"He was so crusted with alluvial deposits that one realized how little a mere bath would ever be able to effect. To fit him to take his place once more in polite society, he would certainly have to be sent to the cleaner's. Indeed, it was a moot point whether it wouldn't be simpler just to throw him away."Face it, we all take some stock in our appearance: at least, enough that we don't want to be all dirty, especially not in front of others. So what's a universal way for someone to be brought down a few notches? Well, by them being muddy, of course! Mud is a particularly dirty substance, hard to wash out. Occasionally they'll be pushed into mud by someone, or simply fall on their own, which either way is an embarrassing experience. Bonus humiliation points if it's right in their face, or if they fall into a patch of mud that had pigs wallowing in it - this implies that the character is even more lowly than a pig, and, of course, there's a chance they're going to stink afterward. It may be part of a Humiliation Conga. It can also have practical purposes for temporarily blinding an opponent in battle. Now, while getting muddy may not be the character's choice, there are times when they'll intentionally cover themselves in mud. It may have a practical purpose such as helping to camouflage them or keep off stinging insects. Or, perhaps, they may be getting extremely dirty in order to help someone else out, in which case they're seen as being more humble and selfless because they put themselves in that position. Sometimes, if the mud is from a character that spends a lot of time outside, such as gardening, it can imply that they're more of a down-to-earth person who spends more time actually doing things than worrying about their appearance. May be used as Body Paint. Sub-trope of Covered in Gunge - if it's anything other than mud, it goes there. Not to be confused with The Pig Pen, a character who could be covered in either mud or something equally dirty so often that it's a matter of routine (no special explanation needed for why he's so muddy today), and usually seems content with this situation. The Trope Namer for The Pig Pen was thoroughly covered in dirt, but even in his case at least it was only dry dirt rather than mud.
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Anime and Manga
- In Fruits Basket, Tohru's uniform is dirty from the mudslide that fell on her tent. Once she gets cleaned up, one of Yuki's fanclub, jealous that Tohru arrived at school with Yuki, says "That mud looked so good on you".
- As a combination of Butt Monkey and Ms. Fanservice, the title character in Maicchingu Machiko Sensei ends up covered in muck from time to time, usually while losing articles of clothing. This was double subverted in the episode in which she helps her students fight against bullies by knocking them in a big mud pit (all ends covered in the mud).
- In Violine, Violine is covered in mud after escaping via the airvents and being launched into a muddy pigpen.
- Manages to be a plot point in this My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fancomic where Shining Armor and Fleur de Lis bump into each other and tumble into a mud puddle then start arguing while completely covered in mud, disguising their identities. Shining's wife, Princess Cadance, who can spread love wherever she goes, causes them to fall in love before she realizes her husband was one of the two ponies and gets really angry.
- This was also a plot point in Why Am I Crying, where Apple Bloom looking at an old photo of her and Diamond Tiara happily playing in the pigpen at Sweet Apple Acres causes her to finally remember her long-buried memories of their friendship.
- After fighting many dirt and mud golems in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, Paul is covered head-to-toe in mud.
- Happens to Twilight in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan comic Twilight's First Day after begging the taxi ponies to take a shortcut through a field, with predictable consequences.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- A staple of many war films, particularly those depicting World War I. Used to show that a character has been in the trenches for a long time and been covered in grime from shelling.
- In the 1994 film version of The Little Rascals, at the end, Alfalfa decides to fight back against the bullies, and sends one of them flying into a pig pen. He threatens to punch the other one as well, who decides he'd rather leap facefirst into the mud instead of getting punched! Both of them get completely covered in mud.
- In Dragonheart, some of Kara's former neighbors throw mud and fruits/vegetables at her when she tries to convince them to rebel against the king. Bowen taunts her about the mud, and she responds by smearing a smashed watermelon in his face.
- In Dragonheart: A New Beginning, The Rival Roland trips and gets a face full of stable mud.
- In Cruel Intentions 2, Sebastian pushes Kathryn in a pool of mud as a declaration of war.
- Getting covered in mud is the standard method of avoiding thermal detection in Predator and its sequels.
- Behind Enemy Lines has this happen to the protagonist when he is forced to hide among the bodies in a mass grave.
- Tom and Huck: Tom (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Huck (Brad Renfro) get coated head to toe in brown mud to camouflage themselves in the woods.
- Late in the Made-for-TV Movie The Invisible Woman (nothing to do with the Fantastic Four character) the title character, played by Alexa Hamilton, gets doused with mud in a mud puddle, making her visible and showing that she's not really an Invisible Streaker. As Alexa herself said in a UPI story the week before the movie aired:
In one shot I had to fall into a mud puddle in the body stocking and hood. The mud congealed on the hood and I couldn't breathe. I had to rip the hood off before I passed out.
- S1m0ne - When Taransky tries to discredit Simone, he has her rolling in the mud with pigs, in the hopes that the audience would be completely disgusted. The ploy backfires because the film gets a standing ovation.
- Pivotal at the steeplechase at the end of the Marx Brothers A Day at the Races: Jockey Harpo on the good guy's horse and another guy on the bad guy's horse are neck and neck to win when they take a spill into a big mud hole. Hurrying back into the race, the other guy comes in first...but a quick wash-off reveals it's on the good guy's horse.
- In Snow White and the Huntsman, the titular huntsman spends most of the movie completely covered in dirt. He's even dunked in a watering trough at one point, but it doesn't improve matters much.
- The most moving scene in the Israeli war movie Kippur (2000) involves the protagonists who are army medics, trying to evacuate a stretcher-born casualty through the mud, but they keep slipping and falling over.
- One of several indignities that befall Leslie Bibb's character in See Spot Run.
- During The Matrix Revolutions final fight between Neo and Smith. Smith slams Neo into the ground making a nice mud and water-filled crater, by the end of the scene both are nearly completely covered in mud because of their continued fight.
- Possibly the earliest movie example is the 1913 short A Muddy Romance, in which the villain drains Echo Lake while the rest of the cast are on it in boats. They then have to be dragged to safety across the muddy lakebed. The whole film is also an example of Throw It In: Mack Sennett, hearing that Echo Lake was being drained, sent his actors, writers and cameramen to film it, and came up with the storyline en route.
- Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter series is described as having lots of earth on her clothes and fingernails that would make prim and proper Aunt Petunia faint.
- In The Hunger Games, Peeta uses a large amount of mud with plants on top to disguise himself as part of a riverbank when he is too injured to move.
- In the Warrior Cats series, the Tribe rolls in mud to cover their fur in order to disguise their scent and blend into the rock better so that prey doesn't spot them so easily. The visiting Clan cats try this, and aren't too thrilled at the idea, but it works.
- In one Animorphs book, Cassie jokes about how Rachel never seems to get dirty - that any mud just seems to be deflected away. She throws a ball of mud at Rachel, who knocks it away without it splattering all over her. Cassie comments that Rachel's hand probably isn't even muddy, but Rachel refuses to show her.
- In The Curse of the Pharaohs, the second Amelia Peabody novel, Amelia's son Ramses interrupts a tea party after having gone digging in the compost heap and getting covered in mud (among other things). Ramses is described as not so much leaving muddy footprints as having a stream of filth trailing behind him.
- In Eldest, Eragon has a seizure caused by a cursed injury to his back. He's feeling terrible already because of the seizure and because it was in front of his teacher, but then he becomes especially embarrassed when he realizes that rolling around on the ground caused him to get his clothes (which were new and a gift from the elves) covered in dirt/mud.
- Winnie-the-Pooh covers himself with mud to disguise himself as a rain cloud to fool the bees while he gets their honey. The bees aren't fooled.
- In Cold Days, Harry Dresden's friends have to pass through a magical barrier, and end up covering themselves in mud to do it.
- In Furies of Calderon, Tavi is caught out in a furystorm and has to flee from windmanes (extremely dangerous furies of the air). He ends up rolling in the mud, which, as earth cancels out air, prevents them from sensing him.
- As quoted above, in the P. G. Wodehouse short story "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy", the eponymous Upper-Class Twit gets involved in the annual rugby grudge-match between two small villages. Narrator/observer Bertie Wooster comments that he's seen drier swamps than the "field" where the match takes place.
- In Richmal Crompton's short story "William the Invisible", the titular William crawls along a muddy ditch after playing a trick on some children who he has convinced that he is invisible; while escaping across the neighbours' gardens, covered head to foot in mud, he manages to create an "escaped gorilla" scare. (IT'S COMPLICATED!)
Live Action Television
- In Wipeout, sometimes there'll be mud instead of water under the obstacles for the contestants to land in. So not only do they suffer an embarrassing fall, but they also have to be coated in mud.
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
- Iolaus is on the run from somebody and their mooks, so he hides himself by covering himself in mud and lying in a mud puddle. He stays covered in mud for a few scenes afterwards.
- Iolaus (Michael Hurst) and Autolycus (Bruce Campbell) are handcuffed to each other and fight until they fall down a hill into a pool of wet mud. They spend the next few scenes completely covered in the mud.
- In the episode "War Bride", Iolaus (Michael Hurst) and Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) spend time at a spa where they indulge in a slimy mud bath until they are completely covered in the gray mud.
- Lois and Clark: in the Pilot Movie, Lois and Jimmy are captured by Lex Luthor's The Dragon; Clark goes in to rescue her (as Clark, not as Superman). There's a bomb in the building and as it goes off Clark flies Lois & Jimmy a little bit, as if they're being pushed by the blast and they land in a pile of mud just far enough away that they're all safe.
- In the M*A*S*H episode which introduces new doctor BJ Hunnicutt, before he even gets to the unit he, Hawkeye and Radar get caught in a bombing raid by the North Koreans along with some GIs. As he runs from one wounded soldier to another he slips and falls into some mud, ruining his dress uniform.
- Step by Step: In the episode "The Wall", Frank (Patrick Duffy) goes to a beauty spa and sits in a bath tub. Suddenly slimy brown mud begins to fill the tub and Frank frantically tries to stop it but only gets coated entirely in the mud.
- Zoboomafoo: In several episodes of this children's show, Martin and Chris Kratt swing on vines and fly face-first into the mud puddle at Animal Junction.
- Even Stevens: In the episode "Boy on a Rock", Louis (Shia La Beouf) trips on a tree trunk and flies face-first into a mud puddle in the forest. He spends the rest of the episode caked in mud and attacked by girl scouts screaming "Mud Monster!"
- Malcolm in the Middle: At the end of the episode "Victor's Other Family" , The oldest brother Reese (Justin Berfield) runs on the porch completely covered in brown mud.
- In episode 3 of The Borgias, assassin Michelotto goes to a sauna and has himself covered in mud as a disguise.
- In the Pilot of Supernatural Dean and Sam are standing on a bridge, and Dean's car turns on. Dean is holding the keys. The Lady in White guns the car at Dean and Sam. They jump off the bridge. Sam manages to catch hold of the bridge, Dean falls into the mud below. They are sitting on the Impala and Sam tells Dean he smells like a sewer.
- Mike, in "The Ditch", during the fourth season of The Middle, after trying Axl's plan to get the car and boat unstuck.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation. Happens to the normally staid and uptight Captain Picard after he gets into a fight with his brother; the fight ends with Picard sitting in the mud laughing, then a Mood Whiplash to him shedding Manly Tears, talking of the humiliation and helplessness he felt after being assimilated by the Borg. The scene leads to Picard reconciling with his brother, but also to them getting chewed out by his brother's wife for bringing Footprints of Muck into her house.
- The song "Yukon" by the band Lindemann is about a personification of the Yukon River who is said to be dressed in mud.
- In World of Warcraft, rogues have the ability "blind" which pretty much consists of throwing dirt in one's face (previous versions had them carry special "blinding powder", which became Vendor Trash after the need for it was removed).
- Lampshaded in blinding powder's new item description:
Once favored by rogues as a blinding agent, it was abandoned for more readily available resources... like dirt.
- Lampshaded in blinding powder's new item description:
- Monster Hunter Tri introduces the Barroth, the love child of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Bulldozer that is often covered in mud. It has a habit of shaking said mud off, and any hunters unfortunate enough to get hit by the flying globs are covered in quickly-hardening mud that makes it impossible to attack (and open to getting plowed under by the Barroth!)
- A few Pokémon attacks do this to the opponent, all but one of them being Ground-type attacks. As well as inflicting damage, Mud Bomb, Mud Slap and Muddy Water (the one non-Ground attack) reduce accuracy while Mud Shot reduces speed. Mud Sport does this to everyone, giving everything in battle additional resistance to Electric attacks. Granted, it's somewhat less useful when you realize most of the Pokémon that learn it are immune to Electric attacks already, but it can be helpful for protecting teammates in double or triple battles.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rarity, who can't stand the thought of dirt or behaving in an "uncouth" way, refuses to participate in the Sisterhooves Social with her little sister. She eventually realizes how much it means to her sister, who in the meantime has decided to run the race with Applejack, so during one stretch of the race, Applejack falls in mud. Rarity comes out of the mud in Applejack's place, and runs the rest of the race with Sweetie Belle, who only sees a mud-caked pony and doesn't realize until the end that it's Rarity.
- Played with in an early episode: Applejack can't understand why Rarity hates being muddy but enjoys Cucumber Facials. When circumstances conspire to cover Rarity in mud, Applejack quickly applies some sliced cucumber to make her feel better.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Katara and Toph take full body mud baths in their spa day in "Tales of Ba Sing Se". Toph uses earthbending to traumatize the spa employee during her Cucumber Facial.
- "The Runaway" Katara and Toph get into an argument that turns into something of a mudwrestling match because of their water and earthbending abilities respectively.
- Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends: In the Whole Episode Flashback detailing Firestar's origin, Firestar takes the Alpha Bitch and drops her in a mud puddle, whereupon she throws a splashy tantrum.
- Jem: The Misfits near the end of "Hot Time In Hawaii". Later shown in the video "The Last Laugh", a mini Clip Show video shown in the episode "Video Wars".
- Phineas and Ferb:
- "That Sinking Feeling" Baljeet and the girl from his past, in a flashback, before she "turned into a girl". They were playing and covering each other in mud.
- "Run Candace Run" has Candace and Jeremy both covered head to toe in mud after her borrowing the boys' speed shoes helps them win a wheelbarrow race.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): He-Man frequently threw his opponents into conveniently-placed mudholes or bodies of water. A soft landing, to be sure, but not very dignified. Sister superhero She-Ra did it too.
- The Super Hero Squad Show: Abomination, in response to being compared unfavorably to a dog, digs a huge pile of dirt and covers Reptil, Wolverine, and Thor in dirt to the point only their eyes are showing.
- The Simpsons, in a Treehouse of Horror episode parodying Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds broadcast: Springfield is terrified of being invaded by Martians. Sideshow Mel tells everyone to take off their clothes and wallow in the mud. That way the Martians will leave them alone, not realizing that they're people.
- In an early episode where the family went camping, Homer and Bart get lost, Homer ends up covered in mud, unintelligible and raging from bee stings, and gets mistaken for Bigfoot.
- The What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode "Reef Grief!" where Scooby and Shaggy compete in a sand castle tournament. Spencer Johnson covers his hypnotized competitors with mud so they can build his underground freeway.
- Baby Butter on PB&J Otter loves to do this and when the Otters' Aunt Nanner sends them a mystery box as a gift that they must wait to open until she arrives, Butter imagines that the box contains mud.
- The Mike, Lu & Og episode "For the Love of Mike" had Mike getting the unwanted attention of Haggis and Baggis after getting covered in mud. The same thing happens to Lu at the end.
- As many parents of young children and owners of dogs, especially puppies, can testify, this happens quite often.
- Advice given in wilderness first aid courses: if you become lost in the forest without supplies, the best thing you can do is cover yourself in mud. The mud will protect your skin from stinging insects, poisonous plants, and UV radiation, plus when it dries the caked on dirt is good insulation to keep you warmer once it gets dark.
- Welcome to Mudathlon! You'll have a mucking good time!
- Elephants, rhinos and other large mammals (usually pachyderm types) regularly roll in mud to protect their skin from sun and insects. Pigs will roll in it, but aren't as filthy as people always think they are. Pigs lack sebaceous glands, and thus the mud serves the same purpose as sweat—as the water evaporates, it carries the heat away with it. The dirt merely serves as an adhesive to hold the water to their skin.