In old times (especially the Victorian era) a lot of attention was given to a person's visual appearance, including clothes and shoes. Ever since then, lack of footwear has been used to portray characters who are mad or at least quirky and out of touch with reality (additional details may include strange and/or unkempt clothing and disheveled hair).
In modern works, they may be cheerfully eccentric and deliberately flouting social norms, or really unhinged and living in their own world.
Subtrope of Does Not Like Shoes, and often overlaps with The Ophelia. Compare and contrast with Barefoot Sage whose wisdom and enlightenment also places him/her above social conventions (they may also overlap). May also overlap with Magical Barefooter.
- A BMW commercial promoting the sensitivity of the car's all-wheel drive follows a businessman who performs various experiments in feeling with his bare feet. While the ad emphasizes the serenity he finds in experiencing new sensations, and becoming closer to his surroundings, his apparent eccentricity in exploring his workplace without shoes does elicit short confused stares from a few onlookers.
- Anime and manga feature several Bunny-Ears Lawyer types who are the best at what they do, but go barefoot to indicate that they're Cloud Cuckoolanders. Examples:
- Ed from Cowboy Bebop: a really quirky teenage genius Playful Hacker girl with a prominent aversion to shoes and a habit of using her toes like spare fingers. The only time she puts on socks, she quickly loses balance and falls. She doesn't even make it to putting shoes on before she decides to go back to being barefooted.
- L, the brilliant but Defective Detective from Death Note, only wears shoes while outdoors. Even then, if he assumes his iconic thinking posture, the shoes come off.
- Kaolla Su, the Gadgeteer Genius Genki Girl from Love Hina.
- Papika from Flip Flappers, an obnoxiously friendly and childlike space-cadet with an apparent magnetic repulsion to footwear (except for her anklet). She's also Flip Flap's only competent transdimensional adventurer — until Cocona comes along, anyway — and the only one of numerous candidates who could get through to Mimi.
- Fairy Tail:
- Edolas's Coco Loves is a hyperactive girl who loves running around so much she does all of it barefoot. With the way she runs, any shoes she wore probably wouldn't last a day, anyway.
- Mavis Vermillion was subjected to Barefoot Poverty as a little girl, so she got used to being without shoes, and eventually realized she loved being barefoot in lieu of wearing shoes. When she got older and had the option of wearing them, she decided she didn't need to change something that didn't need fixing. It's also a way of exemplifying her strong fairy motif, as many fairies are traditionally depicted barefoot.
- Luffy from One Piece seems inclined to keep his feet as lightly clad as possible. It is very, very rare for him to don anything beyond straw sandals no matter what outfit he wears. Simple shoes for a simpleton.
- Mamimi from FLCL is a Broken Bird who became numb to life around her after a painful breakup. As such, she's extremely negligent of the world around her. She also loses her shoes and socks twice in a row while rummaging around in a nearby river, choosing to remain barefoot the second time around.
- In Star Wars Age Of Resistance Special #1 story "The Bridge", Amilyn Holdo is the only person who goes barefoot onboard the spaceship, while all the other team members are shod; while she behaves in a serious and rational way in this story due to being in a very tough situation, this detail is a reminder of her status as a Cloud Cuckoolander and Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
- When he's portrayed as crazy, the perpetually barefoot Plastic Man would count. His barefootedness dates back long before he was re-characterized as having always been nuts, though.
- Eloise from The Million Dollar Hotel: a perpetually barefoot girl who believes herself to be a figment of imagination, and Tom Tom's, the main character's, Love Interest. He later mutters about her having "dirty bare feet", which are highlighted throughout the movie as she goes outdoors and is introduced flinching at drink cup ice falling near her feet. Eloise puts on a pair of heels with a dress for a formal event, but later removes them to run away from police with Tom Tom and places them atop a bar counter in a diner, but ignores them upon leaving, causing a nearby patron to stare at the heels with mild curiosity at her decision to go off barefoot. Tom Tom is Driven to Suicide, it snaps Eloise out of her delirium and she begins wearing sneakers, which she has on at the end of the movie.
- Daisy Kensington from Barefoot, a Mysterious Waif Womanchild who has No Social Skills because she was raised in isolation by a schizophrenic mother. She evidently spent her life indoors so much she rarely wore shoes and remarks they hurt her feet when she is made to use them.
- Barefoot is a Foreign Remake of a German movie, Barfuss, whose protagonist Lelia also counts.
- Luna Lovegood is barefoot in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, claiming that all her pairs of shoes were stolen by nargles. It seems highly improbable that someone could have stolen all her shoes without it being noticed by the Hogwarts' staff, so it's possible that she made up the whole story and went barefoot simply because she likes to.
- Kady from Butterfly is constantly leaving her shoes off or behind and going everywhere barefoot if she can get away with it because her only pair of shoes is a set of heels and she is in unsuitable terrain for them, and for the most part, she enjoys wearing no shoes. It later morphs into this trope when she willingly walks around in socked feet outside, which is rather oddball and foolish.
- Juliette from And God Created Woman goes barefoot everywhere, including even the shop where she works; it symbolizes her free spirit and disregard for social conventions.
- Thor: The Dark World: After their mother's death Thor finds grief stricken Loki sitting on the floor of his cell barefoot, in torn clothes and with unkempt hair. All furniture is turned upside down and broken into pieces and there are dark smears on the cell's white walls. Once released from the dungeons, Loki switches to his usual appearance and snarky persona.
- Rain Teslar from A Path Of Petals is a "cheerfully eccentric" version of the trope, and a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the main character.
- Princess Eilonwy from The Chronicles of Prydain is a mild variant of this, having a lot of quirks and a penchant for going barefoot (as pointed out by Dallben in The Castle of Llyr). She still manages to be one of the smartest characters in the series, an Action Girl, and a Deadpan Snarker.
- Auri from The Kingkiller Chronicle is like Luna's twin sister, living in her fantasy world and often speaking cryptically. And she's perpetually barefoot.
- Hannah Schneider from Special Topics In Calamity Physics is an eccentric and charismatic teacher who has a penchant for going barefoot.
- Assol from The Scarlet Sails is a Cloud Cuckoolander who believes in fairy tales and has a penchant for going barefoot.
- River Tam from Firefly. She's a Cloudcuckoolander because of her Dark and Troubled Past, and her bare feet get so much attention that they're sometimes called "the 11th character in the show".
- Gulnar in Robin of Sherwood is a rare villainous example, being a deranged, malevolent pagan shaman who almost always goes barefoot. He does put on shoes when he has to run for his life through a forest, though.
- The Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who Made-for-TV Movie spends a few scenes barefoot while he's wandering around being amnesiac and weird. It's really just because he hasn't got any shoes after Waking Up at the Morgue, but his barefootedness definitely emphasizes his eccentricity. Grace seems to notice his bare feet as a sign he's a bit of a weirdo, or maybe it's just the toe tag... And then Grace bestows him a pair of shoes, which belong to her newly-minted ex-boyfriend, and Eight goes full Keet over the fact they fit perfectly.
- Danny Rand spends the first few episodes of Iron Fist wandering New York barefoot. Due to being raised in a hidden monastery, he's eccentric, to say the least.
- American mumble rapper Submarine Man is always seen barefoot. He is outspoken against shoes, socks, and especially stockings. And he sings about Smelly Feet in a heavily autotuned voice.
- The eccentric French singer Zaz (a.k.a. Isabelle Geffroy) frequently performs either barefoot or in open-toed sandals.
- The music video for Bass Fly and Laurent L's "Tonight" starts with a woman outright abandoning her pumps on the sidewalk (along with a bundle of roses) and barefooting her way through a cityscape because it's liberating, giving new meaning to the term "footloose and fancy-free". Exaggerated when it turns out everyone else is going barefoot, too. Rather yucky because the peoples' feet do get quite filthy tromping through the dingy environment and the actress used for the video obviously has hers cleaned off in between scenes and for close-up shots.
- Hitomi Yaida, a.k.a. Yaiko, is a little kooky and one of her trademarks is that she loves to be barefoot and hates to be shod. It's extremely common for her to perform in her bare feet and emerge onstage with no footwear at all, treating shoes and socks more like an accessory than part of her normal wardrobe. Her music video "Chain" is even themed after how she would rather just leave her shoes behind and walk everywhere barefoot, stubbornly ignoring the need for shoes twice, and in the act of feeling the ground beneath her, she feels unchained (the shoes being the chain) and daydreams herself in a sensual landscape.
- Despite living in Canada, apparently Jessica from Fat, French and Fabulous frequently walks around completely barefoot, no matter the weather. She reports that she still has all nine toes she was born with.
- In many adaptations of Hamlet (including also movie adaptations) Ophelia is barefoot in her mad scenes.
- In Ruddigore, Mad Margaret is costumed and made up as a caricature of theatrical madness in the first act, and this often includes barefootedness.
- This is how Socrates (the Ur-Example of a Barefoot Sage) is portrayed in The Clouds.
- David Tennant's portrayal of the title character in Richard II exists at the three-way intersection of this trope, Barefoot Sage, and Earthy Barefoot Character.
- Princess Charlotte from Varicella (at least if the game promo art is to believe).
- Dahlia Gillespie and Claudia Wolf from Silent Hill; both are really dark examples.
- Most of the elves in the Dragon Age universe avoid wearing shoes, but Merrill, the second game's resident Cloudcuckoolander, is bringing this to the hilarious extremes:
Your boots go on forever. I'd get so lost in them. I've dropped marbles in. They take an eternity to reach the bottom.
- The AGS game The Sleepy Island features a crazy barefoot old man who speaks in rhyme and is missing his reflection.
- The Drifter, an Eccentric Mentor rabbit man from the ThunderCats (2011) episode "The Duelist and the Drifter", is this trope, a Barefoot Sage and a Barefoot Cartoon Animal all at once.
- The Batman's incarnation of The Joker only ever wears spats that cover the tops of his feet (at most), but no shoes.
- Chikara, the kooky fortune teller from Scooby-Doo! And KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery, is always barefoot. The KISS group members believe her to also be a Barefoot Sage (she probably is, given that everything she said about KISSteria is eventually revealed to be true).
- Gravity Falls has self-proclaimed "local kook" Old Man McGucket, who goes around in nothing but foot wraps.
- Miracle Grohe from Sit Down, Shut Up, a ditzy, New-Agey Hippie Teacher who goes barefoot, is a lighthearted version of this trope.
- Zig Zagged Trope in the DuckTales (2017) episode "The 87 Cent Solution!". One of the events that causes Scrooge's Sanity Slippage is his spats being stolen, but his solution—turning two tissue boxes into a pair of makeshift shoes—is even worse.
- Socrates was often seen by his contemporaries as this, since in spite of (or maybe because of) his wisdom, he often demonstrated extremely eccentric behavior. One of his peculiarities was a penchant for going barefoot.
- When she was 16, starting from July 2, 2012, Victoria Anderson went on a spirited barefoot crusade by spending an entire year without shoes or footwear of any kind to raise awareness for the needy children of Haiti (noting the only exception to this was carrying around a $2 pair of flip-flops not unlike those worn by Haitian children, just in case she absolutely needed them) and got featured on The Jeff Probst Show for it (the show donated to her cause). Her mother said that her daughter has always been "a little kooky" and she and her father have let her express herself. More telling, though, is that Victoria's motivation for ditching her shoes wasn't just for the children; she also emphatically declared, "I love being barefoot." Essentially, Victoria was also looking for a reasonable excuse to run around barefoot all the time... which she already does.
Victoria: I myself have never been very fond of shoes; I'd go days at school barefoot; go to stores and just anywhere with my bare feet.
- Shel Silverstein appears barefoot in several photographs, including the one on the back of Where the Sidewalk Ends, which seems in line with the eccentric tone of his writings.