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"Not Wearing Pants" Dream
Quite an example you're setting for your niece dressing like that.

"I was up at the front of the plane, and I said, 'Listen, I don't think this is a real plane crash, since I happen to notice that I'm not wearing any pants, and when I'm not wearing pants, it's probably a dream.'"
Adam, Mythbusters

A stock dream where the subject finds themselves in a familiar social institution (usually school or the workplace) wearing only their underwear, or sometimes nothing at all. This is often coupled with a high-pressure task (such as an examination or a deadline), and the thought that you have somehow forgotten to get dressed this morning.

Usually, this trope is invoked to simply indicate that the person is dreaming. When played straight, it is simply embarrassing, and not in the least bit erotic or terror-inducing. And it will never, ever be prophetic...although in comedy, it's occasionally subverted by having the "bad dream" turn out to not be a dream at all. This is definitely Truth in Television.

A Sub-Trope of Anxiety Dreams. See also Fully-Clothed Nudity.

See also Out-of-Clothes Experience. Not to be confused with Pants-Free (a specific sight gag where someone is revealed to be partly undressed Behind the Black); the everyday attire of a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal; or a superhero who is Not Wearing Tights. Also not to be confused with Going Commando. Expect Goofy Print Underwear to make an appearance in most cases of this.

The inversion is Nude-Colored Clothes. To a British audience this trope would be "only wearing pants", since in Britain "pants" are what Americans call "underpants". "Not wearing pants" in Britain would either be "going commando" or "completely nude".


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comicbooks 
  • In Little Ego, Ego has a dream where she goes to a party only to discover she had forgotten to put her dress on under her cape. While hiding from her hosts and the other guests, she meets a man who had forgotten to put on anything other than his bow-tie.
  • In Batman, Tim Drake once commented that normal people have nightmares about accidentally heading to school in their underwear. He doesn't. His nightmares involved accidentally going to school in his Robin uniform.
  • In Tintin, the captain has such a dream. He's in the opera, a parrot-version of the Castafiore sings, and the whole audience consists of parrots in black suits, looking disapprovingly at the naked captain.
  • Something of a subversion in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles — At one point, Sir Miles and Colonel Friday communicate with one another via dream travel, with Sir Miles appearing in the Dreamscape without his trousers. When Friday makes a snide remark, Sir Miles, unperturbed, calmly points out that it was common dream image and therefore made communication easier.
  • Iznogoud once had a naked dream. While sleeping in a bed that makes all his dreams come true. And then, the irascible sultan Pullmancar enters.

    Fanfic 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Osmosis Jones, the Live Action Show Within a Show dream sequence Ozzy watches about Frank's subconscious featured a dream in which Frank was in his daughter's class taking a test he didn't know about or study for...in his underwear and getting laughed at by the kids, the buffalo-wing-eating champion, some bullies from work, etc. and berated by Mrs. Boyd.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Bull Durham, Nuke LaLoosh had a nightmare about playing naked. When he wakes up on the team bus, wise veteran Crash Davis tells him "it's OK, I have that dream all the time too." Writer/Director Ron Shelton really did play minor league baseball, and this is one of the many parts of the film that are evidently Truth in Television.
  • In New York Minute, Jane has a nightmare that she gives a speech naked.
  • In Another Time, Another Place, Janie worries about Luigi blabbing to the other POWs about having slept with her (made worse by the fact that she can't understand what they're saying) and ends up having a weird, anxiety-fuelled daydream where she imagines herself naked with all the prisoners leering at her.

    Literature 
  • Chris Van Allsburg's storybook The Sweetest Fig involves self-centered Parisian dentist Monsieur Bibot receiving two figs as payment for a tooth extraction. The lady who gives him these figs says that all of his dreams will come true. Not believing so, Bibot eats one of the figs. The next day his preceding dream comes true; among other things, he walks his dog Marcel in his underwear without noticing.
  • In Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget has a recurring nightmare where she has to take A-level French while wearing nothing but her Domestic Science apron.
  • Older Than Radio: The Dream of Councillor Popov (1873), a satire in verse by Aleksey Tolstoy (a cousin of Leo Tolstoy and himself a famous Russian poet, novelist and playwright)
  • In the memoir Reading Lolita In Tehran, the author remembers some women discussing dreams of appearing outside without their veils.
  • Referenced in Dinoverse, when Candayce has a lovely dream of lying out beside a pool in the warm sun, then realizes with horror that she feels the air on her bare chest - and when she wakes up she's naked, because she's in the body of a dinosaur.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Eureka uses this in the same episode everyone winds up sharing dreams.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • A Star Trek: Voyager episode about dreams begins with Tuvok having one about being naked on the bridge.
    Tuvok: It appears that in my haste to get to the Bridge, I neglected to put on my uniform.
  • Referenced in the "Cabin Fever" episode of MythBusters, wherein Adam recounts a dream he had about piloting an airplane, in which he said it must be a dream because he wasn't wearing pants.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: In the episode with Dewey's chicken pox and the dominoes, Hal has a dream that starts with his wife on a white horse, and transitions to him having a test in school for which he didn't study... and suddenly he's in only his underwear.
  • One episode of Night Court has Bull come to work in the buff. "It's okay, I'm just having that nightmare where I go to work naked." "...Bull, this isn't a dream." Cue the slow burn, the girly scream, and the title.
  • Referenced in iCarly when Sam was having a nightmare and Gibby ran into the classroom in his underwear. Sam told him to "Get out! This is my nightmare!"
  • In an episode of Power Rangers RPM, Ziggy reveals that he once dreamed that he had gone to school in just his underwear, only to realize that it wasn't a dream. Apparently there was a rash that had spread down the back of something too...
  • Babylon 5 used this with Ivanova in one episode. She dreamed that she was on the bridge but forgot to get dressed. When she mentions it to Sheridan by saying she dreamed that she went to work feeling vulnerable and exposed ("totally... unprepared for my work"), the Captain responded by saying that at least she didn't dream that she went to work naked.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Ted has one of these dreams right before starting as a professor. Not only is he missing his pants, but he doesn't even have his hat and whip. Barney comments on it, telling Ted he should have had sex with the hot student in the front row because he already had his pants off.
  • In an episode of Angel, the hero dreams that he comes to work but forgets his shoes.
  • On The Drew Carey Show, Drew told his not-quite girlfriend about a dream he had involving her:
    "You were on fire and I was squirting you with a giant hose. Then you turned into my mother and my pants fell off."
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina enter Valerie's dream to find her taking a test on which her entire future depends. Then she looks down and all her clothes are gone.
  • Pixel Face: Referenced by Rex in "Mrs Dynamo's Son":
    Oh no! Is this a dream? Am I going to have to sit an exam with no pants on in a moment?
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Thanks for the Memory", Lister looks in on what Rimmer is dreaming. Rimmer is doing a tap dance in a top hat and tails, but no pants.
  • Referenced in the Doctor Who episode, "Blink"; Sally Sparrow encounters Larry, emerging from the bathroom in the middle of the night. He takes in her presence and offers, "Not... sure, but... really, really hoping... pants?" She tells him No, but with just a hint of a smile on her face. For American viewers to truly appreciate this, they must remember that in the UK, "Pants" are called Trousers — if a Brit says Pants, they mean underwearnote .
  • In the Haven episode "Lay Me Down", Nathan dreams that he is in class, naked. It soon turns into an Erotic Dream because Audrey is his Hot Teacher, who gives him a spanking.
  • Casey Novak in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit mentions a dream where she's naked in front of several of the series' recurring judges. She reveals this while standing in front of those same judges fully clothed because the one she sought out to sign an exhumation order was hosting a poker game.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Jeremy in Zits has a dream where he is naked at school and can't decide whether the most disturbing part is that he's naked or that no one notices.
  • Jon in Garfield once had a nightmare, where he was about to address the assembly of the United Nations, with millions of people watching by television... and he forgot to wear pants.
  • A cartoon in Punch shows a man, naked from the waist down, riding the bus, while explaining cheerfully to a horrified elderly woman that this is simply a recurring dream of his in which he always wakes up before reaching a particular stop.
  • Loriot once made a strip with this as a spoof of etiquette guides, recommending for this case that you should try to wake yourself up by pinching yourself - even in case you like the situation.
  • Luann once had a dream where not only did she not have pants, she had mask on her face and shampoo in her hair. Mortified, she suddenly realizes this has to be a dream and waits to wake up. When she doesn't, she runs out in a panic, and then wakes up wondering, "Whatever happened to those beautiful princess in a castle dreams I used to have?"
  • Inverted in Grimmy, where Grimmy (a dog) has a nightmare where he's on a busy street while fully dressed.

    Video Games 
  • Happens in the beginning of The Longest Journey when April sees a "dream" about Arcadia. Justified, as she actually did unconsciously travel to Arcadia while sleeping in her bed (and she didn't sleep fully-clothed, naturally). It happens again much later, when she has to flee after being awakened at night and arrives to Arcadia in just her undies.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: If you nominate Alistair for King of Ferelden, his response is "This is where I wake up, usually. Or everyone points and laughs because I've no clothes on."
  • A comment snarky-Hawke can make to Merrill before the final battle of Dragon Age II when she asks if it all feels like a dream: "In a moment, I'll look down and see that I have no pants on."
    Merrill: (giggles) The Champion of Kirkwall going into battle naked! Why can't I ever have that dream?
  • Implied, but ultimately subverted, in one Sam & Max game. Various characters are living out their worst nightmares, and one is the paranoid Bosco, who is naked, on a stage, and has everyone looking straight at him. Later turns out that it was the "everyone looking straight at him" part that he disliked; he actually doesn't mind being naked in public.
  • In Catherine, the protagonist Vincent is forced to run around in nothing but white boxers with pink polka dots during the puzzle sections, which take place in his dreams.

    Webcomics 
  • An early Penny Arcade strip involves Tycho standing naked and waving at people in an arcade while Gabe is playing one of the games. When Tycho asks Gabe is he's ever had one of these dreams, Gabe says that he isnt dreaming.
    Tycho: You could have told me that before we left the house.
  • Discussed in The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal.
    Amal: So what are you dreaming about?
    TJ: I'm on Wheel of Fortune... and I'm naked.
    Amal: Oh, the naked-in-public dream, that's a classic.
    TJ: Yeah, but it's okay, 'cause Vanna White's naked too.
    Amal: Vanna White's, like, seventy years old!
    TJ: Hey, this is my dream, so she's still bangin'.
  • One of the types of dreams Luna shows in And That's How Equestria Was Made! is 'being naked in front of a crowd', complete with victim on stage staring at the audience in terror. But what do ponies normally wear ...
  • Early in the "Squirrel Prophet" arc of El Goonish Shive, Grace is getting chewed out by an old-fashioned teacher for using the Internet in her research assignment. The teacher then points out she forgot to get dressed, at which point her clothes disappear. Ridicule ensues. This one is a bit odd in that Grace has No Nudity Taboo, and the nature of her emotional distress isn't so much embarrassment as it is a feeling that she's different from everyone else and doesn't belong.
  • Two Lumps: Snooch woke up screaming from a dream of being naked in front of everybody.
    Eben: We're cats. We're naked all the time.

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, one story has Phase going through a long series of nightmares. One nightmare is her naked in the school cafeteria. At which point her physical peculiarity is visible, and the rest of the Superhero School tries to kill her.
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse has Ken try to invoke this after the sight of Barbie with messy hair and an ugly dress causes him to think he ended up in a nightmare. Unfortunately, Barbie tells him That Was Not A Dream.
  • Mentioned by Ace in the Doctor Who webcast Death Comes to Time. When Casmus tells her about the importance and significance of dreams, she fires back by mentioning that hers are basically useless.
    Ace: I just end up with my trousers down in the classroom!

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Aladdin: The Series, Iago and Abu are magically transported to the land of the dead, which gives them the ability to visit living people in their dreams. They manage to convince Aladdin and the Sultan that they're dreaming by pointing out that they aren't wearing pants.
  • In Futurama, Fry has a dream about being in his old underpants in front of his Ancient Egyptian Algebra class. The dream then turns into an advertisement for Lightspeed Briefs, a much cooler brand of underpants. He then learns that advertisements in the 31st century can be beamed directly into people's brains.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In "Nightmares and Daydreams" Aang dreams that he faces the Firelord while pantless, then inverts it at the end by declaring that the Firelord is the pantsless one. Complete with the line "My royal parts are showing!"
  • Ron Stoppable's reveal to Kim Possible that his worst nightmare is to being in school without wearing any pants. And this is a guy that drops his pants, a lot. And Kim pointed out he actually did come to school with no pants.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode where Homer goes to college:
    Homer: A test?! This is like one of those bad dreams!
    (camera pans out revealing him in his underwear)
    *Homer screams in horror*
  • In Bob And Margaret, Bob's nervousness about giving a speech at a Dental convention culminates in him having a dream where he's giving the speech naked.
  • American Dragon Jake Long:
    • The eponymous character ends up in his underwear on a bridge in front of a reporter, his little sister and his home economics teacher who turns out to be another dragon. He figures he must be having a bad dream because of all the stress of his job and begins acting crazy. However, he was not dreaming and pictures of the event were eventually published.
    • Played straight in another episode where Jake dreams that Rotwood points out that he's wearing his underwear to school.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: In "I Dream of Jimmy", Carl is seen having one of these just as Jimmy is about to travel into Carl's dream-scape.
    Carl: I'm in my underwear, at the mall!
  • In an episode of Extreme Ghostbusters involving nightmares, this was Egon's nightmare. Subverted in that he doesn't have a Naked Freak-Out over it.
  • In the My Gym Partners A Monkey episode "The Hyena and the Mighty", Adam had a dream that he came to school in his underpants. Jake informed him that it wasn't a dream.
  • Referred to in the The Amazing World of Gumball episode The Responsible, where Richard and Nicole have gone to a Parent's Meeting, and Richard is in his underwear.
    Richard: This is just like one of those dreams where you go to school naked!
    • Played with in "The Dream". Gumball and Darwin, who made themselves share a dream, end up Darwin's dream about being naked at a mall, where everyone is laughing at them. As Darwin wears nothing but shoes, Gumball tries to take his Censor Box. Gumball then points out that since Darwin knows he's in a dream, he can control everything. Darwin then makes it so they're wearing clothes while the customers are only wearing their underwear... and continue laughing at them.
      Gumball: Ugh, being the only one wearing clothes in a nude mall is just as embarrassing as being naked in a regular mall.
  • In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Jade enters Jackie's dream, and has to point out Jackie isn't wearing pants to prove that he's dreaming.
  • In the G.I. Joe episode "Nightmare Assault", Lady Jaye says that she had a nightmare that she was forced to sing the national anthem for the Super Bowl. Hawk asks what was so bad about that, and she blushes and says, "Let's just say I wasn't exactly in dress uniform."
  • Daria has a variant in the first episode, when Daria and Jane have to speak at an assembly in front of the entire school. Jane comments that "Usually when I have this dream I'm wearing pink taffeta."
  • The Arthur episode "Arthur's Underwear" makes the title character endure at least one every day, while suffering a guilt trip from mocking Binky for ripping his pants in front of the class. Buster also dreams about forgetting his pants.

    Real Life 
  • Pants-less or fully-nude nightmares do occur in real life and are fairly common (as far as nightmares go). The general consensus among health experts is that such dreams are the result of anxiety in the dreamer's waking life. For instance, people preparing for a wedding often report such dreams.
    • A subversion was reported in one of the Time Life book series on dreams. A teenaged boy reported dreaming that he showed up to class and started stripping to the cheers of his classmates. As he had very recently become sexually active, the researcher speculated he was celebrating his ability to overcome his inhibitions.


Modesty ShortsTropes in PantsPainted-on Pants
Nipple and DimedPartial Nudity TropesNude-Colored Clothes
Nervous WreckAnxiety TropesOverly Nervous Flop Sweat
Not the NessieOlder Than RadioThe Noun and the Noun
Naked Freak-OutUnmentionablesOf Corset Hurts
No Nudity TabooNudity TropesNude-Colored Clothes
Nightmare SequenceDream TropesOpinion Changing Dream
Not This One, That OneComedy TropesNow You Tell Me
Non-Giving-Up School GuySchool TropesPassing Notes in Class
Not-So-Badass LongcoatCostume TropesNot Wearing Tights
Jackie Chan AdventuresImageSource/Western AnimationThe Jetsons

alternative title(s): Not Wearing Pants
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