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Changing Clothes Is a Free Action

"Dave is so fast, he can wake up, instantly recognize he's not wearing shades, and put them on in between animation frames."

Some characters wear the same wardrobe through an entire adventure, getting it suitably burned and torn (or not at all) in the process. Then there's those blessed with living in an RPG, 'The Sims' world, Film or TV show where Changing Clothes Is A Free Action.

Say you've got a globetrotting heroine who's a Master of Disguise with an Unlimited Wardrobe in a Period Piece who loves dressing in the local couture. All she may need is ten seconds behind an object (or a backlit screen for extra points) to change clothes. Or perhaps a crew of adventurers who run through lots of Stuff Blowing Up and get tons of Clothing Damage, all amid breakneck action, scene and location changes. Yet in the midst of all that, the heroes will somehow find the time to change into something else that's equally impossibly cool.

In its most extreme form the characters will suddenly switch outfits from one scene to the next, with no indication (even a passing mention) of there having been time passing.

This is played literally in videogames where Your Reward Is Clothes. Usually you can change your character's clothes, armor, weapons and accessories in the blink of an eye. Though for balance issues the game probably won't let you switch outfits — or armor — mid battle.

At least, not without spending the XP to buy that special Feat or Spell.

Instant Costume Change is the subtrope commonly used by Superheroes in the typical "change out of my civvies into my spandex" phonebooth scene.

Instant Armor is another subtrope, when the costume change is motivated by a substantial protective value.

If the subject didn't expect the costume change (or didn't expect the final result), then it's an Instant Cosplay Surprise.

Compare Flung Clothing and Convenient Color Change. See also Talking Is a Free Action for another action that can't be bothered to be restrained realistically by time. Closely related to Transformation Is a Free Action, as well as the Hyperspace Wardrobe. Can overlap with To the Batpole!.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used in the Genesis of Aquarion episode "Cosplay of the Soul" when Pierre changes rapidly between costumes of his teammates, defying multiple laws of physics and logic in the process.
  • Characters in Ranma ˝ will often shed (or put on) disguises in the span of one panel with no breaks in the action. Sometimes, mid-leap, mid-dialogue, or mid-attack. Or do the same to other people.
  • In Code Geass, several people in a crowd of a million throw smoke bombs. By the time the smoke has cleared, every one of them are wearing Zero outfits.
  • In the Hetalia Bloodbath 2010, Hong Kong promptly took off his maid outfit he was forced to wear, much to China's shock.
  • In Soul Eater, when Medusa attacks the DWMA on the night of its anniversary to get to the Kishin, Stein takes the students, who were all dressed up for the anniversary party, underground immediately. When they got there, everyone was wearing their usual clothes, and not the party clothes.
  • The fact that Tokiko of Busou Renkin can change her clothes very rapidly is explicitly mentioned in her character profile.
  • This is essentially Erza's ability in Fairy Tail, where said clothes (for the most part) are different forms of armour and with various types of weaponry. It thus makes the whole Running Gag about the amount of luggage she takes with her when travelling all the funnier.
  • Happens in Sailor Moon, overlapping with Transformation Is a Free Action, when the girls change from their normal clothes to their Sailor Senshi clothes.
    • A straighter example usually happens when the bad guy reveals themselves to the Victim of the Week.
  • In the eighth Dragon Ball Z movie Goku starts out wearing a suit rather than his trademark orange gi, as Chichi is taking him with her to talk with a prestigious school in hopes that Gohan will be able to attend. When he takes off to King Kai's planet after being warned of a new danger, he realizes he's still in different duds that his usual ones. One quick backflip into the air and when he lands he's back in his more familiar outfit.
  • Happens in Sword Art Online since characters there are trapped in an online game. One scene in particular comes to mind, in which Asuna misunderstands Kirito's intentions before they become a Battle Couple. She scrolls through a menu, selecting items and causing her clothes to instantly disappear. Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-snVrmICO4

    Comics — Books 
  • This isn't hard for The Flash to pull off, what with his Super Speed. He actually keeps his suit in a ring with an ejection mechanism.
  • Same deal for Superman, though traditionally he has to at least duck into a phone booth.
  • Jean Grey-Summers of the X-Men is able to change into multiple outfits within a matter of seconds. Due to her Phoenix powers, she can alter the molecules of her costumes at a whim.
    • Bobby even says all he has to do is ice up and put on his boots at one point.
    • Early on (we're talking really early on) that used to be the extent of his costume. If the ice was melted/broken by a bad guy, Bobby was in his boxers and his big yellow boots.
    • Both Jean and her Kid from the Future Rachel Summers have also done this with multiple other people's clothes at the same time, when the X-Men need to become inconspicuous by changing into civilian clothes. In Rachel's case, she almost collapsed from the effort because at the time she didn't have Phoenix powers, just "ordinary" telekinesis.
  • The implausibility of this trope is Lampshaded in an issue of X-Men: First Class. Black Widow and Dum Dum Dugan change from their civvies into their S.H.I.E.L.D. duds in the span of a single panel, while Scarlet Witch wonders aloud how that's even possible.
  • Ms. Marvel's powers include, amongst other things, clothes changing, usually with a single panel showing a line of energy between half-civies half-costume.
  • This is explicitly a power of Lady Death according to Word of God, allowing her to change her lingerie between comic panels.
  • When Steve Harmon turns into Slapstick, his clothes disappear into an interdimensional pocket.
  • This is Mortadelo's speciality in the spanish Mortadelo y Filemón comic books. He holds an indeterminate number of disguises under his coat and can instantly put them on in between comic panels.
  • The trope is justified in Green Lantern considering any of the Green Lanterns can simply use their power rings to instantly change their clothes into their Corps uniforms.
  • Spider-Man, during a time when he was wanted by the police (long story) and had set up four different alter egos (All with different "Superpowers" and known collectively as "The Slingers"), once did this while fighting Bloodscream and Roughhouse (two of Wolverine's rogues), changing costumes so fast the two bad guys actually thought they were fighting four different guys!
  • Steve Ditko's The Creeper had a device inserted in his body that allowed him to swap his normal appearance with that of his Creeper persona. Except it's not just that it puts his clothes (such that they are) on, they also apply makeup that's actually a part of his physiology. Goon attempted to remove his wig and yellow skin make-up, only to find that impossible because apparently, the device saved that costume as an entire physical state of his body.
  • Smallville Season 11 features this, not just predictably and justifiably with Superman, but also with Nightwing. In the span of one panel that couldn't have taken more than 5 seconds, she goes from her underwear to full costume (including mask and lipstick).

    Fan Works 
  • In Kyon Big Damn Hero, Kyon can create the illusion of having done this just by selecting the appropriate menu on his PDA. Still only an illusion, though.
  • George in With Strings Attached. As long as he's already stored a piece of clothing in his closet, and as long as his ring doesn't stick, he can switch from item to item, or outfit to outfit, in the blink of an eye.
    • Paul can too, thanks to the little illusion he wears in place of clothes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Sherlock, Jr., Buster Keaton performs an on-camera quick change that involves literally jumping through a hoop.
  • Justified/played straight with the eponymous heroine of Barbarella who not only spends the movie going through an Unlimited Wardrobe, but gets put into dozens of situations that justify the wardrobe change.
  • Parodied in Sky High when the superhero students's studies include doing this... to get into their gym clothes. One of the teachers has this as a Running Gag: he'll change his clothes in seconds at the drop of a hat, even if he spilled just a drop of punch on his tux.
  • Spiderman can do this so fast people that fight him think they're fighting a team of four.
  • Played for laughs in Duck Soup. After Firefly becomes a general, his outfit changes between EVERY scene. Even when he's under attack barricaded in a small house.
  • In The President's Analyst, an American and Soviet secret agent, old friends, meet in New York City looking for the same guy. As they talk shop their costumes change five times — presumably it takes place over days, but they're in a single sustained conversation through the scene.
  • Beetlejuice can switch costumes in the blink of an eye — one of the perks of being a poltergeist/ghost/bioexorcist.
  • Just flat-out ignored in the first Superman movie: when Superman flies to the rescue of a crashing helicopter, his Clark Kent suit fades into his Superman costume.
  • Cindy Crawford is shown changing her shirt in Fair Game and she isn't wearing a bra.
  • Played for Laughs and used realistically in The Mask of Zorro. When Zorro and Elena are sword-fighting, they both simultaneously realize "Hey, the other person actually knows what the hell they're doing with that thing," they both simultaneously pause, admire each other, take a step back, remove their movement restricting clothing (his hat and cape, her robe), and resume their fight, all in the space of ten seconds.
  • Another humorous example occurs in Blazing Saddles, when Lili von Schtupp pulls a curtain shut for an instant and re-emerges wearing something "more comfortable", which is an outfit just as elaborate as the one she was previously wearing.
  • Men In Black 3. How does Agent J don his black shades when his hands are tied behind his back? Simple: cut away, cut back, and he's wearing them.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, at one point, Scott goes into the bathroom to change, and walks out half a second later, before the Seinfeld laugh track has finished.
    • Given that he appears to live in a video game, this may be justified. He also empties his bladder in a second at one point.
  • Hellzapoppin is a plotless Zany Cartoon of a movie - in an early scene, the starring comedy team of Olsen and Johnson walk through a series of rooms, and through each door are in different outlandish costumes.
  • Casino Royale (1967) doesn't even pretend to logic or continuity - early on, David Niven's Bond is visited by a host of intelligence heads, and while talking with them goes through no less than three costume changes. Later on, Peter Sellers's Bond leaves the casino in a tuxedo and is suddenly in full formula racing gear to give chase to the bad guys.
  • In Demolition Man, Simon Phoenix changes from something that looks like a cross between scrubs and prison fatigues to a pair of overalls and a bright orange mesh shirt (...it was The Nineties) between scenes with no explanation while on the run from the cops. Maybe it was part of his cryo-conditioning?
  • In The Dark Knight when his party is crashed by the Joker, Batman manages to change into his costume (including his eyeliner) and get back in the space of a couple of minutes. It's a lot more enjoyable to watch that scene if you imagine Bruce Wayne hurriedly applying his makeup while the Joker threatens Rachel.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow manages to go from a modest business outfit into her usual Spy Catsuit after a scene transition, even though she and her associates were rushing to board a rescue chopper during the same cutaway and probably couldn't take the extra time to let her run to her locker and change. She's just that good, folks.
  • In Undercover Brother, the title character changes his clothes while jumping through a window. At other times he, Sistah Girl and Penelope Snow change their outfits by having their outer tearaway clothing ripped off of them (or ripping it off themselves).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Truth in Television: With this pair of contestants.
  • CSI: Miami's Calleigh Duquesne definitely fits this trope. Although to be fair, the hottest chick on any TV series is likely to have an Unlimited Wardrobe, if a Fanservicey one.
  • Eddie Izzard lampshades this in his show Sexie, when he talks about how there are no transvestite superheroes because they would take twenty minutes to change.
  • The Mythbusters took a look at this one when they did their episode on superhero myths. They discovered that it is indeed possible to change clothes in a phone booth, but not easy; Kari was the only one to pull it off in under a minute.
  • One episode of Psych has a character who manages to change his clothes into a more elaborate get up in about twenty seconds. Immediately lampshaded.
  • Wonder Woman: Nobody spun it like Lynda Carter.
  • Parodied in an early episode of Lois and Clark. Clark Kent sprints into a bathroom stall change into his costume only to smash his foot through the door as he struggles to put his boots on.
  • Subverted in The Greatest American Hero when Ralph sees a crime and hides to take off his street clothes to use his super suit. Unfortunately, he can't change fast enough and the bad guys are getting away, leaving him yelling, "Wait, I'm not done!" Fortunately, his girlfriend manages to delay the crooks long enough for Ralph to swing into action.
  • Played for laughs in Scrubs where the Janitor switches into his white coat in a matter of seconds, in the episode where he acts as Chief of Medicine while Kelso's gone. The weird and funny thing is how the characters literally see him change through his clothes, with the camera cutting to their bewildered faces while so.
    • This is a recurring ability of the Janitor's, also done when he was given a blue uniform to replace his grey one.
    • He also shows the ability to change rather quickly (and don a fake mustache) in an attempt to convince JD and Turk that he has a twin brother. At one point he also has to jump out a window and on to the roof of an ambulance to get into position. They still don't fall for it.
  • In Community episode Interpretive Dance Troy wears breakaway pants over his dancing tights.
    • In a later episode, Chang is off camera for maybe two seconds before they cut back to him in a speedo, greasing up.
  • An Expy of Lady Gaga does this repeatedly on an episode of A.N.T. Farm. In the Cold Opening alone, she changes outfits 3 times, each one equally outlandish.
  • One episode of The Avengers had a villain who changed outfits every time he was off camera. This gets really ridiculous in the fight scene at the end of the episode, where the focus changed from him to the hero and back every ten seconds or so for the entire thing.
  • In the Mr. T TV series T And T T plays a private eye who dresses in a suit. Once an Episode he has to go "street" to get the 4-1-1 on the situation of the week. He always takes the time to go to the boxing gym and change into his streetwear (which is more like the Mr. T we know).
  • On Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, of course. One challenge started with the contestants having to find a place to hide, change into their costumes without being seen and re-emerge within a certain time frame. Of course, none were "actual" superheroes so it wasn't instant, but some were actually quite clever and quick. Gladiator even shoved some port-a-poties around to hide where he got changed. Unfortunately, two contestants missed the "without being seen" angle, one changing in a small nook that was completely open to view, one putting her costume parts on over her civies right in the middle of the public square.
  • On an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted and Marshall head over to Barney's (who's supposed to be out) to watch Star Wars. Barney opens the door to their knock, disheveled, out of breath, and sweaty. When they explain why they're there, Barney closes the door, and opens it less than one second later, suited up and looking dapper. In that time, he not only got dressed, but stashed the girl (Robin) in the Stormtrooper suit.
  • Conan - when he goes into a mock-awards show segment, Conan O'Brien has a prop man come onstage with a one-piece formal wear jacket/shirt/tie that's open on the back, and slips it on over his suit.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has "Once More, with Feeling" (Season 6, Episode 7). Sweet the dancing demon can change his suit color at eye-blinking speed, and being cool at that.
  • Played with, along with everything else, in the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1. Early in the episode, Mitchell claims that the next trip through the gate will be his 200th; moments later, after the team is in completely different clothes, Teal'c says "I have been reflecting while changing into our gear...", which hangs a lampshade on this trope. Later, Harriman, the gate technician, is invited on a mission with SG-1. He leaves the command room, disappears for a split second while walking down the hallway, and comes into the gate room wearing the same outfit as the rest of the team.

    Music Videos 
  • The video for "Turn Down for What" by DJ Snake and Li'l Jon features this. The protagonist, having smashed his way into a woman's apartment through the roof, explodes her clothes off her by pelvic-thrusting in her direction. She then stumbles backwards into her indoor clothesline and emerges wearing another outfit. No, it doesn't make any more sense in context.

    Tabletop Games 
  • High-speed costume changes are a cornerstone of superheroes, to the point that Mutants & Masterminds has a feat that makes changing costume a free action. The Feat comes in two ranks, the second allowing a hero to change to any costume in a free action.
  • In the sidebar example power "Instant Change" in the HERO System Fifth Edition book, it recommends that the power (which allows a hero to instantly go from street clothes to his superhero outfit) function as a Zero Phase Action (essentially a free action) instead of the Half Phase action that it should, according to the rest of the rules, take.
    • Even without Instant Change, a half-phase action to change outfits corresponds to a few seconds of real time.
      • One-half second, to be more or less precise, since a segment, on which you take your phase, is supposedly one second long.
  • GURPS Supers has the perk Skintight, which makes your super-suit fit so well, you can wear it under your normal clothes and no one will notice.
  • Aversion in the Trope Namer Dungeons & Dragons where there are rules in place to calculate how long taking your armor off takes; useful if you ever fall into the sea or river.
    • Played straight with certain items and spells; for example, a magic ring that can store an entire outfit, including armor and weapons, and swaps it with your current clothes and gear at a moment's thought.
  • Played with in Continuum- Spanners have the ability to teleport and travel through time, and can selectively choose what comes with them. This leads to the main rulebook and only splatbook having, between them roughly a chapter on the mechanics of using this trick (and a series of mannequins) to perform quick changes.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, there is an official ruling that taking off your pants is faster than using a mana source.
    • For those not versed in Magic Rules minutiae, using a mana source is the fastest thing one can do at any time.
    • The reason for this ruling is the card Hurloon Wrangler, from the joke set Unglued. The card has the unique ability "Denimwalk", which makes it unblockable if the defending player is wearing any denim. Therefore, in response to its attack, the defender may remove his pants, making the creature blockable.

    Theater 
  • When Acting for Two, or rather Two Dozen, the ability to perform quick changes is frequently required. This is a time when it would be really nice for it to be a genuinely free action, instead of one that gets fast when you practice it.
    • Also important when playing s single character who has scenes that are close together but require different clothes. Most actors develop quick change skills, as well as wearing tear-away clothes and double dressing.
  • In Love Never Dies, during Meg's final number "Bathing Beauty", the character changes bathing suits in seconds ON STAGE. What with the distractions caused by the backing dancers and the all forgiving modesty towel, it sometimes takes a second for the audience to realise the change has even occurred.
  • Similarly, in Our House, the Madness musical, the main character switches costume near-instantly in the middle of a song, hidden for a couple of seconds at most by backing dancers with umbrellas. Particularly neat because the show tells two Alternate Reality storylines simultaneously, Sliding Doors style, and the costume change signifies a jump from one story to the other.
  • Done brilliantly in Spamalot. The Lady of the Lake comes on stage wearing a blue dress. Arthur drops to a knee and proposes marriage. She says she'll have to think about it. <<Beat.>> Then she shrugs, in full view of the audience, and her blue dress turns into a white wedding gown.

    Video Games 
  • In all the Castlevania titles for the Nintendo DS, (and probably most of the others since Symphony of the Night) all equipment can be changed in the pause menu instantaneously. To top it off, the pause menu can be accessed any time, so the player can, if he's so inclined, change armor, switch weapons, and eat a plate of spaghetti all in mid-double-jump during a boss fight.
  • In Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, most of your combat actions cost points called AP, so that, for example, walking closer to a foe may leave you without enough AP to attack it. Yet strangely, using items — including changing your armor — cost no points!!
  • Some of the Dragon Quest games allow you to switch weapons and armor mid-battle... as long as you've got them in that character's personal inventory. So, for instance, you could use a whip to take out a boss's groupies, then switch to your sword once you've whittled their numbers down.
  • In No More Heroes, at first it seems like this trope would be subverted by Destroyman, who has to ask Travis to turn around so he can change. However, this is only so Destroyman can get a cheap shot at him, as he has somehow managed to change from a mailman uniform to head-to-toe spandex in about the space of a second.
  • During one sequence in Final Fantasy VI, Locke automatically switches costumes whenever he gets his hands on one. All it takes is a quick twirl and he's completely changed in a matter of seconds.
  • The power of the crystals in Final Fantasy V grant this to the protagonists in the form of the game's Job System. They can't switch classes in-battle like the girls of Final Fantasy X-2, but, when felled, their crystal shards's power fails and they revert to their standard Freelancer class, only to switch back to the class they changed to when resurrected.
  • This is explicitly so in Final Fantasy X-2, where changing the spheres lets you take another action immediately after, even with the long Transformation Sequence. You can also turn off the Transformation Sequences, allowing you to change clothes nigh-instantaneously.
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII marks the return of a job class system again with a customizable Virtual Paper Doll system and a fact that Lightning spends tons of time fighting ''alone''. Naturally, she has to change her clothes a lot.
  • Equipment macros run rampant in MMORPGs, to the point where players are expected to actually gear swap for most of everything. Case in point: High-end players in Final Fantasy XI change their entire wardrobe every 3-5 seconds at worst, mostly due to swapping in Weaponskill gear to fire one off, then it's back to TP gear. This led to the line (specifically referencing Red Mages, but can be applied to any job): "Every fight is a fashion show.".
  • In World of Warcraft you can't change your clothes in combat, although you can swap out any hand-held item. It avoids the trope entirely on that part, as swapping weapons causes a global cooldown (meaning no abilities can be used for around one second). However, somewhat of a running gag is the fact that you can switch equipment (or more likely, remove it) while falling to avoid it being damaged when you crash into the ground.
  • Equipment can also be changed in the middle of battle in Final Fantasy XII. Due to the removal of typical random battles, this means you can switch weapons and armor in the middle of battle, and even in the middle of an attack. If you don't mind being in the menu for most of the battle, you can get away with all kinds of crazy things, like:
    • Attacking faster than usual by switching to a new weapon and switching back after an attack is finished (to reset the animation and start the next turn faster);
    • Equipping armor so, for example, when the help message at the top of the screen says the enemy is using a Thunder spell, you quickly don the Thunder-proof armor;
    • Protecting the whole party with one piece of equipment. Since attacks that affect the whole party hit characters one-at-a-time instead of all at once, you can pass one piece equipment between characters as the animation for the spell starts on the next target.
  • City of Heroes doesn't have combat or stat related gear, but a character can still have up to 10 different costumes (and can give those costumes different colors depending on whether or not they're in Supergroup Mode), all of which are available at the click of a button. They even recently added different emotes you could use while changing your costume (such as a huge lightning bolt, a puff of smoke, spinning in place, and more). To top it all off beyond ridiculous levels, you can even buy a booster pack that allows your costume slots to have different sizes and even GENDERS.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, one cannot swap out weapons while actually swinging them; otherwise, it plays straight. This is particularly jarring when a sleeping soldier or guard is struck, and their armour appears on their body before they're done sitting up in bed.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim plays it absolutely straight. While in the player menu, the player can swap out weapons, spells, armor, jewelry, items, chug any amount of potions and have a full 9-course meal. All in between two weapon swings.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake can change his camo instantly whenever he wants. This gets kind of silly when he runs around a corner while soldiers are chasing him, ducks into some grass, then switches into green camo to become hidden before the soldiers catch up. It's even more insane when some boss battles virtually require you to constantly swap between outfits in mid-gunfight.
  • In the Baldur's Gate games, the essential time to change clothes is "not actually in combat". Imoen can use stealth and then pull on a suit of mail fast enough that she doesn't actually stop hiding.
  • In Neverwinter Nights while armor can't be changed while in combat, other clothing can. This allows players to swap out the incredibly useful belts of bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage resistance at a moment's notice, so one can always be highly resistant to whatever weapon is attacking them a the time.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online, as another D&D game, also follows suit. Weapons, clothing, and robes/outfits can be changed with only a tiny amount of lag time, but swapping armor takes a prohibitive few seconds and can be interrupted by getting hit. There is a feat that permits faster armor changing, but it's almost definitely a Useless Useful Non-Combat Ability.
  • In the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link has three different tunics and three different pairs of shoes, which he can mix and match freely. Changing clothes does not happen in realtime; the player pauses, selects the new clothes, then unpauses, resulting in an instantaneous change. This is especially useful when, say, the moment after you jump into a pool in the Water Temple, you still haven't changed into your iron boots yet. You'll be wearing them before you hit the water. If you had changed into them beforehand, of course, you couldn't have jumped at all.
    • Due to the inconvenience of pausing and unpausing the game to fiddle with a menu just to swap your footwear (and the fact that you only have one different pair of boots to put on anyway), the iron boots have been made into a button-assignable item in later games (as well as the 3DS remake Ocarina of Time 3D), meaning that a mere press of their button will cause the boots to appear and disappear from Link's feet. Clothes are still changed in a menu.
  • The largely-ignored Capcom game Beatdown: Fists of Vengeance for the PS2 actually requires you to change clothes in order to lower the levels of the "enemy detection meters", one for gang members and one for police (they usually run independently of each other). Of course, buying clothes costs money, but changing clothes (either at the clothing store or in the closet of your home-base bar) is free. Ironically, simply changing to a different COLOR of the same outfit will still lower your detection meters despite looking almost exactly the same as the outfit you just changed out of.
  • Done in .hack as well. In the first series, it is possible for you to completely change your equipment on-the-fly to adapt to changing battle situations, even in the middle of battle (it doesn't make sense, considering this is supposed to be a real-time battle oriented MMO, but sometimes it's required anyway). The GU series subverted this by having your character forcibly pause momentarily when switching weapons (except when using the Skill Trigger, and even then it is only for what is essentially switching weapon/job class on the fly ), and switching armors in mid-battle is not allowed, so strategic planning becomes more crucial than tactical modifications.
    • Case in point are specific enemies in the first series that are speeding mages, capable of nuking you while they are running away and then some. By the time they reach that point, savvy-players always keep a set of blades for Kite that contains paralysis/sleep spells just in case (the mook in question is severely weak against paralysis) this happens, and have their (two or three) main weapon for everything else.
  • In the original Fallout games, 4 action points (2 with the proper Perk) buys you unlimited inventory time: using medicine, swapping or reloading weapons, even switching armour.
    • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas allow the player to switch apparel like clothes or armor instantly, but changing weapons triggers the "ready weapon" animation.
    • It's actually kind of ridiculous, as repairing items is also a free action. So it's entirely possible to notice your weapon is worn down enough to jam, go into your inventory, equip your Vault Utility Suit that grants a bonus to Repair, fix your gun, then re-equip your armor, all in mid-fight. At least Oblivion had the caveat that repairs could only be conducted away from enemies.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl you change into certain outfits by twirling. How this really works makes no sense when in HeartGold and SoulSilver you dress up as a Rocket grunt.
  • Torchlight conveniently pauses the game if the viewport is obscured by windows such as inventory screens, allowing you to switch gear for you and your pet.
  • The Sims has this. You change clothes by spinning around. Shy Sims (or well, the ones not too much exhibitionistic) will not usually change in front of other Sims, though. Also, considering the spinning goes for a few seconds which in-game are closer to minutes, it isn't that bad. They don't have to visit their dresser to do it though.
  • Urban Dead, where even talking uses up AP allows survivors to change clothes for free whenever they're in buildings that allow it.
  • Resident Evil 4 features no hot swap weapon feature; instead you go to your inventory to equip any weapon (as well as arrange items, weapons, ammo, etc). Opening up said inventory causes the world to stop dead in its tracks.
  • In Hitman, 47 changes clothes insanely fast, and doesn't have to switch his gear to the new clothing either. It takes a few seconds, meaning if the coast isn't clear you can be caught unawares by guards, though.
  • In-between the first two Golden Sun games, Felix manages to change his cape and pants. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN.
  • It is fully possible to change your armor (and the rest of your equipment) in the middle of battle in Mass Effect 1. (This is actually pretty useful if you're outside on a Level 1 Hazard planet. You can wear your normal armor until the meter is almost full, change to hazard-proof armor just long enough to let the hazard meter go down, then change back into your normal armor with no consequences.) The second game averts this by only allowing you to change your armor in the captain's quarters on the Normandy between missions.
  • Averted with armor in Knights of the Old Republic, but played straight with implants, which by all evidence are in your head.
  • Persona 3 has alternate costumes for most of the party members, which can be accessed while on the battle field. Although the characters usually complain about how hard they are to move in, or how embarrassing they are to wear, but never do they complain about apparently having to change into them in front of their friends.
  • Humorously done in the Disney's Magical Quest series. Since Mickey's abilities are based on his current outfit, he can change outfits at any time to switch abilities. When this happens, all movement on the screen stops while Mickey summons a curtain around him while he changes. Once he's done changing, the curtain disappears and the action resumes. This means that Mickey Mouse literally stops time just to change into a firefighter's outfit.
  • In Might and Magic VI and VII, as long as you're fighting in turn-based mode you can take off your broken armour, hand it to a team-mate with enough ranks in Repair, have him fix it and pass it back to you, and put it back on again. What's more, he can fix any of your broken rings, helms, cloaks, weapons, shields... you can, if necessary, strip down from full battle mode into your undies and get dressed again, all before the enemy can move.
    • This turns out to be important in VII when you reach the Starship Lincoln. There's a posse of big nasty droids waiting when you get in, and you have only a diving suit to protect you. Fortunately, in turn-based mode there's no bar to taking the suit off and putting all your best gear on, while the droids wait helplessly.
  • AdventureQuest Worlds allows you to switch armor, weapons, gear and even classes this way, but only when you're out of combat.
    • Played straight in AdventureQuest, though, where you can change armor, weapons, and shields as many times as your want during combat (as long as it's your turn, though), while changing pets, drinking potions, or using items wastes a turn.
  • Played straight in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, where collecting a clothing pick-up - sometimes in the street - near-instantly changes Tommy Verceti's clothes. Stops the cops recognising you too, even if you're in plain view of one when you make the change, at least provided you only have one or two wanted stars.
    • Averted by contrast in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. CJ must go into a changing room in a clothes shop, or into his wardrobe at home, to change clothes, and it does take a little time.
  • Also averted in the Saints Row games. Shopping or changing clothes while your Notoriety meter is filled and enemies are attacking will yank you out of the previous interface and back into the game to deal with the threat.
  • Solatorobo allows you to customize your Mini-Mecha Dahak at any point you like, including the middle of a boss fight. Even the Big Bad will wait patiently as you swap in your revive parts seconds before he kills you, then wait again as you put your attack parts back in place once your health is restored.
  • Valis II (except in the Turbo CD version) allowed Yuko to change into a different costume while the game was paused.
  • Equipment can be generally changed on the fly in the Tales Series, even in the middle of battles. This is especially useful during the arena gauntlets, where your constantly changing opponents may warrant the use of equipment that's effective against certain enemies or provides resistance to certain elements and/or status ailments.
  • Technically applies to the RollerCoaster Tycoon series as well, since you can change your employees' uniform colors (and, in the case of your entertainers, their entire costumes) while the game is paused.
  • Happens in Animal Crossing for both the player characters and the animal villagers, where they spin around with accompanying sparkles and a sound effect.
  • In TimeSplitters, there is a scene where Cortez switches into an odd, futuristic lab coat-type thing just by walking into a closet. One might think that this was just a convenient time skip so the player doesn't have to wait, but the entire wardrobe swap happens while another character is talking and takes no more than a sentence.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, while you can't switch gear mid battle, you can switch badges whenever you like in your turn.
  • Dragon Age: Origins forces you to invoke this during the Human Noble prologue as you wake up completely undressed with one of Arl Howe's goons taking aim at you with a crossbow and have to equip your armor and weapon immediately.

    Webcomics 
  • Nanase of El Goonish Shive has a spell that allows her to do this
  • Jin of Wapsi Square is able to do this to both herself and Monica through some creative use of teleportation.
  • In Homestuck, changing outfits happens with a quick blur-transition due to simply being an extension of inventory shenanigans.
  • Averted and lampshaded in Concerned.
    Frohman: Well, my boss got naked and quit, which I guess means I get an automatic promotion to...
    (next panel, Frohman is now wearing the Combine Elite armor)
    Frohman: FROHMAN ELITE! Glad I waited until I was fully in uniform to finish that sentence, even though it took several minutes to get dressed.
  • In Roommates Jareth can do this as an addition to or creative application of his other assorted powers. Prone to also Instant Cosplay Surprise the others.
    • The Kings War arc revealed that this is an inherent side-effect of his magic. So when someone else weilds it, that someone has even less control over his clothing changes, or the people's standing near him.

    Web Original 
  • For a period of time in Red vs. Blue when Simmons defected to the Blue Team, he donned red armor painted blue. When he switched back to the Red Team, he changed his armor back mid-conversation. When Grif asks how he did that, he explains it being a fast changer, due to being shy about others seeing him.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has an example of this, during the title character's efforts to hijack a courier van in the first act. He ducks behind a low wall for maybe a half-second, emerging in full costume, without stopping mid-line in the song.
    • However, if you pay close attention to the lighting, you will see it really took him the better part of the afternoon.
  • In the Whateley Universe, at least one class teaches the art of a nigh-instantaneous costume change, and the combat finals provide bonus points for doing so successfully.
  • In real life it isn't, according to Cracked's 5 Video Game Strategies that Are Way Less Useful in Reality.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold Mirror Universe story, Batman changes from Owlman's outfit to his own in the space of seconds, allowing him to descend on the Injustice Syndicate while declaring "I'm BATMAN!" How did he have time? How did he even carry his own costume with him? Who cares?
    • Music Meister, from the Musical Episode, manages to change costumes eight times over the course of a single scene (singing all the while), several times with on-screen "pull off the top layer" reveals. Over the course of the episode he has a handful of other costumes as well.
    • In another episode, Batman switches from his Matches Malone disguise (trenchcoat and sunglasses) to his Bat costume just by swooping the coat over his head.
  • Justified in Megamind, when Megamind uses a disguise, it is a holographic projection, so it can change forms instantly.
  • The 1940's Superman shorts would almost always carry a scene where Clark Kent, after being "KO'd" by the weeks villains, changes clothes in about 10 seconds in a phone booth. When those weren't available, he would change just as quickly in another conveniently hidden location with curiously good lighting, throwing his silhouette on a wall or screen so the animators could save on costs, no doubt.
  • Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle had this as a nigh-superpower - the ability to change disguises in less than 10 seconds was their main advantage over the titular heroes.
  • In ReBoot some characters have changed outfits in a few seconds by simply turning their Icons upside down or double clicking them (depending on the season). In games they instantly change outfits when they ReBoot. Since the show is Inside a Computer System, nobody cares about this.
  • In the Johnny Test episode Johnny Johnny, Johnny and Dookey slide down "Johnny Poles" that automatically change their clothes and a pair of poles created by the military that give them weapons. Indeed, there are many examples through the whole series given the quick pace.
  • In ThunderCats (2011) Turncoat General Grune has a full ten seconds to complete an Evil Costume Switch, complete with an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual, Flung Clothing and removal and replacement of a full suit of armor. While his enemies watch. He also finds time to tease his beard into a messier, more evil look.
  • In Teen Titans, the villain Mad Mod was shown to often-times change clothes during scene transitions or after a quick cut-away, in a time frame that really shouldn't allow it. Of course, given that his whole schtick was that he was a reality warper (thanks to a combination of holograms, elaborate machinations and hypnotism) it kind of made sense. Half the time it wasn't even him considering he looked to be at LEAST in his mid-to-late sixties.
  • Pirate Captain and his crew in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists are able to slip into disguises in a couple of seconds while other people's backs are turned.
  • Done constantly in Looney Tunes shorts, and shows inspired by them like Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures. Rule of comedic timing is in effect.

    Real Life 
  • Quick-change magicians.
  • In Katy Perry's California Dream Tour, during the 3:30 minute long song 'Hot N Cold' she changes her dress six times on stage while stepping trough curtains, into fabric rings, and for the last one, only obscured by a quick shower of confetti. She doesn't break rhythm or stop singing throughout.


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