Generally a Super Hero
trope, but used in other settings as well, where a character fights in a skintight leotard, or, more generally, a swimsuit-esque one piece. In fairness this isn't always
fanservice, since the leotard, like the classic tights+"underwear on the outside", originates as acrobats' garb.
One of the leotard's advantages is that it is more "modest" or less revealing than a two-piece garment like a bikini, and thus for a long time was used in comics, games, TV shows and media to convey the portrayal of a sexy
female character (or at least, "bold"
) without enraging Moral Guardians
. Note that also, back in the Eighties
and the Nineties
the leotard (or one piece swimsuit) was "the"
ultimate in fashion clothing, being much more popular than the two-piece garments and portrayed in aerobics shows, Baywatch
and the such, so it can be used in retro references
This is a Fanservice
trope, the backbone of Most Common Super Power
. Essentially a cross between Sensual Spandex
and Show Some Leg
Compare Minidress of Power
, Playboy Bunny
, She's Got Legs
, Showgirl Skirt
, Underwear of Power
(which is often worn in a way that pretty much looks like a leotard anyway), Walking Swimsuit Scene
, Superheroes Wear Tights
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Anime & Manga
- Code Geass Anya Alstreim is the main symbol.
- There's also Luciano Bradley's Valerie Squadron.
- Nightmare of Nunnally, Anya again, Alice after making her contract with Nemo, Marianne in her days as a Nightmare pilot.
- Sailor Moon and company. With a tiny thing that some would say qualifies as a skirt attached. Some of the female villains as well.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
- Fate Testarossa. With even less skirt than the Sailor Senshi.
- The uniform of most of the N2R Nakajima Sisters formed after Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, which is a leotard with a jacket and chaps worn over it. The only exception is Cinque, who wears a miniskirt with leggings instead.
- Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell wears a leotard with a jacket over it, and really long stockings. She later gets pants. For some odd reason, the fan consensus is that getting the pants improves her character.
- Kodachi Kunō of Ranma ½ will readily fling her clothes to reveal the leotard she wears underneath with little provocation. Somewhat "justified" by her martial art being based on rhythmic gymnastics... but mainly because she's a shameless loon.
- Played with a couple of times when Ranma in female form and dressed in a leotard finds herself changed to her male form suddenly.
- Not during the fighting part of the manga, but Mahou Sensei Negima! has plenty of gratuitous scenes of Makie performing her rhythmic gymnastics. And it's a flashy routine — every time we see her practicing in anything other than her leotard, she gives a lot of Panty Shots.
- The seven surviving title Claymores wear an outfit like this after the time skip, often with a variant of a short skirt or Zettai Ryouiki.
- History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi: Miu Furinji's leotard, which bears more resemblance to body paint than clothing.
- Ryoko's skintight battlesuit from Tenchi Muyo!
- In Gunbuster, the official uniform of the Earth Defense Force's Humongous Mecha pilots looks like a one-piece swimsuit with a sweatshirt over it.
- Every of Kisugi sisters from Cat's Eye wear one. Of course, despite what some sources say, their leotards are actually unitards.
- Saint Seiya: All of the Amazons have these as their trainers.
- This is actually the default pilot suit (complete with Zettai Ryouki) used in Infinite Stratos. Well, save for Ichika's that is...
- Bleach: For the climactic battle with Aizen, Yoruichi is wearing one of these.
- Busou Renkin: (Male) villain Pampillon's outfit is...uh...rather fabulous and definitely off-putting.
- The standard Magical Girl outfit in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo is one, plus frills and other accessories.
- Lala's default costume in To Love RU is this, as it's basically a parody of Magical Girl outfits. And is a shapeshifting robot named Peke. It's also called "Dress Form", despite having more in they way of large frills on the sides than a full skirt.
- Liu Li's first military outfit in School Shock.
- DC Comics pretty much made this trope; nearly every other DC Comics superhero or superheroine wears a Leotard of Power, if not wearing Underwear of Power instead:
- Wonder Woman is the classic example, which is lampshaded in Justice League, where Gordon Godfrey snarkingly compares her to a showgirl. Also played with in the movie, when Steve Trevor says "Let's get you into an outfit that doesn't get me arrested for solicitation."
- There was an attempt ito avert it with a jacket/pants update. It didn't last long.
- During the 1970s, Wonder Woman went through a big makeover, which also didn't last too long. She sometimes wore a fringed jacket and pants and sometimes wore a dress cut off just below the crotch (like a dress version of a miniskirt; I'm sure this has a formal name, but I don't know what it is). Both of these still managed to show a lot of leg, because of the shortness of the dress and the fact that the pants had large circular holes in them running down the outside of the leg.
- Wonder Woman's New 52 outfit was set to be another aversion, until her creative team opted for something closer to her traditional look. Certain covers and promotional images were even released with "pants" and "no pants" versions.
- Phantom Lady is the trope founder
- Just one of the many fanservices given to us by Power Girl.
- Batman's foe Poison Ivy wears a leotard made of leaves. Given that she's practically Ms. Fanservice, it's not really surprising.
- Huntress: The Earth Two version wears one all the time, the Post Crisis version less consistently so.
- Star Sapphire
- Starfire (When her costume isn't a Chainmail Bikini, anyway.) In 52 she's mistaken for a stripper after showing up on someone's doorstep.
- Black Canary wears this with the addition of fishnets and a leather jacket.
- Zatanna wears a shirt and jacket over the top half. That's because it's a classic magician look, it's her shtick. She also wears fishnet stockings, apparently because the leotard itself didn't scream "stripper" loud enough.
- Hawkgirl / Hawkwoman, during The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books. Post Crisis, she switched to a two-piece costume.
- Supergirl's outfit was always leotard-ish, but she typically covered her hips with a skirt of at least mid-thigh length until the New 52 reboot, which made it a straight up leotard with Thigh-High Boots.
- Both Dick Grayson and Jason Todd wore one during their time as Robin, what with their costumes being based on Dick's circus leotard.
- Even the DC-published Animaniacs comic book got in on the act: the outwardly dumb blond Hello Nurse was revealed to be the mundane version of Hello Nurse, Agent of H.U.B.B.A., a James Bond-style superheroine with a leotard styled to look like a nurse's uniform.
- Marvel Comics does this often, but not as often as DC (they generally seem to prefer spandex bodysuits instead):
- Bunnie Rabbot
- Caitlin Fairchild of Gen13. Probably the tallest example of this trope.
- In the Warhammer 40,000 comic Bloodquest has a male example, as Captain Leonatos is depicted as wearing a leotard over his Heroic Build when he takes off his Power Armor to rest. He also sits upright in bed, holding his bolter over his chest the whole time.
- Worn by Christopher Reeve as part of his Superman costume in a rare male example. Granted, it isn't obvious to the naked eye (as he's mostly covered in identical shades of blue so the red in the middle looks like Underwear of Power to the naked eye), but there's at least one account that describes Reeve's costume as incorporating a leotard.
- Adam West's original Batman costume was also a leotard and tights, similarly disguised by a separate pair of briefs. This wasn't generally known until it appeared on eBay for charity, fetching over $30,000 (though the leotard was called a "tunic" in the eBay listing, it was shown separately).
- But Burt Ward's Robin costume was not based on a leotard, even though the comics version was. Ward's costume used a T-shirt and trunks instead (and flesh-colored tights, which Ward hated).
- In Animorphs, the morphers will normally tear their clothes if they morph into bigger animals, and the clothes will fall off if they morph into smaller ones. To prevent this, they wear skin tight clothes when morphing, such as bicycle shorts, tight undershirts, and for the girls of course, leotards.
- The woman shown on the cover of The Menace from Earth wears one.
- A common staple in Lady Gaga's wardrobe, particularly earlier in her career. These ranged from relatively simple with shoulder pads to increasingly gaudy pieces that had mirrors, crystals, spikes, etc.
- "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyonce. 'Nuff said.
- This used to be all over the place in Professional Wrestling, though you rarely see it nowadays unless someone is either an older wrestler or is going for that old school look.
- Truth in Television: gymnastics and figure skating.
- Though one hopes it's less fanservice-y considering most Olympic-level female gymnasts (and figure skaters, to an increasing degree) hit their prime at sixteen.
- Which is A-OK in most of the world, including the better part of the US (except California and couple other states). It's still squicky, though, because actually female gymnasts are at their prime not at sixteen, but at twelve, thirteen tops. By sixteen years they already start to lose their edge and finesse, compensating more by the brute force.
- And occasionally by starvation.
- Different in the case of rhythmic gymnastics, where athletes compete well into their twenties, and are often tall, leggy and curvy to boot.
- But ever since 2000(?), rhythmic gymnastics leos tend to skirt the issue. Rhythmic gymnastics and "women's" figure skating tend to occupy the surprisingly obscure line between this trope and Minidress of Power.
- NCAA women's gymnastics. At least the competitors are around twenty years old, instead of eleven.
- Cammy White of Street Fighter is the poster girl for this trope in Fighting Games. The same series also features Rainbow Mika. Given they're each wearing a thong-cut Leotard of Power, both have their asses on full display, too.
- In Mortal Kombat, nearly every female character does this, most often Sindel, Kitana, Tanya and occasionally, Mileena and Jade (who both have other costumes with Underwear of Power instead).
- In Final Fantasy VI, Celes and Terra's sprites seem to be wearing these. Celes' concept art has her wearing a completely different kind of suit, but it was changed for the game for whatever reason and Terra's concept art extends it to a sort of evening dress (this may simply be a matter of a short dress being hard to show on a sprite).
- Terra's alternate look in Dissidia: Final Fantasy which is based on her FFVI sprite shows it to be a really short dress.
- In Final Fantasy IV, Rydia wears one both as a child and as an adult along with a numbers of very frilly trails and sleeves. Rydia however, is somewhat reasonable compared to Rosa, who tends to switch between this and a damn bikini between actual in-game and concept arts. She is also covered in scarves and in the DS CG, actually wears two capes.
- Of course this is a valid costume option in City of Heroes.
- Mei-fang of Arcana Heart wears one with the top part of a Chinese dress jacket worn over it. "Top part", as in just the collar and sleeves, to better display her assets.
- Eclaire of La Pucelle Tactics wears one when she's in her "dark" form. Priere as well.
- In Metroid, players are able to play as a leotard-wearing Samus if they complete the game in under three hours.
- And in Zero Mission, you're guaranteed to get to see it anyway.
- And then it appears again in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, rendered beautifully on the Wii, this time around. Her move set become far less conservative when she loses the power suit.
- Nina from the original Breath of Fire.
- Fortune's outfit in Metal Gear Solid 2 is basically a one-piece swimsuit worn under a Badass Longcoat.
- The piece of armor known as the "Pink Leotard" is a staple of the Dragon Quest series. Only female characters can wear it, and it's actually one of the most powerful pieces of armor you can buy in the game. (Fanart of various characters wearing it is popular in Japan.)
- Dragon Quest IX has "Zenithian Leotard" (Dragon Quest IV heroine's costume). 52 defense, 10 point below Metal King Armor. It's green, and it's leaving your right shoulder naked.
- The Dark Queen from Battletoads.
- After her fall, Flonne from Disgaea wears one.
- In the Baldur's Gate series, the Paladin class has this as the armorless model.
- The playable Saber in Fate/EXTRA wears a leotard under her partially see-through dress, but since the leotard is white and it isn't shown in full in the game many players initially assume that she's showing off her underwear instead.
- Mr. Jules Léotard himself and his various trapeze-swinging colleagues, naturally. Lots of circus people wear them to accentuate the awesome.