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Censor Shadow

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Thanks to that conveniently cast shadow, there's no possible way to tell what's in Jotaro's mouth. Is it a lollipop? A straw?

"I told her she would remain a beautiful silhouette against the warm light coming in through the curtains."
David Lynch on how he convinced Laura Harring to do the nude scene in Mulholland Dr.

A character (male or female) is full-on naked, but the artist doesn't want to reveal all. Yet an outright Censor Box will be just horrible (unless this was a comedy). This is a dilemma. What to do? Eureka! Just add some crafty shading and voila! A convenient shadow! Now we can keep those private parts, well, private.

The shadow can be worked to fit in the scene naturally, or just inexplicably be there on a bright sunny day.

Not only used for nudity, it's often used as a result of Executive Meddling last-minute censorship of something gory, causing a random dark slash covering half the screen and the Gorn behind it. Almost like a Gory Discretion Shot, only a bit sloppy.

See also Censor Steam, Godiva Hair, Sexy Silhouette, and Scenery Censor.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In the Comic Book version of Anita Blake, a wererat's genitals are covered this way.
  • In Elektra Vol. 2 #3, Elektra's nudity was covered in shadow and obscured by panel borders. A reprint issue further added lingerie to her body.
  • In a Story Arc in the Anthology Comic Marvel Comics Presents showing the origin of Wolverine (running away from Project X), he's nude the entire time, but for shadows. The one time the artist couldn't justify any shadows, he was suddenly in a pair of tighty-whitey briefs.
  • ElfQuest: In "Siege at Blue Mountain Part 1" Leetah and Nightfall dance in the moonlight. In the first panel, a shadow covers Nightfall's genitalia.
    • In "Hidden Years Part 1", we get a full-frontal shot of Strongbow, with a shadow obscuring the (in)appropriate bits.
  • For a female example, in X-Men Versus the Fantastic Four, Susan Storm momentarily becomes extremely fed up with her husband, Reed, because Reed is balking at using a machine to cure Kitty of permanent phasing. (It's complicated.) When in private, Sue uses her forcefield to blast off her entire uniform and most of her body is conveniently in shadow, but not so much you can't tell she's nude.
  • In an early issue of The Incredible Hulk, Betty Ross is transformed into the Harpy sans culottes, with her breasts and genitals hidden by shadows.
  • The Mercy Thompson: Homecoming comic uses anything — even shadows — to cover up Mercy's breasts and genitals.
  • This happens quite frequently in Hellboy with Hecate, the Baba Yaga, and the occasional demon. Partially justified thanks to Mignola's black-on-white Chiaroscuro art style. Sometimes Mignola chooses to show nipples, so it must be a stylistic choice.
  • Frequently happens to Wolverine when he ends up naked, especially in Weapon X flashbacks.
  • Used in The Smurfs comic book story "The Smurf Threat", depicting the Smurfs who gave up their...uh, pants to create a Bedsheet Ladder for Papa Smurf, Jokey, and Hefty to escape the Grey Smurfs prison camp.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) comics, there's just a black shroud under Amy Rose's dress, instead of the underwear shown in the games.
  • Averted like the dickens in the first issue of Batman: Damned, which had Batman nude in the Batcave in very deep shadows that did nothing to conceal the outline of his penis. The result: a very severe controversy and the first run of this issue being subsequently recalled by DC so it could be replaced with a second run that didn't had this detail.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In her Origins Episode, Jane Dodge has her clothing destroyed in a plane crash. She is left butt-naked with her modesty preserved only by shadows and strategically-placed vegetation until she fashions a Fur Bikini from the hide of the giraffe killed by her crashing plane.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Little Mermaid (1989) briefly does this to Ariel ,when she's in the shadows before she leaves Ursula's lair. However,you can see her butt in a few frames.
  • Mulan has Yao, Ling and Chien-Po undressing with their bodies reduced to shadows, and the three are also like that when forced to share a rock (Mushu biting Ling's butt made them think there were snakes in the lake).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in Gone with the Wind to depict a woman in labor, as back in the days of The Hays Code, showing pregnancy and a woman going into labor was considered too risqué.
  • When Rita unrobes in the bedroom in Mulholland Dr., we see little more than just her silhouette against the light coming in through the window behind her.note 
  • Lifeforce presents a remarkably inconsistent use of this trope. The main antagonist of the movie, an otherworldly female vampire only known as Space Girl, is played by an incredibly hot Mathilda May and remains totally naked like 90% of her screen time. Shadows are used to censor some of the nudity, like when she's going up some stairs after escaping the autopsy room. Yet the rest of the movie doesn't bother and she's shown with her assets in full display. More jarring as this happens in the same sequence.
  • WatchMen: Dr. Manhattan's genitals are often obscured by a nimbus of light. Not always, though.

  • The Song Of Hiawatha has an unusual example in print and in-universe: When Minnehaha blesses the cornfields by running naked around them at night, the darkness literally wraps around her so that no one watching will be able to boast about seeing her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command": Picard would show his butt, and have five lights FOUR LIGHTS cast shadows, preventing anything from being seen.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Several instances in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc place the camera in the position to look up Kirigiri's skirt, with this trope coming into play (such as climbing a ladder or squatting down to look for clues). In the Updated Re-release that includes a What-If side-story called School Mode, this gets lampshaded by the game with each character's School Mode ending including a pair of their underwear as a prize: apparently hers are so dark that it's virtually impossible to see anything anyway. The same applies to Celestia Ludenberg's dress during her execution.
  • ClockUp's Fraternite and Maggot Baits use this for Gory Discretion Shots, if you disable the Gorn CG variants.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Linkara laughed at such shadow in "Hardcore Station #1" for being so small that one could conclude that "Space Stalin has a tiny penis."

    Western Animation 
  • The beginning episode of the 3rd season's plot in Jackie Chan Adventures includes the Enforcers going through a Transformation Sequence into Dark Chi Warriors. The last part of it has Ratso being stripped out of all of his clothes, but his modesty is preserved by some covering shadows.
  • Steven Universe: In "Sadie Killer", Sadie biting into a jelly donut is made to look like something from a horror movie by showing her heavily shadowed figure chomping shark teeth into a mass of red goo.
  • In The Legend of Vox Machina, when Scanlan sneaks into Vedmire's house to create a distraction, the window he picks turns out to be the privy toilet... and Vedmire is there taking a poop. Vedmire's penis is censored by Scanlan himself being in-between the camera, the camera then cuts to behind Vedmire after he stands up and one of his falling poops is not fully blocked from view but is obscured by a censored shadow.


Video Example(s):


Another - Boat death scene

Nakao is afflicted with this in Episode 8 when he goes way too far into the ocean to retrieve a beach ball.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TooDumbToLive

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