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Splitting Pants

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Guess you can call him SpongeBob SplitPants now.
"Oh, and you can stop hiding. We ALL saw you split your pants."
Miles, Crabgrass

A Comedy trope related to Popping Buttons. The character drops some item, bends down to retrieve it, and hears the sound of ripping fabric. This is usually because they have gained weight, or sometimes because they are clumsy and prone to a Wardrobe Malfunction.

The character often suffers Comedic Underwear Exposure as a result, which is even worse if they happen to be wearing Goofy Print Underwear or Uncool Undies. And if they're really unlucky, this may even happen to their underwear, or they may not be wearing underwear at all.

This trope is the opposite of Magic Pants. Compare Open-Fly Gag.


    open/close all folders 
  • In a commercial for Ritz Bits Sandwiches featuring The Simpsons, this happens to Comic Book Guy after Bart scams him out of a rare Radioactive Man comic (he offered it to Bart in exchange for his box of the snacks, so Bart gave him the empty box).
  • An LTK commercial starring Charlotte Bridgeman, features her ripping her leggings down the back while in the middle of the park, leading to her wandering around using anything she can to hide them, including her pet dog.
    Anime & Manga 
  • How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?: This trope occasionally ensues when the characters are doing their exercises, due to wearing tight clothing. Hibiki is the most common victim of it.
  • Kuroeda of Plus-Sized Elf runs into this due to most of the weight she's gained since coming to Earth went to her thighs and butt. She's shown ripping through the clothes she uses to enhance her magic, which is her main motivation for wanting to slim down. The end of her introductory chapter has her ripping the back of her jeans tight when rival elf Erufuda is on hand to get a full gander.
  • Mitsudomoe: In "Beautiful Trauma", Futaba makes a makeshift water slide out of wooden planks, but this backfires when the nail tears the girls' swimsuit bottoms. They spend much of the segment trying to cover up the holes with boogie boards until they have to pull Mitsuba out of the water when she gets a leg cramp.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: Subverted in one comic. Veronica bends over to pick something up and hears a tearing sound. She nervously asks Betty if she's torn her skirt, and Betty says that was just Jughead mimicking the sound.
  • Bart Simpson: Played with on the cover image of #11; Principal Skinner bends over to pick up a pen, and at that moment Bart, who is standing behind Skinner, tears up a sheet of paper to make Skinner think this trope happened.
  • In the Love and Rockets novel "Maggie The Mechanic", Maggie's weight gain has caused her to split three pairs of pants in a month, including the only jeans that still fit.

  • Whizzer and Chips: In the column, “Bottom”, this trope is literally the main premise! In every issue, protagonist, Rock Bottom finds some new way to split his pants usually resulting in humiliating circumstances.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: In one strip, when Calvin is on the swings, the bell rings signalling everyone that recess is over. As Calvin gets off the swing, his pants snag on the swing chain and rip open. He tries to hide it from everyone, but unfortunately, he's exposed when Miss Wormwood makes him come up to the front of the classroom to solve a math equation on the chalkboard.
  • Crabgrass: In this comic, Kevin spends his entire recess chilling against a tree. The final panel however reveals he did this in an (unsuccessful) attempt to keep anybody from finding out he ripped his pants.
  • Garfield: In one strip, Garfield bends over to grab a peanut and hears a ripping sound from behind himself. He covers up his back and says he needs a bigger "cat suit".

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Dunk for Future, right at the beginning of the training montage that has the goats prepare for the big game, Paddi has enough trouble getting his sports shirt on after having eaten so much that it causes his pants to rip.
  • Soul: When 22 is in Joe's body, Joe (who is in the body of a cat) tells her to pick up his hat. She rips her/Joe's pants in the process and he yells at her to tie a sweater around her waist, but she isn't even embarrassed about it because the body she's in isn't even hers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Babe: Pig in the City, Esme Hoggett gets drenched in billboard glue while searching for Babe in the city. By the time she gets back to the hotel later in the movie, the glue has dried and made her dress stiff enough to split open from the back when she bends over to look at Babe's tracks.
  • In the made-for-TV movie Before And After (1979), an overweight housewife is humiliated when her too-tight pants rip in front of everyone during a game of charades.
  • In Cannonball Run, Jackie Chan's character suffers Defeat by Modesty when he splits his pants during a karate fight.
  • Similarly, in Home Alone 3, a female burglar is thwarted when she drops her hat, bends down to get it, and her pants rip.
  • In The Kissing Booth, When the protagonist Elle Evans is getting ready for her first day of her junior year, she rips her pants in her bedroom, and with her backup pants at the cleaner's she is only left with a tiny skirt to wear to school.
  • Pitch Perfect 2 opens with Fat Amy splitting the seat of her costume as she tries to perform an aerial ballet.
  • In the film So Fine (1981), a man and his mistress are interrupted by her husband coming home. He flees her house wearing a pair of her jeans, which are too tight and immediately rip.

  • In the Arthur book, "Arthur's Underwear" (as well as its TV series adaptation), Binky accidentally rips his pants in front of Mr. Ratburn's class while attempting to solve a math problem. At first, this makes Arthur laugh, but it soon gives him nightmares where he goes to school without pants. It takes Arthur accidentally ripping his own pants to help him get over his nightmares. At the end of the story, Buster now has nightmares where he forgets to wear pants.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down, Greg rips his pants while trying to open the door from the backroom to the stage.
  • Count Rostov splits his pants while sneaking around a balcony to observe a Communist Party meeting in the Amor Towles novel A Gentleman in Moscow. He's indulging the whims of Nina, a nine-year-old girl he had befriended earlier, and the moment is particularly embarrassing to the very upright, very-serious-about-his-clothes Count.
  • The Goosebumps book, How I Learned to Fly. When Jack Johnson tries partaking in a Twister Game at his crush Mia's place, his pants inevitably split at the crotch region. Cue the entire party laughing, with Jack's bully Wilson making the most of it.
    "Check out those Superman boxers!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • On an episode of 2 Broke Girls, Caroline splits her pants and has to resort to stapling them back together.
  • The Adventures in Wonderland episode "To Tear is Human" has Alice split her pants while playing a game of charades. By the end of the episode, after learning the episode's Aesop about not laughing at others' embarrassment while being able to laugh at herself, she states this to Dinah, only to rip her pants again while picking the cat up.
  • America's Funniest Home Videos: One video titles "Weightlifter pants split" shows a guy from behind squatting with a barbell on his shoulders. At the end of the video, he squats, and the back of his pants rips open.
  • On Are You There, Chelsea?, episode "The Foodie", Chelsea's father warns her she is gaining weight; she denies it, but as she walks away we see her skirt has split in back.
  • On The Brady Bunch, episode "Law And Disorder", Bobby accidentally shrinks a pair of pants in the wash, causing them to rip when he wears them.
  • In the Best Friends Whenever episode, "Worst Night Whenever", When Cyd and Shelby go back to their sixth grade dance, Cyd attempts to prevent Naldo ripping his pants and having it filmed by the resident mean girls. However in the process she rips her own pants and has the fate befall her instead.
  • El Chavo del ocho: One episode involves Don Ramón and Professor Jirafales taking the kids to learn how to play American Football. When Professor Jirafales shows them some exercises to warm up, Ñoño refuses to do one that involves squatting, citing that he can't. When he finally complies, this trope ensues, though El Chavo apparently assumed it was something else.
  • There's a blooper in the Doctor Who episode "The Horns of Nimon" where the co-pilot overacts so hard when he's killed by the Nimon that you can see his trousers rip.
  • The Fuller House episode "Save the Dates" has DJ rip her pants while playing Twister in the backyard against Stephanie.
  • On the hidden-camera show Girls Behaving Badly, episode "Size Matters", an actress wears pants so tight the back seam has burst open, then pranks male bystanders by asking "Does This Make Me Look Fat?"?
  • On the premier episode of Girl Boss, Sophia comes home to find she's being evicted. She slumps to the floor in defeat, only to have her pants rip open.
  • In an episode of Hannah Montana, Miley rips her pants at the mall, Lily attempts to help her hide it as she tries to buy a skirt but as she steps away a young girl chants the "I see London" rhyme.
  • On the first episode of Huge, another girl at fat camp deliberately shrinks Amber's pants so that they split when she tries to wear them.
  • On Have You Been Paying Attention?, one of the clips in the montage that introduces the sports news segment is a bobsled racer doing squats before they launch the bobsled own the run when her skintight bodysuit splits, exposing her minimal underwear and a generous expanse of buttock.
  • Lizzie McGuire:
    • "Lizzie Strikes Out" opens with Lizzie, Gordo, and Miranda discussing their most embarrassing moments, with Lizzie's being splitting her pants in front of the class when she bent over to pick up a piece of chalk she'd dropped while doing math problems. According to Miranda, her underwear had the wrong day of the week written on it.
    • In "Between a Rock and a Bra Place", when Lizzie and Miranda wind up bumping into Kate and Claire while bra shopping, the Animated Lizzie wonders if there's some unwritten rule that Kate needs to be present at all of her most embarrassing moments right as her pants split.
  • On The Lucy Show, episode "Lucy Gets The Bird", Lucy rips her pants trying to catch an escaped parakeet.
  • In episode 29 of Mimpi Metropolitan, Bambang rips his pants while doing one of Juna's yoga moves, which makes him quit the yoga practice.
  • On Modern Family episode "Schooled", Gloria refuses to wear maternity clothes until she finally splits her regular pants.
  • In the Parks and Recreation episode "Park Safety", Butt-Monkey Jerry gives a presentation, then, while looking for his glasses, he turns around and bends over. Cue his pants ripping, a loud fart erupting, and everyone else trying their best not to laugh.

  • In Stan Freberg's parody of "Heartbreak Hotel," the singer claims to have splits his pants at one point, presumably due to excessive Elvis Presley-like pelvic gyrations.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing: Wild World: One potential conversation between a Jock and a Peppy villager has the Jock saying he split his pants. The Peppy villager points out that the Jock isn't even wearing pants.
  • In Captain Falcon's ending in F-Zero GX, this happens to him when he rescues a baby from being hit by a train.
  • Not in the game itself, but occurred during the production of Mortal Kombat II. The character Jax had a different costume than the one seen in the game, a yellow gi rather than black pants and no shirt. One of the reasons for the change was because the actor doing Jax's motion capture, John Parrish, split the pants on the original while filming.
  • Punch-Out!!: In Super Macho Man's promo comic for the Wii game, he flexes his muscles so vigorously in front of a group of women that he tears his speedo, leaving him completely naked besides his gloves.
  • WarioWare: Get It Together!: The boxart depicts Wario doing the splits on two separate Joycons, revealing underwear emblazoned with his W emblem.


    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: A Running Gag in "Whole Slotta Love" is Stan ripping his shorts while playing with his slot cars. It even happens while he's sitting down, leading Francine to question how it's even possible.
  • Arthur:
    • In the episode "Arthur's Underwear", Binky rips his pants in math class, resulting in Arthur having nightmares about not wearing pants. Arthur later suffers the same mishap when his pants get caught on the tray rack in the cafeteria, and that's what cures him of his constant nightmares.
    • In addition to the adaptation of "Arthur's Underwear", Arthur also has the episode, "The Secret About Secrets". After accidentally scraping her arm, D.W. finds out that her friend, James, has accidentally split his pants. D.W. promises James that she won't tell anyone, but Emily is eager to find out, and D.W. worries what might happen if Emily told anyone else, especially the Tibble Twins. Towards the end of the episode, Grandma Thora helps D.W. by having her shout her secret into a seashell and toss it into the lake.
  • Happens to Papa Bear in the The Berenstain Bears episode "Too Much Junk Food" as a result of eating said junk food.
  • In the Biker Mice from Mars episode "Steal of the Century", while dangling from a window ledge due to his building being partially damaged, Lawrence Limburger rips his pants trying to climb back in. After the Biker Mice completely level the building, he tries wrapping a map around his waist like a towel to cover his underwear. Unfortunately, the map also has a hole in it and his underwear can still be seen.
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "Eat, Spray, Linda", Linda rips her pants trying to climb through a car window.
  • In an episode of Western Animation/Bratz, In a game of truth or dare, Sasha tells the story of the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to her. While announcing a dance competition in front of the whole school she ripped her pants while going into the splits.
  • The Casagrandes: In "Taco the Town", when Hector and Rosa start selling tacos at their convenience store, they make two lines (one for tacos and one for produce) to make the lines less long. Vito, who wants to buy both, tri as es to do the splits so he'll be in both lines but ends up ripping his pants.
  • Captain Planet: In the episode "Hollywaste", Dr. Blight acts of a scheme where she poses as her actress sister, Bambi. Early in the episode MAL mentions the amount of donuts Blight is eating commenting that she won't be able to fit into her sister's jeans, she shuts him up but this is proven to be true when she gets into them later in the episode ripping the shorts when she sits down.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • In "How to Ride a Horse", Goofy splits his riding pants while attempting to mount his horse.
    • In "Tomorrow We Diet", Goofy gains a lot of weight. He tries to put on his pants, but they're too tight and ends up splitting the back seam.
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog: In "Embarrassing Moments", Vaz rips his pants while he's playing soccer. He's ashamed about it, so the others try to cheer him up by talking about embarrassing things that have happened to them.
  • Drawn Together: In one episode, Toot Braunstein performs some lunges and squats while wearing her tight dress—and we hear the sound of said dress quietly ripping.
  • In the Family Guy episode "I Never Met the Dead Man", when Peter is watching Star Trek: The Original Series, this happens to Captain Kirk, whose underwear reads "Captain's Log" on the seat.
  • Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes: In the episode "Trial By Fire", a group of aliens kidnap Johnny and put him on trial for offending them, leaving Ben Grimm as the only member of the team that can assist to a children's hospital fundraising charity ball. His wide frame becomes his own worst enemy, he breaks a door with his shoulders, rips the pocket of his pants when he reaches for a pair of notes left by Reed, then finally rips the back side of his suit and pants when picking up said notes.
  • Fireman Sam: In the Series 3 episode "Spot of Bother", Trevor reaches down to touch his toes for a stretching exercise, and splits the seam of his trousers.
  • "Inspector Gadget (2015)": In the episode "Who Do Voodoo", under the influence of a curse, when Penny tries to strike a pose in front of a villain, she ends up ripping her pants, cut to a 2D animation, of her shuffling away with her rip on display in the background, revealing a sky blue pattern with HQ logos. She's able to find another pair of pants off screen while in the museum to put on for the next scene.
  • Kim Possible: The Season 2 episode "Car Trouble" has this happen to Ron in place of his usual losing his pants Running Gag. While he and Kim are fleeing from a self-driving car, Ron points out that he just jumped two fences without ripping his pants, only to instead rip them on a nearby bush.
  • The Loud House: In "Making the Case", Lincoln tries to win a video contest by candidly taping his sisters' embarrassing moments, including Luna ripping her pants while attempting to do a split.
  • In the My Dad The Rockstar episode "Rock Bottom" this happens to Rock Zilla because he's gaining weight.
  • Pinky Dinky Doo: Near the end of "Stinky Pinky Doo", Daffinee accidentally tears her pants. Pinky considers laughing at her as revenge for making fun of her bad breath earlier, but she decides against it and gives Daffinee a sweater to tie around her waist.
  • Postman Pat: In "Postman Pat and the Green Rabbit", Pat's trousers get caught on the fence he's climbing, which causes a tear in the seat.
  • In the Recess episode "Mikey's Pants", Mikey's pants get ripped, and his friends try to help him hide the tear, in order to save him from the humiliation of having Ms. Finster take him inside to sew up the pants. In the end, T.J., Vince, and Gus intentionally rip their own pants so he won't go through the humiliation alone.
  • In the Rugrats episode "Babies In Toyland" Chuckie's snowsuit rips, revealing his Reptar underpants.
    • In the spinoff All Grown Up! Kimi tries on her mom Kira's old kimonos with her. As they bow, Kira ends up ripping the back of her kimono, they're able to laugh about how old they are.
  • In the The Replacements episode, Best Friends for Never, in a flashback Tasumi, splits a hole in the back of her armor. She hides in the janitor's closet for the day to avoid embarrassment, where she meets her best friend who puts duct tape on her butt to help hide her heart underwear.
  • One episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series has Sabrina magically do this to Gem's pants.
  • The Seven Little Monsters episode "You Are What You Eat" has Four split his pants when he bends over to kiss Mama as one of the more humorous consequences of becoming obese from eating Five's meals while his brother only subsists on pies to prepare for a pie-eating contest.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Bart Star", at a health fair hosted in Springfield, several kids, including Bart, are trying to bend over and touch their toes as part of a fitness test. When Bart finally manages to do so, the seat of his pants splits open. A news camera happened to capture the moment, and the sight of Bart ripping his pants ends up on a local news report about childhood obesity.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Ripped Pants", SpongeBob accidentally rips his pants, earning a cheap laugh from his friends. He begins ripping his pants on purpose until everyone is sick of the joke. In the end, he even sings a musical number about it (a song called "I Ripped My Pants").
    • In "The Cent of Money", Mr. Krabs steals other customers' coins, and after that, his pants rip off, showing all the coins he stole. The back of his pants have a large hole, due to him having no underwear on.
    • In the episode "The Frycook Games" both Spongebob and Patrick's pants rip and fall down during their wrestling match, revealing their underwear that is colored like its opposite owner.
  • Winnie the Pooh has ripped his plush backside on more than one occasion, which can be easily remedied each time by (literally) pulling a few strings.

    Real Life 
  • A common complaint in the US Army at the beginning of World War II was that issued trousers had a tendency to bust at the crotch and seat when subjected to the rigors of field use. The Army got around this in 1942 by making the fit much looser.
  • In fencing, this is a common problem with some types of exercise pants due to the wide engarde stance. Especially tight women's yoga pants.




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