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Shell Backpack

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"Yeah, I have no idea how I managed to put this hoodie on either."

When a shell-clad anthropomophic animal, such as a turtle or armadillo, is seen wearing human clothing on their upper body, it will often inexplicably cover only the front while still leaving the shell on the back exposed like a backpack.

Realistically, this should not be possible, as said shells are attached to an animal's body; even when Removable Shell is in effect for turtles, it should remain impossible unless the shell itself is able to come apart. Either that or the clothing on chelonians (turtles, tortoises, and terrapins) and armadillos would open on the back like a hospital gown. Sometimes the clothing may even inexplicably disappear if the character fully retreats into their shell.

This may also apply to the quills or spines of animals like the common hedgehogs and porcupines and the seldomly seen tenrecs and echidnas.


A possible explanation for this may be that shells and quills are considered iconic attributes of these animals, and thus it would "look wrong" to the viewer if they were not visible, or else that without the shell being visible, the viewer may not realize what type animal the character is supposed to be.

A subtrope to Appropriate Animal Attire.


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    Films — Animation 
  • Tortoise John, the Mayor of Dirt in Rango, wears a Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit outfit, but has a bare tortoise shell on his back.
  • The porcupine characters (Ash, Lance and Becky) in Sing are fully dressed, with quills all over their back.
  • In Zootopia, Dharma Armadillo, Judy's landlady at the Grand Pangolin Arms, notably wears shell-exposing clothes. This also applies in a different fashion to the porcupine extra seen later on, who has visible quills despite being fully-dressed.

  • Franklin the Turtle often sports one of these while wearing more than his typical neckerchief, as does his family.


  • Fuleco, the armadillo mascot of the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup, wears a shirt that leaves the blue shell on his back visible.

  • Usually averted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toylines, as the titular turtles are most commonly naked aside from their masks and arm and leg bands or wearing outfits that cover their entire bodies, but there have been a few where they have had their shells exposed.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing New Leaf. The tortoise former mayor, Tortimer, is seen wearing an Aloha shirt in this manner.
  • In Dillon's Dead Heat Breakers, the titular armadillo character wears a black leather jacket which covers only the front of his upper body, leaving the shell on his back exposed and allowing him to use a Rolling Attack.
  • Midori the turtle from pop'n music wears a sleeveless shirt and a skirt, along with a shell on her back.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, the Hypnotist encountered on Planet Damosel is a tortoise-like alien not seen elsewhere in the series, and somehow wears a shirt that doesn't cover his shell.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: Toothpick is an armadillo who wears a white dress shirt and red vest, with his shell visible.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Koops from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door wears a light blue hoodie that covers only the front of his shell. It even disappears entirely when he retreats into his shell to use a Shell Toss attack.
    • Super Paper Mario:
      • The Koopa Striker enemies wear soccer uniforms that cover half of their shells.
      • Bowser also wears a white tuxedo during his wedding with Peach in the introduction.
    • Bowser wears a white and purple tuxedo, again with the back of his shell showing, in Super Mario Odyssey.
    • There's also Bowser wearing a doctor's outfit, once again exposing the shell, in Dr. Mario World.
  • Zigzagged in Pokémon Unite with Blastoise, with the fashoinable outfit playing it straight but the firefighter outfit being an aversion.

  • All Terrekin in Cosmic Dash have a removable shell that attaches to their back, through a hole in their clothes. Word of God mentions genetic engineering.
  • The quill variant applies to Lindesfarne in Kevin & Kell. In one strip she says her clothes attach to her quills with paper-doll style tabs, meaning they really do only have a front.

    Western Animation 
  • As mentioned above, Franklin and the other turtle characters in the franchise exemplify this often.
  • Filbert in Rocko's Modern Life wears a pale yellow polo shirt and chartreuse pants that are mostly hidden by the prominent back-half of his shell.
  • In Hilltop Hospital, Dr Atticus, the tortoise anaesthetist, wears a jumper, trousers and lab coat under his shell.