"Do you know the difference between nude and naked?" He shook his head. "Nude is artistic. Naked is defenseless."
Any nudity where it's not really nudity, but someone's freaking out anyway.
A husband and wife run outside to grab the paper that's sitting on the porch. Darn it, the door is locked and now they're both stuck outside! The husband is horribly embarrassed because he's outside in the nude, meaning that he's wearing a white tanktop undershirt, boxer shorts and socks. (Maybe because it's Goofy Print Underwear
.) But he's embarrassed anyway. Meanwhile, his wife is ashamed when the busybody neighbour sees her naked, meaning that she's wearing a dress-like slip that covers her from shoulders to knees. The busybody neighbour then calls the police because of all the public indecency, despite the fact that it's more than most people wear to the beach.
Still, if you walked into Wal Mart wearing nothing but underwear and a bra, you'd probably get some security guard showing you to the door. So it's not an entirely unreasonable reaction. Undergarments, themselves, have been considered obscene at times
, such that seeing them exposed without outerwear (or even hanging from a clothesline!) might also be deemed "indecent", whether or not there's excessive amounts of skin on display. And people differ in their perceptions of modesty
, not only across time (Victorian era girls couldn't even show their calves, and the 50s saw the above porch example as pretty embarrassing) but even in modern Western civilization (where some of us still think it's crass to let a bra strap show).
Some examples of this trope, particularly in visual media, may be an example of censored nudity; even though the character is shown in their underwear the audience is supposed to know that they're "really" naked.
See Also Fetish Fuel
, Our Nudity Is Different
, Please Put Some Clothes On
, Bikini Bar
. For when Bowdlerization
causes this, see Digital Bikini
. The opposite of this trope is No Nudity Taboo
, also known as Innocent Fanservice Girl
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Gray Fullbuster of Fairy Tail. Everyone freaks when he goes from fully dressed (only neck up & fingertips to wrist bare) to his boxers. Can't they just be grateful that the shedding of clothing comes to a halt at that point? Incidentally, when "The Full Monty" does occur, Gray is the first to freak.
- Happens to Ichitaka in Is, when he thinks that Itsuki is posing nude for some art students. Turns out she's wearing a latex bodysuit.
- Before the end of the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie Asuka gets a new plug-suit. While all the plug-suits were skin-tight, this one had an... appealing colour. Asuka does not hesitate to comment on it.
- In Code Geass, Kallen is ashamed of being in bunny girl suit after Lelouch pointed it out. Yes, more ashamed than full frontal nudity with Suzaku.
- Some ancient Egyptian artwork looks like this trope, as it appears that female figures' clothing is semi-transparent. The actual clothes weren't; it's just how artists of the time would indicate that an opaque linen dress was draped so as to show the wearer's curves.
- Played for laughs in Garfield, as at least one comic had Garfield enjoying in delight the torture of locking Jon outside in his bunny pajamas. Naturally, in these sorts of situations, people flock.
Films — Animation
- Will Vinton's The Adventures of Mark Twain has a segment adapting Mark Twain's story "The Diary of Adam and Eve", in which underwear stood in for Biblical nudity (this was even lampshaded in a scene where Eve was naming things and named Adam's underwear "birthday suit"). After they ate the apple, they immediately became embarrassed by their "nude" state and abruptly grew "real" clothing. Though this movie has its cake and eats it too, since as Twain introduces the story, Becky buys an apple from a vending machine that features nude statues of Adam and Eve with a Scenery Censor who act embarrassed until the purchase causes them to grow underwear and look relieved.
- Happens twice in the direct-to-video sequel to Pocahontas. When Pocahontas first arrives in England, a man is admonished by his wife not to look at Pocahontas as she's "hardly dressed." Later, when Pocahontas is being dressed to meet the king, John Rolfe becomes flustered when she, not realizing that the whole-body-concealing clothing she has on is only underwear, runs in to show him her outfit.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Phoebus is implied to end up like this during the last third of the film, due to him mysteriously losing his armor after being pushed off his horse and into a river by Frollo and his minions, for refusing to burn down a cottage owned by Gypsy farmers and subsequently being rescued by Esmeralda.
- And then this presumably happened to Esmeralda as well, since because she was almost executed by Frollo by burning for witchcraft (in which she never committed), Esme is reduced to wearing a white dress worn for her execution, implying that all of her other outfits have been destroyed by Frollo so that she can be executed properly.
Films — Live-Action
- Vagabond Loafers, a short by The Three Stooges (and a remake of A Plumbing We Will Go), has Emil Sitka's character shoved out of the shower trying to hold onto a Modesty Towel. He's still wearing boxer shorts under... which means he was wearing them while showering.
- Doris Day gets locked outside in her pyjamas in Send Me No Flowers Today.
- Inverted by Rebecca Romijn's comment about her Mystique "costume" (which consisted entirely of Body Paint and strategically-placed prosthetics) in X-Men:
"I didn't feel naked."
- However he husband confessed to finding blue paint in some very interesting places.
- Also inverted in a short Canadian film No Bikini. The 7-year-old girl doesn't feel naked after spending the whole swimming course just in trunks, topless.
- In Edward Scissorhands, after the title character has an awkward encounter with the seductive neighbor Joyce, says she "Took off all her clothes" when in reality, she only unzips her top to reveal some (already-seen) cleavage and black lacy underwear.
- In "Problem Child 3", after Junior ruins Tiffany's dress, she is left in her undies, which are totally nontransparent and cover more than, say, a football player's uniform would. She is still freaked out as if she were naked.
- Taken to extremes in the 1914 silent short Mabel's Strange Predicament, mostly because of the Values Dissonance. Mabel Normand gets trapped outside her hotel room while wearing VERY demure (by today's standards) pajamas. But in her eyes she's practically naked; just watch how she reacts when the Tramp happens upon her. Later in the short, she even hides herself behind a blanket.
- If These Walls Could Talk - Demi Moore's character, Claire, is a woman living in 1952, who wears a super thick robe that covers her from her jawline to her toes, with sleeves that reach her fingertips. At one point, Claire calls another character into her house because Claire cannot go outside because she's "not dressed." Later, Claire, wearing the same robe, is forced to chase another character outside of the front door, and is obviously embarrassed at being outside in her robe, looking around in paranoid fashion, and clutching the robe at the neckline so that only her hands and face show. However, Claire doesn't mind wearing a sexy nurse's outfit to work that shows her arms, legs, and collarbone.
- In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey chews out Zuzu's schoolteacher over the phone for sending her home with no clothes on. Of course, "naked" in this sense only meant having her coat open so it wouldn't crush the flower she won, causing her to catch a cold. Kinda odd, considering the film had an earlier Naked People Trapped Outside scene and there Mary was literally naked.
- Enemy of the State - A man strips down to his socks, boxer shorts, and tanktop-style undershirt, and considers this nude enough after finding numerous other tracking devices in his other clothing.
- The first big set piece in National Lampoon's Senior Trip is an assembly at the high school put on by an "Up With People"-inspired entertainment troupe who perform "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." The assembly turns into a riot after a few of the "heroic" characters sneak into the loudspeaker booth and cut the singers' mikes, then blare punk rock throughout the auditorium. In the ensuing chaos, the lead singer gets her costume ripped off and immediately begins screaming. Her underwear consists of a large bra and a very thick, high-waisted, almost flesh-colored pair of panties; if viewed from a distance, she'd appear to be wearing a very modest (if sheer) bathing suit. Of course, it's justified since the girl's gown was even more modest (it didn't even leave her arms bare); she's also implied to be a Mormon.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Tooth and Claw", Rose was referred to as "naked" on several occasions; she was dressed for a rock concert in 1979 but they ended up in 1879 so she was dressed very immodestly. But not naked.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Nightmares" (where they're coming true) has Xander in class suddenly in his boxers. He describes it as "naked" later on...
- The Young Ones. Nasty: Neil's claim to being "all nude", despite wearing a vest. He probably was nude in-universe; the long undershirt was just a concession to the censors.
- Baywatch: One woman saw her co-worker in his underwear and was ashamed and embarrased, even after the guy pointed out that it covers as much as his regular working uniform (the only actual difference was the color).
- Little Mosque on the Prairie has a funny scene where Amar walks in on Rayyan (a observing Muslim) without her headscarf.
- The X-Files: In the critically acclaimed episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", the title character describes a dream in which he is lying in a field naked. When we see the dream, though, he is wearing an undershirt and boxer shorts.
- An episode of One Life to Live has a teenaged couple's father (hers) and mother (his) walking in on them making out while standing in the stairway of the house, presumably on their way up to the bedroom. No parent would be pleased at this. However, both parents flew into such a rage, one would think they had caught the teens in the very act of having sex. The father even rants and raves about how the boy was "half-naked", despite the fact that he was still wearing a T-shirt and jeans.
- Played with on Monty Python's Flying Circus where a series of slides diagram the "naughty bits" of several people and animals, all of which are wearing large polka-dot boxer shorts.
- The episode "Psychodrama" of Criminal Minds dealt with a bank robber who would sexually humiliate his victims. The team and police continuously refer to him forcing his hostages to strip naked. However, when scenes inside the banks are shown, everyone is still wearing their underwear.
- In an episode of ALF, Willy berates Alf while wearing a robe with pajamas underneath since he had just woken up. Alf keeps reminding him that his robe is open. Willy quickly shuts his robe as if his naked body was exposed. Another episode has Alf walking into their bedroom and encountering Kate, who yelps and covers the one inch of her neck that is showing in her floor length, wrist length, high-necked flannel nightgown.
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger has Jan's constant loincloth scenes. He's pretty dang covered, but the other characters freak out anyway.
- In RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4, Latrice Royale ends up criticized by one of the judges for letting a bra strap show. Justified as the challenge in question was for evening-gown wear — it's one thing for a strap to peek out accidentally in casual attire, it's another to get dressed to the nines and think it's okay to let a strap show on an off-the-shoulder dress.
- There are a couple of incidents in Monk where Adrian is distressed because someone is "naked-ish."
- In the "Angels in Paradise" episode of Charlie's Angels, Kris is wearing a tube top in the nude beach scene.
- The mini-series of Pride and Prejudice features a scene not in the book where Elizabeth accidentally encounters Mr. Darcy returning from swimming. No skin, just underwear/a very big shirt, but both are embarrassed. Their reaction is justified it by it being the 18th century.
- In the same film, Lydia has a moment like this when she leaves her room wearing a shift (the bottom garment, like Darcy's shirt), carrying a gown she's not sure about (so she says) to Lizzie's room, and meets Mr. Collins on the stairs. The shift leaves her shoulders bare and has a slightly lower front than her usual dresses. (It might have been only mid-calf length, mind.) Still, the filmy nature of dresses in this period mean that women look like this trope at all times compared with those of thirty years before or after. (Or, in some pictures, even now, as it's clear their breasts were often unsupported. Some even dampened their white muslin gowns, to obvious effect.)
- Whos The Boss - The episode called A Well-Kept Housekeeper, Tony takes a job at a restaurant that features hot, nude men as the waiters. When Tony's daughter "Sam" shows up, Tony tells hers that he doesn't approve of her being in such a raunchy place, to which Sam replies, "At least I have my clothes on!" Tony, the "nude waiter" is wearing shoes, long pants, and a vest, leaving only his arms and head exposed as he's so embarrassed by the outfit that he covers his chest and stomach with a tray.
- The Golden Girls - Season 4, episode "Little Sister." Rose catches her visiting sister Holly being sexual with Blanche's boyfriend Gary and tries to tell Blanche and Dorothy, who've been charmed by Holly and refuse to believe Rose. Later, Blanche and Dorothy catch Holly and Gary together being sexual, and Gary is nude. Rose walks in. Gary hides his nudity, though he's wearing a long-sleeved, button-up white shirt and tie, like the kind that business people wear with their suits. Only no pants, just giant blue boxer shorts that go almost to his knees, and no one can even see a bulge, just a big expanse of thick, starched fabric. But he stands behind a tall chair to cover his crotch, though no bulge is visible, and the only skin that can be seen is his knees, hands, and head. But the scene is played as if he was completely nude. Holly was in a robe, and not considered nude by the others.
Dorothy: It's all out in the open.
Rose: I can see that!
- Seinfeld - Season 7, "The Caddy." Elaine knows a woman named Sue Ellen, and calls Sue Ellen a "braless wonder" because Sue Ellen never wears a bra. After Elaine gives Sue Ellen a bra as gift (as a not-so-subtle message), Sue Ellen starts wearing only the bra without a shirt, even out in public walking down the street. Kramer and Jerry get into a car accident when Kramer is distracted by the bra-clad Sue Ellen, having been so shocked by her public nudity.
- As seen here◊, it's not a normal-looking bra, but more of a sports bra for nuns. It doesn't resemble a bikini top, but more of halter top / tank top / belly shirt, with fabric covering most of the ribcage, and thick straps going over shoulders, and could be mistaken as a lacy blouse. And as for "topless," she is wearing a thick businesswoman jacket that other characters refer to as a "black blazer" over this bra, though unbuttoned, and her pants or a skirt are pulled up past her belly button. So despite that she's wearing a blazer over the bra, and other characters verbally reference the blazer, these same characters still say that she was wearing "just a bra."
Jerry: There was this beautiful woman walking down the street wearing just a bra. I can't get that image out of my mind.
Elaine: Oh...my God.
Elaine: Was it a tall woman, in a black blazer?
Elaine: Ohhh! That's Sue Ellen Mischke!
Jerry: Sue Ellen Mischke?
Elaine: That's the bra I gave her; she's wearing it as a top! A woman is walking around in broad daylight with nothing but a bra on?! She's a menace to society!
- At least one example from Downton Abbey: when Kemal Pamuk barges into Lady Mary's room, she is wearing an all-concealing and fairly shapeless nightgown; she nevertheless picks up the covers and holds them to her body to cover it as if she were completely naked. Truth in Television for the time period.
- Inverted in an episode of Night Court when Judge Harry is forced to wear a suit of armor (and nothing else.) At one point, the codpiece falls off. Harry Anderson was wearing solid black briefs (in a kind of living censor bar) but all the actors react as if Judge Harry was nude from the waist down.
- Call the Midwife: A few times, when one of the men (usually Frank, but sometimes Peter Noakes) stumbles into the Nonnatus House kitchen while one of the nurses is wearing her nightclothes.
- Fantasy Island: The 1979 episode "The Stripper / The Boxer," an heiress becomes a stripper, stripping down to a one-piece bathing suit covering her from her collar bone to her hips.
- In one of the MAD's Lighter Side of... shorts (in issue #136), the following conversation happens at a poolside:
Gee, Virginia, this is a lovely bikini you let me borrow! (strikes a provocative pose) Girl 2:
What drawer did you take that
from? Girl 1:
The top, right... Girl 2:
That's not a bikini! That's underwear
! Girl 1:
UNDERWEAR? SHRIIEEK!!! (covers her chest and rushes inside)
- In an earlier Lighter Side of... piece (in a panel with no dialogue) a teenage guy waits outside a cabana while his girlfriend changes into a swimsuit. But the door accidentally opens before she is done, and the girl is greatly embarrassed that the guy caught a glimpse of her in underwear and a longer slip. A minute later, the door opens again, but this time she is proudly showing off the (ridiculously) skimpy bikini she's wearing. The boy is clearly puzzled by this.
- Anytime a heel woman loses a bra and panties match, she'll act embarrassed and run for the locker room. The (usually) victorious face woman will then remove her own clothes and is never embarrassed about it, standing in the ring and basking in the cheers of the fans. Also holds true for men in tuxedo matches.
- Understandable, because (as with everything else in wrestling, or in any form of combat) the key difference is power and control. Getting stripped to one's underwear in public is tantamount to rape, especially if there's physical violence involved (and in wrestling, there always is). Ric Flair competing in nothing but a tiny pair of shorts is no big deal; Ric Flair being stripped to said shorts and beaten grotesquely bloody (when he's a face) is an atrocity.
- Taken to extremes by Molly Holly during her "Mighty Molly" period. Someone walked in on her in the dressing room. She screamed and covered herself up with her cape even though she was fully dressed in her Mighty Molly outfit.
- Parodied in the Muppets from Space. Animal goes inside the crowded bathroom to look for anything to wash his face in. He opens the showers to find Fozzie Bear, in a raincoat and hat, who screams and tries to cover himself.
Religion and Mythology
- In The Bible, Michal sees David's rejoicing as the ark is being brought into the city, and when goes to bless his household, she treats him as though he had exposed himself; at minimum, he was wearing a m`iyl (stated in 1 Chronicles) and an ephod (stated both there and in 2 Samuel).note (Unfortunately, many teachers of these passages would rather believe Michal's version of events.)
- Sartre's No Exit brushes on this trope. Taking off your jacket, and so being only in shirt sleeves, would have been indecent a few decades earlier, but at the time of the play was only faintly risque.
- In the first segment of the "Carousel of Progress" show in the Disney Theme Parks, the daughter is concerned about having visitors over because she's "indecent", wearing early 20th-century undergarments that are more concealing than most modern outerwear. Certainly played for laughs.
- This trope is played for laughs in Girl Genius, where Agatha's frequent bouts of sleep-working leave her in nothing but (relatively modest) Victorian-style underwear, but she acts like she's been seen in the nude. Given the time period, it would be considered indecent by most European standards, so Truth in Television. Happens again at Sturmhalten. Tarvek ends giving Agatha a dress more revealing than her underwear!
- In MegaTokyo, Erica is working on her computer in underwear (a result of Largo explaining to Erica that you can't wear clothing when using high-end computer equipment, due to static discharge); when Kimiko hears that Piro is coming around she insists that Erika change into a swimsuit, which turns out to cover even less... and not be static-safe, as Largo points out as soon as he sees her.
- The Guild: Vork has a freakout when he sees Codex in a slightly low cut blouse, demanding that she cover her shame.
- In one Roger Rabbit short animated film, Roger is embarrassed to be seen in his oversized boxer shorts covered in little red hearts.
- American Dad!: An Islamic couple in the Middle East has the husband yell at his wife. "For Allah's sake, put some clothes on!" The only remaining part that was exposed were her eyes. She trips over a table.
- The Simpsons has an episode spoofing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and a series of pictures of people going over Niagara Falls (It Makes Sense in Context) and one picture causes the men to exclaim "That woman is flashing her privates!" which turn out to be her ankle. One of the men then takes the "indecent" picture for himself. Specifically they're parodying the Flash Mountain phenomenon (SFW, it's Snopes).
- This happens a lot in Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry, when Funny Animal characters are suddenly shaved or stripped of their fur, and are shown in Goofy Print Underwear.
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- SpongeBob is often embarrassed to be seen in his white briefs underwear, even though the little suit he wears is exactly the same size as his underwear. Specifically, during the theme song, after the Captain says, "Who lives in a Pineapple under the sea?" And the kids shout, "SpongeBob SquarePants!" It shows SpongeBob walking out of his pineapple home wearing nothing but underwear. He looks down, shocked, like in a nightmare where you realize that you're out in public naked, and suddenly the hand of God comes from the side and places his trademark squarepants on him.
- It's apparently the law. In one episode, Sandy is arrested for indecent exposure, even though she is wearing a bikini.
- Which is odd, as we've seen many fish wearing only bikinis in public. Maybe they're just prejudiced against land creatures. Then again, she isn't otherwise seen as as nude with her fur (she has been seen without her suit outside of her treedome before), so it could be her fur was seen as clothing, thus, without it she was seen as nude
- King of the Hill
- In one episode, the extremely modest Hank proclaims "I have to cover up my nudity!" after being stripped to an undershirt and boxers. In early episodes he often says something to the same effect about Luanne's sleepwear.
- Lampshaded by Peggy in one episode in which she flashes some bikers and, in response to Hank's horror, tells him, "Oh, will you quit your whining, you old woman? I'm wearing a bra!"
- Family Guy
- In an episode, Meg is fully clothed and brushing her hair when Chris walks in. Meg immediately grabs her trademark hat and frantically puts it on as if she were naked and scrambling for a towel. Lampshaded in the DVD commentary for the episode. It's also noted that originally Meg was going to be hiding a large bald spot with her hat, which this is a relic of.
- In the "I'm Joyce Kinney" episode, Lois recalls how, in the early eighties, how women would stand topless on hotel balconies when they were high on cocaine. In the Flashback, Lois is coked out, standing on a hotel balcony and she's wearing a halter top.
- This◊ man's reaction to some bloomers.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Best Night Ever", the girls are changing into their gala dresses and Rarity won't let Spike enter the room. Applejack points out that they usually don't wear any clothes at all. In "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", Rainbow Dash wakes Fluttershy abruptly by pulling off her bedsheet, causing an embarrassed Fluttershy to cover her chest with her hooves. Being a pony, she doesn't exactly have anything there to hide.
- Oftentimes, the actual amount of skin shown is not the main thing that bothers women in real life. Someone seeing you in a Bikini you have *chosen* to wear in public is no big deal, but when circumstances conspire to let someone see you wearing underwear you didn't intend for public consumption it feels like a violation. In fact, sometimes the logic goes completely in the opposite direction: since many bras and panties are less revealing than women's swimwear these days (see the page image above), getting seen in underwear is embarrassing because it makes one look prudish, and therefore old-fashioned (especially the case with panties that cover the navel, or that cover more of the upper thighs than usual).
- A U.S. Army soldier in Afghanistan drew media attention after rushing to defend his post from attack while wearing pink boxer shorts and flip-flops. When the image wound up on the front page of The New York Times, he told his parents he might lose his job if President Obama saw him out of uniform. "I can assure you that Specialist Boyd's job is very safe indeed," Defense Secretary Gates later said. The boxers are now in the 1st Infantry Division Museum at Fort Riley, Kansas.
- Robert Burck performs as a musician in Times Square under the name "The Naked Cowboy". However, he always does so wearing two pairs of white briefs to avoid being arrested for this trope. A single pair is legally underwear, and thus "indecent." The second pair counts as clothing.
- Pretty universally averted in most high school theater programs, especially the ones with four or five shows a year and a constant stream of other events — the freshmen/rookies are always shocked at boys strolling into the girls' dressing room for help with makeup and girls — most of whom are in underwear — not even turning around. By their third show or so, they've gotten over it.
- News tend to report stories about people getting embarrassing naked strip-searches by the police, TSA, or some other form of authority — only to read that naked was without their coats and jackets. Tank tops for females and topless for males (but pants on) is considered naked for the sake of news.
- People who follow a strict religion can often feel embarrassed wearing what other people would consider normal. For example, a strict Muslim woman might feel exposed not wearing a hijab, or a Mormon woman wearing a mini skirt. Not just women in the latter case: Both sexes wear the sacred undergarments after going through the temple ceremonies, and even in Utah it can be difficult to find summer-wear that completely covers said garments.
- Historical documents from European explorers often express their shock over naked natives. However, they will then go on to describe (sometimes for pages) what the people are actually wearing.
- Due to lingerie, particularly panties, being Fetish Fuel in Japan, a woman caught in just her underwear can be extremely embarrassing. Depictions in Manga and Anime are less a matter of censored nudity than they are Truth in Television.
- Image editing software can make partially transparent clothing appear more transparent. In the most extreme cases, outfits can essentially be photoshopped off, leading to someone who is fully clothed, but also totally naked.
- Many people experience variations on the classic "Not Wearing Pants" Dream, one of which is being clad only in underwear.
- This also extends to Indecent Exposure laws. In most places, a man without a shirt on is not naked for the purposes of charging them with Indecent Exposure, while most places a woman without a top on would be. Going outside in your underwear could be considered Indecent Exposure. Some places, even beaches like Myrtle Beach, thong bikinis are considered naked and indecent, where others would not. Finally, some cities have considered sagging pants to be indecent exposure, even though the person is normally fully clothed.
- A common sight at swimming pools near apartments is the woman who was sunbathing in a swimsuit needing to cover up and walk fast to cross the distance of a few yards between the pool and her apartment. It would be terribly embarrassing to be caught wearing the swimsuit while not actually within the confines of the pool.
- Hotel guests have a similar issue, as it's totally OK and normal to be wearing just a swimsuit while in or around the hotel pool, but most people start feeling very exposed if they have to wander back to their rooms without something else to wear (or at least a towel to wrap around themselves). Which is sort of silly, when you think about it...