Grand Duke: The Prince, Sire, swears he'll marry none but the girl who fits this slipper.In fiction, some key pieces of clothing can only be worn by certain people. Shoes are a common choice, but other clothing will do. Thus if it fits someone, it can be used to ID them. Sometimes this can work in Real Life, but it's usually not enough evidence on its own. It might help if it's an accessory such as a dental plate or prosthesis that is custom-made to fit one specific individual's body. Note it only counts when it's wearing it, not using it, or even touching it. May overlap with Clothes Make the Superman (if the clothes bestow special abilities but will not work for just anyone), Suspect Is Hatless (if the clothing may not be that distinct). Compare Identification by Dental Records and Glass Slipper.
King: He said that, did he? Ha ha, we've got him!
Grand Duke: But, Sire, this slipper may fit any number of girls.
King: That's his problem. He's given his word, we'll hold him to it.
King: He said that, did he? Ha ha, we've got him!
Grand Duke: But, Sire, this slipper may fit any number of girls.
King: That's his problem. He's given his word, we'll hold him to it.
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Anime & Manga
- Parodied in the Ranma ½ manga by a story arc titled "Cinderella's Favor" in which a guy has gathered girls to his private island and asks them to step on his head, so he can compare their feet and find the girl who stomped on his head a long time ago (which, of course, is actually Ranma).
- Battle of the Planets: Princess once lost one of her boots during a battle and the enemies try to use it to find her.
- Ōkami-san : The first episode features a tennis player contemplating retirement trying to find the girl who fits the sneaker that kicked him in the face. He does, and is revealed to be a bit of a pervert and only did so to determine that said girl had great control of her body to do so. They end up going out.
- Averted in Yes! Pretty Cure 5, after the main characters come back from Cinderella's world, Milk (a bunny fairy mascot) jumps with her whole body in the shoe, preventing that Nozomi, who was Cinderella in that world, could try to wear the glass shoe, despite it's actually Nozomi's. Of course, Nozomi who wants to marry her prince (Coco) isn't amused.
- Despite that the main characters know the story, Nozomi, being a Cute Clumsy Girl, really lost her shoe by tripping downstairs.
- This trope is played in Smile Pretty Cure!, where the Cinderella scenario happens again, but the villains try to ruin the story because their goal is creating bad ends. Miyuki being Genre Savvy takes off her shoe and puts it on the stairs instead of losing the shoe. But the villains being clever steal the original shoe and they make an extra large glass shoe for Akaoni. His shoe fits, but it immediately breaks. Candy takes the original back and the shoe flies on Miyuki's foot who just tripped.
- In Tokyo Ghoul :Jack, Arima uses a lost shoe to narrow down his list of suspects to one person. Minami is the only female Transfer Student at their school that wears that size. Lantern is shocked that he figured it out from such a minor thing.
- The wish ring in Little Ego, which will only work for the person who manages to slip it on. Naturally this person turns out to be Ego. And it doesn't go on her finger...
- A legend from Ancient Greece (found first in Strabo's Geographica, also in Aelian's Various History) relates how the courtesan Rhodopis of Naucratis supposedly became the wife the Pharaoh of Egypt: An eagle carries off one of Rhodopis' sandals while she is bathing and drops it into the lap of the Pharaoh at Memphis. The Pharaoh forms the idea that the shoe must belong to a very beautiful woman and believing that the incident is a cue from the Gods, sends messengers over all of Egypt to find out the owner of the sandal to marry her. Note that it is not clear whether Rhodopis was the only woman who fit the sandal, or whether she was identified by her having the other sandal.
- "Cinderella" and its variants are among the best known; some use a ring or other article rather than a slipper.
- Justified in Yeh-Shen, one of the earliest versions of the Cinderella tale—it's specifically the golden slipper's small size that makes it so that no other woman will fit it. (Well, presumably the king only tested it on those of marriageable age.) In Chinese culture small feet are traditionally an important standard of beauty, hence the practice of foot-binding (which is believed to have begun about a century after this story was written).
- In "The King Who Wished to Marry His Own Daughter" and several others of the type, the dying queen gets a promise to never marry a woman who can not wear an article of her clothing. It turns out that their daughter is the only one who can.
- In "Donkeyskin", the Princess Incognito drops a ring inside a cake she bakes for the prince who then calls for all women in the kingdom to come and try on the ring.
- In "The Egyptian Cinderella", an adaptation of the Ancient Greek fairy tale of Rhodopis, a falcon snatches one of the rose-red slippers of Rhodopis and drops it into the lap of the Pharaoh, who orders the whole of Egypt searched for the woman who owns the slipper so he can marry her.
- Several Harry Potter fanfics have each pureblood family having a ring that automatically resizes itself to fit whoever becomes head of that family.
Films — Animation
- Disney's Cinderella, the Trope Namer, acknowledges the potential absurdity of the trope: the Grand Duke protests that the slipper could fit any number of girls, to which the King replies that he doesn't care, he's holding the prince to his Exact Words in order to ensure he gets married. The trope is also ultimately subverted, as Cinderella doesn't even manage to try on the slipper before it's smashed... but she is able to produce its match, which serves as even better proof of her identity. This references an often-omitted part of the Charles Perrault fairy tale, in which after Cinderella fits her foot into the slipper, she pulls out the match and puts it on her other foot.
- In Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Prince Charming himself acknowledges the flimsiness of a shoe size as proof of one's identity, but also points out they don't have any other means of finding Cinderella. His and the king's doubts about this plan become confirmed when Lady Tremaine uses a stolen magic wand to make the glass slipper fit stepsister Anastasia instead.
Films — Live-Action
- Subverted in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The boots of one of the assassins are found, but in the locker of a crewman with webbed feet, and the boots are for humans. They were obviously planted to avoid this trope. Chekov even mentions the aphorism from the "old Russian fairy tale" - "If shoe fits, wear it." He notably fails to look down to make sure that the boots might indeed fit the person he's accusing.
- Used as contributing evidence in Inglourious Basterds.
- At the end of Enchanted, Giselle has left her shoes in the ballroom. Edward slips one on Nancy's foot, thus beginning the Pair the Spares.
- Gender Flipped in Ayoy Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, where Lolita and the police look for Hyde by making people try on his shoe.
- Book 4 of The Faerie Queene: The winner of the Beauty Contest will be the one who can wear the (supposedly) dead Florimell's golden girdle, as it can only be worn by a virgin, and virginity is beautiful. At least, those were the rules, but when the belt fits none of the girls except Amoret, the judges stubbornly award it to who they think is the most attractive girl anyway (who is actually a clone of the real Florimell), chaste or not, despite the protests of Amoret's Knight in Shining Armor, who is actually a Sweet Polly Oliver. Yes, it's an interesting story.
- In Chronicles of the Kencyrath, the Kenthiar is a collar that only the Highlord can wear — everyone else who touches the inner surface will lose their fingers, or worse.
- In Diana Wynne Jones's The Crown of Dalemark, the Adon's ring is said to fit any finger on either hand of the true heir, no matter how big or small. Mitt is descended from the Adon and destined to become King, and wears the ring for a chunk of the book without realizing its significance, because he believes the ring he has is only a nonmagical copy.
- Witches Abroad utterly dismantles this trope. Lilith is trying to invoke the trope for the Cinderella story she's masterminding, and Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax point out that a lot of feet can fit a shoe that size with enough socks... and even if you don't have socks, there must be a lot of people with that shoe size in the city. The only way to use it as a test is if you know who dropped it in the first place....
- Nanny Ogg is one of the women the shoe fits. And she actually pretends to consider marrying the Duc, even though she knows he's a frog.
- Used in Mercedes Lackey's remake of Cinderella, Phoenix and Ashes. Cinderella's wicked stepmother chopped off her pinky finger in the first chapter, so when she leaves her gloves behind at the masquerade ball, there's no question about who they belong to (and it was irrelevant anyway, since the Love Interest knew full well exactly who he'd been dancing with). Doesn't stop her wicked stepsister from trying, though, and coming out to the hero to claim her gloves still loopy from the painkillers.
- Justified in Ella Enchanted: There's fairy blood in Ella's family, so her feet are significantly smaller than most people's.
- In Bound by Donna Jo Napoli, a Chinese Cinderella story, it was justified because the shoe was designed for unbound feet, like main character Xing Xing who grew up without binding her feet.
- Justified in Princess of Glass: the slipper was molded to the exact shape of the girl's foot. And the slipper isn't the real test anyway — the test is whether the prince can pick out the girl he really loves even with his mind clouded by magic.
- One mystery short story had a detective telling a suspect that a killer had left a print behind in blood at the scene of the murder, but it was the print of a glove. The suspect pointed out that would not help identify the killer. The detective said the glove had a distinctive characteristic that would identify the killer exactly and asked the suspect to show him his hands. It turns out, the glove was made for someone with six fingers.
- Roald Dahl's take on Cinderella in Revolting Rhymes has one of the stepsisters switch the slipper with one of her own. When it fits, the prince responds by chopping her head off. And then does the same to the other stepsister before she can even try. Cindy is naturally horrified, and decides she wants nothing to do with this psychopath.
- The children's book Interstellar Cinderella is a sci-fi version of the classic tale which has an interesting take on this trope: here, Cinderella is a Wrench Wench whose ensemble for the royal Gravity-Free Ball includes a fancy sonic socket wrench. After impressing the Prince with her expertise and dropping her wrench when she has to leave at midnight, the challenge he offers is to see who can fix-up a broken-down space ship with the wrench.
- In Lawrence Block's The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza Ray presents a rubber glove with the palm cut out as evidence that Bernie was involved in the Colcannon burglary. Since the glove was actually lost by his partner-in-crime Carolyn, Bernie tries to divert suspicion by demonstrating that it doesn't fit.
- Jim Henson's The Storyteller plays with this trope in the episode "Sapsorrow". First there's a ring handed down through the generations of the royal family; in order to choose a wife, the king must find a woman who fits the ring, and by the same token if the ring turns out to fit a woman, the king must marry her... even if she's his own daughter, demonstrating one of the problems with relying on the fit of a piece of jewelry to choose your wife for you. Later on, the eponymous princess leaves her slipper behind at a ball, Cinderella-style, and the prince makes the standard proclamation that he will marry the girl whose foot fits the slipper - which nearly backfires on him when Sapsorrow's fat, ugly, bad-tempered sister manages to cram her foot into it.
- An early Muppets special, Hey Cinderella!, has a subversion similar to the Disney version. Here, the prince accidentally steps on the glass slipper, making finding the wearer highly unlikely. The king, however, reasons that while there may be a maiden out there with a pair of glass slippers, the right maiden would be the one who has only one glass slipper.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Several episodes had Bulk and Skull trying to learn the identities of the Power Rangers. In one episode, Bulk took inspiration from "Cinderella" and decided to make imprints of the Rangers' boots. An opportunity presented itself when Lord Zedd's Monster of the Week in that episode had the Rangers battle illusions of past monsters at the beach. At the end of the episode, Bulk and Skull went to Ernie's juice bar with a cement block with imprints of all five Rangers' boots. One of the rangers turned the music on so the musicians would make Bulk drop the block. While he managed to keep holding the block despite the dancers, he was caught unprepared for Skull's congratulatory tap on the back.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Beast Below", Liz 10 (Elizabeth X, queen of a future Britain) has a royal mask moulded to the exact shape of her face. This leads to the discovery that she has been ruling for centuries, not for ten years as she believed - her memories are erased every ten years to keep her from remembering the Star Whale.
- Parodied in The Goodies episode "Punky Business". Graeme turns Tim into a punk by cutting his leg off. After re-attaching it, he warns Tim that the catch won't last much past midnight. Tim goes to the Trendsetter's Ball, where he loses his leg at midnight. Caroline Kook vows to marry the man whom the leg fits. Cue punks cutting off their own legs.
- Subverted on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Will finds a last-minute date to a Halloween party in a kind waitress named Cindy, who just happened to dress as Cinderella. At midnight, she flees and drops her shoe and Will thinks he's been "touched by magic"... but then Cindy comes back to claim her shoe and gives Will her phone number.
- In M*A*S*H, BJ is accused by a general of throwing a party in the hotel he was staying at, which leads to the general being caught in an embarrassing situation; but BJ insists he was back at camp at the time, and that the real culprit was likely a friend of his who is a notorious practical joker. The general's main piece of evidence is a hat left in the hotel room, and has BJ put it on. It is obviously not BJ's hat.
- An episode of Whitechapel has the investigative team track a witness by the shoes she left behind in a graveyard (having kicked them off to better out-run her would-be attacker).
- One of Jon's dates in Garfield ran out of the restaurant at midnight, leaving behind one of her steel-toed work boots. Garfield suggests going to the foundry to see who it fits.
- Played with in, of all places, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where Zora females traditionally craft a set of armour for the one they wish to marry. The prejudiced and arrogant elder, Muzu, refuses to accept the help of a Hylian like Link, or believe that he could've been important to his long dead, beloved student Mipha, and withholds his help. He has to accept the truth, though, when it's revealed the Zora armour Mipha made is a precise fit for Link and was clearly made for him.
- Played with in Girl Genius in the Cinderella side story here. Tarvek proposes using a lost shot to find Cinderella/Agatha. Gil points out the obvious problems with this leading Tarvek to propose increasingly detailed filters (unmarried, age, hair color etc.) to narrow it down culminating with him pulling out a portrait of her. As Gil then points out if they have a portrait they don't actually need the shoe.
- Phelous plays with this in a video about some Disney Princess knockoff dolls: He has the Cinderella look-alike boast that the glass slipper fits, proving herself as "she who arrived in a pumpkin". However, the slipper (which isn't even made of glass, but instead blue plastic) actually looks too big for the doll, and falls off.
- Defied in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Near the end of "The Best Night Ever", the ponies are running away from the chaos they accidentally caused at the Grand Galloping Gala. Rarity drops a glass slipper, and Pinkie Pie tells her, "Now your prince is sure to find you!" Rarity, who has no interest in meeting Prince Blue Blood ever again, screams and crushes the slipper into shards.
- An... interesting variation occurred in Rocko's Modern Life once: When Rocko accidentally mooned a newspaper camera during a movie premiere, a fashion designer saw the picture, and decided the owner of the posterior would make a perfect underwear model. To find the potential model, all of the men in O-Town took turns sitting in an imprint made of Rocko's bottom in the cement that night.
- Lola And Virginia: While wearing a yogurt costume, Lola met a celebrity boy. As she left, she lost her glasses and the boy uses them as a clue to find her. Being interested on the boy, Virginia gets her own yogurt costume but Lola proves the truth by being the one who can see while wearing the glasses.
- In the Bob's Burgers episode "Lindapendant Woman" Tina meets a boy at the supermarket, but since she couldn't see his face through the shelves between them all she has to identify him is the band-aid that dropped off his finger.
- In Rocket Power After sneaking into the skate park to see the new ramp, Twister accidentally slips in the wet cement, leaving an imprint of his head and hand. Determined to find the culprit, the owner overhears Sam sarcastically suggesting they do what Cinderella did and find out whose head matches the shape in the cement. He then lines up the skaters and lets those who don't fit cement imprint into the park.
- In the "Scarecrowella" episode of Magic Adventures of Mumfie, Bristle comes to Mumfie's house to give back a hat left at the ball, which they find out fits Scarecrow the best. Then Bristle says he has to marry The Queen of Night. Scarecrow likes this idea until he is told that he can't visit Mumfie and Pinkey, go on adventures, or scare crows.
- In one episode of DuckTales (1987), Scrooge had a dream in which he was 'Scroogerello', and was competing against his evil step-siblings the Beagle Boys for the heart of Princess Goldie. At the end of the ball Scrooge ended up leaving behind his gold top hat, which Goldie tried to use to find him. Though in this case there were numerous people who would be able to wear the hat... if it wasn't for the fact that it violently assaulted anyone who tried to put it on other than Scrooge, regardless of hat size.
- In Milo Murphy's Law, the school dance that Amanda organized has problem after problem, largely due to Milo's presence. When the electricity goes out he quickly fixes the decorations before going to the circuit breaker (naturally, he was carrying night-vision goggles). In the process he loses a shoe. When Amanda sees everything fixed she finds the shoe and, wanting to thank "her hero," goes looking for whomever is missing one.
- In an episode of American Dad!, Roger finds a nipple pastie the night after a wild party at his bar/attic and goes around trying to find the girl whose nipple fits it. He eventually finds his match, weirdly enough, in a small cottage living with two mean stepsisters.