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"Who the devil are these guys? The Planaria Gang? Half the city's Municipal Elevator Operators having a club meeting? Those are prison uniforms. Not a wise idea; if they escaped, people would look over their heads, and be unable to give a good description. I — I can't say! I saw his face for a second, but then my eyes were unaccountably drawn upwards."
James Lileks (on the prison garb with upward-pointing arrows featured in Dressed to Kill)

There are a handful of outfits used to identify when a character has been placed in some manner of corrective institution, such as a mental hospital or prison. In the case of both, this trope is usually somewhat justified, because people from prisons or mental hospitals are people who need to stand out from the normal population if they haven't been rehabilitated or declared sane. Unless it's a comic strip or a cartoon with Limited Animation, the trope is, of a necessity, temporary. Crazy people and prisoners who don't want to go back to where they broke out from make it an immediate priority to find clothes that will let them blend in.

Note that the British trope of burglars wearing horizontally-striped jerseys is unrelated, being derived from the jerseys worn by seamen in the Napoleonic period and after. Crime committed by demobilised, unemployed servicemen was a BIG issue in the early to mid-nineteenth century.

For prisoners:

  • Old school: Black and white horizontal stripes, either a jumpsuit or shirt and trousers with matching pillbox hat. Usually black and yellow in The Wild West.
    • Ball and chain manacles either on each prisoner, or they're all chained to each other by the ankles.
  • New school: Frequently, bright orange jumpsuits with white undershirts, though jumpsuits of less obvious colors are also used. Sometimes scrubs replace jumpsuits.
    • Grey jumpsuits with reflective vests for when they're forced to do road work as part of their sentence.
    • Some new prison uniforms have men wear "hot pink" uniforms as quicker identification deterrence to escape, as they were seen as emasculating.
  • In the United Kingdom and the (former) colonies, the old uniform used to be black arrows on a white shirt and trousers, sometimes with the pillbox hat.
    • The reason for this is that, back in The Middle Ages, all items purchased on behalf of the crown (what we'd now call "Government property") were stamped with a broad arrow. This included the fabric for prison uniforms.
  • Russian prisoners color-code their prison uniforms, that are originally either dark gray or blue. The Mafiya members dye their uniforms black; the common unlucky petty criminals wear dark blue, and the chushoks, the pariahs who are bullied and forced to do every bit of the dirty work, and the petukhs, who are raped, wear dirty gray. This is usually done in forced labor camps, where dyes, needles and thread to customize the uniforms are obtainable, and the prison guards do not object.
  • Truth in Television in the US, as jumpsuit color denotes the severity of the crime.

For insane asylums or mental hospitals:

  • Whatever outfit the inmate is wearing with a straitjacket on top. The straitjacket may be partly undone.
  • Scrubs in some neutral color.
  • Rags based on the inmate's original outfit.
  • Belts, drawstrings, shoelaces, and/or anything else the patient could use as a weapon to harm self or others has been removed.


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  • McDonald's' mascot Hamburgler wears the horizontal stripes.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Great Teacher Onizuka wears a prison uniform with old-fashioned stripes on the covers of several volumes.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has all those thrown into prisons and corrective facilities wearing white shirts, trousers and shoes during their stay.
  • In One Piece, the inmates of Impel Down wear the classic black-and-white striped uniforms.
  • The 29th episode of the PaRappa the Rapper anime features an Imagine Spot where PaRappa and Matt are behind bars while wearing striped prison uniforms.
  • In Prison School, the male protagonists wear classic black and white prisoner attire.
  • Free from Soul Eater continues to wear his striped prison uniform and ball-and-chain long after breaking out, and uses the latter as a weapon in conjunction with his ice magic.

    Comic Books 
  • The "old school" arrow variant of the uniform still appears in British children's comics.
  • Superman:
    • In early Silver Age stories like The Unknown Supergirl, Lex Luthor's "costume" was his prison greys, showing that he hadn't even bothered to change his clothes before starting his latest evil scheme. (Considering he usually ended up back in prison by the end of any given story, it might be taken as a subconscious admittance of defeat.)
    • At some point, it was stated that he wore his prison uniform to remind himself how much he hated Superman for putting him in prison.
    • This gets backwards-referenced in Action Comics (New 52), where the first thing he does after getting out of prison is to order his staff to burn the uniform, so he'll never be reminded of his time there again.
    • One Silver Age Superman story involved Superman finding out that a criminal who was getting out for time served was planning on a nefarious profiting over something Supes did in his last day as Superboy in Smallville, and Superman trying to figure out how to stop him before it's too late. It turned out that it was that the prison said criminal was held in, built by Supes on that day, had its bars made out of gold painted with lead paint (from a job the criminal was responsible for), and the prison was due to be demolished (somehow allowing the criminal to collect the gold and profit then). Superman figured it out when he realized that the stripes on the criminal's outfit, when Supes checked on him with x-ray vision, were not the old striped prison garb, but instead were blank spots from the lead paint blocking his x-ray vision, and he was actually wearing a more recent grey prison jumpsuit (similar in style to Luthor's, above).
    • In A Mind-Switch in Time, teenager Lex Luthor is wearing his prison greys in Smallville's Soames Reform School.
    • In The Super-Revenge of Lex Luthor, Luthor wears a frayed dark-grey jumpsuit as he does road work in an asteroid prison. Amusingly, he is the only prisoner who is seen wearing one.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • The Beagle Boys have prison stripes and prison numbers on their chests (they don't have names, only prison numbers). They also have shaved heads and masks covering their eyes, but that just shows they're criminals.
    • The Beagle Boys from works involving Scrooge (e.g. The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and DuckTales (1987)) wear long-sleeved orange tops and blue jeans. Ma Beagle wears an orange jacket over a white blouse and a blue skirt.
  • Watchmen has charcoal-grey prison uniforms, possibly as one of those slight differences (like everyone wearing double-breasted suits) to indicate its Alternate History.
  • The Justice Society of America fought a time-traveling villain, Knodar, who billed himself as "the last criminal" — he wore a custom-designed prison uniform, as there were no other prisoners in his time period; indeed, they had to reinvent jail just for him. For the record, it was a gray, form-fitting bodysuit with the letter "P" for "prisoner" all over it in black lettering.
  • Prisoners in Judge Dredd wear a variant on the horizontal stripes.
  • Lucky Luke: The Daltons, since they are constantly trying (and succeeding) to break out of prison, spend much of their time in black-and-yellow striped outfits.
  • In All Fall Down, IQ Squared and Pronto wear this after they end up in prison.
  • Marvel Universe villain The Absorbing Man wears prison-striped pants (typically either black-and-white or, oddly, alternating shades of purple). In his case, it's because he received his powers while in prison, and the enchantment deliberately included his pants. He probably could pick up a new outfit of unstable molecules that work with his powers, but he simply sees no need.
  • In The Smurfs comic book story "King Smurf" (and its 1980s Animated Adaptation), Jokey as seen in the picture goes from wearing a regular white hat and pants to a prison-striped hat and pants when he becomes King Smurf's prisoner. In the comic book version only, after Jokey breaks out and Brainy gets put into prison, Brainy gets the same prison-stripes treatment.
  • Wonder Woman: In the Golden, Silver and Bronze ages of comics Reformation Island has its own version of institutional apparel. The inmates there are given sporty dresses and then locked into magic girdles and bracelets of submission which they wear at all times until they are deemed reformed and released.

    Fan Works 
  • Danganronpa: Memento Mori: Prison Escape Artist Ren is still wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and broken handcuffs even after finding himself in the Killing Game.
  • In Kill la Kill AU, the most recent comic and video have it where an eight-year-old Ryuuko wears an orange prison jumpsuit. Apparently, she's been in jail so many times that they decided she should keep it and she's been wearing that ever since. Later on, Nui, Mako, and Nonon can be seen wearing them.

    Films — Animation 
  • Prince John, Sir Hiss, and the Sheriff of Nottingham at the end of Robin Hood (1973).
  • In the dog pound scene in Lady and the Tramp, the shadows of the cages the dogs are kept in resemble prison stripes when reflected onto the dogs' fur.
  • During the "On the Open Road" number from A Goofy Movie, a verse is sung by a prisoner in a paddy wagon wearing the stripes. Goofy looks at him, then at his son Max and imagines him wearing stripes as well (as he is afraid that Max will lead a life of crime if he doesn't spend more time with him).
  • The main characters of Wendell & Wild are each introduced wearing prison clothes - Wendell and Wild are introduced in striped prison garb, having been “jailed” by their father for “treason” (that is proposing their own version of his “scream fair”). Kat, meanwhile, is reintroduced following the prologue in more modern prison clothes, having been released from the juvenile detention system.
  • In Despicable Me 3, the Minion are all forced to wear striped overalls after being thrown in prison for trespassing a movie studio.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The prisoner at the end of Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet wears an outfit with horizontal stripes and matching pillbox hats.
  • Charlie Chaplin wears the horizontal stripes to mark himself as an escaped convict in The Adventurer.
  • The end of The Amazing Spider-Man shows Dr. Curt Connors wearing a yellow jumpsuit inside his cell. (Whether said cell is inside a prison or a mental institution isn't made clear in the movie; according to the game of the movie it's a psychiatric hospital, and actor Rhys Ifans thinks it's some combination of both. See also the videogames section under 'mental patients' below.)
  • In Batman & Robin, Mr. Freeze wears the old-school prison stripes uniform, which fits in perfectly with the campiness of the rest of the film.
  • Con Air has criminals in jumpsuits of some other color. The prisoners are Color-Coded for Your Convenience: normal inmates get Blue, the really scary ones get Orange, and the pants-wettingly scary Steve Buscemi gets White.
  • The Dark Knight has criminals in orange jumpsuits.
  • In Dead Again, the flashback to Roman Strauss on death row depicts him in a plain jumpsuit with his prisoner number printed on it. (It's a Monochrome Past, so it's not clear what color the jumpsuit is.)
  • In Dressed to Kill (1946), the prisoners in Dartmoor are shown wearing to old-style 'broad arrow' prison uniforms: a style that had gone out of use about 25 years before the film was made.
  • The Fugitive has the prisoners in bright jumpsuits that are either all yellow or all green; Dr. Kimble's first challenge after escaping is to steal some less conspicuous clothing.
  • The distinctive prisoner outfit with grey and white horizontal stripes in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), the prison-issue apparel at the Kyln Space Prison consists of a yellow t-shirt and pants, with some variations. Gamora gets a sleeveless top, Drax doesn't bother with the shirt (much like any other part of the movie), and Groot (who can't even attempt to pass for humanoid) doesn't wear anything.
  • Hancock and the other convicts in the Los Angeles prison wear the orange jumpsuit.
  • In the Harry Potter movies, Azkaban prisoners wear the stripes. Sirius has a shirt and trousers, and Bellatrix has what looks like a striped hospital gown.
  • A major plot in The Hurricane. Ruben Carter refuses to wear prison stripes and stays in "the hole" for weeks as a result. Finally, the head guard let him wear prison pajamas without stripes on them.
  • Jailbait (2014) has an even mix of orange jumpsuits and beige scrubs with no explanation of the distinctions. Bras apparently aren't granted until you've been there for a while.
  • The convicts in the prison in Johnny Dangerously wear the horizontal stripes.
  • In Logan Lucky, the convicts in the prison where Joe Bang, and later Clyde, are incarcerated wear old-fashioned 'horizontal stripe' style uniforms. Daniel Craig can be seen dressed this way on the movie poster.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? has the old school striped prison outfits. Justified in that if anywhere would have striped jumpsuits for prisoners, it's 1930s Mississippi.
  • Paranormal Prison: The mannequin in Black Wolf's cell in the prison is dressed in black and white striped prison clothes.
  • In the movie The Quick and the Dead, Scars is still wearing his striped prison uniform, having just broken out of prison and come straight to the quick-draw competition. He doesn't even bother changing out of it.
  • In the Firefly film Serenity, in the intro showing River's time at the Academy, she is shown wearing a form-fitting gray outfit that is like the bastard child of a prisoner uniform and a hospital gown, at least aesthetically.
  • Biff's prison outfit in The Strawberry Blonde, which is used for a gag. Former dentistry student Biff takes up dentistry again while in jail. In one scene he enters his prison dentistry practice, takes off his prison shirt, and puts on his dentist's coat—which is the exact same shirt.
  • Whenever The Three Stooges were in prison, they'd be wearing the old-school striped uniforms.
  • Trick or Treats: All the patients at the mental hospital Malcolm is being kept in, including Malcolm himself, all wear bright blue outfits.
  • Wrongfully Accused has the orange jumpsuits. There's even a shot of Leslie Nielsen's character after escaping from the prison bus, trying very unsuccessfully to hide among a crowd of people dressed mainly in black.

  • In Five Get into Trouble from The Famous Five, an escaped prisoner is seen disposing of his prison outfit down a well.
  • In Fractured Stars, prisoners on Frost Moon 3 wear neon green uniforms to make them easy to spot.
  • In the short story "Good Friends and Good Family" (scroll down) by Desmond Warzel, the viewpoint character, a county jail inmate, decries the uncomfortable nature of the orange scrubs and the poor fit of the jail-issue sandals.
  • In the Mediochre Q Seth Series, mantically aware prisons appear to use grey overalls instead of orange ones, but the principle is the same. Floor Theta specifically puts theta symbols on the overalls for additional identification.
  • When David goes to a prison work camp in Sounder to look for his father, the prisoners there are wearing the stereotypical white-with-horizontal-black-stripes outfit.
  • The mothers who are required to attend a parenting rehab program at the The School for Good Mothers are issued jumpsuits and other state-issued clothing, to make the "school" seem more like a prison.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat. The Grey Men put their prisoners in a transparent plastic outfit to prevent them from hiding anything.
    • In the book that first introduces the Grey Men, diGriz is sent to infiltrate a closed totalitarian planet where everybody wears a colour-coded uniform. The military wear blood-coloured clothing, for instance, and as an off-worlder, diGriz is forced to don a high-visibility black-and-yellow wasp striped outfit. He wonders who the caste are who wear uniform grey...
  • The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village: Megumi Kawabata wears a green prison jumpsuit as part of her cover.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who. The Doctor starts off "Revolution of the Daleks" incarcerated in a space prison. The inmates (at least those who aren't Starfish Aliens) wear red jumpsuits with a strip of alien writing down the side.
  • The arrow variation uniform can be seen in The Goodies episode "Goodies in the Nick."
  • In Prison Break the convicts have blue fatigues. At one point of the eponymous escape, they use bleach to make the uniforms white to blend in with the mental ward prisoners.
  • The general issue fatigues in Oz are grey with the prisoner's number on them. The prisoners in Emerald City get to wear civvies.
  • When Ned was Mistaken for Murderer on Pushing Daisies, he wore an orange jumpsuit in prison.
  • Rebus puzzles on Concentration used this trope to represent the syllable "con".
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the long-term human prisoners of Skynet wear ill-fitting, drab, dirty gray-white uniforms.
  • At least once on MythBusters the cast has worn the striped version while testing prison-based myths.
  • Misfits is all over this trope.
  • Sketches taking place in prison on The Benny Hill Show have the British arrow-covered uniforms. Some gags are milked out of it, such as Benny standing in a line with other inmates, whose arrows, both on the right and the left, all point toward him, while the arrows of his own uniform point upwards, toward his face.
  • Used in the series title for Orange Is the New Black. Played straight because new prisoners wear bright orange. Subverted in that they change into khakis once they've been assigned a bunk.
    • When the series moves to Max in Season 6, the cellblocks are Colour-Coded for Your Convenience. D block remains in khaki, C block wears blue, and B block wears pink.
    • Old-school black and white stripes are seen in a flashback to Aleida's time in juvenile detention.
  • In the Prison Episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural, the prisoners wear short-sleeved orange jumpsuits with silver snaps and collars.
  • Oddly enough, Babylon 5, (which is an American show) uses a stylized take on the British uniform, sans the hat, at least the first couple of times convicts are shown onscreen.
  • In Season 3 of My Name Is Earl, all inmates (male, female, and juvenile) in Camden County wear jeans and sneakers, with white T-shirts or tank tops, and a denim jacket with their ID number sewn onto it.
    • In Season 1, Donny was sent to prison for 2 years for a crime Earl committed, and appears to be wearing a gray jumpsuit.
  • In Escape at Dannemora Lyle Mitchell visits his wife in prison and remarks that she is dressed like the Hamburglar.
  • Daredevil (2015). Wilson Fisk ends up in prison at the end of Season One and is made to change from his expensive black suit into a white jumpsuit, in a Mythology Gag on the white suits he wore in the comics as The Kingpin. The other inmates wear orange jumpsuits, but newbies are made to wear white for some unexplained reason. So when Frank Castle is sent to the same prison he also wears a white jumpsuit, leading to an entirely different trope.

  • The Johnny Cash song "I Got Stripes" is a reference to the old-school striped uniforms.
  • In the video for the song, "Jailbreak", some of the members of AC/DC are wearing the "arrow" prison uniforms. The two who aren't are dressed as guards.
  • Brandy Clark's "Stripes" is about a woman who decides not to kill her cheating husband:
    There's no crime of passion worth the crime of fashion
    The only thing saving your life
    Is that I don't look good in orange
    And I hate stripes

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Kevin Wacholz wrestled in orange prison scrubs during his brief WWE stint as "Nailz" and his single WCW match as "The Prisoner".
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. sometimes wore orange prison gear during that portion of his WCW career in which he was unmasked.
  • There was also a rather large NWA jobber who wore prison clothes and was known simply as "Death Row".
  • Felony of CRUSH and, later, Wrestlicious, who was more interested in trying to escape from her corrections officer than winning matches.
  • Caged Heat in WOW Women of Wrestling. Two of them were declared innocent but continued to wear their jumpsuits in honor of their still incarcerated friends.
  • Mike Shaw wore pajamas from a mental hospital as Norman The Lunatic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has Tarterian dragons, whose hides are covered in black, grey and olive-green stripes to invoke this trope. As dragons from the Prison Dimension of Carceri, they're simultaneously the inmates of that plane and cruel wardens ruling over weaker creatures. Should a Tarterian dragon manage to escape to the Material Plane, they delight in recreating the jailhouse atmosphere of their home plane.

  • The female prisoners in Chicago wore drab greys, with fancies underneath. For their numbers, they wore typical performance outfits, but that was a conceit of the format in which the story was told.

    Theme Parks 

  • LEGO police sets, starting in 1993, occasionally included a prisoner figure with a white striped shirt and black pants. This switched over to orange jumpsuits in the "World City" line, and then back to stripes since 2005. Lego also now makes matching striped pants and a "ball and chain" piece.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the pilots of the Osean Air Defense Force's 444th Penal Fighter Squadron are seen wearing their green flightsuits in place of what would be standard orange prison jumpsuits. The only noticeable exception to this is Avril Mead, who is a mechanic assigned to the Penal Unit, and she wears a more standard colored orange jumpsuit.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, the prisoners usually wear orange jumpsuits with grey patches sewn onto the elbows and knees or short-sleeved variants thereof. Riddick himself wears the trousers of this jumpsuit and a black tank top.
  • Within the Shared Universe of Street Fighter, there's Cody Travers of Final Fight fame.
    • In Street Fighter Alpha 3, Cody, then a recently escaped convict, has the horizontal stripes. He keeps this look for Super Street Fighter IV, having since returned to jail only to re-escape, with orange scrubs reminiscent of his Final Fight: Streetwise design as DLC. Canonically averted as of Street Fighter V, where Cody is exonerated of his past crimes by Haggar and goes on to become the next mayor of Metro City, though his Alpha 3 look is included as Cody's Nostalgia costume.
    • The aforementioned Streetwise (which has most likely been rendered non-canon by SFV) is an interesting case in that Cody has actually finished serving his sentence from the time of Alpha 3 and/or SSFIV (and even was incarcerated again for taking the fall for one of Guy's crimes, which put a strain on their friendship) and instead chooses to wear his prison jacket over his classic Final Fight attire by choice.
  • The "heroes" in both Manhunt games, coming from death row in the first and an asylum in the second.
  • Jack's standard outfit in Mass Effect 2 is an orange prison jumpsuit (you did just break her out of prison after all), with the top half draped off to show off her chest tattoos.
  • The prison in The Suffering has a very 1920s-30s feel to it (including guards with Tommy guns), but the prisoners all wear modern orange jumpsuits.
  • In the intro of Jak II: Renegade Jak wears a dark green jumpsuit before being rescued by Daxter. The front of it says CRIMI⅃AИ in the in-game writing system (the last three letters mirrored) and on his leg is "CELLB".
  • In Batman: Arkham City, all of the inmates wear prison-issued clothing, which they may or may not have modified based on whatever gang they're following. In addition to the standard orange Blackgate prison scrubs/ pants, inmates may also wear white prison jumpsuits (if they're Two-Face's thugs).
  • In Portal, Chell is wearing an outfit very reminiscent of prison garb, which makes sense because she is imprisoned in a "research facility" as a human lab rat. In the sequel, she is wearing largely the same jumpsuit, undone to the waist to reveal a white undershirt.
  • In Ghost Trick, Detective Jowd and the other inmates of the special prison wear the traditional striped uniforms.
  • In the Famicom Disk System version of Monty on the Run (Monty no Doki Doki Daisassou), the player character is an escaped prisoner wearing the usual striped garb. Averted in the original version, where Monty was a mole.
  • The Mad Bomber in Activision's Atari 2600 game Kaboom! wears prison stripes.
  • Persona:
    • Pharos from Persona 3 wears black- and white-striped shirt and pants to symbolize how he's sealed inside of the protagonist.
    • Joker, the protagonist of Persona 5, is dressed in black and white pinstripes inside the Velvet Room, which manifests in this game as a prison. This no longer applies by the end of the game (and the third semester in Royal), as the fake Igor who imprisoned him has been ousted and Joker is formally recognized as a guest of the Velvet Room by both the real Igor and Lavenza, though once Joker finds himself embroiled in a new conflict come Persona 5 Strikers, he's back in the jumpsuit (much to Lavenza's sadness).
  • The main character in Saints Row 2 breaks out of prison at the beginning dressed in, of course, an orange jumpsuit. Strangely, you can also customize said jumpsuit later on and change its color into others, such as purple, if you wish.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Terry Fawles in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations wears old-fashioned stripes, complete with ball and chain. However, all the other prisoners (such as Maggey Byrde, who spent nearly a month in solitary due to a rigged trial) seem to retain their civilian clothing, which makes one really wonder about poor Terry...
    • The second case of Investigations 2 takes place in a prison, and all of the inmates wear blue and white stripes identical to Fawles's, including the warden underneath her fur coat when she's revealed to be the killer.
  • Gonbee Yamada from Your Turn to Die wears a black-and-white prison uniform with horizontal stripes, a ball-and-chain around his leg, and handcuffs around one wrist. When claiming that he's actually a salaryman, he lampshades that Japanese prison uniforms don't even use that pattern... which immediately betrays that he's a real prisoner.

  • The KAMics: When Gertrude and Brunhilda are captured by King Jason, they're put in blue-striped, midriff-bearing outfits with pillbox hats.
  • Last Res0rt Shows the prisoners being brought in and performing on the first episode in bright orange jumpsuits. The volunteers are also wearing these outfits during the first episode — but since Xanatos is the only volunteer NOT to become an executioner, he ends up tossed in with the prisoners as well, and keeps his outfit.
  • In Everyday Heroes, Jane and her cellmates wore the all-orange baggy shirt and trousers, as did J.P. Wunsch and his henchmen.
  • In The Lydian Option prisoners all wear magnetic arm cuffs to enable easy restraint.
  • In The Order of the Stick, prisoners in Cliffport City wears black-and-white striped shirts. Elan is Genre Savvy enough to know that the first thing you do after breaking from jail is to change clothes.
  • In Questionable Content, May is released from Robot Jail in institutional orange coveralls, and Dale has to remind her that a change of clothes would be a good idea before she starts applying for jobs.
    Dale: How do they expect you to find work wearing a big "Hey I was in jail" sign?
  • Widdershins: Convicts in the titular Alternate History 19th-century English town wear drab brown outfits with their prisoner number prominently displayed on the front and back. Not as glaring as other examples, but still "obviously criminal" enough that Will needs to change clothes immediately after breaking out to clear his name.
  • In Schlock Mercenary Schlock, Legs, and Andy are allowed to keep their clothes the first time they're arrested, but after breaking out using their low-profile Powered Armor and re-arrested they get stripped naked and issued striped jammies. Even Schlock, who normally doesn't wear clothes.

    Web Original 
  • Donna, in Unedited Footage of a Bear, is wearing a top with alternating white and black stripes, underneath a more prosaic yellow sweater. Her alter-ego, however, is wearing just the stripes.
  • On April Fool's 2021, Usada Pekora of hololive received a new outfit. A standard prison uniform. Following up on the running joke that she's a "war criminal" due to her actions in Minecraft.

    Western Animation 
  • The prisoners in the Van Beuren Studios Little King cartoon "Jolly Good Felons" wear these.
    • The robber villain in "The Phantom Rocket" wears this.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • The Beagle Boys always wear their prison number cards. They also have their own personal uniform of black mask, red shirt, and blue pants.
    • During the times Scrooge was (wrongfully) imprisoned ("Duckman of Aquatraz", "Ducks on the Lam", and "Billionaire Beagle Boys Club"), he was placed in prison stripes. In "Ducks on the Lam", he's even given a striped top hat. Averted in DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp.
    • Mrs. Beakley, when she's imprisoned in "Billionaire Beagle Boys Club", is given a prison striped dress.
  • Kim Possible's bad guys all end up with orange jumpsuits.
  • The Simpsons: Sideshow Bob, for some reason, wore his prisoner orange jumpsuit under his regular clothes when he had gone straight and moved to Italy.
  • The striped prison outfit and the jumpsuit prison outfit both appear in Danny Phantom. Wulf wears the jumpsuit type.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
    • The defeated Gorilla Grodd, turned human is placed in prison stripes, cap and all. No shoes, though.
    • Various villains who have just escaped from prison, or are in the process of escaping from prison, appear to be wearing prison stripes over their costumes. Or at least are allowed to keep their distinctive headgear.
    • And in the Music Meister episode all the Arkham inmates are shown to wear either prison stripes or straitjackets — bar Clock King, seen working out in a wifebeater and a durag, for some reason.
  • The stripes and the orange jumpsuits turn up on The Powerpuff Girls (1998). Whenever Mojo Jojo is in stripes, he gets a special striped brain cover.
    • At the end of "Equal Fights", Femme Fatale is placed in stripes and complains that the horizontal stripes make her look chubby.
  • Escaped Luthor on Justice League Unlimited wears the Orange Prison Fatigues.
  • Cosmo and Wanda in The Fairly OddParents!: "School's Out" end up in the black and white stripes when Jorgen puts them in jail.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes uses the traditional black and white stripes.
  • The Twisted Whiskers Show has Dine & Dash, two thieving cats who have the "mask" design to their fur, and the black and white jailbird stripes as a pattern in their fur.
  • The criminals in Belle Reve prison on Young Justice (2010) all wear the orange jumpsuits. Mr. Freeze even gets a jumpsuit-like version of his cryogenic suit.
  • An episode of Beetlejuice has him thrown to prison after a frame-up; one guard changes his pinstripe suit's stripes from vertical to horizontal.
  • In the season four episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars called Deception, the inmates of the Republican Judiciary Central Detention Center have the orange apparel with the serial numbers printed on the back of the jumpsuit as well as a word printed on the left side of the arm. They also wear a black bodysuit underneath the jumpsuit
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In "Up, Up and Awry", Pooh is locked up for "breaking the law of gravity", and he wears a striped version of his normal t-shirt.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Crime", Donald acquires a striped black and white prisoner's uniform when he worries that the jig is up and he's about to go to jail.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, Mrs. Puff has been sent to jail at least twice, thanks to Spongebob's antics. The first time, she wore a black-and-white striped dress with a matching pillbox hat. The second time, she wore an orange dress with a matching hat.
  • In the Green Eggs and Ham episode "Mouse", when Sam and Guy are put in prison, they're issued with striped versions of their hats.
  • In T.U.F.F. Puppy, Kitty Katswell's evil twin sister Katty wears a striped convict uniform as one of the two ways to distinguish her from her sister, the other being that her hair has a white streak.
  • In The Cuphead Show!, season one ends with Cuphead and Mugman thrown in a jail cell in striped prison clothes and even the straws in their heads are black and white striped.

Mental Patients

    Anime & Manga 
  • Played with in Code Geass, where the Britannian Empire uses straitjackets for most prisoners, not just mental patients. C.C. Escaped from the Lab wearing a sort of odd, undone straitjacket which she kept as her default outfit in season 1. Later on, Kallen wears the same type as C.C. when held prisoner. Everyone else, including Kallen for the second time, wear more traditional straitjackets.

    Comic Books 
  • In the famed The Trial of the Flash story, The Flash kills his archnemesis Reverse-Flash just as the latter is about to murder his fiancee, Fiona Webb, on their wedding day, and is promptly arrested for murder afterward. Problem is, Fiona doesn't know the Flash's secret identity, Barry Allen, and thinks that Barry jilted her at the altar. This causes her to have a nervous breakdown, and the Flash concludes it's best for her mental health if he stay away completely. Unfortunately, this causes her to lapse into complete insanity, causing her to erupt in violent outbursts. Eventually she becomes delusional, accosting strangers and believing them to be Barry. The last we see of her is her strapped to a bed in a padded room, wearing a straitjacket and rambling deliriously about how someday Barry will return for her.

    Films — Animation 
  • One of the weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit has a half-done straitjacket on, in lieu of the zoot suits worn by the other weasels.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day has Sarah Connor in the scrubs, without any accouterments that could be used as weapons, though she found a way anyway.
  • Dead Again has people in scrubs, straitjackets or both on top of normal clothing or pajamas.
  • Under the Piano: Rosetta wears a straitjacket in the mental hospital after her suicide attempt.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Quantum Leap has people in scrubs on top of normal clothing or pajamas.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Inmates in Psych wear flimsy blue jumpsuits that cannot be used to make weapons or suicide implements.

  • In the liner notes of Garth Brooks' In the Life of Chris Gaines, Chris appears in a strait-jacket flanked by two attractive nurses on the cover of his fictional album Straight Jacket.
  • Van Halen:
    • During the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue to the video for "Hot For Teacher", Eddie Van Halen is shown in a straitjacket sitting in front of a TV, as the caption says he's in Bellevue Mental Ward and making progress.
    • The sleeve for the single "Why Can't This Be Love" has the band members dressed in scrubs and straitjackets.
  • Alice Cooper would often perform the song "The Ballad Of Dwight Frye" while wearing a straitjacket but would have one hand free to hold the microphone.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic parodies this trope appearing as Lady Gaga wearing a gold lame straight jacket in the video for "Perform This Way".

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The Heavy Metal Sisters from GLOW used to be led to the ring in straitjackets, as their gimmick was they were mental patients at the state hospital but were allowed out to wrestle "because it's therapeutic".
  • Mike Shaw wore pajamas from a mental institution when he was competing as "Norman the Lunatic" in the WCW.
  • TNA wrestler Abyss wrestles in the white scrubs from the mental hospital he was placed in (which have his last name, "Park", stenciled on the back, for some reason) after he was freed from James Mitchell.

    Video Games 
  • Psychonauts uses both the "straitjacket" and "rags" versions of the "mental institution" type: Fred wears a straitjacket, and Gloria has a tattered dress. And they also use the "scrubs" version. It turns out that Crispin was originally a patient in the asylum and Fred was an orderly, but Crispin drove Fred to Critical Psychoanalysis Failure and pulled a malicious sort of Caretaker Reversal.
  • Both of these are actually costume options for the mentally unbalanced Psymon Stark in SSX 3; One of his alternate shirts is a straitjacket, and one of his alternate bottoms is a pair of orange prison scrubs called "Standard Issue." Note that Psymon has had his trouble with the law before, as well.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, a few of the villains (Zsasz, Ivy, and Croc) are wearing asylum-issued orange clothing, though they take steps to emulate their usual getups. Croc and Zsasz go shirtless, whilst Ivy goes around without pants. Stanard transfers from Blackgate either wear mottled grey scrubs or dirty white pants with no shirt. There's also hordes of "Arkham Lunatics" who are released midway through the game, who wear white scrubs and are covered in restraints, with muzzles over their faces.
  • In Dead Space 2, protagonist Isaac Clarke wakes up in a straitjacket. It's pretty inconvenient, seeing how there's a Zombie Apocalypse going on and he can't fight back.
  • In the video game sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, Connors is shown wearing off-white scrubs with a dark shirt underneath while in Beloit Psychiatric Hospital.
  • In Lethal League Blaze, a straitjacket is an unlockable outfit for Candyman. There is also a bright red variant, known in-game as Straitjacket Alert. In both cases, the sleeves have been separated from each other to allow Candyman to use his arms, as he'd be unable to play Lethal League otherwise.
  • In Sanitarium, Amnesiac Hero Max wakes up in an insane asylum wearing teal patient scrubs with his head swathed in bandages. He spends much of the game trying to piece together how he got there, while being transported to bizarre otherworlds, sometimes taking on other identities, never certain how much is real.
  • In Strangeland, playing on the cliche, the main character wears what is referred to in-game as a "retro-straitjacket". He manages to undo his straps in the first minute of the game, and the overlong cuffs dangle past his fingers when not rolled back to allow the use of his hands. In fact, he does not seem to have been institutionalized in real life — the straitjacket is simply shorthand for his fractured mental state in the dreamscape of the game's setting.

    Web Original 
  • In KateModern, the inmates of St. Grinstead Psychiatric Research Institution wear plain grey pajamas. Straitjackets are reserved for especially dangerous patients, such as the infamous Patient #12.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series has the villains in their normal costumes with straitjackets on top in some episodes, or in scrubs in others (it took a while to establish consistency).
  • The Joker wore an oversized straitjacket in his early appearances on The Batman, later donning the traditional purple suit.
  • Sometimes the women wore short dresses (like in the lobotomized Ivy in the Justice Lord's Universe in Justice League Unlimited, and BTAS' tie-in comics.
  • Young Justice (2010)
    • Lampshaded when Zatanna traps The Riddler in white bindings, causing him to freak out. "I am NOT the straightjacket type! I am strictly Belle Reve, not Arkham!"
    • Speaking of which, the jumpsuits worn by Belle Reve inmates are orange.


Video Example(s):


From Helicopter to Prison

Markiplier calls out the protagonist for not thinking his escape plan through. His lament carries over from the helicopter scene straight to the prison scene.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConversationCut

Media sources: