Nothing but Skin and Bones
I knew a girl called Jeannie Jones.
She was nothin' 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
Anime and Manga
- An ad for awareness of Anorexia Nervosa showed a sadly undoctored picture of an emaciated Isabella Caro.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Peanuts, Snoopy's desert-dwelling brother Spike was like this initially. In the first strip where he appeared, he woke up after traveling a long time, and Snoopy announced, "Eggs benedict for my brother Spike!" To which Lucy replied, "Better make that ten pounds of buffalo steak" before he was actually seen. (In later stories, Spike was simply thin.)
- In the Dungeons & Dragons Splat book The Book of Vile Darkness, there are several Willing Deformity Feats that the evilest of characters can take, including Gaunt, which makes the character disturbingly thin (and actually grants a few benefits, but a few liabilities too).
- In the Forgotten Realms setting, Chosen Ones are humans transformed into humanoid monsters by the Red Wizards of Thay. They are downright morbidly thin◊, to the point where basically look like flesh-colored skeletons.
- In the Scarred Lands campaign setting, worshippers of Gaurak the Glutton become fatling, obese abominations reflecting the titan's appearance. However, fatlings who prove failures turn into gauntlings, which are even more hideous, tall, impossibly thin and gaunt, nearly mindless beings who more successful fatlings use as slaves.
- 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.
- 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.
- Happens to Cartman, of all people, in an episode of South Park. To elaborate: the kids were setting up a play on the Passion of the Christ, and Cartman insisted on playing Jesus. Since it's Passion of the Christ, crucifixion is customary, and eventually Cartman gets crucified, but Stan and Kyle end up forgetting him there for days. When Cartman manages to get down from the cross and his friends see him again, he's looking pretty malnourished, even by normal standards.
- 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. This is also the case of people with anorexia.