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Clothesline Stealing

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People are in need of clothing and steal from a clothesline

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
eroock on Dec 3rd 2014 at 6:50:17 PM
Last Edited By:
eroock on Feb 15th 2018 at 1:28:47 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/clark_kent_stealing_clothes.jpg

Typically a Comedy trope where characters, who are in need of new clothes, take spare garments from the next best clothesline. Bonus point if the scene involves a close-up on a pieces of clothing slowly moving across the screen as the clothesline is being pulled from one end. Often the stolen clothes are the wrong size, intended for a person of the other gender, or both.

May be becoming a Forgotten Trope due to the increasing ubiquity of tumble dryers.

Sister trope to Mugged for Disguise and Stripping the Scarecrow. Compare Naked People Trapped Outside.


Examples

Fan Works

  • Happens in Discworld fic Slipping Between Worlds. Two uniformed British soldiers who abruptly find themselves in the alien setting of Ankh-Morpork, pursued by the City Watch and Guild of Assassins, reason this is the best way to blend into their surroundings and remain undetected.

Films — Animated

  • In Minions, after landing in New York City, the minions scavenge clotheslines for outfits to replace their parkas and have a Eureka Moment when they find denim suspenders, their Iconic Outfit in the chronologically later earlier movies.

Film - Live Action

  • In The Hollywood Knights some guys are being hazed and have to get to a radio station in town while naked. They pull some sheets down from a clothesline, and unfortunately end up looking like the KKK outside a black family's house.
  • In Man of Steel, Clark steals some clothes off a clothesline in a remote fishing village when he emerges from the ocean following the oil rig explosion.
  • In the first X-Men, after being mutated by Magneto and using his new power of semi-amorphism to escape, Senator Kelly lands naked on a public beach and grabs a swimmer's change of clothes.
  • In Scary Movie 4, when Cindy and Brenda arrive at the Amish village, they decide to steal clothes from a hamper to better blend in with the villagers.
  • The hero of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang has just escaped prison and comes across a farm where clothes are hanging out to dry. He "harvests" the clothesline and runs away with his new garments that turn out to fit perfectly.

Literature

Live-Action TV

  • Occasionally on The Incredible Hulk, David will find a clothesline with a shirt hanging in order to reclothe himself. (Since he has Magic Pants he's not worried about below the waist.) Since he's an honest person, when he can he leaves a few dollars in its place so he's not stealing the shirt in question.
  • Dukes Of Hazzard: In one episode, the Duke boys are skinny dipping when their famous car gets stolen. With their clothes inside. Fortunately, there's a home nearby with laundry hanging out to dry.
  • Happens in Doctor Who, the Eleventh Doctor's debut episode "The Eleventh Hour". After he gets tired of being called "the raggedy Doctor", due to wearing the remains of Ten's outfit, the Doctor steals clothes from the hospital, including a vast selection of ties, to create an ensemble he likes. Amy calls him out on this, and he calls the theft fair in exchange for saving the earth.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", Kirk and Spock take clothes to blend in in 1930s America. They get noticed by a police officer.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise some Vulcans who allegedly crash-landed on Earth in the 1950s had to blend in by stealing from clotheslines. The female crewmember accidentally put a dress on backwards.
  • Happens in Luke Cage. After escaping the experiments that gave him his powers at Seagate prison, Luke Cage steals a change of clothes off a clothesline, which just happens to (combined with the restraints from the procedure he's still wearing) exactly replicate his original comic book costume.
    Luke: You look like a damn fool.

Music

  • Pink Floyd's early song "Arnold Layne" is all about a man with a humorous habit of stealing clothes from washing lines. Not just any old clothes. The ... uh ... frillier and more delicate sort.

Video Games

  • Near the beginning of Star Ocean, Roddick is tasked with bringing clothes for Ilia so she can blend into Roakian civilization. One option is to steal them from an elderly woman's clothesline, but that is not recommended unless you want Ilia's affection towards Roddick to drop.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: After being informed that the princess is in danger, Mario - who had just gotten out of the shower and was only wearing a towel - runs outside and jumps into the clothesline Luigi was hanging their clothes on, coming out fully dressed and with Luigi tied to his leg.

Web Comic

Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, when the Gaang settles in the Fire Nation, they have to steal Fire Nation clothes from the clothesline to blend in.

To be indexed on Disguise Trope.

Feedback: 28 replies

Dec 3rd 2014 at 7:08:59 PM

In the Star Trek The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", Kirk and Spock take clothes to blend in in 1930s America. They get noticed by a police officer.

As indicated by this example, this could also be a Disguise Trope.

Dec 3rd 2014 at 7:55:35 PM

  • Avatar The Last Airbender: when the Gaang settles in the Fire Nation, they have to steal Fire Nation clothes from the clothesline to blend in.

Compare Mugged For Disguise and Scarecrow Stripping.

Dec 5th 2014 at 8:38:31 AM

Meg and Aiden use this so they'll have alternative to juvie jumpsuits in the first Chasing the Falconers novel by Gordon Korman.

Dec 5th 2014 at 8:41:09 AM

  • Near the beginning of Star Ocean 1, Roddick is tasked with bringing clothes for Ilia so she can blend into Roakian civilization. One option is to steal them from an elderly woman's clothesline, but that is not recommended unless you want Ilia's affection towards Roddick to drop.

Dec 5th 2014 at 9:13:32 AM

May be becoming a Forgotten Trope due to the increasing ubiquity of washing machines.

Dec 5th 2014 at 9:16:45 AM

Happens in Discworld fic Slipping Between Worlds. Two uniformed British soldiers who abruptly find themselves in the alien setting of Ankh-Morpork, pursued by the City Watch and Guild of Assassins, reason this is the best way to blend into their surroundings and remain undetected.

^ you can also nick stuff from unguarded launderettes. I'm sure at least one fiction uses this as a plot point.

Dec 5th 2014 at 9:57:34 AM

  • In Star Trek Enterprise some Vulcans who allegedly crash-landed on Earth in the 1950s had to blend in by stealing from clotheslines. The female crewmember accidentally put a dress on backwards.

Dec 5th 2014 at 10:40:18 AM

In The Hollywood Knights some guys are being hazed and have to get to a radio station in town while naked. They pull some sheets down from a clothesline, and unfortunately end up looking like the KKK outside a black family's house.

Dec 5th 2014 at 11:07:05 AM

There are enough period works that this tends to come up a lot in still. I do agree that mugged for disguise needs to be added as a sister trope though.

Dec 5th 2014 at 7:46:57 PM

  • Dukes Of Hazzard: In one episode, the Duke boys are skinny dipping when their famous car gets stolen. With their clothes inside. Fortunately, there's a home nearby with laundry hanging out to dry.

Dec 5th 2014 at 9:00:44 PM

Occasionally on The Incredible Hulk David will find a clothesline with a shirt hanging in order to reclothe himself. (Since he has Magic Pants he's not worried about below the waist.) Since he's an honest person, when he can he leaves a few dollars in its place so he's not stealing the shirt in question.

Dec 6th 2014 at 2:49:04 PM

Any of these look good to you?

Dec 7th 2014 at 12:41:43 PM

Clark steals some clothes off a clothesline in a remote fishing village when he emerges from the ocean following the oil rig explosion in Man Of Steel.

Jul 27th 2015 at 8:22:45 PM

It may not be a Forgotten Trope in all genres. I saw it happen in a fantasy story that doesn't have a page on the site.

Jul 27th 2015 at 9:58:01 PM

^ Not forgotten. This happened as recently as the Minions movie. They found blue overalls on a clothesline, which became their standard outfit.

Jul 28th 2015 at 3:13:50 AM

  • The Time Travelers Wife: Henry has involuntary time-travelling episodes and is Naked On Arrival. The first thing he has to do during a trip is find clothes, and this is one of his go-to methods.

Feb 13th 2016 at 2:14:37 PM

Music

  • Pink Floyd's early song Arnold Layne is all about a man with a humorous habit of stealing clothes from washing lines. Not just any old clothes. The, er, frillier and more delicate sort.

Feb 13th 2016 at 7:05:34 PM

  • In the first X Men 1, after being mutated by Magneto and using his new power of semi-amorphism to escape, Senator Kelly lands naked on a public beach and grabs a swimmer's change of clothes.
  • Doctor Who, "The Eleventh Hour", the Eleventh Doctor's debut. After he gets tired of being called "the raggedy Doctor", due to wearing the remains of Ten's outfit, the Doctor steals clothes from the hospital, including a vast selection of ties, to create an ensemble he likes. Amy calls him out on this, and he calls the theft fair in exchange for saving the earth.

Apr 6th 2017 at 4:31:19 PM

Luke Cage: After escaping the experiments that gave him his powers at Seagate prison, Luke Cage steals a change of clothes off a clothesline, which just happens to (combined with the restraints from the procedure he's still wearing) exactly replicate his original comic book costume.

Luke: You look like a damn fool.

Feb 12th 2018 at 3:07:59 PM

^ Agreed. Is the creator around anymore, or is this Up For Grabs?

Feb 12th 2018 at 9:45:12 PM

Feb 12th 2018 at 9:57:07 PM

Mario And Luigi Superstar Saga: After being informed that the princess is in danger, Mario - who had just gotten out of the shower and was only wearing a towel - runs outside and jumps into the clothesline Luigi was hanging their clothes on, coming out fully dressed and with Luigi tied to his leg.

Feb 13th 2018 at 1:33:27 AM

If anybody wants to launch this, go ahead.

Feb 14th 2018 at 11:13:40 AM

In Minions, after landing in New York City, the minions scavenge clotheslines for outfits to replace their parkas and have a Eureka Moment when they find denim suspenders, their Iconic Outfit in the chronologically later earlier movies.

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