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"Now ostensibly, cosplay means people who dress up as their favorite characters from film and television and especially anime, but it is so much more than that. These aren't just people who find a costume and put it on — They bend them to their will. We are, all of us, injecting ourselves into a narrative that meant something to us. And we're making it our own. We're connecting with something important inside of us. And the costumes are how we reveal ourselves to each other."

Cosplay is a Portmanteau of the words "costume play". It refers to the fan hobby of making costumes of a concept or person and wearing them at fan gatherings, though is commonly associated with fictional characters from mediums such as anime, TV, movies, comics, video games, etc. At anime conventions, cosplay is one of the most popular events, and to some people, it is Serious Business. Don't even think about trying to get them to wear the Official Cosplay Gear. They will often wear a Sexy Whatever Outfit though.

If it's a character getting cosplayers in the same universe, the actual character might get told Your Costume Needs Work. This can even happen to celebrities in Real Life.

See also Cosplay Fan Art, Cosplay Otaku Girl (characters in works being cosplayers), Whole Costume Reference, LARP, Fan Convention and certain members of the Furry Fandom cosplay.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In episode 16 of Bodacious Space Pirates, pirate captain Marika has members of the Girl's Yacht Club help out on her ship, the Bentenmaru, while the regular crew is stuck in quarantine due to a virus they got in an earlier episode. When they raid a ship, the girls all show up in various cosplay costumes. Marika chuckles nervously throughout the entire "raid", but the guests on the ship don't seem to mind the costumes overall.
  • The female protagonist in the manga, He~nshin!! - Sonata Birdie Rush, is forced by contract to wear cosplay outfits as a promotional gimmick while she's competing in golf tournaments.
  • Cosplay Complex is all about this.
  • Lucky Star shows this at both Comiket and the Cosplay Café where Konata works part-time. How many can you recognize? Ed and Roy cosplayers also show up at one point.
  • Miyashita Masashi from Me & My Brothers occasionally cosplays as high school girls, and is in general a Wholesome Crossdresser. As a romance novelist, he does this in order to be more one with the female mind and thus use this as an incentive to write better stories.
  • In Genshiken this is Ohno's hobby, while Tanaka's is costume designer for Cosplay. She often wears his creations for the club and to conventions. In Genshiken 2 they finally officially start dating, thus creating the dream Otaku couple.
  • In Genesis of Aquarion there is an episode called "Cosplay for the Soul" where Fudou has all the Element Users dress and act as each other to great (and hilarious) effect.
  • Persona 4: The Animation has Nanako doing a cosplay so convincing that she fools some kids into thinking she's the real Loveline (an in-universe, fictional, magical girl detective).
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, the School Festival arc includes a cosplay contest, and Chisame is a Cosplay Otaku Girl.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX had a school festival episode where everybody dressed as a Duel Monster. Judai was unable to decide which costume to wear and wore a hodgepodge of costumes (one monster's hat, another monster's gloves, boots, etc). Everyone made fun of him for it. The real Dark Magician Girl showed up, but almost everybody assumed she was just a hot stranger in costume.
  • During the school festival episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, there was a period where everyone was in costume (of a Duel Monster, of course). For example, Shingetsu was dressed as Dandylion.
  • In Maid-Sama!, Misaki works for a cosplay cafe that specializes in maid costumes. They also often hold events where they cosplay as other characters or concepts, including an in universe magical girl anime, power rangers, and a girls only butler day.
  • Various Hentai are based on this and Cosplay Café. A subverted case is Bible Black hentai series, which High School female uniforms (as well girls from the series) are being cosplayed by a lot of girls in real life but without the H-factor (with some exceptions in private photosessions.)
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid has Tohru often called a cosplayer, as she usually wears her maid outfit while leaving her horns visible. Later, Kobayashi and Tohru help Makoto out at Comiket 90. They find many cosplayers there. As well as many creatures from Tohru's world in their normal forms.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • In the lead up to the French school visit, Fujiwara has everyone in the student council try on some cosplay gear due to France being the second biggest cosplaying nation in the world behind Japan. She says that it will help them overcome the language barrier (ignoring the fact that both she and Kaguya are revealed during the party to be fluent in French).
    • Kaguya's class does a cosplay cafe for the culture festival, and several of her classmates dress up as recognizable characters from other works (including IA, who was designed by the series' author). Hayasaka just wears her maid uniform.
  • Chapter 18 of the Monster Musume features Papi and Suu acting together as Utsuho Reiuji from Touhou Project. Other Touhou cosplays included in the same page include Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame, Hong Meiling, and Byakuren Hijiri with Kasen Ibaraki's hair.
  • Ah... and Mm... Are All She Says:
    • An unusual version; in chapter 3, Toda dresses up as her own work's heroine on her and Tanaka's "date" to an amusement park, so she can take reference photos. It's not immediately recognizable as cosplay (being normal high school girl clothes), except to Tanaka, who's read Toda's work already.
    • Later on, Oshigiri makes Toda and Tanaka costumes of Luckysis characters to promote their doujinshi at Comike.
  • My Dress-Up Darling centers around the world of cosplay. Marin Kitagawa, the female protagonist, is a young model who dreams of doing cosplay, and ends up asking male lead Wakana Gojo for his help to make her costumes.

    Comic Books 
  • Transmetropolitan: Spider Jerusalem at one point raids a religious convention while cosplaying as Jesus.
  • Superman: Clark Kent and Lois Lane once attend a costume party dressed as Batman and Robin respectively. Clark is in mortal fear that Bruce would find out.
    Clark: If he finds out about this, he'll kill me.
    Lois: Oh don't be silly. He can't kill you, you're Superman.
    Clark: Oh he can kill me! If anyone can kill me, he can! And the man has absolutely no sense of humor!
  • In one Angel: After The Fall arc ("Boys and Their Toys"), Angel and Spike go to a Fan Convention, Sci-Fi Fest San Diego, where people start turning into the characters they're cosplaying as. Funny that, since later on when people want him dead Faith suggests he claim someone was cosplaying as him.
  • This was, in a sense, the origin of the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl. As a Batman fan she made up the costume for a ball. She wanted to win, so she also made up all the gadgets and weapons. Then she witnessed a villain committing a crime on her way to the ball, so she ended up fighting as a superhero for real, and liked it so much that she decided to pursue it seriously.
  • In the 1970s, Marvel Comics and DC Comics would engage in stealth crossovers by having contemporaneous stories taking place in Rutland Vermont, home of an annual superhero-themed Halloween parade, where parade-goers in the background would be seen dressed in costumes of characters from the other company. In one issue of Justice League of America, this is taken a step further by having costumed dummies in the parade animated and powered up by the villain of the story, so that there are scenes of Batman fighting a faux Spider-Man and the like.
  • The "Five Bloody Fingers" arc of Crossed takes place in Japan and chronicles the efforts of a young Japanese man trying to contact his friends during the onset of the outbreak. The two females of the group were in a Comiket-esque convention and once the group reunites, they end up fighting a seemingly endless horde of crossed cosplayers.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Cosplaying as the Judges for any reason is illegal because the uniform is restricted property — the Justice Department is more than aware of perps impersonating police officers for nefarious reasons.
    • Cosplaying as any of the Dark Judges is legal, but not advised. Judge Death's soul is so evil that anyone wearing a facsimile of his uniform tends to become Ax-Crazy and start randomly killing citizens. Another citizen thought it was a good idea to prank old ladies after the real deal has just escaped from prison. Judge Dredd shoots him by mistake and tells him it's his own fault.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): At one point Cassie's Black and Nerdy best friend George is seen wearing a Japanese School Uniform (George attends a school with no uniform in California), which includes a long skirt and is by far the most feminine outfit she's ever seen in as she usually prefers a more androgynous look.

    Fan Works 
  • In Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità, Italy and Japan cosplayed as Light Yagami and Teru Mikami respectively from Death Note for much of the story. And towards the end of the fanfic, after Germany, Italy, and Japan all got married to each other—thank goodness the story takes place in an alternate reality—Italy cosplayed as Sailor Moon. Let's just say Germany and Japan almost died.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, SOS Brigade and some guests (Nonoko, Kuyou, Sasaki, and Kyouko) make a Big Damn Cosplay parade of Touhou Project characters.
  • In The Key to a Successful Interview, Girl Ranma dresses up in a Plugsuit, supposedly for plot reasons.
  • Sassgardian in Superhero RPF is an avid cosplayer, which in his case means he is Loki and steals other supers' costumes for shits and giggles.
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld and The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, visiting Discworlders Ponder Stibbons and Johanna Smith-Rhodes are roped into a cosplay night at Stuart's Comic Book Store. Ponder Stibbons is prevailed upon to attend as Harry Potter. He is a sensation. note 
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Alex's new friend, Willow Rosenberg, is a cosplayer, so she gets Alex to come with her to Comic-Con, where Alex cosplays as Kitty Pryde, while Willow goes as Jean Grey. Alex is amazed by how many Terawatt cosplayers there are.
  • The WWE story The Return-Remixed, has a scene where A.J. Lee came out dressed as DEAR's leader, Trish Stratus.
  • In Ships Ahoy!, Oprah and O'Donahue go to see The Empire Strikes Back on the night of its release, and respectively dress up as Princess Leia and Han Solo for the occasion.
    • Part Three also has Octavia and Oren going to see Knights of the Bouillabaisse with the former dressed up as Persephone and the latter dressed up as Henry Skreever himself.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Weathering With You, one of the clients Hina helps is a group of cosplayers dressed as the heroines of Futari wa Pretty Cure.
  • In Yellow Submarine, the Beatles dress up as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to rescue the real band, who had been captured in a big blue glass ball by the Blue Meanies.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • American Pie Presents: Beta House: Edgar, the leader of the Geek House, is shown roleplaying and having sex with a girl dressed as an alien villainess from a fictional sci-fi show.
  • Rat Race: Owen finds himself having to use a bus full of I Love Lucy cosplayers to go to Silver City, New Mexico, in order to reach the $2 million dollar bag first.
  • The Resurrection of Broncho Billy: A 1970 short film about a lonely young man who retreats from his social awkwardness and dull existence by pretending he's in a Western. He dresses up in cowboy gear as he goes about his day in downtown LA, imagining cars in traffic to be a herd of cattle or a random passerby on the street to be his opponent in a showdown at high noon.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In one Freaks and Geeks episode, three of the guys dress up for a science fiction convention.
  • In season five of Supernatural Sam and Dean meet people cosplaying as them. There's a series of novels In-Universe called Supernatural that is written by a prophet who writes the books based on what he sees in his visions. They're understandably creeped out by it. And that's before they find out that the Sam and Dean cosplayers they interacted with throughout the episode are a couple.
  • One person who desired too much to be like El Chapulín Colorado dressed like him.
  • The guys on The Big Bang Theory like to dress up as superheroes.
    • In one episode they all dress like The Flash for Penny's Halloween episode.
    • They go as the Justice League team for the comic book store's New Year's Eve costume party, with Penny as Wonder Woman and Penny's then-boyfriend Zack as Superman.
      • They win the costume contest because of the three JL teams, theirs was the only one to have a female Wonder Woman.
    • The episode "The Barkersfield expedition" opens with Sheldon steaming his Data cosplay and Leonard having to borrow make up from his girlfriend for his. The A plot of the episode actually revolves around the guys getting stranded in the desert after pulling over on the way to ComicCon to do a full cosplay photo shoot. Leonard was dressed as Captain Picard, Raj as Worf and Howard as a Borg. They looked awesome.
    • In one episode, the girls decide to go to Disney land and they buy Disney Princess line-up with costume, make-up, hairdo... The only problem was that they all wanted to be Cinderella. Bernadette claimed it was her idea and that she was a driver, so she won. Penny was Aurora and Amy Snow White. Howard and Leonard really fancied their girlfriends in their outfits.
  • In the Charmed episode "All Halliwell's Eve" Phoebe cosplayed as Elvira and Piper cosplayed as Glinda. They didn't get to keep the costumes for long however as they were sent back in time to 18th century Virginia.
  • Castle: Castle, his daughter Alexis and Beckett have histories as cosplayers. Castle has dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, Space Cowboy and a Steampunk soldier on the show. Alexis dressed as a scantily-clad alien assassin at a sci-fi convention (much to Castle's chagrin). Beckett once dressed as a character from a short-lived Star Trek knock-off called "Nebula 9" and also dressed in that costume again for Castle (adding a rubber fright mask to freak him out). Also during their teens, both Castle and Beckett dressed as Gene Simmons for Halloween.
  • Syfy's Reality Show Heroes of Cosplay obviously.
  • Only Fools and Horses: As well as the famous "Batman and Robin" scene in "Heroes and Villains, outside the show there are a number of people who have acquired Robin Reliants and cosplayed Del Boy.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Dexter: Rita Bennett dresses up as Lara Croft as a Valentine's day gift for her boyfriend (later husband) Dexter, though he has a bit of trouble placing it at first.
  • Truth Seekers: Helen John is a dedicated (and talented) cosplayer, though her psychological issues tend to get in the way of her hobby. In fact, at one point, Gus wears her Dalek costume to allow her to win a cosplay contest by proxy.

  • Lindsey Stirling has done arrangements of themes from The Legend of Zelda and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the videos for them include her dressing as a variety of characters. She makes her own costumes.
  • Joan Jett's video for "I Love You Love Me Love" has her dressed as various nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters.
  • Pianist Sonya Belousova has done a series of YouTube videos called Cosplay: Piano where she plays popular movie and TV themes while dressed as a character from the franchise.
  • Cosplay, a parody of "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.
  • Japanese Visual Kei band Psycho le Cému uses cosplay as their main motif, having Shout-Outs for anime, video games, Super Sentai and fairy tales (from East and West) in their videoclips. Famous especially in US, where they were invited to various anime conventions between 2003 and 2004, and which most of PLC cosplayers around the world until today are from US.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Leery of the idea of having children dress up as monsters, ghoulish or hellish figures, Catholic parishes in the Philippines and elsewhere came up with the "March of Saints"—events similar to trick-or-treating but are more in line with Christian sensibilities, with participants instead dressing up as their favourite saints or Biblical figures as the name implies.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Ninja Burger card game, there's a mission called "Anime Convention" which requires you to deliver an order to that event without it becoming known that you're a real ninja rather than a cosplayer. In the card's drawing, there are a Ninja Turtle and an Elektra, by the way.

    Video Games 
  • Litchi Faye-Ling of BlazBlue has a cosplay fetish that comes out when she's had too much sake, and whatever cute girl in arm's reach is usually subjected to it. So far, Bullet, Noel and Tsubaki were victimized - Noel was coerced with playtime with Lao Jiu, while Tsubaki was a bit more cooperative... but just a bit. Bullet, however, was dragged into Litchi's clinic/cosplay parlor by Tsubaki herself. According to Arcade commentary, however, Makoto could be next...
    • Litchi herself is a pretty popular subject to be cosplayed as in real life.
  • Possible with the Mii Fighters in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Previously, it was limited to just headgear, but DLC has started including entire outfits as well. Even already-represented characters like Link are available.
  • Pokémon has several examples:
    • Cosplay-Pikachu is a special female variant of Pikachu in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Depending on her costume, she gets special moves that no other Pikachu could learn. Her Pikachu Libre form is also featured in Pokkén Tournament, where she counts as her own fighter apart from the regular male Pikachu.
    • Several NPC-trainers in the game wear Pokémon-Cosplays, such as the Poké Kid (as Pikachu) or the Pokémaniac (as Charizard). In some games, Pokéfans are accompanied by their Children in Pikachu or Pichu costumes. Some important trainers in both the games and the anime wear costumes reminiscent of their signature Pokémon.
      • Pokémon Battle Revolution has quite a few such costumes available for the player to wear, and all of the regular Colosseum Leaders wear a particular one.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 does collaboration with various outside sources on a regular basis, which means loads of outfits from popular anime, manga, and even other video games. This is one of the few games where your party makeup can consist of Ragna the Bloodedge, a Sinner, a member of Fairy Tail, and a time-altering magical girl, among other things.
  • Dead or Alive series have various unlocked/DLC costumes for characters, mostly the girls. In Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, you can buy costumes from diverse anime (like Attack on Titan) and video games (not just the ones from Tecmo.)
  • In M.U.G.E.N, all characters can get palettes that resemble other characters not just made by their creators, users also can make palettes that "cosplay" some characters from every reference you can get with characters' colors.
  • Super Gem Fighter has their Super-Deformed Capcom characters (mostly from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers) changing costumes during the combos they made to the opponent, various of them representing other Capcom characters. The most notable examples are Chun-li cosplaying Jill Valentine and Felicia converting into Mega Man.
  • The Maid of Fairewell Heights: Marshmallow changes into a new costume for every room she enters to clean. Although, she changes voluntarily in the first two rooms, she is changed by others in the later rooms. Some examples are the Maid costume for cleaning, the Great Detective costume for investigating, and a Cowgirl costume for a Western setting.
  • Groove on Fight, the Distant Finale game of Power Instinct series, has Popura Hananokoji, daughter of Clara and also a Magical Girl like her mother, but different from her, her outfits changes with every attack and special move she performs in the game, as well having different winposes where she changes her costumes.
  • Kirby usually receives a hat when he swallows an enemy that gives him an ability. Some hats, such as the ones for the Sword and Yo-yo abilities, even resemble other Nintendo characters (Such as Link's hat and Ness's cap, respectively). This goes further in Super Smash Bros. series, in which he can wear a hat based on the fighter he copies, such as Mario's cap, Samus' helmet, and even a furry outfit based on Donkey Kong.
  • Randal's Monday: There's a comic convention in town, so Randal runs into a lot of cosplayers. In particular, there's a Jay and Silent Bob pair running around you have to rap battle. Charlie also dresses up as Wolverine.
  • Feng Min of Dead by Daylight is an established Gamer Chick, so some of her paid cosmetics put her in costumes based on video game franchises which crossed over with DBD. Specifically, she can dress in Cheryl Mason's Princess Heart costume and Jill Valentine's S.T.A.R.S. uniform.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Hifumi's main claim to fame is as a doujin artist, but he's also able to make some pretty decent costumes. This becomes important in pinning him as an accomplice to murder, given that no one else would've thought of making a full-body robot suit to disguise the target of their Frame-Up.
    • Tsumugi Shirogane from V3 is the Ultimate Cosplayer, able to perfectly cosplay any fictional character (she's allergic to cosplaying real people) in the blink of an eye, though she claims that she'd prefer to just make the outfits and have others use them, but she doesn't trust most cosplay models to truly be in it for the love of the franchises they're cosplaying.
  • Lauren from Double Homework has a work shift at a cosplay convention, and she invites the protagonist and Henry along, as well as to a “private party” in her hotel room.
  • The protagonist of Melody dresses up as Elvis Presley for a music-themed party.


    Web Videos 
  • Many an ASMR video features the creator in some form of cosplay, either as an established character, a character of their own creation, or simply in period dress.
  • Athena P is known for her absurd makeup looks, so the obvious next step is cosplay. Typically on Halloween, she has cosplayed a lot, a notable example being Chuck from Wordgirl
  • Karolina Żebrowska creates a historically accurate cut dress in the colors of Disney's Snow White in "What Would Snow White *Actually* Wear?".

    Western Animation 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Stranger than Fan Fiction," Rainbow Dash goes to a Daring Do convention dressed as the titular character of her favorite book, meeting another fan named Quibble Pants while she's there, where they argue about Fanon Discontinuity. Daring Do herself also shows up at the convention, intending to hide among all the Daring Do cosplayers.
  • The Closing Credits Sequence of Daria features the characters in various alternate costumes. Most of the time, the costumes are generic an inspecific, like a cheerleader or a business woman, but occasionally they make specific references like Brittany dressed as Edward Scissorhands.
  • When the cast of Futurama goes to Comic Con 3010, they take part in the costume contest, with some of the contestants dressed as characters from the very show they're on. Lrr tries to invade Earth during the contest, but is dismissed as just another guy in a costume. The winner, by the way, is Bender, who dresses as "every nerd's fantasy", Leela.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Nerds of a Feather", the boys go to a convention where almost everyone is dressed up as characters from either "Space Adventure" or "Stumbleberry Finkbat". And Candace goes dressed as Ducky Momo.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, when the Gaang sees the "The Ember Island Players", Zuko gets told his costume needs work, and that his scar is on the wrong side. (The in-universe fictional version of him has a scar on the opposite side, a reference to some Season 1 promotional material that got the scar wrong)
  • In The Legend of Korra in the final match of the pro-bending season you can see two groups of cosplayers in the stands; one dressed as the Wolf-Bats, one dressed as our heroes, the Fire Ferrets.
  • On Mike, Lu & Og, Mike will sometimes dress as her favorite superhero Action Guy. Heck, one time she lipsynched an audio tape in the costume.
  • When The Simpsons go to BiMonSciFiCon Bart learns that you get $3 off admission if you're dressed as a superhero, so he cobbles together a costume.
    Cashier: Who are you supposed to be?
    Bart: [gravelly voice] I'm Bartman.
    Cashier: Never heard of him. Full price.
  • The Venture Brothers: When The Monarch goes on a double date, in his Monarch outfit, his date asks if he's into cosplay - he angrily corrects her that it's 'cos-business'.
  • In one episode of Family Guy, Peter and his friends dress up as the A-Team for some sort of convention. They win the costume contest (beating out another group dressed as the A-Team without an actual black guy to play Mr. T) and decide to become a real life A-Team.
  • In some episodes of Kaeloo, most notably the episode "Let's Play Superpowers", Stumpy cosplays as his idol, comic book hero Mr. Coolskin.
  • Occasionally, Sydney from Ready Jet Go! dresses up as Commander Cressida. She wears the outfit for the entirety of "Commander Mom".


Video Example(s):


Psych UK

Shawn and Gus turn the clock back to explain how they ended up at gunpoint in a mansion across the pond.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HowWeGotHere

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