I climbed out of the car, its windows fogged, and everyone in the street noticed that my hair was mussed and I was upset, leaving a driver who had salt-and-pepper hair and a crooked tie.We can tell that characters have been engaging in sexual activity from the way they are dressed. Caught in a car, answering the door, at the office, burst in on, etc. Half-undone clothes in disarray is all the explanation we (or other characters) need in order to know what's going on. Messy Hair is often in effect as well. In the classic Down on the Farm version, the girl will have clumps of hay sticking to her dress. This is where the phrase "Caught with Your Pants Down" comes from. See also Sexy Shirt Switch and Did You Just Have Sex?. Not to be confused with Ready for Lovemaking, which is about wearing a skimpy and easily removed outfit as a sexual invitation. When the characters are having sex while dressed, that's Right Through His Pants. When there is absolutely no evidence that sex occurred, but people can still tell, that's Virgin Vision.
— One Hundred Strokes of the Brush before Bed
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Anime and Manga
Films — Live-Action
- In The Dark Knight, when the Joker crashes Harvey Dent's fundraiser, Bruce goes into his penthouse bedroom to retrieve his Batsuit from its hidden wall safe. In the background you see a man hurriedly stand up and buckle his pants, while the woman he was with adjusts her bra and expresses relief that there is a panic room, then utters, "Oh, you've got to be kidding me" when the safe closes behind Bruce.
- In one sequence in Futtocks End, a fuse blows just as everyone is going to bed, plunging the house into darkness. When the lights come back on, everyone is on the landing in their sleepwear; the housemaid and the Boots are wearing each other's pajama trousers.
- In Porky's, the assistant coach comes back with his shirt messed up after the howler's heard earning her namesake. Everyone knew who the woman was but aside from the head coach no one knew who the dude was 'til they saw him w/a mussed shirt.
- Lampshade Hanging and averting of this trope occurs in Waterdance. The heroine's family finds out about her first and only liaison; a friend refers to it as being "caught with hay in your hair and your skirts around your waist" and she replies that they did it in a bed and took their clothes off properly, thank you very much.
- Invoked awkwardly in The Room. A friend interrupts Lisa and Mark as they are about to have sex and notices the obvious signs of Mark putting on his shirt and that his fly is down. Their affair only gets more blatant from there.
- In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Vanishing Point, Fitz gets in trouble due to being seen like this. See, he just had sex with a twenty-year-old ingenue, called Vettul, who has never met a remotely able-bodied human man other than him — when she first met him, she called him "very beautiful" although he's really just average-looking, because she has no real point of reference. Looking at it that way, there's little space for the fact he's also ten years her senior to make it worse. So her mother-figure goes over all Overprotective Mama Bear when they come back from the barn (yes, they had a literal Roll in the Hay) and she notices that Fitz hasn't got his trousers properly done up, so they keep falling down, and Vettul looks a little rumpled as well. He tries to talk her down by telling her that she's been sheltering Vettul far too much, which is true. There's also the fact that Vettul started feeling him up first. And then Vettul gets upset because she can tell he cares more about defending himself, and then the Doctor appears by communication screen and disapproves too...
- Deconstructed in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Lena: She dashes into her house, jeans inside-out, sweaty and disheveled, and her family believes she's either had sex or has been raped. The truth is, a Love Interest has just seen her naked by accident and she ran away in embarassment.
- In the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, Georgia trips over while kissing a boy outdoors at a party, causing her short skirt to ride up. When her crush Robbie and rival Lindsay walk by, they then believe she was going much further with the other boy than she really did.
- The Decameron features this as the plot of one of its tales, making it Older Than Print.
- One novel had a woman scattering articles of her clothing around the room while explaining to her husband that she had been just as faithful to him as he had to her (I.e. not at all). Then a third party enters the room, and the husband realizes that with the way his wife looked, nobody would believe they hadn't just had a quicky, and thus everyone would think that her illegitimate child was his.
- A Piece of Resistance, a novel by Clive Egleton set in a Soviet-occupied Britain. A couple working for La Résistance kill a counter-intelligence agent and throw his body off the train. Realising the ticket collector might have seen the three of them in the carriage together the couple pretend to be on the verge of stripping off for sex when the ticket collector does his rounds and 'surprises' them. Later a wanted notice in the newspaper shows an excellent identikit image of the woman, but a poor one of the man.
- Averted in one episode of Better Off Ted. Lem carefully folds his clothing before having sex with a hot lawyer on company time.
- Averted in the Star Trek: TNG episode "The Emissary". Worf and K'Ehler engage in a combat exercise program... then they engage each other. Cut to commercial break. When we return, both characters are completely dressed — without so much as a wrinkled wardrobe. K'Ehler's wistfull line about some calisthenics being better than others is the only verification audience really has as to what just happened. At least in that episode.
- A subtle example shows up in the StarTrek: The Original Series episode "Wink of an Eye". We cut away from Kirk and Deela in his quarters; when we next see them, she's brushing her hair and he's putting on one of his boots.
- Played straight in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" when Worf and Jadzia Dax stumble into med bay the morning after with considerable Clothing Damage. Followed by Quark and Grilka. Dr Bashir really isn't interested in an explanation.
- One episode of Smallville has a Wild Teen Party in Clark's barn, in the aftermath we see halfdressed girl scurrying out of the hay, followed by a similarly disheveled guy.
- In one episode of Who's the Boss?, the big clue was that Mona's sweater was on inside out.
- In one episode of M*A*S*H, Frank and Margaret had their shirts buttoned together.
- This was kind of a running gag with them. Frank would have his boot tied to the table, or he'd be hiding in the closet, or Margaret would have her shirt buttoned wrong. It was a rarity for them to have their clothes on right when someone came in.
- Monk: Asked to demonstrate his Sherlock Scan powers to a judge, Monk matter-of-factly states that he knows the judge was having sex with his secretary earlier, because the secretary is missing an earring and she's wearing a man's shirt.
- Happens often in How I Met Your Mother.
- In Lily and Marshal's case, the simultaneous-sitting-up-from-floor-with-satiated-smiles-and-slightly-askew-clothing is a bit of a running gag.
- Once subverted when Barney and Ted's sister trick Ted.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In the season finale of Season 3, Willow and Oz are late for their high school graduation ceremony (and accompanying Big Badass Battle Sequence). They both hurry to their seats, pretty clearly post-coital.
- In Season 6 Dawn sees ex-girlfriends Tara (wearing a bedsheet) and Willow (wearing only a large shirt) come out of Willow's room. Cue Squeeing from Dawn and the fans alike.
- Back in Season 4 when the Willow/Tara relationship had to be portrayed more subtly, Willow does the inside-out sweater version.
- Although it's made clear they didn't have sex, Buffy and Angel with rumpled clothing are shown emerging from a theatre screening an erotic foreign film.
- Game of Thrones. Ser Jorah Mormont is rendered completely speechless when he sees Daario Naharis leaving Queen Daenerys' chambers, still pulling on his clothes.
- Similarly in 1986 series Shaka Zulu. Lord Bathurst awaits an audience with King George IV about the Zulu problem. A courtier announces pompously: "His Majesty the King has woken, after a pleasant night's rest." Everyone applauds... until a pretty young thing in a nightie flounces out of the King's bedchamber.
- Patton Oswalt, in his standup comedy album My Weakness is Strong talks about the time he and his wife were touring new houses when they happened to interrupt an orgy. One of the characters he encounters trying to escape the scene, who he dubs "Fucksquatch", is wearing:
...a pair of girls' sweatpants, that he has put on backwards, so the word "Juicy" is across his groin. Juicy. Juicy! Which, I hate to say, probably factually accurate. He's also wearing a girl's tank top from The Gap, aqua, blue, or whatever it was...
- At the end of Oklahoma!, Ado Annie reappears with mussed hair, a contented expression on her face and straw clinging to the back of her dress. It looks like she's resolved her quarrel with Will the Good Bad Girl way.
- In The Most Happy Fella, when all of Tony's wedding guests are being sent home, the country girl who points out the hayloft of Tony's barn to her amorous boyfriend is seen with a lot of hay stuck to the back of her dress.
- Gunnerkrigg Court does this with Kat's parents when she and Annie walk in on them both, and Donald hastily grabs a newspaper that's upside down. Ten minutes later and things would have been awkward indeed.
- After Helen and Dave first have sex in Narbonic, Mell and Artie return to finds Helen wearing Dave's flannel and Dave in a lab coat.
- It has been stated by Word of God on the El Goonish Shive forum that something happened, or was about to happen between Tedd and Grace before Sarah rang at his door, but it's a mystery how far they went and how far they planned to go. Tedd is shown adjusting his clothes on his way to answer the door.
- In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsvius assumes that this is happening when Elan's sash is backwards. In actuality, Nale has disguised himself as Elan and got part of the outfit wrong.
- In Homestuck, Karkat catches Terezi sleeping while wearing only her scalemate-themed boxers, shirt, and dragon cape and being surrounded by copious amounts of horns and spilled Faygo, initially suggesting that she had recently filled buckets with her not-so-secret kismesis, Gamzee, though it turns out that she actually just passed out alone after drinking too much soda and that Gamzee has simply influenced her to behave like a juggalo.
- The Simpsons
- In episode "22 Short Films About Springfield", Apu has a liaison with a woman in a pool changing room and comes out with his shirt on backwards and his Kwik-E-Mart smock inside out.
- Also, in "Regarding Margie", Skinner and Edna are seen with ragged clothes on after sex inside a miniature golf castle.