Follow TV Tropes


Whole Costume Reference

Go To

Often a character in a work dresses in an outfit practically identical to an outfit worn by another character or Real Life person, as a kind of Cosplay on the character's part, and a Shout-Out on the part of the costumer, designer, and/or artist.

The Whole Costume Reference is when you take the cosplay part out. The character is just wearing that outfit. There is no indication or clue within the work that this character is dressing as that other person. Also:

  • There's no fan convention.
  • It's not Halloween.
  • It's not a costume party.
  • No one mentions what the costume is based on.
  • It is not part of becoming a Legacy Character.

This can include live-action works, when the costume actually is the costume worn in an earlier work, as a form of Prop Recycling. Many low-budget works do this. But again, there has to be no mention or clue of the work it was reused from.

Compare Historical Domain Character, Serial Numbers Filed Off, Whole-Plot Reference, Clothing Switch, Cosplay Fan Art.

Contrast Dresses the Same (in that wearing the same outfit is seen as bad).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In House of M, Magneto's costume (and medals, and pose, and backdrop, and... yeah) was taken from, of all people, the Spanish king Juan Carlos.
  • Kefong in The Intimates wears Bruce Lee's tracksuit from Game of Death in his first year at the Seminary... and one with the colors reversed in his second.
  • Wolverine's casual duds in Uncanny Avengers resemble Bruce Lee's iconic tracksuit from Game of Death.
  • In an issue of Li'l Gotham, Katana investigates a suspicious street racing gang while wearing the Bride's yellow racing jumpsuit from Kill Bill (which is thus also a second-hand reference to the Bruce Lee tracksuit).
  • Shang-Chi sports a black and red variant of the above-mentioned Bruce Lee tracksuit in Secret Avengers.
  • In Mastermen #1, the Sivana of Earth 10's outfit is exactly the same as Major Toht. Fitting, considering what his world is like.
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine story "The Highgate Horror", Clara's period-specific Seventies outfit is a direct copy of that worn by Jo in the Seventies TV story "The Three Doctors". (According to Word of God, it was meant to be literally the same outfit, which Jo had left in the TARDIS wardrobe.)
  • In the 2016 iteration of Doom Patrol, Terry None's costume, makeup, and hair make her look like the classic kaiju Dada from Ultraman. This may be a nod to her dad, Mr. Nobody, who led the Brotherhood of Dada.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Hades goes from being one of the most reasonable and kind of the Greek deities under previous writers to a vicious villain under Greg Rucka he switches out his iconic look to seemingly raid The Shade's closet. His new appearance is so close, even including a cane tied to his power, that the only visual difference between them is that Hades didn't start wearing sunglasses.
  • In Justice League Elite, Vera Lynn Black's "Miss Morphine" outfit is a modern version of Tina Turner's "Acid Queen" outfit from Tommy.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Queen Elinor's dress in Brave is very similar to the dress Ellen Terry wore as Lady Macbeth.
  • Parvana's green dress and red scarf in The Breadwinner evoke the famous Afghan Girl Sharbat Gula, a refugee captured in the iconic National Geographic photo when she was only a year or two older than Parvana herself.
  • Two of the main characters in Luca have outfits inspired by characters from Hayao Miyazaki's works, which director Enrico Casarosa cited as an inspiration: Alberto wears the sleeveless yellow shirt and brown shorts of Conan from Future Boy Conan, while Giulia wears a red- and white-striped shirt and rolled up jeans like Tombo from Kiki's Delivery Service.
  • Sergeant Calhoun’s armor from Wreck-It Ralph is virtually identical to that worn by the female Commander Shepard. It’s just missing the red stripe down the right arm and the N7 branding on the chest.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live-Action TV 

    Music Videos 

  • Rose from Pokémon World Tour: United is often wearing outfits inspired by various K-Pop artists.
  • When the Sequinox girls get sent to an '80s prom world in the Gemini arc, everyone gets appropriate outfits. Specifically, Hannah's outfit looks like Madonna, with the big hair and white corsets. Sid looks like a member of Whitesnake. Vivaldi looks like Prince.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Some of ACH's warmup and entrance gear sets are dead ringers for manga or video game characters, usually One Piece or Dragon Ball. Whether or not the connection is mentioned depends on the promotion, it usually being ignored in Ring of Honor, for example.


    Video Games 

  • This happens all the time in Erfworld, due to the hundreds of pop-culture references the characters make unconsciously. Significant ones include Ansom fighting while dressed as Evel Knievel, Jillian dressing as Sandy from Grease while Vinny and his group dress as West Side Story thugs, several of Wanda's costumes referencing horror movies, and Jack veiling himself as Kain from Final Fantasy IV. In addition, this is a game mechanic that gives them more bonuses.
  • Gunshow: The designs of the Suicide Club are a whole costume reference to the main cast of The Young Ones.
  • From Homestuck, Rufioh is a whole character reference to Rufio from Hook and Dante Basco. Therefore, Rufioh's outfit is pretty much identical to Rufio's aside from the obvious species differences.
  • The man in this & a few following cartoons of The KAMics isn't a Mountie, he just likes dressing as one.
  • The Order of the Stick: In the third arc, Elan attempts to get to Azure City by air and sneaks onto an airship dressed like Locke Cole from Final Fantasy VI. The FFVI protagonists recognize he's a faker and throw him off the airship, but Elan keeps the outfit.
  • Zoe in Sluggy Freelance steels her nerves to join the boys' adventure, dressed as Lara Croft. (Is it possible the other costume changes in the Stormbringer arc were this trope?)
  • Once Flower from Wonderlab founds the Bloom Office in the Epilogue, their pink pigtails, combined with the sailor suit-styled outfit they wear, makes them greatly resemble Chibi-Usa.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Calla wears a dress that's just like Snow White's. No reason is given it looks like that, it just is.
  • Scooby-Doo:
  • An episode of Science Court had the resident idiot prosecutor Doug Savage parachute onto the scene in an Rebel Alliance pilot suit, for no reason whatsoever.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • Dr. Girlfriend wears a pink skirt and jacket associated with Jackie Kennedy, whose name is brought up, to the confusion of Dr. Girlfriend.
      "Who the hell is... Jacqueline Onassis?"
    • The scene in question had Dr. Girlfriend playing a party game where the other person had to describe the person whose name was taped on her back. Cue the confusion when the other guest ends up describing her as well as Jackie Kennedy, followed by the above line after it ended.
    • Even stranger, she briefly thought she was hearing herself described anyway.
    • Dr. Orpheus' outfit is specifically based on the good count's in the original Dracula film. The Phantom Limb's design is based on The Phantom.
  • In the very first episode of Static Shock, Static and Richie run through some costume designs. One of them was Black Vulcan's outfit from Superfriends. Richie says it makes him look like "a mascot from a battery commercial".
  • The Halloween episode of Young Justice (2010) had Mal Duncan wearing Superboy's 90's outfit. Karen Beecher also showed up wearing an outfit resembling her costume from the Teen Titans (2003) animated series, while Kid Flash was dressed as Teen Wolf. Random teens dressed as Donna Troy and Harley Quinn could be seen as well.
  • Tornado Champion's costume from Batman: The Brave and the Bold was the outfit worn by Red Tornado in his earliest Silver Age appearances.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Peter Parker wears an outfit reminiscent of that of Ben Tennyson. Unsurprisingly, the latter half of Earth's Mightiest Heroes was overseen by Man of Action, who created Ben 10.
  • One episode of The Super Hero Squad Show has Captain America convincing Wolverine to join the "All Captains Squad", a team of Captain Ethnic superheroes. Wolverine shows up as "Captain Canada", and is dressed as the Guardian from Alpha Flight.
  • An episode of SuperTed had a scene where a villain tried to hijack a musical performance, with the real singers left Bound and Gagged backstage. One of the singers resembled Johnny Cash and was wearing his iconic "Man in Black" outfit, another looked like Dolly Parton and had one of her pink dresses, and a third looked like Minnie Pearl and had on her outfit from Hee Haw.
  • In Futurama, Fry is almost always seen wearing Jim Stark's outfit from Rebel Without a Cause.
  • The Gender Flip episode of Adventure Time had Fionna wearing Princess Serenity's white gown, which was based on a Dior dress mentioned above. In a case, it's a reference within a reference.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Sock Opera", Dipper's role in "Glove Story: a Sock Opera" has him wearing an identical outfit to Reverend Harry Powell from The Night of the Hunter while he's being possessed by Bill Cipher.
  • Two dresses worn by Courtney in the Total Drama animated series (one being a princess dress in Action, and the other being a wedding dress in World Tour) resemble palette swaps of Cinderella's iconic ballgown.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "It's About Time" was apparently an elaborate excuse to get Twilight Sparkle in an Old Snake costume. The only thing missing was a mustache.
    • Shining Armor's wedding suit is very similar to the suit worn by Prince William during his wedding to Kate Middleton, though whether it was intended as a homage to that event in particular or just based on a British Royal Guards uniform is anyone's guess.
    • Rainbow Dash dresses up as Megara to distract Zephyr Breeze in Sparkle's Seven for apparently no other reason than Ashleigh Ball wanted to dress Rainbow Dash up like Megara.
  • Irma from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) dresses like Jeanette from Alvin and the Chipmunks. They also have a similar design.
  • Avengers Assemble has two episodes where this happened:
    • The Bad Future of "Planet Doom" depicts Black Widow donning the costume and mask of Madame Maqsue, Spider-Man wearing a version of his Spider-Man Noir costume, Hawkeye in his much-malinged The Ultimates 3 costume, and Falcon in his Ultimate Marvel costume instead of his usual outfit based on the mainstream comics version.note 
    • "Dark Avengers" sees Captain America wear the "Captain/U.S. Agent" costume and Iron Man undergo a Palette Swap where his red is changed to black to evoke his Marvel NOW! armor.
  • In Carmen Sandiego, Professor Maelstrom's outfit (tan slacks, dark turtleneck, black jacket with white piping) is an exact replica of the one Patrick McGoohan wore in The Prisoner.
  • In School For Vampires, Lenny the school caretaker is dressed up exactly like Riff Raff.