%% Administrivia/ZeroContextExample entries are not allowed on wiki pages. All such entries have been commented out. Add context to the entries before uncommenting them.
[[quoteright:350:[[ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wolverine_9727.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:"Eh, looks about right."]]

->''"Yeah, like Batman and Robin. Only... I ain't wearing no tights. You can wear tights, but I'm not wearing tights."''
-->-- '''D.L.''', ''Series/{{Heroes}}''

These superheroes just aren't ''called'' superheroes. They often don't wear costumes or use [[CodeName code names]], but they have abilities far beyond those of normal men, and are superheroes in all but name.

Occasionally, such stories will [[LampshadeHanging lampshade]] the trope by having characters in [[ConversationalTroping off hand discussions]] about whether they'd look good in a [[SuperheroesWearCapes cape]], or using SomethingPerson-style nicknames, but discarding the ideas as being "silly." A "ThisIsReality" remark can be thrown in, as well.

Like many tropes this one has underlying practical considerations, such as:

* Aesthetics - Most classic comic book-style superhero costumes tend to look very silly in live action, which is why MovieSuperheroesWearBlack. Plus, with a few relatively rare exceptions (such as Creator/ChristopherReeve as Franchise/{{Superman}}, Creator/LyndaCarter as Franchise/WonderWoman, or Creator/ScarlettJohansson as Comicbook/BlackWidow) it is very difficult to cast someone who physically resembles comic book interpretations (especially in cases where body shapes are exaggerated).
* GenreShift - When the creator is actually aiming for the story to look and feel as if it belongs in ScienceFiction or UrbanFantasy categories, and does not initially realize that the story fits the conventions of the super hero genre. They may or may not act kindly to people pointing out the similarities.
* Marketing - Some creators may wish to avoid their characters being seen as superheroes in order to prevent incorrect expectations of the work. The marketers may also want to play up the popularity of their lead actor or actress, [[MarqueeAlterEgo meaning that a face-covering mask is a big no-no]].
* Budget - Mostly affects TV shows rather than films. Most live-action shows have to work within very tight budgets, so it can be difficult to create a faithful translation of a comic outfit without it looking cheesey or low rent. The ''Film/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica'' pilot and the later seasons of ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' are rather infamous for having comic-accurate but ''extremely'' cheesey looking costumes, for instance.
* Legal - Licensing for intellectual properties can be ''very'' complicated and they may be unable to use the iconic costume of the hero but can still use the character itself. A well-known example is ''{{Series/Smallville}}'' where they had the rights to use Clark Kent and some back story elements but not have the rights to show Superman (for most of the series).

Named because SuperheroesWearTights.

Compare with ScifiGhetto, NotUsingTheZWord, AnimationAgeGhetto. See also CivvieSpandex and SpandexLatexOrLeather. Series in which people are NotWearingTights typically use a DifferentlyPoweredIndividual label.


[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/DarkerThanBlack'' is a {{seinen}} series, but its "Contractors" are superheroes in all but name -- [[{{Deconstruction}} and with a decidedly darker twist]]. Overall, the whole Contractor idea and the prejudice against them has rather a similarity to mutants in ComicBook/XMen (although this is one of the few cases where the Fantastic Racists actually might have a good point). Also, the protagonist Hei wears a mask and uses a GrapplingHookPistol but [[NotUsingTheZWord no one uses the "s-word"]] to describe him.
** ...though [[{{Shinigami}} another "s-word"]] was used even before he became Contractor.
** This is actually more averted after the first series, as the {{interquel}} manga, set after the Masquerade is exposed, the news does explicitly compare Contractors to comic book characters. Also, as of the second season, Hei's not the only character who wears a costume. A female Contractor with ImplausibleFencingPowers dresses in a black "ninja-like" outfit and a guy not only has a magic-themed power and Renumeration, but he also dresses like one as well.
** In a flashback to the Heaven's Gate war, Bai is shown to dress similar to a superhero.
* Lelouch in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' dresses as Zero in costume, cape, and mask and turns his LargeHam quotient up to 11. He is a definite fit for the RichIdiotWithNoDayJob idea. It's definitely implied that Lelouch was inspired by superheroes, as [[AllThereInTheManual side materials]] make off-hand references to him liking comic books and {{Toku}} as a child.
** He ''promoted himself to Batman as a PR move.'' He called his terrorist organization 'The Black Knights' and had them publicly running around defeating drug dealers and terrorists with less PR-savvy. (He also actually employs a professional news-spinner to work on his PR in this period.) Though the suit itself is agreed to look more like [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Space Dracula]].
* Li'l Slugger from ''Anime/ParanoiaAgent'': While hitting people in the head with a baseball bat isn't much of a superpower he definitely invokes a secretive vigilante image.
** Over time, [[EldritchAbomination he becomes a lot worse than that...]]
* ''Manga/{{Needless}}'', similar to ''Manga/DarkerThanBlack'', features many X-Men-like characters, but dives a great deal more consciously into other Superhero tropes.
* In the ''Anime/{{Wolverine}}'' anime, the title character doesn't wear his trademark yellow costume from the comics.
* ''Anime/SpeedGrapher'' has a super-powered hero who fights against similarly super-powered villains in a MonsterOfTheWeek format. His similarity to a super-hero is lampshaded at one point by Ginza, who seeing his powers for the first time, comments sarcastically, "Silly me thinking comic books were fake." The BigBad, Suitengu is a classic DiabolicalMastermind supervillain, and like V of ''ComicBook/VForVendetta'' is the product of PlayingWithSyringes.
* ''Manga/DNAngel'' has a boy who turns into a master thief with big black wings and special powers, and steals cursed items to purify them.
* In ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'', Vash the Stampede is a HumanAlien who wears a [[BadassLongcoat futuristic red coat]], carries a [[HandCannon customized revolver]] and has superpowers. [[spoiler: And has a cyborg left arm with a minigun in it.]] Wolfwood is a BadassPreacher who carries a giant cross of massive destruction. TheyFightCrime! Or at least, they fight Vash's EvilTwin OmnicidalManiac ArchEnemy (who has similar or greater powers) and his minions.
** Said minions being, essentially, a team of supervillains.
* About a dozen episodes into ''Manga/NurseAngelRirikaSOS'', Seiya, the sidekick, becomes an EmpoweredBadassNormal. He doesn't have a SecretIdentity and delusions of SuperHero pageantry get knocked out of him pretty quickly. Instead, he throws around energy projectiles and gets into aerial battles wearing jeans and a hoodie.
* Many shonen series are based around constant combat between good and evil people with unique or nearly unique superpowers (but often a common MetaOrigin, such as being a ninja or {{shinigami}})
** ''Manga/OnePiece.''
** ''Anime/{{Naruto}}''
** ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''
** ''Manga/YuYuHakusho''
** ''Manga/FairyTail''
* ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun'' is full of supers, [[TheHero the morality]] [[AntiHero of whom]] [[ItsAllAboutMe are all over]] [[AntiVillain the spectrum]]. About the only one who think of himself as a superhero is Gunha Sogiita, one of the Level 5. [[NarmCharm His appearance match his attitude.]]
* Played with in ''Anime/DragonBallZ''. While the main cast don't fit the mold of superheroes, they do have most of the traits covered by one person or another within the group. The cast's outfits are all rather colorful, but for most of them this is a way to represent the martial arts schools that they come from. Vegeta's preferred outfit includes FutureSpandex, but that's because it's a part of his iconic Saiyan armor. Piccolo's outfit [[SuperheroesWearCapes includes a cape]], but said cape is weighted and mostly used for training, and he'll toss it if a fight starts to get serious. Notably, the only character that fully averts this trope is teen Gohan, who adopts a superhero persona in order to hide his identity from his classmates, and is portrayed as a complete dork in doing so. This trope is played straightest by Future Trunks, who fights in plain clothes until Bulma makes him some Saiyan armor.

[[folder: Comic Books]]
For comic books where a specific character or characters don't wear tights, but tights are still a big part of the setting, see CivvieSpandex.

* The ByronicHero "V" in ''ComicBook/VForVendetta'' wears a [[CoatHatMask costume, mask, and cape]]. While he is a WellIntentionedExtremist rather than a traditional superhero, it is kind of odd that no other characters think "superhero" when they see him.
** Superheroes tend to invoke silly images instead of creepy. Superheroes, when they have masks, either obscure only part of the face or are form fitting. V is neither. His outfit would be much more suitable to a conventional villain in most comic universes. The world he lives in has heavy censorship laws so it makes sense that many characters would have no idea what a superhero was.
** V explains the importance of his face-obscuring mask to Evie just before the end of the story. He wears it because if people knew his face, he would be just a man, but as "V" he is an idea, an icon, a symbol for people to believe in. [[spoiler: Also, so that Evie can succeed him without anyone knowing the first V has been killed]]
** V actually wears tights and is one of the completely justified male examples of such hero. His persona is a XVII-century soldier and so his costume is a recreation of the historical garb that included tight-fitting breeches, doublet and a cape. Without the mask, he could quite well fit the crowd on the London street in an Elizabethan era.
* Perhaps in an attempt to capture the tone of the ''[[Film/XMenFilmSeries X-Men]]'' movies, the entire second volume of ''ComicBook/NewMutants'' had the kids operating without any costumes. However, once the series was cancelled and relaunched as ''New X-Men: Academy X'', they all started wearing proper superhero uniforms.
* Despite Molly Hayes' most enthusiastic efforts, the ComicBook/{{Runaways}} do not have costumes (unless you count Xavin's Super-Skrull suit.)
* The graphic novel ''Comicbook/TheAvengers: Endless Wartime'', has ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} operating without any sort of costume, in order to make him more closely resemble his counterpart from the ''Film/XMenFilmSeries''. The other Avengers ''do'' wear costumes, since their Comicbook/MarvelNOW outfits were explicitly designed to make them look more like their [[Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse MCU]] counterparts.
* In the early issues of Wolverine's first ongoing series from the late 1980's, writer Chris Claremont intended to have the book focus less on superheroics and instead more on adventure stories in the style of old school pulp magazines. To enforce this, Logan didn't appear in costume at all for these initial issues, and he didn't start regularly wearing his costume until #14, which by that point Claremont had left the book.
* ''ComicBook/TeenTitansEarthOne'':
** Due to not being superheroes in this continuity and having only just received their powers, the Titans are only seen wearing regular clothing. [[CoversAlwaysLie And despite what the cover shows]] Victor Stone never gains a fully cyborg body in Volume One.
** Averted with Raven, who wears a rough approximation of the outfits she's worn in both the pre-{{ComicBook/Flashpoint}} continuity and [[WesternAnimation/TeenTitans the cartoon]].
** Averted with Slade Wilson, who whilst he never receives the traditional ComicBook/{{Deathstroke}} outfit, he does wear some sort of armoured outfit implied to be a standard S.T.A.R. Labs security uniform.

[[folder: Film]]
* ''Film/TheDarkKnightTrilogy'':
** Scarecrow just wears a business suit and a mask in ''Film/BatmanBegins'', rather than his traditional costume from the comics.
** {{Inverted|Trope}} in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', when Batman reprimands a group of copycat Batmen in loosely-fitting suits, one of whom asks how he's different from them.
--> '''Batman''': I'm not wearing hockey pads.
* The ''Film/BladeTrilogy''. In large part because the first film was released at the tail-end of a period characterized by some of the worst superhero movies ever made, meaning that the film had to avoid too many direct connections to superhero movies. Then again, Blade's comic counterpart never wore spandex anyway which might have led to the film studio's being more willing to bring him to the big screen.
* ''{{Film/Drive}}'': The Driver's satin jacket with its scorpion motif is akin to this. In interviews, Ryan Gosling and director Nicholas Winding Refn have both likened the character to a superhero. The song "A Real Hero" plays over the end credits.
* ''Film/TheGreenHornet:'' Kato explicitly states "no tights" in the 2011 movie. The Green Hornet actually predates the spandex trend in superheroes and neither Kato nor the Hornet actually wore "tights" in any of their iterations. However, aside from the lack of tights, the situation in the film is a bit complicated. Brett, being a ManChild essentially becomes the Hornet because he wants to be a superhero (albeit one aiming for a ZeroApprovalGambit to avoid collateral). His "nemesis", crime boss Chudnofsky, is obsessed with image and being scary, even making a supervillainy weapon, a double-barrelled pistol. ("Do you know how hard it was to make this?") Later on, he develops the persona of '''BLOODNOFSKY''', complete with a costume of a red gas mask and red overcoat. However, every single moment of this on both sides is thoroughly lampshaded as being utterly ridiculous, and Chudnofsky becoming '''BLOODNOFSKY''' is presented as a symptom of his SanitySlippage rather than his becoming a supervillain.
* The first half of ''Film/{{Hancock}}'' features the titular character dressed as an ordinary person, usually the same clothes a homeless bum would wear. The second half had him in a black leather flight suit as part of his efforts to clean up his act. It's more of a modern film superhero outfit than something you'd see in a comic book; he even refers to it as a {{Wolverine}} outfit when initially refusing to wear it.
%% * ''Film/{{Jumper}}''
* In ''Film/KamenRiderTheFirst'' and ''Film/KamenRiderTheNext,'' the Riders wear biker-outfit versions of their iconic suits. The chests resemble body armor, and the colors are toned down. However, said colors are in the same places as on the original suits, and the bug-eyed helmets remain. They look like bikers more than superheroes from TheSeventies while still recognizable as Riders 1, 2, and V3.
* ''King of the Rocket Men'', a movie protagonist from the late 1940s the Rocketeer was based on. His attire is even more mundane than the Rocketeer's as it consists of regular black flyer jacket and pants (the helmet is pure Narm though).
* The Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse averts this in most of its films:
** The characters in ''Film/IronMan'' technically don't wear spandex. Some wear PowerArmor. The closest anyone gets to tights is ComicBook/BlackWidow, who wears a black catsuit at one point. Additionally, Tony Stark has no SecretIdentity and the term ''Iron Man'' is essentially just the name of the armor. Everyone else goes by their real names.
** ''Film/TheIncredibleHulk'' likewise avoids people wearing tights in keeping with its comic counterpart. Again, there are no code names or secret identities. The Hulk always wore a shredded version of whatever he was wearing when someone [[YouWouldntLikeMeWhenImAngry got Banner angry]]. That, or the [[MagicPants ever-invincible purple pants]]. Interestingly, he does wear special Stark-made stretch pants with in ''Age of Ultron'', but they're hard to notice.
** ''Film/{{Thor}}'' plays with this trope. People in Asgard wear battle armor, capes, and other clothes which look close enough to tights. When Thor travels to Earth, however, he is stripped of his armor and wears normal clothes until it's time to go back to Asgard. As such, the costumes don't stand out in more "realistic" looking scenes. When they are shown, it is in the realm of Asgard which fits the fantastic setting and seems perfectly natural. Thor technically does not have a codename, either. Thor is his real name.
** ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'' has Captain America's iconic spandex outfit show up as his USO costume, which is intended to look fairly ridiculous. When he goes into combat, he wears a more standard battle fatigue outfit with a stars-and-stripes theme. However, when Cap next appears in ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', he's wearing an updated costume heavily based on the USO mascot outfit. Said outfit is explicitly stated to be tights.
*** ''Captain America'' also plays with the trope concerning [[ComicBook/BuckyBarnes Bucky]]. He doesn't wear tights, but Bucky in the comics didn't wear tights at all, but a blue miliary uniform that sorta looks like tights. Bucky wears a suit very similar to what he wore in the comics, only without the DominoMask. It also looks slightly less silly as, unlike the comic, Bucky is a fully grown man, possibly older than Steve, while in the comics, he was a kid still in his teens.
*** In the comics, the men and women of {{ComicBook/HYDRA}} generally wear green and yellow costumes with masks. In ''The First Avenger'', they're all clad in [[MovieSuperheroesWearBlack black body armor and helmets]].
*** Montgomery Falsworth is a costumed superhero named Union Jack in the comics, but appears as a member of the ComicBook/HowlingCommandos in the film. As such, he has no costume to speak of.
** ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'' ''does'' employ costumes, but large stretches of the film have Cap, Comicbook/BlackWidow, and ComicBook/TheFalcon operating in nothing but civvies. Creator/ScarlettJohansson has said this was a deliberate decision on the part of the directors, who wanted the movie to seem more "grounded" and serious than the average superhero film.
** In ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'', Zemo doesn't wear anything even remotely resembling a costume.
** ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'' has Star-Lord ditching his outfit from the comics in favor of a helmet and a BadassLongCoat.
** ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'' has ComicBook/{{Quicksilver}} and ComicBook/ScarletWitch wearing street clothes rather than costumes. However, as a MythologyGag, the outfits they wear have the same color schemes as their comic costumes. Although, [[spoiler: at the end of the film, Scarlet Witch dons a traditional superhero costume of tights and red leather, after joining the Avengers]]. Also, notably, the Hulk is now wearing Avengers branded pants made of some sort of superhero costume material, rather than the remnants of whatever pants Banner was wearing when he [[HulkingOut Hulked Out]].
** ''Film/SpiderManHomecoming'' has Shocker operating in street clothes, despite needing a special suit to protect himself from his gauntlets' kickback in the comics. Strangely, Hasbro's Shocker figure for the movie ''does'' have him wearing an MCU-style costume. Vulture meanwhile sports a bomber jacket with nothing even remotely close to his comics counterpart (his suit is more of an aircraft than a suit).
* ''Comicbook/ThePunisher'''s titular protagonist has an outfit which has always been function over form (the big skull baits Mooks to shoot at his armored chest, he wears holsters and ammo pouches all over), but [[Film/ThePunisher1989 his first movie]] didn't even give him his iconic logo. The [[Film/ThePunisher2004 second]] and [[Film/PunisherWarZone third]] film versions slap the skull front and center on his chest, however.
* The ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'' sequels (including ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'') fall into this, though admittedly the non-powered, human protagonists tend to get at least as much screentime as the butt-kicking cyborgs sent back in time to protect them.
* ''Film/{{Unbreakable}}'' [[ZigZaggingTrope keeps wavering around]], both employing and subverting superhero mythology. Notably, [[spoiler:David never puts on an actual superhero costume, and simply goes out in a hooded poncho - because it's raining - and this somehow ends up with him in a sketch based on witness descriptions, looking exactly like a superhero.]]
* The ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'' have generally steered away from wearing the comic book outfits.
** ''Film/XMen1''
*** Downplayed since the film has the characters wearing dark-color body armor-suits.
*** Wolverine (newly recruited) comments on the outlandishness of the outfits, to which Cyclops jokingly asks, "Would you prefer yellow spandex?" In reference to the early uniforms of the X-Men comic book (and main color of most of Wolverine's comic book outfits.)
** The ''Film/XMenOriginsWolverine'' SpinOff film even took the black leather from previous films away, leaving everyone in CivvieSpandex.
** ''Film/XMenFirstClass'' makes them look more superhero-ish, though. It's not skintight but it is more brightly colored, and ends with Magneto donning something that's somewhere between his classic outfit and his look in the main trilogy.
** ''Film/TheWolverine'' plays this straight once again, Wolverine wears street clothes instead of his costume from the previous films, as he is no longer a member of the X-Men, though the Silver Samurai wears a suit of PoweredArmor resembling his comic book costume.
*** In a deleted alternate ending, we see Wolverine opening a suitcase he's been given and finding there... his classic comic book suit. After the events of ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'', though, we might never see him wear that costume.
** ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'' [[ZigZaggingTrope Zig-Zags]] on this. The future X-Men do wear costumes (mostly black but with some ornamentation), while most of the '70s-era characters just wear their street clothes. However, the younger ComicBook/{{Magneto}} from the '70s does wear a red costume that looks much closer to his comic design than any of the previous cinematic takes on the character.
** ''Film/{{Logan}}'' features no costumes in the present day, but the comic books that Laura carries with her all depict the X-Men wearing tight, colorful outfits, since they're the actual X-Men comic books, which apparently exist in-universe, allegedly to show the "true" stories of the X-Men, and are dubiously accurate in terms of fashion and story content.
* According to Creator/KevinSmith, when writing ''[[WhatCouldHaveBeen Superman Lives]]'' one of the requests from producer Jon Peters was that Superman should not wear his iconic costume, stating that it was "[[HeteronormativeCrusader too faggy]]."
* ''Film/StreetFighterTheLegendOfChunLi'' ditches everyone's outfits from [[Franchise/StreetFighter the video games]].
* ''Film/BatmanAndRobin'' doesn't see Jason Woodrue don the look of his alter ego, the Floronic Man.

[[folder: Literature]]
* The Literature/SeekersOfTruth follow this convention, partly to avoid ghettoizing the story, and partly . . . well, because it's not easy to find a spandex tailor that won't talk.
* The Stationery Voyagers only ''look'' like they're wearing something along the lines of "tights" to Mantithians. To everyone else, their suits appear to be just spy-geared forms of regular civilian clothing. Then again, how ''else'' do you dress six-foot-tall talking Up-Pens, but...like...[[ShapedLikeItself large pens]]?
* The Literature/{{Animorphs}} do wear tights, but for [[JustifiedTrope practical reasons]] (see the entry on MagicPants). GenreSavvy Marco often compares the Animorphs to superheroes, and talks about the idea of making their spandex outfits into actual ''costumes'' rather than a random collection of bike shorts and leotards. But it's obvious to all that the Animorphs are outside the category of superheroes in a strict sense, and they fall much more squarely within the tradition of WakeUpGoToSchoolSaveTheWorld heroes.
* The [[FantasticSlur freaks]] of ''Those Who Walk in Darkness'' and ''What Fire Cannot Burn'' by Creator/JohnRidley are just folks -- who happen to have one superpower or the other.
* ''Literature/WildCards'': For the most part, Aces don't wear spandex, and while many of them have nicknames, these aren't really used to hide their identities.
%% * Casca
* Remo Williams, the Destroyer:Williams does not use firearms, has various paranormal abilities, has recurring foes, said foes often having special powers, encounters the paranormal regularly. This placing Williams closer to the genre.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' wouldn't look too out of place in urban fantasy series like Comicbook/DoctorStrange and has many concepts that could pass in a superhero setting, except operating in costume.
* ''Literature/WhatZombiesFear'' is pretty much the ''other'' superhero versus zombies story aside from Literature/ExHeroes. It's just they don't call themselves superheroes, wear costumes, or use codenames.
* The IPB in ''Literature/{{TheInfected}}'' have codenames, but no masks or secret identities. Masked vigilantes are illegal, they're federal agents. The dress code varies, Team One (the PR fluff team) have colorful, distinctive constumes lacking only in masks to help sell the superhero image as best they can without breaking any laws. Team Two, which is a combat unit, have uniform blue jumpsuits. Team Three, the misfits who for whatever reason have to work alone in the field, wear whatever they want, usually casual clothing.

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'': "No tights, no flights." Clark ends up flying a few times anyway, and then ComicBook/GreenArrow shows up in full four-color superhero getup...
** When Aquaman shows up wearing bright green board shorts and a bright orange tank top, Lois says that he looks like Flipper threw up on him. The show explains it, correctly if not perfectly truthfully, as being the University of Miami school colors.
** A small lampshading moment when Chloe walks into a meeting of the Society and the League and asks if this is "costumes only" (Clark wasn't in costume, though).
** In "Checkmate", Oliver actually denies that his costume is "tights" twice.
** This resolution became increasingly silly as time goes on, because towards the end ''everyone except Clark'' runs around wearing a costume. The Franchise/{{Justice League|of America}} and the ComicBook/{{Justice Society|of America}} both exist, Doomsday has shown up, and they have ''ComicBook/{{Hawkman}}''! ''Hawkman,'' with the helmet, and the wings. Apart from Franchise/{{Batman}} and Franchise/WonderWoman it's the full DC universe, yet somehow the show insists on keeping him and ''only'' him out of his standard outfit.
* In ''Series/LoisAndClark,'' though Supes wears a shiny suit, he's the only one who does. Almost all the villains wear plain clothes and operate in a ''Series/{{Heroes}}''-ish 'real-world' manner. For example, instead of wearing a giant light bulb on his head and making dramatic crimes, Dr. Light was an ''optometrist'' and blinded Superman by using a ray of concentrated UV radiation to give Superman super-''cataracts.'' (You laugh, but he managed to inconvenience Supes ''way'' more than most villains.) The Prankster, instead of being the poor man's [[SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker Joker]], is a MagnificentBastard who went to the ''Film/DieHard'' school of villainy, his 'pranks' being the crimes that are a misdirection, his real purpose different (and pragmatic and down to Earth) and carried out efficiently. Mr. Mxyzptlk wears a Victorian England style getup as opposed to his orange and purple outfit from the comic. The Toyman was a toymaker fired from a toy company and put mind-altering gas in toys that spread around the city via... the toy store. Oh, and he's also [[Series/TheJeffersons Sherman Hemsley]].
* The live-action version of ''Series/TheFlash1990'' put the protagonist in costume, though they went to great lengths to [[JustifiedTrope rationalize]] it by having his powers [[MagicPants shred normal clothing]]. Only one of his Rogues' Gallery wore anything resembling the gaudy apparel of his comic-book counterpart, though -- and that one was a {{Cloudcuckoolander}}.
* The ''[[Series/TheFlash2014 Flash]]'' reboot zig-zags this. Flash and many of the other metahuman characters do wear costumes, but there's also a lot of villains who don't wear any sort of costumes or uniforms. (Flash himself gets the same justification as before - STAR Labs made him a suit that could withstand the friction of his SuperSpeed.)
** It helps that something of a Smallville situation is in effect: what little we know from characters from the future tells us that the Flash's greatest days are ahead of him and we're catching him at the start. ''Eventually'' he'll be the world's greatest hero and the hated foe of a million colorful rogues. For now, the Flashes themselves (by now, Wally West and Jay Garrick have shown up) and the season's BigBad is usually the only one in a shiny suit. (Even the ones with code names wear CivvieSpandex.)
* In the unaired ''Comicbook/PowerPack'' TV pilot, the costumes from the comic are nowhere to be seen.
* ''[[Series/TheIncredibleHulk The Incredible Hulk]]''. [[FanNickname "Ol' Purple Pants."]]
* The live action adaptation of ''Series/{{Witchblade}}'' did away with the [[ClothingDamage clothing-shredding]], {{Stripperific}} nature of the Witchblade's power manifesting. The heroine still gets covered in InstantArmor when fighting, but minus the {{Fanservice}} elements which [[ComicBook/{{Witchblade}} the original]] was [[BestKnownForTheFanservice widely known for]].
%% * ''Series/PainkillerJane''
* ''ComicBook/BirdsOfPrey'' (code names yes, tights no, except in flashbacks)
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}''
** "No tights" was one of the stated rules of this series from the start.
** Lampshaded in Season 1 in two separate episodes, by characters who say words to the effect of "maybe I'll use my powers to become a hero, but there's no way I'm wearing tights".
** Ironically, of the two characters who are best known by their nicknames (Sylar & HRG), only one of them is superpowered, and he is evil.
** In the beginning of the volume four premiere, [[spoiler:Hiro tries to make the now-superpowered Ando wear a costume, but the latter refuses. He keeps the "Ando-cycle" though.]]
*** Hiro tries to [[InvokedTrope invoke]] this, as he desperately wants to be in a [[UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]] comic book, but [[WrongGenreSavvy fails to realise that his life isn't really like that.]]
** Future!Hiro is kind of wearing tights, but it's more of a ninja thing than a superhero thing.
** The only real superhero to appear, St Joan [[spoiler:aka Monica]] was put on a bus before the arc could be completed and shown only in the more outlandish graphic novels.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' -- she's referred to as a "superhero" a few times, usually not too seriously. Unsurprising, however, as ''Buffy'' takes most of its inspiration, according to Creator/JossWhedon, from ''Comicbook/XMen''.
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'' -- Referenced a few times, most notably by Cordelia when she tries to drum up business for Angel Investigations:
-->'''Cordelia''': He's already a genuine hero. Would it kill him to put on some tights and a cape and garner us a little free publicity?\\
'''Doyle''': I don't see Angel puttin' on tights... Oh, now I do and it's really disturbin'.
%% * ''Series/MisfitsOfScience''
* ''Series/KyleXY'' (debatable, but referred to as a superhero on the DVD)
%% * ''Series/TheSixMillionDollarMan''
%% * ''Series/TheBionicWoman''
%% * ''Series/{{Manimal}}''
* ''Series/TheFortyFourHundred'' -- the heroes aren't super, but they deal with those who are, not all of whom are bad.
* ''Series/HighlanderTheSeries'', and the original movie as well.
* ''Series/{{Charmed}}''. There's even an episode where magic turns them into the tights-wearing, StockSuperpowers kind of superhero, called "Witches in Tights".
* In many ways, [[Series/DoctorWho the Doctor]]: You mean his possessing two hearts, superhuman intelligence, the ability to regenerate his entire physical being and numerous other far-out abilities demonstrated throughout the series aren't superpowers? The main character even has a code name that he goes by in lieu of a 'proper' name.
** And the Third Doctor often wore a cape. Granted, he wore it with a velvet suit, a ruffled shirt and a bow tie instead of tights, but the point remains. And in any case, when it comes to the Doctor and the correlation between unusual clothing choices and being a superhero, are we really going to be pedantic, here?
** The 2016 ChristmasEpisode [[Recap/DoctorWho2016CSTheReturnOfDoctorMysterio "The Return of Doctor Mysterio"]] plays with this by having the Doctor team up with a Superman-style hero, The Ghost (an AscendedFanboy who accidentally gained comic book-style superpowers as a child) and comparing and contrasting their personalities and approaches to fighting evil. At one point, the Doctor complains that he'd warned the kid never to use his abilities in public, but his companion Nardole points out that the Doctor's people have a non-intervention policy when it comes to the rest of the universe.
** An ad campaign for Series 10, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=85&v=4YXvBPRgeyg collected in this supercut]], presents the Doctor in this way.
* ''Series/TheMiddleman'' comes as close to being a superhero as possible without being openly labeled as one. He even has a super hero name, but no tights. The first episode has him explain his job to Wendy in terms of it being "exactly like your comic books."
* Averted by the ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' (and their Japanese ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' equivalents), who are one of the rare few successful live action series where the characters do fight crime using tights and code names.
** A few series play it straighter, for example by having the heroes' identities be an open secret like ComicBook/IronMan; in particular ''Series/GoGoSentaiBoukenger'' and its counterpart ''Series/PowerRangersOperationOverdrive'', in which the heroes are members of a public AdventureArchaeologist organization. Or in PowerRangers SPD, where they are members of the police and the costumes count more as a sort of riot suit.
** Worth mentioning, ''Series/TokumeiSentaiGoBusters'' is the first Sentai series to ditch the spandex in favor of leather bodysuits. When this information first hit the Internet, it was revealed that Saban (the company behind ''PowerRangers'') had been leaning on Toei (makers of ''Franchise/SuperSentai'') to make this change for years since they felt that the spandex suits made the shows look too "kiddy". This is made ironic when Saban skips Go-Busters altogether in favor of yet [[Series/ZyudenSentaiKyoryuger another team]] [[PowerRangersDinoCharge in spandex]].
%% * ''Series/MutantX''
%% * ''Series/DarkAngel''
%% * ''Series/TheManFromAtlantis''
%% * ''Series/GeminiMan''
* ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}'' doesn't do much fighting, but the characters do a lot of using powers beyond things normal people can do. Occasionally played with in that sometimes the abnormals 'save the world' by using their powers and/or putting on actual tights.
* ''Series/NoOrdinaryFamily'' joins the list. Despite all their talk about super heroes Jim, George, Stephanie, and Katie never even consider Jim or Stephanie wearing masks.
* Averted with glorious pride on ''Series/TheCape''. The show is a {{Reconstruction}} of SuperheroTropes, and everyone has a code name and at least something gimicky about their appearance. While not tights in the traditional sense, they are more traditional than predecessor series ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' by sheer fact that they dress up their villains and hero in some way.
* None of the heroes or villains in ''Series/{{Alphas}}'' wore any kind of uniform, or anything approaching a traditional superhero costume.
%% * [[Series/TheSecretWorldOfAlexMack Alex Mack.]]
* An episode of ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}'' features a superhero. Actually, it was a regular guy using an artifact ([[CharlesAtlasSuperpower Charles Atlas's workout trunks]]) to alter density, mimicking superpowers.
** Altering one's density ''would'', in fact, be considered a super power. Ergo, he used an artifact which gave him super powers, which still makes him a superhero, in the vein of other superheroes who use some sort of object or artifact to give them super powers (eg, GreenLantern).
* Justified for the main cast of ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' since they were originally non-powered ComicBook/{{SHIELD}} agents rather than proper superheroes. However, even the characters who ''do'' have powers (such as Blackout, ComicBook/DaisyJohnson and Elena "Yoyo" Rodriguez) tend to eschew costumes, which is a particular point of contention for many fans. The only person in the show so far seen wearing a costume is Deathlok (Sif technically isn't wearing a costume; see the Film section under ''Thor'').
* ''Series/TheSixMillionDollarMan'' and ''Series/TheBionicWoman''. The two superpowered heroes usually wear regular street clothes. Steve Austin does possess an iconic red tracksuit that he wears in occasional episodes, and Jaime Sommers gets to don a wrestling costume (with tights) in one episode, but that's about it.
* There are no costumes or tights of any sort in ''Series/JessicaJones2015''. However, this is justified since the three main superpowered characters featured in the show (Comicbook/JessicaJones, Comicbook/LukeCage, and Kilgrave) generally don't wear tights in the comics anymore either. Trish tries to get Jessica to wear a costume during a {{Flashback}}, but Jessica just mocks how silly and impractical it is.
-->'''Trish Walker:''' This is it! This is the one! ''[Trish holds up a white and blue outfit, with [[MythologyGag a large purple jewel]] at the waist]''
-->'''Jessica Jones:''' Tell me you're kidding.
-->'''Trish Walker:''' Superheroes wear costumes!
-->'''Jessica Jones:''' The only place anyone is wearing that is trick-or-treating, or as part of some kinky role-playing scenario.
-->'''Trish Walker:''' Well, this is just a mock-up. Ultimately, it's gonna be a lightweight, highly durable fabric, waterproof, flame resistant, and it will hide your identity.
-->'''Jessica Jones:''' NO.
-->'''Trish Walker:''' [[ItMakesSenseInContext Well, you can't keep saving people dressed as a giant Hoagie!]]
* ''Series/LukeCage2016'': Luke doesn't wear costumes of any kind, but the equipment attached to him during the lifesaving experiment that gives him his superpowers looks exactly like the headband and gauntlets of his 1970s comic book costume. He even swipes a yellow shirt that's several sizes too small - tight around his arms and baring his chest - after he breaks out of Seagate. Seeing his reflection in a car window, he mutters, "You look like a damn fool." He later jokes about his outfit when recounting his escape.
* The original Creator/AdamWest ''Series/{{Batman}}'' was filled with spandex left and right, but it fell into this trope with the Riddler. Actor Frank Gorshin found the 60s era spandex costumes incredibly uncomfortable and would only agree to keep returning if the Riddler regularly (but not exclusively) wore something else. The production staff custom-made him a green and purple three-piece suit and bowler covered in question marks. This ended up becoming [[IconicOutfit the best known]] look of the character for decades.
* ''Series/IronFist2017'': Danny Rand never dons his green and yellow costume from the comics and wears some street clothes instead. The only thing that identifies him as the Iron Fist is his signature dragon tattoo on his chest. WordOfGod revealed that they couldn't come up with any reason for Danny to wear the costume as he is in the process of becoming the Iron Fist and Danny told several people including a psychiatrist about his role which render the whole SecretIdentity moot. However, his 1948 predecessor did wear the costume which could possibly mean that Danny might wear it in the near future once he embraced his role as the Iron Fist.


[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'', from the ''TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness'' was periodically sneered at as "supers without the tights". ([[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve Mages]] being [[BunnyEarsLawyer mages]], they might as well.) A common derogatory term for how some players played sister-series ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' was "capes with fangs". In fact all of White Wolf's games essentially feature superheroes without tights -- individuals with powers far beyond the ken of mortal men who fight a greater evil. Frequently they even have code names. White Wolf however always tries to paint themselves as far away from superheroes as they think they can get away with; even their most blatantly superheroic game Aberrant features articles about how super powered humans who wear capes and masks and go by code names are not in any way related to superheroes. [[TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse Werewolf: the Apocalypse]] was a notable exception, in that one of the suggested Second Edition play styles was actually called "Superheroes," and explains in some details how ridiculously easy it is to fit the Garou into a (dark) superhero-style setting. This was before the Dark Knight, Watchmen, et. al.
** The fangame ''TabletopGame/GeniusTheTransgression'' doesn't bother with distancing itself from superheroics; in fact it talks about superhero games under the storyteller advice section and has a [[PrestigeClass Fellowship]] just for superheroes. Still no tights though, just lots of PoweredArmour.
** This was a result of some players' playstyles, but was not what the writers intended. The word superhero implies a certain constellation of tropes, tone, and ideas which the default tone of each game really didn't fit well, with the possible exception of TabletopGame/HunterTheReckoning as a deconstruction. Vampire was intended to be gothic horror, Werewolf cosmic horror, Changeling post-modern chivalric romance and UrbanFantasy, and so on. "Individuals with powers far beyond the ken of mortal men who fight a greater evil" would be an apt description of everything from TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons to TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu (as players learn spells) to TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}, and few would consider any of these games to fit the superhero genre.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* Cole, from ''VideoGame/InFamous'', just runs around in perfectly ordinary clothes. He doesn't even bother to hide his face. Doesn't help his face appeared everywhere around the city with claims that he was a terrorist.
* ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'' too, being a [[DuelingShows Dueling Game]] with ''VideoGame/InFamous''.
** Although Alex does gain the ability to grow a really cool full-body armor halfway through the game. [[RuleOfCool Full-body armor]] [[LawyerFriendlyCameo that looks like]] ''Manga/{{Guyver}}''!
* A lot of the characters of ''Franchise/MetalGear'', and almost all of the vilains could be seen as superheroes. Some have mastered the arts of manipulation and use a huge array of gadgets like Batman, while others have psychic powers that would make them fit in perfectly with the X-Men. By the time of ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance,'' just about all the major characters are superpowered cyborgs in one capacity or another.
* MMO example: ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'''s costume generator, despite being based primarily on comic-book superhero stories, allows players to use this trope. Possible costumes can range from the most eye-watering spandex imaginable to [[NotWearingTights normal civilian clothes]], and [[CivvieSpandex in between]].
** A few in-game characters have costumes like this, in particular the [[CoatHatMask Dark Watcher]].
* ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', where you play as a crimefighter enhanced with nanomachines which give powers and stat boosts. It wouldn't really fit in with the genre, so you wear a longcoat and sunglasses (even at night!).
* The ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'' series' protagonist, Garrett, goes for an InTheHood look, along with a longer cloak that also doubles as his impromptu cape. Other than that, though, he wears practical, period clothing with minimal decorative elements. The 2014 reboot attempt gave his typical clothing a more comic book-y makeover, but still based on in many ways on the clothing he had in the third game of the original series.
* Although Jackie Estacado sports a suit of armor that evokes typical superhero apparel in the [[ComicBook/TheDarkness the original comics]], in the video game edition of ''[[VideoGame/TheDarkness The Darkness]]'', he contents himself with just his long hair and [[BadassLongcoat coat]].
* Late-game ''[[VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown X-COM]]'' operatives can be genetically enhanced super-soldiers, master psychic powers, wear power armor that enables them to fly or move rapidly using a grappling hook, and be converted into walking cybernetic tanks, but generally still look and act like conventional military personnel.
* ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'' has yet to identify its characters as superheroes, and probably never will for two important reasons: They almost all [[SuperheroPackingHeat use guns]], and the titular organization was formed to combat the [[RobotWar Omnic Crisis.]] Despite this, many of the characters have unique powers, backstories, and appearances that wouldn't be out of place in a typical comic book.
* In spite of being a TimeMaster and getting his powers in a FreakLabAccident, Jack Joyce in ''VideoGame/QuantumBreak'' never even considers getting an outfit or a codename, the closest the game gets to mentioning superheroes is when Nick compares him to an [[ComicBook/XMen X-Man]] (which doubles as an ActorAllusion for his actor, Shawn Ashmore), and [[SuperheroPackingHeat he uses guns just as much as his time powers]].

* ''Webcomic/{{Same New Woman}}'' Marita, although she has a hyper-muscular body and extraordinary strength, tries to go on with her old life dressed in plain, normal clothes that cover her up whenever possible.
* Many of the heroes and villains from ''Webcomic/UnionOfHeroes'' wear civilian clothes. Probably for budget reasons, because this is a PhotoComic.
* In ''Webcomic/IDontWantThisKindOfHero'', Naga's first thought upon meeting members from Spoon, the resident HeroesRUs, is why, despite claiming to be 'heroes', they're not wearing technicolour spandex suits. In general, Spoon members wear whatever they want (heck, Naga does most of his missions in his school uniform, as he usually goes to work right after school).
* Everyone in ''Webcomic/{{Superline}}'' is a broke high school student who doesn’t have the time, money, or skill to put together a fancy superhero costume, so they usually either fight in their marching band uniforms or regular street clothes.

* ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'':
** Martini is a psychic superhero whose costume is a pristine tuxedo, complete with tails.
** Stone is a FlyingBrick whose costume wouldn't look out of place in a biker bar.
** The Reliquary campaign featured street-level mystic-oriented superheroes who didn't wear costumes, didn't use code names, and didn't generally get into big, street-smashing brawls. But they were superheroes nonetheless.
* The majority of the cast from ''Literature/{{Phaeton}}'' fits this trope, so far.
* While most parahumans in ''Literature/{{Worm}}'' wear costumes, there are a number of exceptions, most notably Jack Slash, the closest thing the series has to a BigBad, who wears a dress shirt and jeans. And then there are a few heroes and villains, such as Narwhal and Siberian, who [[FullFrontalAssault don't wear anything at all]].
* In ''Literature/{{Curveball}}'', the eponymous hero did have a costume when he was with [[SuperTeam The Gladiators]], but since he "retired," he does most of his crimefighting in a {{badass longcoat}}. [[spoiler:Jenny[=/=][[MyHeroZero Zero]]]] hasn't had time to put together a costume yet, and so makes do with some borrowed [[BoringButPractical body armor]].

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'' (trades in tights for bizarre alien forms instead). He even calls himself a superhero, and each of his forms has a codename. ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'' put it further by making "Ben 10" an actual nickname.
** Kevin Levin was the least theatrics of the show's main villains, being a RummageSaleReject who initially used his energy absorption powers to commit discreet crimes. He does become the monstrous Kevin 11 later on, but eventually reverts to his humanoid form.
* In the same vein, ''WesternAnimation/GeneratorRex'''s hero is wearing arguably normal clothing, but his (government mandated) job is being the only line of defense against mindless [[PersonOfMassDestruction Persons of Mass Destruction]].
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'', a BadassNormal that saves the world on a regular basis but clearly doesn't bother with keeping a SecretIdentity (or even a SecretIdentityIdentity).
%% * WesternAnimation/ActionLeagueNow: The entire Action League.
%% * [[Creator/{{Filmation}} Super-Stretch and Micro-Woman.]]
%% * ''WesternAnimation/TurboTeen''.
* ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'': Superboy is the only member who refuses to wear a costume just like the rest of his team.
-->'''Superboy''': No capes, no tights; no offence.
** ComicBook/WonderGirl follows Superboy's lead in the second season, wearing nothing more than a Franchise/WonderWoman t-shirt and a pair of athletic pants.
** The Runaways, although they're not superheroes [[HeroicNeutral yet]], do this since they are already known to the villains and they don't have anything better. [[spoiler:Except for Arsenal when he joins them.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'': Temple Fugate was a SharpDressedMan before his StartOfDarkness. After he becomes the Clock King, he averts all the tropes at the EvilMakeover indice and commits crimes [[BadassInANiceSuit in a nice brown business suit]]. He could fit right into Film/TheDarkKnightSaga.
* Terra's first appearance in WesternAnimation/TeenTitans. Her costume after joining the Titans is basically the same but with the Titans logo on the t-shirt.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'', William Cross never donned his costume, instead wearing a business suit with the only thing related to his comic self being an eyepiece. [[ComicBookMoviesDontUseCodenames He's never called "Crossfire" either.]]
* Similar to the Crossfire and Union Jack examples, in both ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'' and ''WesternAnmiation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'', Miles Warren doesn't don his Jackal costume or use that codename--though given that he appeared in both series just before they were CutShort, it is entirely possible that he could've at some point.
* Blizzard from ''WesternAnmiation/MarvelsSpiderMan'' did not bother to wear a costume after becoming a Supervillain.
* Sam, Clover and Alex from WesternAnimation/TotallySpies really aren't "spies" in the traditional sense--they wear [[HighlyVisibleNinja neon bright jumpsuits]] (even if they don't actually ''need'' to) on their missions; they rarely make any attempt to hide or disguise their identities; actual sneaking, while not uncommon, happens about as often as just barging headfirst into any objective.
** Many episodes have them going undercover at whatever location they're investigating wearing clothes that fit the location and, rarely, fake credentials if they can't get in by simply walking through the front door. They never actually hide their identity and often use their real first names as part of whatever fake identity they're using. It's only later once they break in to snoop around or after their cover is blown do they wear the highly visible suits.
** TheMovie reveals it was Clover who designed the outfits, before actually getting the gist of spying. To her credit, their current uniforms was the ''most stealthy'' she could come up with, as her previous ideas included a superhero-style suit (complete with a cape) and even a [[Franchise/SailorMoon Sailor Senshi]]-style outfit.