Follow TV Tropes

Following

Labcoat of Science and Medicine

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/labcoat-of-science-and-medicine_csi_3499.png

"Fear not, lab coat fans! This comic isn't the last we've seen of lab coats and the wearing thereof. There [sic] are of the utmost importance in a lab / basement where they have yet to be seen ever working with hazardous chemicals."
Advertisement:

In media, there are two sorts of people who wear labcoats: scientists and medical doctors. As such, a character wearing a lab coat is a good indication that they're involved in either science (and/or Mad Science!), or a medical field. This is despite the fact that in real life doctors and scientists do not normally wear such coats unless there is a reason that they need to keep their clothes clean, and should definitely not wear them in public because they might expose people to dangerous substances. In media, this coat is almost always white.

A subtrope of the Labcoat of Science and Medicine is the Mad Scientist Lab Coat which is typically the Howie-style lab coat with the asymmetrical front panel and the high, stiff collar. This style of full-coverage lab coat, designed to minimize pathogen contact with street clothing, has long been associated with esoterically-minded scientists from Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Horrible, and is pretty much a clear sign that its wearer doesn't care about such silly things as medical ethics boards while he Gets Shit Done. Another marker of Science-Related Memetic Disorder is when the coat (Howie-style, or otherwise) is particularly ragged, tattered, stained with unknown substances and full of holes burned by acid, lightning or god knows what else; this is a clear sign that the wearer experiments with dangerous stuff, doesn't care about either safety or appearance. note 

Advertisement:

Supertrope to Dressed to Heal which also requires a stethoscope and a head mirror. Compare Einstein Hair, another classic visual cue that screams "Science person!"


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Max and Molly. the Female Feline, Male Mutt mascots of 1-800-PET-MEDS, wear labcoats... and nothing else.
  • This is nearly universal in advertising, really. Any product with any sort of purported health benefit will have a someone straight out of Central Casting giving it the stamp of approval, and almost invariably decked out in a white labcoat. Since a labcoat is visual shorthand for "medical expert" to the layperson, expect to see one worn even when said expert's field doesn't require such protective gear, like a behavioral therapist or a dietitian.

    Anime & Manga 
  • While we don't know what subjects does Yuki Endou from Asteroid in Love teaches, she was an astronomy enthusiast. Present Day, she often wears a lab coat over business casual attire.
  • Hokuto , the token labcoat guy of his team from B't X, is a person who actually does BOTH science and medicine.
  • Shinra from Durarara!!, who is noted even by the other characters for not taking that coat off, ever.
  • Icchan from Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer, who really is a scientist, but most people associate his outfit with "pervert/weirdo."
  • Proffesor Tomoe from Sailor Moon wears one of these in all of his appearances, even in his own house. It's meant to emphasize his Mad Scientist status.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Ritsuko wears one, being in charge of NERV's medical facilities, alongside being the local Omnidisciplinary Scientist. Naoko and Yui apparently wore them as well, both having high qualifications in meta-physical biology.
  • All the regional professors in the Pokémon franchise wear these coats.
  • Kakei of Drug & Drop runs a pharmacy and has the lab coat to match. What's less clear is whether he is an actual pharmacist or not.
  • In Nichijou, the Child Prodigy Professor wears an oversized lab coat and tie. Science teacher Kana Nakamura simply wears one over her regular clothing.
  • Okabe Rintarou (or rather HOUOUIN KYOUMA!!), the hammy protagonist and self-proclaimed Mad Scientist of Steins;Gate, naturally always wears one of those.
    • So does Makise Kurisu. When seeing her wear a lab coat, Okabe decides that they make a pose and it was EPIC
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Resident Large Ham Mad Scientist and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers Big Bad Doctor Jail Scaglietti is rarely ever seen without one. At least, until he was finally arrested and imprisoned.
    • This became part of Shamal's uniform after she became a medical officer for the TSAB. Fellow TSAB personnel Mariel Atenza also wears one as part of her uniform, although in her case, she's the head of the precision engineering section.
  • Just to remind the audience that he's a scientist as well a resistance soldier, Kill la Kill's Aikuro Mikisugi will occasionally don a labcoat. An open labcoat. And nothing else.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Early in the series, a scientist who was giving a lecture was shown wearing one.
    • Germany wore a white lab coat when he was researching a substitute for coffee.
  • Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove it: The entire main cast wears lab coats despite not being in a field that requires lab coats. The only time the presence of lab coats is questioned is when the two leads trying to scientifically prove they are in love with each other elect to wear them on an experimental date.

    Arts 
  • In 1929, Tamara de Lempicka painted a rather dashing Art Deco portrait of Dr. Pierre Boucard, suitably-attired and ready for battle with his microscopic enemy. Never before has the study of diarrhea-causing bacteria looked so glamorous!
Advertisement:

    Comic Books 
  • In Daredevil #324 Dr. Morbius puts on a labcoat specifically because it helps him thinks like a scientist he says. In Punisher v7 #11 he wears a Mad Scientist Labcoat when stitching back together Frank Castle who had been chopped to pieces by Daken, and turns him into a Frankenstein's Monster.
  • Another Marvel Comics example: This is the standard attire of Spider-Man villain The Lizard.
  • Not only do Dr. Sivana and his children, Professor Edgewise, and most of the other myriad good/evil scientists in the original Captain Marvel comics wear these, they're bizarrely never seen taking them off.
  • Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle of Resident Alien wears one when on-duty.

    Fan Works 
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Jor-El wears a green version of this while working in his personal laboratory.
  • The Nightmare House, a fanfiction of The Loud House, has Lana having a bad dream featuring a Mad Doctor in a lab coat.
  • The Discworld of A.A. Pessimal sees a budding romance between wizard Ponder Stibbons and Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes. Johanna's scientific interests lie in zoology and animal management; she runs the Animal Management Unit, a purpose-built facility where young Assassin students learn that Nature is a rthing of wonder and majesty to which the appropriate respect must be shown. Knowing Johanna hasn't had that much experience with men, and making a shrewd guess as to what a scientifically-minded nerdy Wizard might appreciate in a love interest, more worldly friends get her into a white lab-coat and give her a clipboard to hold. Ponder Stibbons, visiting the A.M.U., is suitably entranced.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • As Nathan Shumate (of the now-defunct Cold Fusion Video) noted in his review of The Invisible Maniac, the scientists at the supposedly big and important symposium where protagonist Kevin Dornwinkle fumbles his demonstration of an Invisibility serum "must be the best of the best of the best in the scientific community, because this entire international symposium is comprised of maybe a dozen people (who didn't even bother to take off their labcoats)." Dornwinkle himself proves to be much more relaxed about this himself later on when he's shown perfecting his invisibility serum at home in his apartment in his civilian clothes.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the scientists working on a particle accelerator all wear lab coats. In real life, particle accelerator operators dress less like movie scientists and more like this.
  • Back to the Future: Doctor Emmett "Doc" Brown wears this until he returns from the future.
  • The Tooth Fairy from The Santa Clause wears a dental lab coat.
  • Flash Gordon: Both Dr. Hans Zarkov and his assistant, Munson, sport traditional white labcoats in spite of them not actually being in a lab of any kind.
  • The Ghostbusters wear blue lab-coats in their first commercial.
  • James Bond:
    • Skyfall. Lampshaded when Bond meets the new (and very young) Q.
      Bond: You've got to be joking.
      Q: Why, because I'm not wearing a lab coat?
    • In The Living Daylights, The Dragon infiltrates an SIS safehouse disguised as a milkman. He gets out by hanging a stethoscope around his neck, so with his white clothes he now looks like a doctor evacuating a wounded man.

    Literature 
  • In A Bad Case of Stripes, the five doctors all wear lab coats.
  • The standard uniform of every Technician, the caste who keep society's machines and computers, and thus, society, functioning in Robert Westall's Futuretrack Five is the classic white labcoat, buttoned in different ways to differentiate between grades of Tech.
  • Invoked by Dr. Sandrisson in Grand Central Arena, whose usual outfit is a white suit of which the coat is tailored to resemble a lab coat.
  • In Heart of Steel, Alistair wears Howie-style lab coats almost exclusively until he very end, when he has manufactured exactly one steampunk-style suit for a formal dinner, plus another to visit the grave of his beloved.
  • The "Bird Doc" in How To Be Comfortable In Your Own Feathers is a generic doctor in a lab coat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Practically every character on a CSI series wears a labcoat at one point or another, for the scientist version. And sometimes it's a double, with characters like Doc Robbins and Ray Langston on regular CSI or Dr. Hawkes and Sid Hammerback on CSI: NY. Sort of. Although they *are* that kind of doctor, and have been known in some cases to treat colleagues, they aren't actually practicing medicine.
  • In Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, all doctor characters wear white coat. Anyone (but one person) who does not has some reason like guilt or Evil Costume Switch.
  • Dr. Beverly Crusher, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, is rarely seen without her blue labcoat.
  • Averted by Dr. House, who regularly refused to wear his lab coat. In Princeton-Plainsboro, labcoats are the biggest visual indicator that any given character with whom you're unfamiliar is a doctor and not a nurse or an orderly, as their policy is that doctors need to wear labcoats.
  • Noah's Arc: When Ricky wakes up in the hospital, he sees Junito (who is wearing his labcoat for the first time). The presence of the labcoat lets Ricky know that Junito's there as a doctor, not a visitor, and something serious must've happened to him.
  • The X-Files: Agent Dana Scully wears scrubs and/or a labcoat whenever she performs an autopsy. She's the scientist and sceptic of the Dynamic Duo.
  • NCIS has forensic scientist Abby Sciuto (science sub-type) and Chief Medical Examiner Donald "Ducky" Mallard (medicine sub-type).
  • In an episode of Rizzoli & Isles, the detectives are dealing with a witness who claims he can't remember faces. To test this theory out, Jane (having interrogated him earlier) borrows Maura's lab coat and puts her hair up to pretend to be a forensic scientist. The theory proves correct - he eventually only recognizes her by voice).
  • Dr Cox and Dr Kelso in Scrubs. One episode involved JD starting to wear a labcoat, and Dr Cox declaring it was now devalued and wearing a hockey jersey. It didn't help that the Janitor started wearing one as well.
  • Elementary: Played with in one episode; several witnesses assume a woman is a doctor because of her white labcoat. Sherlock and Watson both immediately realize that something is wrong, since doctors never wear labcoats outside of a hospital in case they get dirty and bring pathogens back. Turns out the woman worked for an upscale perfume boutique, invoking this trope to make the place feel more scientific than it really was.
  • Dr. Clayton Forrester of Mystery Science Theater 3000 wears a modern-style laboratory coat, but its unconventional color — lime green — immediately marks him as a Mad Scientist.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: While Fitz and Simmons are infiltrating a fancy science party, Mack is playing Mission Control. When he mentions he doesn't think any of the attendees are scientists because they're not wearing lab coats, Fitz and Simmons get offended.
    Simmons: Well, do you think scientists only wear lab coats? Are we wearing them now?
    Fitz: Yeah. What, we walk around all day with goggles and gloves on, do we?
  • Wonder Woman: In "Anschluss '77", Wonder Woman transformed into a brown dress and tan heels and put on a lab coat that was available in order to disguise herself as Dr. Heinrich Von Klemper's assistant. Of course, the ruse didn't last long since the doctor had never previously had a stunningly gorgeous assistant. Her magic lasso worked fine, but it was unclear if she was wearing her belt of strength under the lab coat or whether it would work properly when worn this way. The scene implied that Wonder Woman retained her full abilities as it included Steve Trevor holding two Nazis prisoner - something he rarely could accomplish without Wonder Woman backing him up. Regardless, it's often overlooked that one of the many official Wonder Woman outfits from the series includes...a brown dress.

    Music 
  • Doctor Steel is almost always seen in a somewhat comical-appearing PVC labcoat. His "doctorate" is never really specified, but he shows aptitude in a multitude of disciplines.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic ends up wearing one at one point in his video for Jurassic Park.

    Pinballs 

    Podcasts 

    Tabletop Games 

    Theatre 
  • The doctor from The Book of Mormon usually dresses the same as other people in his village, but in the scene in his office he wears a meticulously clean white lab coat over his clothes.

    Video Games 
  • In Half-Life/Black Mesa, Blue Shift, and Opposing Force, almost every scientist you see is wearing a lab coat. Then, in Half-Life 2, there's a photo of some Black Mesa employees, and again, everyone in the photo is wearing a lab coat. In the same game, Kleiner is always wearing a white jacket, though it's not quite long enough to necessarily qualify as a lab coat, per se. When you arrive at Black Mesa East, Eli says, "We'll get you out of that hazard suit and into your lab coat where you belong." Black Mesa scientists really like their lab coats, it seems. Though, to their credit, Eli, Judith, and Magnusson aren't wearing them in the Half-Life 2 games — but Magnusson's assistant, Uriah (a vortigaunt), is wearing one.
  • Doctor Hojo of Final Fantasy VII is never seen without his labcoat. His rival, Doctor Hollander, wears an identical coat in the prequel. It's used to establish their Mad Scientist status and highlight the madness in their scientific endeavors.
  • In The Last Remnant, Rush's parents both wear these. The pair are some of the most well-known scientists studying Remnants in the Academy.
  • Bowman Jeanne of Star Ocean: The Second Story wears one when in his pharmacy, and retains it if he joins the party. His special attacks are also themed around pills and medicine to further illustrate his association with this field.
  • In Day of the Tentacle, when Hoagie hires himself as Red Edison's assistant, he is told to "grab his labcoat and get to work", even though the only thing going on in Red's lab is simple mechanic work and Red himself isn't wearing one. (The labcoat figures into a puzzle where it's used to make a kite.)
  • Naked Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater gets one in order to infiltrate the soviet's weapon laboratories. Guards will be completely fooled by it as long as Snake doesn't start doing suspicious things like crawling around, but other scientists will immediately trigger the alarm if they see his face.
  • Labcoats in the Fallout games give bonuses to your Science skill, and some Medicine-boosting apparel has the same look. From Fallout 3 on, there have been unique labcoats which boost both skills. Fallout: New Vegas has several in the Mad-Science-themed Old World Blues DLC which raise both the intelligence stat and the science skill. In Fallout 4, they only raise intelligence.
  • The Medic in Team Fortress 2 wears one. In "Meet The Medic", we see him put on his coat while preparing for battle (AFTER performing open-heart surgery on The Heavy).
  • Q in every James Bond game between Agent Under Fire and Everything or Nothing.
  • Bravely Default uses this along with red glasses as the job outfit for the Spiritmaster, an advanced White Mage class.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has a labcoat as the unique armor of the Alchemist crafting class, invoking this trope.
  • Dr. Mario ditches the hat and overalls for a labcoat in his own games as well as Super Smash Bros.
  • The coroner and forensic experts in Criminal Case's police department wears white labcoat when they are performing analysis.
  • In Anachronox, practically every scientist on Sunder, the planet of science (and on several other planets as well) wears a white lab coat. In order to board the Brain Train (the shuttle taking you to Sunder), you need to wear one yourself in order to look like you belong.
  • In the Classic Mega Man series, Doctors Light, Wily, and Cossack sport them; they are the foremost authorities in robotics in their world.note  In artwork, Wily sometimes has his unbuttoned so that it billows out in the wind.
  • Moshi Monsters has a scientist named Tamara Tesla, who wears a labcoat all the time.
  • Given the prevalence of mad scientists in the Resident Evil series, these inevitably show up. For example, William and Annette Birkin are never seen not wearing them, and even Wesker, who, though a scientist, is generally never seen actually working in a laboratory, wears one in a flashback in Resident Evil 0.
  • The antagonist of Game Tengoku, Genius Yamada, is a creepy perverted Mad Scientist who wears nothing but a labcoat.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 has Jude wearing a labcoat as part of his new outfit signifying his role in spyrite research.
  • Quantum Break: From the Fictional Document of the first half of the Time Knife screenplay:
    Somebody knocks on Bruce's door and he opens it. It's a SCIENTIST LADY. She looks like a librarian with glasses but she is actually a scientist. You can tell because she has a lab coat.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ema Skye from the Ace Attorney series always wears a white lab coat whenever she appears, befitting her dream of being a forensic scientist.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: Invoked in the Strong Bad Email "stupid stuff", when Strong Bad gives Homestar a lab coat and Nerd Glasses in order to make him seem smarter. It fails to make any impact on Homestar's intelligence, but the first word out of his mouth when he attempts to say something smart is "Science!"
  • Alison from the Argentinian web series Triviatopia wears a labcoat (resembling a dress).
  • Object Show characters sometimes wear ones. The most notable are Test Tube and Prof. Rubber.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Labcoats are standard gadgeteer/deviser uniform at Whateley, due to the convenience of the pockets and hardpoints that make it easy for them to carry what they need with them.
  • Twig is centered around an Academy of Evil focused on Mad Scientists, so naturally labcoats are common attire. White is worn by students, to indicate they're still learning. Black is worn by professors, so that the stains don't show.
  • In C0DA, the Tsaesci who work for "The Intellective", "a bionic despot of a parallel reality", wear them. The Intellective is attempting to invade the reality of the work with his "Videoverse", a Schizo Tech land full of advertisements.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Dr. Doofenschmirtz of Phineas and Ferb claims to be an evil scientist, yet his doctorate was purchased online. Played for Laughs as everyone who's not familiar with him thinks he's a pharmacist.
  • Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory is a young Mad Scientist in training who wears a labcoat—and apparently no shirt or pants under it, just boots. He might not have the formal education, but he certainly has the intelligence.
  • Dr. Scratchensniff from Animaniacs wears one, despite supposedly being a psychiatrist.
  • Dr. Five Eyes from Skysurfer Strike Force
  • Viceroy from Randy cunningham 9th grade ninja wears one, though his is lavender instead of the traditional white.
  • Clyde Crashcup and Leonardo from The Alvin Show.
  • A pair of scientists who often show up to give Daggett and Norbert some trouble in The Angry Beavers always wear white lab coats. No matter what they do, it's For Science!!
    Being a scientist means never having to say you're sorry.
    • In one episode, they see Daggett putting on a labcoat and realize he's cured Norbert.
  • In Adventure Time, this is Doctor Princess's usual garb. PB often wears one when she's doing something science-y.
  • Susan and Mary Test in Johnny Test.
  • Both Lord Boxman and Professor Venomous from OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes wear lab coats. Boxman's has a High Collar of Doom and he wears it buttoned up; Venomous keeps his unbuttoned.
  • Most scientists and doctors on Futurama wear white labcoats. Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, the show's resedent Mad Scientist, physicist and inventor, always wears a white labcoat, exceptions include only going to the beach and skiing. He wears his labcoat even to the baseball game. His former pupil and archnemesis Professor Wernstrom likewise wears a white labcoat. The Planet Express company doctor wears scrubs and a labcoat. Spoofed when there is a conference and every scientist wears a white labcoat despite them not being in a lab.
  • Galaxy-tier supergenius and mad scientist Grandpa Rick from Rick and Morty sports his labcoat around the house as casualwear.

    Real Life 
  • Various kinds of doctors and scientists do, of course, use white labcoats in their professions, just not as widely as in fiction. They're fairly practical for protecting regular clothes in a chemistry lab or hospital, while not being nearly as useful for (for example) astrophysicists, who seem to lean more toward cool vests decorated with celestial objects or iconic turtlenecks.

Alternative Title(s): White Coat Of Science And Medicine, Labcoat Of Science, Labcoat Of Medicine, White Coat Of Science, White Coat Of Medicine

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report