A short story by Hans Christian Andersen
about an Emperor who gets swindled by two weavers. The weavers tell him they can make clothing fit for him with special material that would be invisible only to foolish and incompetent people. The Emperor thinks that this will help him find out who in his court is unworthy of their position, and asks for them to make clothing for him. When he himself cannot see the clothes, he does not say anything so that he won't be dubbed unworthy of his position. The charade continues until the emperor parades around in his new clothes, and a child points out that the emperor is naked.
Contains examples of:
- Appeal To Flattery: Used by the swindlers.
- Blatant Lies: Only stupid or incompetent people can't see the clothing.
- Turns out, they're the only ones who can.
- Bowdlerisation: The original version had the emperor appear naked, but some tellings have him in his underwear instead.
- Brutal Honesty: The kid.
- The Dandy: The Emperor is obsessed with clothes.
- The Emperor: General Failure incarnate, as is established even before the two swindlers arrive. All he thinks about is his clothes when he ought to be taking care of his country.
- Fairy Tale: One of the all-time classics.
- Follow the Leader: Till Eulenspiegel once conned a German noble in the same way. Andersen uses a similar premise, but Till managed to convince the nobleman that he actually painted a blank wall ("only the ones of true nobility can see it, your highness").
- Have a Gay Old Time: One translation states that life in the city was "always gay."
- The Reveal: "But he has nothing on!"
- Stealth Insult: Only the foolish can't see the clothes. Now, think of who the weavers are plying their trade to.
- Secret Test of Character: The Emperor wants to use the clothing to weed out incompetent and stupid people. Little does he guess the very same test is being applied to him...
- The Show Must Go On: As one translation says, "The Emperor writhed, for he knew it was true, but he thought 'The procession must continue now.'" In all translations, the procession continues.
- Too Dumb to Fool: The child who exposes the scam, because he knows what he sees (i.e. the Emperor is naked) and either doesn't know or doesn't pay attention to the "special material" story.
- Vapor Wear: The Emperor has been led to believe his clothes are just this, and that only "worthy" folk can see actual clothes.