Follow TV Tropes


Expressive Shirt

Go To

A character is wearing a piece of clothing, often a T-Shirt, which will have some phrase or logo on it that will alter for no explainable reason, so as to fit the mood or feeling of the person wearing. Presumably since these thoughts and emotions are so close to their heart that they rub off on a nearby surface.

Sometimes, the character's mood will spread to another close-by accessory or element.

A Sub-Trope of Expressive Accessory. Related to Talking with Signs. Compare Fun T-Shirt.


    open/close all folders 

  • Tide's ad for Super Bowl LV revolves around a teenage boy's "Jason Alexander Hoodie", which reacts with horror and/or disgust to the various indignities that it gets involved in (such as getting drooled on by a dog, getting a faceful of garbage as the teen takes out the trash, being used as home plate during a baseball game, etc.). It starts smiling again once the teen (finally) decides to put it through the laundry.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Takuto from Full Moon has gloves that have a happy face in silly lighthearted scenes and sad faces in more serious scenes.
  • Bantaro from Jubei-chan had a shirt with a kanji on it that changed according to his mood: for example, it would become the character for "despair" if he was feeling down, "idiot" whenever he was doing or saying something silly, or "breasts" if he was thinking of Jiyu's chest.
  • Mitsu of Bizarre Uprising wears a shirt with a stick figure on it, whose mood and stance supplements his own.
  • In the anime Shaman King, the panda face on Tao Jun's dress smiles when she's feeling particularly bubbly.
  • In Dokonjou Gaeru, the shirt not only is expressive... it's alive. More exactly, the froggy design is the soul of a dead frog named Pyonkichi, who's one of the two protagonists. (The other being Hiroshi, the owner of the shirt itself.)
  • Takeo's shirt throughout chapter 6 (episode 9) of My Love Story!! keeps changing slogans based on what's happening in a given scene. For instance it starts as "Promise" then changes to "Bowling" when he and Yamato go to a bowling alley on their date.
  • In the anime Animal Detectives Kiruminzoo the “costume modes” helmets have little faces that change depending on what the characters feel.

    Comic Books 
  • Pajamaman from the comic book Amelia Rules! wears a gray pair of foot pajamas with an ever-changing symbol on the front that reflects what he is currently thinking. Considering he's The Voiceless, this is very helpful.
  • During his second series, the Jared Stevens version of Doctor Fate wore a "Mood Shirt" whose slogan would comment on what was going on.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac also wears a symbol-changing shirt.
  • Larry Todd's classic underground comic Dr. Atomic used this as a running gag. The title character's next-door-neighbor/lab assistant, Billy Kropotkin, never seemed to be wearing the same T-shirt from one panel to the next, and the slogans/illustrations often reflected the ongoing plotline. (A skunk-sprayed Billy might be sporting a "Mickey Mercaptan Club" T-shirt, for example.)
  • Princess Luna is seen wearing one in issue 9 of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic comic book, explicitly confirmed by the artist as a reference to The Twilight Zone (1985) episode mentioned below.
  • Downplayed in Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. One of the shirts Scott wears is a black T-shirt with blue borders and an identically-colored water drop with a smiling face at the center. The drop doesn't normally change its expression, but in a minor detail when Ramona flashes before Scott's eyes as Nega Scott is about to punch him, the drop gets a shocked face similar to Scott's at that moment.
  • Autobot insignias do this occasionally in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Rodimus's adopts an "OH GOD TOO HOT" expression when he uses his flame powers, for example, while Whirl's holo-avatar is sporting an Autobrand with an Eyepatch of Power to match said avatar's face.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of The Twilight Zone (1985), "I of Newton", where a supernatural character wears a T-shirt whose slogan changes whenever the camera's not looking. Inverted while the slogans are all appropriate in a general sense, they don't specifically track with the character's emotions.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Guise's insignia in Sentinels of the Multiverse changes between cards - his "official" symbol (used for his archnemeses) is a face doing a ":P" expression, while it's throwing up two fingers in "Say Cheese", where he's taking a selfie with an injured villain.

    Video Games 
  • In the Animal Crossing series, female kangaroo villagers have their joey's heads popping out of their shirts. Given the joey mimics any emotion its mother does, it gives off this effect.
  • Travis from Killer7 has the shifting phrase variety. Though since it is Killer7, sometimes they don't make a lot of sense.
  • In Ace Attorney, the mouth on Moe's hat will have the same mood as his real mouth.
    • In the final case of Justice for All, the Professional Killer Shelly de Killer testifies via a radio, which has a variety of expressions such as sweating oil, hopping in anger, and exploding.
  • Touhou Project fan works often give this treatment to Meiling's hat, Ran's dress and Yoshika's hat Ofuda. In canon, the design on Yuyuko's kimono changes based on whatever game or story she has an active part in.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's fan art, Chica's "Let's Eat!" bib is often depicted as this.
  • The bomb logo on Serious Sam's shirt in Oh...Sir!! The Insult Simulator matches its wearer's expressions when he wins or loses.

  • A few nations in Polandball have features on their flag/self commonly modified between frames for comedy, such as replacing the words on Brazil's white strip or the expression of Argentina's sun.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: One of the bullies who made a brief appearance had a 'Current Expression Smiley' T-shirt, which apparently mirrored whatever his present facial expression happened to be. It was only visible in one panel, though, which somewhat undermines the point.
  • The Wotch: Jason the character has a shirt that has the letters CMX inside a little yellow starburst. Editor Jason, the avatar of one of the authors (seen in filler strips), has it constantly in flux, often emoticons or 'net slang, but sometimes full (short) words (such as "OUCH" when he's getting bopped over the head by his assistant, Editor Ani.) When not written by Jason, Editor Jason's shirt is strictly limited to emoticons.
  • Sarin of The Dragon Doctors wore one of these in the first arc.
  • Jennie Breeden of The Devil's Panties draws her boyfriend Will with a smiley-face t-shirt that changes expression according to events or his mood.
  • In the second page of Homestuck, when John grimaces after the player tries to name him "Zoosmell Pooplord", the character on his shirt does the same. Similarly, on this page the shirt takes on an apprehensive expression mirroring John's.
    • The picture of a record on Dave's shirt becomes broken after he gets his ass kicked and his katana broken by Bro. However, it stays that way afterwards.
  • When Howard Tayler, the writer and artist of Schlock Mercenary, appears in one of the arcs as a sort of Psychopomp for the currently-dead Commander Andreyasn, he wears a Schlock T-shirt with an ever-changing expression. It does not match Howard's own expression, however, but rather reacts to what's being said and done.
  • Ramon from Butternut Squash
  • In Misfile, Rumisiel's "Have a Day" shirt.
  • In Violence Man, the titular character wears a skull shirt in an obvious tribute to The Punisher; usually the skull has a blank expression, but in one comic ("Company Picnic") it looked enraged after Violence Man was double-crossed.
  • Eerie Cuties: Layla's skull hairclip. Seth, Brooke's Feather Boa Constrictor, also plays a similar role sometimes.
  • Starting here in Enjuhneer.
  • Thomas Millwood from Deer Me sometimes wears a smiley face shirt that reflects his mood.
  • Some fae in Roommates and its 'verse have such clothing like the minor villain "Odile", whose Leotard of Power has little feathers which go up and down with her mood, or Jareth, whose armor gets more and more imposing the angrier he is (especially in Girls Next Door).
  • In El Goonish Shive, when Elliot morphs before bed while sulking his shirt transforms into a nightgown with a sulking face on it.

    Web Original 
  • Riak from Chaos Fighters-Route of Earth wears an expressive armor which burns when he is angry and getting cold when he is nervous or scared.
    • Leon's shirt in The Secret Programs turns black if he suffers from damage.
  • This My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the figure's emotional state mirrored in the image of Pinkie Pie on his shirt.

    Western Animation 
  • The 1980s Saturday-Morning Cartoon Shirt Tales featured animal characters whose tees proclaimed phrases like "Hug Me!". They were previously seen on Hallmark greeting cards.
  • The skull on Yumi's shirt in the animated Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi changes to match her mood.
  • In one episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, Eddy wears a barbeque apron whose slogan changes depending on what he's thinking about.
  • Eugly the rabbit from Kaeloo wears a shirt that has different designs on it depending on her emotions.
  • In OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, Brandon the frame store employee wears a captioned shirt that changes depending on what he's thinking. Best shown in "Know Your Mom", where he chats with K.O. extensively.
  • Wade from Garfield and Friends has an inner tube with a smaller version of his face on it. Whatever face Wade makes, his inner tube makes the same one.