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Any nudity where it's not really nudity, but someone's freaking out anyway.
A husband and wife run outside to grab the paper that's sitting on the porch. Darn it, the door is locked and now they're both stuck outside! The husband is horribly embarrassed because he's outside in the nude, meaning that he's wearing a white tanktop undershirt, boxer shorts and socks. (Maybe because it's Goofy Print Underwear.) But he's embarrassed anyway. Meanwhile, his wife is ashamed when the busybody neighbour sees her naked, meaning that she's wearing a dress-like slip that covers her from shoulders to knees. The busybody neighbour then calls the police because of all the public indecency, despite the fact that it's more than most people wear to the beach.
Still, if you walked into Wal Mart wearing nothing but underwear and a bra, you'd probably get some security guard showing you to the door. So it's not an entirely unreasonable reaction. Undergarments, themselves, have been considered obscene at times, such that seeing them exposed without outerwear (or even hanging from a clothesline!) might also be deemed "indecent', whether or not there's excessive amounts of skin on display. And people differ in their perceptions of modesty, not only across time (Victorian era girls couldn't even show their calves, and the 50s saw the above porch example as pretty embarrassing) but even in modern Western civilization (where some of us still think it's crass to let a bra strap show).
See Also Fetish Fuel, Our Nudity Is Different, Please Put Some Clothes On. For when Bowdlerization causes this, see Digital Bikini. The opposite of this trope is No Nudity Taboo, also known as Innocent Fanservice Girl.
- An ad from New Zealand for Trumpet Ice Cream cones explores the question "How far do you have to be from the beach before your swim togs become undies?". The answer seems to be "Out of sight of the water or 300 metres, whichever is shorter."
Anime & Manga
- In Inuyasha, Kagome freaks out when a monkey steals her clothes as she's bathing... despite the fact that she's wearing a one-piece bathing suit, though it could be argued that she was simply reacting to being robbed since she blatantly told Inu-Yasha that him seeing her in that state wasn't the reason she panicked.
- Gray Fullbuster of Fairy Tail. Everyone freaks when he goes from fully dressed (only neck up & fingertips to wrist bare) to his boxers. Can't they just be grateful that the shedding of clothing comes to a halt at that point? Incidentally, when "The Full Monty" does occur, Gray is the first to freak.
- Happens to Ichitaka in I''s, when he thinks that Itsuki is posing nude for some art students. Turns out she's wearing a latex bodysuit.
- Before the end of the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie Asuka gets a new plug-suit. While all the plug-suits were skin-tight, this one had an... appealing colour. Asuka does not hesitate to comment on it.
- In Code Geass, Kallen is ashamed of being in bunny girl suit after Lelouch pointed it. Yes, more ashamed than full frontal nudity with Suzaku. To be fair, the poor girl had been all but molested by a rich Britannian man while wearing said bunny girl suit.
- Pretty much every adaptation of The Emperor's New Clothes, including the Muppet version (Does Fozzie even have... never mind).
- Including the Yu-Gi-Oh!! card "The Emperor's Holiday", which already had the man wearing a pair of boxer shorts but was inexplicably censored in the United States to include a shirt.
Films -- Live-Action
- Parodied in the Muppets from Space. Animal goes inside the crowded bathroom to look for anything to wash his face in. He opens the showers to find Fozzie Bear, in a raincoat and hat, who screams and tries to cover himself.
- Vagabond Loafers, a short by The Three Stooges (and a remake of A Plumbing We Will Go), has Emil Sitka's character shoved out of the shower trying to hold onto a Modesty Towel. He's still wearing boxer shorts under... which means he was wearing them while showering?
- Doris Day gets locked outside in her pyjamas in Send Me No Flowers Today.
- Inverted by Rebecca Romijn's comment about her Mystique "costume" (which consisted entirely of Body Paint and strategically-placed prosthetics) in X-Men:
I didn't feel naked.
- In Edward Scissorhands, after the title character has an awkward encounter with the seductive neighbor Joyce, says she "Took off all her clothes" when in reality she only unzips her top to reveal some (already-seen) cleavage and black lacy underwear.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, Lazarus Long travels back in time to 1917 USA. He sees a flash of a woman's ankle and makes a note not to be caught staring at it, as that would get him in trouble. Put in to show how he had acclimatized to 1917: in his home time, women would quite often go around completely naked. In one of the sequels it's mentioned that one female character wears a skirt for the sole purpose of having somewhere to conceal a weapon.
- Out of every book that exists, this trope occurs in To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout gets shocked when Atticus loosens his tie and collar, because Atticus never loosens his clothing outside of his home.
- At one point in the first Mistborn book, Vin points out that her normal street clothes are hardly more modest than the undergarments she's currently in, so Spook has no reason to be embarrassed about it. She's promptly told that it's the principle of her being in her underwear that's the embarrassing part.
- Captain Laurence from the Temeraire series is absolutely mortified to be caught in decent company without his neckcloth and coat. Most of the other aviators couldn't care less, though.
- In Shadow Web Jessica has been transported into another universe with very Victorian standards of modesty. She "looks like a Yank tart" according to them, in a tank top and jeans.
- In The Bible, Michal sees David's rejoicing as the ark is being brought into the city, and when goes to bless his household, she treats him as though he had exposed himself; at minimum, he was wearing a m`iyl (stated in 1 Chronicles) and an ephod (stated both there and in 2 Samuel). (Unfortunately, many teachers of these passages would rather believe Michal's version of events.)
- The Lemony Narrator of The Eddie Dickens Trilogy explains that Eddie feels undressed in his undershirt and long johns as that was considered naked then (he goes on to say that most people didn't realise they could remove their undergarments, taking this trope to insane levels).
- In the 1945 Nancy Drew novel The Clue in the Crumbling Wall, Nancy's friend George takes a dunk in a pond and hides in an abandoned house in her underwear while waiting for her outer clothes to dry. She doesn't even leave the cover when a small child steals her clothes ... in fact, now she's convinced she can't.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Tooth and Claw", Rose was referred to as "naked" on several occasions; she was dressed for a rock concert in 1979 but they ended up in 1879 so she was dressed very immodestly. But not naked.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Nightmares" (where they're coming true) has Xander in class suddenly in his boxers. He describes it as "naked" later on...
- Depending on the cut of one's fly on their boxers, they might as well be naked.
- The Young Ones. Nasty: Neil's claim to being "all nude" despite wearing a vest.
- He probably was nude in-universe; the long undershirt was just a concession to the censors.
- Baywatch: One woman saw her co-worker in his underwear and was ashamed and embarrased, even after the guy pointed out that it covers as much as his regular working uniform (the only actual difference was the color).
- Little Mosque on the Prairie has a funny scene where Amar walks in on Rayyan (a observing Muslim) without her headscarf.
- The X-Files: In the critically acclaimed episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", the title character describes a dream in which he is lying in a field naked. When we see the dream, though, he is wearing an undershirt and boxer shorts.
- An episode of One Life to Live has a teenaged couple's father (hers) and mother (his) walking in on them making out while standing in the stairway of the house, presumably on their way up to the bedroom. No parent would be pleased at this. However, both parents flew into such a rage, one would think they had caught the teens in the very act of having sex. The father even rants and raves about how the boy was "half-naked", despite the fact that he was still wearing a T-shirt and jeans.
- Played with on Monty Python's Flying Circus where a series of slides diagram the "naughty bits" of several people and animals, all of which are wearing large polka-dot boxer shorts.
- The episode "Psychodrama" of Criminal Minds dealt with a bank robber who would sexually humiliate his victims. The team and police continuously refer to him forcing his hostages to strip naked. However, when scenes inside the banks are shown, everyone is still wearing their underwear.
- In an episode of ALF, Willy berates Alf while wearing a robe with pajamas underneath since he had just woken up. Alf keeps reminding him that his robe is open. Willy quickly shuts his robe as if his naked body was exposed.
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger has Jan's constant loincloth scenes. He's pretty dang covered, but the other characters freak out anyway.
- In Ru Paul's Drag Race Season 4, Latrice Royale ends up criticized by one of the judges for letting a bra strap show. Justified as the challenge in question was for evening-gown wear -- it's one thing for a strap to peek out accidentally in casual attire, it's another to get dressed to the nines and think it's okay to let a strap show on an off-the-shoulder dress.
- In one of the Mad Magazine's Lighter Side of... shorts (in issue #136), the following conversation happens at a poolside:
Girl 1: Gee, Virginia, this is a lovely bikini you let me borrow! (strikes a provocative pose)
Girl 2: What drawer did you take that from?
Girl 1: The top, right...
Girl 2: That's not a bikini! That's underwear!
Girl 1: UNDERWEAR? SHRIIEEK!!! (covers her chest and rushes inside)
- Played for laughs in Garfield, as at least one comic had Garfield enjoying in delight the torture of locking Jon outside in his bunny pajamas. Naturally, in these sorts of situations, people flock.
- In the first segment of the "Carousel of Progress" show in the Disney Theme Parks, the daughter is concerned about having visitors over because she's "indecent", wearing early 20th-century undergarments that are more concealing than most modern outerwear. Certainly played for laughs.
- This trope is played for laughs in Girl Genius, where Agatha's frequent bouts of sleep-working leave her in nothing but (relatively modest) Victorian-style underwear, but she acts like she's been seen in the nude. Given the time period, it would be considered indecent by most European standards, so Truth in Television.
- Happens again at Sturmhalten. Tarvek ends giving Agatha a dress more revealing than her underwear!
- In Megatokyo, Erica is working on her computer in underwear (a result of Largo explaining to Erica that you can't wear clothing when using high end computer equipment, due to static discharge); when Kimiko hears that Piro is coming around she insists that Erika change into a swimsuit, which turns out to cover even less... and not be static-safe, as Largo points out as soon as he sees her.
- The Guild: Vork has a freakout when he sees Codex in a slightly low cut blouse, demanding that she cover her shame.
- Will Vinton's The Adventures of Mark Twain has a segment adapting Mark Twain's story "The Diary of Adam and Eve" in which underwear stood in for Biblical nudity (this was even lampshaded in a scene where Eve was naming things and named Adam's underwear "birthday suit"). After they ate the apple, they immediately became embarrassed by their "nude" state and abruptly grew "real" clothing.
- Though this movie has its cake and eats it too, since as Twain introduces the story, Becky buys an apple from a vending machine that features nude statues of Adam and Eve with a Scenery Censor who act embarrassed until the purchase causes them to grow underwear and look relieved.
- The cast of characters from Popeye seemed to go swimming in those old-fashioned swimsuits that covered the genitalia, buttocks, stomach, chest, back, arms and legs.
- In one Roger Rabbit short animated film, Roger is embarrassed to be seen in his oversized boxer shorts covered in little red hearts.
- American Dad: An Islamic couple in the Middle East has the husband yell at his wife to "Cover up your nakedness, woman!" and the wife covers her nose.
- The Simpsons has an episode spoofing Huckleberry Finn and a series of pictures of people going over Niagara Falls (It Makes Sense in Context) and one picture causes the men to exclaim "That woman is flashing her privates!" which turn out to be her ankle. One of the men then takes the "indecent" picture for himself.
- This happens a lot in Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry, when Funny Animal characters are suddenly shaved or stripped of their fur, and are shown in Goofy Print Underwear.
- SpongeBob SquarePants is often embarrassed to be seen in his white briefs underwear, even though the little suit he wears is exactly the same size as his underwear. Specifically, during the theme song, after the Captain says, "Who lives in a Pineapple under the sea?" And the kids shout, "SpongeBob SquarePants!" It shows SpongeBob walking out of his pineapple home wearing nothing but underwear. He looks down, shocked, like in a nightmare where you realize that you're out in public naked, and suddenly the hand of God comes from the side and places his trademark squarepants on him.
- It's apparently the law. In one episode, Sandy is arrested for indecent exposure, even though she is wearing a bikini.
- In one episode of King of the Hill, the extremely modest Hank proclaims "I have to cover up my nudity!" after being stripped to an undershirt and boxers. In early episodes he often says something to the same effect about Luanne's sleepwear.
- Lampshaded by Peggy in one episode in which she flashes some bikers and, in response to Hank's horror, tells him, "Oh, will you quit your whining, you old woman? I'm wearing a bra!"
- In an episode of Family Guy, Meg is fully clothed and brushing her hair when Chris walks in. Meg immediately grabs her trademark hat and frantically puts it on as if she were naked and scrambling for a towel. Lampshaded in the DVD commentary for the episode.
- It's also noted that originally Meg was going to be hiding a large bald spot with her hat, which this is a relic of.
- Near the middle of the song "Honor To Us All" from Mulan, after Mulan has her hair styled into a bun for her visit with the Matchmaker, she is escorted across the street by two older women across the street to another building where they will make her put on her pink dress for the Matchmaker in a white dress she wore while having her hair done. As she does so she passes by two men playing chess, and briefly interrupts their game by moving one of their pawns, causing them to notice that Mulan is outside undressed in public. Fortunately, she was also wearing a light blue undershirt that was covering up the top part of her white dress as well.
- Phoebus is implied to end up like this during the last third of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, due to him mysteriously losing his armor after being pushed off his horse and into a river by Frollo and his minions for refusing to burn down a cottage owned by Gypsy farmers and subsequently being rescued by Esmeralda.
- And then this presumably happened to Esmeralda as well, since because she was almost executed by Frollo by burning for witchcraft (in which she never commited), Esme is reduced to wearing a white dress worn for her execution, implying that all of her other outfits have been destroyed by Frollo so that she can be executed properly.
- A U.S. Army soldier in Afghanistan drew media attention after rushing to defend his post from attack while wearing pink boxer shorts and flip-flops. When the image wound up on the front page of The New York Times, he told his parents he might lose his job if President Obama saw him out of uniform. "I can assure you that Specialist Boyd's job is very safe indeed," Defense Secretary Gates later said. The boxers are now in the 1st Infantry Division Museum at Fort Riley, Kansas.
- Robert Burck performs as a musician in Times Square under the name "The Naked Cowboy". However, he always does so wearing white briefs.
- Pretty universal in most high school theater programs, especially the ones with four or five shows a year and a constant stream of other events -- the freshmen/rookies are always shocked at boys strolling into the girls' dressing room for help with makeup and girls - most of whom are in underwear -- not even turning around. By their third show or so, they've gotten over it.
- News tend to report stories about people getting embarrassing naked strip-searches by the police, TSA, or some other form of authority - only to read that naked was without their coats and jackets. Tank tops for females and topless for males (but pants on) is considered naked for the sake of news.
- People who follow a strict religion can often feel embarrassed wearing what other people would consider normal. For example, a strict Muslim woman might feel exposed not wearing a hijab, or a Mormon woman wearing a mini skirt.
- Not just women in the latter case: Both sexes wear the sacred undergarments after going through the temple ceremonies, and even in Utah it can be difficult to find summer-wear that completely covers said garments.
- Historical documents from European explorers often express their shock over naked natives. However, they will then go on to describe (sometimes for pages) what the people are actually wearing.
- Due to lingerie, particularly panties, being Fetish Fuel in Japan, a woman caught in just her underwear can be extremely embarrassing. Depictions in Manga and Anime are less a matter of censored nudity than they are Truth in Television.
- Image editing software can make partially transparent clothing appear more transparent. In the most extreme cases, outfits can essentially be photoshopped off, leading to someone who is fully clothed, but also totally naked.
- Many people experience variations on the classic "naked at school/work" dream, one of which is being clad only in underwear.
- Some ancient Egyptian artwork looks like this trope, as it appears that female figures' clothing is semi-transparent. The actual clothes weren't; it's just how artists of the time would indicate that an opaque linen dress was draped so as to show the wearer's curves.