This trope is about the common cartoon portrayal of a turtle's and tortoise's carapace, or shell, as being removable. In real life, a turtle's shell is fused to its spine, but in cartoons, it is often treated as clothing. In some cases, it is treated as having a furnished apartment in it. Expect the turtle, when out of the shell, to be wearing boxers.
A variant of this trope features other permenantly shelled animals like snails with shells treated like houses or even removeable, though cartoon snails' shells are rarely portrayed as removable.
Subtrope of Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying
. See also Funny Animal Anatomy
- The obscure Japanese series Oraa Guzura Dado had one turtle character, for whom this trope was a running gag. (The series is animated, but doesn't look like anime at all.)
- Verne in Over the Hedge often loses his shell.
- After happening several times, R.J. asks "What is the point of this thing again?"
- Dub from Die Anstalt. Treating his neuroses required you to literally get him out of his shell, and it's later revealed that his problems stem from having it on inside-out.
- Clothahump the turtle wizard in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series doesn't have a removable shell, but he has enchanted his plastron to install transdimensional cabinet drawers in his chest.
- Tannhaeuser: This may be way too obscure, but back when I was in college in the Eighties, there was a newspaper cartoon (Some Thoughts by Eric Johnson) in the UGA college newspaper, The Red and Black that featureed a series of strips about a turtle jumping out of his carapace (wearing the requisite wife-beater and boxers), later suggling inside the carapace with a turtle-honey, and finally, about some Georgia Tech students who indignantly wrote in to the cartoonist to complain that they had opened up a real turtle and not found a little animal in boxer shorts.
- evilpizza: I've forgotten for which casino chain this was for but for the longest time in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, area there were commercials for a casino whose mascot was a turtle without a shell dancing in polka dot heart boxers.
- Koopas in the Super Mario Bros. series.
- Regarding the Koopas, this wasn't explicitly the case until Super Mario World. Before that, they remained very much in their shells and revived unexpectedly.
- Koopas were actually an example in Mario Bros. (the arcade game that predated Super Mario Bros.), where they would hop out of their shells and hop back in to recover.
- Also, they were called Shellcreepers back then.
- In American McGee's Alice, Mock Turtle's shell gets stolen by the Duchess and we get to become a honorary reptile by helping recover it.
- Carapacion-type enemies in Final Fantasy XIII might qualify, as when "Broken" their carapace vanishes, which removes their Nigh Invulnerability until they restore the carapace.
- It's only really iffy because even when they actually have the carapace it's not a true shell, but more closely resembles a pangolin or man-made scale/plate mail.
- Happens to Cecil Turtle in Looney Tunes
- Happens nearly ten years before Cecil's debut in 1941 to a turtle in 1932's "Freddie the Freshman."
- In Cats Don't Dance, T.W. Turtle never actually gets out of his shell, but he did duck into it on one occasion and reemerge with a scrub brush and soap, as though he'd been cleaning the inside.
- Filbert the turtle in Rocko's Modern Life.