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Limited Wardrobe / Live-Action TV

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Fisk can't decide which suit looks the most evil on him.

Examples

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  • Lampshaded in The Addams Family by Gomez: "Querida, this is my best suit... Don't you remember? I bought dozens of them. I wanted nothing but best suits!"
    • Lampshaded again by Wednesday in The Musical: "Mother, I've worn the same thing every day for eighteen years." (And she's technically still wearing the same thing, but in a different color.)
  • All in the Family: Archie Bunker. Almost ALWAYS wearing a worn out white button-down shirt and dark slacks, even on nights and weekends in his own house.
  • The Amanda Show always featured crazed fan Penelope Taynt wearing the same outfit. A closet gag in one episode revealed that she had many copies of the same outfit.
  • In the kids' science show Beakman's World, Beakman is always seen in his fluorescent green lab coat, and Lester is always seen in his rat suit. This, however, does not hold for the lovely young female assistant, who wears a different outfit for each segment.
    • Though even the assistants don't have an Unlimited Wardrobe, as you can see different pieces of clothing mixed and matched throughout the episodes. (Example: the jacket Phoebe wears in the flatulence segment is the same jacket Josie wears in the segment on finding answers.)
  • Annie in Being Human is a ghost, and always wears the clothes she died in. However, there are subtle changes depending on her mood, etc. The benchmark seems to be her strength and confidence in herself; the stronger she is, the more form-fitting her outfit is, but when she's more scared and self-conscious, she develops more layers to hide in.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Most of the characters - the exception being Penny - are extremely habitual in their dress-sense and shuffle the same few items to arrive at essentially identical outfits, all the time: Sheldon always wears one shirt over another shirt, Leonard always wears a hoodie over a t-shirt, Raj always wears a jacket over a vest over a button-up shirt over a t-shirt, Howard in a long-sleeved shirt over a dickie or a turtleneck.
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    • Sheldon's usual topmost shirt is a t-shirt with a superhero logo on it. He seems particularly fond of the various Lantern Corps emblems.
  • Steve from preschool show Blue's Clues has the same outfit, including the green-striped shirt, in every episode while his "brother" Joe has a variety of different outfits.
    • Although all of Joe's outfits were the same design just with a different color.
    • It is understandable that they wear the same type of clothes because its a kids show and they want them to get familiar with the people
    • Their closets have been seen, showing multiple copies of the same shirt.
  • Bonanza: The members of the Cartwright family (the series's main protagonists) and the other featured/main recurring characters wore the same outfit from Season 3 onward. This allowed the production staff to reuse stock footage of the characters riding, etc. The costumes were as follows:
    • Ben: Sandy shirt, tawny leather vest, gray pants, cream-colored hat, occasional green scarf.
    • Adam: Black Shirt, black or midnight blue pants, black hat. Elegant city wear. Cream-colored trail coat.
    • Hoss: White shirt, brown suede vest, brown pants, large beige flat-brimmed, ten-gallon hat.
    • Joe: Beige, light gray shirt, kelly-green corduroy jacket, tan pants, beige hat. Black leather gloves from 10th season on. During season 14, Joe occasionally wore blue jeans and at times went without his jacket. (This was due to new stock footage having to be reshot after Dan Blocker's death.)
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    • Candy: Crimson shirt, black pants, black leather vest, black hat, green/grey scarf.
    • Jamie: Medium blue button down shirt, tan leather vest, blue jeans, black hat.
  • Saga Norén in Bron|Broen practically always wears what may or may not be the same pair of black leather trousers, usually with a black jumper on top. She's more than a little autistic and would quite plausibly have several sets of identical garments.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Lampshaded by Kendra when her shirt gets torn. "That's my favorite shirt! That's my only shirt!"
  • Mike from Burn Notice seems to pull something similar, except he prefers a wider range of colours. His favorite suit is pretty much a khaki version of Horatio Caine's, which has been established to be Armani. He will generally wear whatever's appropriate to the job, otherwise. In season two, he started wearing thermal shirts. A lot.
    • Sam Axe uses the "theme" example. When his dress code isn't being dictated by a job or social function, he is reliably clothed in some kind of loose Hawaiian-style shirt and light colored pants. The outfit suits him for two reasons: One, it fits his laid-back, Mojito-sipping, rich-older-woman-seducing personality, and two, the loose shirt is good for concealing a handgun. This is possibly deliberate, as Sam is never shown making specific arrangements to arm himself, yet is always able to produce a weapon from somewhere on his person.
  • Hank Moody on Californication appears to have two outfits: jeans and a black t-shirt for everyday wear, and jeans with a black button down shirt (with or without a blazer) for more formal occasions. Lampshaded in one scene when his daughter comments on his lack of fashion sense and he explains that he has a uniform that works for him. He does occasionally have a different color t-shirt on, and has been seen in work-out clothes a couple times.
  • Columbo wears a shabby raincoat, an odd asymmetrical haircut, and a tiny cheap cigar. Equally iconic was Peter Falk's real glass eye that caused him to constantly look at things crooked.
  • Horatio Caine of CSI: Miami regularly wears a black or dark blue suit with a tieless blue shirt and "The Sunglasses of Justice".

  • Degrassi doesn't use this for most characters, but Connor wears the same outfit every day. (He turns out to have Asperger's Syndrome.)
    • This included one of the few non-comedic closets (well, OK, a suitcase) full of identical clothes.
    • When in middle school, Clair wore a school uniform, and continued wearing it for a while in high school.
  • In Dennis the Menace Jay North always wore a striped shirt and overalls like comic strip Dennis for the first three seasons. For the fourth he was allowed to wear regular pants, but they were the same color as the overalls and he still wore the striped shirts.
  • Doc Martin: Martin and his suits would make Barney Stinson proud. He changes into a new suit for his wedding (with the classic "wardrobe full of copies of the same outfit" gag), but nobody can tell the difference.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Starting with the Fifth Doctor, each Doctor in the series has their own specific costume, as do most of the companions throughout the 80's. Before 1980 and the Fourth's regeneration into the Fifth, each Doctor typically wore costumes which were variations on a theme (in a way reflecting more of a "dress sense" than an actual costume). In the new series, the slight flexibility in wardrobe from earlier in the series is reintroduced; the Ninth Doctor's sweater's color often changes, as does the color of the Tenth Doctor's suit, the shirts and ties he wore under it, and his shoes. The Eleventh Doctor also has multiple different shirts, braces, jackets, and bow-ties which all mix and match into different outfits along one theme.
    • First Doctor: Old-fashioned Edwardian ensemble; typically white-and-black-checked or grey trousers, white wing-collar shirt, waistcoat, black frock coat, and occasionally an Astrakhan hat and a black cloak. Compared to later Doctors, he showed a much greater tendency to change into appropriate period dress for "historical" stories.
    • Second Doctor: Typical Cosmic Hobo apparel. Most often a rumpled frock coat, baggy checked trousers and bowtie.
      • His companion Jamie McCrimmon wore various top halves of his costume, but always wore a kilt on the bottom half.
    • Third Doctor: Very much a dandy. Tended towards black trousers and velvet smoking jackets of various colours, with ruffled shirts and a scarlet-lined black cape. In his first season, he wore a black jacket: the shift to coloured jackets came as his relationship with UNIT became cosier and the general tone of the show lighter.
    • Fourth Doctor: Mostly in earth tones. His most recognizable image was of a long brown, gray or burgundy coat (though for his first season he wore a short corduroy jacket), various waistcoats (though for his first season he wore a cardigan), a wide-brimmed felt fedora, buccaneer boots, and ridiculously long scarves (at least one of them knitted, according to the Doctor, by Madame Nostradamus). In the final season of his tenure, the variations ceased and he wore a much more stylized burgundy version of his traditional costume — still with the long scarf but now with breeches, a heavier, longer burgundy greatcoat, and the first appearance of stylized question marks on his shirt collar. The later costume was supposed to emphasise the slightly "darker" tone of the episodes.
      • The Fourth Doctor and his companion Harry Sullivan suffer from this in Season 12, an Arc that appears to take place over the course of only a week or so and involves limited TARDIS access for most of the time. Both get in a bit of Dressing as the Enemy in "Genesis of the Daleks", but otherwise Harry sticks to his blue leisure suit and the Doctor to his "eternal student" corduroy jacket-and-checked shirt look. The Doctor finally changes his shirt (and swaps his cardigan for a waistcoat) for "Terror of the Zygons", and even swaps his hat and scarf for Scottishy equivalents in the first scene. Sarah, on the other hand, gets two costume changes in "The Ark in Space" alone and a baffling one in "Genesis of the Daleks" that was inserted to prevent a continuity mistake.
    • Fifth Doctor: Wore a Panama hat, white tennis shoes, orange, cream and brown stripes trousers, a V-necked cricketing jumper, and a buff frock coat with red piping. And a stick of celery on his lapel. In season 21 his costume had slight alterations in terms of patterns and color, but the changes were so slight you'd hardly notice them.
      • In "Planet of Fire", he ditched the coat and jumper altogether whilst in the warmer climes of Lanzarote and wore an embroidered waistcoat instead.
      • During the early part of the Fifth Doctor's era this was extended to companions as well. Adric (yellow Alzarian rompers), Nyssa (burgundy velvet jacket and trousers) and Tegan (mauve flight attendant uniform) wear the same costumes in every single story in Season 19, except for the fancy-dress party in "Black Orchid". Poor Adric wore exactly the same clothes in every story he appeared in. Later on, Tegan got a few costume changes, but Turlough wears his school uniform shirt and suit in every story, apart from his last, "Planet of Fire".
    • Sixth Doctor: A garish, clashing outfit of black and yellow striped trousers, a multicoloured waistcoat, and a patchwork coat which defies description. The production notes for the series at the time specified a "totally tasteless costume". Newer webcasts and remakings of older episodes have replaced the amazing technicolor dreamcoat into a more muted (and more easily drawn) blue ensemble which has proven popular with fans who thought the striking colours distracting.
      • The Sixth Doctor was referred to as "The BBC Colour Test Man".
      • And Colin Baker himself described it as "an explosion in a rainbow factory".
      • Slightly averted in Colin's final season, in which he started using a few different waistcoats and ties. This was done to distinguish the different past, present, and future time periods in the stories and the season's Law Procedural framing story.
      • Further averted in the Expanded Universe. A much more tasteful, all-blue version of the Sixth Doctor's outfit was introduced in an animated webcast, and was enthusiastically adopted into novel and audio continuity and even made into an action figure.
      • BBC Video even used the expanded-universe blue outfit on the cover art for the DVD release of "Timelash" (an episode from 1985), rather than portraying the outfit that actually appears in that episode. (Although they appear to have done so by running the technicolour dreamcoat through a blue filter, since you can still see the patterns.)
    • Seventh Doctor: Checked tweed trousers, a red, yellow and green pullover decorated in question marks, a cream colored coat with a paisley scarf, brown-and-cream brogues ("wingtips" to American tropers), a black umbrella with the handle in the shape of a red question mark, and a Panama hat. Later on in his tenure the colours of his costume became much darker; his jacket and hatband all became dark brown. In his final appearance he wore a more formal costume with a red velvet waistcoat and tweed jacket, but retained the checked trousers and Panama hat.
    • Eighth Doctor: Cream trousers, black boots, green velvet frock coat, silk cravat and double-breasted waistcoat. This was based on a stylized "Wild Bill Hickok" fancy dress costume he stole (though it doesn't seem to much resemble any genuine outfit worn by Wild Bill Hickok). For his Big Finish series Dark Eyes, the Eighth Doctor introduced a new costume: a blue leather naval coat, jeans and a brown pouch bag.
    • Ninth Doctor: Utilitarian garb with black shoes, black trousers, a brown/black leather jacket and a jumper (pullover sweater) of varying colours. This trope was lampshaded in "The Unquiet Dead" when Rose complained about having to change into an elaborate dress for the time period while the Doctor only changed into another nearly identical jumper while wearing the same leather jacket.
    • Tenth Doctor: Converse trainers in various colours, a brown suit with blue pinstripes, and some combination of various shirts and ties or, less frequently, no tie and a T-shirt underneath. Often complemented with a long brown wool trench coat he claims to have been a present from Janis Joplin. In his second and third seasons, he gains a new suit with a reversed colour scheme — blue with red pinstripes. During these seasons he regularly switches back and forth between the two suits.
      • Lampshaded by Donna when she meets the Doctor for the second time in "Partners in Crime":
        Donna: You've even got the same suit! ...Don't you ever change?
    • The Tenth Doctor's companion Martha also wore the same burgundy jacket for the first 6 episodes of series 3, since they take place over only a few days for her. She also wore it again for the last 2 episodes of the series.
    • Eleventh Doctor:
      • Tweed jacket with a dickie bow tie, braces, rolled up black trousers and black boots. He tends to swap his bow-tie and braces for either a red or blue herringbone set. After alternating two differently-coloured but otherwise identical designer herringbone shirts for his first season, he switched to an assortment of white shirts with different patterns for his second.
      • In series seven, Eleven switched to a much more elaborate Victorian-style three-piece suit and overcoat (reminiscent of the First Doctor's garb) during and after his self-imposed alone time. Although he still wore a bow tie.
    • The Twelfth Doctor, by contrast, possesses arguably the most diverse set of outfits over the course of his run that do not follow a single theme.
      • His original getup was inspired by a magician's outfit: an austere ensemble with navy blue Crombie coat (with red lining for a splash of colour), dark blue waistcoat, dark blue trousers, black Doc Marten boots, and a white shirt buttoned to the top. He also wears a signet ring (although that's because Peter Capaldi refuses to remove his wedding ring for roles, so they covered it with something more Gallifreyan). He mixes it up a bit in his first series, wearing different shirts or a holey jumper with the Crombie coat as his signature clothing article.
      • In series nine, Twelve's style takes a very different turn when he goes from a classy magician to a laid-back rockstar with longer, wilder hair. Maintaining the Crombie coat from last series, he now dons a hoodie under it along with labelled t-shirts, the holey jumper, baggy plaid trousers or dark trousers that all vary from story to story. To top it off, he wears a pair of sonic sunglasses in place of his screwdriver.
      • By the end of season nine, Twelve discards the staple navy Crombie coat in favor of a red velvet Crombie coat combined with a white shirt, waist coat and dark trousers, harking back to his original style.
      • In Capaldi's final series, he mixes the two styles from the previous season, giving him more of a university professor vibe. He often wears a selection of hoodies under a black velvet frock coat with a blue lining, but sometimes wears velvet Crombie coats with or without a hoodie, holey jumper or a white shirt and waistcoat. A interesting variant includes a weathered grey coat, worn during more serious occasions rather than as a casual outfit.
    • In "The Woman Who Fell to Earth", the Thirteenth Doctor spends at least several days, possibly up to a week, wearing the remains of Twelve's clothing before it is suggested to her that she get some new clothes. She finally settles on what, in her first season, is her most unchanging costume since the Davies era, consisting of a blue T-shirt with a multi-coloured stripe across the chest (in what is a close approximation to the colours of Four's scarf), high-waisted blue trousers, yellow braces, a long fawn overcoat, and hiking boots. In "Rosa", she wears a purple variant of the blue rainbow T-shirt she chose, suggesting the TARDIS wardrobe helpfully created some spares. She sometimes also wears a zip-up hoodie between the T-shirt and overcoat, and wears comically oversized safety goggles (and occasionally a full welding mask) while doing sciencey stuff.
  • Dollhouse may be unique in using the Limited Wardrobe and Unlimited Wardrobe tropes at the same time. The Actives, while in the Dollhouse with their minds erased, wear the same few uniform designs in the same few colors... only to slip into a bottomless supply of fashions, appropriate to the innumerable personalities that are imprinted on them.
    • A visual sign of the dolls' eventual liberation is the abandonment of their Active uniforms. On receiving their original personalities late in season two, Echo, Victor and Sierra dress individually again (probably by drawing upon the Dollhouse's huge wardrobe).
  • In the 1960's incarnations of Dragnet, Friday and Gannon always wore the same outfits, both to save costs and so episodes could be aired out of order. Jack Webb and Harry Morgan once swapped jackets to see if anyone would notice. No one did.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Most of the main characters – all except Daisy – wore the same outfits day in and day out, except for when the story called for something else:
    • Bo wore a yellow button-down long-sleeved shirt (cuffs rolled up) and jeans.
    • Luke's trademark was a blue plaid button-down shirt (cuffs rolled up) and jeans. (Early in the series, he also sometimes wore a Levi's jean jacket.)
    • Uncle Jesse was identified by his off-white long-sleeved button-down shirt, red kerchief and dirty bib overalls.
    • Cooter often had a khaki work shirt, jeans and a ballcap.
    • Boss Hogg was rarely seen without his white continental suit and cowboy hat.
    • The sheriff's department – Rosco, Enos and Cletus – were almost always seen in their sheriff's uniforms.
  • Fantasy Island: In the original 1978 series, Mr. Roarke and Tattoo were – with very rare exceptions – never seen in anything except their dapper white suits, white button down shirts and black bow ties.
  • Understandable on Farscape, where the characters are refugees and former prisoners who are frequently on the run. However, over the course of the series their wardrobes did evolve, reflecting the levels of badass they were all accruing. The most obvious case was when Crichton gave up his IASA jumpsuit for Peacekeeper leather.
  • The Flash (2014)
    • Dr Harrison Wells in always wears black sweatshirts, pants and sneakers, although very occasionally he'll wear a dark grey sweatshirt, and he sometimes swaps the sneakers for black dress shoes. In flashbacks to before the accident, he is only ever seen in a black suit, white (or black, on one occasion) shirt, and the same black sneakers with white soles.
    • Ralph Dibny aka Elongated Man is always seen wearing a dark two-piece suit with a colourfully printed shirt. He has a personal stylist who picks out all his clothes, so that may be why.
  • Fraggle Rock: The fraggles almost NEVER change their clothes and usually when wearing costumes, have their normal outfits under them. It's lampshaded for Wembley (and for some reason only for Wembley) — it's pointed out a few times in the series that he only has two shirts and they both look identical. He still sometimes has trouble deciding what to wear. note 
  • Olivia Dunham on Fringe everyday outfit is a black pantsuit with a white shirt and black overcoat. We almost never see her in anything but black and white. We learn that this was a part of her conditioning as a child.
  • Jason Morgan, the resident brain-damaged hitman of General Hospital wears a black t-shirt and black leather jacket exclusively. Possibly lampshaded in a moment where a closet door was left open and the only things hanging up were leather jackets.
  • Get a Life had a particularly odd version of this: Chris's parents wore pajamas and robes at all times, in and out of the house.
  • On Gilligan's Island, Gilligan, the Skipper, and the Professor almost always wore the same stuff outside of dream sequences and the like (though the Professor had a tweed jacket that he would wear from time to time). Mary Ann, by contrast, had a variety of outfits, and the wardrobes of both Ginger and the Howells were virtually unlimited (leading to Fridge Logic about why they would take so many clothes with them on a three-hour tour) note .
  • Quinn, Santana, and Brittany on Glee wear their cheerleading costumes everywhere, apart from when they're dressed up for group performance numbers. All three of the girls have, at various points, not been on the Cheerios, but when they are, they wear them. Lampshaded in the episode following "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" in which they all leave the team, during the "Here's what you missed on Glee..." narration, in which the narrator remarks that the audience will finally get to see them in their street clothes.
  • Tom and Barbara on The Good Life sport a very limited wardrobe, due to their ongoing efforts at complete self-sufficiency.
  • Janet from The Good Place uses the "variations on a set outfit" variation on the trope. Her basic outfit is a vest, skirt and patterned blouse ensemble that looks vaguely like a flight attendant's uniform. Each time she's rebooted the colour of the vest and skirt, the pattern of the blouse and her hairstyle change. The default, unactivated Janet wears a completely white version of the look, while the Neutral Janet seen in "Janet(s)" wears a beige version. Bad Janets appear to be the only ones that don't use this set outfit, instead they have their own version that includes a leather jacket, leggings and long blonde hair.
  • Dave on Happy Endings has a wardrobe consisting entirely of V-necks.
  • In Hex Thelma spends the entire first season trapped in the party dress she died in. In the second season she discovers that she can wear other clothes if she steals them from corpses. Azazeal also wears the exact same shirt, trousers and overcoat throughout the show, except when he doesn't wear anything.
  • Like Gilligan's Island, the male leads of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, wear the same outfits through the series. But the most important female character, Trillian, magically appears in a new outfit each time the Infinite Improbability Drive is used.
  • On Home Improvement, Al always wears flannel shirts, and apparently does so because his father always did.
  • Victor and Rufus of House of Anubis both tend to wear the same clothes in most of their appearances.
    • Rufus even wore his black turtleneck under his collector outfit.
      • This is lampshaded in one episode by Nina.
      • Nina: (About Victor) What if he never changes his clothes?
      • The students also have the uniform, however, they only wear them during school and even then they tend to be personalized in a way, or at least not the whole uniform.
  • The sitcom How I Met Your Mother has Barney Stinson wearing a suit every episode. Only two episodes have had him not wear a suit voluntarily, the first he stopped wearing suits after he found out the woman he lost his virginity to only did it because his gay brother slept with her and she claimed he was bad at it. The second was when he wanted to sleep with the new hot female bartender, even having a fantasy sequence where he sings about having to choose between women and his beloved suits ultimately having his cake and eating it too.
    • There is actually a third example: He refuses to suit up for funerals.
    • Also the Self-Imposed Challenge to pick up a woman while wearing overalls.
    • Yet another episode, "The Sexless Innkeeper," had couple Barney and Robin depressed and moping after their "break-up" with Marshall and Lily:
      Ted: Barney, are you wearing sweatpants?
      Barney: Maybe, but they're Armani.
  • Kotaro Minami from Kamen Rider BLACK and Kamen Rider BLACK RX. In a press conference that promoted the crossover movie in Kamen Rider Decade his actor was seen wearing an updated version of one of his old jackets.
  • Japanese comedian Toshiaki Kasuga wears the exact same outfit for nearly every appearance he makes (both in and out of character): White pants and a pink sweater vest over a white shirt and an orange tie.
  • In Knight Rider (1982), Michael Knight always wore a polo shirt (often red, sometimes blue or pink... don't ask about the pink) underneath a leather jacket, with jeans. It helps a lot with stock footage.
    • The 2008 series has Michael Knight (Jr.) with a gray t-shirt and khakis. For cold weather, Michael wears a red long sleeved shirt underneath the gray t-shirt. Word of God says that the iconic leather jacket will come into play later in the season.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker: Carl Kolchak only ever seems to wear an old seersucker suit, tennis shoes, and a ratty porkpie hat. This is commented on several times during the series and at one point a co-working buys him a new hat that he promptly tries to dispose of. Word of God from Darren McGavin was that Carl deliberately chose to make that outfit his permanent wardrobe after being fired from a newspaper a decade or so prior to the series.
  • Much like the animated programs that aired on Saturday mornings, live action programs – usually of the fantasy and/or action/adventure genre, often produced by Sid and Marty Krofft – featured the main characters always wearing the same outfits. Since children were the primary audience, this trope's use helped them easily identify the characters (e.g., the leader wearing a yellow button-down shirt and a denim/brown leather-accented vest, with jeans and a cowboy hat); plus, it helped cut down on production costs, as certain Stock Footage inserts could be re-used. Programs airing more recently have gotten away from this, as the live-action shows are more sitcom based (with the characters changing wardrobe normally).
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has one the Los Angeles Times listed as "Costume designer's quietest cry for help":
    [costume designer Mikaela] Wohl's creative energies are clearly being overwhelmed by crafting such amazing costumes as Jeff the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat and a Russian Space Sex Gecko — because the ball has clearly been dropped on dressing Oliver. It's almost silly by now how many checked tops he's been decked out in. Could Brooks Brothers do an intervention?
  • While all of the characters of LazyTown have one default outfit, most of those can be excused because the character is either a puppet or a superhero. Stephanie has the most variable wardrobe for non-plot reasons, especially in season 2, but Robbie Rotten is only ever seen in a red-and-purple striped suit or red-and-purple striped pajamas except for plot-related disguises, despite an extremely large and apparently magical wardrobe.
    • At least Robbie has pajamas. Sportacus only ever wears his blue-and-white superhero outfit... even to bed!
  • On Lizzie McGuire, Tudgeman always appears wearing the same yellow polo shirt. That doesn't seem to be washed frequently (if at all).
  • Lost: The most notable example is Ana Lucia, who wore the exact same clothes her entire time on the Island... even after they reunited with the main group. The only difference was that sometimes she had the jacket, and sometimes she didn't.
    • While most characters would change the wardrobe every few episodes, Frank Lapidus only got to change his clothes once over the course of three full seasons.
  • Most of the characters in Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, from Royals to peasants, have only one outfit, though Marian and the Merry Men themselves get two wardrobe upgrades — after the third episode of the first series they begin dressing mainly in green to "coordinate with the trees," and from the second season on their outfits have become more detailed, distinct and individual. The one exception to the trope is Robin, who has lots of outfits, and from the second season onwards seldom wears the same one two episodes in a row. Then again, this incarnation of Robin Hood is a tailor by trade, so it makes sense that he would avert the trope.
  • Thelma Harper wears the same dress on most episodes of Mama's Family, and her daughter Eunice seems to have worn the same dress and hairstyle since childhood, while the other major characters wear different outfits, but of a similar color and style, like Naomi's off-the-shoulder yellow dresses and Iola's high-necked pink ones.
    • Even the male characters weren't exempt from the trope: Vint was always seen wearing tan or beige, and Bubba always wore green. It's also worth mentioning that in the Mama's Family reunion episode of Vicki Lawrence's talk show, Beverly Archer (who played Iola) said she never wanted to see pink again as long as she lived.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
      • Coulson's early wardrobe consisted of nothing but dark suits. In one episode he's seen contemplating two different shades of gray.
      • Cal's wardrobe consists of upper-middle class business attire (one or two drab, conservative suits), reflecting the fact that he's been stuck in the moment when he lost his family.
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • Wilson Fisk is a creature of habit. In season 1, he is always selecting a black suit from his wardrobe and the same pair of cufflinks that used to belong his father. When he consummates his relationship with Vanessa, she selects a gray suit and different cufflinks, helping him break out of his shell. When he's in prison during season 2 and the start of season 3, he's only ever seen wearing orange Institutional Apparel as an inmate. After he's released into FBI house arrest early in season 3, Fisk adapts to wearing the white three-piece suits he's known for wearing in the comics which symbolize his loneliness in light of Vanessa's absencenote . Since the shirt underneath (and sometimes the vest) is still black, this also symbolizes how Fisk paints himself to the public as a wrongly accused savior which is just a mask for the ruthless crimelord he really is.
      • Given Matt Murdock is a lawyer, he always wears a suit and tie when out of costume and only really wears T-shirts when loafing around his apartment.
    • Jessica Jones (2015): Jessica Jones almost always wears the same leather jacket, jeans, and boots, and a scarf during cold weather. The jacket is a Tragic Keepsake from her relationship with Stirling. Lampshaded in The Defenders (2017) when she complains she hasn't changed her clothes since she took the case that got her involved in this war against the Hand.
  • Ben Matlock on Matlock always wore the same light colored suit in court. One episode even made fun of this when his daughter tried to get him to wear more modern custom suits for an episode.
  • Patrick Jane, The Mentalist, only seems to own the one set of clothes (brown shoes, dark blue suit, light blue shirt, no tie, blue waistcoat).
  • Merlin on the BBC's Merlin has only one red shirt, one blue shirt, and a brown jacket that he wears through all three seasons.
    • This may be deliberate: Merlin is a servant, and probably doesn't have a lot of money. Gwen, also a servant, has only a few dresses (a yellow one and a pink one in the first series, and a lilac one in the second series), and Gaius, court physician, always wears the same outfit. Arthur and Morgana, on the other hand, both get lots of outfits, being royalty. Although it should be noted that they do reuse outfits: Morgana has that one blue dress that appears multiple times and that Gwen gets to wear at one point, and Arthur has a long brown coat and a short black jacket that both make multiple appearances, as well as his armour - but they both get a lot more outfit changes than any of the lower-class characters.
      • However, he must have at least one change of clothes. Either that, or he runs around naked whe his clothes are being washed. And you can't argue that his clothes don't get dirty. Many times, he has landed in horse poo or such.
      • Merlin is a wizard, though, so maybe he cleans his clothes with magic. And even if he does change clothes, that doesn't mean his changes of clothes can't be the same.
    • Merlin does wear a purple shirt. Once. It is then never heard from again. He also wears that red quilted jacket in the season 4 finale that was obviously a wedding present from Arthur. Hey, Arthur, aren't you supposed to give the present to the bride?
    • Also, in the season two episode where Arthur pretends to be a commoner so that he can win a tournament fairly, Merlin gives him a shirt, which he claims is his own. We never see him wear it. If you have these shirts, Merlin, why don't you wear them?
    • Merlin must have other clothes. Whenever he ages himself into Dragoon the Great, he wears red instead of blue and brown.
  • In Monk, Adrian Monk always wears the same type of sports jacket (different shade of brown or gray) over long sleeve buttoned shirts, even in environments where such attire might seem weird. This is explained by his obsessive-compulsive nature, causing him to keep everything perfectly consistent, including his wardrobe. He even makes sure every shirt he bought was inspected by the same person before it left the factory, and the stitching on his buttons has to remain perfectly aligned.
  • Jamie Hyneman on MythBusters.
    • Even if the white shirt is taken off for whatever reason, Jamie tends to stick to the black/gray/white color scheme. It was almost shocking to see him in bright red Nomex for one test.
    • If he has to wear other clothes, he will usually still wear his black beret, if possible. When they met the president, he wore a suit and beret.
    • Lampshaded extensively in an episode where Adam and Jamie had to each pass themselves off as the other. They had a test to see how long it took for Kari and Grant to notice that "Jamie" was really Adam. To focus their attention on something besides his Jamie mask, they changed one piece of his standard outfit at a time and made them pick out what had changed (like a red beret instead of a black one).
      • Grant is very rarely seen in anything other than blue jeans and a black t-shirt.
  • Ryan on The O.C. wore either a wifebeater or a black t-shirt most of the time, although he did get a more varied wardrobe as the show went on. The first thing Kirsten says they need to do after adopting him is buy him some clothes. It's also lampshaded several times by Seth.
  • Once Upon a Time: In the fairy tale world (The Enchanted Forest), most characters either wore the same outfit each time they were shown or had very few outfits. Regina (the evil queen) is an exception.
    • When Emma and Mary Margaret were trapped in the Enchanted Forest, they stayed in the clothes they arrived in until they go back to Storybrooke, while Mulan and Aurora also always wore the same clothes.
    • In Storybrooke, Captain Hook, being an outsider and therefore not being exposed to the curse, is the only one who always wears the same clothes.
  • Same for most of the humans in Pee-wee's Playhouse. Pee-wee always wore the same suit with bowtie, Miss Yvonne always had the same layer-cake dress, Cowboy Curtis always had the cowboy getup complete with chaps, etc.
  • The various Power Rangers series have a variation of this: while the actual outfits of the characters may change, the outfit is always predominantly, if not entirely, of that character's color as a Ranger. In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Tommy Oliver, who has been a Green, White, and Red Ranger in previous series', hangs a lampshade on this by complaining about having to change his wardrobe when he becomes a Black Ranger.
    • In Mighty Morphin, the background cast also didn't vary their dress much.
    • Some of the middle seasons though have teams that wear the same street clothes outfit for virtually every episode (unless the plot explicitly calls for a change of costume). Later seasons mix the two: varying street clothes in a color scheme that matches the ranger color and a uniform that they wear constantly.
    • Some seasons justify it by having some sort of team uniform they wear when not morphed anyway.
    • To mention Tommy again, he wasn't immune to this from the start, especially when he was in his "evil" phase. Apparently being mind-controlled makes you want to keep to a select wardrobe. Even afterwards, that one green flannel shirt showed up in a lot of his outfits.
    • In The Abridged Series Truncated Power Rangers, Zordon points out that their Ranger colours match the clothes the teens are wearing and that those colours will now dominate their respective wardrobes.
      Zordon: I hope you like pink, whore.
  • On Preacher, Jesse almost exclusively wears a black suit and jacket with a clerical collar.
  • Pumuckl, the kobold protagonist of a German children's series, always wears a yellow shirt and green trousers.
  • If you're a regular viewer of Raising Hope, you're likely to become familiar with the recurring pieces of clothing in the Chances' wardrobe, such as Jimmy's "Bigfoot vs. Abe Lincoln" and "Mr. Natural" tees.
  • Considering their level of income, it's no surprise that the characters in Reaper have an extremely limited wardrobe. Sock seems to own maybe three shirts, one of which is heavily stained.
  • In The Red Green Show, each character has their own distincitve outfit, such as Red and Harold's plaid shirt, khaki pants and red-green suspenders, Winston's waders and hard hat, Ranger Gord's forest ranger uniform, Bill's overalls, etc. In "The New Shirt/Casino", Harold freaks out when Red walks in with a different plaid shirt due to the regular one being in the laundry (though strangely the other segments has Red wear his usual shirt). Harold himself would avert this after The Bus Came Back, wearing a different outfit each episode.
  • Lampshaded and parodied in a Saturday Night Live skit. David Spade, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley are playing three teenage girls at the mall. It briefly cuts to "Four Days Later", and they're in the exact same place wearing the same clothes. Spade's character mentions "I can't believe we're all wearing the same thing we did four days ago."
  • Played with in the Seinfeld episode "The Seven": Jerry's Girl of the Week wears the same dress every time they meet, confounding him.
    Jerry: What in God's name is going on here? Is she wearing the same thing over and over again? Or does she have a closet full of these, like Superman? I've got to unlock this mystery!
  • In $#*! My Dad Says, Edison Milford "Ed" Goodson III (played by William Shatner) can be seen wearing a rifle green fishing vest almost all the time.
  • Clark in Smallville wears a red jacket over a blue shirt 95% of the time, as an homage to his future superhero identity's colors. In fact, one of the dead giveaways to the viewer that an evil alien clone was masquerading as him was that the clone was wearing those colors inverted. It used to be one of many outfits he wore (he always did favor a blue shirt) but as the series went on he started wearing it more and more (perhaps a homage to him growing into his super hero role). Quite possibly the most extreme case was in the return of the shapeshifter episode where he was wearing a brown jacket when said shapeshifter paralyzed him with kryptonite, but apparently switched to his red one before confronting her (thus making it easy for us to tell them apart).
  • In Stargate Universe, like in Battlestar Galactica, the occupants of the ship only have the clothes they escaped with. The limits are explicitly referenced when we see Young repairing socks by hand.
    • There are some inconsistencies, including both Chloe and Rush getting new outfits. From a production perspective this makes sense as the alternative would be them wandering around in alien jumpsuits for the rest of the series.
  • It's an incredibly rare event when one of the Supernatural boys gets a new piece of clothing. Sometimes they have to wear the same clothes for episodes at a time — Sam, for example, didn't change from Salvation to In My Time Of Dying. Word of God says that they tend to stink a bit.
    • Castiel has been wearing the same outfit since his introduction in Season 4. Even when he was temporarily human in season 5.
    • All the angels are like this. But then it's doubtful angels care much about fashion trends.
    • All hunters tend to favor a somewhat "blue-collar" style of dress. It involves lots of jeans and cotton, presumably because they're cheap, generic, and don't stand out in most settings. Crowley even refers to our heroes as "denim-wrapped nightmares".
  • For the first series of Taskmaster, Tim wears red sportswear and a white headband for all his pre-recorded challenges; and even when some of the challenges require him to wear protective overalls, his red sportswear can still be seen. In the studio, he wears the same suit for all six episodes.
  • In Taxi Louie usually wears a pink shirt, a red tie and a gray suit note  while Jim would always wear a blue blazer, a blue shirt and blue jeans. Latka's only ever seen with his mechanic outfit.
  • In Series 3 of The Thick of It Malcolm Tucker wears a light grey suit in every episode, sometimes even with a grey tie. When we see him in casual clothes we discover that practically every other item of clothing he owns is also grey. As well as matching his hair colour, this is very fitting for a press officer who likes to hide in the background, never becoming the story.
  • Torchwood:
    • Captain Jack Harkness: blue shirt, dark trousers with braces, and a rather iconic RAF greatcoat (apparently Ianto's first priority after breaking Jack out of jail is to find a replacement coat for the one that got blown up).
    • Ianto's wardrobe seems to entirely consist of impossibly well styled three-piece suits. According to Jack, this is part of his job description.
  • Trailer Park Boys: Julian never wears anything other than a black t-shirt, black jeans, and an earring and choker. Ricky changes clothes literally once per series.
    • Lahey and Randy usually wear the same uniform in every episode, and Barb usually wears her denim-and-cowboy boots outfit.
  • Wolf Hall puts everyone else in sumptuous colors for their Gorgeous Period Dress, but Thomas Cromwell is always in black. Anne Boleyn chides him for it when she'd requested "no black" for her coronation. When he tells her he's wearing scarlet for the occasion, she replies that it's a very black scarlet.
  • Played completely straight in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. One assumes the costume designers didn't want to create any alternate outfits.

Lampshaded Closet Gag Examples

  • Used thematically in Battlestar Galactica. Roslin laments that one of the suckier parts of surviving the genocide of your race is that you're stuck with the clothes on your back (snark emphasis ours). Played straight with Bio-Cylons, being essentially clones of each other, all wear the same type of clothes and outfits whenever we see them. Considering they were for much of the series run like a set of a thousand twins with little personality to distinguish individual members, it reinforced their conformity and lack of individuality. We the viewers can tell Boomer completely assimilated back into her Cylon side when she starts dressing like her "sisters".
  • A live-action example/subversion: In the 1998 remake of Fantasy Island, we see a closet full of white suits, as worn by Ricardo Montalban's Mr. Roarke in the original. The "new" Mr. Roarke (Malcolm MacDowell) chooses the only black suit, and orders the others burnt.
  • Similarly, one episode of The Avengers showed Steed with a closet full of identical suits, bowler hats, and umbrellas.
  • In one 90s Latin American Soap Opera starring Thalía, the main female villain, supposedly a very rich heiress, constantly wore a very distinct and Stripperiffic shining blue dress. When Thalia's character (a very poor girl turned millionaire, who even in her poorest days had more costume variety than the villain) asked about it, the woman answered that she loved that specific model so much that she bought quite a few. In fact, we see the woman's closet... and it's filled with dozens of that specific dress.
  • Monk: This becomes a plot point in one of the episodes, as Monk buys a new shirt identical to all his others, down to having been inspected by the same person. He stumbles onto the crime of the week by noticing the shirt's minor flaws, which never would have slipped by his preferred clothing inspector if she weren't distracted by her own problems. He solves the crime mainly so she'll get back to inspecting shirts.
    • Incidentally, it's not all the same. On one end of the closet, he has his old police uniform from before he cracked up.
  • In Jim Henson's Dinosaurs, this trope is lampshaded when the main character, Earl, is seen packing for a trip. Inside his closet and suitcase are the same red flannel shirt and undershirt he always wears.
  • In an episode of Happy Days, Fonzie, after examining his closet, announces "Number 53 is missing!"
  • Not necessarily a gag per se, but it's certainly notable on Fringe when Olivia Dunham opens her closet and her wardrobe consists entirely of black jackets, pantsuits, white shirts, and grey scarves. They're slightly different, but all the same color scheme. It's actually a plot point, since wearing monochrome is a "uniform," conditioned into the Jacksonville test subjects.
  • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. The leather coat he continuously wears through his time on Buffy is revealed through Flashback to have been stolen from the body of the last Slayer he killed and as such is a trophy. In an episode of Angel, he's caught in an explosion and his coat is destroyed. He complains that the coat had incredibly sentimental value to him and was "irreplaceable". Gilligan Cut to his new employers providing him with a new identical coat as well as a wardrobe full of them, which he seems quite pleased with and wears for the rest of the show's run.
    • Of course, that happened in the third-to-last episode of Angel, so "the rest of the show's run" constitutes two more episodes...
    • Rather amusingly, when he was unhinged following his acquisition of a soul, Spike tried to "disguise" himself so he wouldn't be identified with the old Spike. His disguise? Wearing a shirt that wasn't black.
    • Parodied in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 episode "What's My Line, Part 2": When Kendra (a slayer very dedicated to her call, with no personal ties whatsoever) has her shirt slashed in battle, she angrily comments on this by shouting (in her trademark accent) "That's me best shirt!", followed by the even more angry follow-up comment "That's me only shirt!" At the end of the episode, Buffy gives her one of her own shirts.
  • Lampshaded on The Nanny. Niles the butler usually wears a suit and tie, which is always more or less then same from one episode to the next. So when Fran snuck a peek into Niles's closet, she discovered that Niles had several dozen duplicates of the same outfit.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys lampshades it in "Stranger And Stranger" where Hercules visits the show's Mirror Universe and finds his Evil Twin's clothing rack, full of identical outfits.
    Hercules: (sarcastically) "I wonder which one's his favorite."
    Alternate Iolaus: "The fourth one in."
  • On later seasons of Roseanne, an oversized shirt with a picture of a chicken and a fried egg got passed around the entire female cast, and then, eventually, to the male cast as well. This is parodied when they make friends with a wealthy family and give them copies of that same shirt.
  • Lampshaded on Glee
    Narrator: "Britt, Santana and Quinn quit the Cheerios. Now we get to see what they look like in street clothes."
  • When Angus Deayton presented Have I Got News for You, one running gag in the 1990s - discussed also in the spin-off book - was his brown suits.
  • In Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill is almost always shown wearing neutral colored dress shirts, black suits and ties, even in situations where such attire wouldn't be practical (i.e. hiking through the wilderness to find the Kettlemans, dumpster diving, etc.). Much of it has to do with the fact that for Jimmy, wearing a suit is an integral part of being a lawyer, no matter what the work entails. The only times we ever really see him not wearing a suit or tie are occasions where he's not doing lawyer stuff. He begins to avert the trope in the later part of season 2 after he starts wearing the brightly colored shirts, suits and ties that fit in with his future as Saul Goodman.
  • Deadwood, as would befit the residents of a 19th century boomtown, the citizens of Deadwood rarely have more than one complete outfit, and the only variation from scene to scene is how much of it they're wearing. For example, Al has his iconic black and grey striped suit, and sometimes he'll not be wearing the jacket or only be wearing his long-johns.
  • AP Bio: While the actual items differ from day to day, Jack almost always wears a cardigan sweater over a casual shirt and sweatpants to "teach" his class.

Exceptions

  • My Name Is Earl plays peoples wardrobe pretty realistically, i.e. different outfits that keep a common theme - Earl prefers plaid shirts and has one for every day of the week, Randy wears slacks a t-shirt and a short sleeve button down shirt, usually brown, gray and/or tan (in one episode he explicitly states that he has 3 pairs of pants and 5 shirts), Joy usually wears tube tops and pink is her favorite color, Catalina is most often shown in her maid uniform or stripper outfit but is also shown in jeans and different shirts when she isn't working, even Darnell isn't shown to have a completely limited wardrobe and occasionally wears a long sleeve thermal white shirt as opposed to his customary white a-shirt.

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