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Magic Pants

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Shirt? Tatters. Shoes? Shreds.
Pants? Just turned into shorts is all.

"Thankfully, his clothes also grew just enough not to bother the censors."
The Narrator, Arakawa Under the Bridge

Heroes who can change their size or shape generally don't have to worry about ruining their clothes in the process. They must have Magic Pants.

Simply put, Magic Pants are the "civilian" clothing the characters wear as they go about their daily business. They may lose them during the Transformation Sequence, but once the dirty work is done, they'll appear back in them often right where they were standing. This can even happen if the transformations are shown to explicitly destroy the clothing.

To be fair, it's not like a character suddenly conjuring up several hundred pounds of mass out of thin air is made any more unbelievable by their clothes being exempt.

Note that in many cases, even if the rest of his clothing is destroyed, the hero's pants will miraculously survive. You can thank the Moral Guardians for that. This is also conceptually related to Out-of-Clothes Experience: Your clothes technically aren't a part of "you", so in spirit-space you're naked. Monster Modesty (a monster walks around almost naked for little reason) is often used in conjunction with this trope.

Also note that Magic Pants are only for characters who seem to remain clothed even when it's inconsistent with what gives them their powers. Magical characters (who presumably can conjure up a fresh set), characters with super speed (Superman, The Flash) who have the demonstrated ability to get dressed faster than the human eye can see, or heroes whose clothing is what makes them super in the first place would actually be aversions of this trope.

For transformations which ruin clothing in such a way as to show a titillating swath of skin while still keeping the naughty bits covered, see Clothing Damage.

Compare Impossibly Cool Clothes, Magic Skirt. Aversions and subversions should generally be listed under tropes like Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing and Technically Naked Shapeshifter.

See also My Suit Is Also Super — for a transformation-powered hero, a popular kind of super-suit is one that can transform with them — and Plot Pants — when a costume change, to default or new, indicates the plot is moving on.

Not to be confused with Trouser Space and definitely not to be confused with Right Through His Pants.

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Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • In this Cheetos ad, a boy is magically blown up like a big balloon. Despite only wearing swimming trunks, he gets to keep his modesty intact without even a hint of ripped fabric. Possibly justified in that trunks do sometimes have a lot of stretch, but considering the size he gains it still seems like an unlikely that they wouldn't at least snap off due to his sudden bulk gain.


    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Not that Wolffy wears much clothing to begin with; he wears a bandana around his neck and a hat. In Mighty Little Defenders, when he's transformed into a dog by one of General Wolf's functional chips, his hat disappears, but his bandana remains intact, albeit shrunken.

    Historical Record 
  • One of the few things that Pliny the Elder actively did not believe was Werewolves. Not because a man can't turn into a wolf and viceversa, but them not ruining their clothing? That goes too far.
    • "Fabius adds to this tale that he also regains his clothing. It is amazing how far Greek gullibility will go! There is no lie so shameful that it will lack partisans."

    Fan Works 
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfics Hakkōna and Kaitō Kokoro: When Kiku turns into human or nekomataneko form, he always has clothes on. This could be due to him literally creating the clothes, but still.
  • Averted in one case for DC Nation. Fauna's clothing doesn't "keep up" when she shapeshifts. This led to her fighting off a zombie horde and only realizing AFTER she had come out of her Hulking Out that she was wearing nothing at all. The only saving graces to the situation were that she grew up on a hippie commune and that Hades had forced the Titans to compete in the nude, so she was in good company. She later designed (and sewed) her costume to accommodate her shapeshifting.
  • Averted in With Strings Attached; Paul cannot wear clothing, as he rips through it easily, so he has to use a cosmetic illusion to remain modest—when he feels like it. He does walk around naked on occasion, though rarely in public. On the other hand, George's clothing explicitly goes into his "closet" when he changes, so he keeps a whole wardrobe in there and can put on any stored outfit, any time.
  • Invoked in Avengers of the Ring, a The Avengers/The Lord of the Rings crossover. During the Fellowship's meeting with Galadriel, Bruce receives a magical braise (a pair of silk boxer shorts) from her that works exactly as this trope suggests.
  • Weaponized in Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. Mad Scientist Dr Zarkendorf tries to turn himself into a thirty-foot hulk with serious anger management issues, but his Crazy-Prepared enemy has arranged for his underwear to be made of unbreakable non-stretch fabric, causing Zarkendorf to pass out from the pain.
  • Averted in I Guard the World when Tonks morphs into a troll to save Harry from his abusive relatives and the only clothing on her body post-change is a shred of skirt hanging around her ankle.
  • Played straight in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Card Trick when Koichi is turned into a bird by an enemy Stand User, his clothes are completely fine once he changes back at the end of the fight..
  • Wyvern: Clothing is not normally designed to survive shapeshifting to a totally different body type. New Wave introduces Taylor to Parian to commission an outfit that will, so Taylor doesn't end up naked when changing from human to wyvern and back to human. Averted otherwise — she loses three sets of clothes on her first day alone. After she beats the crap out of Inago, she ends up so large that she outgrows the costume.

    Web Original 
  • Averted in Small Problem, when Debby wakes up to find that she had shrunk out of her pajamas.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Averted in Shifters. Either they're not very good, and they lose their clothes, or they're so good that — like Jimmy T — they fake their own clothes as part of their appearance.
    • The "Hulk" problem is parodied in the story "Tales of the MCO", when one of the commercial breaks for the program the students are watching is for the upcoming Merchant-Ivory film "Hulk 1809", which includes in the trailer a Keira Knightley look-alike saying to the hero, "Good sirrah, where are your clothes? And why are your pants that hideous shade of purple?"

    Web Videos 
  • Corridor Digital, a visual effects studio, did some testing and simulation to see if any real pants exist that would justify the Hulk staying decent.
  • New Life SMP: Lampshaded in Owen's 7th episode; after Sparrow "dies" as a Copper Golem automaton and returns as a Sculk "hybrid", he is thankful that he comes back with clothes or "that would have been… awkward".
  • Morduval from Tales From My D&D Campaign transforms briefly into a large tentacle monster whenever he's attacked, bursting out of his clothes, but always changes right back, leaving him naked (except for a Censor Box). It turns out his outfit is self-regenerating, growing back after about 20 seconds, but this means that he's an aversion to the trope, even though he has literal magic pants!


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Alternative Title(s): Modesty Rags


The Hulk's Pants

MatPat explains an eternal trope that the Hulk has been a constant example of for years, using his more modern adaptation to showcase it. It's also an example of MatPat reacting to his own dad jokes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

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