These superheroes just aren't called superheroes. They often don't wear costumes or use code names, but they have abilities far beyond those of normal men, and are superheroes in all but name.
Occasionally, such stories will lampshade the trope by having characters in off hand discussions about whether they'd look good in a cape, or using Something Person-style nicknames, but discarding the ideas as being "silly." A "This Is Reality" remark can be thrown in, as well.
Like many tropes this one has underlying practical considerations, such as:
- Aesthetics: Most classic comic book-style superhero costumes tend to look very silly in live action, which is why Movie Superheroes Wear Black. Plus, with a few relatively rare exceptions (such as Christopher Reeve as Superman, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, or Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow) it is very difficult to cast someone who physically resembles comic book interpretations (especially in cases where body shapes are exaggerated).
- Genre Shift: When the creator is actually aiming for the story to look and feel as if it belongs in Science Fiction or Urban Fantasy categories, and does not initially realize that the story fits the conventions of the super hero genre. They may or may not act kindly to people pointing out the similarities.
- Marketing: Some creators may wish to avoid their characters being seen as superheroes in order to prevent incorrect expectations of the work. The marketers may also want to play up the popularity of their lead actor or actress, meaning that a face-covering mask is a big no-no.
- Budget: Mostly affects TV shows rather than films. Most live-action shows have to work within very tight budgets, so it can be difficult to create a faithful translation of a comic outfit without it looking cheesey or low rent. The Justice League of America pilot and the later seasons of Smallville are rather infamous for having comic-accurate but extremely cheesey looking costumes, for instance.
- Legal: Licensing for intellectual properties can be very complicated and they may be unable to use the iconic costume of the hero but can still use the character itself. A well-known example is Smallville where they had the rights to use Clark Kent and some back story elements but not have the rights to show Superman (for most of the series).
Compare with Sci-Fi Ghetto, Not Using the "Z" Word, Animation Age Ghetto. See also Civvie Spandex and Spandex, Latex, or Leather. Series in which people are Not Wearing Tights typically use a Differently Powered Individual label.
- Darker than Black is a seinen series, but its "Contractors" are superheroes in all but name — and with a decidedly darker twist. Overall, the whole Contractor idea and the prejudice against them has rather a similarity to mutants in X-Men (although this is one of the few cases where the Fantastic Racists actually might have a good point). Also, the protagonist Hei wears a mask and uses a Grappling-Hook Pistol but no one uses the "s-word" to describe him.
- ...though another "s-word" was used even before he became Contractor.
- This is actually more averted after the first series, as the interquel manga, set after the Masquerade is exposed, the news do explicitly compare Contractors to comic book characters. Also, as of the second season, Hei's not the only character who wears a costume. A female Contractor with Implausible Fencing Powers dresses in a black "ninja-like" outfit and a guy not only has a magic-themed power and Renumeration, but he also dresses like one as well.
- In a flashback to the Heaven's Gate war, Bai is shown to dress similar to a superhero.
- Lelouch in Code Geass dresses as Zero in costume, cape, and mask and turns his Large Ham quotient up to 11. He even has a Batman-style Secret Identity. It's definitely implied that Lelouch was inspired by superheroes, as side materials make off-hand references to him liking comic books and Toku as a child. He promoted himself to Batman as a PR move. He called his terrorist organization 'The Black Knights' and had them publicly running around defeating drug dealers and terrorists with less PR-savvy. (He also actually employs a professional news-spinner to work on his PR in this period.) Though the suit itself is agreed to look more like Space Dracula.
- This is a Zig-Zagging Trope in My Hero Academia which is a superhero shonen inspired by Western comics. For the most part this is averted, almost every hero has a spandex costume with only a couple of wild cards like Jiro whose “hero” costume just looks like regular clothing. However there’s plenty of arcs where the Main Characters don’t wear their hero outfits at all being in either their gym uniforms or civilian attire. Also unlike a lot of western heroes a lot of them don’t seem to be fussed about wearing masks either Midoriya (despite being based on Spidey himself) just stops wearing his cowl-like mask early on. Somewhat justified, as except for the Pro-Heroes most of the characters such as the students don’t have secret identities.
- While a Magical Girl series, most of the HiME from My-HiME don't do the genre-typical "super-frilly dress-up while shouting idealistic slogans before fighting" thing. Well, Midori does but even then she's just using her work uniform — everyone else uses whatever they were wearing at the time they summon their powers, oftentimes their school uniforms. It is a Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction, though, so by about halfway through the series no one's in any place to be doing that anyway...
- Li'l Slugger from Paranoia Agent. While hitting people in the head with a baseball bat isn't much of a superpower, he definitely invokes a secretive vigilante image. Over time, he becomes a lot worse than that...
- NEEDLESS, similar to Darker than Black, features many X-Men-like characters, but dives a great deal more consciously into other Superhero tropes.
- In Marvel Anime: Wolverine, the title character doesn't wear his trademark yellow costume from the comics.
- Speed Grapher has a super-powered hero who fights against similarly super-powered villains in a Monster of the Week format. His similarity to a super-hero is lampshaded at one point by Ginza, who seeing his powers for the first time, comments sarcastically, "Silly me thinking comic books were fake." The Big Bad, Suitengu is a classic Diabolical Mastermind supervillain, and like V of V for Vendetta is the product of Playing with Syringes.
- In Trigun, Vash the Stampede is a Human Alien who wears a futuristic red coat, carries a customized revolver and has superpowers. And has a cyborg left arm with a minigun in it. Wolfwood is a Badass Preacher who carries a giant cross of massive destruction. They fight Vash's Evil Twin Omnicidal Maniac Arch-Enemy (who has similar or greater powers) and his minions.
- Said minions being, essentially, a team of supervillains.
- One-Punch Man much like My Hero Academia zigzags this, the biggest aversions are the titular protagonist Saitama as well as Blast both of whom wear the traditional spandex and cape, yet a lot of other characters play this straight with Genos, Tatsumaki, Fubuki etc wearing more casual clothing (albeit Tatsumaki and Fubuki’s outfits in the manga are ludicrously tight fitting like most female superhero outfits). Zombieman in particular just has a trench coat, tank top and pants, although his other outfit is more tight-fitting in The Crow fashion.
- About a dozen episodes into Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, Seiya, the sidekick, becomes an Empowered Badass Normal. He doesn't have a Secret Identity and delusions of Super Hero pageantry get knocked out of him pretty quickly. Instead, he throws around energy projectiles and gets into aerial battles wearing jeans and a hoodie.
- Many shonen series are based around constant combat between good and evil people with unique or nearly unique superpowers (but often a common Meta Origin, such as being a ninja, shinigami or pirate).
- A Certain Scientific Railgun is full of supers, the morality of whom are all over the spectrum. About the only one who think of himself as a superhero is Gunha Sogiita, one of the Level 5. His appearance matches his attitude.
- Played with in Dragon Ball Z. While the main cast don't usually fit the mold of superheroes, they do have most of the traits covered by one person or another within the group. The cast's outfits are all rather colorful, but for most of them this is a way to represent the martial arts schools that they come from. Vegeta's preferred outfit includes Future Spandex, but that's because it's a part of his iconic Saiyan armor. Piccolo's outfit includes a cape, but said cape is weighted and mostly used for training, and he'll toss it if a fight starts to get serious. Notably, the only character that fully averts this trope is teen Gohan, who adopts a superhero persona Great Saiyaman Great in order to hide his identity from his classmates, and is portrayed as a complete dork in doing so (though Videl joins him as “Great Saiyawoman” in the anime). This trope is played straightest by Future Trunks, who fights in plain clothes until Bulma makes him some Saiyan armor. Also fittingly averted in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero where Dr. Hedo firmly believes in heroes wearing tight-fitting spandex so the android antagonists Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 wear caped costumes. Played straight ironically in the same film with Gohan, as despite being the one character in The 'Verse with the most precedence for dressing up in tights and a cape as a superhero... just wears gi this time round. Then again Gohan’s arrival at Red Ribbon base to rescue Pan with his billowing cape is extremely reminiscent of Superman, he even does the “pulling off the glasses to show he’s serious” move like Clark.
- Undead Unluck: Negators have a collective metahuman nickname and individual codenames, and a few even have secret identities. None wear costumes, with the closest thing being the Union's Badass in a Nice Suit aesthetic. Interestingly enough in-universe, there is a comic that closely matches up with them... but it's a genre-defying sci-fi Shoujo manga, rather than anything to do with superheroes.
- Garth Ennis is a staunch believer in this due to his general loathing of superpowered costumed heroes. So the heroes of Preacher and the The Boys despite having superpowers wear regular (dark) clothing rather than anything remotely superhero-ey. Even when it comes to The Punisher, who for the record did have a spandex suit for decades, noticeably has instead a shirt and pants when written by Ennis in Punisher MAX.
- This was the general intention of Alias which is a grounded Darker and Edgier take on the Marvel 616 universe. While costumed heroes and villains do appear, it’s only in flashbacks to Jessica Jones’s time as a superhero which ended horrifically thanks to the Purple Man. In the present Jess, Luke Cage and Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) favour trench coats for fighting instead of costumes with a coy reference to The Matrix being made. When asked why she isn’t wearing her spider suit Jessica jokes that it made her ass look big (which is true).
- The Byronic Hero "V" in V for Vendetta wears a costume, mask, and cape. While he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist rather than a traditional superhero, it is kind of odd that no other characters think "superhero" when they see him.
- Superheroes tend to invoke silly images instead of creepy. Superheroes, when they have masks, either obscure only part of the face or are form fitting. V is neither. His outfit would be much more suitable to a conventional villain in most comic universes. The world he lives in has heavy censorship laws so it makes sense that many characters would have no idea what a superhero was.
- V explains the importance of his face-obscuring mask to Evie just before the end of the story. He wears it because if people knew his face, he would be just a man, but as "V" he is an idea, an icon, a symbol for people to believe in. Also, so that Evie can succeed him without anyone knowing the first V has been killed.
- V actually wears tights and is one of the completely justified male examples of such hero. His persona is a XVII-century soldier and so his costume is a recreation of the historical garb that included tight-fitting breeches, doublet and a cape. Without the mask, he could quite well fit the crowd on the London street in an Elizabethan era.
- Usually averted in Invincible, where the heroes wear spandex but during the lengthy period where Mark and Eve give up being heroes and leave Earth with their baby daughter they play this straight while being no less super than they always are, just dressed more casually. To lampshade this change the comic’s subtitle puts a strikethrough the “superhero” part of the “The best superhero comic in the universe”. When Mark and Eve finally re-don their hero costumes to fight Thragg in 134# it’s cathartic for both them and the reader.
- The Umbrella Academy is uniquely plays this straight, then averts it. As kids the siblings all have a school uniform instead of spandex like the X-Men but as adults however they wear more traditional hero garb with Klaus, Diego, Allison and the late Ben wearing tights (and a cape in Ben’s case). Five initially plays this straight wearing the academy’s school uniform, but by the time of Hotel Oblivion wears a spandex suit. Although the inherent absurdity of it is acknowledged In-Universe e.g a news-clipping in issue 4 of Apocalypse Suite surmises Rumour aka Allison may have been distracted in the battle, because she’s “wondering what a thirty year old woman is doing in a rubber leotard fighting killer robots in a amusement park at night”.
- The Incredible Hulk is one of the straightest examples of this in comics and the first real case of this in Marvel compared the other superheroes at the time e.g Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. His default look of big shirtless green muscly guy in purple pants is so iconic by itself, that tights and a cape would just look out of place on him. Granted there’s multiple comics where Hulk does wear spandex such as in Exiles, as Smart Hulk or in the case of Planet Hulk and The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman) armour but Bruce always defaults to the purple pants sooner or later. Hulk’s general lack of superhero getup, is indicative of the fact he isn’t a traditional heroic superhero and wasn’t meant to be.
- Averted with other Hulk characters, as most notably She-Hulk made the switch from ragged garments to a Leotard of Power and has more or less stayed that way ever since. Betty Ross likewise as Red She-Hulk or Red Harpy has a black spandex unitard. The general rule of thumb is that while male Hulks are allowed to play this straight, female Hulks generally avert this and have to wear tights for censorship’s sake.
- Perhaps in an attempt to capture the tone of the X-Men movies, the entire second volume of New Mutants had the kids operating without any costumes. However, once the series was cancelled and relaunched as New X-Men: Academy X, they all started wearing proper superhero uniforms.
- Played with concerning Iron Man by all rights Tony has always played this straight wearing bright Powered Armor instead of bright spandex, but for decades the Iron Man suit unlike Doctor Doom’s suit was drawn to resemble spandex (right down to having “undies”) and it’s only in the back end of the 80s into the modern era that Stark’s suits have had a more armoured look to them. Not to mention Tony and Rhodey often wear spandex underneath their armour anyway.
- Despite Molly Hayes' most enthusiastic efforts, the Runaways do not have costumes (unless you count Xavin's Super-Skrull suit).
- Ghost Rider for most part plays this straight (discounting his original jumpsuit outfit) with his main outfit just being a leather jacket and pants. Like Hulk Johnny Blaze’s natural burning skeleton appearance is so iconic that more traditional comic book outfits are ill-suited for him. Averted with other Ghost Riders like Alejandra Jones and Robbie Reyes who primarily wear tights and bodysuits.
- The graphic novel The Avengers: Endless Wartime has Wolverine operating without any sort of costume, in order to make him more closely resemble his counterpart from the X-Men Film Series. The other Avengers do wear costumes, since their Marvel NOW! outfits were explicitly designed to make them look more like their MCU counterparts.
- In the early issues of Wolverine's first ongoing series from the late 1980's, writer Chris Claremont intended to have the book focus less on superheroics and instead more on adventure stories in the style of old school pulp magazines. To enforce this, Logan didn't appear in costume at all for these initial issues, and he didn't start regularly wearing his costume until #14, which by that point Claremont had left the book.
- Teen Titans: Earth One:
- Due to not being superheroes in this continuity and having only just received their powers, the Titans are only seen wearing regular clothing. And despite what the cover shows, Victor Stone never gains a fully cyborg body in Volume One.
- Averted with Raven, who wears a rough approximation of the outfits she's worn in both the pre-Flashpoint continuity and the cartoon.
- Averted with Slade Wilson — while he never receives the traditional Deathstroke outfit, he does wear some sort of armored outfit implied to be a standard S.T.A.R. Labs security uniform.
- The Ultimate Marvel universe has the whole tights thing toned down, but it's still present. However, Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra is a full example, as nobody wears tights in them (except in the covers). Daredevil and Elektra use just Beta Outfits instead when working as vigilantes, which are just black mundane clothes. And, other than a passing by reference to mutants (in general), none of the existing superheroes of the Ultimate universe are used in the story.
- Black Canary: Frequently. The Mike Grell run of Green Arrow is probably the first occasion, though her costume has often turned into just streetwear. In the 2010s, this became pretty much official as her default look became just a shirt and short-shorts over her usual fishnets.
- Wonder Man is often plays this straight with one of his regular outfits the “safari one” just being a red jacket, turtleneck and pants. Averted with the rest of his outfits though.
- John Constantine of Hellblazer although technically a superhero within the DC universe, gets away with his Badass Longcoat and suit combo and isn’t expected to wear anything else. Constantine occasionally even takes the Mickey out of his costumed allies for looking like a Mardi Gras concert. Although Constantine has worn a cape and tights in the New 52 after stealing Shazam!’s powers and Justice League Incarnate has an Alternate Universe Constantine who wears a cape, spandex and a mask. He still smokes like chimney and behaves unlike The Cape though.
- The Dark Knight Trilogy:
- Scarecrow just wears a business suit and a mask in Batman Begins, rather than his traditional costume from the comics.
- Inverted in The Dark Knight, when Batman reprimands a group of copycat Batmen in loosely-fitting suits, one of whom asks how he's different from them.
Batman: I'm not wearing hockey pads.
- The Blade Trilogy, in large part because the first film was released at the tail-end of a period characterized by some of the worst superhero movies ever made, meaning that the film had to avoid too many direct connections to superhero movies. Then again, Blade's comic counterpart never wore spandex anyway which might have led to the film studio's being more willing to bring him to the big screen.
- The Green Hornet: Kato explicitly states "no tights" in the 2011 movie. The Green Hornet actually predates the spandex trend in superheroes and neither Kato nor the Hornet actually wore "tights" in any of their iterations. However, aside from the lack of tights, the situation in the film is a bit complicated. Brett, being a Manchild, essentially becomes the Hornet because he wants to be a superhero (albeit one aiming for a Zero-Approval Gambit to avoid collateral). His "nemesis", crime boss Chudnofsky, is obsessed with image and being scary, even making a supervillainy weapon, a double-barreled pistol. ("Do you know how hard it was to make this?") Later on, he develops the persona of BLOODNOFSKY, complete with a costume of a red gas mask and red overcoat. However, every single moment of this on both sides is thoroughly lampshaded as being utterly ridiculous, and Chudnofsky becoming BLOODNOFSKY is presented as a symptom of his Sanity Slippage rather than his becoming a supervillain.
- The first half of Hancock features the titular character dressed as an ordinary person, usually the same clothes a homeless bum would wear. The second half had him in a black leather flight suit as part of his efforts to clean up his act. It's more of a modern film superhero outfit than something you'd see in a comic book; he even refers to it as a Wolverine outfit when initially refusing to wear it.
- Jumper deals with superpowers, but one wears spandex.
- In Kamen Rider: The First and Kamen Rider: The Next, the Riders wear biker-outfit versions of their iconic suits. The chests resemble body armor, and the colors are toned down. However, said colors are in the same places as on the original suits, and the bug-eyed helmets remain. They look like bikers more than superheroes from The '70s while still recognizable as Riders 1, 2, and V3.
- King of the Rocket Men, a movie protagonist from the late 1940s that The Rocketeer was based on. His attire is even more mundane than the Rocketeer's, as it consists of regular black flyer jacket and pants.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe averts this in most of its films:
- The characters in Iron Man technically don't wear spandex. Some wear Powered Armor. The closest anyone gets to tights is Black Widow, who wears a black catsuit at one point. Additionally, Tony Stark has no Secret Identity and the term Iron Man is essentially just the name of the armor. Everyone else goes by their real names.
- The Incredible Hulk (2008) likewise avoids people wearing tights in keeping with its comic counterpart. Again, there are no code names or secret identities. The Hulk always wore a shredded version of whatever he was wearing when someone got Banner angry. That, or the ever-invincible purple pants. Interestingly, he does wear special Stark-made stretch pants with in Age of Ultron, but they're hard to notice.
- Thor plays with this trope. People in Asgard wear battle armor, capes, and other clothes which look close enough to tights. When Thor travels to Earth, however, he is stripped of his armor and wears normal clothes until it's time to go back to Asgard. As such, the costumes don't stand out in more "realistic" looking scenes. When they are shown, it is in the realm of Asgard which fits the fantastic setting and seems perfectly natural. Thor technically does not have a codename, either. Thor is his real name.
- Captain America: The First Avenger has Captain America's iconic spandex outfit show up as his USO costume, which is intended to look fairly ridiculous. When he goes into combat, he wears a more standard battle fatigue outfit with a stars-and-stripes theme. However, when Cap next appears in The Avengers (2012), he's wearing an updated costume heavily based on the USO mascot outfit. Said outfit is explicitly stated to be tights.
- Captain America also plays with the trope concerning Bucky. He doesn't wear tights, but Bucky in the comics didn't wear tights at all, but a blue military uniform that sorta looks like tights. Bucky wears a suit very similar to what he wore in the comics, only without the Domino Mask. It also looks slightly less silly as, unlike the comic, Bucky is a fully grown man, possibly older than Steve, while in the comics, he was a kid still in his teens.
- In the comics, the men and women of Hydra generally wear green and yellow costumes with masks. In The First Avenger, they're all clad in black body armor and helmets.
- Montgomery Falsworth is a costumed superhero named Union Jack in the comics but appears as a member of the Howling Commandos in the film. As such, he has no costume to speak of.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier does employ costumes, but large stretches of the film have Cap, Black Widow, and the Falcon operating in nothing but civvies. Scarlett Johansson has said this was a deliberate decision on the part of the directors, who wanted the movie to seem more "grounded" and serious than the average superhero film.
- In Captain America: Civil War, Zemo doesn't wear anything even remotely resembling a costume. However, he begins wearing his iconic purple mask from the comics in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with the rest of his outfit resembling more of a Civvie Spandex look.
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) has Star-Lord ditching his outfit from the comics in favor of a helmet and a Badass Longcoat.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron has Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch wearing street clothes rather than costumes. However, as a Mythology Gag, the outfits they wear have the same color schemes as their comic costumes. Although, at the end of the film, Scarlet Witch dons a traditional superhero costume of tights and red leather, after joining the Avengers (and much later still gets the full comic outfit). Also, notably, the Hulk is now wearing dark purple stretchable microfiber pants rather than the remnants of whatever pants Banner was wearing when he Hulked Out.
- Doctor Strange (2016) has the titular sorcerer and Mordo in Jedi-esque robes rather the “spandex robes” look seen in the comics. Though to be fair Doctor Strange in the comics has been moving away from tights for decades barring a few outfits.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming has Shocker operating in street clothes, despite needing a special suit to protect himself from his gauntlets' kickback in the comics. Strangely, Hasbro's Shocker figure for the movie does have him wearing an MCU-style costume. Vulture meanwhile sports a bomber jacket with nothing even remotely close to his comics counterpart (his suit is more of an aircraft than a suit).
- Spider-Man: Far From Home plays with this trope regarding Mysterio. During his fights with the Elementals, he's seen wearing a largely comics-accurate green and purple outfit, complete with his trademark Fishbowl Helmet. However, that Mysterio is an illusion, as are the Elementals (although the destruction caused is real, courtesy of camouflaged drone attacks). The real Quentin Beck is standing a short distance away wearing what is essentially a motion-capture suit, as seen while he's conducting the final attack on London, although he does have a version of the green and purple suit made for publicity purposes.
- The Punisher's titular protagonist has an outfit which has always been function over form (the big skull baits Mooks to shoot at his armored chest, he wears holsters and ammo pouches all over), but his first movie didn't even give him his iconic logo. The second and third film versions slap the skull front and center on his chest, however.
- The Spider-Man Trilogy while unlike so many other heroes at the time managing to avert this with Spidey himself, his villains however play this straight.
- The Green Goblin’s iconic green and purple spandex suit and mask was famously changed to green body armour and helmet. Producer Avi Arad outright claimed the comic look was “too silly”. Upon returning in Spider-Man: No Way Home however Norman is Truer to the Text having his purple and green colour scheme from the comics, even if he still isn’t technically wearing tights or a mask. Not that Willem Dafoe needs a mask to be scary.
- Doctor Octopus is known for having a garish green and yellow spandex suit in the comics, but in the Spider-Man 2 instead just has a Badass Longcoat and pants with no shirt. In No Way Home, Otto likewise wears fairly regular clothes.
- Zigzagged with the villains in the The Amazing Spider-Man films. Played straight with Harry as the Green Goblin who has body armour like Raimi’s goblin rather spandex and Rhino who thanks to Adaptational Superpower Change has a Mini-Mecha rather than a Hulk-like bodysuit he can’t take off. Averted funnily with Electro who while wearing casual clothes initially gets a bodysuit like the comics albeit black rather than green and yellow. In No Way Home Electro plays this straight wearing a simple shirt and pants, despite having comic accurate electricity.
- Morbius sadly swaps out the popped collar disco unitard look of the comics, for a nondescript black coat, shirt and pants. Most fans can agree a 70s looking outfit would be probably be the least ridiculous thing in the film. Jared Leto also claimed he wasn’t at all opposed to wearing the comic outfit at some point.
- The Terminator sequels (including Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) fall into this, though admittedly the non-powered, human protagonists tend to get at least as much screen time as the butt-kicking cyborgs sent back in time to protect them.
- Unbreakable keeps wavering around, both employing and subverting superhero mythology. Notably, David never puts on an actual superhero costume, and simply goes out in a hooded poncho (because it's raining), and this somehow ends up with him in a sketch based on witness descriptions, looking exactly like a superhero.
- The X-Men Film Series have generally steered away from wearing the comic book outfits.
- Downplayed since the film has the characters wearing dark-color body armor-suits.
- Wolverine (newly recruited) comments on the outlandishness of the outfits, to which Cyclops jokingly asks, "Would you prefer yellow spandex?" in reference to the early uniforms of the X-Men comic book (and main color of most of Wolverine's comic book outfits.)
- The X-Men Origins: Wolverine Spin-Off film even took the black leather from previous films away, leaving everyone in Civvie Spandex.
- X-Men: First Class makes them look more superhero-ish, though. It's not skintight but it is more brightly colored and ends with Magneto donning something that's somewhere between his classic outfit and his look in the main trilogy.
- The Wolverine plays this straight once again. Wolverine wears street clothes instead of his costume from the previous films, as he is no longer a member of the X-Men, though the Silver Samurai wears a suit of Powered Armor resembling his comic book costume. In a deleted alternate ending, we see Wolverine opening a suitcase he's been given and finding there... his classic comic book suit. After the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, though, we might never see him wear that costume.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past zig-zags on this. The future X-Men do wear costumes (mostly black but with some ornamentation), while most of the '70s-era characters just wear their street clothes. However, the younger Magneto from the '70s does wear a red costume that looks much closer to his comic design than any of the previous cinematic takes on the character.
- Logan features no costumes in the present day, but the comic books that Laura carries with her all depict the X-Men wearing tight, colorful outfits, since they're the actual X-Men comic books, which apparently exist in-universe, allegedly to show the "true" stories of the X-Men, and are dubiously accurate in terms of fashion and story content. The movie is preceded by a short where Wade Wilson is held up trying to put on his Deadpool uniform while a mugging is already happening. He ends up rambling about how Wolverine (as he knows him) wouldn't have had this problem.
- According to Kevin Smith, when writing Superman Lives, one of the requests from producer Jon Peters was that Superman should not wear his iconic costume, stating that it was "too faggy".
- Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li ditches everyone's outfits from the video games.
- Batman & Robin doesn't see Jason Woodrue don the look of his alter ego, the Floronic Man.
- Major Grom: Plague Doctor. Grom is repeatedly told that This Is Reality and he should stop acting like a comic book hero when hunting the Plague Doctor (who's like an evil Batman with flamethrowers, as the villain himself lampshades). When going to their final confrontation, the only clothing Grom makes a point of putting on is the flat cap and leather jacket we first saw him in. At the end of the movie, Grom says he can't be a superhero as he doesn't fly or shoot lasers from his eyes, but Yulia points out that defeating the supervillain was all he needed to become one.
- The Seekers of Truth follow this convention, partly to avoid ghettoizing the story, and partly... well, because it's not easy to find a spandex tailor that won't talk.
- The Stationery Voyagers only look like they're wearing something along the lines of "tights" to Mantithians. To everyone else, their suits appear to be just spy-geared forms of regular civilian clothing. Then again, how else do you dress six-foot-tall talking Up-Pens, but... like... large pens?
- The Animorphs do wear tights, but for practical reasons (see the entry on Magic Pants). Genre Savvy Marco often compares the Animorphs to superheroes and talks about the idea of making their spandex outfits into actual costumes rather than a random collection of bike shorts and leotards. But it's obvious to all that the Animorphs are outside the category of superheroes in a strict sense, and they fall much more squarely within the tradition of Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World heroes.
- The freaks of Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn by John Ridley are just folks — who happen to have one superpower or the other.
- Wild Cards: For the most part, Aces don't wear spandex, and while many of them have nicknames, these aren't really used to hide their identities.
- Remo Williams, The Destroyer: Williams does not use firearms, has various paranormal abilities, has recurring foes, said foes often having special powers, and encounters the paranormal regularly. This places Williams closer to the genre than most other action-adventure series.
- The Dresden Files wouldn't look too out of place in urban fantasy series like Doctor Strange and has many concepts that could pass in a superhero setting, except operating in costume. One character does wear a white skin-tight catsuit at one point, but it's for practical reasons, so she can touch her beloved without burning him with their True Love.
- What Zombies Fear is pretty much the other "superhero versus zombies" story aside from Ex-Heroes. It's just that they don't call themselves superheroes, wear costumes, or use codenames.
- The IPB in The Infected have codenames, but no masks or secret identities. Masked vigilantes (and wearing masks at all) are illegal, and they're federal agents. The dress code varies. Team One, the PR fluff team, have colorful, distinctive costumes to help sell the superhero image as best they can. Team Two, the combat unit, have uniform blue jumpsuits. Team Three, the misfits who for whatever reason have to work alone in the field, wear whatever they want, usually casual clothing.
- The Boys (2019) both averts this and plays this straight, with the exception of Translucent all the supers where costumes, but very few of them qualify as real heroes. Starlight who’s closest thing to The Cape in this universe ironically doesn’t wear her hero outfit when she’s actually fighting crime and doing good, aside from the Season 1 finale. This goes along with one of the central themes of the show that tights, capes and powers aren’t needed for someone to be a “superhero” or do good, even if it does give society something to look up and aspire to.
- Smallville: "No tights, no flights." Clark ends up flying a few times anyway, and then Green Arrow shows up in full four-color superhero getup...
- When Aquaman shows up wearing bright green board shorts and a bright orange tank top, Lois says that he looks like Flipper threw up on him. The show explains it, correctly if not perfectly truthfully, as being the University of Miami school colors.
- A small lampshading moment when Chloe walks into a meeting of the Society and the League and asks if this is "costumes only" (Clark wasn't in costume, though).
- In "Checkmate", Oliver actually denies that his costume is "tights" twice.
- This resolution became increasingly silly as time goes on, because towards the end everyone except Clark runs around wearing a costume. The Justice League and the Justice Society both exist, Doomsday has shown up, and they have Hawkman! Hawkman, with the helmet, and the wings. Apart from Batman and Wonder Woman it's the full DC universe, yet somehow the show insists on keeping him and only him out of his standard outfit.
- In Lois & Clark, though Supes wears a shiny suit, he's the only one who does. Almost all the villains wear plain clothes and operate in a Heroes-ish 'real-world' manner. For example, instead of wearing a giant light bulb on his head and making dramatic crimes, Dr. Light was an optometrist and blinded Superman by using a ray of concentrated UV radiation to give Superman super-cataracts. (You laugh, but he managed to inconvenience Supes way more than most villains.) The Prankster, instead of being the poor man's Joker, is a Magnificent Bastard who went to the Die Hard school of villainy, his 'pranks' being the crimes that are a misdirection, his real purpose different (and pragmatic and down to Earth) and carried out efficiently. Mr. Mxyzptlk wears a Victorian England style getup as opposed to his orange and purple outfit from the comic. The Toyman was a toymaker fired from a toy company and put mind-altering gas in toys that spread around the city via... the toy store. Oh, and he's also Sherman Hemsley.
- The Flash (1990) put the protagonist in costume, though they went to great lengths to rationalize it by having his powers shred normal clothing. Only one of his Rogues' Gallery wore anything resembling the gaudy apparel of his comic-book counterpart, though — and that one was a Cloudcuckoolander.
- The Flash (2014) zig-zags this. Flash and many of the other metahuman characters do wear costumes, but there's also a lot of villains who don't wear any sort of costumes or uniforms. (Flash himself gets the same justification as before — STAR Labs made him a suit that could withstand the friction of his Super Speed.) It helps that something of a Smallville situation is in effect: what little we know from characters from the future tells us that the Flash's greatest days are ahead of him and we're catching him at the start. Eventually he'll be the world's greatest hero and the hated foe of a million colorful rogues. For now, the Flashes themselves (by now, Wally West and Jay Garrick have shown up) and the season's Big Bad is usually the only one in a shiny suit. (Even the ones with code names wear Civvie Spandex.)
- In the unaired Power Pack TV pilot, the costumes from the comic are nowhere to be seen.
- Witchblade does away with the clothing-shredding, Stripperiffic nature of the Witchblade's power manifesting. The heroine still gets covered in Instant Armor when fighting, but minus the Fanservice elements which the original was widely known for.
- Birds of Prey (2002): Code names yes, tights no, except in flashbacks. This becomes ridiculous in Huntress’s case as unlike the comic she literally has no mask, but her cop Love Interest Jesse isn’t initially able to recognise her when she’s in her civilian alter ego.
- "No tights" was one of the stated rules of this series from the start.
- Lampshaded in Season 1 in two separate episodes, by characters who say words to the effect of "maybe I'll use my powers to become a hero, but there's no way I'm wearing tights".
- Ironically, of the two characters who are best known by their nicknames (Sylar and HRG), only one of them is superpowered, and he is evil.
- In the beginning of the volume four premiere, Hiro tries to make the now-superpowered Ando wear a costume, but the latter refuses. He keeps the "Ando-cycle" though.
- Hiro tries to invoke this, as he desperately wants to be in a Golden Age comic book, but fails to realise that his life isn't really like that.
- The future Hiro is kind of wearing tights, but it's more of a ninja thing than a superhero thing.
- The only real superhero to appear, St. Joan a.k.a. Monica, was Put on a Bus before the arc could be completed and shown only in the more outlandish graphic novels.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer is referred to as a "superhero" a few times, usually not too seriously. Unsurprising, however, as Buffy takes most of its inspiration, according to Joss Whedon, from X-Men.
- Angel: Referenced a few times, most notably by Cordelia when she tries to drum up business for Angel Investigations:
Cordelia: He's already a genuine hero. Would it kill him to put on some tights and a cape and garner us a little free publicity?
Doyle: I don't see Angel puttin' on tights... Oh, now I do and it's really disturbin'.
- Similarly in Stranger Things Eleven is referred to as a “superhero” multiple times and shares powers and similarities with Jean Grey (with a touch of X-23) and even does the Three-Point Landing. Except she pretty much always wears regular clothing.
- Kyle XY's status as a superhero show is at best debatable, but he is referred to as a superhero on the DVD.
- The 4400: The heroes aren't super, but they deal with those who are, not all of whom are bad.
- Highlander: The Series, and the original movie as well.
- Charmed (1998): The characters already have superhuman (magical) powers, but in the episode "Witches in Tights", magic turns them into the tights-wearing kind of superhero.
- Doctor Who: In many ways, the Doctor qualifies as a superhero. You mean his possessing two hearts, superhuman intelligence, the ability to regenerate his entire physical being and numerous other far-out abilities demonstrated throughout the series aren't superpowers? The main character even has a code name that he goes by in lieu of a 'proper' name.
- And the Third Doctor often wore a cape. Granted, he wore it with a velvet suit, a ruffled shirt and a bow tie instead of tights, but the point remains. And in any case, when it comes to the Doctor and the correlation between unusual clothing choices and being a superhero, are we really going to be pedantic, here?
- The 2016 Christmas Episode "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" plays with this by having the Doctor team up with a Superman-style hero, The Ghost (an Ascended Fanboy who accidentally gained comic book-style superpowers as a child) and comparing and contrasting their personalities and approaches to fighting evil. At one point, the Doctor complains that he'd warned the kid never to use his abilities in public, but his companion Nardole points out that the Doctor's people have a non-intervention policy when it comes to the rest of the universe.
- An ad campaign for Series 10, collected in this supercut, presents the Doctor in this way.
- The Middleman comes as close to being a superhero as possible without being openly labeled as one. He even has a superhero name, but no tights. The first episode has him explain his job to Wendy in terms of it being "exactly like your comic books".
- Averted by Super Sentai (and their American localization Power Rangers). As part of the toku genre, these series have always been earnestly made for young boys without any regard for “being realistic” or “being grounded”.
- A few series play it straighter, for example by having the heroes' identities be an open secret like Iron Man Films; in particular GoGo Sentai Boukenger and its localization Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, in which the heroes are members of a public Adventure Archaeologist organization. Or in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger where they are members of the police and the costumes count more as a sort of riot suit.
- Sanctuary doesn't do much fighting, but the characters do a lot of using powers beyond things normal people can do. Occasionally played with in that sometimes the abnormals 'save the world' by using their powers and/or putting on actual tights.
- No Ordinary Family joins the list. Despite all their talk about superheroes, Jim, George, Stephanie, and Katie never even consider Jim or Stephanie wearing masks.
- Averted with glorious pride on The Cape. The show is a Reconstruction of Superhero Tropes, and everyone has a code name and at least something gimmicky about their appearance. While not tights in the traditional sense, they are more traditional than predecessor series Heroes by sheer fact that they dress up their villains and hero in some way.
- None of the heroes or villains in Alphas wore any kind of uniform, or anything approaching a traditional superhero costume.
- The Umbrella Academy (2019) plays this straighter than the comics as despite superheroes with superpowers, the Hargreeves siblings wear casual clothes. Luther is shown wearing a spandex suit in one flashback though, they don’t use code names either. Averted with the Sparrows in Season 3 who wear uniform tights, though unfortunately with the exception of Sloan they’re all Smug Supers compared the Umbrellas.
- An episode of Warehouse 13 features a superhero. Actually, it was a regular guy using an artifact (Charles Atlas's workout trunks) to alter density, mimicking superpowers. Altering one's density would, in fact, be considered a superpower. Ergo, he used an artifact which gave him superpowers, which still makes him a superhero, in the vein of other superheroes who use some sort of object or artifact to give them superpowers (e.g., Green Lantern).
- Justified for the main cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since they were originally non-powered S.H.I.E.L.D. agents rather than proper superheroes. However, even the characters who do have powers (such as Blackout, Daisy Johnson and Elena "Yoyo" Rodriguez) tend to eschew costumes, which is a particular point of contention for many fans. The only person in the show so far seen wearing a costume is Deathlok (Sif technically isn't wearing a costume; see the Film section under Thor).
- The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. The two superpowered heroes usually wear regular street clothes. Steve Austin does possess an iconic red tracksuit that he wears in occasional episodes, and Jaime Sommers gets to don a wrestling costume (with tights) in one episode, but that's about it.
- There are no costumes or tights of any sort in Jessica Jones (2015). However, this is justified since the three main superpowered characters featured in the show (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Kilgrave) generally don't wear tights in the comics anymore either. Trish tries to get Jessica to wear a costume during a Flashback, but Jessica just mocks how silly and impractical it is.
Trish Walker: This is it! This is the one! [Trish holds up a white and blue outfit, with a large purple jewel at the waist]
Jessica Jones: Tell me you're kidding.
Trish Walker: Superheroes wear costumes!
Jessica Jones: The only place anyone is wearing that is trick-or-treating, or as part of some kinky role-playing scenario.
Trish Walker: Well, this is just a mock-up. Ultimately, it's gonna be a lightweight, highly durable fabric, waterproof, flame resistant, and it will hide your identity.
Jessica Jones: NO.
Trish Walker: Well, you can't keep saving people dressed as a giant Hoagie!
- In Season 3, Trish herself becomes a vigilante and once she's recognized, is forced to take a disguise. In a costume shop, she even tries on what she wears as her comic book identity Hellcat, but decides to just put on a scarf/mask to hide her face along with a tracksuit (though it's still blue, with a yellow shirt underneath, keeping the Hellcat colors).
- Luke Cage (2016): Luke doesn't wear costumes of any kind, but the equipment attached to him during the lifesaving experiment that gives him his superpowers looks exactly like the headband and gauntlets of his 1970s comic book costume. He even swipes a yellow shirt that's several sizes too small — tight around his arms and baring his chest — after he breaks out of Seagate. Seeing his reflection in a car window, he mutters, "You look like a damn fool." He later jokes about his outfit when recounting his escape.
- The original Adam West Batman (1966) was filled with spandex left and right, but it fell into this trope with the Riddler. Actor Frank Gorshin found the '60s era spandex costumes incredibly uncomfortable and would only agree to keep returning if the Riddler regularly (but not exclusively) wore something else. The production staff custom-made him a green and purple three-piece suit and bowler covered in question marks. This ended up becoming the best known look of the character for decades.
- Iron Fist (2017): Danny Rand never dons his green and yellow costume from the comics and wears some street clothes instead. The only thing that identifies him as the Iron Fist is his signature dragon tattoo on his chest. Word of God revealed that they couldn't come up with any reason for Danny to wear the costume as he is in the process of becoming the Iron Fist and Danny told several people including a psychiatrist about his role which render the whole Secret Identity moot. However, his 1948 predecessor did wear the costume which could possibly mean that Danny might wear it in the near future once he embraced his role as the Iron Fist.
- Season 2 has a flashback where both Danny and Davos wear the famous mask during a K'un-Lun duel to determine who would become the new Iron Fist.
- There are no costumes in The Gifted (2017), even on the characters who have them in the comics like Thunderbird and Blink.
- Legion (2017): Most of the Summerland mutants wear nondescript street clothes, although Ptonomy is quite dapper. Oliver Anthony Bird favors bright leisure suits. Main antagonist Amahl Farouk wears slightly anachronistic rich guy suits. David very briefly wears his comic book outfit in one scene though.
- A literal example in Supergirl (2015): for the first 4 seasons, Supergirl wears a version of her traditional comic book costume, with a red miniskirt and brown tights. But at the start of season 5 she gets a new costume — a tiny speck of alien CGI attached to her spectacles, which, when she removes them with a dramiatic gesture, turns into a pale blue onesie that covers her other clothes. The reason why is explained in this interview.
- Legends of Tomorrow: The Legends started off with costumes, but since it was both more fun and more logical to have them in period costume, they gradually fell by the wayside (except for Ray's Powered Armor, which served a practical purpose), to the point that the later additions to the team never had costumes. This was lampshaded twice in the final season, firstly with a Pensieve Flashback to season one in which the new characters are bewildered by Sara's white Spy Catsuit, and then by the Evil Twin team, whose versions of Sara and Nate wear the White Canary and Steel costumes at all times, with one recurring character even commenting when he sees Evil Sara that he hasn't seen that outfit for a long time.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse: one of the suggested Second Edition play styles was actually called "Superheroes," and explains in some details how easy it is to fit the Garou into a (dark) superhero-style setting.
- The Chronicles of Darkness fangame Genius: The Transgression doesn't bother with distancing itself from superheroics; in fact, it talks about superhero games under the storyteller advice section and has a Fellowship just for superheroes. Still no tights, though, just lots of Powered Armor.
- Cole, from Infamous, just runs around in perfectly ordinary clothes. He doesn't even bother to hide his face. Doesn't help his face appeared everywhere around the city with claims that he was a terrorist.
- [PROTOTYPE] too, being a Dueling Game with inFAMOUS. Although Alex does gain the ability to grow a really cool full-body armor halfway through the game. Full-body armor that looks like Guyver.
- A lot of the characters of Metal Gear could be seen as superheroes, and almost all of the villains qualify as supervillains. Some have mastered the arts of manipulation and use a huge array of gadgets like Batman, while others have psychic powers that would make them fit in perfectly with the X-Men. By the time of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, just about all the major characters are superpowered cyborgs in one capacity or another.
- Devil May Cry has characters with splashy powers who could be easily fit alongside comic superheroes (and in fact do) but their attire includes no capes and spandex rather just ostentatious clothing and they don’t consider themselves superheroes. Dante and Vergil’s Devil Triggers from DMC3 as well their dad Sparda even look something from Kamen Rider or Guyver but aren’t costumes. Vergil does wear a cape at one point, but only when he’s been Reforged into a Minion by Mundus.
- MMO example: City of Heroes's costume generator, despite being based primarily on comic-book superhero stories, allows players to use this trope. Possible costumes can range from the most eye-watering spandex imaginable to normal civilian clothes and in between. A few in-game characters have costumes like this, in particular the Dark Watcher.
- Deus Ex, where you play as a crimefighter enhanced with nanomachines which give powers and stat boosts. It wouldn't really fit in with the genre, so you wear a Badass Longcoat and Cool Shades (even at night!).
- Resident Evil:
- Averted in Resident Evil 5 Wesker and Jill the two characters who have superpowers, both wear tight-fitting spandex.
- Played straight with everyone else, despite pulling stunts straight out of comics books and engaging in similar plots and by time of Resident Evil Village characters having X-Men-like powers such as Magnetism Manipulation and Shapeshifting. Chris outright says to Sheva “I’m no superhero” and while yes he lacks tights and a cape, he can still punch boulders out of his way exactly like a goddamn superhero.
- Resident Evil 2 (Remake) does this to Leon and Claire, their respective tight-fitting police jumpsuit and Lycra outfits from the 1998 game are replaced with more streamlined versions. Claire in particular isn’t wearing tights at all, just jeans, a tank top and a jacket.
- The Thief series' protagonist, Garrett, goes for an In the Hood look, along with a longer cloak that also doubles as his impromptu cape. Other than that, though, he wears practical, period clothing with minimal decorative elements. Thief (2014) gives his typical clothing a more comic book-y makeover but is still in many ways based on the clothing he had in the third game of the original series.
- Although Jackie Estacado sports a suit of armor that evokes typical superhero apparel in the the original comics, in the video game edition of The Darkness, he contents himself with just his long hair and coat.
- Zigzagged in Street Fighter, many characters wear tights and have superpowers thanks to Ki Manipulation but main hero dudes like Ryu and Ken as well as Guile instead wear gi and military gear respectively, averted with Chun-Li and Cammy who pretty always wear tights and have powers to match. Ironically the one character who most averts this, wearing both spandex and a cape is M.Bison, the Big Bad.
- Late-game XCOM: Enemy Unknown operatives can be genetically enhanced super-soldiers, master psychic powers, wear power armor that enables them to fly or move rapidly using a grappling hook, and be converted into walking cybernetic tanks, but generally still look and act like conventional military personnel.
- Overwatch has yet to identify its characters as superheroes, and probably never will for two important reasons: They almost all use guns, and the titular organization was formed to combat the Omnic Crisis. Despite this, many of the characters have unique powers, backstories, and appearances that wouldn't be out of place in a typical comic book.
- In spite of being a Time Master and getting his powers in a Freak Lab Accident, Jack Joyce in Quantum Break never even considers getting an outfit or a codename — the closest the game gets to mentioning superheroes is when Nick compares him to an X-Man (which doubles as an Actor Allusion for his actor, Shawn Ashmore), and he uses guns just as much as his time powers.
- Same New Woman: Marita, although she has a hyper-muscular body and extraordinary strength, tries to go on with her old life dressed in plain, normal clothes that cover her up whenever possible.
- Many of the heroes and villains from Union of Heroes wear civilian clothes. Probably for budget reasons, because this is a Photo Comic.
- In I Don't Want This Kind of Hero, Naga's first thought upon meeting members from Spoon, the resident Heroes "R" Us, is why, despite claiming to be 'heroes', they're not wearing technicolor spandex suits. In general, Spoon members wear whatever they want (heck, Naga does most of his missions in his school uniform, as he usually goes to work right after school).
- Everyone in Superline is a broke high school student who doesn’t have the time, money, or skill to put together a fancy superhero costume, so they usually either fight in their marching band uniforms or regular street clothes.
- The majority of the cast from Phaeton fits this trope, so far.
- While most parahumans in Worm wear costumes, there are a number of exceptions, most notably Jack Slash, the closest thing the series has to a Big Bad, who wears a dress shirt and jeans. And then there are a few heroes and villains, such as Narwhal and Siberian, who don't wear anything at all.
- In Curveball, the eponymous hero did have a costume when he was with the Gladiators, but since he "retired", he does most of his crimefighting in a Badass Longcoat. Jenny/Zero hasn't had time to put together a costume yet, and so makes do with some borrowed body armor.
- Ben 10 trades in tights for bizarre alien forms instead. He even calls himself a superhero, and each of his forms has a codename. Ben 10: Alien Force put it further by making "Ben 10" an actual nickname.
- Kevin Levin was the least theatrics of the show's main villains, being a Rummage Sale Reject who initially used his energy absorption powers to commit discreet crimes. He does become the monstrous Kevin 11 later on, but eventually reverts to his humanoid form.
- In the same vein, Generator Rex's hero is wearing arguably normal clothing, but his (government mandated) job is being the only line of defense against mindless Persons of Mass Destruction.
- Kim Possible is a Badass Normal who, along with Ron Stoppable (her best friend who eventually became her boyfriend), saves the world on a regular basis. Neither of them bothers with keeping a Secret Identity (or even a Secret-Identity Identity) — in fact, the people around them have gotten so used to it that no one really comments on it unless it affects them directly somehow. To go off of that, the villains Kim and Ron go up against never seem to consider going after Kim and Ron's families, and if they do, it's just a coincidence — like in the episode where Kim's dad, James Timothy Possible (who's a renowned rocket scientist), was kidnapped by Dr. Drakken (who's revealed to have been an old friend/classmate of his college), who's genuinely shocked to discover that Kim is Mr. Possible's daughter. Ron even calls Drakken out on this, noting (to paraphrase), "It's not like 'Possible' is that common of a last name."
- Young Justice (2010):
- Superboy is the only member who refuses to wear a costume just like the rest of his team.
Superboy: No capes, no tights; no offence.
- Wonder Girl follows Superboy's lead in the second season, wearing nothing more than a Wonder Woman t-shirt and a pair of athletic pants.
- The Runaways, although they're not superheroes yet, do this since they are already known to the villains, and they don't have anything better, except for Arsenal when he joins them.
- Superboy is the only member who refuses to wear a costume just like the rest of his team.
- Batman: The Animated Series: Temple Fugate was a Sharp-Dressed Man before his Start of Darkness. After he becomes the Clock King, he averts all the tropes at the Evil Makeover indice and commits crimes in a nice brown business suit (admittedly with clock-face spectacles and a clock-hand cane, but that's it). He could fit right into The Dark Knight Trilogy.
- Teen Titans (2003):
- Terra's first appearance. Her costume after joining the Titans is basically the same but with the Titans logo on the t-shirt.
- Starfire doesn't wear a costume, either, but rather a normal outfit from her homeworld Tamaran. In fact, she actually wears a plainer outfit than the one she had on when she arrived on Earth, as at the time she was in full Tamaranian princess garb (including armor, a cape and a tiara), that she quickly exchanged for a more normal (for Tamaran) outfit as soon as she could. Similarly, Starfire's older sister Blackfire normally wears a Tamaranian princess armor, eschewing the cape and tiara until her brief time as Tamaran's Grand Ruler.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, William Cross never donned his costume, instead wearing a business suit with the only thing related to his comic self being an eyepiece. He's never called "Crossfire", either.
- In both Spider-Man: The Animated Series and The Spectacular Spider-Man, Miles Warren doesn't don his Jackal costume or use that codename — though given that he appeared in both series just before they were Cut Short, it is entirely possible that he could've at some point.
- Blizzard from Marvel's Spider-Man did not bother to wear a costume after becoming a supervillain.
- Static Shock: Very few characters in the series really don a costume with a majority of the Bang Babies just going in regular clothing if their mutations haven't affected their body too much. If anything, Static and Gear are the two outliners for actually having a superhero costume.
- Sam, Clover and Alex from Totally Spies! really aren't "spies" in the traditional sense—they wear neon bright jumpsuits (even if they don't actually need to) on their missions; they rarely make any attempt to hide or disguise their identities; actual sneaking, while not uncommon, happens about as often as just barging headfirst into any objective.
- Many episodes have them going undercover at whatever location they're investigating wearing clothes that fit the location and, rarely, fake credentials if they can't get in by simply walking through the front door. They never actually hide their identity and often use their real first names as part of whatever fake identity they're using. It's only later once they break in to snoop around or after their cover is blown do they wear the highly visible suits.
- The Movie reveals it was Clover who designed the outfits, before actually getting the gist of spying. To her credit, their current uniforms were the most stealthy she could come up with, as her previous ideas included a superhero-style suit (complete with a cape) and even a Sailor Senshi-style outfit.