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We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future
Future space explorers from the far off 1997 mock our outdated concept of "pockets" and "purses".

"The only problem I have with the costumes is that they have no pockets. Where do they keep all their stuff?"
Jonathan Frakes expresses his confusion.

Twenty Minutes into the Future, we've gone Crystal Spires and Togas, everything is decked out in this nice futuristic Zeerust, and everybody wears spandex that has no pockets.

Why? Surely fashion hasn't changed so much that we've outmoded all methods of carrying things aside from our hands (or Victoria's Secret Compartment / Trouser Space), right? Wouldn't the engineers at least want a nice, functional Utility Belt? Why not a European carry-all, especially in parody settings?

This isn't as outlandish as you might think (see the Real Life examples below). Still, the lack of visible pockets in future clothes is a near ubiquitous trope in Speculative Fiction.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • This was quite common in Silver Age superhero costumes.
    • To the point where The Tick's mind was blown when he discovered he had them (he wasn't even concerned about the huge roll of cash he produced from one of them).
    • Silver Age Superman's cape contained a hidden pocket where he keeps his (compressed-by-his-super-strength-somehow) Clark Kent clothes. Considering the way his power worked at that time, he probably supercompressed them...
  • Averted in The Dark Age of Comic Books: the belted pouches that became such a cliché were particularly common accessories for time travelers. It wasn't just Rob Liefeld and his cohorts, either: even the Legion of Super-Heroes members wore pouched and pocketed Utility Belts that put Batman's to shame.
  • During J. Michael Straczynski's run as writer of The Amazing Spider-Man, the lack of pockets in the title character's costume was directly addressed. Spider-Man spends some of his time hanging upside down, so conventional pockets wouldn't work (the contents would fall out). Zippers, and flaps secured by Velcro, make too much noise to be practical for a superhero who relies on stealth. A utility belt is the obvious answer, and Spidey has one — but the compartments are all used for web fluid refills, Spider-Tracers, and a flashlight. He still doesn't have a good way to carry a wallet and keys — or a camera (necessary during the periods when he earned a living as a freelance photographer).

    Film 

    Literature 

    Live Action TV 
  • Word of God is that the creator of Babylon 5 made sure the uniforms had visual pockets as this trope has always bothered him. However, one episode featured a pickpocket stealing a pouch hanging from a person's belt in a market, which would have been a lot more at home in the Middle Ages, as would the method of the theft (literal cutpursing).
  • Lampshaded in Crusade, when a clothing designer comes aboard the Excalibur to make new uniforms for the senior officers. Gideon complains that these uniforms lack pockets, to which the designer replies that a captain shouldn't have to carry things around. There are subordinates for that.
  • Doctor Who has certainly been guilty of this, those less so from Season 23 to the present.
    Andrew Cartmel': For years in movies and TV if it was the future, everyone was either wearing Roman togas or white zipsuits. Blade Runner was a real turning point for that, because it recognised that fashion was cyclic and people in the future would wear fashions from the past, as people already do now.
  • Star Trek: The actors, at least, have wondered about this very impractical lack of pockets (sure, most of the time they're only carrying around their phasers, and the science officer gets a Tricorder, but still).
    • The justification being that there's no money in the Federation, or keys when you have voice-activated doors, thus no need for pockets. Of course this causes a problem when you need to carry something plot-related — in one episode Riker has to carry a Tracking Device, so he puts it in his boot.
    • It was mentioned in at least one Star Trek book, however, that the lack of pockets in uniforms is done for security reasons; it prevents anyone from being able to smuggle hidden weapons without great difficulty.
    • Some officers, however, are seen with vest pockets; also, "The Cage" and the TOS movies gave us field jackets with visible pockets. Otherwise, Starfleet tends to stick to hard-sided cases and the odd tool belt. Miles O'Brien of Deep Space Nine was occasionally seen with a bunch of tools (or dental implements, it's hard to tell) stuffed into a breast pocket. No one else seemed to have this pocket.
    • Especially bad in one Deep Space Nine episode that featured a Starfleet infantryman (or possibly Marine; in any case, apparently not just a shipboard security officer) deployed in combat on a planet. Not wearing any kind of armor might be understandable (presumably it's useless against 24th century weapons); the same with not carrying any secondary weapon or "ammo"/energy cells for his phaser rifle (who can say how many shots it could fire, or if it could be recharged in the field)... But he didn't have any ability to carry anything without holding it in his hands, or over his shoulder. Not even a canteen.
      • Averted in the Elite Force video games, as the Hazard Team combat squad would definitely need to carry stuff around, in addition to their guns. So they were all given portable personal transporter buffers, which keeps items in a state of perpetual atomic dis-assembly, until they are needed. It's basically a futuristic version of a Bag of Holding.
    • The jumpsuits on Star Trek: Enterprise, being based on NASA jumpsuits, had zipped pockets.
    • Some uniforms do have pockets: the one-piece coveralls from Star Trek The Motion Picture, and the cadet uniforms seen in the later seriesnote  both had cargo pockets. Also, on several occasions we see characters removing things from their pockets, usually small hand phasers. In "The Mind's Eye" Geordi LaForge clearly has a phaser hidden in a small hip pocket. It was implied that the futuristic materials made pockets (as well as fastenings) virtually invisible until they were needed. Somehow.
    • The second uniforms of TNG did have small pockets roughly near the hip with the openings facing outward toward the camera so you could quickly tuck a phaser or a tricorder in there, but half would stick out. Picard's later "Captain's jacket" uniform had pockets in the lining.
    • On the DVD Commentary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Nicholas Meyer says that he wanted the new uniforms to have pockets, but the budget wasn't high enough as they would have had to make pockets for each individual uniform. The field jackets Kirk and Bones wear on Regula, though, do have some hefty pockets in that movie.
      • Kirk's regular uniform was at least implied to have a pocket, as he had to pull out his reading glasses on the bridge during the initial confrontation with the Reliant. William Shatner is framed in that shot so that the location of the pocket would be below the frame, and his right hand remains below the frame until he lifts it up, glasses case in hand.
    • In the fourth season of Voyager, B'Elanna Torres was often wearing a vest with tool pockets while in engineering. However, this was only used because Roxanne Dawson was pregnant at the time and it couldn't be realistically worked into the plot. The character would get pregnant later on anyway.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (with Gil Gerard) suffered from this. Men and women wore skin-tight uniforms that didn't permit pockets - but looked really good on Erin Gray.
  • Blake's 7 had the same problem despite the more flamboyant look of the protagonists. Which caused the actors to make the Obligatory Joke when a bomb or device had to be produced to attack a Federation Base, yet hadn't been seen in their hands when they transported down to the planet.
  • Averted in the German 1960s series Raumpatrouille. The earth colony on the planet Chroma is ruled by women and they all have dresses with huge pockets.
  • The uniforms in Space1999 all lack pockets. Apparently the only piece of personal equipment that needs to be carried around at all times is the combined ray gun/communicator which is hung from the belt.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In GURPS Transhuman Space pockets are out of fashion, because things like keys and wallets are entirely virtual.

    Video Games 
  • Averted in Mass Effect. While there's not really visible pockets, Tali mentions that her exosuit has "more pockets than you'd think", apparently with sufficient space to allow her to cart around a significant amount of geth parts.
    • The various Alliance military uniforms and armour tend to avert this, containing multiple pockets or utility belts.
  • The Vault Suits in Fallout are lacking in pockets while all prewar clothing have the normal amount. Somewhat justified in the case of the Vault Suits, as in a Vault anything needed would never be more than a few minutes away and there's only a finite amount of space to lose something.
  • In PlanetSide 2, the Vanu Sovereignty - a group of precursor worshipers - have zero pockets on pretty much all of their classes courtesy of them all wearing spandex armor. Their Engineer does have pockets in the form of what appears to wildly impractical metal suspenders. Averted by the more down-to-earth Terran Republic and New Conglomerate, both of whom feature copious amounts of pockets on their fatigues and utility belts on their support classes.
  • Averted in Star Trek Online. Most of the game-original sets of uniform trousers have pockets baked into the model.


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