The Final Battle is where stakes are at their highest. The Hero must engage the villainous Big Bad in an epic teeth-clenching fight. And what better way to highlight the incredible resolve of the protagonist, in addition to giving him some visual flare during this battle than giving them a bit of Clothing Damage, specifically on the upper body.
This trope occurs when the Protagonist is fighting a tough battle, and ends up losing his shirt due to it being torn apart, most likely by their opponent's attacks. This usually happens during the Climax, although it can happen in non-final battles if they still have an above-average degree of intensity. The reason that this is done can be to show the effects of the villain's attacks on the hero without giving the hero any major wounds. In addition to this, baring the hero's chest is a way of showing off their well-toned physique and-or battle scars. This can also happen to emphasize the hero's pureness and how they've ascended past all expectations and grown up since the beginning. When the villain is defeated, the scene usually ends with the supporting cast congratulating him on his victory, keeping him on his feet, or just staring in awe at the still bare-chested hero.
This trope happens very often in martial arts movies, as well as in Shonen genre anime, where the hero will most likely have at least one in-fight Shirtless Scene. However, this is primarily an Always Male trope, due to women having more... regions in need of Censorship. Though you will occasionally see female characters reduced to a tank top, which is reminiscent of this trope.
Related to Clothing Damage, which refers to the general loss of clothes which doesn't have to be due to fighting. When a character loses all their clothes for a battle, it's Full-Frontal Assault. Also see, Walking Shirtless Scene and Mr. Fanservice. Compare, The Coats Are Off. Not to be confused with Battle Strip, where a character willingly removes their top.
- Dragon Ball: Goku is practically the poster boy for this trope. He ends us shirtless during his fights with Raditz, Vegeta, and Frieza. Still happening in Dragon Ball Super during his climactic battle with Jiren.
- YuYu Hakusho: Starting from the Dark Tournament onward, Yusuke would have shirt blown off during every consecutive arc finale. It sometimes even happened to him during less important fights such as his one with Sniper.
- Happens all the time with Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star when fighting important foes like Jagi, Souther, Raoh and others.
- In the finale of My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, Midoriya's shirt gets torn off by a combination of his own use of One For All and the constant punishment he takes from Wolfram.
- A similar occurrence happens in the series proper during his fight with Muscular.
- Superman loses almost all of his shirt throughout his battle with Doomsday in The Death of Superman.
- Bruce Lee tends not to have a shirt for the final battle. Although it's usually by his own choice.
- The Last Dragon Leeroy gets his shirt torn off by Sho-Nuff during their fight.
- The Incredible Hulk: Hulk tore off what was left of his shirt before facing abomination.
- X-Men: The Last Stand - while Phoenix is disintegrating Wolverine's body, he keeps re-healing but of course his shirt doesn't. His pants are unaffected.
- Van Helsing's final battle is between Dracula and the title character turning into a werewolf - so of course his clothes are destroyed during the transformation. He's played by Hugh Jackman who plays Wolverine listed above.
- Hanzo disrobes so he can make a last stand against the Predator with a katana.
- Royce likewise takes his shirt off before his final battle with the Predator.
- Royal Kill has Adam taking off his shirt as he prepares for a climactic duel with Nadia. As it turns out that there is no Nadia at all, it would appear he's invoking this trope for gratuity's sake.
- Handled in a very goofy way in the final fight scene from Future War, when the hero's shirt is fully buttoned and tucked in and then easily slips off him in the very next shot.
Tom Servo: "My shirt was knocked off! It was knocked off, I swear!"
- Star Trek - Captain Kirk had this happen enough that it was parodied in the Galaxy Quest.
- Villain example in Angel - when he's having a fight with Lindsey in "You're Welcome". Lindsey's shirt gets ripped open and he tosses it away for the remainder of the fight. There is a mild plot reason for this - Lindsey has a set of tribal tattoos that enhance his powers and during the battle they vanish, showing Angel that he has been Brought Down to Normal and is easier to beat.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Spike's set of trials to have his soul restored in the Season 6 finale. By the last one, he's lost his shirt.
- Metal Gear Solid: Solid snake wakes up with his shirt off right before his final battle on top of Metal Gear Rex.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang's shirt is burned and blasted off during the long awaited battle with Fire Lord Ozai.
- Samurai Jack: Happens way too many times to count. So of course, this trope occurred during the season 5 finale.
- Wakfu: Yugo's Battle Aura tore off what was left of his top and his shoes at the tail end of the third to last episode of Season 2, so he spends the final two episodes shirtless and shoeless.