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Nothing but Skin and Bones
A character is shown as exaggeratedly skinny, usually for any of the following reasons:

Most often Played for Laughs, this is usually just a short Sight Gag with no relevance on the plot. Plot-relevant examples are much less common, and are rarely funny.

Sometimes crosses with Lean and Mean.

Examples of incredibly thin characters with no visible bones instead fall under Noodle People.


Examples:

Advertising
  • An ad for awareness of Anorexia Nervosa showed a sadly undoctored picture of an emaciated Isabella Caro.

Anime & Manga
  • Soichiro of Kare Kano had a horribly abusive childhood, receiving constant abuse and neglect at the hands of his mother, never once even getting any amount of affection from her. He was constantly starving and desperate for food, not helped by his mother leaving him locked in their home alone for days at a time, with barely anything to eat. By the time Soichiro is rescued from his mother, he is so emaciated he can barely even walk, his mother having decided to leave him to die at that point.
  • Nagato, a villain of Naruto, is horribly skinny because of a Dangerous Forbidden Technique of his, which drained his energy. His legs were burned useless just before that. And overall, he uses nothing but techniques that consume huge amounts of Chakra. Here is the result.
  • "Flighted" Henya, a villain from Rurouni Kenshin, has starved himself down to almost nothing in order to be able to glide freely in the air.
  • Brook from One Piece is of course this, since he is literally only a (living) skeleton, but even when he was an actual human with flesh and blood, he was just as skinny as he is currently.

Film

Literature
  • In The Quest for Saint Camber, Nigel is described as wasted and frail some two weeks after Conall attacked him with magic and left him in a coma. Since Nigel got no solid food for that period, it's entirely plot justified and not pretty. Morgan and Duncan leave Rhemuth to search for Kelson and Dhugal partly to avoid watching Nigel starve to death.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Theon is (well, was) a tall, good-looking youth. After spending a little vacation time in the Dreadfort, he comes out some three stone lighter both due to muscle atrophy and starvation. That's forty-two pounds or nineteen kilograms for someone who wasn't even least bit overweight to begin with.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: Carol describes Crystal as this. It's Played for Drama.
  • Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, who is dying of an unspecified illness, is described this way.
    "I could see the cage of his ribs all astir, the bones of his arm waving."
  • A serious example: By the time the Golden Ticket tour day arrives in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and his family have been subsisting on so little food for weeks on end that the boy is described as this in the narration and other characters notice — including Grandpa Joe, who isn't in much better shape by this point. Another character who notices is Willy Wonka; during the trip down the chocolate river in the Cool Boat, he gives each of them a mugful of the melted chocolate precisely because they "looked starved to death!" This trope is dropped in adaptations, probably because it's hard to visualize with live actors (especially child actors).

Live-Action TV
  • Seen on Intervention either because the person has been consuming mostly drugs and little food, or has an eating disorder.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Drew Carey Show. Drew is on a hunger strike and when Mr. Wick comes to see him at home, Wick finds Drew lying on the couch due to lack of energy and is now extremely skinny. But it turns out that Drew knew Wick was coming over and he got an assist from a pizza delivery man who is naturally extremely skinny. The pizza guy is willing to help because Drew on a hunger strike is costing him business. They lay on the couch together, covered by a blanket, arranged in a way that it looks like Drew's head is on the other guy's body. Wick is initially suspicious that Drew's head is still as fat as always, which is brushed off by explaining head fat is the last thing you lose, which he falls for.

Music
  • 4st 7lb by Manic Street Preachers.
    A week later all my flesh disappear [sic]
    Stretch taut, cling-film on bone
  • Bleed Like Me by Garbage.
    And the kick is so divine when she sees bones beneath her skin.

Newspaper Comics
  • A short sequence of some early Dilbert strips observed Dilbert's date with a supermodel, who was drawn as a literal skeleton, and did not eat on their dinner date but instead simply sniffed the mints.

Tabletop Games

Web Comics
  • Issue 8 of Flying Suit Reiko has Reiko getting her overweight friend Potchari to take a fitness test for her so she can take diet pills she's inelligible for and throughout the story she gets skinnier and skinnier.
  • Sinjal/Crippled from Wurr is very, very skinny. While not underfed per se (not anymore than, say, Morri) he has severe disgestion problems.
  • Slimy Thief: Absorbing water can cause Aisha to swell up but losing water, especially a lot of it, can cause her to shrivel to emaciated state. After a some adventuring and drinking Aisha comes in her fat form but after an extremely long bathroom break, she walks out of the toilet just skin and bones much to Camilia's horror since she is unaware of Aisha's power.

Western Animation
  • In one Quick Draw McGraw cartoon, a wild mountain lion (an early version of Snagglepuss) steals one of Quick-Draw's biggest, fattest sheep, then shears it down to prepare it for dinner. It is then that he discovers that the sheep is rail thin underneath its wool.
  • In Adventure Time, The Ice King is actually very skinny under his robe. Though sometimes he's very fat, depending on what's funnier or more pathetic.
    • In a rare serious example of the trope, "All Your Fault" features two frighteningly gaunt, starving Lemongrabs. *shudder*
  • In an episode of Ren and Stimpy, the duo are starving and Ren opens his skin to show there's literally no fat, just bone. Then Stimpy opens his skin to show he's nothing but skin and fat.
  • In the Brandy & Mr. Whiskers episode "Wolfie: Prince of the Jungle" Brandy has a bunch of fashion magazines on the floor. One of them has a literal skeleton on it.
  • Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck have been known to show skinnier frames under their skins to try to deter those who wish to eat them.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearts and Hooves Day", the Cutie Mark Crusaders have an Imagine Spot where a famine strikes Ponyville and when background pony Lily Valley momentarily stands up right in front of the "camera" she suddenly has protruding ribs and a concave stomach.
  • In American Dad! Stan once became overly neurotic about his weight and went on an extreme diet and exercise regime. At first glance it doesn't seem to be working because Stan is getting progressively fatter, and it might be due to his family sabotaging his diet as payback for mocking Steve's chubby girlfriend. But it turns out Stan had become anorexic and was suffering from hunger-based delusions. Up until that point the episode was seen Through the Eyes of Madness, and Stan had actually been wasting away to nothing.

Real Life
  • The victims of Nazi Germany and other notorious nations throughout history have been found in this condition.
  • Tuberculosis wasn't known as Consumption for nothing.
  • A very unfortunate case of Truth in Television, victims of prolonged starvation or illness will really wither away down to a flap of skin over a malnourished skeleton.


Noodle PeopleSkinny TropesWeight Woe
Muscle AngstBody Image TropesTeeny Weenie
Flaming SkullsSkeletal TropesNothing but Skulls
No-Neck ChumpImprobable Appearance TropesNubile Savage
The NoselessPersonal Appearance TropesOddly Visible Eyebrows

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