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Ring Around the Collar

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He's not wearing pants, either.
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Low-budget cartoon characters often wear neckties (if male) or necklaces (if female). Or collars, even if they don't have shirts (see illustration). Or have some outlandish costume that obscures part of their neck. The Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal often wears a neck article and perhaps a hat as their only clothing, and gendered neckwear gives such cartoon animals more Tertiary Sexual Characteristics to identify them to the audience.

This trope owes its existence to a Limited Animation trick from traditional (i.e. hand-drawn) animation. At any time when a character is standing still and talking instead of moving with their whole body, it's cheaper to animate just the head with a sequence of drawings while using only one drawing for the body. A collar makes for a helpful dividing line that the animators can use and helps keep the head and body together. Hanna-Barbera famously used this shortcut to help keep their TV cartoons under budget and on schedule, while Anime employed it with devices like the All-Encompassing Mantle. Motionless Chin is a similar trope; it's cheaper to animate just the mouth than it is to draw the entire jawline with it.

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The advent of digital animation has rendered this a largely Discredited Trope, used mostly as a tribute to the classics — although, the equivalent is still utilised in 3D animation for digital games — characters are built out of multiple, non-connected models, with things like collars, watches, and the like being used to hide the seams, akin to traditional 2D. The collar accessory also finds use in stop-motion animation when the character puppet has a neck seam.

This is an animation-related trope where a collar (or similar article of clothing) or a neck seam is used as an animation short cut. Simply wearing a collar with no shirt does not count as this trope, so No Real Life Examples, Please!. Also not be confused with Ring on a Necklace.


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Examples:

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    Films — Animation 

    Puppet Shows 
  • A non-animation example: several characters on The Muppet Show have this as well since many of the Muppet characters do not have heads directly attached to the body in order to allow for a wider range of head movements. So things like Fozzie's necktie, Miss Piggy's pearl necklace, or that green spiky thing around Kermit's neck are an attempt to mask the seams.

    Theme Parks 
  • At Sesame Place, the Big Bird walk-around mascot wears a necktie to hide the vision hole in his neck.

    Video Games 
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine: The game takes place in an old animation studio. The studio's star was a demon named Bendy who wears a bow tie around his neck (or lack thereof). Any on-model, full-body version of Bendy will have this.
  • They don't hide the entire neck, but this is apparently the reason for most or all of the female characters in Dragon Age: Origins having some kind of neckwear. Almost all of the female leather armors go with dog collars for some reason (which isn't super surprising given Fereldon's obsession with dogs). Men too, will always have necklaces even when otherwise naked. In Dragon Age II, the majority of party members wear some sort of high collar or fancy scarf around their necks for the same reasons.
  • As many modders can attest, the heads and the bodies for Final Fantasy XI characters are animated separatedly, so in order to make the separation between the neck and the torso smooth for armor that doesn't end at the neck, all the official textures have some kind of neckwear. Some modders have created custom skins and models without them, to various degrees of success.
  • Klonoa's original design had him wearing one in the place of a shirt, big enough to fit around his shoulders. He gets a more reasonably sized one in the webcomic.
  • Used in L.A. Noire as part of the motion-capture technology. The heads of the actors were filmed with thirty high-resolution cameras to produce the detailed animated models used in the game, but these had to be matched to the computer-rendered character bodies (which were themselves often animated using motion-capture suits). Note how the women with low-cut blouses and dresses all wear necklaces, and particularly how an otherwise naked girl in Benson's apartment is wearing a necktie.
  • All Mass Effect characters adhere to this, as the head is a different asset from the body and the seam needs to be hidden somehow. This is how Shepard is able to have their head customized, and how many background NPCs can be made from a limited wardrobe and many heads. Similar to the LA Noire example above, low-cut female characters have this the most: both of female Shepard's dresses have some sort of jewlery to cover the neck seam (one is more successful than the other), and Jack's chest strap conveniently loops around her neck. Minor female NPCs almost never have low-cut necks, as the gulf in texture quality between the head and the body would be far too obvious.
  • Mount & Blade tends to take advantage of this; several forms of armor have neck cover of some kind, in theory because it's a good idea to protect a location as vulnerable as the throat, but mostly because everyone in the game is a Head Swap or Palette Swap of each other and this additional detail hides the swap. It's especially noticeable in the practice arena Mini-Game, where you are unarmored and functionally naked—heads and bodies are clearly two separate models, rendered simultaneously to give the impression of a whole person. This fact is why the fan-made decapitation mod even works at all.
  • Characters in later Grand Theft Auto games adhere to this, where they would somehow have to wear some sort of accessory in order to hide the seams, even if they're otherwise half-naked e.g. with beach-goers.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Most of Ed Benedict's character designs for early Hanna-Barbera's shows.
    • Yogi Bear. Also, his pal Boo Boo wears just a bowtie.
    • All the men in The Flintstones wear collars. The women tend to wear necklaces. Also, for formal occasions, the men wear cuffs despite their clothing being sleeveless.
    • Scooby-Doo has this, with nearly every member getting some kind of prominent neckwear (and even Shaggy gets a decent-sized collar).
  • In the 1970's Hanna-Barbera adaptation of Tom and Jerry, Jerry was fitted with a bow-tie.
  • The Simpsons family are all designed like this; Marge and Lisa both wear necklaces, while Homer has a prominent collar. Pearls on a little girl? That's why. This is likely a relic of the family's more Limited Animation days on The Tracey Ullman Show. In an episode where Lisa loses her necklace, she breaks down in tears and admits that without them she's nothing but a big Maggie.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Cool Cat, the last new starring character of the original shorts, wore a necktie, which was bound to make people mistake him for a Hanna-Barbera character. Justified in that he was created by Alex Lovy, who also worked at H-B.
    • This is averted with Daffy Duck, whose distinctive white collar is based on the ring stripe found on many actual ducks (though given the white ring on black feathers, it does resemble the collar found on most clergymen, particularly deacons and reverends).
  • In Gravity Falls, Mabel Pines always wears some colorful turtleneck sweater, whose oversized collar obscures most of her neck. Dipper's vest has its collar turned up, which serves a similar effect, even though more of his neck is visible.
  • Due to Buddy Thunderstruck being a stop motion cartoon featuring felt puppets, nearly every character has some part of their wardrobe (generally turtleneck sweaters) or appearance hide the seam on the puppet's neck that allows for their head articulation, which is sometimes still visible anyway in certain shots.
  • Touché Turtle and Dum Dum: Dum Dum wears a scarf around his neck to facilitate animation shortcuts. Touché is a rare example lacking this — but his shell serves the same purpose.

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