Created By: shimaspawnJanuary 31, 2012 Last Edited By: CalamityJaneFebruary 22, 2012
Troped

Labcoat of Science and Medicine

A character wearing a labcoat is visual shorthand that they are a scientist or doctor.

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In media, there are two sorts of people who wear labcoats; scientists, and medical doctors. As such, a character wearing a lab coat is a good indication that they're involved in either science, or a medical field. This is despite the fact that in real life doctors and scientist do not normally wear such coats unless there is a reason that they need to keep their clothes clean. In media, this coat is almost always white.

Supertrope to Dressed To Heal which also requires a stethoscope and a head mirror.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Proffesor Tomoe from Sailor Moon wears one of these in all of his appearances, even in his own house. It's meant to emphasize his Mad Scientist status.
  • All the regional professors in the Pokemon franchise wear these coats.

Film
  • In GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra, where the scientists working on a particle accelerator all wear lab coats. In real life, particle accelerator operators dress less like movie scientists and more like this.
  • Back To The Future : Doctor Emmett "Doc" Brown wears this until he returns from the future.

Literature
  • Invoked by Dr. Sandrisson in Grand Central Arena, whose usual outfit is a white suit of which the coat is tailored to resemble a lab coat.

Live Action TV
  • Practically every character on a CSI series at one point or another, for the scientist version. And sometimes it's a double, with characters like Doc Robbins and Ray Langston on regular CSI or Dr.Hawkes and Sid Hammerbeck on CSI NY.
  • Dr. Crusher, from Star Trek The Next Generation, is rarely seen without her blue lab coat.
  • Averted by House who regularly refused to wear his lab coat. In Princeton-Plainsboro, labcoats are the biggest visual indicator that any given character you're unfamiliar with is a doctor and not a nurse or an orderly as their policy is that doctors need to wear labcoats.

Music
  • Doctor Steel is almost always seen in a somewhat comical-appearing PVC labcoat. His "doctorate" is never really specified, but he shows aptitude in a multitude of disciplines.

Web Comic

Web Original
  • The titular Dr. Horrible of Dr Horribles Sing Along Blog who has a Ph D in horribleness. Of course, when he goes truly evil at the end, his white labcoat is traded in for a blood red one.
  • Nostalgia Chick introduced us to Doctors C. Block and C. Tease. They have had a few recurring appearances, and even crossed over to other That Guy With The Glasses review videos.

Western Animation

Video Games
  • Doctor Hojo of Final Fantasy VII is never seen without his labcoat. His rival, Doctor Hollander, wears an identical coat in the prequel. It's used to establish their Mad Scientist status and highlight the madness in their scientific endeavors.
  • In The Last Remnant Rush's parents both wear one of these. The pair are some of the most well-known scientists studying Remnants in the Academy.
  • Bowman Jeanne of Star Ocean The Second Story wears one when in his pharmacy, and retains it if he joins the party. His special attacks are also themed around pills and medicine to further illustrate his association with this field.
Community Feedback Replies: 53
  • January 31, 2012
    animeg3282
    That's true...but it's so common.. Maybe it should be people who are mistaken from drs,etc because they are wearing labcoats?
  • January 31, 2012
    shimaspawn
    Common tropes are the tropes that we're most lacking on the wiki. We're missing so many supertropes that the tropes we do have are suffering for it.
  • January 31, 2012
    Rognik
    I think this is so common, that listing examples is a fruitless act. I also can't think of too many, if any, exceptions to this. MAYBE if it was part of a costume for a party, but even that's going to be rare.
  • January 31, 2012
    shimaspawn
    Common is good. Common means it's a trope. Common means that there's a set meaning to this. We don't need exceptions, and a lot of examples is a good thing. We need more high level common tropes.
  • January 31, 2012
    animeg3282
    It seems common on kid's shows, like Dexter's Laboratory. and doesn't Beaker from The Muppets wear one?
  • January 31, 2012
    Arha
    It's an organizational thing. We need tropes like this so we can know what tropes descend from where and how they are related. We frequently get a great deal of misuse because of a glaring lack of supertropes. Supertropes aside, when people fail to list common tropes we tend to get misuse in other tropes because people don't know where else to put the trope they have seen. And apart from that when we lack common tropes, people are inclined to launch things that aren't tropes but merely a chance grouping of factors. That is how Badass Labcoat came to be, or Badass Furry.
  • January 31, 2012
    Bisected8
    • Played with in Scrubs; JD takes to wearing one. The episode's Aesop ends up being that doing this also comes with responsibility (such as allowing a patient who's developed anosmia to blame him for a moment). In the same episode the janitor also wears one to annoy him (since there's no rule he can't).
  • January 31, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Dressed To Heal? At least for the doctor version.
  • February 1, 2012
    Chabal2
    Dr Mc Ninja: the only element that establishes him as a doctor is the labcoat he always wears, while his head is always covered by a ninja mask.
  • February 1, 2012
    shimaspawn
    ^^ Wow, that's an unhealthy trope and it seems much broader than this.
  • February 1, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Keep in mind, a labcoat may not mean a real doctor, but one who has a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate.

    • The titular Dr. Horrible of Dr Horribles Sing Along Blog who has a Ph D in horribleness. Of course, when he goes truly evil at the end, his white labcoat is traded in for a blood red one.
    • Dr. Doofenschmirtz, of Phineas And Ferb, the origin of whose doctorate may not have been revealed yet.
    • The Tooth Fairy from The Santa Clause wears a dental lab coat.

  • February 1, 2012
    chicagomel
    • Practically every character on a CSI series at one point or another, for the scientist version. And sometimes it's a double, with characters like Doc Robbins and Ray Langston on regular CSI or Dr.Hawkes and Sid Hammerbeck on CSI NY.
  • February 1, 2012
    JonnyB
    Doctor Steel, of course.
  • February 2, 2012
    Rognik
    ^^^Dr. Doofenschmirtz's degree has been revealed, and become a running gag: he bought it online with his ex-wife's money. It's a degree of dubious origin, but he's got one.

    I suppose this is probably a Super Trope of Dressed To Heal, as it encompasses both doctors and scientists.

  • February 2, 2012
    PaulA
    • Invoked by Dr. Sandrisson in Grand Central Arena, whose usual outfit is a white suit of which the coat is tailored to resemble a lab coat.
  • February 2, 2012
    nitrokitty
    I think shorten the title to just Labcoat Of Science and it's perfect. I think the "And Medicine" part is redundant because doctors are scientists too!
  • February 3, 2012
    Rognik
    Or the "of medicine" part is Dressed To Heal, a sister trope.
  • February 3, 2012
    shimaspawn
    It's part of Dressed To Heal but that trope is much broader and covers a lot of different outfits. This just covers the meaning of one garment.
  • February 6, 2012
    CharacterInWhite
    Subverted by this XKCD comic.
  • February 6, 2012
    Bisected8
    Hmm, so doesn't the Scrubs example count?
  • February 6, 2012
    FreeHat
    "Trust me, I'm wearing a labcoat" seems to sound cooler.

    In the Dinosaurs episode "Charlene's Flat World" the Wesayso Corporation presents 'irrefutable proof' that the world is flat - A guy in a lab coat.

  • February 6, 2012
    SKJAM
    A lab coat also makes a terrific disguise--slip one on and wham! you're an educated authority figure!
  • February 6, 2012
    shimaspawn
    That's really more of a completely different trope. It's related to this, but it's not the same trope.
  • February 7, 2012
    SchrodingersDuck
    It's probably worth pointing out that in real life, you only wear a lab coat if you're working with something that can splash over your clothing - for the most part, that means only chemists and some biologists wear them, and only when they're in the lab. In TV, almost all scientists seem to wear them, whether they're working with chemicals, diseases, telescopes, lasers, particle accelerators, computers or even just pencils and paper.

    An example of this is in GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra, where the scientists working on a particle accelerator all wear lab coats. In real life, particle accelerator operators dress less like movie scientists and more like this.
  • February 7, 2012
    TBeholder
    Close to "chairs of lunch and study".

    ^ well, yeah. But it may depend on whether it's supposed to be a "clean" environment of some sort. Or just an usual pointless workplace policy. Not that it's be a bad idea to give people something other than civil clothes to wipe vacuum oil from hands. :D
  • February 8, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In the film Moving Violations Fred Willard's character works at an "auto clinic." Another character, a hypocondriac, overhears him talking but misses the "auto" part. She goes to him for her physical ailments. As a part of the "auto clinic" schtick, everyone at the garage he works at wears labcoats.
  • February 8, 2012
    Arivne
    .
  • February 8, 2012
    JonnyB
    What, no love for Doctor Steel?
  • February 8, 2012
    shimaspawn
    ^ Write up an actual example. This is just the YKTTW. Most examples haven't been added yet.
  • February 9, 2012
    JonnyB
    Ok then...

    • Doctor Steel is almost always seen in a somewhat comical-appearing PVC labcoat. His "doctorate" is never really specified, but he shows aptitude in a multitude of disciplines.
  • February 9, 2012
    lu127
    Do we include examples for Mad Scientist as well?
  • February 10, 2012
    JonnyB
    If they wear a labcoat. There's going to be a lot of crossover with Badass Labcoat as well.
  • February 10, 2012
    deuxhero
    Dr Mc Ninja of The Adventures Of Dr Mc Ninja is either a Ninja in a lab coat, or doctor with a ninja outfit (with mask) under his labcoat.
  • February 10, 2012
    lu127
    Maybe you should add a line about how it's almost always a white coat?

    Video Games

    Doctor Hojo of Final Fantasy VII is never seen without his labcoat. His rival, Doctor Hollander, wears an identical coat in the prequel. It's used to establish their Mad Scientist status and highlight the madness in their scientific endeavors.
  • February 10, 2012
    shimaspawn
    Badass Labcoat is going to be cut as it's not actually a trope so we don't need to worry about this.
  • February 11, 2012
    lu127
    Are we going to cut Badass Labcoat after this is launched?

    Anyway, more video games:

    In The Last Remnant Rush's parents both wear one of these. The pair is one of the most well-known scientists studying Remnants in the Academy.
  • February 11, 2012
    shimaspawn
    It's on the list of things to be cut as part of the Badass clean-up effort.
  • February 16, 2012
    lu127
    I've started mining Badass Labcoat for this.

    Proffesor Tomoe from Sailor Moon wears one of these in all of his appearances, even in his own house. It's meant to emphasize his Mad Scientist status.

    And, more video games:

    Bowman Jeanne of Star Ocean The Second Story wears one when in his pharmacy, and retains it if he joins the party. His special attacks are also themed around pills and medicine to further illustrate his association with this field.
  • February 16, 2012
    wesnprogamat
    While, yes I agree it is common to see a Scientist in a Lab Coat, many of those are Mad Scientists, etc.

    Here's one: Back To The Future : Doctor Emmett "Doc" Brown wears this until he returns from the future. Pokemon :I seem to remember all "Professors" wearing this.
  • February 16, 2012
    hevendor717
    Naked Snake has to wear a labcoat & glasses to infiltrate a laboratory in Metal Gear Solid 3. Keeping your intruderous face out of direct view isn't easy, however.
  • February 19, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    Labcoat Of Science works for me.
  • February 19, 2012
    shimaspawn
    The trope is about both doctors and scientists though.
  • February 20, 2012
    Lavalyte
    Science Labcoat?

  • February 21, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Don't Johnny Test's sisters where lab coats? I don't like the show so i can't remember if they do or how often
  • February 21, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Good News Everyone i remembered that Professor Farnsworth from Futurama has a lab coat

  • February 21, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Oh and there is Dr. Scientist from Jimmy Two Shoes
  • February 21, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Medic from the game Team Fortress 2
  • February 21, 2012
    Azkar
  • February 21, 2012
    ACarlssin
    Examples should probably be limited to cases where the labcoat is used to tell the audience "Hey, this is a doctor/scientist" -- so anyone working in a hospital* would not be listed because everyone would know that they're a doctor anyway.

    (*)Of course, we make a special case for Dr Mc Ninja.
  • February 21, 2012
    shimaspawn
    ^ Well, as most people who work in a hospital are not doctors, it's a great visual cue that you're looking at the doctor instead of a nurse, an orderly, or a receptionist. So even in cases of medical dramas this trope is frequently used to pick the doctors out from the rest of the people in the hospital.
  • February 21, 2012
    acrobox
    The medical examples should be added to Dressed To Heal, the general scientist/mad scientist examples can be this.
  • February 21, 2012
    shimaspawn
    Dressed To Heal is a far more specific subtrope and requires head mirrors and a stethoscope. It is not just labcoat means doctor. If a character only has the labcoat they are NOT an example of Dressed To Heal.
  • February 22, 2012
    Chabal2
    Another House example: in one episode he tries to convince Cuddy (and himself) he doesn't need a team of doctors to help him by going through the usual lkist of tests to run, only to find he's talking to an empty room. However, a passing janitor asks if House is talking to him, House ends up recruiting him, giving him a labcoat to look like a doctor.

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