A (usually) male character incapacitates a (usually) female opponent by stealing or damaging her clothes in a way that threatens to expose her if she continues the fight. Somewhat related to Standard Female Grab Area in that both actions can incapacitate an allegedly strong female character who doesn't act (or refuses to be) soft and submissive.
Another version of this trope exists in which the enemy (or hero) launches an attack on or threatens to expose the hero (or enemy) while the latter character is either bathing or showering. Normally, this gets subverted and slides right into playing the Full-Frontal Assault trope straight, but not always.
Often subverted (especially if the female is the good guy) by having her beat the crap outta him anyway, waiting until after he's a bloody pulp to realize she needs to cover herself back up.
Can also happen to a guy, as not that many guys in fiction feel it's right to show their little selves in public.
The polar opposite would be, of course, a woman using her own body (usually with a Stripperific outfit) as a distraction to beat a guy to a pulp.
Be careful though. Defeat Means Friendship can still apply here as well, even if the circumstances seem odd. If the girl doesn't care about being disrobed and rushes you anyway, it's a Full-Frontal Assault. If baring all is done in order to escape rather than to keep fighting, it's Giving Them the Strip. Often employed by those who Wouldn't Hit a Girl.
Compare Break Them by Talking (in which a character uses emotional shame to defeat an enemy), Shameful Strip (in which a character ends up naked as punishment or humiliation), Wardrobe Malfunction (in which a character accidentally ends up naked), and Naked Freak-Out (Exactly What It Says on the Tin; this trope is often used hand-in-hand with Defeat By Modesty — unless a writer plays the "Let's subvert the Defeat By Modesty trope by using the Full-Frontal Assault trope" card).
Contrast Sexy Coat Flashing (in which a [usually female] character clad in an overcoat — or some kind of coat — willingly flashes someone).
Be wary of Unfortunate Implications with this trope, especially if disrobing them is intentional, or Played for Laughs.
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Anime & Manga
In Outlaw Star, Gene defeats Suzuka by stealing her obi (belt), leaving her unable to attack him without her kimono falling open. The superior position and the hostage is then used for negotiation, to great effect.
Jack Rakan defeats two female mages by stealing their panties, then flipping their skirts whenever they tried to attack or cast a spell.
He begins a repeat performance when he's taking on all of Fate's Minstra Magi at once and it works for awhile before they start taking on different physical forms that render the fact they're going commando a moot point. Made even funnier when you remember Fate, the one they revere so much, is actually watching this fight and even goes so far as to basically ask them what the hell are they doing.
Inverted by Takane D. Goodman who upon defeat is stripped due to her clothes being produced by magic. Actually, this is a running gag, as Takane tries to get revenge on Negi stripping her with magic by picking multiple fights with him, where every one ends with her once again naked. At one point, she uses her shadow magic to magically generate her clothes. Naturally, Negi KO'ed her and the clothes disappeared as she loses consciousness. Then after that she ends up fighting Asuna. Then, trying to defend the campus against the robot hordes, she gets hit with their "nakey beams" at that point again. Her friend tells her to just give up, and resign herself to a fate of Innocent Fanservice Girl.
Later in the manga, Takane challenges Negi to a fight, in which if she wins he has to date her. At that point, Negi is so strong that got her KO'd without too much effort. After that, Takane angrily asks why he hasn't got her naked, taking it as a sign of pity due to her lower magic level.
Tsukuyomi does this to Setsuna. The fact that it partially works makes Setsuna angry with herself, given that in earlier battles she had fought a previous opponent (Negi) while completely naked without being affected at all. She takes it as a sign that she's getting rusty.
Fate accidentally did this to Asuna; he was attempting to petrify her, but her Anti-Magic made her immune. Her clothes, however...
Negi does this to the group of Ariadne guards when they attempt to arrest him, by combining a disarming spell with his Black Magic. In his defense, it was really the only way of ending the fight without hurting anyone.
And it was also recently done to Asuna (again) with a mild subversion; this time she shouts "Oh, like I care anymore!" and continues to attack anyway.
Near the end of the series, Paio II defeats Yue Ayase by using her super speed to strip her completely naked. Paio II comments that Jack Rakan taught her that tactic, and that Yue should try to overcome her modesty to become a better fighter.
The start of Urusei Yatsura; Ataru catches Lum by stealing her Fur Bikini, so she has to cover her breasts with her hands and can't fly as fast. He does it to get her to come to him, rather than him having to chase her around. In the anime, he uses a suction cup on a string, while in the movie Beautiful Dreamer he takes it up a notch and just reaches into his pants and pulls it out, saying, "Hey! Look what I got!"
Flat-out averted in Rave Master. Action Girl Julia faces off with an especially perverted member of the Six Guard who enjoys using his powers to blow apart her clothing. Julia refuses to submit, and even rips off the remains of her own bra to prove the point that modesty will not defeat her. She eventually beats him down with no regard to her nudity, and in fact fully intends to tell her lover Let about all the onlookers who saw her to see what'll happen.
In Toradora!, Taiga get the edge on the much better swimmer Ami in a pool race by claiming she's showing down below, knocking her into the pool with a bunch of flotation devices, and then stealing her bikini top while she's still disoriented.
Also subverted by one of the combatants, Dou Koukyouku from the Nanken team, whose shirt is torn to shreds by Rachel, leaving her absolutely topless. Her response is to shout at her, "Hmph! I gave up my identity as a woman long ago!" and holds her stance. Doubly subverted by the fact that Dou still gets her ass handed to her by Rachel, who's pissed by the fact that Dou was getting more attention than her. And then to top it all off, RACHEL'S top then comes undone, which other characters note she did herself.
20th Century Boys. Interestingly justified: it's the reason sumo wrestlers wear loincloths. Manbo/Yanbo convince their opponent that "clothing holds" are unfair and try to make the one kid willing to stand up to them, a girl, take off her shirt.
Done in Lee Kang Woo's Korean manhwa Rebirth, to prove a point. Shy priestess Millenear is sparring with vampire anti-hero love interest Deshwitat to prove to him that she is strong enough to help him save the world. Desh tears her clothes apart, making her drop to her knees to cover herself and yell at him for being a brute — whereupon he calmly puts his hand to her throat and tells her "you're dead".
Subverted in Dragon Half, where breaking Mink's platemail bikini top turns out to be a big mistake for Doug/Dug Fin, when she immediately punches him out of the ring while covering herself with one arm. In the OVA it's played with further, when Mink gets a little overexcited at the sight of her friends cheering at the victory, causing her to throw her arms into the air and show her assets to the crowd.
The bad guys try to use this on Loretta in Wild Arms TV, but they get distracted long enough for her to cast "Corset", which shreds their clothes into strips.
In the Violinist of Hameln manga, Vocal rips off Ocarina's bra when she is about to unload her most powerful attack on him, making her stop in the mid-move to cover herself. Considering that Vocal was lightyears beyond Ocarina's power level anyway, this was done purely for lulz.
Of all the people to fall to this in One Piece, it's Sanji. He challenges the "Substitute Queen" (or Regent if you like) of Kamabaka Kingdom to a duel, receiving passage off the island if he wins. He's forced to wear the island's traditional battle outfit (a dress), and gets embarrassed when he realizes the "queen" is peeping at his underwear while the dress flares up as he kicks.
In Grenadier, Rushuna is prevented from doing her trademark evasive acrobatics after a stray bullet rips her panties off. She still wins, though. In the manga she doesn't even mind, which leads to Censor Shadow later in the fight.
Inverted in Ultimate Girls. The girls' clothing begins a disintegrating process from the moment they enter battle, and their shame and embarrassment at their pending nudity actually enhances their powers.
In her ploy to get the inheritance stone of the Sanzenin in Hayate the Combat Butler, Sonia begins to strip. When Hayate reveals that that ploy won't work on him, she threatens to call for his female companion and claim that he had tried to rape her. She does get the stone with that, but he returns later to get it back, with Nishizawa in tow, so that she can't try that tactic again.
In the Masaomi Kanzaki Street Fighter II manga, Chun Li is in danger of losing her match with Vega note a.k.a. "Balrog", a.k.a. "Claw" because the Spanish ninja exposed her right breast, forcing her to fight one-handed. The story treats this as a turning point for her; at the brink of defeat, she stops trying to cover herself and creates her Kikouken Ki Attack in time to claim victory.
The girls of Ikki Tousen usually avert this trope. Hakufu, one of the protagonists, will be mostly or entirely topless in her average fight against a challenging opponent. There are examples of those who play the trope straight as well.
In Code Geass, Lelouch is able to win an argument against Kallen by pointing out the fact she is only wearing a Bunny suit (the Playboy version, we mean). You may think the Ms. Fanservice who performed a Full-Frontal Assault on Suzaku would be immune to that, but apparently it's different when Lelouch is the one looking.
In Return Of The Magician, Lupin steals the outfits from three women at once. Without anyone seeing him. Not to defeat them in combat, however. He's just announcing his presence to the party. Hundreds of Lupin calling cards are left flying around.
Used in hilariously exaggerated fashion by Issei Hyodou in High School D×D, where he invents a special move called "Dress Break" that is designed and intended to cause this effect.
In Dog Days, since you can't kill your opponents during the war games, destroying their clothes to force them to surrender is a valid tactic. Notably, when Nanami gets stripped to her underwear by an attack, she keeps fighting, saying she doesn't mind being seen in her underwear. A second attack destroys her underwear, causing her to finally freak out and cover herself.
In the DC comic, The Fury of Firestorm, this is how title character defeats the female terrorist, Plastique, who has started the detonation function for the bombs on her costume which she intends to use to either kill her hostages or make herself a martyr for her cause. Firestorm thwarts both aims with one movement when he turns her costume to vapor. The bombs instantly drop off her, allowing Firestorm to collect them so that they can be disposed of elsewhere, while she is reduced to a naked laughing stock.
Back when Genosha was a country where mutants were enslaved, the New Mutants were teleported there by a character whose powers didn't affect clothing, then had their powers neutralized. Most of them were a little embarrassed, but Wolfsbane (a devout Presbyterian) was paralyzed with shame.
The Metal Men defeated Giganta by (accidentally) ripping her clothes off, and agreeing to act as a makeshift bikini in exchange for her turning herself in.
Tigra pulled this on Moonstone/"Ms. Marvel" by slashing the front of her costume, therefore leaving her, ahem, open for a crowd of paparazzi photographers.
Films — Animation
The Animatrix episode "The Final Flight of the Osiris" opens with a fight where this is threatening to happen, with two combatants gradually cutting off more and more of their opponents' clothes... Of course, that wasn't "combat" so much as "foreplay"....
Disney's short The Prince and the Pauper, starring Mickey Mouse, had the titular hero defeat Pete, simply by slicing at Pete's pants so they fell down, revealing a pair of very frilly heart-print bloomers. Cue howls of laughter from everyone present, instant loss of respect and abject humiliation.
In the kids' film Magic Island, the Action Girl slices a pirate's belt. While he's trying to pull up his pants (and giving the audience a good look at his silly boxers), she says "Don't be droppin' yer drawers in the presence of a lady!" and quite literally kicks his ass.
Inversion in RoboCop (1987): When Murphy's partner Anne Lewis gets the drop on one of Boddicker's thugs, he's in the middle of relieving himself. He asks for a few seconds to keep his modesty back in his pants — and then gets the advantage when this distracts the officer.
Happens to Alanna in the Song of the Lioness quartet. Double points because she is a Sweet Polly Oliver and her companion has no idea that she's a girl. She manages to beat the crap out of the Ysandir anyway (though covering up with Jon's tunic first, of course).
Happens again in her duel with Duke Roger: he gets in a slash that cuts open her tunic and incidentally slices through the thing she was wearing to bind her chest. Extra points 'cause he had no idea that would happen.
And for the hat trick, Daine in The Immortals fights her final battle with the big bad naked of both magic (because of exhaustion) and clothes (because there's no Magic Pants aspect to her shapeshifting ability) — naked except for the badger god's claw, which she wears as a pendant, and turns out to make a handy knife.
Speaking of Tamora Pierce, Sandry manages this in Will of the Empress for a non-violent victory over her would-be kidnappers: A stitch witch, she unstitches their armor, weaponry, and much of their clothing.
During the final immunity challenge of the fourth season, Kathy lost her balance while attempting to stop a breast from slipping out of her shirt.
Sandy was able to neutralize Erinn in a challenge in Tocantins by pulling Erinn's bikini top strap backwards.
In the Heroes vs. Villains season, villain Sandra tried to do this to hero Sugar by pulling her top off during a challenge. Sugar, not the least fazed, won the round and flipped Sandra off with both hands.
Averted by Jon on Season 4 of The Amazing Race, when he did the final Roadblock naked.
Subverted in an episode of Jack-of-All-Trades; Jack tries this on Emilia, draining the tub to get her to confess where she's hidden an idol they're competing over. She tells him it's under her bed...which is actually where she left a bunch of mouse-traps, and she was actually bathing with the idol.
Subverted in Firefly; Mal initially acts awkwardly indignant at being forced to strip and left in the desert, but when the plan comes to fruition, he swaggers around with self-satisfied confidence before his crew, in no hurry to dress.
Sherlock (in Buckingham Palace, wearing only a sheet) refuses to take a case and starts striding out of the room. Mycroft Holmes steps on his sheet.
Sherlock: Get off my sheet. Mycroft: Or what? Sherlock: Or I'll just walk away. Mycroft: I'll let you.
Played with in "A Scandal in Belgravia", where Irene Adler strips nude to cancel out Sherlock deduction powers, a sort of mental Full-Frontal Assault.
In Chinese Paladin, Xiaoyao wins his first fight against Yue'Ru by (accidentally) groping her. She's startled into dropping her guard; but when he turns his back, retaliates by running him through. (He gets better).
Star Trek: The Next Generation as a more literal version. Data is captured by a collector. He wants data to stop wearing his uniform and parade around in some other garment, but Data refuses. So the collector splashes Data with a fast-acting acid that won't harm his "skin", but will dissolve his clothes. And Data's modesty subroutines won't allow him to go around naked, so he's forced to wear what the collector provided.
His modesty subroutines are an example as well, as his 'mother' explained: when first constructed, he viewed clothing as a nuisance since he didn't need it for protection from the environment and, lacking modesty, he wasn't concerned about taboos that would prohibit a fully-equipped android from roaming around in the buff. The subroutines were installed to win the argument and make him get dressed.
Averted in the sea song William Taylor. The female protagonist (not the title character), joins a ship as a Sweet Polly Oliver looking for her fiancé. During a battle, her buttons are cut off, revealing her assets. It doesn't stop her fighting, but after the battle the captain throws her out.
This is the entire purpose of Bra and Panties (and tuxedo) matches. The winner is the first to strip her/his opponent to her/his underwear. A slight variation in that the entire match is designed around this rather than the stripping being a way out.
Given how taboo it is for masked Mexican wrestlers to lose their masks, this trope can actually be used in wrestling without any nudity; in the case of Chris Jericho vs Rey Mysterio Jr at Extreme Rules 2009, Jericho stole a win by removing Mysterio's mask and quickly pinning him while he was desperately covering his face.
Some wrestlers will pull down the other's pants to distract them.
In a rare male example, one section of Final Fantasy VI requires you to steal the uniforms from guards and merchants while trying to sneak into a town occupied by The Empire. Right off their backs, leaving them only in their underwear, causing them to flee from battle.
Kirby: In a very rare non-sexual example, Meta Knight will flee any fight in which his intimidating mask is destroyed or otherwise removed. Why? Presumably because he doesn't want the world to know he looks like a blue Kirby with a cape.
In the PC fighting game Bikini Karate Babes, Venus, one of the boss characters, has a grab move that swipes the bikini top off certain fighters. This sends the opponent running off-screen while covering her breasts in embarrassment, thus ending the round.
Burt the Bashful, the first boss in Yoshi's Island falls prey to this trope. His pants descend slightly each time he's hit until he's left naked; as a result, he grows red with embarrassment, bounces around the arena, and explodes.
The Burt Bros. in Yoshi's Island DS are defeated in the same way.
The female wrestling game Rumble Roses actually has a Humiliation bar. When your enemy's h-bar is full, you can do an h-move, which is a very powerful submission. If you win, it is an H-KO. (Which isn't any different from a normal win, unless you set "H-KO only" from the options.) While there isn't any stripping, most of the H-moves and the moves use to fill the bar in the first place, would turn most people red. (However, some moves would make you scratch your head trying to find the humiliation in them.)
Almost everyone who's played Punch-Out!! knows how to defeat King Hippo; hit him in his big mouth to get him to drop his pants, then pummel his fat belly. This strategy has been kept untouched in the new Wii game though in the rematch, he's taped a manhole cover to his stomach, which you need to punch off first.
Elite Beat Agents in the "La La" stage the character you're trying to help, Cap White, gets nearly all of her(already quite revealing) dress torn off by her rival Mr. Virus
In Link: Faces of Evil, one of the major enemies is Militron, who for all intents and purposes looks like a big honking suit of armor. After beating him, his armor blows up, revealing a frail little man in his boxers. "Oh my goodness, this is awful!!"
In Revenge of Shinobi among your enemies are women whose dresses are shredded when hit by enough shuriken, leaving them sitting on the ground holding up what remains of their clothes rather than dying.
When a knight performs a checkmate in Battle Chess, the unfortunate king is stripped of his robes from a couple of well-aimed sword strikes, covering himself in shame while the knight just laughs.
Two male (and one female) examples are found in Rampage. If any of the three giant monsters runs out of life points, they revert to human form, cover themselves in shame and slowly walk away.
H-Game Lightning Warrior Raidy has this whenever you completely drain out an enemy's HP.
During the good ending of The Neverhood, Klaymen distracts Klogg by pulling his skirt down.
In Time Gal, one death scene involves a dinosaur ripping off Time Gal's shorts, causing her to quickly cover herself by entering the fetal position.
Inverted in Fate/EXTRA when Gilgamesh fights Elizabeth. He uses an "ability" that instantly strips himself nude aside from his jewelry and a glowing censor light. His nude form leaves Elizabeth babbling and unable to fight, and when Gilgamesh strikes a pose she's outright defeated by him.
Inverted at the end of the ''Cheat Commandos Adventures'' episode played right before the music video "An Important Rap Song" by Crack Stuntman where the Blue Laser Commander's evil plan for that episode for some reason involved him taking off his pants in public. He is foiled by the Cheat Commandos who force him to put his pants back on while in the middle of his evil plan.
Blue Laser Commander: How could you ever possibly refer these to as pants?
Magellan has a character with the ability to turn himself but not his clothes into gas, rendering him unable to affect anything until he reforms... which he refuses to do without his clothes, so throwing them away during a fight is a smart move.
In the middle of a trial by combat with a female vampire in Sorcery 101, Seth slides his hand under her skirt and gropes her. She's so furious that she immediately summons a black fireball and slams him out of the ring, seemingly leaving her the victor. Unfortunately, someone was too upset to remember magic was prohibited.
Inverted in supplemental material for TwoKinds. The Eastern General (who is from a puritanical country) is almost, but not quite, defeated when one of the two heroines realizes he reacted poorly to the other's bare feet — so she ripped the other one's entire outfit off. (Luckily, she's an Innocent Fanservice Girl.)
A justified example is given in an early chapter of Flipside. Maytag's confidence is tied to her jester outfit, so having it destroyed by Voulger's sword leaves her unable to fight back.
Subverted later. When her jester outfit is purposely destroyed just as she is stepping on a stage, she coolly wraps around a curtain and explains to everyone how her double personality (and differences between them) are fully under her control and is kept because she likes it this way.
Subverted in Chaos Fighters II-Cyberion Strike. Etliz was suffering from clothing damage when Etlisk used a pyro attack on her, but the final blow that defeated her is a hydro attack on her which put out the flames just in time.
An odd variant occurs in Total Drama Island. Heather essentially does this herself while attempting to sabotage Harold's water-skiing. A low hanging branch rips off her bikini top forcing her to abandon her sabotage in order to preserve her modesty. However, Harold is sufficiently distracted by his brief glimpse of Heather's boobs to wipe himself out of the competition.
Usually, this trope is subverted on Samurai Jack, as Jack just keeps fighting even after he's been stripped of his ghi and is clad in only his fundoshi (which, to the delight of fangirls everywhere, has happened). However, the episode "Jack's Sandals" had this trope played straight (even though no Clothing Damage was involved). Jack has to find a replacement for his geta sandals that were broken by some motorcycle robots. He at one point tries out a pair of Combat Stilettos with spikes for a heels. With these spike heels, he performs such feats as running up walls and slicing a parking meter into pieces. Indeed, they seem even better than his geta sandals! He leaps in to confront the motorcycle robots — and immediately starts receiving catcalls from the robots and bystanders. Jack slinks off to try a new pair of shoes.
In an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender , Aang's dreams anticipating his fight with the Fire Lord involve him being defeated by the Fire Lord pointing out that he's not wearing pants, at which point he gets too embarrassed to fight and flees. Until he finally turns the tables:
Aang: No, Firelord Ozai, you're not wearing pants! Ozai: Oh no! My royal parts are showing!
Male (mostly) example: in Kung Fu Panda : The Secrets of Furious Five, we learn that the Monkey's preferred tactic was to take the opponents' pants. "But master Oogway didn't need pants..."
A rather.. .uncommon example can be seen in Turtles Forever, where during a fight with assorted mutant beasties (including mutant bowling balls, leprechauns, and slices of pizza), 1988 Michelangelo defeats a mutant banana by... um... peeling it.
Kim Possible: Averted, at least in one case. Ron Stoppable suffered this constantly. It happened so often that it stopped bothering him. Although, the only time he will take the time to pull his pants up is when he has been completely denuded (except for his boxers), and there's a break in the action, or his pants get wrapped around his ankles, which would be an actual hindrance.
In the "Hooky" episode, SpongeBob is finally convinced to not play with hooks anymore after he gets one stuck in his pants, at which time he has to take them off. Then he has to take his underwear off, which he almost doesn't do, but then they're just ripped off anyway.
This seems to also be SpongeBob's Laser-Guided Karma in the episode "Ripped Pants" if not just a final joke. After a whole episode of making silly "ripped pants" jokes and annoying everyone, and making them think he drowned, he rips his underwear and it falls off.
In addition, there are a couple of video games based on the franchise in which underwear is the representative of SpongeBob's health. There's even one where you see them come off and he covers himself.
In an episode of Dudley Do-Right, Snidely Whiplash stole Do-Right's clothes while he was bathing in a stream, leaving Do-Right too humiliated to go back to the camp, not because he was naked, but because he was out of uniform, something he considered the most shameful thing of all. Still, Do-Right got even with the villain at the end; he stole Whiplash's clothes.
In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: B.U.T.T.", the Delightful Children try to us that tactic to get Nigel to surrender himself, having a robot crab steal his swim trunks and take a picture of his exposed butt. Ironically, the rest of Sector V in the same episode defeated the Delightfuls by ripping their pants and skirts off them.
The Simpsons: In "The Falcon and the D'ohman", Wayne has a flasback where he is training against a huge range of opponents. One of them is a 19th century muscle man whom he defeats by ripping off his Old-Timey Bathing Suit.
In water polo, grabbing at an opponent's bathing suit is against the rules. The tighter the suit, the easier it is for the referees to see when it happens, so most teams and players use extremely tight suits, which are easily damaged, even by legal play. In international competition, this gives an advantage teams from cultures with more relaxed attitudes towards nudity. Americans typically respond to suit damage by immediately covering themselves, becoming useless to their team, while Europeans will just let it all hang out until the next stoppage of play.
In May of 2000, Sumo wrestler Asanokiri was disqualified in his match against Chiyohakuho when his mawashi came undone. He was the first wrestler to lose in this way since the rule was established in 1917. (Reports vary as to whether or not his privates were exposed on National TV.)