In television, film, and especially comics, it is conventional to focus on the upper body, since the upper body is usually the most expressive part of any character. Face, arms, and torso all convey more information to the audience than the legs. In some works, you're doing little more than watching actors talk, and anything other than the face is superfluous anyway.
This has led to the framing of many scenes in many media to lack any onscreen representation of the body below the waist. The legs are still there, of course, just Behind the Black. But what is covering those legs? In many cases, the creators decide to play with this and reveal that the person whom the audience assumed to be fully clothed is naked from the waist down. This is especially common with TV presenters such as news anchors (see the page quote), because they usually sit behind a desk for the broadcast.
"Not Wearing Pants" Dream is where this happens in a dream sequence, but this is when the audience (at least initially) cannot see that the character is pantsless, whether it's in a dream or not.
Remember, to be this trope, you must meet the following criteria:
- A character must be naked, underdressed, or legless from the waist down
- The audience should initially have no reason to suspect that the character is bottomless
- The nudity must initially be either out of the shot/panel or Behind the Black.
A subtrope of Reveal Shot.
- An advert for Schick razors that showed in New Zealand around the late 1990s depicted a seemingly routine army camp drill. That is, until the drill sergeant makes his inspections of the recruits, stops suddenly, and loudly calls out to one of them, "Haven't you forgotten something?" The final shot reveals the offending recruit has forgotten to put his pants on.
- One Gag Manga Biyori sketch has people making their most embarrassing confessions on TV because a meteor is about to hit so why the hell not—and just as the guests have all confessed to shocking things, the crisis is averted! The host expresses relief that he no longer has to make his embarrassing confession. Cue an Iris Out framing his unclothed rear as the credits roll....
- In Airplane!, when co-pilot Roger Murdoch, played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, succumbs to food poisoning, as he's carried away, it's revealed that he's wearing his basketball shorts underneath his pilot uniform, implying that Kareem was set to hit the court as soon as his scene wrapped.
- In Animal House, Donald Sutherland's character reaches to get something from a cabinet, raising his sweater and exposing his pants-less buttocks.
- Richard Lester's black post-nuclear war comedy The Bed Sitting Room has a BBC announcer going door-to-door, reading the news while kneeling behind a gutted-out tv cabinet, wearing a tie and coat outfit that, beneath chest level, is tattered long underwear.
- In Casino, Robert De Niro's character emerges from behind a desk not wearing pants. He does so as to not crease the trousers of his suit by sitting down in them.
- Hamlet 2: The writer leaves his computer, revealing that he is not wearing pants.
- In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay the titular pair find themselves at a bottomless party. The host at one point chastises one female guest for removing her top.
- In Charlie Chaplin's The Idle Class, a presumably sober aristocrat (played by Chaplin) gets dressed up at a resort to meet his lovely wife at a train depot. When he walks out of his room, it is revealed that he forgot to put on pants and is walking to the depot in his underwear. He doesn't find out until he enters a phone booth and looks down. He tries to hide this, but his wife eventually finds him and leaves him until he stops drinking.
- The Kentucky Fried Movie: The newscaster reveals that he's not wearing any pants. Film at 11.
- In Ladder 49, in the scene where Joaquin Phoenix meets John Travolta for the first time.
- Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl opens with the troupe dressed as waiters singing the rousing number "Sit on My Face", then walking off, revealing themselves totally pantsless beneath their aprons.
- A rare Played for Drama example in Network. During one of Howard Beale's tirades, he is wearing a trenchcoat, shirt, and tie, which is fairly normal for a newscaster. Then, he rises out of his desk as his anger begins to swell, and the crew filming him and the audience see that he is wearing pajama bottoms and slippers on the bottom half. This becomes one of the first indicators of Beale's descent into madness as the film goes on.
- In Run Fat Boy Run, Dylan Moran's character is revealed to be completely naked from the waist down the whole time he's been talking over a balcony. Twice.
- Schizopolis: A man wearing a t-shirt with the film title runs from the camera, revealing that he is wearing nothing else.
- In Short Cuts, Julianne Moore does an entire scene naked from the waist down. Neither the audience nor her husband, played by Matthew Modine, notice she isn't wearing underwear until she appears from behind the kitchen counter.
- Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run has his character preparing for a date, grooming himself at the mirror, leaving his apartment...then coming right back in, with the camera panning back to reveal he forgot his pants.
- In Alfonso Bonzo by Andrew Davies, there's a scene where the protagonist is watching the evening news and then is magically transported to the TV studio, where he learns that the newsreader is wearing nothing from the waist down but Goofy Print Underwear.
- In Worlds of the Imperium by Keith Laumer, this is a plot point. The hero is sent to impersonate his alternate universe counterpart, the ruler of an evil empire. The people sending him copy the ruler's uniform from his TV broadcasts, but have to guess on the pants, since the ruler is only seen from the waist up. When the hero gets there, he discovers why: the ruler lost his legs in battle during his rise to power, but had been making a secret of it to the public. So much for impersonation.
- One of the chapter-quotes in the Girl Genius print-novel Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess plays with this for both humor and horror:
Lucrezia: You sir, should remove your pants.
Judy: Indeed, it's time. We have all laid aside modesty but you.
Stranger: I... wear no pants.
Lucrezia: (Terrified, aside to Judy.) No pants? No pants!
- In one episode of The Muppet Show, a newscaster reads a report about a newscaster who forgot to put on pants before appearing on the air. Then he comes to a sudden realization...
- Father Ted: Father Jack apparently always played this trope during the summer, all in the name of saving money on "wear and tear".
- In How I Met Your Mother, Robin's co-anchorman does not wear pants.
- A US military general steals the Constitution while in transit in an episode of JAGnote To make a broadcast about the theft, he puts a shirt, tie and jacket, but doesn't change out of the rest of his army gear, which remains out of shot for the camera he's using.
- On Sports Night, irked wardrobe folk hold up the anchors' pants, leading to them having to go on the air in suit and tie, boxers and black socks.
- The West Wing: White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg has to do a live TV interview pantsless, after accidentally sitting on a freshly painted bench.
- In the pilot episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake is told by Captain Holt to wear a tie to work, which Jake refuses. Eventually he seems to relent and is seen at his desk with a tie on, but after Holt commends him on it, Jake gets up and reveals that he's wearing nothing below his waist but a Speedo.
- This also happens to Captain Holt in the episode "Beach House"; he is forced to do this when he spills hot soup into his lap. Jake figures this out without leaving his desk, using his sharp detective skills. And then it also happens to Jake. Cue Gina walking in on Jake and Holt both pantsless behind Captain Holt's desk.
- On Modern Family, Phil and Claire talk about how absent-minded Alex is at times, and a Cutaway Gag shows her going out the door naked from the waist down. As Phil runs out to stop her, he's revealed to be wearing briefs.
- In the video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's Eat It, as one of the gangs is walking, the camera zooms out to show they aren't wearing pants.
- The Lonely Island song "My Pants" (not to be confused with their more well-known "Jizz In My Pants") featured a man named Lance asking everyone to stop making fun of his pants, only to reveal at the end that he was naked from the waist down the entire time.
- The Poxy Boggards have a song entitled, "I Wear No Pants", which was featured in a Dockers Super Bowl commercial.
- Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars outtakes. Michael Ironside has no pants on.
- The player character for Jurassic Park: Trespasser was seen from a first person view, and all you saw of her was one arm and her breasts (her Life Meter was tattooed on one of them). Uncovering the game's Dummied Out third person mode, modders discovered that that's all she has.
- In Spear of Destiny (a mission pack prequel to Wolfenstein 3D), there is an Easter Egg which displays a photo of the development team with nothing below their torsos visible, captioned "We're not wearing any pants."
- Combined with a minor Tomato Surprise in Billy Vs SNAKEMAN (which is text-based): your ninja character can through sufficient exploration of the game's equivalent to Karakura High School discover the secret of the power of the Soul Reapers. A consequence of that discovery is the realization that your character has been going "pantsfree" the whole time, at least while in the school.
- Some renditions of Angel in various Shin Megami Tensei games depict her as bottomless.◊
- Ted McPain from Awesomenauts. He was reincarnated without pants, meaning his stars 'n stripes thong is nearly always visible, save for a few skin exceptions (except his Party Boy skin, which manages to show off even more).
- Starcraft II: Donny Vermilion, the infuriatingly smug news anchor, was at one point intended to be revealed as a robot. His model consists of his upper body behind a desk, with one animation showing sparks flying around.
- Dishonored 2: A letter can found on the Dreadful Wale during Emily's campaign. It's addressed to her probable lover, stating that during an important council she kept a straight face all the while sitting behind her desk without any pants on.
- Itty Bitty of Kid Radd is bottomless. Since he was a shopkeeper in an RPG, the game designers saw no reason to give him legs that would be hidden behind the counter anyway. He later falls in love with a nurse from another RPG who was the same way.
- This Ctrl+Alt+Del strip.
"S-sir, you aren't wearing any pants..."
"EVERYBODY WEARS PANTS! WE'RE SONY! FUCK PANTS!"
- Questionable Content: Due to a recent change in her anti-anxiety medication, Hannelore walks to the coffee shop before she realizes that she forgot her pants at home.
- A Jakaesi strip has Adam exclaim "Bah, pants! Who needs them?" and then pans down to show a blanket covering his legs, with the assumption that he is wearing nothing underneath.
- "edison has been naked from the waist down this entire time".
- Blank It starts out with a no-pants empire.
- Tedd acts in the letter, if not true spirit of the trope, during the second Q&A session of El Goonish Shive; he's wearing a skirt behind the desk.
- Uncle Jay Explains The News had Uncle Jay stand up at the end of an episode, revealing no pants.
- Iliza Schlesinger hosts the weakly news in her underpants, which typically only becomes apparent when she gets up from behind her desk for the Once an Episode "dance party" segment.
- Echo Chamber Trope Of The Week Episode 2 opens with a shot of Tom, who is well-dressed...until he stands up, revealing that he is wearing Batman Boxers and nothing else from the waist down.
- The Whitey Tighties Music Video only shows Alex, Derek, and Lauren from the waist up at first. Eventually, it zooms out to reveal that they (even Lauren) are wearing white briefs.
- A cut in Spoony and Linkara's review of Warrior #4 a cut reveals that Dr. Insano's not wearing pants, and instead has heart boxer shorts. When directly asked about this Insano just replies that it's not important right now due to Hyper Time shenanigans.
- Noah also reveals in a Counter Monkey episode, appropriately named "The Importance of Wearing Pants" that one of his co-players in a game campaign once called him explaining why he was late and that he had to go home because he forgot his pants. Noah comments that he's pretty sure the guy wasn't lying because it's "So stupid it has to be true" and because the guy was a huge flake in the first place.
- During Bennett the Sage's review of Twilight of the Cockroaches after Jeremy suggests giving the female viewers Fanservice in the form of showing Sage's bottom half for once the camera cuts to a full body shot of Sage that shows him in boxer shots (with the clear implication that he does all his reviews like this). Sage then says he doesn't think that's such a good idea.
- Reviewer Tekking 101 wears a suit and tie in most of his videos. Near the end of his review for Bleach chapter 639, he revealed he was wearing shorts, justifying it by saying it was very hot.
- In the Vlogbrothers episode aptly titled "Nerdfighter MARRIAGE PROPOSAL," John Green was asked by a fan to propose to the fan's girlfriend for him. He decided that an occasion like this necessitated nicer clothes than the t-shirt he started the episode in, then jump-cut to him adjusting himself in his seat, wearing a nice suit jacket and a dress shirt. When he called the girlfriend, did the proposal, and she said yes, John began cheering, and sprang out of his seat to reveal that he was still in his boxer shorts.
- Five examples from The Simpsons:
Judge Snyder: Mr. Hutz, do you realize you're not wearing any pants?
Hutz: Huh? (notices that his bare butt) AUGH!
- From the episode "Homer Goes to College":
Homer: A test? This is like one of those bad dreams!
Camera pulls out revealing him in his underwear.
Homer: Where are my pants?
Marge: You threw them out the window in a fit of passion. You said you were never going to need them again.
- In the "Homer Live" segment of "Simprovised", Bart sneaks in from behind the desk and takes Homer's pants. In the East Coast version, he asks for them back at the end.
- During an outbreak of Osaka Flu, Mayor Quimby is shown to be wearing swimming trunks and flip-flops with his suit jacket, shirt and tie while making a public service announcement from the Bahamas.
Mayor Quimby: People of Springfield, because of the epidemic, I have cancelled my vacation to the Bahamas. I shall not leave the city Local Steel Drummer walks into the camera shot. . . hey, you, get that steel drum out of the, um, mayor's office.
- From the episode "Homer Goes to College":
- Happens a few times in Phineas and Ferb, usually where the audience and/or Perry the Platypus discovers Major Monogram isn't wearing pants when he gives his briefings to Perry.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold featured a nerdy basement-dwelling supervillain's helper who appeared on camera only from the waist up.
- In The Problem Solverz episode "Fauxboro", Alfe's veterinarian is shown from the waist up at first, then when Roba asks him if he spilled medicine on his pants, the camera cuts to reveal him in his underwear.
Roba: I find the sight of underwear very rude! It threatens the balance of our social civilization!
- A Johnny Bravo short has Johnny walking out of his house talking about how it's a great day where nothing can go wrong. His mother then runs out and yells at him that he forgot his pants. Johnny mentions feeling a draft, and a passing driver laughs at him. In this instance, we don't get to see him below the waist.
- Dogstar: In "Robot Revolution", Hank the newsreader objects when the servo-bots attempt to remove him from the studio for two reasons: firstly, it's his studio and secondly, he's not wearing any pants. When they physically haul him out from behind the desk, his is indeed not wearing pants.
- Gravity Falls: In "Irrational Treasure" Quentin Trembley, the long-lost "eighth-and-a-half" President of the United States, didn't believe in wearing pants, and one of the laws he passed as president was the "Em-pants-ipcation Proclamation". When he's revived from being frozen in peanut brittle, Trembley promptly takes his pants off and spends the rest of the episode running around in a pair of 19th-century pantaloons.
- Sean Connery went pants free for the zeppelin scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (it was muggy) and supposedly all the driving scenes in the James Bond films. In response to the Last Crusade bit, Harrison Ford elected to go pantsfree for that scene as well.
- In Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, George Clooney plays the President of the United States, appearing only in video communications which show him from the shoulders up.◊ All his scenes were filmed at his house in one afternoon. He was wearing pajama bottoms below his suit jacket, dress shirt, and tie.
- Many TV news personalities, apparently including Sean Hannity, wear casual dress from the waist down. Glenn Beck didn't even try to hide it and even made it part of his persona.
- A joke from The Philippines is that newsreaders wear nothing but underwear below the desk and also that priests only wear briefs/boxers underneath their robes.
- Bryan Cranston once delivered a video acceptance speech on behalf of the cast of Malcolm in the Middle, none of whom could attend the ceremony. In the course of his speech he casually took a couple of steps to the left, placing a full-length mirror behind him, revealing that he was only wearing the top half of a tux, and nothing else.
- This clip shows ABC News anchor Peter Jennings was a practitioner of this trope.
- An accidental example happened with Italian newscaster Costanza Calabrese, when the camera zoomed out at the end to reveal she was sitting behind a glass table with her legs apart.