Toplessness from the Back

aka: Sexy Back
Naked in Mink goes well with this trope.

Studio Executive A: She strips? This has got to get a PG-13 rating.
Studio Executive B: Like I say, it's a family movie. She only strips to the waist. And we only see her from the back.
Roger Ebert, review of Milk Money

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.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In InuYasha:
    • 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.
  • Happens to Clare in Claymore a couple of times when Rubei tells her to turn around while naked. Of course, what he's seeing is a really horrible-looking scar, or possibly something even more squicktastic, but the idea is the same.
  • 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.
  • In the Fate/stay night anime, the audience sees Saber's back while Shiro sees the front after she gets out of the bath. Saber doesn't seem to mind and tells Shiro that he shouldn't think of her as a woman, but as a warrior first. Shiro's reaction? "Please Put Some Clothes On!"
  • The Ouran High School Host Club anime has the twins putting a photoshopped picture of Haruhi's shirtless back on the club website, 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.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
  • Code Geass: During Kallen's Shower Scene, the curtain gets pulled open, and we get a Toplessness From The Back shot. Then the camera pans down.
    • Much later in the series, we got another Toplessness From The Back shot of Cécile putting on her Knightmare driver bodysuit.
  • 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.
  • Bleach: Sui-Feng's Keigun officer's uniform is designed to leave her back and shoulders exposed, so that when she activates her Shunko, it doesn't waste any energy upon release.
  • 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.
  • Soul Eater. Tsubaki Natsukasa in the first opening and the various Furo Scenes.
  • Weapons-grade Pettanko Isis Egret from Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force has another side that's gotten a lot of attention lately, with a certain racerback outfit.
  • 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!
  • Marik Ishtar's tattooed back is lampshaded as such in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.
  • When Akune of Medaka Box first joins the student council, we get this shot. Yum.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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."


    Live Action TV 
  • Faith appears this way during sex with Xander in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo".
  • This happens in an episode of 24, when Nina is forced to undress in front of Jack, so she doesn't try anything. She deliberately faces him, showing us her scarred back. Prison must have been rough.
  • Stargate SG-1
    • 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.
    • Also happened to an attractive but ill-fated blonde female sergeant in the series premiere.
  • Caprica-Six or Sharon Valerii [Athena] in Battlestar Galactica, and basically an excuse to have a sex scene and show off the glowing spines of the female Cylons (at least initially, as the concept was forgotten would have made identifying Cylons too easy).
  • 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.
  • Star Trek:
    • 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.
  • Leverage: Innocent Fanservice Girl Parker reveals her back quite often. Usually in front of Hardison. It involves a lot of Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Captain Sheridan gets this treatment when the new Political Officer attempts to seduce him.
    • 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.
  • The British sitcom Coupling:
    • Sally (Kate Isitt) in series two and once with Jane (Gina Bellman) in series four. In each case the audience is treated to "the full backal", as the show puts it, but other characters see the front.
    • Sarah Alexander's character.
  • Abby on NCIS had one of these scenes early in the third season, and for a couple of other seasons, the scene was a part of her montage in the opening credits.
  • Sherlock: "A Scandal In Belgravia". Extensively.
  • 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.
  • The "Pilot" episode of Shasta McNasty has this with Scott, Dennis and Randy secretly watching Cindy Margolis get undressed to take a shower. The boys then watch her well hung POSSLQ take off his towel and join her.
  • In the "Baywatch Down Under" episode of Baywatch we see this when Kendra Rielly (Tanya Zaetta), is wearing just a thong bikini bottom when she goes swimming with Cody Madison in this clip.
  • 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.
  • Spencer from Pretty Little Liars indulges in this on several occasions.
  • Briefly via Lara Flynn Boyle removing her bikini top in a hot tub on the Law & Order episode "Submission."
  • JAG:
    • In the pilot episode, when Harm and Kate searches the deceased female officer's 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?" 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 shows hers as she poses for some nude photos.
  • Seinfeld: Jane goes topless on the beach in "The Hamptons" episode.
  • Lauren is briefly seen like this in Faking It when she's preparing to send a naked selfie to her boyfriend and Shane opens the door on her. Being gay Shane has no appreciation for it.
  • Happens quite a lot on Silk Stalkings.
  • Baywatch Hawaii: In this scene from "The Hunt", Jessie, Allie Dawn and Kekoa go topless as traditional a part of the traditional costume for Jason's manhood ceremony.
  • Juliette indulges in this sometimes on Nashville, although in "Road Happy" (but not the other times) it's almost certainly a Body Double due to Hayden Panettiere's condition at the time and what it entailed.
  • The third season Mad About You episode "Our Fifteen Minutes" has a rather shocking and hilarious bit when Lisa (Anne Ramsay), oblivious of the cameras everywhere talks non-stop and changes right in front of Paul and Jamie. Reiser's reaction is priceless.[1]

  • 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.
    • Taylor Momsen from The Pretty Reckless made this kind of cover for their sophomore album, Going To Hell. She has been cited that the aforementioned cover of Pink Floyd above was the visual inspiration for it.
  • 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.

    New Media 
  • 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!

    Underground Press 
  • 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.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.


    Western Animation 
  • There's a brief shot of Cinderella from the back as she showers in the opening of the film.
  • There's also a brief shot of this in the Make Mine Music segment, "All The Cats Join In."
  • The Mask had this in the infamous Cookie BaBoom scene on the season two episode "Flight as a Feather."
  • Seen in the Private Snafu short "Censored" when Sally Lou is reading Snafu's letter.
  • Ahsoka, from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, presents an example of this trope with her upgraded wardrobe post Season 3.

Alternative Title(s):

Sexy Back, Topless From The Back