A naked or topless woman is shown only by the camera showing her bare back (and nothing below her waist). This usually means someone is seeing her bare front... but not us. This allows female nudity without actually showing the goods and, as such, is a form of Discretion Shot.
As the quote atop the page indicates, the point here is to have some titillation without showing the forbidden nipple. Reasons for this vary. Some examples come from times when censorship rules were stricter. Other works may need to avoid a more "adult" rating. Many actresses simply don't want to go topless. Or a filmmaker may decide that less is more.
This trope does not count if the character is also seen topless from the front. Dress Hits Floor is the below-the-waist equivalent.
For clothing that exposes the back but covers the front, see Sexy Backless Outfit.
Kagura has one of these in an episode when she's attacked from behind, showing off Naraku's mark on her back.
Kagome has one of these moments when, after being captured and waking up naked in a tub of sake, she leaps out of the pool when Inuyasha breaks down the door to rescue her. All we see is her back and Inuyasha's hilarious expression.
Riza Hawkeye in Fullmetal Alchemist. Her back has a giant tattoo, and burn scars covering it. Since it's Riza, you could still call it Fanservice, and the fourth ending to Brotherhood prominently features her back.
The Ouran High School Host Club anime has the twins putting a photoshopped picture of Haruhi's shirtless back on the club website* since Haruhi is actually a girl, but they want people to think she's a boy, leading Tamaki to falsely conclude that they must've seen something while taking the picture. It's more egregious in the manga, where the twins put Haruhi's head on Tamaki's chest and Tamaki is still fooled into thinking it's real.
Bare back scene appear on occasion, but it's usually overshadowed by the fact that most of the girls are naked all the time anyway, their modesty only preserved by Censor Steam and lack of detail.
In an oddly justified use of the trope, Setsuna's tribal crow garb comes with an exposed back purely for half-demons and full crows in humanoid form to release their wings. Otherwise the new appendages would appear underneath the user's shirt uncomfortably.
When Akane's body was possessed by a vengeful spirit doll in Ranma ½, it tried to distract Ranma (so it could kill him afterwards) by stripping bare in front of him. The audience only got to see Akane's back and upper hips; the real Akane (trapped in a doll's body) threw herself at Ranma's face to keep him from looking.
Gintoki gets a lot of these moments. Most of the time, they're played for laughs but that doesn't stop the fangirls from ogling over him.
Fushigi Yuugi gives us a view of Miaka's back as she's bathing to purify herself for the summoning ceremony (her butt's included though, poor girl). We don't see her when she turns around. Tamahome does.
Spice and Wolf: Holo normally doesn't wear clothes, but she does use the trope to justify why she's not going to remove her (ear- and tail- concealing) cloak for some strange merchant Holo and Lawrence met that day.
In 009-1 Mylene Hoffman/ Agent 009-1 has several Toplessness From The Back scenes combined with Modesty Bedsheets. Indeed, the very first time you see her in the series is when she gets out of bed wearing only a bedsheet and showing plenty of sexy back.
Mixed with the Japanese nape-of-neck thing in Samurai Champloo when Fuu poses for an artist. First she's asked to only loosen her kimono a bit and let the collar slide a little lower. OK, that's a bit naughty. The artist just keeps prompting her to lower the collar more and more. Scandalous!
This is often the most we get to see of Nami in One Piece during her shower scenes. In some cases, however, she is shown topless from the front, but with her breasts covered by Censor Steam. The trope was also used as an actual plot point for more than a half chapter, when Hancock had to show Luffy the mark on her back.
A couple of scenes in Girls und Panzer where Miho is talking to the other girls in the school baths.
Astonishing X-Men #21. When Colossus and Kitty are given a refuge from the Breakworld's Powerlord by former gladiator Arghanne, Colossus considers the ramifications of his presence on Breakworld before turning in. Hearing his confusion, Kitty emerges from behind the curtain. The reader is treated to a clear view of Kitty's nude back (and a little bit of her cleverly shadowed rear end). Colossus clearly sees her front.
"Now I am more confused. But somehow not as tired."
In the earlier Jolie-starring film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, there's an instance of Shameless Fanservice Girl when Lara is offered a dress by her butler as she gets out of the shower and, in indignation, she removes her towel and tosses it aside. We see her walking away from behind.
Discussed in State and Main: a screenwriter agonizes on how to rewrite a critically important nude scene because the actress refuses to get naked. He finally has an epiphany to simply show her from the back, so that the scene can remain but the actress doesn't have to actually be nude.
Done in The Guns of Navarone, but definitely not played for fanservice. The team are, rather brutally, interrogating one of their local guides, whom they suspect to be The Mole. The suspected mole claims to have been tortured by the Germans when she refused to betray La Résistance, and the team wants to see her scars to corroborate the story.
In the season 2 finale, O'Neill wakes Carter from the cryotable and she only has a sheet on. When she sits up her entire back is revealed resulting in O'Neill giving her a through looking over before requesting they get her some clothes.
The Reveal of RepliCarter in season 8 involves this.
Also happened to an attractive but ill-fated blonde female sergeant in the series premiere.
Happens in an episode of Night Court (of all places) where a member of royalty from a small island nation casually takes off her halter top in Harry's office when he tells her to "make yourself comfortable". (Apparently, nudity is not a taboo in her culture, seeing as she was arrested in the first place for indecent exposure.)
T'Pol showed her interest to Tucker in Star Trek: Enterprise this way, when she slips off the robe she wears while giving him Vulcan neuropressure to reveal she's wearing nothing underneath, as revealed by a full body shot.
This popped up in Star Trek: Voyager as well, in an episode where Q's son uses his powers to take away Seven's clothes. Only the top half in that case.
In the episode "Drone", we see B'lanna like this as she gets ready for a sonic shower.
In a fifth-season episode, we see Lyta Alexander nude from the back in a scene with the irritating telepath Byron, showing how vulnerable she is to his manipulation.
Rather surprisingly, this shows up in the pilot episode of The X-Files between Mulder and Scully. The case involved teenagers being returned from alien abduction with two small bumps on their lower back. Scully finds two such marks on her own back, freaks out, and runs in her underwear and red robe to Mulder's hotel room to have a look. Mulder is understandably perplexed when she drops her robe and has a moment of pause. There is a shot of both the front of Scully in her undies and her bare back as Mulder inspects the bumps. They turn out to be mosquito bites. For the rest of the series, Scully is noticeably more stoic and clothed.
In one episode of House, the reaction of a female teenage model to the revelation that she is technically male is to rip off her hospital gown in front of House and a large viewing window (with a lot of startled people on the other side) and scream, "Look at me! I'm beautiful!" We only see this from the back, but House, who has a better view, is definitely looking.
In the Castle episode "Murder He Wrote", Castle takes Beckett to a vacation spot in the Hamptons for their first vacation since their Relationship Upgrade. They decide to use the swimming pool during their first night, and when Beckett takes her robe off, she treats the camera to a clear shot of her back. (Regrettably, a murder interrupted their fun and games.)
Castle: You forgot your bathing suit. Beckett(smiling mischievously): I know.
In the pilot episode, when Harm and Kate searches the deceased female officerï¿½s belongings in her cabin, her bodybuilding roommate Cassie comes to change and as Harm gentlemanly offers to leave, she quips "Why? Never seen a naked sailor before?ï¿½ before he even gets a chance to, as shown from the back. Both Harm and Kate get noticeably uncomfortable in their facial expressions. When Cassie has left, Kate asks Harm:
Kate: Did you see the muscles on her?
Harm: I wasn't looking at her muscles.
Also, in the first part of two-parter "Boomerang", Harm and Bud walks on the beach when a hot blonde takes of her bikini top, which makes Bud clearly distracted.
Becomes a plot point at the end of Elementary's first season. Sherlock has been reunited with love interest Irene Adler after her abduction by Moriarty, and as he spies her topless back as she changes clothes, he observes that she's missing a mole. He deduces that Moriarty wouldn't care enough about his abductee's health to have the mole removed, so she must have been working for Moriarty. Sherlock was half right — Irene actually is Moriarty.
Laura on Pan Am hows hers as she poses for some nude photos.
The Vanity Fair photo of Miley Cyrus that caused so much controversy in 2008.
The Pink Floyd poster "Back Catalog"; naked women, with Pink Floyd album covers painted on their back.
The cover of Sade's newest album Soldier of Love. Bam.
Lady Gaga's videos for "Bad Romance" and "Alejandro", although both incidences contain a certain amount of disturbing along with the sexy.
The lovely Kimbra in the music video of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know", combined with Body Paint. Gotye himself appears nude from the front, but both are censored by camera discretion.
The video for "Who's Your Daddy?" by Toby Keith shows Tiffany Fallon from behind, swimming topless in his pool.
Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series when Marik/Malik takes his shirt of to reveal a tattoo on his back. "Now watch, Fangirls, as I strip. Yea, get a load of that back. You (EFF)ing love it, don't you!" Might be counted as Fan Disservice in the original anime, once you see how exactly he received it, since in the original Japanese-language anime, it wasn't a tattoo at all; it was actually carved into the flesh of his back to the point of scarring. And look at how intricate◊ this thing is!
In the 1960s, when the underground press flourished under the artistic inspiration and control of hard-working hippies, this demure pose was extremely popular in both line drawings and photographs. It also appeared on numerous psychedelic posters.
Miang from Xenogears, after having sex with Ramsus. She has a Modesty Bedsheet to cover her hips, but Grahf is getting a good look at her bare front.
The Wii game Enjoy Your Massage! has this as the gameplay. You massage the bare backs of attractive blue-haired women.
Little Busters!: One of Kud's CGs involves this, as on the island where she was born there is a ritual that involves people painting symbols onto one another's skin and while she wanted to give Riki a big canvas to work on, they hadn't yet been going out long enough that she was comfortable with him seeing her topless front like that.
Ménage à 3 has no inhibitions about showing toplessness from the front, but will occasionally use a back view for teasing effect or to show that one of the characters is being tantalised. For example, strip #676 (November 24, 2012, NSFW) features frontal nudity — but it's a back view of the superhumanly shapely DiDi that really intimidates her new rival Sonya.
In Out There, Miriam is seen like this occasionally ; as are others, such as Rebecca, less frequently .
Sandra on the Rocks uses this on occasion; it runs a fairly high level of Fanservice while remaining generally SFW. Hints of buttock cleft are sometimes involved.