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Sleeves Are for Wimps

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Ryu doesn't need no sleeves to kick your ass.

The Flash: No sleeves. Don't you get cold?
Green Arrow: I spent the better part of five years on an island in the North China Sea. I don't get cold, Barry.

A tough (or wanna-be tough) character habitually wears a shirt without sleeves to show off his upper arms. And tattoos.

You might even say he has a "Right to Bare Arms".

One classic variant is when the character has cut the sleeves off of a regular shirt, leaving visibly jagged edges. This was common in The '70s and The '80s. Consequently, an easy way to evoke The '80s with costume design. Tends to go well with mullets, if you can fit your mind around a definition of "well" that allows it to appear in the same sentence as "mullets" without negations or brain implosion. Sometime before 1990, this trope made you look like a badass. Any time after that, it makes you look like a redneck.

Tank tops generally serve the same purpose. Vests worn without shirts also count. A vest worn over a cut-off shirt would count double. Vests worn over regular shirts are just vests. Sorry, Nelson.

This is mostly an Almost Always Male trope, since the reasons for putting a woman in a tank top are usually somewhat different, but it's far from unheard of for Action Girl characters to dress like this as well, such as a Tank-Top Tomboy.

Contrast with Cute Oversized Sleeves, for when a character's shirt has overlength sleeves that convey the character's cuteness.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Matsuri's exorcist ninja suit has a sleeveless vest and fingerless gloves that go up past the elbow, emphasizing his biceps and shoulders. Humorously, he also rolls his shirt sleeves up in gym class.
  • In Berserk, Guts is almost always gloriously without sleeves. His scrawny young companion Isidro also has his trademark sleeveless jacket, probably because he's trying to look tough.
  • Yami Sukehiro from Black Clover wears a white tank top that shows off his muscled arms, and he's a tough swordsman who wields powerful Dark Magic.
  • Revy and Dutch from Black Lagoon.
  • Bleach has several variants. The most straight-forward is Hisagi who wears a sleeveless version of the standard uniform top. Shinigami captains also wear a white coat over their uniforms and some (Komamura, Gin, Byakuya, Hitsugaya, Kenpachi) wear sleeveless versions. Kenpachi's has the jagged look to emphasise his badass nature since it supposedly belonged to the previous Captain of the 11th Division that he beat in a duel to the death to gain his position. Tousen after betraying Soul Society also wears a sleeveless long jacket. Finally Kensei of the Vizard wears a tank-top and favoured the sleeveless version of the coat back when he was Captain of the 9th Division.
    • Sui Feng, and all previous 2nd division captains, also wear uniforms that are both sleeveless and have a low-cut back, because the most powerful flash step techniques would destroy those parts of the uniform, destroying a conventional uniform.
  • Kojiro Hyuga in Captain Tsubasa always plays with his sleeves rolled up. Even out of the matches it's pretty rare to see him with his arms covered.
  • Fate/stay night's Archer, whenever he takes his skirt-coat off. He never does this in the original game, but it's almost his default outfit in Hollow Ataraxia.
  • Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star wore outfits without sleeves. When he went into Hokuto Shinken ass-kicking mode, oftentimes the shirt would disintegrate with the power of his Battle Aura and leave him shirtless.
    • Coincidentally, the only time he wore a sleeved leather jacket was the time when he got his ass kicked by Shin.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Edward Elric typically wears a black jacket, a long, red coat, and white gloves, but frequently invokes this trope either via Adrenaline Makeover or to lecture someone on why human alchemy is bad. His automail arm increases this trope's intended effect exponentially.
  • Game×Rush: Well, Yuuki does seem pretty badass, and he seems to avoid sleeves whenever possible.
  • Ryoma has the cut-off variant in New Getter Robo.
  • Spoofed in Gintama, when Katsura is sent in prison. The resident tough guy Shachi sport the torn sleeves style to look more badass and intimidating, but Katsura try to warn him that there is a problem with his shirt and someone ripped off his sleeves. Shachi then becomes self-conscious about it.
  • Inverted in Katanagatari Shichika wear sleeves but only sleeves, no shirt. His torso remain uncovered.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple gives us Berserker, along with Kenichi's new custom-made dōgi in a "sleeves-torn-off" style, debuted in the chapter 145.
  • In Kiniro Mosaic, Karen comes to school once with her vest over a shirt that she has ripped the sleeves off of, leaving jagged edges. She insists she can get away with it because it's super cool, but quickly gets out a normal shirt when it's suggested her parents will find out.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh!, Jozak only ever seems to wear sleeves when he's in women's clothes, and not always then, either — much to Yuuri's horror when he sees the huge biceps on the "lady" flirting with him when Jozak is first introduced. Although he's not the best physical fighter of the cast, he is the Combat Pragmatist, and the one who spends the most time on the front lines/roaming the wilderness, since he's a spy and most of the rest of them are aristocrats of some kind.
  • All of Zafira's clothes in Lyrical Nanoha are like this, from the black wife-beater he wore on his first meeting with Hayate to the Knight Clothing that he uses now.
  • Heero Yuy from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Yes, even in the middle of Antarctica!
  • Quattro in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (although he doesn't look as big as most of the other examples here).
  • My Hero Academia:
  • In Ninja Scroll, Jubei prepares for the final showdown with the Big Bad. It's all or nothing now, no more kid gloves, it's all come down to this. What's the very first thing Jubei does to prepare for the greatest fight of his life? ...He rips off his sleeves.
  • Genos the cyborg from One-Punch Man always wears sleeveless tops, to show off his robotic arms. It's justified in his case, as sleeves would never survive his bigger attacks, so having them in the first place would be a waste.
    • And an entire team of "Tank Top (Add Noun Here)" high-end Martial Artist heroes. It's their hat — they all wear tank tops.
  • Although not quite as all-encompassing as many of the other examples, Kaidou Kaoru from The Prince of Tennis wears sleeveless shirts whenever he's not in school uniform.
  • In the anime version of Ranma ˝, (apart from an early pastel orange shirt with a cutesy bow-tie) Ranma's "trademark" Chinese shirt has no sleeves and he's usually shown wearing arm bracers. In the manga, the closest equivalent shirt had short sleeves — in fact, there was also a manga version that had long sleeves (particularly when Ranma was in female form), but the anime, most likely due to budget reasons, suffered from something of a Limited Wardrobe. Though that didn't prevent both of the aforementioned manga shirts popping up on occasion. Ryoga Hibiki also occasionally wore a tattered, sleeveless shirt, which looked as though the sleeves were ripped off, but he's somewhat better known for a long-sleeved shirt.
    • The long sleeves version shows up in the first movie and OAVs at the very least
    • Pantyhose Taro always wears a vest with a snakeskin pattern, with no shirt underneath.
  • Phoenix Ikki, Cygnus Hyoga, Unicorn Jabu, and Pegasus Seiya from Saint Seiya's civilian clothing include sleeveless shirts. In Hyoga's case, it looks like they were torn off.
  • If a shirt isn't sleeveless when Toriko puts it on, it will probably become so shortly.
  • Dark Yugi in Yu-Gi-Oh! is significantly likelier than his other self to throw off their jacket, revealing bare arms... and, at best, the tiniest hint of muscle definition, because he's basically one scrawny nerd inhabiting the body of another. In Ancient Egypt, back when he was alive, he also had a sleeveless outfit... and may have been slightly more athletic.
  • In YuYu Hakusho many of the characters use this trope. The yellow shirt/blue pants outfit Yusuke that he wears multiple times in the second season arc. Kuwabara when he's not wearing his blue jacket for the first two seasons. Hiei only wears sleeves shirts under his jacket or is a Walking Shirtless Scene without it. Yomi even tears off his sleeves before he fights Yusuke in the last season.

  • Larry the Cable Guy. He even named one album The Right to Bare Arms.
  • Discussed by Demetri Martin. He compares the typical reaction to leather jackets (good) to leather vests (bad) and concludes that the appeal lies in leather sleeves. Apparently, he owns a pair of leather sleeves.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Typecasting for Michelle Rodriguez: Virtually every role she's done has her wearing a tank top or otherwise going sleeveless. When Portal 2 was announced, Chell's redesign (with the top of her jumpsuit pulled down and tied around her waist, exposing a white tank top) drew immediate fan comparisons to Michelle Rodriguez.
  • Coming this summer, Bruce Willis plays an angry man in a dirty tank top.
    • It's so much his trademark that in The Fifth Element, Willis is at the opera wearing a tux that gets severely damaged in the ensuing battle, resulting in a sleeveless tux!
  • Gina Gershon as Corky in Bound (1996) is a Tank-Top Tomboy, in contrast to the glamorous Violet.
  • Charlie from Bumblebee is a Wrench Wench Lad-ette whose clothing mostly consists of sleeveless black band shirts.
  • In Can't Buy Me Love, Cindy rips the sleeves off of Ronald (Patrick Dempsey)'s shirt as part of his extreme makeover as a cool kid.
  • Cameron Poe from Con Air is recognizable from his wifebeater and bandaged arm. Even for female cosplayers.
  • In Curve after Mallory Rutledge manages to escape her car which she was stuck on, she takes off her hoodie, wearing her white tank top as she heads out to confront the man that put her in her current situation.
  • As with her comic and Animated counterpart, Wonder Woman wears a strapless battle armor in the DC Extended Universe.
  • Burt Reynolds in Deliverance.
  • In The Descent as Sarah tries to save herself from one of the creatures that live in the cave she's stuck in, she takes off her shirt and remains in her tank top as she tries to escape and combat the creature that is attacking her.
  • During his training with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke wore a tank top to show off his physique.
  • Escape from New York: Snake Plissken whenever he loses his Badass Longcoat.
  • Hunk: After O'Brien tells him "true hunks don't follow trends, they start them", Hunk rips the sleeves off all his shirts: starting a look that is immediately copied by all of the other yuppies.
  • Joe Dirt
  • All of the Cobras in The Karate Kid (1984) have black sleeveless outfits. Popular imagination particularly associates it with their sensei Kreese.
    • The sequel has Chozen, who is not associated to Cobra Kai in any way, also don a sleeveless yellow martial arts outfit in the climax.
  • Charlie Sheen's character in Major League has to be reminded that "we wear sleeves in the majors." Later, when the team does an American Express ad, he's wearing a Tux, with the sleeves ripped off.
    • When his catcher takes Vaughn out to dinner, he chooses a place that requires ties. He shows up with his regular a tie. His first line? "I feel like a banker."
  • Patrick, the cult leader in Martha Marcy May Marlene, is often shown wearing just a tank top.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a few examples of sleeveless badasses. Thor, Sif, and Hawkeye usually go without sleeves. There are several scenes in Iron Man, showing Tony Stark working in his lab without sleeves. Thor goes without sleeves at the beginning of The Avengers, but gets them back when things get serious.
  • Leonard Smalls in Raising Arizona; H.I. preferred the classic "garish Hawaiian shirt over white henley" ensemble.
  • Rambo - one of the archetypal examples of the tank top version.
  • Angela Vidal in the fourth [REC] movie wears a tank top after she ditches her long-sleeved shirt before she takes out an axe as she tries to escape the ship she's at.
  • In Showdown in Little Tokyo Kenner (Dolph Lundgren) takes off his jacket several times to walk around in a tank top and show off his arms.
  • Played with in Spiders, in where the lead character Marci Eyre loses layers of shirts during the second act, that the only shirt she has left is a white tank top, it is after she's left in her tank top that she takes a level in badass.
    • John Murphy also wears a sleeveless shirt when he and Marci team up.
    • In the sequel Spiders II: Breeding Ground after taking off her black shirt, the lead character Alexandra is wearing a gray tank top when she fights off the spiders, free's Jason, messes up with the lab and fights off Grbac.
  • Captain Picard busts out the guns near the end of Star Trek: First Contact to emphasize how done he is with all these Borg.
    • Lampshaded in the parody Sev Trek: Pus in Boots
    Lt. Beta: Captain, what happened to your uniform?
    Cptn. Pinchhard: It's the Captain's prerogative to strip down during action scenes.
  • This is Spın̈al Tap: Nigel Tufnel is wearing one during the "these go to eleven" scene, among others.
  • The Warriors: The title gang mostly wear shirtless vests, and several other gangs wear tank tops as part of their uniform.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Wolverine is often seen wearing a tank top when he isn't wearing his battle suit.
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: Colossus' uniform is sleeveless, showing off his muscles and more of his transformation when using his power.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Pre-transformation Wade Wilson kicks ass in a red sleeveless shirt.
    • X-Men: First Class: During the training scene, everyone gets matching grey tracksuits. Havok's inexplicably doesn't have sleeves.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Unlike their male teammates, Storm's and Psylocke's Horsemen apparel expose their arms.
    • Deadpool: Colossus again. His default outfit is a sleeveless tank top. In both this movie and the sequel.
    • Deadpool 2: The Juggernaut rips off the sleeves of his prison garb before fighting Colossus.

  • Doroga in the Codex Alera series habitually goes around in a legionare's jacket with the front ripped open and the sleeves ripped off. This is because it was a gift, and by Marat custom it would be a deadly insult not to wear it, but he's so buff he couldn't fit his arms in the sleeves.
  • Destined to Lead: All the characters in the first book are this containing both male and female examples, particularly notable is Kajiya, the main character. Justified in that her left shoulder shows the mark of magic, marking her as the next leader of their tribe.
  • In Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, Ham (a physically-enhanced Thug) almost always wears a vest without a shirt. At one point he's forced to wear a uniform — shortly after he's no longer required to, he's found wearing it anyway... with the sleeves ripped off.
  • Chocolate Harry, supply sergeant of Phule's Company customizes his uniform by taking off the sleeves.
  • In Star Wars: Allegiance, Mara Jade's black combat jumpsuit has removable sleeves. She takes them off in this book because the freighter where she is is overwarm. Also, her signature costume is a sleeveless Spy Catsuit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Restoration: Tearing the sleeves off of the work uniform seems to be in the employee manual at Rick's Restorations.
  • B.A. on The A-Team (and Mr. T in anything else he was in as well)
  • Here's a female example: In Battlestar Galactica, number Six always dresses appropriately for whatever she's doing. When she's being a badass she wears a tank-top.
  • When Stephen Colbert is about to rock out on the guitar, he knows that the first thing you do is rip the sleeves off your suit.
  • Mike, a bully on Community.
  • White sleeveless muscle shirts gained the nickname "wifebeaters" due to their frequent appearance on domestic violence suspects on COPS.
  • On The Cosby Show, Theo cuts the sleeves off an expensive sweatshirt Cliff bought him. note 
  • Cooter on The Dukes of Hazzard is one of the prototypes of the "good old boy" use of this look now.
  • Game of Thrones: The Unsullied's armor doesn't cover their arms.
  • Mac, the wanna-be tough guy in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia often wears sleeveless shirts (to the point of cutting the sleeves off of almost any shirt, including polos and other collared shirts). One of the other castmembers calls him on it.
  • Hawkman and White Canary in Legends of Tomorrow.
  • Percival from Merlin, the largest of the Knights of the Round Table, has sleeveless armour.
  • Power Rangers
    • Cole from Power Rangers Wild Force. He even ripped a sleeve from the team uniform.
    • Koda, the Human Popsicle Handsome Heroic Caveman from Power Rangers Dino Charge, almost always wears sleeveless blue tanks and seems to literally tear the sleeves off of any outfit he is given that isn't already sleeveless, judging from the scenes where he is wearing a cafe or museum uniform with his teammates. That's when he's wearing any kind of shirt at all. (His Power Ranger morphed form is sadly if inevitably excluded.)
    • Long before Cole or Koda were ever conceived as characters, Jason Scott from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was rarely seen with sleeves when not in Ranger form. Also, by season 3 Billy was periodically shown sleeveless (including in the opening titles) to emphasize he was just as ripped as the other male Rangers despite being the team nerd.
  • Scrubs gives us The Todd who rips the sleeves off his surgical srcubs to show off his guns, and the "DOC" tattoo on his right bicep.
  • In later seasons of Stargate SG-1, Teal'c tended to wear these a lot. Occasionally Daniel and even Sam got in on the sleeveless action, such as the workout scene in "Orpheus."
  • Ash from Supernatural wears this all the time, and has a mullet to go along with it. Though Ash doesn't do any actual ass-kicking in the show, he gets Badassery by pure brains and Memetic Mutation; and for bonus points, there's a sign on his door which says "Dr. Badass is... IN/OUT".
  • In Tour of Duty, Anderson rarely wears his uniform shirt when out in the field, preferring to wear his equipment harness over a tank top, so his well-muscles arms are on full display.
  • The Walking Dead has Daryl Dixon, resident redneck/hunter/tracker/zombie killer extraordinaire. The first time we see him wearing sleeves (about halfway through the second season), he ends up ripping them off by the halfway point of the episode. It seems like this is changing, though, with the adoption of a blue jean jacket (with sleeves) as the timeline of the series moves into winter.
  • One episode of Wishbone had Joe, in an attempt to fit in with some teenage basketball players, take scissors to his T-shirts while Wishbone commented, "Okay, why don't we like sleeves anymore?"

  • Way too many eighties music videos to name here feature sleeveless shirts, vests worn without shirts, and similar things. It's one of the things that defines the period, along with '80s Hair.
  • Country Music singer Kenny Chesney is known for removing his sleeves.
  • A lot of the touring costumes worn by *NSYNC were sleeveless and were the main modification on JC's costumes.

  • In Flash Gordon, Flash is always shown with his muscular arms bared.
  • Everyone in Laser War wears identical sleeveless spandex jumpsuits, differentiated only by their Army's color.
  • In Rollergames, Chuck Skull, manager of the Violators, wears a denim vest with torn sleeves to show off his thick arms.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • Too many wrestlers to name, including Hulk Hogan. Face it, you're lucky if they wear a shirt at all, let alone sleeves.
  • Swiss wrestler Ares wrestled in a dress shirt and tie, except for the sleeves were cut off. This was a justified trope, so much as you could justify wrestling in formal wear, as it was not made for maneuverability or dexterity so something had to come off. He was part of Swiss Money holding in German Stampede Wrestling, so the look was to emphasize that he was an evil Swiss banker.

    Video Games 
  • Apollo Justice, of the Ace Attorney franchise, wears a sleeveless vest over a sleeveless shirt. He's on a quest to end injustice and sleeves.
  • Art of Fighting: Ryo and Yuri Sakazaki (Robert varies between this and long sleeves).
  • The titular "bad dudes" of Bad Dudes.
  • In Barry Steakfries series of games, a titular character has a "shirt-ripping decease": if he gets too excited, he will rip the sleeves off his shirt, which means that his default appearance is a blue work suit with jagged edges.
  • Kyle Blackthorne.
  • Makoto of BlazBlue only wore sleeves as part of the Military Academy's dress code - her combat outfit and her Amane-induced makeover are both sleeveless.
  • The protagonist of Cave Story wears a tank top. Humorously enough, he appears a bit on the scrawny side, but he's much stronger than he looks seeing as he's a robot.
  • In Deltarune, both Kris and Susie, who usually cover their arms with a sweater and a jacket, lose them for sleeveless knight and barbarian outfits: while Susie is the strong one, she and Kris an incredible determination to save light and dark worlds, and unlike Ralsei (the sensitive guy of the trio, who wears Cute Oversized Sleeves), they don't mind resorting to violence to accomplish this goal.
  • When discarding his greatcoat, Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution wears an armored vest that leaves his biomechanical arms exposed.
  • Inverted with V from Devil May Cry 5. He wears a long sleeveless coat without a shirt on, which shows off his Power Tattoos, but his scrawny arms helps exemplify how physically weak he is.
  • Doom:
  • Billy and Jimmy Lee from the Double Dragon beat-em-ups both wore sleeveless vests and shirts. Curiously, in the movie, where Billy wore a blue long-sleeve sweatshirt and Jimmy wore a red t-shirt, they spent most of the movie screaming and running away from the bad guys, making it a literal example of this trope.
  • Carver in Dragon Age II and Hawke (if played as a mage) adhere to this in the opening act.
  • The default outfit of Duke Nukem is rangers, blue jeans, sunglasses, suspenders attached to a belt for his ammo, and a red-tank-top that leaves his big arms and the top of his torso exposed.
  • Ulysses from Fallout: New Vegas manages to combine this with Badass Longcoat and Badass Bandolier when he finally shows up in Lonesome Road. After the DLC, you get both his coat and your own version with a symbol based on your chosen faction.
  • Fatal Fury: Terry and Andy Bogard appear to have shared the same paper cutter when it comes to their fashion sense.
  • Most Final Fantasy female characters. Expect some of them to also bare their midriff.
    • Cloud Strife too.
    • Squall Leonhart wears a black sleeveless shirt as one of his alternate outfits in Dissidia 012. Also comes with a badass chain wrapped around his left arm.
    • Oddly enough, in Final Fantasy XII, Ashe, Penelo, and Fran all have some sort of sleeves, while the sleeveless ones are Vaan and Basch. Ashe doesn't have anything covering her shoulders, but she does wear sleeves covering the top of her arms. Many NPC wear sleeveless tops.
      • Crisis Core has fun with this since the standard SOLDIER uniform has a sleeveless turtleneck as the top. Zack certainly made it work.
  • Final Fight: Unless you count the tiny sleeves on Cody's t-shirt that just cover his shoulders, none of the playable characters in the original three games (Cody, Guy, Haggar, Carlos, Maki, Lucia, and Dean) have sleeves. (Though Haggar might have an unfair advantage seeing as he doesn't wear a shirt at all.)
  • The Fire Clan from the Golden Sun games tend to go sleeveless. It's justified by the fact that they have scales and spikes on their shoulders, which would make clothing in those areas difficult. Karst also plays up the fanservice aspect with a pair of long gloves.
  • CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas starts out wearing a white tank top, though it's played with in that he starts out rather scrawny and only plays this straight after hitting the gym.
  • Torn and Sig in Jak X: Combat Racing both wear sleeveless shirts. Jak himself had his sleeves removed in the beginning of Jak 3.
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • Riku very, very rarely wears sleeves, and never by choice. His "Dark Mode" is a bodysuit that includes sleeves, but considering it looks like muscle tissue, it's arguable if it counts. He doesn't modify his Organization cloak, which means it covers his arms, but that's mostly because he's posing as an Organization member and Non-Uniform Uniform is not a thing with those guys. His Grid outfit comes with sleeves, but he didn't have a say in that one. His current outfit as of Kingdom Hearts III does have the shortest T-shirt sleeves you've ever seen, but it's a darkness-protection outfit made by Master Yen Sid, so you don't exactly say 'no' to that.
    • Kairi has a similar aversion to sleeves. Her school uniform in Kingdom Hearts II has the sleeves visibly rolled up, and her darkness-protection outfit in III gets to be sleeveless as well.
  • The King of Fighters: Shen Woo
  • Left 4 Dead: Francis doesn't hate vests.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding has two of the bosses, the Japanese mercenary powerhouse Nakamura and the elite assassin Chen Liang-jiou, whose outfits forgoes sleeves so their muscles are on full display during battle.
  • Inverted in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess by the people of Ordon, where sleeves are apparently only worn by trained warriors like Rusl. Link, his understudy at the beginning, only wears one sleeve, while the other farmers and young boys go sleeveless.
  • Being a ninja, Ninja Gaiden main character Ryu Hayabusa almost completely covers his body, but still leaves his sculpted arms on display.
  • In Overwatch, Zarya's default outfit is armor that covers her entire body except for her head and biceps. Some of her alternate skins (like her Totally '80s outfit) are also sleeveless.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, specifically Emerald Version, the female player character does not wear sleeves. Seeing as she has just recently gone through puberty and saved her country from being destroyed by a Yin-Yang Clash, she definitely qualifies. Her Pokémon Adventures counterpart also qualifies. She also ditches the sleeves in her Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire outfit. Brendan is a partial example, as his sleeves are significantly shorter in his Emerald outfit.
    • The female player character of Pokémon Black and White wears the tank-top plus vest variant and takes down legendary and pseudo-legendary alike with little difficulty.
    • For an example that involves an actual Pokémon, Incineroar has some black tufts of fur around its shoulders that gives it the impression of it having ripped sleeves. This is especially fitting as its torso is supposed to resemble a tank top.
    • Another Pokémon example: Cinderace's fur patterns are supposed to evoke a soccer uniform, and the blue neighboring its shoulders evokes the sleeveless top variant.
  • Lewis, lead singer in an electric punk band in Primal wears a white tank top, even when he's a demon.
  • More or less justified about half-way through Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Due to Clothing Damage, the prince's full shirt eventually degrades to a sleeveless shirt, then nonexistent. It's shown that he is using the scraps of cloth as bandages.
  • In Sengoku Basara we have Kuroda Kanbe and his ragged, sleeveless jacket. While he may not be the most badass character in the series, but needs no excuse to showcase those arms of his.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Purge in Space Channel 5 Part 2 is found to have a Sleeveless Purple Disco Suit underneath his Cloak.
  • Rick exhibited this trope in the original Splatterhouse trilogy. In the 2010 game, he's instead a Walking Shirtless Scene.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Ryu, Dan, Sean, Akuma, and Ken. Incidentally, Ken is the only character in the franchise who seemed to have the good sense to buy a sleeveless gi, rather than tear the sleeves off.
    • Balrog has a double whammy, with a tank top over a shirt with the sleeves torn off. In one of his Victory Poses in Street Fighter II (and his win portrait in Street Fighter Alpha 3), he tears both off at once.
    • And of course, Guile and his tank top.
    • Also Abel, Guy, Cammy, Birdie, Cammy, Charlie, T. Hawk, Yun, Yang . . . tons of them, really.
    • Ibuki also has this in her historical default outfit, but she averts this in her SFV default one.
  • Strider: Strider Hiryu's ninja getup puts his nicely toned arms on display.
  • Oni girl Suika Ibuki from Touhou. That despite looking like a 10-year-old.
  • Ranger Ken in Ty the Tasmanian Tiger wears a khaki shirt with the sleeves torn off.
  • Since Wario Land II, Wario shows his muscles and still gathers treasure and defeats enemies with next to no problems.
  • This appears to be the philosophy of Letho of Gulet, from The Witcher video games. While every other witcher or soldier has something at least resembling armor covering their arms, Letho goes sleeveless and bears a few scars to show for it. Given his improbably muscular arms, one wonders if he is just showing off, or legitimately can't find any sleeves that will fit over them.
  • The World Ends with You: Neku Sakuraba and Daisukenojo "Beat" Bito.
  • XCOM

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

  • Bearclaw from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
  • Dinosaur Soldier from Axe Cop. But only in that form, otherwise he's wearing a shirt or tie or essentially naked.
  • Capcom from Consolers has the left sleeve of her Martial Arts Uniform ripped off.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the djinn in the MUD Dan plays wears a vest with jagged arm holes suggesting it was a jacket that had its sleeves cut off.
  • Part of monster hunter Kelly's partially armored hunting duds in Here There Be Monsters involves a sleeveless vest over a tank top, all the better to expose her toned biceps.
  • The formidably strong warrior Equius from Homestuck wears a tank top.
  • Neither Richard nor Benn of Looking for Group wears sleeves. The latter even exposes her arms when wearing a fur cape.
  • Modern MoGal: Dino always wears a sleeveless shirt, adding to his Face of a Thug look. It doesn't help that at least one of them looks like it's had its sleeves torn off.
  • Nebula: All of the characters without sleeves have been some measure of this.
    • Jupiter wears a vest but no shirt and is one of the biggest, most aggressive planets around and who is actively trying to overthrow Sun.
    • Venus, the aggressively snarky one always ready to shut done everyone else's antics, has a hoodie with no sleeves.

    Web Originals 

    Web Videos 
  • In the second campaign of Critical Role, Beau prefers to wear sleeveless outfits befitting her Monk class. Her player, Marisha Ray, is known for the motto "Sleeves are bullshit" and tends to wear tank tops and other sleeveless clothing almost all the time.
  • In Fight of the Living Dead, Tré decides to rip off the sleeves of his expensive shirt. It's never really explained why.
  • Those Aren't Muskets: "Sleeves" An unnamed guy tries his hardest to avoid wearing sleeves, so he can show off his lean but toned biceps. His friends are so tired of it and worried sick about him, they decide to give him an intervention.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
  • The Wasp goes sleeveless in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Thor used to go sleeveless during the first season.
  • As his Movie and Comic counterpart, Hawkeye goes sleeveless in Avengers Assemble.
  • Todd on Beavis and Butt-Head.
  • Cleopatra in Space: In episode 2, Cleo personalizes her school uniform to something closer to what she was used in Egypt, which essentially consist in removing the sleeve parts, baring her shoulders and arms.
  • Jorgan Von Strangle from The Fairly OddParents! enjoys showing off his muscles, so naturally sleeves are a pet peeve of his.
  • Though he doesn't act like a tough guy, Ding-A-Ling Wolf from Hokey Wolf wears a vest AND a sleeveless shirt under it.
  • In Justice League, both Aquaman and Hawkman are mostly shirtless, while Wonder Woman wears her usual strapless outfit, Hawkgirl wears a strapless suit and later a tank top during the series.
  • Kim Possible inverts this trope. She usually wears a sleeveless tank top as part of her civilian outfit, but her mission outfit has a shirt with full-length sleeves. Although there have been times that she has had to engage in combat when still dressed in her everyday clothes.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Korra shows off well-toned arms with a sleeveless outfit. She even tries to roll up the sleeves and cape on her airbending training uniform. She doesn't even usually wear sleeves in the winter or at the South Pole (except when she's wearing her coat), her season two outfit has detached sleeves that still show her shoulders, and even her formal wear is sleeveless.
    • When Bolin is saving the president at the Pro-Bending arena, he tears of the sleeves of his jacket (inadvertently matching the character he plays, Nuktuk, Hero of the South, who NEVER wears sleeves despite living at the South Pole) before kicking some serious Northern Water Tribe ass.
    • Wei and Wing, Suyin's two metalbending sons, have yet to wear sleeves on their shirts. Considering that they're always fighting or playing a Pinball-esque metalbending game, it's practical. It also helps show the bracelet on their biceps. Wei wears his on his left arm, Wing on his right.
  • The title character from Major Lazer. Somewhat justified since one of his arms is a frickin' laser cannon.
  • Matrix in ReBoot only goes sleeveless. When he is forced to do a tuxedo for his sister's wedding, he immediately proceeds to rip the sleeves off.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Loan-A-Lisa", Principal Skinner decides to start working for Nelson to earn more money. Upon remembering that Nelson likes the sleeveless look he rips off the sleeves of his shirt and jacket but makes no other changes. Superintendent Chalmers in a case of Strange Minds Think Alike shows up with the exact same look.
  • In Static Shock, after Static swaps the white t-shirt he wears under his jacket for a black sleeveless shirt, he often forgoes the jacket in warmer weather; when he visits Africa in one episode, for example.
  • The Gems in Steven Universe all have default outfits with either very short sleeves (for example: Garnet, Sapphire, and Steven) or no sleeves; which possibly fits them into this trope since Gems are generally physically much stronger than humans.
  • Several Young Justice characters, including Aqualad, Red Arrow, Wonder Girl and Guy Gardner. In Aqualad's case, it also shows off the Power Tattoos on his arms; he usually wears a long-sleeved jacket when he needs to be inconspicuous.

    Real Life 
  • For some reason, a gray hooded sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off has become the signature wardrobe item of NFL coach Bill Belichick, lampshaded in an ESPN ad.
  • You're rather likely to find gangsters or secret society members wearing these in Asia.
  • Almost a uniform for anybody at a gym with good arms, especially if they use free weights. Justified in that sleeves would constrict blood flow when flexing the arm if you've got oversized muscles. If.
  • This female bodybuilder explains her preference towards tanktops over regular t-shirts during workouts - the sleeves would end up with very ugly stains in the armpit areas due to sweat. Not to mention the heat especially in summer.
  • The majority of Australian Rules Football players wear sleeveless guernseys, although sleeved versions do exist, and some players regarded as being among the greatest ever (such as Essendon's James Hird and Hawthorn's Michael Tuck) almost always wore sleeved jumpers.
  • Likewise, most NFL players will be wearing jerseys just big enough to be stretched over the shoulder pad, leaving the arms bare. At least for games in warmer weather. Cold weather games will see everyone in some sort of tight-fitting, spandex/compression sleeves in an attempt to stay warm. The old, short-but-baggy sleeves are basically a remnant of history, due to compression stuff being readily available at all levels of play, and baggy sleeves potentially giving tacklers something extra to grab on to.
    • This was famously used as an intimidation tactic in the 1981 AFC Championship game, known as the Freezer Bowl, where the game time temperature was -8 degrees F, with the added bonus of a -37 F wind chill. Many players on the Cincinnati Bengals went sleeveless, including the entire offensive line, while the San Diego Chargers all wore cold weather clothes. It certainly seemed to help, as they went on to beat San Diego 27-7.
  • Ted Kluszewski was famous for cutting the sleeves off his jersey, as he said they were too tight on his massive biceps and would affect his swing. He said he could either change his swing, or cut the sleeves off, and since his ability with a bat got him into the Majors, he wasn't about to change his swing.
  • Seems to be popular among Cybergoths. It looks cool but is also pragmatic - Cyber-dancing can get very involved and sleeveless clothes help cooling and allow more flexibility.
  • Tank tops and T-shirts with the sleeves ripped off are quite common in the punk and metalhead subcultures.


Alternative Title(s): Right To Bare Arms


Joe's New Look

Joe takes scissors to all his shirt sleeves.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SleevesAreForWimps

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