"Zippers are primal and modern at the very same time. On the one hand, your zipper is primitive and reptilian, on the other, mechanical and slick. A zipper is where the Industrial Revolution meets the Cobra Cult."Excuse me, but if we don't leave soon, we're going to be late for that uppercrust party to which we were invited. What do you mean, you need help with your dress? What's wrong with it? You can't reach the zipper? Fine, I'll help you. There. You look… very fine. You need help with that necklace, too? Okay. Whew. Oh look, there's our ride. We'd better be off. We wouldn't want to run into that Classy Cat-Burglar that's been about. A very common element of a Ship Tease, when a man helps a woman zip up or down her dress. Has the charm of being innocuous and platonic on the surface, but brings the Theiss Titillation Theory into full effect—the fact that the dress is just partially on lends a great deal of tension. May also work with necklaces, clasps, buttons, snaps, or anything that could possibly reveal her back. Compare the Hands-On Approach. May work for men in the case of a Wholesome Crossdresser (and either a male or female admirer). Can't Tie His Tie applies a similar Ship Tease element to traditional male attire.
— Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Sister Princess the main character Wataru does this to Sakuya… one of his sisters… huh…
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: While changing into a hospital gown to prepare for her prosthetic body switch, Motoko Kusanagi asks her female companion Kurutan (there to witness the body swap) to zip her up, the point of the exercise ultimately being an excuse to show the Major's backside on screen.
- Quon in RahXephon, as pictured above. She had just come out of a medical checkup and already had on a dress, but needed another person to secure her medical vest. Not that this was apparent to Ayato. Odd, considering said clasps are on the front of her vest, yet she needs someone else to help her, and the clasps must be fastened from behind.
- In the first episode The Case Files of Yakushiji Ryoko, Ryoko uses this to torment her lackey Izumida (again), and even says the line.
- Sailor Moon made a joke out of this in Sailor Stars—Kou Seiya is introduced to Michiru by Usagi, and later goes into her dressing room by himself. When he says he wants to get to know her better, she asks him to help zip up her dress. After Haruka comes in and essentially drives Seiya out, Michiru makes the same request of her.
- In the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga, Kushana asks Nausicaa to fasten her armour at one point.
- Omamori Himari: Himari tries to invoke this trope while shopping for clothes. Unfortunately for her hopes of getting a few ecchi moments with her master, Yuuto remembers that she already has experience with western clothing, invalidating her excuse for needing his help.
- In Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Judy (dolled up as Madeleine, Scottie's dead lover) asks Scottie to clasp a necklace for her. This is the turning point in the movie, since Scottie recognizes the necklace from when Judy was Madeleine and realizes that the real Madeleine was murdered and everything begins to unravel.
- Used in Die Another Day, with a fencing instructor's corset:
Madonna: Do you mind? I've come undone.
- Janine does the zipping for Louis in Ghostbusters II. It's a very romantic scene.
- A variation occurs in The Last Samurai when Taka helps Algren on with his robe and armor.
- Used in Saving Silverman with Sandy's (rather Stripperiffic) nun's habit.
- A variation occurs in the 2010 Robin Hood movie, when Robin asks for Marion's help in getting out of his chain mail. Justified here, as the armor of the period frequently did require an extra pair of hands to get into and out of, and they were pretending to be husband and wife anyway.
- In Killers, Jen asks Spencer to help her because her zipper is stuck. After Jen gives him permission, he destroys the dress with his knife.
- In Phffft, a very flustered Jack Lemmon has to zip up the tantalizing Kim Novak.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, in which Ginny shows up in the Burrow's kitchen with her back exposed, asking Harry to zip her up. Needless to say, Harry (and the audience) are taken by surprise.
- In The Graduate, though Mrs. Robinson actually asks to be un-zipped.
- Shows up in Josie and the Pussycats. Alan M. even drops his guitar and a pizza box to help Josie fix her dress.
- Possibly the oldest film example is Gilda, in which The Vamp tells a whole crowd of men she always has trouble with zippers in order to make her husband jealous.
- A zip-down example occurs in Calamity Jane when the title character comes home from a ball with her friend Bill Hickok. Calamity, heartbroken and burning up with jealousy after seeing Katie Brown and Danny Gilmartin kissing, is just trying to get off all the clothes Katie lent to her as fast as she can. As she is unaccustomed to taking off fancier apparel and currently in a rather tight dress, she tells Bill to help her undo it. Which he does. Unique example in that while it happens between the two main characters with Belligerent Sexual Tension, it's not played up for the Unresolved Sexual Tension at all. In fact, she starts ranting to him about her romantic rival (previously friend), Katie, while he does it.
- The zip-down version occurs in Colossus: The Forbin Project. Doctors Forbin and Markham are pretending to be lovers in order to have a conversation outside of Colossus' surveillance. The AI will not allow them to take anything to the bedroom, including their clothes. Both characters have to disrobe in front of Colossus' camera, while trying to pretend their interaction is entirely natural.
- On two different occasions in The Palm Beach Story Gerry asks Tom's help to get out of a dress, and sexy times ensue.
- In The Best Offer, the hero's love interest Claire needs help with the zipper of her new dress and he gladly comes to assist.
- Smarty: Vicki isn't the least bit subtle about it, asking for help buttoning up her dress—which is a Sexy Backless Outfit, so guess where the buttons are—then asking for Tony to do it instead of Anita on the dubious grounds that Anita's hands are too cold.
Vicki: You've always been a great hooker-upper.
- I Was A Teenaged T-Rex, which had four teenagers flung back in time and into the bodies of dinosaurs, had the girl who'd become a Protoceratops—and who wanted to wear clothes despite having nothing to cover—tell this line to the boy who'd become a Tyrannosaurus rex. He couldn't tie her shell brassiere with his tiny arms, so the girl who'd become a Quetzalocoatlus did it instead. The first girl ended up with the boy who'd become an Ankylosaur.
- Occurs between spouses Nick and Nora Charles in the Sharon Lee and Steve Miller short story "A Night at the Opera".
- This leads to Nathan and Clarissa's first night in bed together in the Sword of Truth books
- A somewhat disturbing example of this occurs in Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted 2005: Mother Nature asks her self-appointed love interest to help zip her up… because she doesn't have enough fingers to do it herself. She and her companions have been cutting off parts of their fingers to garner sympathy from others.
Live Action TV
- In Arrested Development the most frequent person Lucille asks to zip her up is her sons. Their reactions are characteristic of their personalities. Momma's Boy Buster always dutifully obliges; G.O.B., The Unfavorite, finds her request "utterly macabre".
- In one episode, "Motherboy XXX," this bit of dialog occurs while Buster is trying to make a dramatic escape:
Michael: Buster, you can't zip-line over there.
Buster: Either I zip down, or he zips up, and that is a mighty long zipper on Mother's Cher jumpsuit. You have to get on your knees to start it.
Michael: This is much less scary. Godspeed, Buster.
- In one episode, "Motherboy XXX," this bit of dialog occurs while Buster is trying to make a dramatic escape:
- Happen one time on Frasier with Niles and Daphne, where Niles got his tie caught in Daphne's zipper.
- In Star Trek: Voyager, it was used to show how Seven of Nine has No Social Skills (as well as give some fanservice):
"I am unfamiliar with how to wear such a garment. [goes to un-do her zipper] Assist me."
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, getting ready for the holosuite in "Badda Bing, Badda Bang," Odo zips up Kira's dress and kisses her shoulder along the way.
- Parodied in the "Abyssinia, Henry" episode of M*A*S*H when the departing Henry offers to zip Klinger's dress. "Up, sir!"
- In Mad Men, Joan Holloway always asks her lovers to zip her up when she's getting dressed.
- In the same show, Betty Draper sometimes has her daughter Sally zip up her fancier dresses. This might count as a subversion, as whether or not Don is there at the time, it serves as reminder of their quietly-troubled marriage (and Betty's continuous living on the verge of a nervous breakdown).
- My So-Called Life, where Delia has Rickie help her zip up her jacket… just moments before she opens his closet door.
- Done in reverse in an episode of Eureka where the magi-tech dress that Allison is wearing has short circuited and she can't get it off without having Carter unzip her.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a character named Jewel uses this as a seduction technique on Will. Made worse by the fact that 1) she's his best friend Jazz's fiancée, and 2) the dress he's helping her with is her wedding dress.
- Leverage played this trope perfectly straight in "The Wedding Job" when Parker enlists Hardison to zip up her bridesmaid's dress.
- And then again in "The Rashomon Job", during a narrative device when Sophie, during a flashback, enlists Nate, who is the narrator.
- Played with in one episode of Friends where Rachel asks Joey to help zip her dress. Of course, Joey being Joey her next line is simply, "UP!"
Phoebe: Can you believe no one from my place to here offered to do that for me?
- One Flashback Episode shows Rachel and Monica getting ready for the prom. Rachel asks Ross' help zipping up her Giant Poofy Sleeves dress. He lingers as he does it, as this is possibly the first time he's ever touched her, even if it is her shoulders.
- Used later in the series when Phoebe enters Central Perk asking Ross to zip up her dress ready for her date (though this was likely to have been used in an un-Ship Tease way).
- Used straight on Ugly Betty with Daniel and Molly, even though it was a side zipper that she should have been able to zip up herself.
- It can be challenging for women with large breasts to zip things on the side—less maneuverability and if the zipper comes up to your waist or higher you can't even see it. It's doable, but gets awkward.
- Done in The 4400 after Tom and Meghan had sex. She mocks his squeamishness, pointing out that he'd "seen it all before."
- Hilarious Outtakes from that scene: Joel Gretsch (Tom) was struggling with the zipper, and after the line "this will only be weird if we let it," complains "well, we won't, 'cause I can't get this thing up! (beat) The zipper." They both nod seriously for a moment and then crack up.
- In the NCIS episode Shalom, the female assassin gets her male partner (whom she is about to double-cross) to help her put on her necklace. Little does he know that while her back is turned, she is readying her gun. "Careful… it's delicate…" are the last words he ever hears.
- Ziva walks into the men's room and actually zips up Tony's fly, presumably as a way of putting the Handsome Lech off his stride.
- Played comically in The Adventures of Pete & Pete; Ellen has Pete help her zip up her full-body bunny costume that she has to wear for her job as a pizza delivery girl.
- In the Spin City episode "Dick Clark's Rockin' Make-Out Party '99", Priscilla Presley's character Marie asks for James to unzip the back of her red dress as a seduction technique.
- Used to Ship Tease Catherine and Grissom in CSI: at a fancy dinner, Grissom has trouble with a bowtie, so Catherine steps in to help with a dry "you need a woman" comment.
- Attempted on One Life to Live. Tina attempts to seduce her husband Cord (he's furious, having discovered that she's been having an affair), by asking him to zip up her dress. He sees right through her act and snaps at her to do it herself.
- Averted by Liz Lemon on 30 Rock—Liz offers as evidence of her self-sufficiency that she can zip up her own dresses. A Cutaway Gag reveals this involves inventive use of her treadmill's panic clip.
- Also employed in a Ship Tease moment—Jack follows Liz into her apartment after attending a fancy birthday party together. He leans into her and she believes a kiss is coming—but he's only reaching behind her neck to remove the necklace he loaned her for the night.
- The necklace version of this trope is used in Vikings, in which King Ecbert presents Lagertha with a necklace and gently clasps it around her neck, complete with arranging her hair over the top of it.
- Misfile: Ash does this to Emily a lot. Thanks to the eponymous misfile, Ash actually needs help with a lot of these things, but it doesn't stop the Unresolved Sexual Tension.
- Girls of the Wild: Dal Dal invokes this in episode 202 when she is trying on bikinis with Jae Gu. Averted as he left before she could finish her monologue, and didn't even come close to tying her bikini up.
- Happens in Futurama: Bender's Big Score with Hermes, although right afterward, a chandelier falls and smashes his doomed time-clone body.
- Parodied in Rocko's Modern Life when a lonely Mrs. Bighead tried to seduce Rocko using this (and other) stunts. Parents thought this was too risque for a cartoon and the offending episode was quickly pulled off air, and taken out of syndication (at least in the US).
- Josie and the Pussycats had Alan help Josie untangle a long chain that was part of her (very backless) dress.
- Venture Brothers: Dr. Girlfriend angrily tells Dr. Venture to zip her dress up after debating with the persistent Casanova Wannabe about whether or not she was legitimately in love with him during a mission where she had to seduce him and inject him with a serum that would convert his body into that of a giant butterfly as per the orders of her fiance, the villainous Monarch, only to give him the antidote after feeling guilty about the whole thing. Their relationship gradually improves to an amiable acquaintanceship later on.