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Popping Buttons

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A character is getting ready for a date with a beautiful girl or a party with his friends. He has just finished showering and has just put on some cologne, but when it comes time to put on his clothes, he puts on his pants, but when he puts on his tuxedo, he finds that he is having problems trying to button it. Just when he finally gets the suit all buttoned, the buttons suddenly pop off after a few seconds and fly in different directions. Apparently, the character has either gained weight, or the suit is not as big as he remembered it to be.

This is a Comedy trope in which a character has trouble buttoning his shirt or pants, because he has either gotten too fat or the clothes are too small for him. Of course, there are also some cases where when the shirt is buttoned, the buttons don't pop off, but the shirt is completely stretched out at the buttons. It's also happened with belts as well as it also happening at the breasts. You can see this trope pop up in most forms of media.

Can go hand in hand with Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing, Temporary Bulk Change, Breast Expansion, Hulking Out or Balloon Belly. Can also lead to a Fat Flex, if the clothing was hiding some well-concealed flab.

While it's not quite this dramatic in real life, this is to some extent Truth in Television. Pregnant women do sometimes experience this, especially with the more form-fitting varieties of maternity wear. It also happens to teenagers, because hormonal changes can sometimes cause you to suddenly gain weight or muscle. A woman's pelvic bone needs to grow during puberty, but not very much so sometimes this can happen over a single night. It's just enough growth to burst the buttons on your skinny jeans. Also, a woman's breasts actually get larger as she gains weight: so this can happen with dresses or shirts that might otherwise fit. Obviously this is more common with formal wear which tends to get stuffed into the back of your closet until you need it.

Compare Splitting Pants.


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  • A few Subway commercials use a variant where burst shirts, pants, (chairs, etc.) (to the tune of the 1812 Overture) are used to imply overweight/obesity caused by other fast foods. In the very last shot of one ad, a driver is handed a bag of food by the person at the drive-through window and the car instantly blows out its tires.
  • An old Lee jeans commercial had this happen to a father, whose jeans button popped off and ricocheted around the living room before eventually finding itself caught in the mouth by the family dog.
  • In an Pop-Tarts commercial, after eating all three of the music award nominees, a lizard in the audience eats a small piece of one of their remains. This is the last straw for the lizard's tuxedo jacket, and the button pops off, landing on the floor nearby.
  • In a Mexican Comex paint commercial, it features a woman so depressed she eats ice cream and starts to gain weight. Her belly pops her button off her pants 13 seconds into the commercial.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happened to Tubby in the very first episode of the Little Lulu anime.
  • In Hetalia: Axis Powers, Ukraine's boobs cause a button on her shirt to pop off. She's later seen sewing it back on.
  • In the 5th episode of Godannar, Kiriko Aoi does this, and her shirt stays that way for the rest of the episode.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Oriana Thompson's shirt covers her large boobs with one button, and it pops off after she gets punched.
  • In one chapter of Sgt. Frog, Natsumi tries to brush off having put on a few kilograms over the winter by pointing out to herself that it doesn't really show... then a button tears off her skirt as she's getting dressed. Cue Keroro discovering Natsumi doing aerobics in her room with the heater turned up.
  • In an episode of Koma Theatre for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, this happens to Olivier in an opening. She gets annoyed by this and demands that the show start.
  • In D-Frag!, Takao usually doesn't bother zipping her gym jacket up, due to her breast size, but wanted to prove she wasn't just too cheap to buy a new uniform when she outgrew her old one. She managed (to great applause), but later popped the zipper with enough force to knock Kenji out.
  • At the beginning of episode 6 of Seikon no Qwaser, Tomo tries to squeeze her massive breasts into a maid outfit. All the buttons pop off and hit Miyuri right in the face.
  • This happens to Kanako in Maria†Holic Volume 7 after gaining a lot of weight off of eating nothing but mayonnaise.
  • My Dress-Up Darling: Happens to Shinju Inui a couple times when doing the Souma-oniichan cosplay. Gojo tries to lend her his school uniform for it, but the first time she tries it on without any chest compression, the size of her breasts pops the buttons clear off mere moments after she fastens them. It later happens again during their photoshoot, as once the Sarashi and B-Holder give out, her chest comes loose and the buttons presumably snap off (offscreen) again.
  • Balrog does this in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (yes, with pure muscle) in response to Zangief's challenge.
  • In Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, Myuu has enormous breasts, and as a result, she often pops off her shirt buttons, which distresses her.
  • Mitsy in Crayon Shin-chan struggled to but her skirt on, but then button popped off when she picked up Shin Chan's toy, forcing her to go on a diet.
  • You Like Me, Not My Daughter?!: Ayako's ample breasts cause the button (and then the safety pin she replaced it with) on her Love Kaiser costume to pop off.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In the "Fairy Tale Adventure" story arc's take on Cinderella, Cinderella (played by Miss Peach) is portrayed as being overweight due to an eating problem. During the ball, Miss Peach eats a piece of cake, causing the buttons on her dress to pop out and hit a nearby robot attending the ball, some wine glasses, and one of the lenses on Doctor H.'s glasses.

    Board Games 
  • The entire premise of "Pig Goes Pop!". The player who causes his belt to snap off is the loser.

    Comic Books 
  • In a non-clothing example, Gaston Lagaffe once made a very stylish leather sofa with the covering held down by buttons. Unfortunately, he emphasized how taut the thing was by putting his hand on it, turning the sofa into a machine gun nest, buttons flying everywhere as the onlookers ducked for cover.
  • At one point in Excalibur Brian Braddock gets enraged and flexes all the buttons on his shirt off, including the sleeve cuff buttons.

    Films — Animated 
  • In the teaser trailer for The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible has difficulty putting on his belt because of obesity. When he finally gets it buckled, it suddenly comes undone and rockets across the room. (This scene was not included in the actual film.)
  • Shrek the Third had Shrek's belt buckle pop off and hit Donkey in the face, leading to a very nasty chain reaction.
  • Happens in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit when Wallace turns into the Were-Rabbit.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: As Susan grows, her wedding garter snaps off and knocks out a poor bystander.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In Flat Stanley, Stanley's pyjama buttons pop off when his brother Arthur inflates him with a bicycle pump, to make him round again.
  • In Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Tom Kitten, the protagonist named Tom Kitten is seen trying to fit into his new clothes his mother made him. His mother tells him to suck up his stomach in order for his clothes to fit in fear of having one of the buttons popping off. However, one of the buttons does pop up resulting in his mother having to sew up another new button on his shirt.
  • From a compendium of rude limericks:
    There once was a girl from Darjeeling
    Who danced with such exquisite feeling
    That the only sound for miles around
    Was of fly-buttons hitting the ceiling!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Referenced on The Beverly Hillbillies:
    Granny: Elly May done popped the buttons off her shirt again.
    Jed: Elly May carries herself proud with her shoulders throwed back.
    Granny: It ain't her shoulders that have been poppin' these buttons.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "In Throes of Increasing Wonder...", it's jokingly lampshaded by Louis de Pointe du Lac after his brother Paul lists all the food that he ate during their sister Grace's wedding.
    Paul: Five pieces of checkered cake, the Pompano fillet, three boudins, dirty rice, beef, green beans, five, six wines.
    Louis: Eat anything else, the buttons on your vest gonna pop off like cannon balls, take down the neighborhood.
  • On Just Shoot Me!, Maya is dating a Chubby Chaser and thinks he's fattening her up. Jack dismisses it until her pants button pops with such force it embeds itself to the wall.
  • On Modern Family, a pregnant Gloria refuses to admit that she needs maternity wear, until her shirt pops open in public.
  • The Thundermans: While Barb is busy in a Beam-O-War against Dr. Colosso, Hank chows down on mashed potatoes until he can pop a button on his suit straight at Colosso, knocking him out.

    Music Videos 

    Video Games 
  • Lei Fang's Ending from Dead or Alive 4.
  • In the DLC case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, Norma de Plume's breakdown on realizing she was deceived by what she thought was Orla the orca attacking the victim involves all the buttons bursting off her coat at once, with her pudgy body jiggling for emphasis.
  • This tends to happen to Girls' Frontline's Ameli. It's less because she's overweight or pregnant (she's a lifelike gynoid with no organic components) and more because her weird tube-top can't contain her breasts.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: In "Blank-Headed Eagle", Dr. Robotnik plans to build a new robot factory on Farmer Peck's farm, and has Grounder dress him in a military uniform so that he looks his best for its grand opening. Unfortunately, due to Robotnik's weight, the buttons of his jacket pop off. One of the buttons flies into the control panel for the machines building his robot factory, causing said machines to go crazy.
  • The TaleSpin episode "Gruel And Unusual Punishment" had Baloo getting ready to go to the Pilot's Ball with Rebecca, but when he gets his old tuxedo all buttoned up, the button pops off and ricochets all over the room. It was a sign that Baloo definitely needed to go on a diet.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode "Do You Princess Toadstool Take This Koopa...?" has Koopa squeezing into a tuxedo only to have a button pop off and hit Mouser in the face.
  • In an episode of The Critic, Jay tries on some new clothes and makes a whole song about popping the buttons off of his shirt. I'm, too tubby for my shirt (pop), too paunchy for my shirt (pop), so bloated it huuuuuuurts (pop, pop).
  • In The Fairly OddParents! episode "Just Desserts" the now fat Trixie's belt snaps off as she's eating a big cookie.
  • In The Three Little Pigs, when the Big Bad Wolf starts to huff and puff, he pops the buttons on his suspenders, causing his pants to fall down.
  • On the Merrie Melodies short "Daffy Duck in Hollywood", director von Hamburger puffs out his chest as he screens his movie, popping the buttons on his shirt.
  • 6teen: In "Girlie Boys", Caitlin's skirt button pops off as she begins to put on weight—and this happens right after she says, "Can you imagine eating enough chocolate to gain twenty-five pounds?"
  • Mickey Mouse (2013): In "New Shoes", Mickey, who is stuck in Goofy's body, finds that he can no longer fit into his normal clothes, and one of the buttons on his shorts pops off and hits him in the face.
  • My Dad The Rockstar: In the episode "Rock Bottom", Rock pops the buttons off his new jeans that he got for his birthday, thanks to his middle age belly.
  • In the King Features Syndicate Popeye cartoon "Egypt Us", Wimpy eats an entire picnic lunch of hamburgers, resulting in a hugely fattened, distended belly. Instead of Popeye's traditional "Popeye the Sailor Man", Wimpy sings "It's bad to be tar-dy to a ham-bur-ger par-ty, says Wimpy the Bur-ger Man", and two buttons pop off of his shirt in place of Popeye's "toot toot."
  • In an episode of Rocko's Modern Life, Heffer eats so much food that one of the buttons on his suspenders pops off.
  • In the episode of the King Features Syndicate television cartoon Beetle Bailey called "Sgt. Snorkle's Longest Day", when Chef Cookie catches Sgt. Snorkle raiding the refrigerator one night, he warns the Sarge what might happen if the last button pops off of his shirt. In the extended dream sequence that follows, Sarge's belly grows so big that his last shirt button pops off, enabling him to swell up even further into a human balloon.
  • In Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, Kristen Schall, who is a guest star in the show, tries to find out what member of Mystery Inc. she really is. When she tried to be like Shaggy and Scooby, who loves to eat, she tried to eat as much as much as Shaggy and Scooby, only to end up with a full, bloated belly which pops off the button on her trench coat, flying around and knocking out Shaggy and Scooby.
  • In the All Grown Up! episode "The Curse of Reptar", the pool salesman pants button pops off, due to all the extra weight he's put on lately.
  • In the Rugrats (1991) episode "Hair", Grandpa Lou was trying on an old disco suit of his, only to pop the buttons off because he was out of shape.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Have You Seen This Snail?", Gary's belt snaps because of all the weight he's put on from being overfed by Grandma, his new owner who found him in the second half of the show.
  • In the As Told by Ginger episode "Hello, Stranger", Lois' belly got a little bigger, popping a few buttons on her uniform, making a fellow nurse comment about Lois needing to lay off the creme' caramel, but it turned of to be Carl's dehydrated snake popping out of her. But it was all Lois' bad dream, thanks to Carl.
  • In the first episode of Chicago Party Aunt, Diane's button on her jeans pop due to her beer belly.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long has 2 examples.
    • In "The Long Weekend", Jake's dad, Jonathan, was wearing his old Cougar Scout uniform, from when he was a kid, and the buttons popped off because it was too small.
    • In "Furious Jealousy", Jake's been on a junkfood binge, making his belly so big and fat, it popped the buttons on his shorts.


Video Example(s):


Momo Vs. Shirt

A demonstration of the trope from buxom gravure idol Momo Momose.

How well does it match the trope?

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