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Tank-Top Tomboy

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"I have a theory: a girl must be wearing a tank top in order to survive in a horror movie."

A girl who wears a tank top may or may not be an Action Girl, but she will often be considered a Tomboy, a Lad-ette, or someone cut from a rougher cloth.

The Tank Top is a very standard garment for a typical Hollywood Action Hero. Tank tops, especially utilitarian versions, are typically associated with laborious activities — and thus often used to make women seem more "butch", "tough", or "masculine". Even the sexier variations are not exempt from this association.

For example, both First Blood and the original Die Hard featured their protagonists in one for most of the movie. However, at some point between their peak in The '80s and The Turn of the Millennium, tank tops have lost their appeal with action protagonists.

At least, they did for men. For women, the tank top still remains a reliable tool for both costuming and characterization. It's both practical and can show off impressive amounts of skin, the exact amount depending on exactly how much sex appeal the creators are going for. In drawn mediums such as animation or comic books, what looks like a functional and sporty tank top/sports bra in an action scene can also look like a sexy camisole in a more relaxed one.

This trope has also become common in Western horror movies, for similar reasons as the above. During The '90s, the traditional Final Girl as an avatar of conservative sexual morality became a Discredited Trope thanks to Scream and the resulting boom in self-aware "meta" horror in the latter half of the decade, but the basic concept of the female Sole Survivor didn't die. Instead, the Final Girl adapted with the times, with more focus placed on her being a credible match for whatever bad guys or monsters the film throws her way as opposed to surviving on the strength of her moral virtue. Unsurprisingly, the tank top became popular attire for female survivors in horror movies. It helps that, while a tank top can easily be made sexy, it doesn't scream "sexually active", meaning that the woman in the tank top can still be credible in the more traditional Final Girl role, even if it's not the focus.

A Zig Zagged Sub-Trope of Gendered Outfit and Stripperific, depending on the type of tank top. Common substitutes include a sports bra, a tube top, or (in Japanese media) Sarashi. A common feature of an Adrenaline Makeover, especially when a female character takes off her overshirt to reveal that she's wearing a tank top underneath.

Sub-Trope of Sleeves Are for Wimps. Not to be confused with Shorttank, which despite the name is about a tomboyish deuteragonist in shonen-oriented works, though she often does wear one of these.

See also Amazonian Beauty, who also tends to dress this way and display the habits.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Lagoon: Revy is almost never seen out of a black tank top and short-shorts. She's a horrendously profane Lad-ette with a violent temper and a very deadly penchant for Guns Akimbo.
  • Black Magic M-66: Near the ending scene, Action Girl Intrepid Reporter Sybil wears a tank top. Watch it here.
  • Cells at Work!: Natural Killer Cell wears a black tank top and shorts, fitting for a tomboyish Action Girl.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Winry Rockbell is a Wrench Wench who is generally seen sporting either a tank top or a tube top.
  • Kiki's Delivery Service: Ursula, a young woman in her late teens living on her own during the summer in a cabin in the woods, is the embodiment of the strong-willed independence commonly desired by Japanese girls. Those attributes do make her come off as somewhat boyish, but her choice of attire (a red tank top and denim shorts) makes it very clear that she's a woman. She's a bit bemused when a stranger mistakes her for a boy, pointing out that no boy would have legs like hers.
  • My Hero Academia: Mei Hatsume, the tomboyish Wrench Wench, typically wears a black tank top along with coveralls tied around her waist.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: When not wearing her work uniform, Misato Katsuragi is shown wearing tank tops — either in yellow, pink, or blue — to demonstrate that she is The Lad-ette.

    Comic Books 
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Emma often wears tanktops, along with other slightly masculine clothing.
  • Harley Quinn: Harley's normal costume in her Riley Rossmo-designed look for Vol 4 of her solo comic includes a tank top, and she's as violent, hedonistic and crass as usual.
  • Tank Girl refers to the fact that she drives a tank, but she also wears a tank top in the comic and The Film of the Book.
  • Wonder Girl:
    • The original Wonder Girl (who was either Diana Prince or Donna Troy, depending on the continuity) wore a sleeveless shirt. It was depicted as either a sleeveless t-shirt or a tank top Depending on the Artist.
    • Cassandra Sandsmark (pictured above) wore a tank top and jeans following Infinite Crisis. While Cassie is indeed a tomboy, as well as a Flying Brick, the real reason she chose to wear the outfit was in honor of her dead love, Superboy, who himself wore Civvie Spandex in the forms of jeans and a t-shirt. As shown in the picture, she also wore a tank top as an undergarment.
  • Phoebe in Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse is a scruffy, hard-drinking, chain-smoking assassin and stripper who, when offstage, always wears a white tank top.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Plourr's standard outfit is a tank top when out of uniform, while also being a consummate action girl, a boisterous bruiser, Lad-ette and tomboy. After assuming her throne, she dresses more formally, but still in a pretty masculine way.
  • "Comic Book/'Sonic The Hedgehog IDW'': While not exactly a tank top, Surge the Tenrec main outfit consists of a shirt with the sleeves torn off, which gives off this look.

    Fan Works 
  • Lampshaded in ALIEN!!! when Captain Kaneway says they're going to have to strip down into sweaty tanktops and hunt down the eponymous lesbian alien.
  • While the hoodie is traditionally long sleeve, in Supernannya/Pokémon AU, Jade Tanner wears a tank top jacket, with nothing other than matching garments.
  • Like her Canon counterpart, the Tokimeki PokéLive! and TwinBee version of Hilda wears a white tank top under a black vest as part of her Pokémon Trainer outfit.
  • Captain Kanril Eleya usually wears a Starfleet uniform, but when she gets a few days' shore leave in The Wrong Reflection so she can attend her sister's wedding, she changes into a tank top afterward. Eleya is a former Bajoran Militia NCO with a Lad-ette tendencies and advanced hand-to-hand combat training.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action (Horror) 
  • Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Once her broken leg is healed up, she turns into an Action Survivor who spends the later part of the film dressed like this.
  • Jess from 420 Massacre wears a black tank top and later strips down to a sports bra by the end of the film.
  • In the Alien franchise, Ellen Ripley, the Action Girl model that many try to emulate, wears a tank top in several films. It's subverted in the first film, where her stripping down to a tank top and underwear during the climax is meant to show her as vulnerable, and averted entirely in Aliens where she spends the film in overalls and a T-shirt, but it's played completely straight in Alien³, where she gets a buzzcut on top of it in order to blend in with a bunch of macho male prisoners, and Alien: Resurrection, where it's paired with a sleeveless vest. Vasquez, the butch Action Girl in Aliens, also wears one when we're first introduced to her.
  • The Anaconda series loves this trope.
    • Terri Flores in the first film, in what was a pretty transparent excuse to have Jennifer Lopez running around all hot and sweaty in the jungle.
    • Sam Rogers from Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid kept up the tradition, with her outfits mainly consisting of sleeveless wear. Gali Stern also spends the film wearing an brown overshirt, but by the end of the film she's wearing a white tank top.
    • Amanda Hayes from both Anaconda 3: The Offspring and Anacondas: Trail of Blood who wears a tanktop in both films.
    • Reba from Lake Placid vs. Anaconda while she spends the first hour of the film in her uniform, is down to a tanktop by the end of the film after her uniform is covered in blood.
  • Anya in Annihilation (2018) is a muscular, tattooed Butch Lesbian and Lad-ette with the foulest mouth out of the party.
  • All of the female protagonists in Army of the Dead with the lone exception of Marianne Peters, the Caper Crew's non-combatant helicopter pilot who wears overalls and was originally written as a man (the role having been recast due to the original actor getting caught grooming underage girls). Chambers in particular plays it up with a very fanservice-y, midriff-baring version of the outfit, and given that she's a social media influencer, it's likely that she deliberately invoked this trope. Kate, on the other hand, is a downplayed example, as her outfit was her work clothes and she gets less involved in the action than the rest of the crew, though she winds up being the Sole Survivor out of all of them.
  • Hilary from AVH: Alien vs. Hunter spends the first half of the movie in a blue t-shirt, but after her shirt is covered in her sweat, she discards it and spends the last act of the film in a black tank top.
  • Beth in The Banana Splits Movie spends the second half of the film in a red tank top. Lampshaded in Dead Meat's Kill Count video on the film, with James referring to the point where Beth takes off her sweater before running off to save her son Austin from the Hostile Animatronics threatening him and the other kids as the point where she "turns into Hot Action Star Mom".
  • At the end of the mockumentary slasher parody Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, when Taylor realizes that she, not Kelly, was Leslie's intended final girl, she takes off her sweater and fights Leslie in a tank top.
  • Besties: Nedjma is a tomboy who wears tanktops and soccer jersies often. She acts tough and enjoys soccer, while also being into girls.
  • Lieutenant Karly Brant from Big Ass Spider! wears a black tank top around the end of the movie.
  • Jade from The Blackburn Asylum spends most of the film wearing a pink hoodie over a white tank top, but has her pink hoodie stripped off after she's captured.
  • Subverted in Bodies Bodies Bodies. Most of the female characters are wearing tank tops, but it's to show them as airheaded Alpha Bitches rather than tough survivors, the shirts in question being quite clearly designed for fashion and sex appeal. Sure enough, they ultimately destroy themselves with their bad decisions. The Final Girl Bee is also wearing one under her baggy shirt, but it's only seen briefly when she's changing her clothes, and she otherwise spends nearly the entire film wearing something over it.
  • In Clown Town, both female leads are showing wearing tank tops, Jill in a red one, and Sarah in a white one by the end of the film after she loses her overshirt to one of the killer clowns.
  • Katy in Cockneys vs. Zombies. She's easily the most competent of the otherwise Stupid Crooks who make up the non-elder part of the cast, and has a tank top on under her jacket, which is shown when rescuing the pensioners.
  • Subverted in Dawn of the Dead (2004), where Ana starts the movie in a tank top and sweatpants... because those were her night clothes and she Slept Through the Apocalypse. She swaps them for a normal T-shirt and jeans at around the point where she goes from Action Survivor to Action Girl. Even during the climax when she's wearing a blue tank top, she throws on a denim jacket over it before jumping into the action. Nicole also wears a lot of outfits like this, but she's presented as The Load and fairly useless throughout the film.
  • Jeryline in Demon Knight is a delinquent who was sent to work in Irene's boarding house as part of a work release program that kept her out of prison. Halfway into the film, she ditches her denim shirt and spends the rest of the film in a torn white tank top, and she eventually becomes the Final Girl and the new Demon Knight after a dying Brayker passes the Key and the associated mantle onto her.
  • Police officer Judith Gray from Demonic Toys, she wears a green tank top underneatth her long sleeved shirt, but by the end of the film she discards her shirt as she runs off from one of the toys.
  • Juno from The Descent spends the movie in a low-cut tank top with a red sleeveless vest over it, and while the protagonists are Action Girls to varying degrees, she is portrayed as one above and beyond most of her friends, a Hot-Blooded adrenaline junkie whose impulsiveness caused her to lead her friends to a dangerous uncharted cave rather than the safer one they thought they were going to. The Final Girl Sarah also strips down to one after discarding layers of clothing during the movie.
  • Amanda Harper in Escape Room (2019), an Iraq War veteran who is the clear Action Girl of the film's two female characters, wears one paired with a leather jacket.
  • Ziggy Berman in Fear Street Part Two: 1978, a Fiery Redhead camper from Shadyside who has been routinely getting in trouble at camp to the point that she's on the verge of being kicked out and sent home, wears a striped tank top and a pair of short shorts. She's also wearing one in 1994 when the protagonists from Part One meet her. Alice, the punkish, short-haired, pot-smoking counselor who's introduced banging Arnie, also wears a white one.
  • Lampshaded in Feast with the character credited only as "Heroine", whose character bio lists her occupation as "wear tanktop, tote shotgun, save day." When she gets killed, Tuffy, who also fits this trope, becomes Heroine #2.
  • Spoofed in The Final Girls with Paula, the tomboyish final girl of Camp Bloodbath who shows up in a tank top, leather jacket, and black Camaro... only for her to turn out to be a Faux Action Girl thanks to Max and her friends' presence in the movie, dying in a fiery car wreck without ever confronting the killer when she and Kurt try to escape. Played straight at the end when Max realizes that, as the only virgin among the surviving characters, she's now the final girl, which bestows upon her the superhuman ability to defeat the killer — and of course, she's wearing one of these underneath her flannel shirt.
  • Sarah from From the Dark loses her jacket to the creature that was following her, leaving her to continue the rest of the film in her tank top.
  • Future World (2018): Lei, a female tomboyish mechanic, wears a tanktop beneath her coveralls.
  • Julie Moore from Getting Schooled starts off the film in a black long-sleeved shirt, but after surviving her encounter with Mr. Roker she strips down to her purple tank top, which she keeps wearing for the remainder of the film.
  • Laurie Strode in Halloween (2018) is a great example of how the Final Girl trope evolved over the years and became associated with this. In the original film, she wore a long-sleeved button-up shirt and served as the Trope Codifier for the "classic" final girl, but in the 2018 film, she's wearing a tank top and has taken several levels in badass to the point of becoming a Crazy Survivalist.
  • Elissa in House at the End of the Street. One would be forgiven if they were to watch the trailer and think that Jennifer Lawrence had it in her contract that she not wear a shirt with sleeves.
  • In I Know What You Did Last Summer, Julie spends the film in a light blue tank top with a matching cardigan over it. During the climax, she takes off the cardigan so she can tie it around a handle and use it as leverage to open a grate.
  • In It (2017), Beverly Marsh's choice of attire highlights how she is considered One of the Boys.
  • Drew from Let There Be Zombies strips down to a white tank top after she takes a big level in badass.
  • Police Constable Rachel Heggie in Let Us Prey, who is down to a tank top by the third act of the movie after she rips her uniform in order to use it to bandage her injuries.
  • In Mama, Annabel is a fairly normal Haunted Heroine when it comes to her role in the story, but aesthetically, it's an entirely different story. Instead of the "good girl" often associated with the character type, she's a tattooed bassist in a Punk Rock band, and her wardrobe naturally includes a lot of low-cut sleeveless shirts designed to show off Jessica Chastain's figure.
  • Special Agent Hutchinson from Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, who spends most of the movie in a tank top.
  • Night of the Living Dead (1990) had Barbara in one during the third act. Again, much like Laurie Strode in Halloween (2018), this marks a big change from the original 1968 film, where Barbara wore a more demure sleeveless dress and was a far more passive character.
  • The Novice: Dani has a Tomboyish Name, is a Butch Lesbian, and she wears tanktops usually.
  • Sheriff Julie Forester in Piranha 3D starts the film in a police uniform, but during the piranha attack on the beach, she takes off her shirt to use as a makeshift bandage for some of the victims, and thus spends the rest of the film in the gray tank top she was wearing underneath as she heads out to rescue her kids. Kelly also spends the film in tank tops, but she serves chiefly as a Damsel in Distress.
  • Anna Gonsalves, a guerrilla fighter in Predator, wears a white tank top for most of the movie. Justified since most of the film is set in the jungles of South America.
  • Abbi Whitecloud in Raptor Ranch, who spends the last act of the film in a white tank top after losing her jacket to one of the dinosaurs and she also ends being the final girl.
  • Angela Vidal from the [REC] franchise dresses this way across every film she appears on. Her counterpart in the American remake Quarantine (2008) also ends up stripping to her white tank top after her shirt gets covered in blood.
  • Alice from the from the Resident Evil Film Series franchise, whose main outfit in the second and sixth movies consists of a tank top. Zig-Zagged with the first movie where she wears a red sleeveless dress instead.
  • A not-uncommon fixture of female characters in the Saw movies.
  • Denise from Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, who has her Action Girl moments as she fights off against the zombies, wears a white tank top during the movie.
  • Sam Carpenter in Scream (2022), a blue-collar "bad girl" who's been in trouble with the law and is the bastard daughter of the first film's killer Billy Loomis. She spends the finale in a gray tank top, displaying an utterly ruthless brutality against the killers that would make her father proud.
  • Jennifer from Scream Park, who wears a blue tank top underneath her flannel shirt, which she later takes off around the end of the film.
  • Spiders:
    • Marci Eyre from Spiders wears a white tank top underneath her red shirt and a demin jacket, but during the course of the movie she ends up losing layers of her clothing and until her tank top is the only shirt she has left, which she keeps wearing for the last reminder of the film to by which point she Took a Level in Badass.
    • Alexandra from Spiders II: Breeding Ground, who ditches her black shirt for her grey tank top underneath as she fights off the spiders, frees Jason, messes up with the lab and fights off Grbac.
  • Park Ranger Alex from Tasmanian Devils wears a white tank top around the end of the movie after removing her uniform.
  • In The Curse Of Lilith Ratchet, Alice wears a red tank top at the end of the movie, after Lilith Ratchet tears off her blue overshirt.
  • Erin in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) is another example of this kind of evolution. While Sally, the final girl of the original film, did wear a tank top, she was more of a hippie than a tomboy. Erin, however, is portrayed as someone who's had run-ins with the law and knows how to pick locks and hotwire cars, and her shirt is noticeably lower-cut than Sally's and tied off at the bottom.
  • Both Tina and Samantha from They Feed strip down to their tank tops around the end of the film.
  • Norah Price in Underwater, as played by a very butch Kristen Stewart in full "Ripley in Alien³" mode, spends most of the film in a sports bra.
  • Chloe from Wake In Fear who wears a white tank top for the entire film as she tries to escape from a serial killer.
  • Jessie in Wrong Turn, which came out the same year as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.
  • Lizzy Hogan from Zoombies who spends most of the film in a grey tank top.

    Films — Live-Action (Non-Horror) 
  • Jade Jacobs in Age of Dinosaurs has stripped down to her tank top by the time she's has to survive from the dinosaurs.
  • Hopper's girlfriend Samantha in Battleship, a physical therapist and Action Survivor who, after the Alien Invasion arrives, is the main subject of the parts of the film set on dry land. It's pretty transparently meant to show off the physique of her actress Brooklyn Decker, especially given how the trope is averted with the Action Girl Raikes (played by the more modestly-endowed Rihanna), who spends most of the film in her naval uniform.
  • Huntress in Birds of Prey (2020) wears a sleeveless purple crop top underneath her leather jacket, and while all of the titular Birds of Prey are Action Girls, Huntress takes it above and beyond into a parody of a violent, emotionally stunted '90s Anti-Hero who desperately wants to be taken seriously as a lethal, ruthless assassin. Black Canary also frequently dresses like this, played more for fanservice in her case, as befitting her more glamorous character (a nightclub singer who's also a driver/fixer for Sionis).
  • Jenny Kord in Blue Beetle (2023) ditches her coat for the white tank top she wore underneath as she joins the rest of the Reyes family save Jaime from her aunt.
  • CIA Agent Abby Trent in Black Site, who wears a white tank top underneath her jacket for most of the film, she does end up losing her jacket during a fight with Tessa Fayed, likewise she's also seen wearing a black tank top earlier in the movie while doing exercise.
  • Appropriately enough, Yelena Belova in Black Widow (2021) is wearing one of these in the scene where she makes fun of Natasha's propensity for style in her superheroics, especially her "posing".
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022): Gadget Hackwrench sports a black tank top as she works on a vehicle at her home.
  • In the film adaptation of Divergent, the female members of the Dauntless faction are often dressed like this. When Tris joins, she starts dressing the part, all the better to show off her new tattoos.
  • Eden Sinclair in Doomsday dresses like this as part of the film's homage to Escape from New York, her character being a female version of that film's protagonist Snake Plissken.
  • Rosie and Billie, two of the three Ms. Fanservice Villain Protagonists in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, are clad in low-cut tank tops as they and their leader Varla go on a crime spree across the desert. This may be one of the oldest examples, and given that Russ Meyer made the film, it was definitely intended for sex appeal.
  • The Fast and the Furious is a film franchise about blue-collar gearheads and (later) secret agents in Cool Cars fighting bad guys, and so naturally, a lot of the women are dressed like this. The most notable example is Letty Ortiz, a street racer, mechanic, and Dom Toretto's girlfriend and later wife, but others include the former Mossad operative Gisele Yashar, the street racer Suki who leads an all-female racing crew, the hacker Ramsey, the Brazilian police officer Elena Neves, and Elena's younger street racer sister Isabel who's presented as not all that different from her big sis. For a Dark Action Girl version, there's Cipher, the Ax-Crazy cyberterrorist villain of the eighth film and Greater-Scope Villain of the franchise who's often dressed like this when she's not wearing a suit.
  • Diana Guzman in Girlfight, a Hot-Blooded teenager whose propensity for getting into fights at school leads her to train to become a boxer, is usually dressed like this.
  • Number Six in the film adaptation of I Am Number Four, who serves as the page image for Unflinching Walk while dressed like this — in a scene where the flames actually consume her and do nothing to stop her.
  • Jasmine in Independence Day for much of the middle part of the film, when she and her son are traversing the ruins of Los Angeles. Notably, once she reunites with Steve and is brought to safety, she changes into a long-sleeve shirt. Oddly enough, despite her being a Single Mom Stripper who hastily changed into that shirt when she got off work, it's not played for fanservice.
  • Interceptor: Captain J.J. Collins has to remove her uniform jacket early in the movie as she gets acid splattered on it during her fight with a Giant Mook (who is carrying the acid to destroy equipment). She has a white undershirt that she wears for the rest of the movie. As well as being symbolic of an Action Girl, it also contrasts with a photograph of herself as a calendar girl in a midriff-baring outfit that keeps getting brought up at various points in the movie.
  • The entire female military research team from Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008).
  • Jurassic Park:
    • Ellie Sattler and Lex Murphy in Jurassic Park (1993) were downplayed examples, closer to Action Survivors like the rest of the human cast than Action Girls. Ellie also spent most of the movie wearing a button-up shirt over her blue tank top, and received some Adaptational Modesty compared to her counterpart from the book. Lex, meanwhile, is a tomboyish computer whiz, but she's also a 12-year-old girl, and she and her brother Tim are together portrayed as The Load.
    • She may not be very tomboyish, but Claire Dearing from Jurassic World wears a light purple tank top underneath her white business shirt, and she is portrayed as an uptight, and not particularly feminine, corporate suit. Throughout the film, her Character Development ultimately makes her take a big level in badass, and starting with the beginning of the last act, she discards her business shirt entirely. The film even lampshades it when she undoes her shirt in front of Owen (in a manner that recalls how Ellie Sattler was dressed) as if to tell him that she can handle herself, a scene that's initially Played for Laughs only for Claire to later prove that she wasn't lying.
    • Jurassic World Dominion has Kayla Watts, the roguish, morally ambiguous pilot/smuggler who ditches her bomber jacket for the gray tank top underneath not long after she enters the Biosyn refuge.
  • Kate: Kate is a gruff, tomboyish assassin who sports a grey tank top in the second half of the film.
  • Kong: Skull Island: Mason Weaver from wears a tank top for most of the movie. Justified considering the film's tropical setting.
  • Machete: Agent Rivera wears one, and in promotional materials is almost always shown holding or pointing a gun to emphasize her Action Girl status.
  • Dawes from The Marine 4: Moving Target, wears one at the end of the movie after ditching her uniform.
  • Mayhem: Melanie Cross is a metalhead who's clearly uncomfortable in the business casual dress she has to wear into Towers & Smythe Consulting. When she, like the rest of the characters in the movie, gets infected with the ID-7 virus and starts giving into her angriest impulses, she quickly ditches her suit jacket for the red tank top she's wearing underneath, and later ditches that for the Black Dahlia Murder sleeveless band shirt she's wearing beneath it.
  • Riley North, the Action Mom vigilante protagonist of Peppermint, a film that largely exists to show Jennifer Garner in a white tank top in Bryan Mills mode.
  • Enforced in Raze, a Blood Sport action film in which women are kidnapped and forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of a group of rich people who are obsessed with Action Girl tropes and fetishize "empowered" women. All of them have been given this attire to wear, and some (especially the heroine Sabrina, played by real-life stuntwoman Zoë Bell) fit the mold better than others.
  • Many, many of the characters that Michelle Rodriguez has played, going back to her film debut in the aforementioned Girlfight and her Star-Making Role in the aforementioned The Fast and the Furious. She's one of the more famous examples of an actress typecast in tomboy and Action Girl roles, so for her, dressing like this comes with the territory. Even the BloodRayne movie, set in the 18th century, gives her an old-timey take on the tank top.
  • Blake in San Andreas is of the Action Survivor type. By the end of the film, she's discarded the other layers of her clothing and is down to a red tank top.
  • Molly Dunn from San Andreas Quake, The Mockbuster to San Andreas, spends the majority of the film wearing an overshirt, but by the end of the film is down to a black tank top with her overshirt tied around her waist.
  • Terminator:
  • Transformers Film Series:
  • Kim in Ulvesommer prefers wearing those. Justified in that she's a climber and it's summer.
  • Subverted with Julie in Warm Bodies, who looks the part and is living in a Zombie Apocalypse, but this isn't a horror movie. It's a Romantic Comedy about Star-Crossed Lovers, and she's the female Love Interest trying to convince her human peers that zombies like R are capable of recovering their humanity.

  • Lola from "Literature/Lola'sHaunter" is this. Besides being buff and tall, she is described as frequently wearing a black tank top when she works out, and in the first scene she is wearing a white tank, as shown in official artwork:

  • InCryptid: In both books where she appears on the covernote , and in most fanart of her (such as this and this), she's in a tank top (and holding a weapon), emphasizing her Action Girl status (and showing off her Power Tattoos).

    Live-Action TV 


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Naturally for an action-heavy spectacle built around fighting, this is extremely common among female wrestlers. Nine times out of ten, their in-ring attire is either a sports bra or a tank top.

    Video Games 
  • Rayne in BloodRayne wears one made of black and red leather. In her case, very much played for fanservice.
  • Special Agent Tanya in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series, an elite female commando who serves as the Allied forces' hero unit, is always clad in a midriff-baring tank top paired with camouflage cargo pants. The sequels, which went Denser and Wackier, made her into an outright Ms. Fanservice on top of it, complete with Kari Wührer playing her in the second game and Jenny McCarthy in the third.
  • Alexandra Roivas in Eternal Darkness, who is based heavily on Buffy Summers minus her girliness.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
  • Tomboyish Wrench Wench Ann from Harvest Moon and Harvest Moon: Magical Melody wears a jacket over her tank top.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, while several of the outfits available to Aloy are sleeveless, the light version of the Oseram Sparkworker outfit most heavily evokes this look with its gray tank top paired with a leather smock, as befitting the Oseram tribe's portrayal as rugged, scrappy gearheads. While the Oseram in their home territory are also very patriarchal, gender roles are less rigid in the distant outposts of theirs that Aloy visits, and as such, several of the Oseram women she meets sport this style, most notably Gera and Petra.
  • Abby Anderson in The Last of Us Part II is an extremely muscular and aggressive woman who beats Joel to death as revenge for killing her father and serves as the main antagonist for much of the game, doubling as a Villain Protagonist because the game alternates between her perspective and Ellie's throughout, with her segments of the game being far more combat-heavy as opposed to Ellie's stealthier focus. Outside the winter months, she's usually depicted wearing a sleeveless muscle shirt that shows off how jacked she is.
  • Chloe Price in Life Is Strange, the heroine Max Caulfield's punkish, rebellious, blue-haired best friend who has frequently run afoul of the law, is usually seen in a white tank top.
  • Fliss in Man of Medan is the tomboy of the two playable female characters, a prickly, tough-as-nails boat captain (albeit one with a soft side who genuinely cares for her clients' well-being) who takes the other characters out on their diving trip and spends the game in a skimpy red tank top.
  • Faith Connors in Mirror's Edge wears one that nicely shows off the tattoos on her right arm. She gets a sleeveless vest to go with it in Mirror's Edge Catalyst. Justified in that she spends the games doing a lot of climbing.
  • Sonya Blade has worn one in pretty much every appearance in the Mortal Kombat series, in keeping with her military background. If it's not her default outfit, then it's probably one of her alternate outfits. Amounts of midriff and cleavage showing, of course, vary from game to game or movie to movie.
  • Hilda from Pokémon Black and White wears a white tank top under a black vest. Leaf from Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen sports one too, with a teal tank top over a black shirt.
  • Resident Evil is a series stuffed to the brim with Action Girls, so this trope was to be expected.
    • Subverted with Ashley Graham in Resident Evil 4, who wears a sleeveless turtleneck shirt yet is both a Girly Girl and The Load.
    • Sheva Alomar in Resident Evil 5 is dressed for the African heat in a sporty purple tank top.
    • Both of the major female characters in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Mia Winters and Zoe Baker, are dressed like this. While Mia spends most of the game as a Damsel in Distress, once she's freed (and in a flashback) she proves more than capable of fighting monsters, while Zoe was the only person in her family who escaped infection by the Mold.
    • The respective remakes of the second and third games both update their female protagonists' outfits in this manner, in an illustration of how well-embedded this trope had become by the late 2010s. In the second, the black shirt underneath Claire Redfield's vest/jacket is switched from a short-sleeve tee to a tank top, while the third swapped out Jill Valentine's tube top and miniskirt combo from the original game for a more practical yet still flattering tank top and jeans.
  • In Saints Row IV, Kinzie Kensington starts out as a nerdy, agoraphobic hacker as in the previous game, but after completing her loyalty mission, her new superpowers in the virtual world come with a sleeveless, hooded superhero outfit to replace her FBI uniform. In Gat Out of Hell, she gets promoted to co-protagonist alongside Johnny Gat, and spends the game in a white tank top. Notably, Johnny gaining demonic powers and a Red Right Hand merely destroyed just one of the sleeves on his jacket, while it led Kinzie to ditch hers entirely.
  • Heather in Silent Hill 3, the series' lone female protagonist, wears a sleeveless outfit, pairing a puffy vest with an orange turtleneck underneath, while her unlockable bonus outfits, save for the Magical Girl outfit, all consist of variations on a tank top and jeans. The Memory of Alessa, Heather's Evil Doppelgänger, is also dressed like this as a Dark Action Girl version.
  • Princess Daisy from Super Mario Bros. is always wearing a tank top in the Mario Sports spin-off games.
  • Lara Croft of Tomb Raider, one of gaming's most iconic Action Girls, is most frequently seen in this type of outfit. Tomb Raider: Underworld heavily turned up the sex appeal, with ample cleavage and a bare midriff, while the 2013 reboot scaled it back, including ditching the booty shorts for cargo pants. Many examples on this page, when they aren't homaging Ellen Ripley, are probably homaging her.
  • Uncharted:
    • Elena Fisher in Drake's Fortune. While the game's protagonist Nathan Drake is a hunky Spear Counterpart to (pre-reboot) Lara Croft, Elena's sex appeal is toned down compared to Lara's, being portrayed as more modestly endowed and dressed with the emphasis instead being placed on her as Drake's equal in the action and adventure. Later games in the Uncharted series notably give her long-sleeve shirts instead.
    • In the epilogue to A Thief's End, we're introduced to young Cassie Drake wearing a black tank top, one of many indications that she's taken after her adventurous parents.
  • Undyne from Undertale, the Hot-Blooded Royal Guard Captain, wears a black tank top when she isn't wearing her armor.

    Visual Novels 
  • Morgan, the toughest and most "boyish" of the girls in Double Homework, wears a black tank top outside of school.

    Web Animation 
  • AstroLOLogy: Sagittarius, a Master Archer with a more wild personality compared to the other girls of the cast, wears a green tank top that happens to be the same color as her hair.

    Web Video 
  • The horror parody short film Handjob Cabin has the final girl dressed like this, with the focus aimed squarely at her cleavage.
  • Red vs. Blue
    • A deleted scene from season 10 depicts the Freelancer Saga's primary Action Girl, Agent Carolina as the third character from this show to be seen without their 24 Hour Armor. She's seen wearing a white tank top, walking into Club Errera the night she met fellow Freelancer, Love Interest, and curiously another one of the three Red vs Blue characters to be seen out of armor, Agent York.
    • Before the revelation that Tex was really the Beta AI in a robotic body, based on the memory of the director's deceased wife, fan art existed that depicted her out of armor, wearing a black tank top.
  • The three part Resident Evil parody horror series Not Another Zombie Apocalypse feature its two female leads dressed in tank tops.

    Web Comics 
  • Tang Xuan of Cupid's Chocolate-ing is the captain of the athletics team and her usual clothes are a purple tank top, blue shorts and sneakers, befitting her personality. It's downplayed given that she's actually a Tomboy with a Girly Streak who loves to cosplay in girly outfits.
  • Tomboyish Lad-ette Zii of Ménage à 3 has a fairly varied wardrobe, but mostly tends to T-shirts — although some of them are short and sleeveless, verging on the tank top look. Still, the stage costume created for her when she gets her band up and running incorporates a fancy embellished tank top, allowing her to look glitzy without sacrificing her tomboy style.

    Western Animation