Mooning: The time-honored tradition of pulling down one's pants and displaying one's buttocks. The term "mooning" has been in the English language for over 400 years, it wasn't until the late 1960's that it gained its modern slang usage.
Mooning is typically done for sheer, pointless defiance, to taunt an enemy, or simply for laughs. The general idea is to do it within full view of people who don't expect or want to see a pair of bare buttocks. Cheek Copy is a cousin of this trope that's less direct and can have the perpetrator be a safe distance from the victim with the same net result.
While this is often a male-oriented behavior, it's not unheard of for a woman to do the same. Of course, when a woman does this, it's often more for Fanservice than shock or offense, although for some people this can end up as Fetish Retardant.
Performing the act from the window of a moving car is perhaps the most common form in modern America. This solves the problem of a quick getaway while one's pants are undone.
In more unfortunate situations, the act of mooning may be followed by an Ass Shove.
Don't try this in real life, particularly in public. The resulting charges can range from public indecency to second-degree sexual assault, especially if children are nearby, and there's nothing like being on a registered sex offender list.
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An ill-advised prank advertising the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
In the third Austin Powers movie, this is Mini-Me's statement to the World Council's sentencing him and Dr. Evil (who is quite amused by the display.)
In Easy Virtue Philip makes a joke about his performing the can-can naked to Larita and she responded that she would do anything for him. After hearing this her sister-in-law Hilda decided to perform the dance without panties, and the result was her reputedly mooning the audience during the dance
In Wish You Were Here when Lynda was reputedly yelling “up ya bum” her neighbor asked what she was doing. She replied that she was just looking for a cat. The girl then bent down and lifted her nightshirt giving the grouchy woman an eyeful.
According to Dave Barry's Guide to Guys, one of the immature activities which constitute the "business meetings" of the Arcola Broom Corn Festival involves
a man climbing up a ladder and, using props, presenting a dramatic rendition of a song while the Rangers attempt to guess the title, which is not difficult because the song always involves the word "moon"
In the same book, he also states that mooning is one of the two things invented by guys, the other being Pez.
Alison moons her unsuccessful suitor Absolon through a window in the dark in "The Miller's Tale". . .while leading him to believe she's sticking her face out the window for a kiss. He "kist her naked ers", and Squick ensues. He then comes back with a red-hot iron, asks for another kiss, and shoves the iron "amidde the ers" of Alison's lover.
In Angela's Ashes, Malachy Jr frequently moons Oliver and Eugene to try to make them laugh.
The first instance of visible mooning on network U.S. TV was on St. Elsewhere where Dr. Westphall, who had quit in disgust, was offered a new job by his replacement. His response was to bare his backside and say "You can kiss my ass, pal." The action and the line were very risque for 1987.
On an episode of Roseanne, Arnie laments that the only thing he and Nancy used to fight about was "who drives and who moons."
Penny Marshall had a cameo in the Taxi episode "Louie Moves Uptown", where she tries to get a nice apartment. However the application board rejected her because she was an actress, and she responded by hiking up her skirt and sticking her tongue out at them.
In one episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin goes out with his friends who moon an older couple in the next car at a stoplight, but Kevin himself ducks down upon realizing the couple is his parents!
On The Bob Newhart Show, Bob's old college pal, nicknamed "The Peeper", reveals that Bob's nickname was "The Mooner." Bob hastily claims it was because he liked the "Moon Mullins" comic strip, but then smiles as he remembers an old Studebaker they used to drive...
Night Court had a rare female version where Billie pulled her skirt up and mooned out the window of Harry's chamber.
On That '70s Show, Eric invents the "Moon & Trench" which involves him "trenching" his teacher's lawn with the Vista Cruiser after mooning him at the door
On The Jeff Foxworthy Show Jeff is the king of mooning in his hometown since at a major ball game his mooning attempt got caught on the jumbo-tron. Later that episode he and his son moon a car with three women in it. It turns out the women were his wife, sister-in-law, and brother's girlfriend.
In the Take me to the Ball Game episode of Good Luck Charlie Uncle Ted moons the baseball players and is shown on the Jumbo screen. Of course, Teddy and Ivy cover him up with foam fingers, but don't forget this is a Disney Channel show! Later:
Teddy: Then the police officer told us to please leave, then Uncle Mel told him to kiss something that was on the jumbo screen.
Sheldon: Now, for the astronomers in the audience, get ready to see the dark side of the moon. And here’s Uranus.
In a home video contest in the Chilean Cult Classic show Maldita sea!, one of the videos featured a guy hallucinating after sniffing onhis smelly tennis shoes. One of his hallucinations features him facing a warrior who warns him about his "body power" and then moons him as an attack. Then he kills him, but as said above it was All Just a Dream.
The Toy Dolls song and album, "Bare Faced Cheek", the cover of which is shown above.
Perhaps not too surprisingly, Eminem is known to have done this at some of his concerts.
The cover of Iron Maiden's "The Best of 'B' Sides" shows Eddie The Head mooning the viewer from behind a windshield of a bus.
ThisFar Side cartoon shows us why it's a bad idea to moon people who are armed with projectile weapons.
There is another one featuring sheep having a night on the town.
Jeff Foxworthy claims he was an "all-state" mooner his senior year of high school.
"Wasn't mooning a great sport? Nobody ever got hurt, you didn't have to be in shape to play. Hell, the fatter you were the more you brought to the window!"
In Rent, during the lines "We raise our glass/You bet your ass" in "La Vie Boheme," Maureen gets up on the table and moons Benny and his associates.
There's a character in the stage play Grease who is known for this. The song "Mooning" is a Double Entendre.
The King's wives in The King and I, who at one point wear Gorgeous Period Dresses that did not come with undergarments, accidentally did this to some visitors from England. One of the visitors unintentionally scares them with his monocle, causing them to lift up their skirts and run away.
Brain Dead 13: One of Lance's cool dance moves in the final confrontation. Except that his hairy butt is just... squicky.
In Conkers Bad Fur Day, Conker gets mooned by cavemen twice: first by the muggers on the hoverboards, and then by the soldiers in the arena (though the second one was removed from the Xbox version).
In one Nodwick comic, Yeagar decides on a gesture of defiance after proving unable to answer the Riddle of the Sphinx. Fortunately, it turns out that the answer to the riddle is "Moon".
An old Goblin Hollow arc involved Ben and the gang mooning people from the back of his van. Sheldon, the turtle, refused, and was accused of being jealous "'cos you ain't got no butt". It ended with Ben explaining the never-seen resulting Disaster Dominoes to Lily:
"So then it was my turn. I gave Sheldon the wheel, dropped my britches, and slapped my butt against the window. Naturally my belt got caught in the door handle just as we got stuck in traffic. Then that squad car pulled up ... You know, this confession would be a lot easier if you'd stop laughing."
"Tell her the bit about the bus full of Japanese tourists!"
In Drowtales, during his recounting of the previous council gathering, Phani'nath depicts this happening in an Imagine Spot. The actual mooning probably didn't occur, but Quain'tana's response is still very much in character.
Nelson does it as a distraction to allow Bart to steal the PA microphone from Skinner's office.
Mel Gibson and Homer moon a group of studio executives in one episode, with disastrous results when Homer is hit by a car. Homer got the idea from Braveheart, but mistakenly thought the mooning was how the heroes in the movie defeated their enemies.
Another moment leads to Bart's accidental mooning on the US flag causing him and his family to be branded as traitors to the country. When actually his shorts were eaten by a donkey and bends over to cover his privates and a photo was taken with a large flag behind him.
After egging his house, hoodlums Jimbo Jones, Dolph and Kearny moon Principal Skinner and his mother.
In "Bart's Comet" Bart manages to rig a weather balloon to make it look like a mooning Principal Skinner.
Homer dismisses Florida as "America's wang" and is told "They prefer the Sunshine State." It's a double meaning- a "sunshine" is a "moon" from the other side of the body.
In probably one of the earliest examples in the series, the episode "The Way We Was" features a flashback to when Homer was on the debate team (trying to get Marge interested in him) in high school. His idea of a rebuttal involved showing off his butt.
Occurred in King of the Hill when Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer tricked Hank into mooning the lobby from the hotel glass elevator (by saying they were all going to do it). Worse when former governor Ann Richards was in the lobby. Bill took the blame and apologized in front of her which leads to the plot of the episode.
Dale moons out the window of a moving truck, but quickly regrets it when he sideswipes a bunch of shrubbery.
Another quite literal example in Dexter's Laboratory. Dexter accidentally pulls the moon out of orbit, which causes it to fall on his house and crush his lab, burning his clothes in the process. Deedee comes in a few seconds later and sees her brother's backside, and tells her mother that Dexter is mooning her. All the while the moon itself is still clearly visible in the background.
In the Phineas and Ferbelseworld episode "Doof Dynasty", during the song "The Way of the Platypus" Bufford moons the audience to show he has no beaver tail. Fortunately for the viewer, Perry the Platypus quickly covers it with a a fan.
In The Beatles song Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Paul McCartney laughs for no reason during a lyric. Rumour has it that John Lennon was mooning him from the studio.
There's a similar story about Bob Dylan, who laughs for no reason at the start of "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" allegedly due to Allen Ginsberg mooning him from the studio. Officially the laughter was because Dylan started playing before the rest of the band, but it's become a piece of song lore.
During the week leading up to Super Bowl XX, Bears quarterback Jim McMahon got tired of being asked about his rear end which had been injured earlier in the season and decided to literally show one reporter that it was okay.
In 2003, the Minnesota Vikings' receiver Randy Moss "fake mooned" Green Bay fans after scoring a touchdown against the Packers. Moss claimed it was in retaliation for a group of Packers fans who mooned the Vikings team bus the last time they came to Green Bay.
During the Vietnam War, when U.S. troops were forbidden to fire upon Vietcong soldiers until being shot at first, a Marine Lieutenant named Gordon Evans tried to provoke an attack (so he could take out a group of soldiers he saw) by flying his plane extremely low to the ground, making a good target. The Vietcong response? They dropped their pants and mooned him as he flew by.
When Guns N' Roses went to Chile in Thenineties, Slash "greeted" the fans who came to the band's hotel via jokingly mooning them from his hotel room's window.
For whatever reason in Laguna Niguel, California, mooning Amtrak passenger trains has been a tradition every year on the second Saturday of July since 1979.