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Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing
Items of clothing have a way of sticking around unchanged, even if their wearer is shrunken, transformed, or outright disintegrated in front of the viewer's eyes. This presentation is usually used as a visual cue to drive home the extremity of what's just happened to the victim. Simple gravity may pile the clothes into a heap, or convenient magic scatter them a moment later, to Hide the Evidence. In other instances, the clothes are ripped apart during the transformation, leaving them in tatters.

In Shapeshifting, this can be an effect of Animorphism, or as simple as Just Woke Up That Way. Also a frequent pairing with the Baleful Polymorph or Incredible Shrinking Man. Since the clothes stay where they are, if the victim has survived the event, it's likely to lead to Naked on Revival.

This is also seen in Sizeshifting gone wrong, Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence, or the effects of a Fountain of Youth.

Typically onscreen; in any case, the cause of the loss of clothing is revealed to the audience and characters present in the scene. May trigger a foreboding Empty Piles of Clothing moment if discovered later by a character, without this context.

Compare Empty Piles of Clothing, My Suit Is Also Super, Morphic Resonance, and Dress Hits Floor. Contrast Magic Pants.

Notice: As it can be used as a possible DEATH TROPE, there can be SPOILERS here. Beware!

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • In the new Axe Anti Dandruff commercial called "Dusted," three lovely young women are instantly reduced to dust in the presence of a certain young man, leaving their empty clothes to flutter to the ground.
  • G.U. Japan has the singing group "Kyary Pamyu Pamyu", as three vampires rising from their coffins and striking scary vampire poses, only one them accidentally kicks off her shoe, which hits a switch that opens a window. The sunlight pours in and poof, they vanish in a puff of smoke.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In one work submitted for serialization in Bakuman。, about a survival challenge in which anyone who tells a lie dies, the people who are killed in such a manner disappear, leaving only their clothes behind, while a voice comes from their clothes and announces the truth.
  • Princess Tutu. A girl called Duck, because she was originally one, turns back into her original form whenever she acts like a duck, thus leaving an empty pile of clothing behind.
  • In episode 5 of the Magic Users Club TV anime, Akane starts to hiccup, causing various strange things to happen. At one point, she shrinks, leaving her clothes piled on the club room floor.
  • This is what happens whenever someone dies of Troy in Double Arts. First the seizures, then the victims become transparents and disappear.
  • Happens in the first season of Birdy the Mighty Decode, where the world-destroying parasitic weapon, Ryunka, spreads to the Greater Tokyo Area, petrifying any person into a glass-like substance that shatters into dust, leaving behind nothing but piles of clothing. The death of Nataru's (one of Birdy's childhood friends and fellow Altarian) buddies from the Ryunka's destruction is what prompts him to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the second season against the criminals responsible for releasing it.
  • In One Piece Film Z: During the Straw Hats' first fight against the villains, Nami and Chopper seemingly disappear after Ain hits them with her power, leaving their clothes behind. However, it turns out they have just been deaged into kids.
    • As far as the main series goes, Jewelry Bonney's age-altering powers are among the few Devil Fruit abilities that don't affect clothing, which explains their Stripperific outfits: they need fitting clothes for when they have to turn into children.
  • Vampires that get staked in Black Blood Brothers usually leave behind a small pile of dust and a pile of clothing.
  • Used in Fullmetal Alchemist when Alphonse Elric's body is destroyed when he and his brother Edward attempt human transmutation. When Edward sees Al's clothes on the floor empty he knows his little experiment has truly Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • Occurs in Katekyo Hitman Reborn! after Yuni and Gamma sacrifice themselves during the final battle of the Future Arc.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • In Baccano!, immortals leave these when they are eaten.
  • The dreaded Third Impact in Neon Genesis Evangelion reduces everyone in the world to puddles of orange fluid and a pile of their clothes, even if that person was already dead at the time.
  • Fairy Tail: At one point during Team Natsu's fight with Hades, the latter used a technique named "Katsu" on Wendy, causing her to disappear instantly, only leaving her clothes behind. Fortunately, it turns out she was saved at the last minute by Horologium, and that Hades' attack actually didn't hit her.
  • In Ranma ½, curse changes seldom affect clothes. This has led to several scenes where Ryouga and Shampoo end up unexpectedly naked upon transforming back (admittedly the latter don't much care). In Ranma's case, both forms are human and thus don't fall out of their clothes, although there have been occasions of humiliation when he turns into a guy while wearing distinctly female clothing. The only clear exception to the rule is Genma, who always wears his clothes even though his panda form doesn't, because no one wants to see a naked old man.
  • In a chapter of the Japanese-only Neptunia manga, after Nepgear, Uni, Rom and Ram are accidentally turned into babies, they are seen swimming in their oversized clothes. Because said clothes don't magically reappear when the girls are returned to normal, this leads to a minor Naked Freak-Out from them.
  • In Devil & Devil, one of the first enemies is a tentacled monster that can suck the life and time out of people, de-aging them to infancy. Because this doesn't include their clothing, this lead to confusion when the monster attacked a female teacher, leading to the strange discovering of a baby girl "wearing" a young woman's clothes.
  • The main cast of Fruits Basket is all over this trope like white on rice, mostly because Naked People Are Funny when they turn back.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has several cards on theme:
    • Snakeform shows a snake slithering out of a pile of clothes that was once a mage.
    • Turn to Frog uses the same basic concept in its art, where "Target creature loses all abilities and becomes a 1/1 blue Frog until end of turn.".
    • As does Ovinize, which depicts a sheep among weapons and armor, whose name is similar to the Latin, Ovis aries.
    • Possibly averted by Fowl Play.

    Comic Books 
  • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Flash Barry Allen runs so fast that he loses himself to the Speed Force, leaving just his uniform behind. Same thing with Wally West in Zero Hour.
  • In Fables #51, Cinderella is turned into a mouse, her clothes falling empty to the meadow floor, so she can enter the village of the smalls.
  • Most versions of The Wasp have this; Janet Van Dyne usually has a tiny superhero outfit to wear when she turns into the Wasp. If she doesn't? Well, then she has to fight starkers. This happened a lot in The Ultimates.
  • In the world of Flare, whenever the Tigress turns another woman into a cat, the target leaves her clothing behind. Tigress herself was naked when she suddenly reverted from cat to human.
  • In ' 'Power Pack', the character with the mass powers, usually Jack, sometimes ran into problems when he transformed into cloud form when not wearing his special costume that changed with him.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side. The four-panel comic Beware the Pigeons, depicting a person on a park bench serenely feeding pigeons. The pigeons swarm in number...and ultimately leave the former occupant's clothes draped empty on the bench.

    Fan Works 
  • This features in the Ranma ½ Elsewhere Fic Boy Scouts ½. As in the work that inspired it, there are six characters (seven, if you count the original work's Ryoga's running gag cameo appearances) who suffer from curses that frequently alter their physical forms. This change does not effect what they are wearing. Two of the characters merely suffer a change of gender, so clothes wouldn't be lost upon changing, but depending on the apparel there is a chance it may suddenly not be appropriate. The other four turn into animals, and there has been cases of characters, after being transformed back into their human forms, having to struggle to protect their modesty.
  • There is a most unpleasant variation in the Marvel/Harry Potter crossover Harry Potter and the Invincible Technomage. A badly wounded Peter Pettigrew is recovering (as a human) in a Muggle hospital after being attacked by a cat in his rat form. As soon as he wakes up, he attempts to shapeshift and escape... but dies once the metallic screws in his bones turn out too big for a rat body to handle.

    Films — Animation 
  • In a literal case of Just Woke Up That Way: The Ant Bully has this, when Lucas Nickle wakes, and shrinks. After he falls from his bed, his underwear is left behind; numerous cases of Scenery Censor ensue. When he's turned back to normal, he's again without clothes, though only his butt is visible.
  • Pinocchio, in which bad boys turn into donkeys after misbehaving on Pleasure Island. We see this happen to Lampwick, as animal instincts replace his human reason, and a combination of the shape change itself and desperate braying and bucking casts all of his clothes off.
  • Tiana emerges from her now-empty princess dress after kissing Naveen turns her into a frog in The Princess and the Frog.
  • Rock-A-Doodle has the scene where The Duke, the evil owl turns the live-action human boy Edmund into a cartoon kitten by way of a magic spell. (This particular scene pairs this trope with that of Toon Transformation).
  • Shrek 2
    • After King Harold shields Fiona from one of the Fairy Godmother's spells, his suit of armor seems to be the only thing left of him... Until he comes out of the armor, in his original frog form, and reveals the truth about that to the heroes.
    • A variant occurs when Shrek turns into a human. His ogre clothes are now too big for him, so he has to find new ones. Weirdly, his old clothes are back when he turns back into an ogre.
  • Having lost the Ultimate Game to the Looney Tunes in Space Jam, the Monstars surrender their Liquid Assets and shrink to Nerdluck size. Their Monstar uniforms do not shrink, leaving the Nerdlucks unclothed. Pound lampshades this: "My clothes don't fit."
  • Tangled: Happens to Mother Gothel at the end, as a result of Flynn finally cutting Rapunzel's hair.
  • In Brave, Elinor's clothes are torn when she turns into a bear. Later, Fergus finds the ripped garments and assumes the worst.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Alice is shrunk until only her dress remains. She, in fact, changes size several times in the film, justifying new outfits with each new size. This is a contrast from the original text, in which her clothes changed size with her. Presumably this was done for the sake of fanservice.
  • Harry Potter
    • In the first movie, Quirrell collapses to dust, leaving his clothes to fall empty to the floor.
    • In the third film, Pettigrew leaves behind his clothes after turning into a rat. Which is weird, seeing how Animagi always have clothes on when they turn human and McGonagall's cat form is noted to have markings around its eyes which resemble her glasses. In the book, this occurs at a different point, also with Pettigrew. After he framed Sirius for his death and turned into a rat, it's mentioned he left behind a pile of clothes and one finger. So... was he naked in the Shrieking Shack? Maybe they just conjure clothes when they turn human since they are wizards, after all.
  • Star Wars A New Hope: At the end of Vader & Kenobi's lightsaber duel, Kenobi seemingly gives up and lets Vader slice him - but when he does so, we (and Vader) find his clothes empty. He Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence and left his clothes behind. (Vader then stomps on the robe as if to make sure Kenobi is not just hiding in there!)
  • In The Film of the Book of The Witches, when someone is turned into a mouse, they leave their clothes behind. When this happens to Luke, the witches stomp on his clothes in an effort to kill him before he can escape.
  • In the Tom Cruise remake of The War of the Worlds, the alien heat ray reduces people to ash, leaving their clothing behind. But not underwear for some reason. Non Magic Pants?
  • Which, of course, was parodied by Scary Movie: a bunch of rappers instead left their Bling behind. Somehow the people manage to get one and when they Reverse the Polarity it becomes The Nudifier.
  • In the movie Unearthly Stranger, a woman turns out to be a member of an invading alien race. when she tries to stop them, her people, they kill her by fading her out of existence while being held by her husband, leaving only her clothes draped over his arms.
  • In the movie Constantine, Keanu Reeves plays a priest-like warrior who battles demons. when the demon is killed its human body is destroy, turning to ash, until only clothes remain.
  • The Sword of the Valiant, starring Sean Connery. An apprentice witch is turned into a red frog for being naughty by his character. The scene finishes as they converse while she is perched a top of her empty dress surrounded by her accessories.
  • When Santa dies in The Santa Clause, all that's left is his Santa suit, which Tim Allen must don.
  • Empty piles of bandages are all that is left after the protagonist of Mannequin is whisked across time and space.
  • Allison in The Grudge 2 is pulled into her clothes, leaving them in a heap on the floor in front of Jake. Kayako then manifests inside the clothes to menace her next victim.
  • In The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Lily Tomlin's character shrinks until even a small pouch that she wears as clothing is all that's left of her.
  • In the movie Wishmaster 2, a theif who was cornered by the Djinn is so scared he wishes he were never born. Very bad idea. His clothes are all that's left of him after the Djinn has granted his wish.
  • In Mom and Dad Save the World, an unpinned light grenade disintegrates anyone who picks it up, leaving only the victim's clothes behind.
  • Big Bad Thulsa Doom does this when he turns into a giant snake in the middle of overseeing an orgy in Conan the Barbarian (1982), explained in the novelisation as fleeing from Conan and his allies.
  • In O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Pete is apparently transformed into a toad, which his fellow adventurers find in his otherwise empty clothing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Twilight Zone
    • "Queen of the Nile". A man suffers Rapid Aging and becomes dust inside his clothing.
  • In the UK Being Human episode "The Longest Day", Lauren kills herself, dissolves and leaves a pile of empty clothes.
  • In the first episode of The Secret World of Alex Mack, after being exposed to the chemical GC-161, Alex leaves her clothes behind the very first time she shapeshifts into a puddle, much to the shock of her friends. Equally shocking to them is her reappearing Naked on Arrival a moment later.
    • The second and subsequent times Alex does this, she has learned to shift her outfit along with her (at first only that one outfit, later anything); thus Magic Pants is the trope through the rest of the series.
  • Stargate Verse
    • Characters who Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence leave empty clothes behind. This is first seen in Stargate SG-1, episode "Maternal Instinct", when the monk at the temple ascends after being shot by Apophis' Jaffa.
    • In SG-1 episode "Counterstrike", the Free Jaffa Nation uses the Dakara superweapon to attack a planet the Ori recently captured. Everyone there except Adria is disintegrated, leaving only their clothes behind.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Amy turns people into rats, their clothes are unaffected, leaving the rat to crawl out of the otherwise empty pile of clothing.
  • Doctor Who. Inverted in "The Day of the Doctor" where a Zygon copies a human, clothes and all. When they meet up later, one of them ponders what will happen if their copy loses a shoe.
    • But played straight during Time Lords' regenerations, who start each life in their former incarnation's clothes.

    Literature 
  • Used in The Time Traveler's Wife, when the title time traveler... time travels.
  • In The Indian in the Cupboard, when the person who would have been sent through time and space to the cupboard is dead, all that gets sent is a pile of clothing.
  • In a book called The Demon in Me by Michelle Rowen, Dark Witches are dissolved to nothingness very quickly when killed leaving only a pile of clothes.
  • In the book True Angel: Hero by Laura Amy O'Hanlon, Kennedy kills her mother Ocran, who is a bad woman. When she dies, she vanishes instantly leaving her empty clothes to fall to the ground.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, the god Vkandis decides to show his displeasure with his priesthood by (among other things) incinerating the high priest with a Bolt of Divine Retribution; a witness says that nothing was left but the man's smoking vestments and boots.
  • In the book Samantha Slade — Confession of a Teenage Frog, a girl tests a "formula for greatness" created by a small boy she babysits to help her win an election at school. It turns out that the stuff randomly turns her into a frog, so she is constantly having to crawl out of a pile of her clothes.
  • In the book series "Soul Guardians", by Kim Richardson, when the Oracles wanted to de-angel-fy someone they forced them to take a cold shower in a special chamber where the water disintegrated their body into a shiny foamy substance that was washed away down the drain by the water leaving a free floating soul and a pile of clothes.
  • In Animorphs, only skintight clothes will transform with you when one morphs. The kids have to wear leotards and bike shorts under their regular clothes, and can't morph shoes. Late in the series they learn to morph normal clothing, but still can't do shoes. This limitation is because the Andalities, who invented morphing tech, don't wear clothes and so didn't take them into account. It's considered a sign of one's talent when a visiting Andalite is able to morph clothes when turning into a human.
    • This significant piece of the story was completely and absolutely ignored on the cover art for the series (which featured the book's narrator transforming into an animal featured prominent in the story.) The creators readily admitted that this was done simply to make the covers more interesting, since they now had various colors and fabric textures to incorporate.
  • In The Incredible Adventures of Karik and Valya, the eponymous siblings shrink to insect size, leaing their clothes behind. The girl is very unhappy about not having her clothes on.
  • Werewolves in The Parasol Protectorate (and the related The Finishing School Series) routinely strip before transforming. One novel suggests that "cloakrooms" became popular for the benefit of the werewolf members of society; they could undress and don a cloak if there was going to be a delay in transforming, or collect a cloak if they'd arrived in wolf form.
  • The Dresden Files plays this straight and averts this in Fool Moon with the various werewolf transformations. The loup-garou (who transforms due to a curse on his bloodline) and the Alphas (who transform under their own power) play this trope straight, and later books mention the Alphas routinely donning clothes that are extremely easy to shed. The hexenwolves (who transform by the power of magical belts) avert this, and their clothes apparently transform with them. The description of the hexenwolves transformation doesn't include details on exactly how their clothes (and any other objects on their person) transform into fur and flesh, but it doesn't describe them tearing their clothes during transformations, or stripping beforehand, so it can be assumed that the belts' spell also covers things that are not part of the human's organic body.
  • In Discworld, this applies to werewolves, as demonstrated in Men at Arms when Angua suffers Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen and has to stay in wolf shape until she can get back to the watch house and improvise some clothing.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In Urban Arcana, when a shadowkind (a creature native to the D&D world) dies, it disappears in 1D4 rounds, "leaving no trace of itself other than its clothing and equipment".
    • The Baleful Polymorph spell makes clothes and equipment fall around the victim.
  • In Nobilis, the people of Dionyl subvert this trope — they are spirits with nothing but empty clothes for a physical form.

    Video Games 
  • In Nethack, polymorphing into a creature smaller than your usual size can leave you buried under your clothes, armor, and pack full of loot. Polymorphing into a bigger creature would cause you to destroy your armor as you grow out of it.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura transforming into an elemental (or bieng changed into an animal) uneqips all your gear and puts it into your inventory, leaving you in your underwear when the spell expires. If the inventory is full, it will just drop excess items on the ground. As most of Arcanum's NPCs are devout kleptomaniacs, the gear you forgot to pick up may be either salvaged by a teammate or stolen by nosy bystander.

    Web Comics 
  • Scott McCloud's three-panel one-shot Man-Eating Shoes speaks for itself with its title and the result of man at bus stop "discovering the nature" of said shoes.
  • The Dragon Doctors features an enormous amount of shapeshifting, and none of it ever shifts the clothing, not even when people get turned to stone. This leads to quite a lot of nudity and wardrobe malfunctions throughout the comic.
    • It seems to vary between spells, since the evil guy who forced magic users to petrify themselves noticed (too late) something was up with his last victim because the scroll he left and the spell she actually used differed on that point.
  • In El Goonish Shive, ordinary clothes are never affected by transformations. Only special jumpsuits purpose-built by a shapeshifter race can adapt.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the 1933 Disney Silly Symphony Three Little Pigs, the eponymous Big Bad Wolf on two legs becomes enraged at not being able to enter the brick house of the third little pig. In a Villainous Breakdown, Animorphism kicks in. Gloves and his hat fly off, and desperate breaths to blow the brick house down break his suspenders. Ultimately, he steps out of his pants, completely naked, and acting fully like a wild four-legged wolf for the rest of the cartoon.
  • In Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, Dodgers is not concerned by Marvin's Disintegrator Ray because he's wearing his disintegration-proof vest. Marvin fires and Dodgers is totally disintegrated - except for the vest, which remains floating in place briefly before slumping down on the pile of Dodgers' powdered remains. (Fortunately, the Eager Young Space Cadet has a reintegration gun handy.)
  • Used weirdly in an episode of Aladdin: The Series. In "Do The Rat Thing," Jasmine is transformed into a rat, shrinking out of the cloak she was wearing over her usual outfit, but the outfit itself changed with her and was restored when she was changed back, also her iconic earrings just vanish completely when transformed.
    • Could be justified that perhaps the fact her outfit is essentially a part of her as well as it's her "Royal outfit" so when she made the wish to be a streetrat instead of a Princess, the royal clothing may have disappeared to symbolize leaving behind her old lifestyle.
  • Inverted with the changelings in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The ones that mimic Applejack somehow get a copy of her trademark hat out of the deal.

Shameful StripStripping TropesShowing Off the New Body
Shameless Fanservice GirlNudity TropesShower Shy
Scaled UpShapeshiftingTransformation Causes
Sexy Whatever OutfitCostume TropesSharp-Dressed Man
Ring of PowerImageSource/Tabletop GamesShaping Your Attacks

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