He shook his head.
"Nude is artistic. Naked is defenseless."
Any nudity where it's not really nudity, but someone's freaking out anyway.
A husband and wife run outside to grab the paper that's sitting on the porch. Darn it, the door is locked and now they're both stuck outside! The husband is horribly embarrassed because he's outside in the nude, meaning that he's wearing a white tanktop undershirt, boxer shorts and socks. (Maybe because it's Goofy Print Underwear.) But he's embarrassed anyway. Meanwhile, his wife is ashamed when the busybody neighbour sees her naked, meaning that she's wearing a dress-like slip that covers her from shoulders to knees. The busybody neighbour then calls the police because of all the public indecency, despite the fact that it's more than most people wear to the beach.
Still, if you walked into Walmart wearing nothing but a thong and a bra, you'd probably get some security guard showing you to the door. So it's not an entirely unreasonable reaction. Undergarments, themselves, have been considered obscene at times, such that seeing them exposed without outerwear (or even hanging from a clothesline!) might also be deemed "indecent", whether or not there're excessive amounts of skin on display. And people differ in their perceptions of modesty, not only across time (Victorian era women 16 and up couldn't even show their calves, and the '50s saw the above porch example as pretty embarrassing) but even in modern Western civilization (where some of us still think it's crass to let a bra strap show).
Often requires exposition.
Some examples of this trope, particularly in visual media, may be an example of censored nudity; even though the character is shown in their underwear the audience is supposed to know that they're "really" naked.
See Also Fetish, Our Nudity Is Different, Please Put Some Clothes On, Non-Nude Bathing, Family-Friendly Stripper. For when Bowdlerization causes this, see Digital Bikini. Contrast National Geographic Nudity, where the characters are completely naked yet nobody freaks out, due to Values Dissonance. The opposite of this trope is character that has no nudity taboo such as an Innocent Fanservice Girl or Shameless Fanservice Girl. Also compare and contrast Stripperific.
- An ad from New Zealand for Trumpet Ice Cream cones explores the question "How far do you have to be from the beach before your swim togs become undies?" The answer seems to be "Out of sight of the water or 300 metres, whichever is shorter."
- A Carl's, Jr./Hardee's commercial had a variation on this theme (with a heavy dose of Deliberate Values Dissonance) with a man in a suit, having apparently time-travelled from the antebellum (1820s-1850s) South, showing up on a beach in the present day with a picnic basket full of Carl's/Hardee's new made-from-scratch biscuits. After sharing his biscuits with the shorts- and bikini-clad beachcombers, the first thing he wonders is why everyone is in their underwear.
- Another Carl's Jr./Hardee's commercial showcased their new Turkey Burger by having "Miss Turkey" strip off her pageant gown and appear in public in a bikini adorned with little cartoons of the new burger. A mother covers her little boy's eyes. Strange, because while Turkey is an Islamic country, it is a very liberal Islamic country, and one in which a woman in a bikini presumably wouldn't cause much of a stir. (Especially strange because the scene takes place at an outdoor swimming pool.)
- Gray Fullbuster of Fairy Tail. Everyone freaks when he goes from fully dressed (only neck up & fingertips to wrist bare) to his boxers. Can't they just be grateful that the shedding of clothing comes to a halt at that point? Incidentally, when "The Full Monty" does occur, Gray is the first to freak.
- Happens to Ichitaka in I"s, when he thinks that Itsuki is posing nude for some art students. Turns out she's wearing a latex bodysuit.
- In Code Geass, Kallen is ashamed of being in a bunny girl suit after Lelouch pointed it out. Yes, more ashamed than full frontal nudity with Suzaku. It's completely justified as Kallen was wearing the bunny girl suit while working undercover, leading to her getting hit on by very pushy Britannian guys.
- The cover of the first issue of Larry Fuller's 1975 classic Underground Comics White Whore Funnies features a scantily clad woman who is wondering what she is doing in a specific place "naked," though she's obviously not naked, though her shirt is unbuttoned.
- Lampshaded in the comic Black Hole, where a group of teenagers meet for a party in the woods and egg a girl on to skinny dip in the river. She only will agree to swim in her bra and underpants, and strips accordingly. When everyone looks shocked, she asks why they're so freaked out, since she has the equivalent of a bikini on. It's then subverted when it's revealed that they weren't shocked by her nudity. They were freaked out that she had a mutation disease and her skin was coming off at her back.
- Discussed in a story from an Archie Comic. Betty enters her living room in nothing but a towel and panics when she finds Archie there. When she comes back wearing a bathrobe and still stressed out, Archie points out that the robe she is wearing is the exact same material as the towel, covers even less, and she is fine being seen in it.
Betty: Well, it's... different.
- When Stryker begins his attack on the Xavier School in New X-Men Dust, a devout Sunni Muslim, wakes up in her underwear (in a bathtub, no less) after having been knocked out by X-23, who swiped her abaya and niqab in order to trail Icarus and to keep her at the school fearing Sooraya was being led into a trap. Upon hearing the sounds of fighting in the hall, she rushes out to see what was going on, only to run into Rockslide and Mercury. Rockslide immediately freaks out. Not because Sooraya was in her underwear, but because he could see her face without her niqab.
- In Bone, Smiley Bone wears only a vest, and is otherwise naked, though he has no visible genitalia like a classic Disney character such as Donald Duck. In the Ghost Circles story arc, he doesn't want his cousin Fone Bone to see him bathe without his vest on.
- In an issue of Unstoppable Wasp, Jarvis is shocked when Nadia opens the door to him dressed only in a large Pym Labs T-shirt, even though it hangs down well below her hips to minidress length and shows nothing.
- Played for laughs in Garfield, as at least one comic had Garfield enjoying in delight the torture of locking Jon outside in his bunny pajamas. Naturally, in these sorts of situations, people flock.
- Roger Martin's Murphy's Law employs this trope, as seen in his 2016 calendar. It shows a man at his place of employment on "Casual Friday" in a white tanktop, polkadot shorts, socks and shoes, looking like most people outside in the summer. It's played as if his penis is hanging out, according to the reactions of his co-workers. It can be seen here.◊
- Some scholars interpret the myth of Lady Godiva this way, suggesting that she went out in a plain shift like a religious penitent, which still would have been shocking for a noblewoman who was normally seen decked out in finery but would not involve being naked per se. Artistic portrayals of the myth always ignore this interpretation in favor of the Rule of Sexy.
- Pretty much every adaptation of The Emperor's New Clothes.
- Will Vinton's The Adventures of Mark Twain has a segment adapting Mark Twain's story "The Diary of Adam and Eve", in which underwear stood in for Biblical nudity (this was even lampshaded in a scene where Eve was naming things and named Adam's underwear "birthday suit"). After they ate the apple, they immediately became embarrassed by their "nude" state and abruptly grew "real" clothing. Though this movie has its cake and eats it too, since as Twain introduces the story, Becky buys an apple from a vending machine that features nude statues of Adam and Eve with a Scenery Censor who act embarrassed until the purchase causes them to grow underwear and look relieved.
- Happens twice in the direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. When Pocahontas first arrives in England, a man is admonished by his wife not to look at Pocahontas as she's "hardly dressed." Later, when Pocahontas is being dressed to meet the king, John Rolfe becomes flustered when she, not realizing that the whole-body-concealing clothing she has on is only underwear, runs in to show him her outfit.
- Vagabond Loafers, a short by The Three Stooges (and a remake of A Plumbing We Will Go), has Emil Sitka's character shoved out of the shower trying to hold onto a Modesty Towel. He's still wearing boxer shorts under... which means he was wearing them while showering.
- Doris Day gets locked outside in her pyjamas in Send Me No Flowers Today.
- In Edward Scissorhands, after the title character has an awkward encounter with the seductive neighbor Joyce, he says she "Took off all her clothes" when in reality, she only unzips her top to reveal some (already-seen) cleavage and black lacy underwear. But given Edward's extreme social awkwardness, it makes sense.
- In Problem Child 3, after Junior ruins Tiffany's dress, she is left in her undies, which are totally nontransparent and cover more than, say, a football player's uniform would. She is still freaked out as if she were naked. Of course, she's a prepubescent girl, so her ideas about underwear and "nudity" would be a lot more innocent.
- Taken to extremes in the 1914 silent short Mabel's Strange Predicament, mostly because of the Values Dissonance. Mabel Normand gets trapped outside her hotel room while wearing VERY demure (by today's standards) pajamas. But in her eyes she's practically naked; just watch how she reacts when the Tramp happens upon her. Later in the short, she even hides herself behind a blanket.
- If These Walls Could Talk - Demi Moore's character, Claire, is a woman living in 1952, who wears a super thick robe that covers her from her jawline to her toes, with sleeves that reach her fingertips. At one point, Claire calls another character into her house because Claire cannot go outside because she's "not dressed." Later, Claire, wearing the same robe, is forced to chase another character outside of the front door, and is obviously embarrassed at being outside in her robe, looking around in paranoid fashion, and clutching the robe at the neckline so that only her hands and face show. However, Claire doesn't mind wearing a sexy nurse's outfit to work that shows her arms, legs, and collarbone.
- In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey chews out Zuzu's schoolteacher over the phone for sending her home with no clothes on. Of course, "naked" in this sense only meant having her coat open so it wouldn't crush the flower she won, causing her to catch a cold. Kinda odd, considering the film had an earlier Naked People Trapped Outside scene and there Mary was literally naked. Presumably the difference (and reason for George being so angry at Zuzu's teacher) was that Zuzu walking around outside "practically naked" was taking place in late December, while business with a naked Mary trapped in a bush happened in the spring.
- In The Flowers Of Saint Francis, a Franciscan named Ginepro gives away his religious habit to a beggar on two occasions, returning to the other Franciscans wearing only his underwear. They still say that he is naked.
- Enemy of the State - A man strips down to his socks, boxer shorts, and tanktop-style undershirt, and considers this nude enough after finding numerous other tracking devices in his other clothing.
- The first big set piece in National Lampoon's Senior Trip is an assembly at the high school put on by an "Up With People"-inspired entertainment troupe who perform "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." The assembly turns into a riot after a few of the "heroic" characters sneak into the loudspeaker booth and cut the singers' mikes, then blare punk rock throughout the auditorium. In the ensuing chaos, the lead singer gets her costume ripped off and immediately begins screaming. Her underwear consists of a large bra and a very thick, high-waisted, almost flesh-colored pair of panties; if viewed from a distance, she'd appear to be wearing a very modest (if sheer) bathing suit. Of course, it's justified since the girl's gown was even more modest (it didn't even leave her arms bare); she's also implied to be a Mormon.
- The 1955 Marilyn Monroe comedy The Seven Year Itch has a plot point that can strike modern-day viewers this way due to Values Dissonance. "The Girl" mentions to Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) that she recently appeared in a photo shoot for the U.S. Camera magazine called "Textures." Sherman gets out his family's copy of that issue and they look at the article together (which the audience is not allowed to see just yet), and the Girl remarks that the police had to be on hand during the photo session (which was on a public beach) because there was danger of a riot breaking out. From this context, we guess that the Girl must have been posing nude. Later on, however, when Sherman goes to see his psychiatrist, he brings along the magazine and shows it to the doctor - and, finally, to us. We learn that the crowd on the beach nearly rioted because the Girl was wearing...a white-and-red polka-dotted bikini swimsuit! note
- A relatively rare male example in The Kid Brother. Harold's hulking older brothers are waiting up for him, prepared to give him a beating after Harold screwed up and let the medicine show perform. They are dressed for bed in nightshirts that cover them up from the neck down to mid-calf, but they still flee in terror when Mary arrives at the house along with Harold. This is followed by a comic sequence in which the brothers dive around the house frantically looking for places to hide while Mary and Harold have coffee and chat.
- The Salesman: Lampshaded and satirized In-Universe. The acting troupe is performing Death of a Salesman. The nameless woman in the play who is in Willy's hotel room when Biff arrives is supposed to be half-naked. But due to Iranian censorship Kati, the actress playing the woman, has to wear a raincoat, which covers her completely, while her character is talking about being almost naked. The actor playing Biff dissolves in laughter.
- In Tamara, Tamara reacts like she is totally naked when Shawn pulls the cover off the motel bed, even though she is still wearing Black Bra and Panties.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, Lazarus Long travels back in time to 1917 USA. He sees a flash of a woman's ankle and makes a note not to be caught staring at it, as that would get him in trouble. Put in to show how he had acclimatized to 1917: in his home time, women would quite often go around completely naked. In one of the sequels it's mentioned that one female character wears a skirt for the sole purpose of having somewhere to conceal a weapon.
- In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout gets shocked when Atticus loosens his tie and collar, because Atticus never loosens his clothing outside of his home.
- The Cosmere:
- At one point in the first Mistborn book, Vin points out that her normal street clothes are hardly more modest than the undergarments she's currently in, so Spook has no reason to be embarrassed about it. She's promptly told that it's the principle of her being in her underwear that's the embarrassing part.
- Oathbringer (third book of The Stormlight Archive): Features a similar conversation to Mistborn, but with the roles reversed. Shallan, who is in a shift, tells Adolin to enter, thinking that he's someone else. She freaks out when she sees that he's not a woman, and kicks him out. He points out that what she's wearing covers pretty much all the same parts as a formal dress. She replies that it's a question of decency. And besides, "certain things" can poke through a shift.
- Captain Laurence from the Temeraire series is absolutely mortified to be caught in decent company without his neckcloth and coat. Most of the other aviators couldn't care less, though.
- In Shadow Web, Jessica has been transported into another universe with very Victorian standards of modesty. She "looks like a Yank tart" according to them, in a tank top and jeans.
- The Lemony Narrator of The Eddie Dickens Trilogy explains that Eddie feels undressed in his undershirt and long johns as that was considered naked then (he goes on to say that most people didn't realise they could remove their undergarments, taking this trope to insane levels).
- In the 1945 Nancy Drew novel The Clue in the Crumbling Wall, Nancy's friend George takes a dunk in a pond and hides in an abandoned house in her underwear while waiting for her outer clothes to dry. When a small child steals her clothes, she's trapped inside until her friends can help her get decent.
- In another book, Nancy chases a suspect out of a dancing school where she's taking lessons, then freezes in embarrassment at the stares she's receiving due to her leotard, even though most of them typically cover more than a bathing suit.
- A Brother's Price has Jerin making a midnight run for the kitchen. Normally he'd put on some trousers but he doesn't want to wake anyone, and he decides his nightshirt, which goes to his knees, is "practically a walking-robe" and completely decent. He changes his mind when he finds the Princess Ren waiting in the kitchen wearing something similar. Later he goes to take a bath and brings his one piece of jewelry and his grandfather's silk bathing gown with him, with the thought that if she sees him again he wants to be in something pretty, not a towel. She does see him.
"How is it, Princess, you keep catching me with next to nothing on?"
- Wraith Squadron has a few of the Wraiths pretending to be backworld hicks blowing their life savings on one trip to a touristy world. In that role, one of them freaks out at the sight of a passerby with some bare arms and exposed skin on her legs, crying that she's nearly naked.
- The Taysans in the Spaceforce books cover up everything except hands, necks and faces, and moreover consider 'unbound' hair to be indecent. They're in for a shock when, rarely, they venture to Earther colony worlds and find that even on formal occasions, humans go so far as to exhibit cleavage. When Jay strips to the waist in front of his wife-to-be, its the first time she has seen a mans arms—let alone anything else.
- Underwrites the basic dress code in Xanth, where a woman in her underwear (particularly her panties) is vastly more titillating than that same woman in the nude. Possibly justified, due to the large number of demihumans, such as centaurs, with no nudity taboo.
- In the final chapter of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka and the Bucket family are invited to a banquet at the White House as a reward for having saved the world from an alien invasion earlier in the book. This is what finally gets Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George, and Grandma Georgina out of bed for the first time in 20 years (except for when they were in outer space just a few hours before and floated out of their beds in zero gravity, and they insist that doesn't count). But then the three old people realize that they are still wearing their nightgowns (which, incidentally, they presumably haven't changed in 20 years) and are mortified that they'll be appearing in front of the President and news reporters from around the world "practically naked." Happily, Charlie saves the day by recommending that the helicopter taking them to the White House stop by a department store first so the three grandparents can buy some new clothes with money provided by Mr. Wonka.
- In REMNANTS, Violet at one points takes off her dress for something that requires swimming; Jobs and Mo'Steel both look away, even though she notes she's still wearing as much as a girl in a bathing suit. (This whole scene is a bit odder since Violet was Born in the Wrong Century and literally strives for Victorian morals...then again, if she was wearing Victorian-style underwear that might make her point more valid.)
- Subverted in the 1910 book The Hickory Limb by Parker Filmore, where the main character, a young girl, gets naked to go swimming in front of a group of boys, and the text and illustrations make it clear she is fully naked, without undergarments on.
- In one book from Alice, Girl from the Future Alice is hitchiking wearing only shorts—which even have a pocket—and is repeatedly referred as naked. Granted she is topless but she is only twelve—and before that she ran though a city in the same clothing, with no comments. Justified since the one talking to her is a robot actor programmed to believe he's a 19th century peasant.
- Imperial Radch: The Radchaai aren't shown to have any strong nudity taboo, but are quite scandalized by bare hands. Musical performances are seen as slightly naughty because the performers have to wear extra-thin gloves to handle their instruments.
- In Spellfall, a kidnapped Natalie is embarrassed to discover that she's wearing nothing but a thin knee-length shift, and quickly wraps herself in her blankets as though she had been naked. Justified in that 1) she's 12 years old, 2) she's sharing the room with a boy her age who's also embarrassed at her state, and 3) it means that her abductor had taken everything she was wearing before re-dressing her.
- The Great Divorce—At one point the narrator meets a large retinue of Bright Ones (redeemed souls) and angels that he can't tell are nude or clothed because their auras are so bright that it's impossible to say whether they're nude and "clothed" with divine glory or clothed but their natural brightness shines through anyway.
- Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey takes this Up to Eleven by getting all flustered by seeing Christian in "nothing but" a t-shirt and jeans. So...fully clothed, then?
- In the Discworld novel The Last Continent, Mrs Whitlow makes herself a desert island outfit which is described as more of a "newzealand" than a bikini, since it consists of two large sections seperated by a narrow channel, and then covered even that with a sarong. The wizards' reaction is that "it was as if Mrs Whitlow was wearing a figleaf six feet square. It was still just a figleaf."
- In Rain of the Ghosts, Renee has tagged along on a boat trip, but the others are hoping that, since she wasn't told that they'd be scuba diving, she'll have to stay in the boat and thus preserve The Masquerade. However, an annoyed Renee just starts stripping down to her underwear, even noting to her flustered companions that it's no more revealing than the bikini she wore earlier in the book. It turns out that Ariel brought spare bathing suits anyway.
- In an episode of ALF, Willy berates Alf while wearing a robe with pajamas underneath since he had just woken up. Alf keeps reminding him that his robe is open. Willy quickly shuts his robe as if his naked body was exposed. Another episode has Alf walking into their bedroom and encountering Kate, who yelps and covers the one inch of her neck that is showing in her floor length, wrist length, high-necked flannel nightgown. Really funny when you consider that Alf walks around naked all the time.
- Baywatch: One woman saw her co-worker in his underwear and was ashamed and embarrassed, even after the guy pointed out that it covers as much as his regular working uniform (the only actual difference was the color).
- In "It's Magic", Samantha assists a down-on-his-luck magician. At one point, his assistant has the back ripped off of her outfit, and her bloomers can be seen that cover her from ribcage to knees.
- In "A Very Special Delivery", Endora casts a spell on Darrin so he will know exactly what it feels like to be pregnant, and when he goes to the doctor with his symptoms, the doctor gives him a checkup and then proceeds to tell him to put his shirt back on, despite the fact that he's already wearing a shirt.
- In "The Very Informal Dress", Aunt Clara materializes a suit for Darrin. This being Aunt Clara, of course, the magic is a little glitchy, and Darrin's suit vanishes while he's in public. Under it, he's wearing a shirt and shorts, and is arrested for public indecency.
- Tabitha, the Spin-Off to Bewitched, has an episode called "Mr. Nice Guy" where Tabitha finds herself in "teddy" type lingerie that covers about as much as a sleeveless "tank top" and a short skirt. She exclaims, "I've seen centerfolds wearing more than this!" When her boyfriend unexpectedly walks into the room, he yells, "Oh my gosh! I've never seen this much of you!" Keep in mind that every episode has an intro that shows Tabitha out in public, bending over her car in a tank top and short shorts, and oiling herself up on the beach in a small bikini.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Nightmares" (where they're coming true) has Xander in class suddenly in his boxers. He describes it as "naked" later on...
- Call the Midwife: A few times, when one of the men (usually Frank, but sometimes Peter Noakes) stumbles into the Nonnatus House kitchen while one of the nurses is wearing her nightclothes.
- In the "Angels in Paradise" episode of Charlie's Angels, Kris is wearing a tube top in the nude beach scene.
- The episode "Psychodrama" of Criminal Minds dealt with a bank robber who would sexually humiliate his victims. The team and police continuously refer to him forcing his hostages to strip naked. However, when scenes inside the banks are shown, everyone is still wearing their underwear.
- Doctor Who: In "Tooth and Claw", Rose is referred to as "naked" on several occasions; she dressed for a rock concert in 1979 but they ended up in 1879, so she's dressed very immodestly. But not naked.
- At least one example from Downton Abbey: when Kemal Pamuk barges into Lady Mary's room, she is wearing an all-concealing and fairly shapeless nightgown; she nevertheless picks up the covers and holds them to her body to cover it as if she were completely naked. Truth in Television for the time period.
- Fantasy Island: In "The Stripper / The Boxer", an heiress becomes a stripper, stripping down to a one-piece bathing suit covering her from her collar bone to her hips.
- Frasier - In the episode "Junior Agent", Frasier and Kenny go to a steam room, wearing giant, blanket-like towels from slightly below the chest to slightly above the ankle. Junior Agent Portia storms in on them, and Kenny hides, exclaiming several times that he's naked.
- The Golden Girls - Season 4, episode "Little Sister". Rose catches her visiting sister Holly being sexual with Blanche's boyfriend Gary and tries to tell Blanche and Dorothy, who've been charmed by Holly and refuse to believe Rose. Later, Blanche and Dorothy catch Holly and Gary together being sexual, and Gary is nude. Rose walks in. Gary hides his nudity, though he's wearing a long-sleeved, button-up white shirt and tie, like the kind that business people wear with their suits. Only no pants, just giant blue boxer shorts that go almost to his knees, and no one can even see a bulge, just a big expanse of thick, starched fabric. But he stands behind a tall chair to cover his crotch, though no bulge is visible, and the only skin that can be seen is his knees, hands, and head. But the scene is played as if he was completely nude. Holly was in a robe, and not considered nude by the others.
Dorothy: It's all out in the open.
Rose: I can see that!
- When reporter Anna Gilligan strips down to a bikini to try out the Tarzan rope swing at Action Park she says "I'm going to derobe here. I don't know what's scarier: the ride or taking off my clothes."
- Horrible Histories has an Internet safety sketch where a Victorian man is scandalized by seeing pictures of uncovered ankles and women not wearing gloves. It also has one about English clothing regulations in Queen Elizabeth I's time, where a man's clothing items are removed by new laws and the Queen's reaction is "Why is there a naked man in my throne room?" even though he's not naked (he's still wearing trousers. And a hat.)
- I Dream of Jeannie - In the episode "My Wild-Eyed Master" when Tony says that astronauts should have perfect vision, Jeannie blinks and gives him X-ray vision, which allows him to see through people's clothes. He sees Alfred Bellows in the nude, meaning a sleeveless shirt and large boxer shorts and even socks. Then, he sees a woman in the nude, meaning a one piece slip that looks like the type of summer dress girls wear these days. In what is probably an editing error, the slip then changes to a two-piece slip that only goes up from the knees to the waist, and the kind of bra that covers the whole ribcage like a tube top. Her belly button is not seen, as that was immoral on sitcoms at the time.
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger has Jan's constant loincloth scenes. He's pretty dang covered, but the other characters freak out anyway.
- Little Mosque on the Prairie has a funny scene where Amar walks in on Rayyan (an observant Muslim) without her hijab.
- There are a couple of incidents in Monk where Adrian is distressed because someone is "naked-ish".
- In one of the books, he undoes the top two buttons of his shirt (which he typically has buttoned all the way) and walks through the police station not realising they're still undone. He's mortified when he realises this and apologises to everyone in the station for his "earlier nakedness", much to their confusion.
- Played with on Monty Python's Flying Circus where a series of slides diagram the "naughty bits" of several people and animals, all of which are wearing large polka-dot boxer shorts.
- At the 1990 MTV Music Awards, Madonna appeared to perform her hit song "Vogue" dressed as Marie Antoinette, and midway through the song hiked up her hoop skirt to flash a pair of French knickers (frilly underpants that come to just above the knee, which Marie Antoinette herself would not have worn, since they didn't exist until the 1890s at the very earliest), thrusting her hips in and out as she did so. The performance was viewed by many as either titillating or obscene, even though Madonna's underpants covered as least as much skin as a decent pair of shorts.
- Inverted in an episode of Night Court when Judge Harry is forced to wear a suit of armor (and nothing else). At one point, the codpiece falls off. Harry Anderson was wearing solid black briefs (in a kind of living censor bar) but all the actors react as if Judge Harry was nude from the waist down.
- One Day at a Time (1975) - In the 1977 episode "The Butterfields," Alice sees her husband, Hal, without his suit jacket and says, "You're undressed!" Hal then tries to cover up his nipples with his hands, despite that those nipples are still covered up by a fully-buttoned-up, long-sleeved suit shirt and tie.
- An episode of One Life to Live has a teenaged couple's father (hers) and mother (his) walking in on them making out while standing in the stairway of the house, presumably on their way up to the bedroom. No parent would be pleased at this. However, both parents flew into such a rage, one would think they had caught the teens in the very act of having sex. The father even rants and raves about how the boy was "half-naked", despite the fact that he was still wearing a T-shirt and jeans.
- The mini-series of Pride and Prejudice features a scene not in the book where Elizabeth accidentally encounters Mr. Darcy returning from swimming. No skin, just underwear/a very big shirt, but both are embarrassed. Their reaction is justified it by it being the 18th century.
- In the same film, Lydia has a moment like this when she leaves her room wearing a shift (the bottom garment, like Darcy's shirt), carrying a gown she's not sure about (so she says) to Lizzie's room, and meets Mr. Collins on the stairs. The shift leaves her shoulders bare and has a slightly lower front than her usual dresses. (It might have been only mid-calf length, mind.) Still, the filmy nature of dresses in this period mean that women look like this trope at all times compared with those of thirty years before or after. (Or, in some pictures, even now, as it's clear their breasts were often unsupported. Some even dampened their white muslin gowns, to obvious effect.)
- In RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4, Latrice Royale ends up criticized by one of the judges for letting a bra strap show. Justified as the challenge in question was for evening-gown wear — it's one thing for a strap to peek out accidentally in casual attire, it's another to get dressed to the nines and think it's okay to let a strap show on an off-the-shoulder dress.
- In season 9, during the makeover challenge, the judges similarly criticize Shea Coulee because her partner's bra straps were showing from the back of a gown; here it was pointed out that it made Shea look like she'd spent more time making her own outfit look polished and put-together, while neglecting her "sister". (The presentation had other flaws that also got mentioned, particularly the wig.)
- Seinfeld: In the Season 7 episode "The Caddy", Elaine knows a woman named Sue Ellen who never wears a bra. After Elaine gives her a bra as gift (as a not-so-subtle message), Sue Ellen doesn't seem to realize it's intended as underwear and starts wearing only the bra without a shirt, even out in public walking down the street. Kramer and Jerry get into a car accident when Kramer is distracted by the bra-clad Sue Ellen, having been so shocked by her public nudity. However, as seen here◊, it provides quite a lot of coverage, and in the scenes where we see Sue Ellen wearing the bra she is wearing a black blazer over it, though unbuttoned. So despite that she's wearing something not more revelaing than much other modern streetwear, other characters still say that she was wearing "just a bra" and react as if she were topless.
Elaine: That's the bra I gave her; she's wearing it as a top! A woman is walking around in broad daylight with nothing but a bra on?! She's a menace to society!
- Who's the Boss?: In "A Well-Kept Housekeeper", Tony takes a job at a restaurant that features hot, nude men as the waiters. When Tony's daughter "Sam" shows up, Tony tells hers that he doesn't approve of her being in such a raunchy place, to which Sam replies, "At least I have my clothes on!" Tony, the "nude waiter" is wearing shoes, long pants, and a vest, leaving only his arms and head exposed as he's so embarrassed by the outfit that he covers his chest and stomach with a tray.
- The X-Files: In the critically acclaimed episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", the title character describes a dream in which he is lying in a field naked. When we see the dream, though, he is wearing an undershirt and boxer shorts.
- The Young Ones. Nasty: Neil's claim to being "all nude", despite wearing a vest. He probably was nude in-universe; the long undershirt was just a concession to the censors.
- In The Bible, Michal sees David's rejoicing as the ark is being brought into the city, and when he goes to bless his household, she treats him as though he had exposed himself; at minimum, he was wearing a m`iyl (stated in 1 Chronicles) and an ephod (stated both there and in 2 Samuel).note (Unfortunately, many teachers of these passages would rather believe Michal's version of events.)
- MAD's Lighter Side of... shorts:
- In issue #136, the following conversation happens at a poolside:
Girl 1: Gee, Virginia, this is a lovely bikini you let me borrow! (strikes a provocative pose)
Girl 2: What drawer did you take that from?
Girl 1: The top, right...
Girl 2: That's not a bikini! That's underwear!
Girl 1: UNDERWEAR? SHRIIEEK!!! (covers her chest and rushes inside)
- In an earlier piece (in a panel with no dialogue) a teenage guy waits outside a cabana while his girlfriend changes into a swimsuit. But the door accidentally opens before she is done, and the girl is greatly embarrassed that the guy caught a glimpse of her in underwear and a longer slip. A minute later, the door opens again, but this time she is proudly showing off the (ridiculously) skimpy bikini she's wearing. The boy is clearly puzzled by this.
- In issue #136, the following conversation happens at a poolside:
- Anytime a heel woman loses a bra and panties match, she'll act embarrassed and run for the locker room. The (usually) victorious face woman will then remove her own clothes and is never embarrassed about it, standing in the ring and basking in the cheers of the fans. Also holds true for men in tuxedo matches.
- The most absurd example of the above was probably at WCW's Slamboree 2000: Paisley (better known to WWE fans as "Queen Sharmell") stripped Tammy Lynn "Sunny" Sytch down to the most modest two-piece cream-colored undies one could possibly imagine. The bra was more like a tube top, and the briefs could've passed for bicycle shorts. The humiliation was probably supposed to derive from Sunny being exposed as a prude, since in the 1990s and later the sluttier female wrestlers were beginning to be viewed as the heroines.
- Understandable, because (as with everything else in wrestling, or in any form of combat) the key difference is power and control. Getting stripped to one's underwear in public is tantamount to rape, especially if there's physical violence involved (and in wrestling, there always is). Ric Flair competing in nothing but a tiny pair of shorts is no big deal; Styling and Profiling Ric Flair being stripped from his expensive wears to said shorts and beaten grotesquely bloody (when he's a face) is an atrocity.
- Taken to extremes by Molly Holly during her "Mighty Molly" period. Someone walked in on her in the dressing room. She screamed and covered herself up with her cape even though she was fully dressed in her Mighty Molly outfit.
- Parodied in the Muppets from Space. Animal goes inside the crowded bathroom to look for anything to wash his face in. He opens the showers to find Fozzie Bear, in a raincoat and hat, who screams and tries to cover himself.
- Sartre's No Exit brushes on this trope. Taking off your jacket, and so being only in shirt sleeves, would have been indecent a few decades earlier, but at the time of the play was only faintly risque.
- In Fangirls, Brianna reacts like this when she drops her towel in the change room, even though she is wearing a swimsuit underneath it. This is another manifestation of her A-Cup Angst.
- Almost all video games where the player can control what the character wears puts the character in underwear when all clothing is removed. This can have the odd effect of characters being more covered up "naked" then when equipped with the more revealing outfits. Games with modding invariably have a nudity mod as one of the first entries because of this trope.
- Fallout 4 has an odd aversion with the companions. Remove whatever outfit you have assigned to them and they fall back to their default costume rather than going to undies.
- Death Stranding: A major reveal is that FRAGILE has the body of a much older woman due to Higgs forcing her to run through a Timefall storm naked. Except she's not naked in the cutscene where this is revealed; she's wearing a tank-top and underwear, despite the dialogue making it pretty clear she's supposed to be completely nude.
- This trope is played for laughs in early Girl Genius, where Agatha's frequent bouts of sleep-working leave her in nothing but (relatively modest) Victorian-style underwear, but she acts like she's been seen in the nude. Given the time period, it would be considered indecent by most European standards, so Truth in Television. Happens again at Sturmhalten, after she wakes up in a dress more revealing than her underwearand thus more revealing than anything she's used to wearingafter having been mind-controlled.
- In MegaTokyo, Erica is working on her computer in underwear (a result of Largo explaining to Erica that you can't wear clothing when using high-end computer equipment, due to static discharge); when Kimiko hears that Piro is coming around she insists that Erika change into a swimsuit, which turns out to cover even less... and not be static-safe, as Largo points out as soon as he sees her.
- In El Goonish Shive NP's Fable parody, Susan is baffled to realise that while she sees herself wearing underclothes, everyone else either doesn't see them, or considers that to be naked anyway, because video game logic.
- In SWAP Ensemble, Cassie freaks out when her boyfriend enters the storage closet while she's changing. She's wearing a padded tank top and shorts that could pass for normal outer clothing.
- The Guild: Vork has a freakout when he sees Codex in a slightly low cut blouse, demanding that she cover her shame.
- Noob: Each time Omega Zell's first case of Involuntary Dance gets a Call-Back, people call him a variant of "the guy who danced naked in front of everybody". Granted that Omega Zell's avatar was showing more skin than usual when the incident actually happened, but it was still wearing a tank top and boxers.
- In one Roger Rabbit short animated film, Roger is embarrassed to be seen in his oversized boxer shorts covered in little red hearts.
- American Dad!: An Islamic couple in the Middle East has the husband yell at his wife. "For Allah's sake, put some clothes on!" The only remaining part that was exposed were her eyes, which she covers with a flap that descends like a curtain. Naturally, she then trips over the coffee table.
- The Simpsons:
- There's an episode spoofing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and a series of pictures of people going over Niagara Falls (It Makes Sense in Context) and one picture causes the men to exclaim "That woman is flashing her privates!" which turn out to be her ankle. One of the men then takes the "indecent" picture for himself. Specifically they're parodying the Flash Mountain phenomenon (SFW, it's Snopes).
- Marge's mother was once arrested for indecent exposure for wearing pants that showed her calves and ankles at the beach when she was younger.
- This happens a lot in Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry, when Funny Animal characters are suddenly shaved or stripped of their fur, and are shown in Goofy Print Underwear.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- SpongeBob is often embarrassed to be seen in his white briefs underwear, even though the little suit he wears is exactly the same size as his underwear. Specifically, during the theme song, after the Captain says, "Who lives in a Pineapple under the sea?" And the kids shout, "SpongeBob SquarePants!" It shows SpongeBob walking out of his pineapple home wearing nothing but underwear. He looks down, shocked, like in a nightmare where you realize that you're out in public naked, and suddenly the hand of God comes from the side and places his trademark squarepants on him.
- It's apparently the law. In one episode, Sandy is arrested for indecent exposure, even though she is wearing a bikini.
- Which is odd, as we've seen many fish wearing only bikinis in public. Maybe they're just prejudiced against land creatures. Then again, she isn't otherwise seen as as nude with her fur (she has been seen without her suit outside of her treedome before), so it could be her fur was seen as clothing, thus, without it she was seen as nude.
- The storyboards for the episode actually had Sandy get naked, but censorship issues resulted in having her wear a bikini in the final episode.
- King of the Hill:
- In one episode, the extremely modest Hank proclaims "I have to cover up my nudity!" after being stripped to an undershirt and boxers at the Alamo in the middle of the night. In early episodes he often says something to the same effect about Luanne's sleepwear.
- Lampshaded by Peggy in one episode in which she flashes some bikers, which the audience and Hank sees from behind. In response to his horror, she snaps, "Oh, will you quit your whining, you old woman? I'm wearing a bra!"
- In another episode, in an attempt to bring his dad out of a funk, Hank takes him to a sweat lodge. While it appears Hank is only in a towel, he's actually wearing a bathing suit and boxer shorts underneath, but he treats it as if he'd been practically nude.
- In the episode "Hank's Dirty Laundry", Hank is aghast when he returns home to find Peggy hanging out laundry in the back yard, including Hank's boxer shorts. He rushes to take them off the line in fear of them being seen by the neighbourhood.
- One episode has Connie, after believing Joseph and Bobby were spying on her, gets revenge on them by opening her robe so the "pervs" can "take a good look".....at her flannel pajamas that cover her whole body.
- Family Guy:
- In an episode, Meg is fully clothed and brushing her hair when Chris walks in. Meg immediately grabs her trademark hat and frantically puts it on as if she were naked and scrambling for a towel. Lampshaded in the DVD commentary for the episode. It's also noted that originally Meg was going to be hiding a large bald spot with her hat, which this is a relic of.
- In the "I'm Joyce Kinney" episode, Lois recalls how, in the early eighties, women would stand topless on hotel balconies when they were high on cocaine. In the Flashback, Lois is coked out, standing on a hotel balcony and she's wearing a halter top.
- This◊ man's reaction to some bloomers.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "Best Night Ever", the girls are changing into their gala dresses and Rarity won't let Spike enter the room. Applejack points out that they usually don't wear any clothes at all.
- In "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", Rainbow Dash wakes Fluttershy abruptly by pulling off her bedsheet, causing an embarrassed Fluttershy to cover her chest with her hooves. Being a pony, she doesn't exactly have anything there to hide.
- The Fairly OddParents: At the end of one of the Oh Yeah! Cartoons shorts, Vicky is embarrassed when she's caught on stage in her full body undergarments.
- Teen Titans: In one episode where Beast Boy removes Raven's cloak, she acts as if she's been stripped to her underwear, even though she's wearing a leotard.
- Oftentimes, the actual amount of skin shown is not the main thing that bothers women in real life. Someone seeing you in a Bikini you have chosen to wear in public is no big deal, but when circumstances conspire to let someone see you wearing underwear you didn't intend for public consumption it feels like a violation. In fact, sometimes the logic goes completely in the opposite direction, since many bras and panties are less revealing than women's swimwear these days (see the page image above). Thus the issue is not the amount of skin being revealed, but rather it all boils down to consent.
- A U.S. Army soldier in Afghanistan drew media attention after rushing to defend his post from attack while wearing pink boxer shorts and flip-flops. When the image wound up on the front page of The New York Times, he told his parents he might lose his job if President Obama saw him out of uniform. "I can assure you that Specialist Boyd's job is very safe indeed," Defense Secretary Gates later said. The boxers are now in the 1st Infantry Division Museum at Fort Riley, Kansas.
- Robert Burck performs as a musician in Times Square under the name "The Naked Cowboy". However, he always does so wearing two pairs of white briefs to avoid being arrested for this trope. A single pair is legally underwear, and thus "indecent." The second pair counts as clothing.
- He promoted Donald Trump in 2016 by playing guitar "in the nude" ... meaning a red, white, and blue cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and Speedo-type briefs.
- Pretty universally averted in most high school theater programs, especially the ones with four or five shows a year and a constant stream of other events — the freshmen/rookies are always shocked at boys strolling into the girls' dressing room for help with makeup and girls — most of whom are in underwear — not even turning around. By their third show or so, they've gotten over it.
- News tend to report stories about people getting embarrassing naked strip-searches by the police, TSA, or some other form of authority — only to read that naked was without their coats and jackets. Tank tops for females and topless for males (but pants on) is considered naked for the sake of news.
- People who follow a strict religion can often feel embarrassed wearing what other people would consider normal. For example, a strict Muslim woman might feel exposed not wearing a hijab, or a Mormon woman wearing a mini skirt. Not just women in the latter case: Both sexes wear the sacred undergarments after going through the temple ceremonies, and even in Utah it can be difficult to find summer-wear that completely covers said garments.
- Historical documents from European explorers often express their shock over naked natives. However, they will then go on to describe (sometimes for pages) what the people are actually wearing.
- Due to lingerie, particularly panties, being a fetish in Japan, a woman caught in just her underwear can be extremely embarrassing. Depictions in Manga and Anime are less a matter of censored nudity than they are Truth in Television.
- Image editing software can make partially transparent clothing appear more transparent. In the most extreme cases, outfits can essentially be photoshopped off, leading to someone who is fully clothed, but also totally naked.
- Many people experience variations on the classic "Not Wearing Pants" Dream, one of which is being clad only in underwear.
- This also extends to Indecent Exposure laws. In most places, a man without a shirt on is not naked for the purposes of charging them with Indecent Exposure, while most places a woman without a top on would be. Going outside in your underwear could be considered Indecent Exposure. Some places, even beaches like Myrtle Beach, thong bikinis are considered naked and indecent, where others would not. Finally, some cities have considered sagging pants to be indecent exposure, even though the person is normally fully clothed.
- A common sight at swimming pools near apartments is the woman who was sunbathing in a swimsuit needing to cover up and walk fast to cross the distance of a few yards between the pool and her apartment. It would be terribly embarrassing to be caught wearing the swimsuit while not actually within the confines of the pool.
- Hotel guests have a similar issue, as it's totally OK and normal to be wearing just a swimsuit while in or around the hotel pool, but most people start feeling very exposed if they have to wander back to their rooms without something else to wear (or at least a towel to wrap around themselves, which also serves to keep from dripping all over the hotel carpets). Which seems sort of silly, but may be mandated by hotel policies that only allow swimwear in the pool area.