Mankind's first hoodie.
So, your hero has managed to showcase his woodland prowess
felling a powerful woodlands creature with naught but a pointy stick, a bit of dental floss and gum
. What better way to show his superiority over nature than to show him fully clothed in animal skin attire? Especially manly characters will wear the entire open-mouthed head of the animal as a hood, as in the page picture.
In Real Life
this would be a complicated process. note
However, you're not likely to see this in an action based series because it's time consuming and not as fun to watch as the slaying of the creature. Despite all this, the trope is used because it's just that cool
If it's in a tundra or very cold environment, expect this to be used to justify his survival in this environment.
If portrayed realistically
, it serves as an example of good survival skills (trained hunters know how to skin and butcher a downed large animal in a few hours' span with only their knives) and (if the hunter is stranded in the wild) his adaptation to his new environment.
The trope namer is the Nemean Lion slain by Heracles.
See also Improvised Clothes
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Anime & Manga
- In Dragon Ball, Goku once skins a tiger. He must have done it with his bare hands because the only tool he has on him at that time is his power pole.
- In Excel♥Saga, Excel once did this to a crocodile. As she had to do it bare-handed, it left her hands badly torn.
- In Hajime No Ippo, Takamura once took out a bear by punching it a bunch of times. He let the bear live because she was only protecting her cub. However, Nekota came across the bear, killed it, and made bear stew. In Takamura's next fight, he wore the bear skin as part of his grand entrance.
- Wild Rock: This goes hand in hand with the prehistoric setting.
Films — Animation
- In Disney's Hercules, a reference to the original myth is kept when Hercules is seen posing for a picture in a lion-skin. The best part? It looks like Scar.
- In a Beowulf adaptation, there's a barbarian with a wolf skin. It's likely meant to be a pun on the name, "Beowulf". In which case it would be a lame pun, as Beowulf's name comes from "Bee Wolf," that is a bear, which he was described as being able to grapple like one.
Films — Live-Action
- 300: Leonidas skins a giant wolf without a knife, and wears it as a cape. He did this as a teenager and to prove that he deserved to be the king of Proud Warrior Race Guys.
- In Tropic Thunder, the lead kills a panda (accidentally, and much to his horror), whose skin he wears as part of his "descent into madness".
- In Conan the Barbarian (1982), when a fleeing Conan finally finds a weapon, the wolves that had been hounding him reappear. Cut to Conan wearing their skins.
- In Windwalker the ancient, returning-from-the-dead, chief has an adrenaline boosting run-in with a bear. After killing it, he wears its pelt to keep warm in the snow.
- Serenity: A particularly macabre version of this: the Reavers wear clothing made from skins — human skins.
- Silence of the Lambs: The bad guy was killing girls to make himself a girl suit.
- The Edge is another Anthony Hopkins movie example: His character and Alec Baldwin's killed a bear in the Alaska wild and in the next shot were walking around in nice warm bear skin coats.
- Willow: The Brownie named Rool wears the skin of a mouse, complete with mouse head hood.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians book, The Titan's Curse: after they kill the Nemean Lion, it magically skins itself and not only that, but because of the Mist's effects on mortal vision, it suddenly becomes a leather trench coat.
- John Jakes' Conan the Barbarian Expy, Brak, wore a lion skin and not much else most of the time.
- The Dark Tower series shows all of the steps that are needed to tan hides, and how long it takes to do it.
- Tarzan of the Apes novel: Averted, believe it or not. Tarzan kills a big cat and plans to wear its skin: "But he found the hide had dried as stiff as a board, and as he knew naught of tanning, he was forced to abandon his cherished plan."
- My Side of the Mountain has the protagonist kill a deer through use of traps, and the process of tanning its hide is long, complicated, and detailed. Kid has a good memory.
- Michael Havel, a.k.a. Lord Bear of the Bearkillers, from S.M. Stirling's Emberverse trilogy, wears the head of the bear that earned him and the outfit their names on his helmet. Subvertes the trope by making Havel nearly get killed by the bear, and tanning is done by specialists off-page.
- Mack of Louis L'Amour's Last of the Breed pulls the realistic version with a number of animals that he kills down to a few of the early tanning jobs going bad because he didn't have time to properly treat the skin.
- As part of disguising themselves as tribesmen late in the Belgariad, Belgarath, Silk and Garion take out a few rabbits and sew the skins to their clothing. They later tear them off when the smell gets too strong, after they've served their purpose.
- In the third Eugenics Wars novel from the Star Trek Expanded Universe, Khan Noonien Singh engages in this. He wears the skin of a big cat he killed after it terrorized his people's settlement.
- In Emperor: The Death of Kings, Corvix has a head dress made from a lion's head that he killed many years ago.
- The Big Bad of the fifth Redwall book, The Bellmaker, is Urgan Nagru, a fox who (allegedly) killed a wolf then took his name and pelt for himself. Nagru is Hoist by His Own Petard when he gets rammed into a tree, causing the teeth of the wolf's skull to stab through his head and kill him.
- In Through Wolf's Eye, Firekeeper's original outfit was made out of the hide of a deer she had killed herself. It is explicitly mentioned that the leather of her outfit is of low quality, as she was literally Raised by Wolves and knew nothing of practical tanning.
- Codex Alera: Canim Ritualists are believers in this trope and dress themselves in cloaks made from the skins of their enemies. Since most of the Canim encountered in the series are those who war with and raid human realms, most of the witnessed Ritualists dress in human-skin cloaks. The Shuaran Ritualists, on the other hand, dress in Vord-chitin robes.
- In Something From The Nightside, Belle wears the pelt of a werewolf she'd caught and skinned over her back, with its head draped over her own as per the pic above. In her case, she didn't need to tan or even clean the pelt, as she magically linked the fresh skin to her own body to acquire the werewolf's Healing Factor.
Myths & Religion
- Some editions of DungeonsAndDragons encourage heroes to skin defeated dragons in order to turn them into dragonhide armor or shields.
- A very common foe in Scion. "Nemean" is a term that refers to any animal that is supernaturally huge, powerful, and evil, usually somehow related to the titans. A nemean lion can be the size of an elephant. A nemean elephant can be the size of a house. All of them generally look like gigantic versions of the common animals, but sometimes they have some monstrous features. The skin of a nemean animal is nigh impenetrable, and many heroes have made coats, cloaks, or jackets from nemean best skin that are the best non-Relic armor available in the setting (and often enough, they become Relics). On a sidenote, once you become so powerful that a lion the size of an elephant is your version of a common mook, don't worry: there are also Typhonian animals, that are big enough to provide a serious challenge to gods. A typhonian lion can be the size of a tall building, its hide is even tougher, and if you skin it, is even better a prize...
- The High Elven army in Warhammer has an elite unit called the White Lions of Chrace, greataxe-wielding woodsmen who wear the pelts of the beasts they take their name from. Aside from looking cool, these lion cloaks grant their wearers added protection against missile attacks.
- Warhammer 40,000's Space Wolves have, among a staggering array of wolf-themed wargear, wolf pelts to adorn the Power Armor of their character models. And Fabius Bile of course works in a labcoat made from human skin.
- Schlock Mercenary had one sequence that made reference to the absurd number of steps (though only showing some). Of course they manage to skip some thanks to Schlock's... unique biology.
- Subverted in Oglaf where a character appears to be wearing a bear's skin but is actually being attacked by a "flatbear".
- In The Order of the Stick, Belkar is fond of finding innovative uses for kobold bodyparts after he's killed them. The first time he does this is when he uses the head of Yokyok as an impromptu leather hat.
- In the "Ice Station Impossible!" episode of The Venture Bros., Brock does this to a polar bear in seconds to help Dr. Venture survive being dumped naked in the tundra. In fairness, both Brock and the bear pelt were absolutely covered in blood. That didn't stop Dr. Venture from wearing it for the rest of the episode, including after he got back to the station, and while working in the lab to cure a volatile mutagen.
- In the Justice League episode "Hereafter," Superman, having been blasted into the far future, under a red sun, is accosted by big mutated wolves, until he makes himself a sword and kills their leader, wearing its skin as a cape afterward. It clearly took time for him to fashion the skin into a cape, which would certainly be easier than making it into a tunic or something anyway and require way less skill to pull off.
- On Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, a feverish Bloo (as his alter ego Bloo Superdude) fights a vicious giant pink rabbit and wears his skin afterwards. Turns out it was Eduardo's stuffed bunny, Paco.
- In the Adventure Time episode "Susan Strong", Finn discovers a tribe of humans (or so he thought) that wear animal skins as hats. This casts disturbing implications on the nature of Finn's own Nice Hat.
- In Wakfu season 1 episode 17, Sadlygrove shears a pack of arctic dog-like beasts with one slash of his sword — without even killing them — to provide wool for his companions.
- The Vexillarius and the Imaginifer in the Roman Army wore headdresses made from the head of a wolf.
- The term berserker literally means "bear jacket" and refers to Norse warriors who wore bear pelts in combat.
- Aztec priests of Xipe Totec ("The Flayed One") skinned their Human Sacrifices and paraded in their (untreated) skins for twenty days. It's supposed to be symbolic of how their god sheds his skin and is reborn in a golden body every year, which itself symbolises the maize harvest being husked.
- A Cosplay example here. The cookie farmers are safe once more - for another year, at least.