Toplessness from the Back
aka: Sexy Back
Studio Executive A: She strips? This has got to get a PG-13 rating.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.
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.
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.
open/close all folders
- Sally in This Anne Klein commercial
- Suzanna Jones and two other women in this Mandalay Bay commercial.
- The young woman in this commercial for the Koolanoo social networking site.(mildly NSFW)
- Done in this Japanese car commercial, though not in a way that some audiences would appreciate.
- Somewhat tantalisingly done in this advert for Direct Line travel insurance.
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!
- 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.
- Later on we get Asuna in a hospital gown. Only Ken Akamatsu could turn a freaking hospital gown into Fetish Fuel.
- Later still, we have the backless dresses variant at a fancy ball. Check out Chisame and Ku Fei here. (Warning: Enormous Spoilers)
- Ako. She may think that her back is ugly, but if you're into chicks with scars...
- 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: The Keigun officer's uniform, which is worn by the Shinigami that is both Supreme Commander of the Stealth Force and Captain of the Second Division, is designed to leave her back and shoulders exposed. When Shunko is activated, it bursts from the back and shoulders, destroying any clothing that's present so the uniform is designed to remain intact while Shunko is in use. Soifon doesn't realise this design purpose until Yoruichi demonstrates the practical necessity by deliberately activating Shunko while being fully clothed.
- In 009-1 Mylene Hoffman/Agent 009-1 has several such 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.
- 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."
- Older than Television! Clara Bow gets caught while taking off a dress in Wings.
- In Dodsworth, Ruth Chatterton is shot from behind as she's taking off her dress and putting on a nightgown.
- Maria Conchita Alonso in A Fine Mess, as shown at the top of the page.
- In "The Day The Earth Caught Fire", there is a scene in which Janet Munro is washing her hair; although her back is to the camera, there is a flash of just enough sideboob...
- Tiffany Case's first appearance in Diamonds Are Forever. Plenty O'Toole gets this herself once shes loses her dress courtesy of Bond.
- In the Tony Jaa film The Protector, there is a scene where Madame Rose rises from a bath, back to the audience, front to her lawyer lover.
- Dina Meyer's character in the Johnny Mnemonic movie.
- Erich von Stroheim became famous during The Twenties for pushing the boundaries of sexual content in film far beyond what anyone else dared. In Foolish Wives, the most dramatic shot comes when Helen has to change out of her wet clothes. Count Sergius, being a creep and pervert, turns his back but then holds up a mirror. The mirror catches both Helen topless from the back, and Sergius' leering grin.
- The poster of The Red Violin has a Toplessness From The Back shot made up to look like a violin.
- Bai Ling has a serious moment of Toplessness From The Back in The Crow.
- Jennifer's Body: For a movie whose main marketing point was Megan Fox, a sexy wet back is the most you'll get.
- Angelina Jolie after emerging from the tub in a scene from Wanted.
- 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.
- Perhaps the raciest shot of Cabin Fever shows Marcy from the back. Specifically, it shows her lover squeezing her back, which explains how she gets the rashes that reveal she was actually infected with the flesh-eating disease and passed it on to loverboy.
Paul: (While they are in the middle of having sex) Shouldn't we use a condom?Marcy: It's okay, I'm healthy.Marcy: (Later) Damn, Paul, you really did a number on my back!
- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Marion Ravenwood's back in seen in the mirror by Belloq and it is lampshaded on the journey to the U-Boat pen.
- Cowboys and Aliens has this when Ella is reborn from the fire. While we see her bare back, Jake and most other male characters clearly see her front.
- Juliet during her wedding night in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.
- Subverted in the sci-fi film Runaway. Kirstie Alley strips off as a police scan reveals one Tracking Device after another hidden in her clothes by her psycho boyfriend — when she turns her back after taking off her bra, the police flinch at the sight of the bruises he's left on her back.
- Kathy Ireland does this in the shower room scene in Necessary Roughness.
- Silver Linings Playbook has this with Jennifer Lawrence.
- In I Love You Beth Cooper Hayden Panettiere (as Miss Cooper) gives the audience this, while giving Paul Rust's "I" what's on the other side.
- Sherlock Holmes: Irene Adler lets her robe drop moments before she reaches some cover to change, giving a glimpse of back.
- The Rum Diary has Amber Heard topless in jeans.
- 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.
- Snow White and the Huntsman. Played straight for fanservice with Vain Sorceress Queen Ravenna, but when her beauty and powers start to fade, we're shown a Fan Disservice shot of Ravenna sitting with her back to the camera, her ribs clearly visible.
- Lolita (1997). As Humbert is driving her away from summer camp, Dolores leans over the backseat and removes her shirt and bra so as to change into something more fashionable. Humbert has trouble with his breathing and keeping his eyes on the road.
- 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.
- Meg Ryan briefly when getting out of bed in When Harry Met Sally.
- Happens in Quick when Ki-su rides through the underwear fashion show. We see a topless model from the back. Ki-su gets an eyeful as the model hastily tries to cover up.
- In Be Cool, Uma Thurman is introduced sunbathing topless.
- The titular housemaid in The Housemaid does this when peeling out of a wet dress, in order to seduce her boss.
- None other than Marilyn Monroe provides this when waking up from bed in The Misfits.
- ''Tommy Boy': The girl at the pool takes off her robe and bikini to go skinny dipping and Richard masturbates while he watches from the motel room and Tommy catches him.
- A lingering shot of Hazel in this state after Gus takes off her bra is the most raunchy that The Fault in Our Stars's sex scene gets.
- Subverted with Taxi Driver. Because Jodie Foster was only 12 at the time, her topless from the back scene uses a body double (her older sister).
- Played for comedy in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: An assassin sent to kill Jane is about to shoot her in the shower, only for Frank Drebin to stop him at the last second. During their struggle, the shower curtain is pushed aside, leading to this trope. They stop fighting just to stare, much to Jane's annoyance.
Live Action TV
- The opening credits to Deadwood use this to great effect.
- 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 forgottenwould 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:
- 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."
Kate: Did you see the muscles on her?Harm: I wasn't looking at her muscles.
- 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:
- 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 done by 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.
- Murdoch Mysteries: When Murdoch learns that Julia was once arrested for Skinny Dipping, he imagines this. Vividly.
- Doctor in Charge: When Emma Thompson performs this impromptu striptease.
- 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.
- In Fear Effect the player is awarded with Hana's bare back, including surprisingly shapely buttocks, after she drops her towel to distract an enemy.
- In one of her win poses Guilty Gear's I-no will turn her back to the camera and tear off her top. In arcade mode, you'll get tired of seeing this surprisingly quickly.
- 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.
- Used in El Goonish Shive, when Grace has to change shirts with Tedd in the room.
- Jones takes down a Bison Latifrons without any weapons or a top in Gunnerkrigg Court. Since this happened in mankind's infancy, it didn't really attract a lot of attention.
- Last Res0rt: at one point, Daisy ends up looking at herself in a mirror to inspect why her implants (no, her BIONIC implants) are going haywire.
- Eerie Cuties: As an expy of Morticia, Maria Delacroix typically wears a backless black evening gown, which is best seen in the lower-left panel, here.
- MegaTokyo's Miho joins the fun in this strip, and throws in some Bare Your Midriff and Side Boob for good measure. Despite the situation, she's not giving Piro a show on purpose.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Shifters, shown here in "Shifters - Redux" when Ferrah arrives in a Mental World quite naked.
- Used in Sluggy Freelance when Monica seduces Riff.
- Seen in an early promotional image of Bad Moon Rising.
- Played with in Girl Genius, when Gil accidentally uses Dr Prometheus Bunbury's Wacky Weave Destabiliser to destroy Zeetha's clothes, and subsequent panels show her from the back, and waist-up or knees-down ... until the following page reveals that her underwear was specifically designed to resist the effect.
- 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.