You probably want to disguise your face before, say, robbing a bank, to avoid getting caught. But you totally forgot to include that in your bank-robbing plan! You want something better than a Paper-Thin Disguise, but you can't get professional realistic masks. Time for the Stocking Mask.
This trope is Truth in Television, as:
- Stockings are cheap and available almost everywhere;
- They're light and easy to conceal, while taking little time to put on or take off;
- They can provide sufficient masking by distorting your face;
- Buying stockings is a mundane thing; which makes it a popular choice among masks.
However, a stocking mask also has disadvantages, such as making the wearer's vision go fuzzy (of course you can cut out holes to reveal your eyes, but that would just complicate things), and very thin stockings can't cover your scars and such. And needless to say, it only covers your face. Also, due to its popularity, anyone wearing one of these in the street will be considered a Blatant Burglar.
Expect a Minion with an F in Evil to bring pantyhose instead.
- An advertisment for Via Rail showed a check-in clerk at an airport donning a stocking mask and proceeding to rip the customer off.
- A Snickers commercial has a group of robbers wearing stocking masks, but one messed up and wore fishnets instead.
- In the first chapter of City Hunter, the villain puts on one of these to mug/extort his target. His victim didn't recognize him until later, but the baddie takes off his mask in full view of the nearby Ryo.
- During the first Panty Hose Taro arc of Ranma ½, Panty Hose Taro threatens to put one of his pantyhoses over Akane's head if the heroes don't go with his demands, complete with an illustration of this trope (just to make her look stupid).
- In Happy Heroes, the villains Big M. and Little M. often wear socks for masks whenever they try to steal something.
- Lamput: In Season 3's "Reward", the docs resort to robbing bank to earn money to give to the lady asking for a reward for capturing Lamput. The docs wear black socks as masks with holes cut in them and find another crook wearing the same kind of mask.
- In the film Black Sisters Revenge, the bank robbers utilize this disguise.
- The crooks wear stockings to disguise their faces while pulling the Armed Blag on Tower Bridge at the start of Circus of Fear.
- The serial rapist/killer in Eyes of a Stranger wears a stocking mask when he is out to murder someone.
- In the film version of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ash has to do this with a sock as he lacks a balaclava.
- All of the criminals in Raising Arizona do this at one point or another.
- RocknRolla: The Wild Bunch use this disguise to perform the cash heist on the Russians.
- The mall robbers from the first fight of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze were like this.
- In Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, So-young and her husband wear stocking masks during the bank robbery they. The stocking have a snakeskin pattern on them, and—perhaps because they are more opaque than regular stockings—they have cut eye and mouth holes in them.
- In Trouble Man, the four robbers all wear stocking masks.
- The Way of the Gun. Parker calmly walks towards the two men guarding their target, while pulling a stocking over his head. Her bodyguards step in front of the woman they're protecting and reach for their guns, only for Longbaugh (who's wearing a dust mask) to grab her while their backs are turned.
- In Big Trouble, Snake and Eddie wearing pantyhose as masks, having shoplifted two pairs of "Hanes Control Top, for the full-figured woman, in jet black."
- In Blaze, Dumb Muscle Blaze robs a grocery store but forgets to put the stocking on. Fortunately, he scares the salesclerk so much that he can't remember anything to identify him. Blaze later comes back to the same store, this time wearing the stocking, and even points it out to the clerk.
- In one of the Discworld books, The Truth, someone tells the Watch that they'll be able to identify the robber because "not many people wear a stocking on their head."
- In In Cold Blood, the principal villains consider getting stockings to disguise their identities, and visit a hospital to get black stockings from a nun. But since it would be so awkward to ask, they abandon the idea altogether. If they had used them, the murder of four innocents during their failed robbery may not have happened at all.
- 1000 Ways to Die had a variation of this with a would-be robber. As he is about to rob a convenience store, he dons a pair of pantyhose. Then he enters the adjoining shop. A gun shop. As is the norm with this show, it doesn't end well... note
- Adam-12 had a store robbery with these. The guys tried to get away with hostages, but the officers hid themselves in such a way that they could grab them on the way out—with the help of a woman hostage and her Combat Stilettos—and the escape was thwarted. The masks are then pulled off.
- Barney Miller: In one episode, Yamana took a call from a witness at a mugging, who stated that the two muggers were wearing stockings over their heads. Yamana then told Barney, "She said one looked darker than the other. She wasn't sure if it was because of skin color or personal taste in nylons."
- The Benny Hill Show. Benny plays the villainous Ernest Potts, whose gang is introduced robbing a store. Unfortunately Potts' stocking mask is stretched so tight over his mouth the store clerk can't understand what he's saying, so Potts takes off the stocking in order to be understood (showing his face in the process). The clerk recognizes the notorious villain, causing Potts to panic and flee. As his gang follow him, two of them get stuck in the door as they're wearing one pantyhose (i.e., stockings with two legs) over their heads, so they can't move around separately from each other.
- As were the two ice cream shop robbers from the Freddie Wong vid Don't F With My Cream.
- Father Brown: Worn by the robbers-turned-kidnappers in "The Great Train Robbery".
- A Flashback on My Name Is Earl shows Earl stealing books from a bookstore wearing pantyhose over his head.
- A Played for Laughs allusion on MythBusters — at one point in a build, Tory took a break from stuffing dead quail into fishnet stockings, pulled one stocking over his head, and started playing robber.
- This was standard equipment for the Trailer Park Boys whenever they committed an armed robbery.
- The video for Eagle-Eye Cherry's "Save Tonight" starts with a man buying stockings in a store. He robs a nearby butcher less than a minute later.
- Ryder in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas attempts to rob a pizza joint this way, except it hilariously backfires due to him already trying the exact same stunt previously, which has the owner go "Ryder? Not this shit again!" since he recognizes his small stature. The moment Ryder turns his back, the owner pulls out a shotgun and fights back.
- American Dad!:
- In the season 2 episode "Dungeons and Wagons". Roger dons pantyhose on his head to rob a store. He then proceeds to run out and get beat up by the owners after robbing them.
- In the season 6 episode "Flirting With Disaster", Lorraine dons pantyhose on her head before throwing acid onto Francine's face.
- The Simpsons In "Treehouse Of Horror VI" Homer dons a stocking over his head before stealing the giant Lard Lad doughnut. The Lard Lad statue comes to life and he is not happy.
- Spongebob Squarepants:
- In the episode "The Secret Box", Spongebob uses a stocking as a mask in order to sneak into Patrick's house to find out what he had in the box. When Spongebob puts on the stocking, his head briefly acquires the shape of a human leg.
- As seen by the current image, SpongeBob and Patrick use socks as balaclavas to rob a bank to get into (a seemingly all-female) jail and get Mrs. Puff back into normal life. It goes as well as you can expect.
- The Powerpuff Girls wear these when showing the Amoeba Boys how to rob a bank in one episode. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Real life robbers are well-known for this for reasons stated above, and lots of such examples can be found if you try googling "stocking mask robber" or such.