main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Instant Costume Change

The Instant Costume Change is an ability of Super Hero characters to change from their street clothes into their hero costumes, well, instantly. This doesn't include characters who wear their costumes under their normal clothing. The Instant Costume Change is usually accomplished by some bit of Applied Phlebotinum that automatically transforms the character's clothing with little action; often a button push or just a thought.

Virtually all Henshin Heroes perform an Instant Costume Change when they transform into their powered modes. But other characters can have this ability as well. The exact mechanism by which the trope operates varies from character to character, but some common methods are include nanotechnology, morphable cloth, magic, and alien tech.

See also To the Batpole!, Flung Clothing. Sometimes involves a Transformation Sequence.


    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, mages summon their "barrier jackets" with their intelligent devices (or armed devices).
  • Many more examples at Henshin Hero.
  • In the Pokémon anime episode "The Light Fantastic" Jesse and James instantly change from their regular Team Rocket costumes into archeologists' garb.
    • Heck, Jessie and James usually start out disguised as workers or sellers to lure Ash and the gang. And then, when the heroes are surrounded, they remove their disguise to show that they're actually Team Rocket. It doesn't make sense in some factors, though... for example, when they don't wear gloves in their disguise, but do wear them in their Team Rocket uniforms.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (AKA Battle of the Planets). G-Force had wrist band communications devices which also allowed them to change between their team uniforms and civilian clothing.
  • Cutie Honey has a special device built into her Boobs of Steel that allows her to instantly reconfigure her clothing and even her appearance; beyond the normal Henshin Hero effect, she can change into a number of alternate forms with unique skill sets, such as Biker Babe Hurricane Honey and Hot Scoop Scoop Honey.
  • In Arata Kangatari, Sarae, the Hayagami of one of Yorunami's Zokushou, has the power to instantly change its targets clothes to whatever its wielder is imagining.

     Comic Books  

  • A Green Lantern Ring can do this.
  • In the Spider-Man mythology, the Venom symbiote can alter its appearance to that of any clothing the host wants.
    • The animated series Spider-Man Unlimited gave Peter Parker a wrist device containing nanomachines that rebuilt his street clothes into his Spidey suit.
  • In the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards invented an "unstable molecular fabric", which some characters can morph using their powers.
    • This was done a lot in the X-Men animated series from the 1990s, by Storm and Phoenix.
  • The children from the comic Power Pack could change into their costumes by saying the words, "Costume on!"
  • The Wally West version of The Flash could create his costume from Speed Force.
    • And any version of The Flash effectively pulls this one off just by being fast enough to change clothes in the blink of an eye.
    • In addition to his speed, the Barry Allen version of the Flash was further aided by the use of a ring that stored a costume chemically treated so that it could be packed into the ring's compartment for this trope.
  • Subverted in modern Batman comics and film adaptations. Bruce's costume is too bulky to be worn under his regular clothes, so when an emergency pops up he has to travel to the Batcave (or somewhere where he has a spare costume in storage) to suit up.
  • The current Heroic Age version of Iron Man. His armor is entirely part of his body and emerges from his bones when needed.
  • The members of Gen 13 could do this for a period of time, thanks to high-technological bracelets. Grunge once grabbed Rainmaker's bracelet by mistake and didn't realize it until after he had used it to change costume.
  • Ms. Marvel when she was first introduced could instantly change between her normal clothing and costume instantly, although it was never explained how she could and the ability (along with her combat sense) was never demonstrated by Rogue after she permanently drained the powers from Carol Danvers.
  • When Marvel Girl originally became Phoenix she would instantly restructure the clothing she and the other X-men were wearing into their costumes by telekinetically rearranging the molecules, her divergent future daughter Rachel Summers also demonstrated this ability once she acquired the same powers.
  • The Ray Palmer incarnation of the Atom has a costume that is only visible and tangible when he uses his shrinking abilities. This eliminates the need to change into (or out of) it entirely — he's basically always got it on. Which doesn't really explain what happens to his civilian clothing ... is it left behind because he shrunk out of it, or is it all squashed up under his Atom suit? The first is problematic because he needs to go back to wherever he changed (and hope no one else picked his clothes up in the meantime) in order to grow back to normal size, or he'd effectively be running around naked, and the second is problematic because it would be really uncomfortable at best (even assuming the clothing shrinks with him, he's still got to fit a regular shirt and pants and often a tie under spandex).



  • The Swineherd does this behind a tree in the Hans Christian Andersen story, also featuring in The Yellow Fairy Book, there being no believable way he can change into a Prince costume which it isn't mentioned he has, or clean himself of the muck he is covered in.

(Note: although there are other transformation mentioned in fairy tales 'real magic' is usually invoked)

     Live-Action TV  

  • In Smallville, Clark naturally does this a lot in Super Speed. However, it gets ridiculous when Oliver changes into his complicated Green Arrow uniform in about five seconds.
  • The Adam West Batman TV series had Batman and Robin changing into their costumes while sliding down the pole into the Batcave. They must have a heck of a contraption down there.
    • Queen of Wands has a suggestion.
    • Possibly similar to the one Mr. Incredible had in his car in The Incredibles?
    • Wonder Woman could basically do this too in her TV show by twirling around a few times.
    • In The Movie between the first and second seasons (think "shark repellent bat-spray") we see that there is a switch marked "Instant Costume Change Lever" that they pull on the way down.
  • Stargate SG-1 makes fun of their own tendency to skip over the scenes where SG-1 or other teams switch to combat uniform in the parody episode "200". When Walter is invited to join the team on a mission, he leaves from the control room dressed in a casual military uniform only to emerge from the nearby door seconds later dressed in standard SG team attire.
  • Shaktimaan, a famous Hindi serial from the 1990s deserves a mention. The superhero's alter-ego, Pandit Gangadhar Shastri could change into Shaktimaan (and back), simply by spinning around like a top.
  • Power Rangers has a few examples outside the usual morphing. All ninja-based characters are adept at Flung Clothing to completely change their wardrobe, and in Power Rangers Mystic Force, the unmorphed wizard robe uniforms appear when they enter the dimension their base is in. Another dimension gave them more medieval garb upon arrival.
  • On Star Trek: The Original Series, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens had a thing for putting female crewmembers into feminine clothing using their Stop Trick powers.
  • Ultraman and his M-78 teammates can transform from fully clothed human form.

     Tabletop Games  

  • The superhero RPG Mutants & Masterminds has a feat called Quick Change, which allows a character to change between his street clothes and hero uniform as a free action.
  • Earlier editions of Champions had the Instant Change power, which did just what you'd expect. Recent editions have replaced that power with a limited form of Transformation (defined as Transforming one's clothing).

  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013), Willy Wonka initially appears dressed in a long black coat...suddenly, with a single struck pose, the coat vanishes to reveal his true, much more colorful suit. Between how quickly this happens and the contrast in the colors, it appears as if the whole outfit turns itself inside-out.

     Video Games  

     Web Comics  

  • Subverted in Shiniez. The comic touches on how difficult it is to get in and out of latex (especially when sweat is factored in) we even see Ally having to wrestle latex stocking off of Lisa.

     Web Original  

  • Actually explained and played with in the Whateley Universe. We first see Generator and Shroud using their powers to change clothes, although Shroud's first demonstration is to use her cloak to turn into what looks like a Japanese schoolgirl. Fey not only uses her magic to change her own clothes, but starting around "Boston Brawl 2", she is using a spell that enables her to change the entire team into their uniforms (with them holding the packaged uniforms at the start).
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse sometimes shows Barbie and/or her companions wearing clothes that can change appearance and function through such actions as pulling a cord or turning a knob.
  • SCP-1156 is a talking horse with the ability to change it's clothing at will.
    • SCP-040-1a is a polymorphic jumper that acts as clothing for SCP-040 and transforms into clothing appropriate for the environment.
  • In Noob, Ystos has a mask that he wears only in battle. When he puts it on, it tends to just appear on his face in a split second. May be justified by the fact that the series is mostly set in a MMORPG.

     Western Animation  

  • Occurs frequently on The Magic School Bus. When the bus transforms, Ms. Frizzle and the kids' clothing will often change along with it. For example, if the bus turns into a submarine, everyone will instantly be wearing scuba gear.
  • Parodied in The Emperor's New Groove; villainess Yzma and her lackey Kronk reach her lab by riding down a Mayincatec roller-coaster that fits them into lab-coats and goggles en-route. When the heroes later sneak into the lab, they also get stuffed into the very ill-fitting costumes.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has Janet shrink to shed her civilian clothes, then suddenly emerge as The Wasp.
  • In keeping with its vague video-game theme, SwaySway and Buhdeuce of Breadwinners can make new costumes blink onto them by jumping and shouting, "L-l-l-l-level up!"

Instant Cosplay SurpriseCostume TropesInstitutional Apparel

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy