There's a reason we call the trope "Draco InLeatherPants". There's something about tanned cow hide that's cool and extremely sexy to many people.
Leather's Badass associations originally stem from leather being the garb of choice for bikers, who wear it for practical reasons (leather is tough and offers some protection against road rash as well as from the elements). One of the quickest ways to show that someone is Badass or sexy in a "bad boy / girl" way is to dress them up in shiny black leather.
It will be black leather the vast majority of the time. Other colors just don't have the same effect in most cases, though white and red do sometimes work, as does the traditional brown. For increased badassery, have the black leather lit by a sodium lamp: Black leather, deep green highlights.
Often overlaps with Badass Longcoat (especially in military settings). See also Spandex, Latex, or Leather, Pretty in Mink, Dominatrix, and Leatherman. Compare its polymer sister trope, Dressed All in Rubber.
Surprisingly enough, though, it's mostly his protagonists that wear leather. Hell Kaiser Ryo in Season 2 of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX plays it straighter than most.
Tsume in Wolf's Rain appears to wear a ripped leather jacket and pants. Of course, that's just part of his disguise (look at the title again).
Naomi Misora and Mello in Death Note. Interestingly enough, Word of God says that Mello ended up dressing like that because the artist put him in clothes that he likes drawing.
Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist is never seen without his leather pants and occasionally even leather jackets. He's regularly mocked for his tacky taste and gaudy fashion sense.
Fate Testarossa of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has been fighting in a leather one-piece since she was nine. Before her mother, Precia, was first shown to viewers, many of them wondered why she let her child dress like that. Turns out that, besides being the worst mom ever, she also dresses like that, and her device's most commonly used form is a whip.
Nico Robin from One Piece wore a very tight, very leather ensemble during the CP9 story, complete with grade A length, high heeled leather boots. It's since become somewhat of an Iconic Outfit, still showing up in merchandise ten years later.
Surprising amount of characters in Gunnm/Battle Angel Alita, starting from the heroine herself and Zekka, even though they technically don't really need clothing at all, most of them being Hollywood Cyborgs. They usually wear it for its sheer Badass appeal — there's the definite correlation between the amount of leather and general badassitude of the character in the series.
Chassis Mcbain's racing suit in Chassis. It's not specified exactly what it is made of, but it certainly appears to be leather.
Wynonna Earp, especially in her originals 1990s run. Her later series expand her wardrobe slightly.
Grendel Prime in Grendel is literally covered from head to toe in black leather, including his face. This is to hide that most of his body is artificial.
X-23's dress style often involves lots of leather. Her two most iconic outfits are: a leather corset, miniskirt, boots, and gloves; or leather Painted-On Pants and what essentially amounts to a leather sports bra.
Ghost Rider wears a leather jacket. From Danny Ketch version on, spikes are also part of it.
Velma in the Scooby-Doo movie dresses in leather to seduce Seth Green's character. Played for laughs because she sounds like she farts when she moves.
In Mad Max, the titular hero Max Rockatansky and the rest of the Main Force Patrol wear head-to-toe leather, although by the time of the sequels his clothing is so worn it's more like a Non-Uniform Uniform.
Fight Club: Tyler Durden wears red leather and goes as far as to say that in an ideal world a man will own just one set of clothes for his entire life, made of leather. He's supposed to be a subconcious representation of the repressed protagonist's idea of masculinity.
The alternate title of the 1968 British-French film The Girl on a Motorcycle is Naked Under Leather.
In Eragon, just about everyone of importance wears leather of some kind. This is extremely inaccurate. Justified, though not trope-wise, in that the wardrobe production was given little time to make the vast amounts of costumes needed, and someone had bought large quanties of leather; they had to use what they had, budget wouldn't allow more costs.
Well it wasn't for logic, the elves of the series were of the "die-hard vegan, would die rather than kill an innocent bunny" variety. Somewhat justified as they do make use of animals that die naturally, one elven character even wearing a headdress of swan feathers gather from dead swans and feathers swans had lost.
Caine, the Badass protagonist from Heroes Die always wears black leather.
Geralt is almost never seen out of his favorite leather jacket with lots of silver trim and studs, and matching pants. Somewhat justified in that leather indeed was a material of choice for a combat wear in The Dung Ages, and silver is useful in his line of work, but we sometimes almost get to hearDandelion cringe at his friend's fashion sense.
Kate Daniels bought her black leather jacket in her teenaged "bravo" days, when she was deliberating trying to invoke this trope. Developing into a more mature, sensible adult doesn't stop her from wearing leather at every chance, though, because leather affords some protection from attacks.
In her first appearance in Time Scout, Margo Smith is wearing a nigh-heart-stopping tight leather miniskirt. A character later describes her as "doe eyed one second, hell bent for leather the next".
Harry Dresden's distinctive, enchanted black leather duster comes up frequently in The Dresden Files, though the badassery of its leather is rarely explicitly stated. It is brought up when Harry needs clearance to enter a decidedly shifty night club, but Thomas is able to get him in because he's "A man in a black leather coat."
In Discworld, when Greebo, a Bad Ass cat, is turned human, he always wears leather and looks like a pirate.
Buffy and Faith are both seen wearing leather pants and jackets on more than one occasion, especially Faith. Angel and Spike both go in for leather jackets. Angel also famously wears leather pants while he turned evil.
Especially Faith. And don't forget: Spike's leather coat is one he took off the corpse of a Slayer he killed. So maybe it is standard issue clothing.
Spike and Faith prefer black leather jackets, but change to brown leather on occasions when they're trying to get in Buffy's good books.
At one point Buffy in red leather pants and a black leather jacket fights Faith who also has a leather jacket on.
Leather pants in the Buffyverse are colour coded. We have the:
Black Leather Pants of Evil (Worn by Angelus, Faith, Vampire Willow and Xander.)
Red Leather Pants of Righteousness (Worn by Buffy.)
Green Leather Pants of Jealousy (Worn by Willow.)
Pink Leather Pants of Enthrallment (Worn by Buffy.)
Angel. When Wesley makes his return as a "rogue demon hunter", he's wearing all leather. He has to change out of them though, as they chafe his...legs.
And Illyria. Oh dear Christ, Illyria.
Angelus's trademark is his leather pants, which Spike makes a hobby out of making fun of.
Parodied in one or more The Benny Hill Show sketches. Benny plays an actor playing a bad boy dressed all in leather while filming a scene. Not only is it not sexy (cause, y'know, it's Benny Hill), the leather squeaks so much whenever he moves that it drowns out recording the dialogue, especially when he sits on a leather covered chair.
Ross on Friends tries to look cool for a date by putting on tight leather pants. Then he goes to the bathroom and finds that he can't put them back on.
Derek Hale in Teen Wolf. His beta wolves seem to be picking up this habit, too.
Was described as a "long, hot slog in leather" and Claudia Black has been known to say that all she needed to perk her up when she was tired or burnt out was Ben to walk in wearing his leathers.
There is a reason Warren Ellis described Farscape as "one American's descent into Australia's S&M scene" (aside from him being, y'know, Warren Ellis).
In the DVD commentary for the third season two-parter "Into the Lion's Den," Ben Browder quipped that the costuming department bought up every scrap of black and red leather in Australia in order to make all the costumes for the Peacekeeper officers aboard Scorpius's Command Carrier.
Stargate Atlantis did this increasingly so as the series went on. By season five virtually the entire main cast are wearing as their standard off-world outfits: black leather jackets (McKay, Keller, and occasionally Sheppard), black leather jacket and pants (Teyla), or black leather trenchcoats (Ronon). Then there's the Wraith...
KELLY: Nothing says "Bridesmaids are easy" like short black leather.
The Ninth Doctor's signature black leather jacket on Doctor Who. It's a noticeably stripped-down, no-frills look compared to his predecessors, which says a lot about him from the get-go.
More precisely, it's a Kriegsmarine Jacket. Oddly enough, absolutely no-one bats an eyelid at him wearing the jacket of a U-Boat Captain in the middle of the London Blitz, aside from Jack Harkness who lampshades his bad choice of wardrobe.
It is later revealed he got this look from the War Doctor.
Parodied in "Smith and Jones" in which a "Slab" slave is supposedly leather all the way through. The Doctor's rection: "Someone's got one hell of a fetish."
The 'War Doctor' looks incredibly cool and badass in his long leather jacket. No wonder Daleks and Time Lords practically wet their pants at the sight of him.
Drop the Dead Donkey. On seeing Helen's girlfriend — a lesbian motorcycle courier — Dave provides the above page quote, while Henry is ecstatic when she straddles her motorbike.
Both heroes and villains in Blake's 7. Apparently an S&M shop made the outfits, as they had the most experience in working with leather (there's a cute anecdote about the shopworkers frantically hiding the porn and the nipple clamps when Michael Keating (Vila) turned up for a fitting with his little daughter in tow).
The Mord-Sith in Legend of the Seeker (and the Sword of Truth novels) are a blatant dominatrix archetype. With Cara a main character in season two, every episode is chock full of skin-tight red leather goodness (and somehow even more cleavage than Kahlan).
Future Claire in season 3 of Heroes has quite the black leather ensemble.
Seldom has black leather and studs looked better than on Evillll Prince Dirk Blackpool. But it just doesn't work on his brother Prince Geoffrey.
When Ryu Terui first showed up in Kamen Rider Double, he always wore a leather pants/jacket outfit in either red or black. After defeating Weather, he switched to some kind of lighter material with leather patches on the shoulders and joints in red or blue.
In one episode of That '70s Show Kelso gets a leather jacket because he wants to look like Brando in The Wild One. Instead everybody laughs at him for looking like Fonzie. When he throws it away in anger Hyde puts it on and immediately becomes irresistible.
Alex Krycek of The X-Files is rarely seen without a black leather jacket. It's rarely the same one from episode to episode, though, since they tend to get ruined when someone (usually Mulder or Skinner) beats him up.
Rumplestiltskin's leather pants have their own fanbase.
Sarah dons a black leather catsuit in several episodes of Chuck. Fanboys were very happy.
Eric Northman from True Blood appears to wear a different leather jacket in every single appearance (when he isn't stark naked or wearing a tracksuit). This is especially notable as he wears the exact samesinglet and jeans every episode. Most of the vampires fall into this to some extent; justified in that a guy in a t-shirt and shorts isn't very seductive or intimidating, same with a girl in a flowery skirt.
Played for laughs in Penn & Teller: Bullshit!; when discussing animal rights group PETA, the titicular hosts are adorned in all manners of leather clothing on their set.
Black leather is almost an icon for heavy metal music, in particular for the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in the 80's. In particular, the band that popularized it was Judas Priest, and the Trope Namer is their song "Hell Bent For Leather" from their 1978 disc Killing Machine.
The Far Side had a rebellious young cow wearing a leather jacket—"just for the shock value," his parents explain.
The unnamed character in Bally's Eight Ball wears a brown leather jacket, as befitting an unauthorized copy of Happy Days' The Fonz.
In Rollergames, Chuck Skull (the manager of the Violators) has this.
Leather armor is, fittingly enough, the armor of choice of rogue classes, especially in Dungeons & Dragons. Medieval leather armor actually came in two varieties: the less common type was similar to biker-style garments (which is probably what D&D et al are going for), and the more common one (cuirbouilli) was hardened by being boiled into rigid pieces, and doesn't look or behave anything like leather clothing.
In Vampire The Eternal Struggle, the Leather Jacket is an equipment card. It prevents all damage from a single attack, and is then destroyed. By comparison, the Flak Jacket can be used every round, but only prevents 1 damage.
Tequila Yuen sports a brown one and pulls it off. Maybe it's because he is Chow Yun Fat...
Angel Devoid, with a really Badass sounding walkloop to boot.
Psycho Mantis. The man is a villain, true, but given that his personal outfit is a few yards of leather away from being a gimp suit does help in solidifying his place as one of the most badass bosses in all the games. An interesting example in that, going by his death scene, he abhors sexuality.
A lot of the characters in Brütal Legend, but the Fire Barons, Zaulia, and Tainted Coil are standouts.
This trope especially applies to Lita Halford, who wears a sexy outfit that consists of a midriff-baring, cleavage-enhancing leather halter top and skin-tight leather pants.
Special mention to the Baron leader who is modeled after Rob Halford, the man considered as having brought the leather fashion into Heavy Metal culture.
Ezio Auditore of Assassin's Creed II back in his younger years wore leather pants that left only a bit to the imagination. It is actually Lampshaded by one of the bystander dialogues.
K' and Kula Diamond from The King of Fighters.
Flustered Lady: Such tight leather pants.
Albert Wesker of the Resident Evilused to wear just normal-looking combat gear in the first game and Code Veronica. However, he shows up in 5 wearing head-to-toe black leather complete with a leather Badass Longcoat, just in case the viewer still wasn't completely sure about his alignment.
Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII has his famous black leather and lion fur jacket and matching pants. On the opposite side, The Rival Seifer wears a white leather trenchcoat.
Travis Touchdown from NoMoreHeroes is well known for his red leather jacket. He also has an entire closet filled with all different kinds of other leather jackets as well.
An option in Dwarf Fortress, but not very effective compared to proper metal or even bone armor. One use for it is being one of the easiest ways to provide cheap armor for civilians or more expendable militia-dwarves. Given armor doesn't wear out like clothing does, and the fact that dwarves get unhappy about running around naked, leather armor can mitigate the need to constantly replace tattered clothes.
Star Trek Online: As befitting a Proud Warrior Race, the Klingon wardrobe has a lot of leather in it, including bi-colored Painted-On Pants and armored corsets for women. The pants are also available Fedside, and most of the free Starfleet uniform jackets have what seems like a leather texture (though it could also be some form of armor weave).
"Given that Morrison seems to be wearing the same pair of leather trousers in every picture there is of him, and given how difficult it is to clean leather properly, assuming you even try, I don't imagine you'd have wanted to stand downwind of the Lizard King."
Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance used to wear leather jackets until they fell apart. See above, speculation on how bad Jim Morrison's pants smelled.
"I have a leather jacket that could turn your stomach..."
Joan Jett is a good female example of this- she's frequently seen in leather pants or jackets, or head-to-toe leather outfits. (Though if the leather flag sticker on her guitar is indication, this may be more than just a fashion choice.)
Many metal artists, including Trope NamerRob Halford with a similarly titled Judas Priest song. Ironically, Halford himself prefers pleather so as not to sacrifice innocent cattle, and the song title itself was originally used in the theme to Rawhide, though these days it's more associated with Halford and Judas Priest than anything else.
Red Commissars and Chekists of the Russian Civil War era. Their uniform included a black leather peaked cap (replaced with a red headscarf for female commissars), a black leather jacket and jackboots. Particularly Ksanka in the Soviet action movie The Crown Of The Russian Empire, or The Elusives Again.
The crew of Trotsky's personal armored locomotive train wore red leather outfits — military-style jackets, pants, jackboots, and hats that looked sort of like ushankas.
Younger panzer crews in Nazi Germany, particularly in regiments which were formed in the middle to late war years, were fond of wearing U-boat crew leathers.
Both of the above had practical considerations, as both train crews and panzer crews were working with hot machinery that could probably set cloth on fire. Plus it really did look pretty badass. So... yeah.
Safety-conscious motorcycle riders often elect to wear what amounts to a suit of leather armor, often with layers of kevlar or carbon or other very tough material to protect them when they fall off the bike. Bikers in general seem to like leather and less-saftey-driven ones may still wear a leather jacket or vest with leather boots simply because it looks awesome.