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Conspicuous Gloves

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Are they for cleaning?
"In the first place," she said, "a REAL WITCH is certain always to be wearing gloves when you meet her. [...] She has to. Do you want to know why?"
"Why?" I said.
"Because she doesn't have finger-nails. Instead of finger-nails, she has thin, curvy claws, like a cat, and she wears the gloves to hide them."
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Gloves are a curious accessory. For participants in some occupations (medicine, construction, gardening) and sports (boxing, riding), gloves are essential or at least recommended. They're also commonly worn in cold climates or seasons, and in some historical periods, social customs require people to wear gloves. Most of the time, however, the wearing of gloves is unusual, and it's even more unusual for a person to wear only one glove.

When this trope is operating, a character is depicted wearing a pair of gloves (or a single glove) without the excuses of occupational demands, low temperatures, or social custom. If the glove is worn only on one hand, it is always the same hand. Wearing the gloves will set the character apart from others in the work, and there's generally a plot-relevant reason for their presence. Most often, the gloves serve to conceal something about the wearer, though occasionally they're worn for protection and/or style. The gloves might be worn to conceal a Red Right Hand, hide an injury, cover a prosthesis, disguise a social stigma, commit crimes without leaving fingerprints or simply to indulge personal preference. A common use in crime dramas is to use gloves to conceal the race and/or gender of the villain while showing the crime being committed.

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May be put in focus with a Menacing Hand Shot.

Similar to Sunglasses at Night, wearing a glove or gloves at all times is both cool and conspicuous. It may overlap with Tricked-Out Gloves or High-Class Gloves. Compare the White Gloves that animated characters wear to accent their hands.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Darker Than Black, Kirihara's superior always wears gloves. Turns out he has prosthetic hands.
  • Hell Teacher Nube always covered his left hand with a black glove. It's to hide the hideous deformation of the hand, because an Oni is sealed within it.
  • Mentioned twice in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders in relation to a certain antagonist:
    • After Polnareff is saved from the flesh bud in his head, he asks Joseph about whether or not he has two right hands. Joseph reveals that he just has a prosthetic hand from his adventures. He also reveals the antagonist he's looking for here.
    • When the team enter a hotel, they find the manager as a little old lady who bandaged her left hand because of a burn. It's really a cover-up and the covered hand is also a right hand, revealing her as Enya, the mother of J. Geil, the man Polnareff was looking for and killed before this incident.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, Sankt Kaiser Olivie Sagebrecht was always shown wearing a pair of arm-length gauntlets, even when she's posing for a portrait while wearing a pretty dress. Later chapters finally showed her without the gauntlets, revealing that they didn't cover anything. As in, she had no arms to cover. The gauntlets were actually prosthetic arms she manipulated through self-applied body control magic as a replacement for the ones she lost in her early childhood.
  • Naruto: In a variation, Danzo covers his whole right arm in a metal contraption, which is covered further by having his arm tucked into his kimono. It hides a multitude of transplanted Sharingan on said arm, alongside the fact that he injected The First Hokage's DNA into said arm, making it look hideous (with Hashirama's face seemingly grafted on his shoulder).
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gendo always wears gloves, and they cover burns he receives in an early episode rescuing Rei. He later has an embryo Eldritch Abomination implanted in one of his hands, which make the gloves even more necessary.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Saitou is always wearing a pair of white gloves and is seldom seen without them; even his appearance in the intro features him putting them on. Notably one of the few times he doesn't was when he was posing as a medicine man and Sano managed to decipher that he was a fraud because of the calluses on his hands resembling those of sword holders.
  • Shirotani from Ten Count constantly wears a pair of white gloves and usually pairs them with suits so that they won't stand out. This is due to his mysophobia.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Kureo Mado wore gloves at all times, which led Touka to believe that his hatred of Ghouls was to the extent that he couldn't even stand to touch them. This leads her to rip them off of Mado's corpse in disgust... to reveal badly scarred hands and a wedding ring.
    • In the sequel, after regaining his memories, Kaneki/Sasaki wears red gloves to hide the fact that his right arm regrew covered in red scales.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics' Heroic Fantasy hero Claw the Unconquered had a literal demonic hand, hidden under a red glove to reduce its evil influence on him.
  • Every professional gunman in Lucky Luke wears gloves when they are about to shoot someone. A few saloon patrons know it's better to run when Phil Deffer is putting on his white gloves.
  • Robin (1993): Villain Lynx is never seen without her red gloves. As a criminal, the things keep her from leaving fingerprints all over crime scenes but their bright color makes it clear she's got no intention of hiding her gang ties.
  • Touch (2004): Cooper can never take his gloves off due to his hands glowing whenever he still has the power or passing it on to anyone he touches bare-handed.
  • Several X-Men characters wear gloves associated with their powers.
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    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • Wybie (and the Other Wybie) in the film adaptation of Coraline. In Real Wybie's case, it may be down to the fact he's seen riding a bike most of the time. That and there's a poison oak bush near the Pink Palace. Later in the film, Other Wybie removes his glove to show Coraline he's just sawdust.
  • Frozen (2013): Multiple:
    • Elsa wears gloves in an attempt to control her out-of-control, emotion-driven ice powers.
    • Prince Hans also wears gloves for the entire film, except when he is revealed to be Evil All Along. While explaining his plot to Anna, he removes one glove, indicating he is revealing his true self.
  • In The Lorax, the Once-ler puts on green gloves that go up past his elbows when his Thneed business takes off and apparently wears them for the rest of his life.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Penguin from Batman Returns wears customized black gloves as part of his mayoral attire. However, since he has syndactyly (a condition that causes the digits to fuse together), they don’t really hide anything.
  • The title character of Cobra wears leather gloves for the entire time he's on screen. Even at home. When eating pizza. Particularly weird since he lives in southern California.
  • In Frankenstein Created Woman, Baron Frankenstein wears black gloves at all times, concealing some unspecified damage to his hands. Dr. Hertz says that his are the hands that perform the surgery, but that Frankenstein's are the genius that guides them.
  • In Funny Games, two clean-cut young men wear white gloves, making them look a little like golfers. The wife asks about them because they didn't take them off inside the house, and Paul claims he has eczema. They wear them to hide their fingerprints.
  • Invisible Man films:
    • The Invisible Man (1933) (starring Claude Rains) is set in winter, so gloves don't really look that odd until he goes indoors and doesn't take them off, or later on when he's also wearing pajamas and a robe.
    • The Invisible Man Returns (1940) with Vincent Price is set in warmer weather, so it looks a bit stranger for him to wear them in most instances.
    • The title character of The Invisible Woman (also released in 1940) can get by with it more considering the social customs of the period included women wearing gloves (and hats, for that matter), so it doesn't stand out so much.
  • Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth wears gloves during the entire movie (though he switches from black leather to white cloth during the ballroom sequence) This was used to hide the fact that master contact juggler Michael Moschen was working as hand double for David Bowie performing the memorable glass ball tricks seen several times in the movie.
  • The vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive wear gloves when they are outside of their homes. According to director Jim Jarmusch, it was the film's "arbitrary contribution to vampire lore." Why gloves? "Cause we had something that was ours that we invented. And we thought it looked really cool.”
  • In the Silent Hill movie, police officer Thomas Gucci wears gloves. Eventually, we find out why: he burned his hands rescuing Alessa Gillespie from the fire that would have killed her.
  • In Son of Frankenstein (1939), Inspector Krogh has a prosthetic arm (having lost his right arm when a child, the Monster tearing it off the boy) and he wears a glove on it indoors and out. He does remove the left glove in some indoor scenes There's a bit of black comedy when the actor (Lionel Atwill) sets the position of his right arm with his left hand to "demonstrate" the right arm is prosthetic.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan keeps one glove on at all times, a trait he did not have in his prior appearance.
  • Star Wars
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-800 wears a pair of leather gloves during the movie's final scenes. While the gloves complement the terminator's Badass Biker look, they're also used to cover his arm that he cut and exposed the metal skeleton to prove he was a machine.
  • In Terror in a Texas Town, gunslinger Johnny Crale wears black leather gloves. His employer McNeil comments that he never saw Crale wear gloves before and asks why. Crale claims he has a rash and has to keep his hands covered, but the real reason is that he has lost his right hand and had it replaced with a steel prosthesis and is trying to keep it secret.
  • The protagonist in V for Vendetta wears gloves and a mask at all times because he was tortured and disfigured as a prisoner.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Judge Doom wears black leather gloves all the time, but he puts on a larger rubber glove in his first appearance to Dip some poor Toon. Later it turns out they also hide the fact that he's a toon himself.

    Literature 
  • Monza, the protagonist of Best Served Cold wears a glove at almost all times over one of her hands to hide the fact that it is horribly maimed/disfigured as a result of the attempt to assassinate her during the first chapter. At one point in the novel, she disguises herself as a High-Class Call Girl and is able to benefit from the fact that the "uniform" includes long opera gloves.
  • In "The Tiger's Bride", a Beauty and the Beast retelling in The Bloody Chamber, the Beast wears an Uncanny Valley disguise to hide his appearance, which consists of very stylish (but outdated) clothing that is much too large for a normal person along with a handsome (too handsome) paper-mache mask over this face. The outfit includes enormous kid gloves that hide his paws.
  • Jame in Chronicles of the Kencyrath has retractable claws instead of nails, and always wears slitted gloves. Gloves to hide the claws, and with slits since her claws shredded them.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novels, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM himself wears gloves. Technically they're part of his uniform, but they also serve to hide his prosthetic fingers.
  • In The Curse Workers, as the powers can only have an effect through skin to skin contact, so everyone in this world wears gloves.
  • In Elizabeth Vaughan's Dagger-Star, the character Red Gloves is named after this trait. No one must ever see her bare hands. It's implied that they are supernaturally dangerous in some way. Actually, for reasons related to her traumatic past, exposing her hands is a Berserk Button for her.
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: One of the many things that makes Eleanor appear strange to her co-workers is that she sometimes wears a single glove. Due to her lack of social skills, she's unable to explain to them that there's a perfectly logical reason: she wears it to protect her hand when her dermatitis flares up.
  • Gloves, together with the bandages, are the most conspicuous parts of the title character's disguise in H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man.
  • Judge Dee: a character keeps his gloves on to hide the fact that he badly injured it by touching a freshly-lacquered table after murdering a woman.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Have His Carcase, the fact that the victim was wearing gloves is a clue to his haemophilia, which figures in the plot.
  • In Making Money, Cosmo Lavish wears gloves to hide the ring he wears, both because he believes it to be stolen property and because it's made of stygium, a metal that glows white-hot in sunlight. It's mentioned that with stygium jewellery being popular with Assassins but very expensive, some of them just have the glove.
  • Curley in Of Mice and Men wears a glove full of Vaseline on one hand, supposedly because he's keeping that hand soft for his wife. This has no plot-relevant reason but does make the theatrical adaptation easier to stage when his hand gets crushed.
  • In Rachel Griffin, Vladimir von Dread is always seen wearing a pair of thick, gauntlet-like black gloves...probably for the obvious reason.
  • Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows wears a pair of black gloves constantly. The speculation about what he might be hiding under them plays heavily into his reputation. The actual reason is trauma from handling his brother's dead body has left him incredibly touch averse.
  • Serpine from the first Skulduggery Pleasant book wears one glove, which does in fact cover his Red Right Hand.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • While it would make sense to wear gloves often anyway since he's in the cold North, Jon Snow wears gloves at all times, because in the first novel, he got a burn on one of his hands.
    • The smuggler turned knight Davos also wears gloves at all times, because in the interest of "justice", Stannis rewarded him by knighting him, but also felt it necessary to chop off all of his fingertips on one hand as punishment for his earlier crimes. Davos was accepting of this punishment and is very loyal to Stannis.
    • The exiled knight turned mercenary, Jon Connington, also picks up this habit. This is because he is a Zombie Infectee, and the disease that he caught starts to manifest from the fingers.
  • In Roald Dahl's The Witches one of the marks of a witch is that she always wears gloves, to hide the claws that she has in place of fingernails.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Alphas, the villain wore a glove to conceal his deformed hand, which could upon contact control minds.
  • In addition to their badges, Babylon 5: PsiCorps telepaths wear black gloves to prevent accidental telepathic scans that can occur with unguarded skin contact, effectively isolating themselves from those around them.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine, "Maximum Security": The squad are looking for a man with a scar on his palm. He's someone from the FBI who hired Adrian Pimento's would-be murderer. Captain Holt has a lead because one guy at the funeral is wearing gloves. It turns out he wears gloves because he's a pickpocket. The bereft are easy targets, but it was a mistake to go to a (fake) funeral thrown for a cop.
  • Dexter: Serial-Killer Killer Dexter sometimes uses rubber gloves when he searches for evidence in his future victims' places, but at times he uses ordinary gloves. Once somebody sees him coming home with the gloves on and points out that Miami is a little too hot for wearing them.
  • In an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show Rob & Laura are about to go to a formal dinner on behalf of his boss Alan Brady to accept an award from a black group, but they both accidentally dye their hands black. They decide to wear gloves to the event, but Rob 'fesses up during his speech. The audience at the dinner finds it funny rather than offensive.
  • In Downton Abbey, Thomas intentionally gets his hand shot through with a sniper's bullet, earning him a deferment. He returns to the Abbey wearing a black glove to hide the scarring.
  • In the Father Brown episode "The Passing Bell", the brusque Inspector Mallory questions one of the suspects about her gloves and begins to badger her after she is hesitant to remove them. Then, to his horror and sorrow, she reveals that her hands are badly scarred due to her abusive husband deliberately burning her, and explains that she needs to wear gloves to deal with the painful continual shedding of skin.
  • Firefly plays this up with the mysterious "Hands of Blue."
  • Game of Thrones: Davos nearly always wears gloves to conceal his missing fingertips.
  • Get Smart: 99 dates a KAOS agent who always wears gloves except for eating and bathing. CONTROL needs his fingerprints so she invites him over for an intimate late-night supper.
  • In Jason of Star Command, Commander Stone wears blue gloves at all times. This is probably because the character is blue-skinned and it saves the trouble of having to cover the actor's hands with blue makeup since the makeup would smear on props.
  • Merlin: King Uther was never seen without his. Aside from making the character seem more badass, they may also have been an easy way to hide the actor's noticeable shortened finger on one hand.
  • In The Outer Limits (1963) episode "Demon with a Glass Hand" the man with the glass hand wears a glove over it, only removing it to speak to it or add a finger as he finds them.
  • In the pilot version of The Powers of Matthew Star his father figure is a janitor at his school who always wears a glove over his right hand because it's actually a robotic claw. When the show became a series that character was dropped, so we never discover why he's got a robot hand.
  • Lampshaded and Exploited by Gabriel in The Shadow Line when he figures out that Gatehouse is lying about having no criminal intent in visiting his home because he's kept his leather gloves on indoors.
  • In the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural, Sam and Dean are wearing gloves in the museum, signaling they are up to no good.
  • Jasmine in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger wears gloves to control her powers.
    • Conversely, Bridge in Power Rangers S.P.D. wears gloves most of the time, only to take them off to use his powers (the real-world reason is to cover up a tattoo in one of Matt Austin's hands).
  • In the 2006 Granada-WGBH co-production of Agatha Christie's Towards Zero, a character named Thomas Royd (played by Julian Sands) wears a glove on his useless right hand. He's asked about it at a dinner, and he explained that he got caught in a doorway during an earthquake when he was a child.
  • Ultraman Ace has an astronaut named Koyama returning from a mission in space and for reasons unknown, begin wearing gloves all the time upon his return, which raises suspicions - notably from Koyama's son, who saw his father going to bed with those gloves. It turns out Koyama was possessed by a parasitic monster called Brocken and is actively mutating - Koyama's son, curious, managed to sneak upon his father in the middle of the night and peels off a right glove, and is horrified to see an alien eye growing out of his father's hand.

    Roleplay 

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • In Hello Neighbor, the Neighbor wears thick black gloves at all times.
  • Agent 47 from Hitman wears a pair of black leather gloves as part of his signature look presumably to avoid leaving fingerprints, having said that he will go without them when wearing a disguise.
  • In Mitsumete Knight, Raizze Haimer, one of the winnable girls, wears a pair of red gloves at all times (to the point one of the other characters, the young Laury Callwell, affectionately calls Raizze "Tebukuro no Onee-chan", i.e. "Gloved-Big Sis"). There's a reason behind this: She's one of the eight enemy generals of the game acting as The Mole, so she has to wear them in order to hide the bedsores and scars her hands have due to constant sword-training. The red color of the gloves is also a Foreshadowing, as the symbolic color of those generals is red.
  • Most playable characters in PAYDAY 2 always wear blue latex surgical gloves with their two-piece suits regardless of the mission. They're obviously to prevent leaving fingerprints, but it can be somewhat disconcerting when you notice you always wear them, even while covertly casing a robbery target. This coupled with the aversion of Informed Equipment can lead to players who, although geared for stealth, always seem to A) be wearing surgical gloves and B) carrying gear like first aid kits slung over their shoulder. It can start to seem like an Unusually Uninteresting Sight when four men resembling extremely fashion-conscious paramedics in varying degrees of military-grade body armor walk through a bank mumbling about guards and cameras.
    • Characters who don't wear surgical gloves, but still fit the trope are: John Wick, who wears black leather gloves; Jacket, who's wrapped his hands with tape; Bodhi, who wears black fingerless gloves; Sydney, who wears blue fingerless gloves;note  and Rust, who also wears black leather gloves.
  • Joker of Persona 5 has his spiffy red gloves in his Metaverse outfit, and a habit of adjusting them when not doing anything else. Fitting for a Phantom Thief. Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist Goro Akechi, whose outfit reflects his status as Joker's Foil, likewise wears gloves with his suit.
  • Tetsu Tachibana of Yakuza 0 wears a single glove over his prosthetic right hand.
  • Ratchet from Ratchet & Clank is never seen without his gloves save for some skins in game.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Curse of Kudan has two characters that prominently wear gloves: Touko and Sawako. Their reasons for wearing these gloves are revealed in the True End: Touko is hiding a butterfly-shaped birthmark on her right hand, while Sawako is hiding a prosthetic hand that would out her as the killer that Koto is searching for.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc's Kyouko Kirigiri, and her studded gloves. They're later revealed to hide horrific burn scars she received from her time as an amateur (before becoming the Great Detective she is today). She describes them as a constant reminder to never make the mistake of letting personal involvement cloud her judgment on a case.
  • Akira from Spirit Hunter: NG is always shown in a pair of black leather gloves, which don't seem to serve a particular purpose besides making him look cool. At least they don't get in the way when he uses his contact-based psychometry.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: During Volumes 2-3, General Ironwood is never seen out of uniform. The white glove on his right hand would probably look the part if it wasn't for the fact that he wears no glove on his left hand. The glove on his right hand is never removed, not even when he's drinking coffee during indoor meetings with colleagues. The glove hides the fact that his hand is cybernetic. The entire right side of his body has been replaced with cybernetics but it's usually only his hand that would be visible if not for the gloves. From Volume 4, his uniform changes and he wears gloves on both hands.

    Webcomics 
  • Dumbing of Age: Sal is always wearing a pair of gloves, even when in bed. At first it just appears to be part of her brooding, anti-authoritarian nature, it's later implied they're to hide the scar from where Amber stabbed her years ago.
  • In Nightmare Factory, Emai points out Phirre's gloves and uses them to figure out that he has no control over his Game Master's perk of burning whatever living thing he comes into contact, himself included.

    Web Original 
  • Doctor Steel is never seen without black PVC gloves, even when he's not working in the lab. (His gloves are even convertible: stylish to-the-wrist gloves for day-wear, adding a lower arm-length extension when he wears his lab coat.)

    Western Animation 
  • Krumm in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters carries his eyeballs in his hands; his father has an eyeball in one hand and a black glove on the other. As revealed in a later episode, Krumm's father literally lost an eye, and the black glove serves as the equivalent of an eyepatch.
  • In Aladdin: The Series, the Evil Sorceror Mozenrath wears a magical gauntlet that stripped the skin and flesh from his hand as a price. Under the gauntlet, his hand is just bone.
  • Clone High's Principal Scudworth, a Mad Scientist, is never seen without his yellow rubber gloves for some reason.
  • The title character of Dexter's Laboratory always wears his Labcoat of Science and Medicine with purple rubber gloves, even outside of his lab. It's something he has in common with his mother, who always wears yellow dishwashing gloves because she's a germaphobe.
  • Kif in Futurama. In one episode, he ends up accidentally touching Leela when his gloves come off and gets impregnated by her (Kif's species reproduces by touch). Although the wearing of gloves is simply down to part of the uniforms he and Capt. Brannigan wear.
  • Inspector Gadget always wears brown gloves over his tricked-out hands. Presumably it's because pulling the fingertip off of a gloved hand looks less weird than pulling the fingertip off a bare hand (oddly, the live-action movies do this with no problem).
  • Kim Possible villain Shego wears gloves (one green and one black) as part of her costume. Her original character concept made the gloves the source of her Hand Blast power; however when her Origin Story was revealed it depicted her (and her brothers) as having inherent superpowers.
  • The New Adventures of Jonny Quest, Mr. Trudge, the botanist the Quests befriend in the Louisiana bayou, wears black leather gloves despite the climate (when the animators bother to color them in, anyway). It's eventually revealed that an evil plant monster has been using him as its human minion and test subject, and he has creepy plant person hands.
  • The Owl House: Hunter always wears a dark pair of gloves. At first, this doesn't seem noteworthy, as gloves are a standard part of the Emperor's Coven uniform, even if Hunter's is different due to his status as the Golden Guard. But it becomes more conspicuous in later episodes that have him wear outfits where gloves aren't the standard (wearing the Hexside uniform in "Any Sport in a Storm" while undercover, and when he ditches his Emperor's Coven outfit after the events of "Hollow Mind"). It is still unknown at this point why he always wears them.
  • Pac-Man and his family wear gloves without explanation, as does Mezmaron.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: While Eclipsa and Moon's gloves don't look out of place in their outfits due to them both being Queens, the main reason they wear them is to hide the purple stains left on their hands from using too much dark magic. Moon stops wearing hers after the stains wash off in the Realm of Magic (though there were two instances before this happened where she was seen with no gloves on and her hands looked fine), and the same thing happens to Eclipsa in the series finale.
  • Darcy of Winx Club wears at least one glove in most of her outfits, reinforcing her role as the Manipulative Bitch of the Trix.

    Real Life 
  • Harold Lloyd lost a finger in an on-set accident early in his career and had to wear a prosthetic glove for the rest of it.

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