reserved for times of crisis, but in the end were the biggest decision-maker in the entire republic from the 13th century up to the destruction of the republic at the hands of Napoleon.
  • Despite its sinister reputation, the pre-Revolutionary Bastille was mostly fitting for this trope. It mostly housed political prisoners, and mentally ill nobles, and it was perfectly possible for a prisoner from the Bastille to get out and rise to a prestigious position in the court again, so the wardens knew well enough not to antagonize any of them. The prisoners received an allowance, as well as anything their families donated them, and could use the money to buy anything they wanted from shops within the fortress that had as good selections as in Paris outside.
  • Minimum security prisons are sort of like being on house arrest at a resort, except you're required to do community service and the like. Granted, the people who go here tend to be white collar offenders.
  • When Galileo was house arrested by the Catholic Church, he was put in a nice house and he was catered to what he wanted. He was even still allowed to continue with his work.
  • Harems were pretty much this in the minds of Western Orientalists, but not much in real life. Life in a Turkish harem tended to be monastic in nature, and only a few residents were actually expected to have sexual encounters with the Sultan, while others lived in perfect chastity. The few high-ranking members of the harem, who usually included the Sultan's mother and her handmaidens, did live a life of luxury, but they were hardly confined in the way Orientalists imagined, either — a great many Sultans found themselves ruling under their mother's strict thumb.
  • This is the guiding philosophy of Norway's prison system — treat inmates well, with a plush environment, in order to rehabilitate them and reduce recidivism rates.
  • In the Soviet Gulag, there were special prisons known as sharashki, where inmates, usually those with some talent useful to the state like scientists or engineers were given comfortable accomodations, high-quality food, allowed to wear their own clothing, and given a good deal of autonomy in return for working on science projects like the early space program (Sergei "The Chief Designer" Korolev began his career in one).
  1. You are now reading the rest of this entry with "Hotel California" playing in the background. Have a nice day.