Censor Shadow

"I told her she would remain a beautiful silhouette against the warm light coming in through the curtains."
David Lynch on how he convinces Laura Harring to do the nude scene in Mulholland Dr.

A character (male or female) is full-on naked, but the artist doesn't want to reveal all. Yet an outright Censor Box will be just horrible (unless this was a comedy). This is a dilemma. What to do? Eureka! Just add some crafty shading and voila! A convenient shadow! Now we can keep those private parts, well, private.

Not only used for nudity, it's often used as a result of Executive Meddling last-minute censorship of something gory, causing a random dark slash covering half the screen and the Gorn behind it. Almost like a Gory Discretion Shot, only a bit sloppy.

See also Censor Steam, Godiva Hair, Sexy Silhouette, and Scenery Censor.


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     Anime and Manga 

  • In the Comic Book version of Anita Blake, a wererat's genitals are covered this way.
  • In a Story Arc in the Anthology Comic Marvel Comics Presents showing the origin of Wolverine (running away from Project X), he's nude the entire time, but for shadows. The one time the artist couldn't justify any shadows, he was suddenly in a pair of tighty-whities.
  • ElfQuest: In "Siege at Blue Mountain Part 1" Leetah and Nightfall dance in the moonlight. In the first panel, a shadow covers Nightfall's genitalia.
    • In "Hidden Years Part 1", we get a full-frontal shot of Strongbow, with a shadow obscuring the (in)appropriate bits.
  • For a female example, in X-Men Versus the Fantastic Four, Susan Storm momentarily becomes extremely fed up with her husband, Reed, because Reed is balking at using a machine to cure Kitty of permanent phasing. (It's complicated.) When in private, Sue uses her forcefield to blast off her entire uniform and most of her body is conveniently in shadow, but not so much you can't tell she's nude.
  • In an early issue of The Incredible Hulk, Betty Ross is transformed into the Harpy sans culottes, with her breasts and genitals hidden by shadows.
  • The Mercy Thompson: Homecoming comic uses anything — even shadows — to cover up Mercy's breasts and genitals.
  • This happens quite frequently in Hellboy with Hecate, the Baba Yaga, and the occasional demon. Partially justified thanks to Mignola's black-on-white Chiaroscuro art style. Sometimes Mignola chooses to show nipples, so it must be a stylistic choice.
  • Frequently happens to Wolverine when he ends up naked, especially in Weapon X flashbacks.
  • Used in The Smurfs comic book story "The Smurf Threat", depicting the Smurfs who gave up their...uh, pants to create a Bedsheet Ladder for Papa Smurf, Jokey, and Hefty to escape the Grey Smurfs prison camp.

  • Used in Gone with the Wind to depict a woman in labor, as back in the days of The Hays Code, showing pregnancy and a woman going into labor was considered too risque.
  • When Rita unrobes in the bedroom in Mulholland Dr., we see little more than just her silhouette against the light coming in through the window behind her.note 

     Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command": Picard would show his butt, and have five lights FOUR LIGHTS cast shadows, preventing anything from being seen.

     Video Games 

     Visual Novels 


     Web Original 
  • Linkara laughed at such shadow in "Hardcore Station #1" for being so small that one could conclude that "Space Stalin has a tiny penis."

     Western Animation