Stylish, comfy and excellent for a night of Crime Fighting and a Date, Dinner and Coffee later. Blood Removal sold separately.
"I'll punish you in high heels!"
Thanks to Sex Sells
and Rule of Sexy
, Action Girls
will often wear high heels to complement the rest of their Stripperiffic outfits
In comics this is often Depending on the Artist
: artist A will use it in moderation, artist B may use wedge heels, artist C will draw practical shoes, but artist D will insist on drawing high heels on all female characters regardless of reason, situation, or even if it's her usual style. While this can be part of Most Writers Are Male
trend, this tend to appear equal often with Female Writers as well, for various reasons
There is a fierce debate
over the use of this trope, ranging from a realistic point (they are very hard to balance, tiring to walk and can damage the feet and spine by prolonged use in real life), if it's a sexist tool in a male dominated medium just to make the heroines more appealing, or that they are only another trope in fantasy and comics, no more unrealistic than any other.
Not to be confused with a combat stiletto
. See Rule of Sexy
, Impossibly Cool Clothes
and These Tropes Are Made For Walking
. Compare Kick Chick
and With My Hands Tied
, as this trope may sometimes be used together with the said two.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Sailor Moon, most of the Sailor Senshi have heels on their shoes; Mars, who wears red stilettos, even mentions it in the above pre-battle speech in the manga. Though the creator of Sailor Moon is a straight woman. She really likes drawing shoes.
- Interestingly, Sailor Venus has a tendence to kick her enemies' throats with her heels: she apparently realized what she could do by weaponizing them...
- Marie from Soul Eater. Not only does she fight in them, her specialty is speed.
- Mireille Bouquet from Noir is habitually guilty of this.
- The Knight Sabers' hardsuits in Bubblegum Crisis.
- Although the Knight Sabers armored boots are more like a ballet slipper with a heel.
- Also the tech manual handwaves it as that those are filled with a shock absorbing gel allowing them to still move after harder landings. They are basically like the boots from Portal 2. See video games example.
- Due to author Mamoru Nagano's ever-present fascination with genderqueers, a great many of the Mortar Headds from The Five Star Stories have stiletto-esque heel-struts built into their legs. Actually becomes a plot point in one story arc, when two characters use their mech's collapsible heel-struts to slip out of an opponent's gripping attack.
- Boa Hancock from One Piece sees nothing wrong with kicking people in the face with her high heels in the middle of a warzone.
- Gold Lion Shiki carries this trope to an absurd extreme in Movie 10, as he's replaced both his feet with his swords. See?◊
- Although she doesn't fight physically, Nami still counts, as she wears high-heeled sandals most of the time.
- For a male example, Sebastian from Black Butler wears stilettos when in demon form.
- Despite its lack of apparent gender, Myria/Mylia from Macross/Robotech has heels on her VF-1. (All VF-1s do, in fact.)
- Fatina from The Tower of Druaga.
- The later seasons of Pretty Cure (more notably Fresh and Heartcatch) have their heroines wear high heels while transformed.
- Jiko Bou of Princess Mononoke uses Tengu-style wooden Geta sandals with only one tall "teeth" instead of the usual two. He's a covert operative sent by the Emperor, so he has the balance needed to walk, run and jump wearing them.
- Shaina in Saint Seiya fights in high eels. Including a scene where she dodges Shun's Nebula Chain, jumps and runs on it, an then hits Shun. However in the Manga version she wears more reasonable shoes as a part of her armor
- Tauburn, Takuto's mech from Star Driver has these. Yes, the giant robot has high heels.
- Tsunade from Naruto wears high heeled sandals that can somehow survive a heel drop which can shatter rocks.
- Hisoka from Hunter × Hunter has no problem arena fighting with high heels on.
- Likewise, the butler Canary, who is also a Badass in a Nice Suit, has absolutely no trouble kicking ass in high heels.
- Some mechs in Parallel Trouble Adventure Dual have feet designed along these lines. The Earth Defense Force units all have them, but the Rara Army tends to use non-humanoid designs.
- Extremely common in Sekirei, though it is worth noting that several Power Types wear either sensible heels or flats.
- Homura's Magical Girl outfit in Puella Magi Madoka Magica has these, though in her case it mostly makes sense: she fights with bombs and guns, enjoys doing the Unflinching Walk, and her Time Stands Still ability means that she doesn't really need to run or do other things made difficult by wearing heels...in theory. In reality, there's a few implausible scenes, like the beginning of episode 9, where she runs in heels on an Alien Geometry set of floating train tracks and doesn't even stumble.
- Pirotess, the female dark elf from Record of Lodoss War wears a pair of white thigh-high boots with heels.
- Quite a few feminine Digimon that look more humanoid in their higher levels have them, such as Angewomon and Sakuyamon. Many of them possess some form of flight, though, so movement is a non-issue.
- A Humongous Mecha version of this trope appears in the YAMS-132 Rozen Zulu from Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn.
- Senki Zesshou Symphogear plays with it on two characters.
- Hibiki's first real fight after having learned martial arts from Genjuro starts with her tripping on her Symphogear's heels, which she promptly breaks off so she can fight properly.
- Tsubasa, on the other hand, plays it straight, and, on top of fighting with Armed Legs, can even combine her heel with a stories-tall BFS to perform a kick on hapless Mooks.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: The Anarchy sisters wear high-heeled sandals in their angel outfits, which they don in more serious fights.
- As part of the over-the-top nature of the series, both Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin don high-heels in Kill la Kill, with Satsuki wearing them in both her normal school uniform and by both girls in their powered Kamui forms. Satsuki's heels are often prominently shown hitting the ground whenever she makes a Dynamic Entry.
- Likewise (both for fighting and entrances) with Satsuki's mother, Ragyo.
- Birdy in Birdy the Mighty, though it appears to be justified in that they function as rocket boosters.
- Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl. Lampshaded in Batgirl #45, when her successor Cassandra Cain puts on Barbara's old costume. Cassandra, who usually brings Waif-Fu to ridiculous levels, keeps tripping and stumbling thanks to the heels.
- The Batgirl: Year One miniseries joins the long line of Lampshades on this trope by having Barbara's heel snap off during her initial fight with Killer Moth. There it makes perfect sense, since at this point she is not a crime-fighter, and was actually going to a costume party where high-heels fit in just fine. Once she decides to go pro, she cannibalizes some hiking boots to give her costume some better soles.
- When the new Batwoman was revealed in 52 she was drawn with a number of impractical costume decisions, including high-heels. When she was transferred to the lead in Detective Comics the artists made a deliberate decision to have her costume be more practical and, amongst the changes, removed her heels (she also cut her hair and replaced it with a wig, since Batman points out that any mook can grab her hair and end the fight).
- This was eventually given an in-story explanation: her father was the original designer of the costume.
Kate: Pop...are those heels?
Jake: They were the only boots I could find in red. It's a good color, doesn't pop during night ops.
- Hawkgirl used to, now she wears flat-soled boots.
- Green Lantern villain Star Sapphire. Less of an issue for her since she mostly flies.
- Mary Marvel, when she turned evil during Final Crisis.
- Black Canary is infamous for fighting in high-heeled shoes, and there is a widespread and heated conflict in the fandom between those who insist it is stupid and should be fixed, an acceptable aspect of fantasy, and a few who claim it is actually reasonable. At least one letter writer to a Black Canary comic claims she was capable of delivering high-kicks while cosplaying as Canary, without harming herself. We... wouldn't recommend trying.
- Emma Frost, and every other female in the Hellfire Club.
- The Scarlet Witch.
- She-Hulk, when she wears shoes at all, requires heels made out of special metal.
- Elsa Bloodstone of Nextwave wears thigh high stilettos.
- Silk Spectre I and II in Watchmen.
- Everyone in Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose. The comic exists entirely on fanservice, so it's to be expected.
- Maid Man, from Empowered. A rare male example. He gets away with it because he is the Goddamn Maid Man.
- Nearly all the female supers play this straight. Sistah Spooky's 6-inch platform heels are impressive - she can fly though. Emp herself can't wear shoes in costume.
- Incandescence wears 5-inch heels as a signature part of her outfit. It's often Lampshaded that she can run, jump, and fight in them.
- Though it's mentioned that she has a background in dance. Some dancers do have extraordinary balance in high heels.
- Animal Superheroes example: Alley-Kat-Abra from Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!
- The girls from Runaways usually dress pretty sensibly (none of them have traditional super hero costumes), but not always. One issue showed Nico going into battle wearing stilettos and Karolina fighting alongside her in flip-flops, which seems even more impractical.
- To be fair, they weren't attacking somebody, somebody attacked them when they weren't expecting it.
- For Gotham City Sirens, Catwoman has added heels to her formerly sensible costume.
- The aptly-named human villain Stiletto from the Transformers Animated comic series is a former kickboxer whose boot heels actually incorporate laser scalpels.
- Wonder Woman used to have this trope done straight, but the Post-Crisis onward usually has her wearing sensible flat soled boots.
- Envy Adams of the Scott Pilgrim series wears platform heeled boots in her fight with Ramona.
- Female Judges in Judge Dredd stories may have them, Depending on the Artist (especially if that artist is Brian Bolland).
- Sin City has an assassin named Blue Eyes who once threw a stiletto into a man's eye socket and killed him. But who throws a shoe? Honestly!
- Lady Mechanika. Not true stilettos, but the heroine does do all of her action scenes in Victorian-era high-heeled boots.
- Fables. Cinderella wears high heels most of the time, even when flats would make more sense. (Fables are Forever.) But she also shows how she can kick tail anyway, and weaponize them as needed. Subverted with Dorothy, as she's wearing special high heels. note
- In the fanfiction Fine Feathers (http://archiveofourown.org/works/81730) Damian Wayne is in a situation where he must crossdress. He muses on how high heels would make more effective weapons than footwear, and demands Barbara Gordon teach him how to fight in them.
- In Dreaming the American Dream, a crossover between the Marvel Universe and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander (who was gender swapped... don't ask) lampshades this when he notices that heroines wear high heels while running and fighting. At first when he got offered some he thought they were joking ...they weren't.
- Eri's Game has the titular character's case. Plus the scene where she beats up Reaper Beat with it.
- Subverted (and possibly lampshaded) in My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return, where at one point Rarity bemoans the fact that she chose to wear heels that day, as it's hard to run and fight in them.
- Frozen Moonlight has these pop up as, during their first date Aoshi and Misao get attacked. She uses them more appropriately, taking them off and using them as an Improvised Weapon. Effective ones too.
- In Off The Line, Rainstorm's shoes are these. They are literally so sharp that he accidentally killed a woman when he stepped on her.
- Friendship Is Magical Girls: Pinkie, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Sunset all fight in them. Fluttershy lampshades how hard it is to do so, but Rarity trains her in how to do so effectively.
Films — Animated
- This leads to a bit of Fridge Logic and Hypocritical Humor in The Incredibles, where Edna Mode berates capes for being impractical but still designs (and makes) high-heeled costumes for the heroines.
- Cinderella in Shrek the Third, as expected. She sharpens the heels and use them as throwing weapons.
Films — Live-Action
- Catwoman in the live-action adaptations. In the comics she usually wears more reasonable shoes.
- Noticeably jarring when in the mall her heels keep appearing and disappearing when she starts doing back flips and such.
- As portrayed by Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises, it is played straight.◊ Which is odd considering how much Christopher Nolan likes to go on about how plausible the Batsuit is. (It's a little hard to see because they appear to be made of metal and blend in with the concrete.) The heels are actual, serrated blades, and one poster◊ shows Catwoman symbolically stepping on and breaking a Batarang with said heels. Given the plausibility attributed to the Batsuit, one has to wonder how she actually made those shoes.
- Lampshaded the first time said bladed heels actually show up:
Stryver: [holding a pistol on Selina]
Nice outfit. Those heels make it hard to walk? Selina Kyle:
I don't know. [stomps on Stryver's foot, stabbing him in the instep, causing him to drop his weapon] Do they?
- Cherry Darling in Grindhouse, at least on the leg that hasn't been replaced with an assault rifle. Justified because she's a
stripper go-go dancer who never actually makes it home from her shift.
- Elvira in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark subverts the old trope about female victims running from slasher-movie villains tripping and falling (and then being killed) due to high heels... by throwing her stiletto heels as weapons.
- This scene from Jackie Chan's The Armor of God, which also demonstrates some of the problems with high heels in combat situations. On the other hand it gave some extra punch to their multiple Groin Attack.
- In the Watchmen movie shows the impracticality of this, when Silk Spectre's boots slip out from under her, as she's trying to fight off the Comedian's rape attempt. On the other hand, her daughter seems to have no problem fighting in them during the prison breakout scene.
- Although in an interesting real-life subversion, if you pause the movie during various points in Silk Spectre II's prison fight scene, you can see that the actress is in fact wearing flat-soled boots as she walks. She's only in the high heels whenever she doesn't have to do anything action-oriented, or when she has to plant a heeled foot on a mook's chest.
- While filming Tromeo and Juliet, actress Tiffany Shepis accidentally punctured co-star Stephen Blackehart's lower lip with her spiked heel.
- In the live-action movie of Barb Wire, Pamela Anderson does a great deal of fighting in stilettos. On a plus-point she uses dynamite and guns a lot more than hand-to-hand combat, but they are still impractical.
- The villain of Single White Female murders the protagonist's boyfriend with a stiletto shoe.
- Averted in the 2010 film Red when Victoria slips off her dress high heels and trades them for a pair of sensible flat boots before the big operation.
- Cynthia Rothrock. Fighting in tall stiletto heels. On glass table-tops. On a CARGO NET stretched over a two-story tall stack of boxes. Then she moved to Australia and her films got a little calmer.
- Played with in a scene from The Blonde Fury where she's having difficulty fighting a male opponent due in part to wearing high heels and a long skirt (appropriately dealt with mid-fight). However, she actually discovers the heels can be to her advantage, after she (purely by chance) stabs him with one, and kicks him repeatedly with the other after the first shoe comes off.
- Van Helsing: Kate Beckinsale complained about the difficulty she had running about in high heels while filming action sequences.
- In Ticked Off Trannys With Knives, one of the "girls" manages to gouge her attacker's eye out by stabbing it with the heel of her shoe.
- While Renate Richter wears high-heeled boots in the second half of Iron Sky, she's not much of an Action Girl (she's just a schoolteacher, after all, with no combat training whatsoever). However, she does use her heels as impromptu weapons during her fight with the Big Bad Klaus Adler, stabbing him in the forehead.
- Averted in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. The female IMF member hears on the radio that the female assassin who killed her colleague has escaped the trap set up for her, tears off her high-heeled shoes and races out of the room to inflict a major asskicking.
- Early in Sharknado 2: The Second One, we see Kelly Ripa showing off her new heels on Live! with Kelly and Michael. During the climax, Kelly ends up using the heels to kill a shark that flew onto the set.
Live Action TV
- Yinling, the Erotic Terrorist of HUSTLE, would wrestle in high heels.
- Subverted by Cherry Bomb in CZW, who would get in the ring with baby face Greg Excellent wearing High Heels but then take them off and beat his face bloody with them.
- GURPS has two perks relating to this, "High-Heeled Heroine" and "High-Heeled Hurt". One allows you to run and do acrobatics in heels, the other makes it possible to use them like the other kind of stiletto.
- The tongue-in-cheek Macho Women With Guns game is all over this. "Run in high heels" is a skill.
- Armor Piercing is a +1/2 advantage in Champions to which the disadvantages Only When Kicking and Obvious, Inaccessible Focus: Stiletto Heeled Boots could be applied to make them quite affordable.
- In later editions (5th plus) one may simply purchase the Armor Piercing on a hypothetical Hand Attack equal to the character's best kick.
- Some of the artwork in Warhammer 40,000 depict Sisters of Battle with these.
- The action figure for comics lead Michiko Noguchi (a human Weyland-Yutani employee adopted into a Predator clan) features ridiculous combat stilettos in Predator-armor fashion.
- RWBY: A lot of the female characters are high-heeled fighters.
- In Shortpacked!, Amber lampshades this when she describes what she would wear if she became a superhero. Robin on the other hand, demonstrates Contractual Genre Blindness.
- Doubly ironic considering Robin is a former government agent with actual superpowers.
- Alexa from Shape Quest... well, they're high-heels, at least.
- The Jane Gang from Everyday Heroes. Somewhat subverted by Dolly Bird, whose spike heels are actual steel spikes — since she mostly flies, these are more of a weapon and less of a hindrance.
- This is the basis of an actual fighting style in Footloose, because of the pointy bits. It's called... Kung-Shoe.
- Suryu in Sorcery 101 wears these heels when fighting Seth.
- I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space
- Evil Spinnerette has an actual stiletto in her heel. Seen here.
- At a certain strip of 8-Bit Theater, Princess Sara kicks the Dark Warriors' asses, and shoves a heel into the mouth of one. He complains it tastes horribly.
- Tip from Skin Horse is a rare male example of this.
- In Endstone, Cole wears such shoes. Kyri comments on her error in wearing such bizarre clothing, and that the shoes were not made for combat.
- Superbitch wears them, but she doesn't ''walk'' in them
- Androssi Zahard from Tower of God uses stilettos. That turns out to be a bad choice of shoes, since twice, they are successfully attacked to throw her off-balance, so that one got subverted good..
- A stiletto is a combat knife. Stiletto heels are named after a combat knife; there's a reason for that. Stilettos are lethal if used correctly, and especially if the heel is strong enough. Stilettos are basically wedges that concentrate a large amount of force into a very small area, and the great pressure under such a heel is actually greater than that under the feet of an elephant. Sure you can't run fast in stilettos, but that doesn't usually matter when your opponent needs reconstructive foot surgery and rehab to be able to walk again.
- In his book Coroner, Medical Examiner Thomas Noguchi detailed an unsolved case involving an apparent gunshot wound to the head. As there was no bullet, there was a mystery as to how the wound could have occured. He realized that stilettos, employed with enough force, could have made the wound.
- There are Real Life accounts of women being accosted while wearing high heels, kicking their attacker, and having the heel break off in the attacker's body.
- It's important to remember that the word "stiletto" actually refers to a short knife, often used for surprise attacks or assassination. That stiletto SHOES could be used as a weapon of surprise should be obvious.
- A true stiletto heel is made of metal and only covered in fabric or leather.
- Even outside of combat, high heels are potentially extremely dangerous. There was a time after 9/11 that Manolo Blahniks were not allowed on certain airlines, because the heels came down to such a fine point that they could easily go through a man's foot with the right amount of pressure.
- Character heels are about three inches, but chunky, and being designed for dance, are pretty easy to run in if you're practiced at walking in heels. Similarly, literal stripper heels from dance supply stores are also designed for dancing and easy to be active in despite frequently reaching heights of five inches and more, since they too are substantially thicker than pencil-thin stilettos.
- There's an account of a woman who was pursued into an alley by an assailant, except she had gotten her shoe off by the time he reached her, and stabbed him with it.
- If you plan to participate in some form of mounted combat in the near future, heeled shoes are your best bet. When riding on horseback, your natural inclination is to keep your feet near-level. In a pair of flat footwear, like sneakers, this gives you equal odds of your feet slipping out of the stirrups or getting caught in them. Falling off a panicking horse can result in broken bones; falling off a panicked horse and getting your feet stuck is pretty close to a death sentence. The backward slope a heel creates on a level foot serves the same purpose as the pointed toe; your foot slides right out of the loop when you're not consciously keeping it there.
Incidentally, this is the reason cowboy boots for both men and women have high-ish heels. However, these heels are not stilettos and are rarely more than 2 inches tall. Lower than an inch and you're looking at a style called "ropers" or "rancher boots".
- In fact, this is the historical origin of high heels. They became a fashion item for men as an imitation of the military equestrian item, then got adopted into women's fashion, then were phased out of men's wear as the fashions changed, and remained a mostly feminine item (see Rule of Sexy), except in the functional uses described here.
- It's also easier to keep your feet in place on motorcycle footpegs if there's some heel to your footwear. Hence, motorcycle boots (like cowboy boots) for both men and women generally have heels somewhere between 1 and 2 inches tall. Again, like cowboy boots, they are rarely stilettos although some womens' designs are both higher and skinnier.
- This is one reason it's generally accepted that picking a fight with a Drag Queen is a huge mistake, especially since drag queens tend to be tall and can put even more force behind a stiletto.
- Apparently, female North Korean soldiers wear 4-inch high platform heels while they conduct patrols on the Chinese border along the Yalu River.