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In television, film, and especially comics, it is conventional to focus on the upper body, since the upper body is usually the most expressive part of any character. Face, arms, and torso all convey more information to the audience than the legs. In some works, you're doing little more than watching actors talk, and anything other than the face is superfluous anyway.
This has led to the framing of many scenes in many media to lack any onscreen representation of the body below the waist. The legs are still there, of course, just Behind the Black
. But what is covering those legs? In many cases, the creators decide to play with this and reveal that the person whom the audience assumed to be fully clothed is naked from the waist down. This is especially common with TV presenters such as news anchors (see the page quote), because they usually sit behind a desk for the broadcast.
"Not Wearing Pants" Dream
is where this happens in a dream sequence, but this is when the audience (at least initially) cannot see that the character is pantsless, whether it's in a dream or not.
Remember, to be this trope, you must meet the following criteria:
- A character must be naked, underdressed, or legless from the waist down
- The audience should initially have no reason to suspect that the character is bottomless
- The nudity must initially be either out of the shot/panel or Behind the Black.
Anime and Manga
- One Gag Manga Biyori sketch has people making their most embarrassing confessions on TV because a meteor is about to hit so why the hell not—and just as the guests have all confessed to shocking things, the crisis is averted! The host expresses relief that he no longer has to make his embarrassing confession. Cue an Iris Out framing his unclothed rear as the credits roll....
- Butt Monkey Vanate Yavali in Hivefled is a ghost who died when most of his digestive tract exited his body in an unpleasant manner, and has spent multiple centuries lacking pants and trailing the resulting mess behind him.
- Hamlet 2: The writer leaves his computer, revealing that he is not wearing pants
- The Kentucky Fried Movie: The newscaster reveals that he's not wearing any pants. Film At Eleven.
- Schizopolis: A man wearing a t-shirt with the film title runs from the camera, revealing that he is wearing nothing else.
- In Short Cuts, Julianne Moore does an entire scene naked from the waist down.
- In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay the titular pair find themselves at a bottomless party. The host at one point chastises one female guest for removing her top.
- In Ladder 49, in the scene where Joaquin Phoenix meets John Travolta for the first time.
- Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run has his character preparing for a date, grooming himself at the mirror, leaving his apartment...then coming right back in, with the camera panning back to reveal he forgot his pants.
- In Casino, Robert De Niro's character emerges from behind a desk not wearing pants.
- In Animal House, Donald Sutherland's character reaches to get something from a cabinet, raising his sweater and exposing his pants-less buttocks.
- Richard Lester's black post-nuclear war comedy The Bed Sitting Room has a BBC announcer going door-to-door, reading the news while kneeling behind a gutted-out tv cabinet, wearing a tie and coat outfit that, beneath chest level, is tattered long underwear.
- Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl opens with the troupe dressed as waiters singing the rousing number "Sit on My Face", then walking off, revealing themselves totally pantsless beneath their aprons.
- In Run Fat Boy Run, Dylan Moran's character is revealed to be completely naked from the waist down the whole time he's been talking over a balcony. Twice.
- A rare Played for Drama example in Network. During one of Howard Beale's tirades, he is wearing a trenchcoat, shirt, and tie, which is fairly normal for a newscaster. Then, he rises out of his desk as his anger begins to swell, and the crew filming him and the audience see that he is wearing pajama bottoms and slippers on the bottom half. This becomes one of the first indicators of Beale's descent into madness as the film goes on.
- In Alfonso Bonzo by Andrew Davies, there's a scene where the protagonist is watching the evening news and then is magically transported to the TV studio, where he learns that the newsreader is wearing nothing from the waist down but Goofy Print Underwear.
- In Worlds of the Imperium by Keith Laumer, this is a plot point. The hero is sent to impersonate his alternate universe counterpart, the ruler of an evil empire. The people sending him copy the ruler's uniform from his TV broadcasts, but have to guess on the pants, since the ruler is only seen from the waist up. When the hero gets there, he discovers why: the ruler doesn't have legs. So much for impersonation.
- In one episode of The Muppet Show, a newscaster reads a report about a newscaster who forgot to put on pants before appearing on the air. Then he comes to a sudden realization...
- Father Ted: Father Jack apparently always played this trope during the summer, all in the name of saving money on "wear and tear".
- In How I Met Your Mother, Robin's co-anchorman does not wear pants.
- A US military general steals the Constitution while in transit in an episode of JAGnote To make a broadcast about the theft, he puts a shirt, tie and jacket, but doesn't change out of the rest of his army gear, which remains out of shot for the camera he's using.
- On Sports Night, irked wardrobe folk hold up the anchors' pants, leading to them having to go on the air in suit and tie, boxers and black socks.
- The West Wing: White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg has to do a live TV interview pantsless, after accidentally sitting on a freshly painted bench.
- In the video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's Eat It, as one of the gangs is walking, the camera zooms out to show they aren't wearing pants.
- The Lonely Island song "My Pants" (not to be confused with their more well-known "Jizz In My Pants") featured a man named Lance asking everyone to stop making fun of his pants, only to reveal at the end that he was naked from the waist down the entire time.
- The Poxy Boggards have a song entitled, "I Wear No Pants", which was featured in a Dockers Super Bowl commercial.
- In a venerable vaudeville gag, a Sharp-Dressed Man is grooming himself in front of a mirror. Then he moves out from behind a panel, only to reveal that he forgot to put on trousers.
- Uncle Jay Explains The News had Uncle Jay stand up at the end of an episode, revealing no pants.
- The Interview
- Iliza Schlesinger hosts the weakly news in her underpants, which typically only becomes apparent when she gets up from behind her desk for the Once an Episode "dance party" segment.
- Echo Chamber Trope Of The Week Episode 2 opens with a shot of Tom, who is well-dressed...until he stands up, revealing that he is wearing Batman Boxers and nothing else from the waist down.
- The Whitey Tighties Music Video only shows Alex, Derek, and Lauren from the waist up at first. Eventually, it zooms out to reveal that they (even Lauren) are wearing white briefs.
- A cut in Spoony and Linkara's review of Warrior #4 a cut reveals that Dr. Insano's not wearing pants, and instead has heart boxer shorts. When directly asked about this Insano just replies that it's not important right now due to Hyper Time shenanigans.
- Noah also reveals in a Counter Monkey episode, appropriately named "The Importance of Wearing Pants" that one of his co-players in a game campaign once called him explaining why he was late and that he had to go home because he forgot his pants. Noah comments that he's pretty sure the guy wasn't lying because it's "So stupid it has to be true" and because the guy was a huge flake in the first place.
- During Bennett The Sage's review of Twilight of the Cockroaches after Jeremy suggests giving the female viewers Fanservice in the form of showing Sage's bottom half for once the camera cuts to a full body shot of Sage that shows him in boxer shots (with the clear implication that he does all his reviews like this). Sage then says he doesn't think that's such a good idea.
- Three examples from The Simpsons:
Judge Snyder: Mr. Hutz, do you realize you're not wearing any pants?
Hutz: Huh? (notices that his bare butt) AUGH!
- From the episode "Homer Goes to College":
Homer: A test? This is like one of those bad dreams!
Camera pulls out revealing him in his underwear.
Homer: Where are my pants?
Marge: You threw them out the window in a fit of passion. You said you were never going to need them again.
- Happens a few times in Phineas and Ferb, usually where the audience and/or Perry the Platypus discovers Major Monogram isn't wearing pants when he gives his briefings to Perry.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold featured a nerdy basement-dwelling supervillain's helper who appeared on camera only from the waist up.
- In The Problem Solverz episode "Fauxboro", Alfe's veterinarian is shown from the waist up at first, then when Roba asks him if he spilled medicine on his pants, the camera cuts to reveal him in his underwear.
Roba: I find the sight of underwear very rude! It threatens the balance of our social civilization!
- A Johnny Bravo short has Johnny walking out of his house talking about how it's a great day where nothing can go wrong. His mother then runs out and yells at him that he forgot his pants. Johnny mentions feeling a draft, and a passing driver laughs at him. In this instance, we don't get to see him below the waist.
- Dogstar: In "Robot Revolution", Hank the newsreader objects when the servo-bots attempt to remove him from the studio for two reasons: firstly, it's his studio and secondly, he's not wearing any pants. When they physically haul him out from behind the desk, his is indeed not wearing pants.
- Sean Connery: Went pants free for the zeppelin scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (it was muggy) and supposedly all the driving scenes in the James Bond films. In response to the Last Crusade bit, Harrison Ford elected to go pantsfree for that scene as well.
- In Spy Kids 3, George Clooney plays the President of the United States, appearing only in video communications which show him from the shoulders up◊. All his scenes were filmed at his house in one afternoon. He was wearing pajama bottoms below his suit jacket, dress shirt, and tie.
- Many TV news personalities, apparently including Sean Hannity, wear casual dress from the waist down. Glenn Beck didn't even try to hide it and even made it part of his persona.
- A joke from The Philippines is that newsreaders wear nothing but underwear below the desk and also that priests only wear briefs/boxers underneath their robes.