Now ostensibly, cosplay means people who dress up as their favorite characters from film and television and especially anime, but it is so much more than that. These aren't just people who find a costume and put it on — They bend them to their will. We are, all of us, injecting ourselves into a narrative that meant something to us. And we're making it our own. We're connecting with something important inside of us. And the costumes are how we reveal ourselves to each other.Cosplay is a Portmanteau of the words "costume play". It refers to the fan hobby of making costumes of a concept or person and wearing them at fan gatherings, though is commonly associated with fictional characters from mediums such as anime, TV, movies, comics, video games, etc. At anime conventions cosplay is one of the most popular events. And to some people, it is Serious Business. Don't even think about trying to get them to wear the Official Cosplay Gear. They will often wear a Sexy Whatever Outfit though. If it's a character getting cosplayers in the same universe, the actual character might get told Your Costume Needs Work. This can even happen to celebrities in Real Life. See also Cosplay Fan Art, Cosplay Otaku Girl (characters in works being cosplayers), Whole Costume Reference, LARP, Fan Convention and certain members of the Furry Fandom cosplay.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In episode 16 of Bodacious Space Pirates, pirate captain Marika has members of the Girl's Yacht Club help out on her ship, the Bentenmaru, while the regular crew is stuck in quarantine due to a virus they got in an earlier episode. When they raid a ship, the girls all show up in various cosplay costumes. Marika chuckles nervously throughout the entire "raid", but the guests on the ship don't seem to mind the costumes overall.
- The female protagonist in the manga, He~nshin!! - Sonata Birdie Rush, is forced by contract to wear cosplay outfits as a promotional gimmick while she's competing in golf tournaments.
- Cosplay Complex is all about this.
- As in the picture, Lucky Star has this at both a convention and the Haruhi Theme Cafe. How many can you recognize? Ed and Roy cosplayers show up at one point.
- Miyashita Masashi from Onii-chan to Issho occasionally cosplays as high school girls, and is in general a Wholesome Crossdresser. As a romance novelist, he does this in order to be more one with the female mind and thus use this as an incentive to write better stories.
- In Genshiken this is Ohno's hobby, while Tanaka's is costume designer for Cosplay. She often wears his creations for the club and to conventions. In Genshiken 2 they finally officially start dating, thus creating the dream Otaku couple.
- In Genesis of Aquarion there is an episode called "Cosplay for the Soul" where Fudou has all the Element Users dress and act as each other to great (and hilarious) effect.
- Persona 4: The Animation has Nanako doing a cosplay so convincing that she fools some kids into thinking she's the real Loveline (an in-universe, fictional, magical girl detective).
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, the School Festival arc includes a cosplay contest, and Chisame is a Cosplay Otaku Girl.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX had a school festival episode where everybody dressed as a Duel Monster. Judai was unable to decide which costume to wear and wore a hodgepodge of costumes (one monster's hat, another monster's gloves, boots, etc). Everyone made fun of him for it. The real Dark Magician Girl showed up, but almost everybody assumed she was just a hot stranger in costume.
- During the school festival episode of Yu Gi Oh Zexal, there was a period where everyone was in costume (of a Duel Monster, of course). For example, Rei was dressed as Dandylion.
- In Kaichou Wa Maid-sama!, Misaki works for a cosplay cafe that specializes in maid costumes. They also often hold events where they cosplay as other characters or concepts, including an in universe magical girl anime, power rangers, and a girls only butler day.
- Various Hentai are based on this and Cosplay Café. A subverted case is Bible Black hentai series, which High School female uniforms (as well girls from the series) are being cosplayed by a lot of girls in real life but without the H-factor (with some exceptions in private photosessions.)
- Spider Jerusalem at one point raids a religious convention while cosplaying as Jesus.
- Clark Kent and Lois Lane once attended a costume party dressed as Batman and Robin respectively.◊ Clark was in mortal fear that Bruce would find out.◊
Clark: If he finds out about this, he'll kill me.Lois: Oh don't be silly. He can't kill you, you're Superman.Clark: Oh he can kill me! If anyone can kill me, he can! And the man has absolutely no sense of humor!
- In one Angel: After The Fall arc ("Boys and Their Toys"), Angel and Spike go to a Fan Convention, Sci-Fi Fest San Diego, where people start turning into the characters they're cosplaying as. Funny that, since later on when people want him dead Faith suggests he claim someone was cosplaying as him.
- This was, in a sense, the origin of the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl. As a Batman fan she made up the costume for a ball. She wanted to win, so she also made up all the gadgets and weapons. Then she witnessed a villain committing a crime on her way to the ball, so she ended up fighting as a superhero for real, and liked it so much that she decided to pursue it seriously.
- In the 1970s Marvel Comics and DC Comics would engage in stealth crossovers by having contemporaneous stories taking place in Rutland Vermont, home of an annual superhero themed Halloween parade, where parade goers in the background would be seen dressed in costumes of characters from the other company.
- In one issue of Justice League of America,this is taken a step further by having costumed dummies in the parade animated and powered up by the villain of the story, so that there are scenes of Batman fighting a faux Spider-Man and the like.
- The "Five Bloody Fingers" arc of Crossed takes place in Japan and chronicles the efforts of a Japanese young man trying to contact his friends during the onset of the outbreak. The two females of the group were in a Comiket-esque convention and once the group reunites, they end up fighting a seemingly endless horde of crossed cosplayers.
- Judge Dredd:
- Cosplaying as the Judges for any reason is illegal because the uniform is restricted property — the Justice Department is more than aware of perps impersonating police officers for nefarious reasons.
- Cosplaying as any of the Dark Judges is legal, but not advised. Judge Death's soul is so evil that anyone wearing a facsimile of his uniform tends to become Ax-Crazy and starts killing cits.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, SOS Brigade and some guests (Nonoko, Kuyou, Sasaki, and Kyouko) make a Big Damn Cosplay parade of Touhou characters.
- In The Key to a Successful Interview, Girl Ranma dresses up in a Plugsuit, supposedly for plot reasons.
- Sassgardian in Superhero RPF is an avid cosplayer, which in his case means he is Loki and steals other supers' costumes for shits and giggles.
- In Discworld and The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, visiting Discworlders Ponder Stibbons and Johanna Smith-Rhodes are roped into a cosplay night at Stuart's Comic Book Store. Ponder Stibbons is prevailed upon to attend as Harry Potter. He is a sensation. note
- In Rainbow Dash and the Daring Do Double Dare, Rainbow Dash wears a Daring Do costume during her quest.
Live Action TV
- In one Freaks and Geeks episode, three of the guys dress up for a science fiction convention.
- In season five of Supernatural Sam and Dean meet people cosplaying as them.note They're understandably creeped out by it.
- And that's before they find out that the Sam and Dean cosplayers they interacted with throughout the episode are a couple.
- One person who desired too much to be like El Chapulín Colorado dressed like him.
- The guys on The Big Bang Theory like to dress up as superheroes.
- In one episode they all dress like The Flash for Penny's Halloween episode.
- They go as the Justice League team for the comic book store's New Year's Eve costume party, with Penny as Wonder Woman and Penny's then-boyfriend Zack as Superman.
- They win the costume contest because of the three JL teams, theirs was the only one to have a female Wonder Woman.
- The episode "The Barkersfield expedition" opens with Sheldon steaming his Data cosplay and Leonard having to borrow make up from his girlfriend for his. The A plot of the episode actually revolves around the guys getting stranded in the desert after pulling over on the way to ComicCon to do a full cosplay photo shoot. Leonard was dressed as Captain Picard, Raj as Worf and Howard as a Borg. They looked awesome.
- In one episode, the girls decide to go to Disney land and they buy Disney Princess line-up with costume, make-up, hairdo... The only problem was that they all wanted to be Cinderella. Bernadette claimed it was her idea and that she was a driver, so she won. Penny was Aurora and Amy Snow White. Howard and Leonard really fancied their girlfriends in their outfits.
- In the Charmed episode "All Halliwell's Eve" Phoebe cosplayed as Elvira and Piper cosplayed as Glinda. They didn't get to keep the costumes for long however as they were sent back in time to 18th century Virginia.
- Castle: Castle, his daughter Alexis and Beckett have histories as cosplayers. Castle has dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, Space Cowboy and a Steampunk soldier on the show. Alexis dressed as a scantily-clad alien assassin at a sci-fi convention (much to Castle's chagrin). Beckett once dressed as a character from a short-lived Star Trek Expy called "Nebula 9" and also dressed in that costume again for Castle (adding a rubber fright mask to freak him out). Also during their teens, both Castle and Beckett dressed as Gene Simmons for Halloween.
- Syfy's Reality Show Heroes of Cosplay obviously.
- Only Fools and Horses: As well as the famous "Batman and Robin" scene in "Heroes and Villains, outside the show there are a number of people who have acquired Robin Reliants and cosplayed Del Boy.
- In one of the few aversions of Changed My Jumper in Doctor Who, the Fourth Doctor decides to wear his Sherlock Holmes fancy dress costume while in Victorian London.
- Doctor Who: UNIT member Osgood cosplays as a different past version of the Doctor every time she appears.
- The Doctor has cosplayed as Sherlock Holmes on at least two occasions ("The Talons of Weng-Chiang" and "The Snowmen").
- The Doctor's companions often engage in a form of cosplay whenever they dress up in period-appropriate outfits during adventures. The Doctor usually averts the trope by steadfastly continuing to wear his usual outfit.
- Lindsey Stirling has done arrangements of themes from The Legend of Zelda and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the videos for them include her dressing as a variety of characters. She makes her own costumes.
- Pianist Sonya Belousova has done a series of YouTube videos called Cosplay: Piano where she plays popular movie and TV themes while dressed as a character from the franchise.
- Cosplay, a parody of "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.
- Japanese Visual Kei band Psycho le Cému uses cosplay as their main motif, having Shout-Outs for anime, video games, Super Sentai and fairy tales (from East and West) in their videoclips. Famous especially in US, where they were invited to various anime conventions between 2003 and 2004, and which most of PLC cosplayers are from US.
- NWA UK and New Japan wrestler Fergal Devitt is known for painting himself during entrances, which sometimes makes him appear like a popular character. His rival Low Ki once got in the act and stayed dressed as Agent 47 throughout their match.
- Whenever the WWE Divas have a costume contest, you can expect a few cosplays. Examples include:
- Trish Stratus as Wonder Woman◊.
- Mickie James as Lara Croft◊. And Elektra◊.
- Layla as Princess Leia◊.
- Candice Michelle as Marilyn Monroe◊.
- Jillian Hall as Batgirl◊.
- The Bella Twins as Batman & Robin and Mario & Luigi◊.
- Melina as Spiderwoman◊.
- AJ Lee as Ninja Turtle Raphael◊ and Mortal Kombat's Kitana◊.
- Michelle McCool as Lady Gaga◊.
- Trish Stratus and Mickie James's famous feud eventually had the two of them cosplaying as each other. It started with Mickie dressing as Trish for Halloween. After she won the title she began to appear as Trish with her music and wearing her gear. And then Trish did the reverse. Boy were people confused.
- Leva Bates's secondary gimmick, which also become Allison Danger and Mia Yim's secondary gimmick when they teamed with her as Regeneration X (usually as Time Lord and Companion and The Lucha Sisters (usually as Guardians of the Galaxy), respectively.
- Litchi Faye-Ling of BlazBlue has a cosplay fetish that comes out when she's had too much sake, and whatever cute girl in arm's reach is usually subjected to it. So far, Bullet, Noel and Tsubaki were victimized - Noel was coerced with playtime with Lao Jiu, while Tsubaki was a bit more cooperative... but just a bit. Bullet, however, was dragged into Litchi's clinic/cosplay parlor by Tsubaki herself. According to Arcade commentary, however, Makoto could be next...
- Litchi herself is a pretty popular subject to be cosplayed as in real life.
- Possible with the Mii Fighters in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/Nintendo 3DS. Previously, it was limited to just headgear, but DLC has started including entire outfits as well. Even already-represented characters like Link are available.
- Pokémon has serveral examples:
- Cosplay-Pikachu is a special variant of Pikachu in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Depending on it's costume, it gets special moves that no other Pikachu could learn.
- Its Pikachu Libre form is also featured in Pokémon Tekken, where it counts as its own fighter apart from regular Pikachu
- Several NPC-trainers in the game wear Pokémon-Cosplays, such as the Poké Kid (as Pikachu) or the Pokémaniac (as Charizard). In some games, Pokéfans are accompanied by their Children in Pikachu or Pichu costumes.
- Also, some important trainers in both games and anime, such as Gym Leaders, wear costumes that remind of their signature Pokémon.
- Cosplay-Pikachu is a special variant of Pikachu in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Depending on it's costume, it gets special moves that no other Pikachu could learn.
- Phantasy Star Online 2 does collaboration with various outside sources on a regular basis, which means loads of outfits from popular anime, manga, and even other video games. This is one of the few games where your party makeup can consist of Ragna the Bloodedge, a Sinner, a member of Fairy Tail, and a time-altering magical girl, among other things.
- Dead or Alive series have various unlocked/DLC costumes for characters, mostly the girls. Taken Up to Eleven in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, where you can buy costumes from diverse anime (like Attack on Titan) and video games (not just the ones from Tecmo.)
- In M.U.G.E.N, all characters can get palettes that resemble other characters not just made by their creators, users also can make palettes that "cosplay" some characters from every reference you can get with characters' colors.
- Super Gem Fighter has their Super-Deformed Capcom characters (mostly from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers) changing costumes during the combos they made to the opponent, various of them representing other Capcom characters. The most notable examples are Chun-li cosplaying Jill Valentine and Felicia converting into Mega Man.
- The Maid Of Fairewell Heights: Marshmallow changes into a new costume for every room she enters to clean. Although, she changes voluntarily in the first two rooms, she is changed by others in the later rooms. Some examples are the Maid costume for cleaning, the Great Detective costume for investigating, and a Cowgirl costume for a Western setting.
- In Cinema Bums, Mindy seems to have access to a range of costumes, which she'll put on at the drop of a hat, usually celebrating an upcoming release.
- Fans! naturally gets into this on occasion. Notably Will has been known to dress as a Klingon.
- One of the early Hijinks Ensue strips involves Josh's (real-life) cosplay as Kratos netting him Internet notoriety. His response is to create the most awesome costume ever created (this, sadly, did not also happen in real life).
- Andrew Hussie of Homestuck fame likes to appear in the comic cosplaying one of his characters, usually one who's important at the time. In the story there's:
- Ménage à 3 and its spinoff Sandra on the Rocks get into some cosplay-related complications during a crossover arc. First off, Sandra, the star of the latter comic, is called on to model as in-universe videogame character "Carmen Chamelia". Finding herself suddenly a geek idol, she uses Gary from the other comic as a consultant on geek culture, and he explains cosplay to her. Coincidentally, her nemesis-supervisor Tatiana chooses that evening to get Sandra into a white BDSM dominatrix costume — which Gary perceives as a perfect Emma Frost cosplay outfit.
- Played for laughs in "No Black Plume".
- Unintentionally Pretentious:
- The "Love your Comics" strip of Pocket Princesses features Anna dressed up as Black Widow, Ariel dressed up as Jean Grey, and Elsa dressed up as Captain Marvel while creating ice ramps like Iceman and shouting the Human Torch's Catch Phrase. Yeah, as Anna lampshaded, Elsa got things a little confused there.
- In El Goonish Shive, Greg has dabbled in crossplay.
Dex: And... haven't I seen you cosplaying as Chun-Li?
- In Rhapsodies Michelle drags the rest of the band to a science fiction convention dressed as the crew of the Bebop With her as Valentine, Paul as Spike, Shilo as Jet and Fedya as Vicious.
- The Closing Credits Sequence of Daria features the characters in various alternate costumes. Most of the time, the costumes are generic an inspecific, like a cheerleader or a business woman, but occasionally they make specific references like Brittany dressed as Edward Scissorhands.
- When the cast of Futurama goes to Comic Con 3010, they take part in the costume contest, with some of the contestants dressed as characters from the very show they're on. Lrr tries to invade Earth during the contest, but is dismissed as just another guy in a costume. The winner, by the way, is Bender, who dresses as "every nerd's fantasy", Leela.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Nerds of a Feather", the boys go to a convention where almost everyone is dressed up as characters from either "Space Adventure" or "Stumbleberry Finkbat". And Candace goes dressed as Ducky Momo.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, when the Gaang sees the "The Ember Island Players", Zuko gets told his costume needs work, and that his scar is on the wrong side. (The in-universe fictional version of him has a scar on the opposite side, a reference to some Season 1 promotional material that got the scar wrong)
- In The Legend of Korra in the final match of the pro-bending season you can see two groups of cosplayers in the stands; one dressed as the Wolf-Bats, one dressed as our heroes, the Fire Ferrets.
- On Mike, Lu & Og, Mike will sometimes dress as her favorite superhero Action Guy. Heck, one time she lipsynched an audio tape in the costume.
- When The Simpsons go to BiMonSciFiCon Bart learns that you get $3 off admission if you're dressed as a superhero, so he cobbles together a costume.
Cashier: Who are you supposed to be?Bart: gravelly voice I'm Bartman.Cashier: Never heard of him. Full price.
- The Venture Bros. - when The Monarch goes on a double date, in his Monarch outfit, his date asks if he's into cosplay - he angrily corrects her that it's 'cos-business'.
- In one episode of Family Guy, Peter and his friends dress up as the A-Team for some sort of convention. They win the costume contest (beating out another group dressed as the A-Team without an actual black guy to play Mr. T) and decide to become a real life A-Team.
- In some episodes of Kaeloo, most notably the episode "Let's Play Superpowers", Stumpy cosplays as his idol, comic book hero Mr. Coolskin.