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"Ergo! While you may not be a murderer... you are guilty of panty-snatching in the first degree!"—Apollo Justice, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
An individual -- almost always a pervert of some kind -- who steals and collects women's (or girls') underwear, usually worn/used. Almost always presented as a reprehensible individual and usually an enemy of the hero, and just as frequently played for laughs. They can be divided into the Stalker with a Crush who steals a specific person's underwear as part of a general stalking campaign, and the indiscriminate, compulsive underwear thief who usually doesn't engage in more serious sexual offenses and is more likely to be treated as a comic figure.
Panty Thieves usually go about their business while wearing Stealth Clothes.
Usually this is an anime trope, but Western culture has independently produced the college prank of panty raiding (which has been out of fashion since the sexual revolution of the sixties). Panty raids are usually perpetrated by groups of perverted young males, rather than just one guy.
Probably an expression of Lolicon; certainly related to whatever cultural elements contribute to the fact that you can buy used girls' underwear in vending machines in Japan. (Or used to be able to, until it was outlawed in around 2004.) This practice was referenced in (of all things) a 1995 Pulp concert video, in which it's suggested that it wasn't quite as widespread as commonly believed.
If you want to really psychoanalyze it, you might venture to suggest that the anime Panty Thief is an embodiment of the suppressed desires many adult Japanese males have about a) young girls and b) bucking social pressure and the forces that make them behave "respectably." Or it could just be another expression of the fact that going against social mores produces good comedy.
Anime & Manga
- Happôsai from Ranma ½ is the patron saint of all panty thieves. This Old Master even developped some martial art techniques around panty-thieving and peeping.
- Mahou Sensei Negima
- Chamo-kun, though only rarely. Notable in that he's an ermine, and not even a transformed human. He seems to want the panties to make a nest. It was confirmed in a recent manga chapter: his share of the Rainyday sisters's Lotus Eater Machine has him dreaming that he swims in panties.
- Jack Rakan deserves special mention. In one manga chapter, he ends up having to fight two girls. He Flash Steps behind them, flips up their skirts, and steals the panties off one of them before they knew what happened Said panties end up being a crucial element in locating and defeating them. Then he does it again later...to ALL of Fate's minions simultaneously, then flips up thir skirts repeteadly until they concede defeat (so he won't have to fight them.
- Chamo's reputation as a Panty Thief was subverted in Negima Neo: One chapter involves Negi chasing a small Panty Thief throughout Mahora academy, and many a reader expected it to be Chamo. It was a cat.
- The hamster Echiboo (which reportedly translates as "Perverted Fart") in the manga Aoi House, whenever he got the chance.
- One of the "Orphans" in Mai-HiME is a lingerie thief.
- In the Death Note Spin-Off novel The Los Angeles BB Murder Case, Ryuzaki (BB) raids a little girl's panty drawer. Making the scene even more inappropriate is that he's supposed to be examining her murder scene with Naomi.
- Onsokumaru in Ninin ga Shinobuden, though he steals panties by proxy (dispatching Shinobu to do it under the premise of ninja training).
- One of Sôsuke's classmates in Full Metal Panic It's worth noting that he was put up to it by his classmates, who had taken an important item from him.
- Gintama has a whole episode about this. There was much violence.
- In Macross Frontier, the one time Sheryl attends school with Ranka and Alto is memorable not just for her own interstellar celebrity, but because of her unstoppable rampage through the campus while going commando in a skirt. The culprit? A tiny, green, and adorable Ridiculously Cute Critter (a Vajra in larval form) that crawled into her laundry basket while she was showering, then started hopping about the campus with no regard for the pair of panties that had wrapped around it. The Idol Singer was lucky no paparazzi were nearby to capture the moment... Also of note is that the little guy is then pursued by -- with three exceptions -- the entire male population of the school, whose motivation appears to be acquiring said panties as a trophy rather than giving them back.
- Zatch Bell has a character named Momon, who looks like a cross between a rabbit and a monkey. When Kiyo meets him, he's holding a bra for some reason. When Momon meets the others, he spends countless attempts to see Tia's panties, and somehow manages to steal another pair from her house. Needless to say, Tia rages.
- The Elder does this at least once in Chrono Crusade, as part of his Dirty Old Man gag.
- The Stalker with a Crush Kuroko from To Aru Majutsu no Index. It's only shown in the anime counterpart of the spin-off To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, though. On one occasion, she somehow stole Misaka's swimsuit from a locked container. While she IS a teleporter, it's not clear how she managed to get past the lock. A few minutes after revealing her theft of the swimsuit, Kuroko took the trope to its logical extreme: using her ability, she teleported Misaka's underwear right off of it's owner.
- In Kiss X Sis, both sisters partake in a rare Gender Flipped example.
- One You're Under Arrest story concerns a highly sophisticated Panty Thief -- who strangely enough is a parody of Billy The Kid from The Silence of the Lambs: he is sewing a blanket out of the pants he steals, "and then it will be like I am sleeping with all the girls at once!"
- Koragashi of Kamen no Maid Guy can easily steal the panties off the entire female population of a high school without them noticing but doesn't do so for perverted reasons. Instead, he is trying to identify a suspicious person and the only clue he has are her unique panties. His partner, Fubuki, tells him that he didn't have to go to such extremes though and promptly punishes him via remote-controlled explosion.
- In Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas, there's a scene in which Kaitou Hyakushiki literally steals the undies off of two people in front of a crowd.
- Penguin #1 from Mawaru Penguindrum uses a fish rod to steal panties in episode 10.
- One Running Gag in Daily Lives of High School Boys is Tadakuni's sister's underwear kept being stolen by her brother and his two friends Hidenori and Yoshitake. Hidenori's older brother had stole it at some point as well.
- Booga in Tank Girl first met the title character when he tried to steal her knickers. They've been together ever since.
Films -- Live-Action
- The Panty Raid in Revenge of the Nerds
- Jacob Ben Isreal, Rachel's Stalker with a Crush on Glee, blackmails her into doing this.
- In season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Riley caught Spike sniffing Buffy's clothes, which he tried to excuse as "standard predator behavior". As he's leaving the room though Spike nicks some lacy panties from a drawer.
- The day after Spike and Buffy have sex for the first time, Buffy is trying to get dressed and get out of there as quickly as possible when a smirking Spike shows her he's still got her panties. Buffy gives him a sock on the jaw and storms off.
- Happy Days: due to some convoluted plot reasons Richie and Fonzy are undercover in a girls' dormitory just as Potsie and Ralph storm the place during a panty raid.
- The Bill. When Inspector Burnside is picked to play the suspect during a course in police interrogation, he boasts proudly about how a criminal once told him he'd make an excellent Armed Blagger. Cue his Oh Crap expression when Burnside reads his lines. We then see Burnside confessing to stealing underwear off a laundry line, though he turns it into a joke at the end.
"I'd like several hundred other offenses to be taken into consideration -- black frilly ones!"
- On Degrassi, Connor is revealed to be one of these. He does have Asperger's Syndrome, so that may be why he doesn't understand what's wrong. This is used so he can be Put on a Bus in season 11.
- "In the Middle of the Night" from the One Step Beyond album by Madness is about a sixty-three year old newsagent who just so happens to be an underwear thief. He sees his own picture in the newspaper and books it.
- The title character from Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne".
- In the second case in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, one of the witnesses gets involved when it's discovered he steals panties. This leads to the odd situation of Apollo having to present multiple pairs of panties as evidence in court (not to mention Apollo can keep both of the panties afterwards for some hilarious commentary).
Judge: What!? More panties!?
Klavier: How many panties are you carrying in your pocket, Herr Forehead?
Apollo: These are the last!!! Honest!!!
- Notably, the thief doesn't steal them because he's a pervert. The panties he's seeking are magic. He stole lots of panties because he didn't know where Trucy lived, to just take her pair. So he went around taking every pair of big panties he saw, hoping each time they'd be the right pair. It was just coincidence that he found the right pair, Trucy's, and another pair that night.
- In Bully, our hero, Jimmy, does this for gym coach Mr. Burton. Slightly squicky, but overall, funny.
- Vico doesn't actually steal any female undergarments in A Dance With Rogues, but he does show an unhealthy obsession with the player character's underwear.
- The image accompanying the Dexterity skill in Avernum shows an Impossible Thief at work, swiping a woman's panties from under her full plate armor.
- In Golden Sun, snooping in Lady McCoy's wardrobe ends in Isaac apparently trying to steal her lingerie. Notably, this example has a teenage boy robbing a middle-aged (but attractive) Rich Bitch.
- During a flashback sequence in Final Fantasy VII, Cloud can sneak into Tifa's room and swipe her "orthopedic underwear" (in the Japanese version, they were "slightly-used" instead). Though it's uncertain if this actually happened or not, since the dialogue options after that are "It's true" and "Just kidding". Later on in the game, we discover that Cloud is an Unreliable Narrator. Assuming it actually happened, it's ambiguous as to whether this specific memory belongs to Cloud or Zack.
- In an early event in Magical Diary, you catch one of your roommates going through the other's stuff, and have the option of suggesting that she's trying to steal her panties.
- Later in the game, your roommate may actually be responsible for the theft of your underwear (a bra this time). Or the other way around. It's accidental... sort of.
- In Something Positive, Davan apparently trained Choo Choo to do this. And then, after the incident with Kestrel, hired him out professionally.
- Blair from Eerie Cuties is a "female" doll possessed by definitely male -- and very perverted -- spirit. He does this whenever possible, though usually this doesn't end well for him.
- There's an entire Whateley Universe story built around this trope, as a panty thief hits every girls' dorm on campus, one night at a time, finally getting spotted (but not caught). That's because it was Sun Wukong the Monkey King, one of the legendary Eight Immortal, the whole she-bang. When he steals yours panties, you just let him.
- One of /tg/ joke characters is Jeanstealer -- a genestealer with a jean fetish.
- The Onion describes why panty raids are a poor idea at certain colleges.
- In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick and Mr. Krabs go on a "panty raid". It is near midnight, however, so Mr. Krabs does not realize until it is too late that the person they are stealing panties from is his own mother.
- Inverted in a two-part episode of G.I. Joe called "The Traitor", after a Critical Failure to the armor-treatment chemical, Lady Jaye catches a COBRA infantryman... and obviously, he leaves her with a souvenir!
- Some dogs have been known to raid their owners' dirty laundry. Sometimes they don't actually find any socks, and go for the next best thing. (Be on the lookout for 50-lb boxer dogs wearing ladies' underwear as decorative floss.)
- On 8 November 2010, Yukio Kusumoto was convicted for theft of underwear from a woman's home. A police search of Kusumoto's house uncovered 3000 pairs.
- Any contemporary Stage Magic act based around pickpocketing will inevitably culminate with this, a slightly Bowdlerized version using a man's boxers or a Squick version using a man's dirty briefs..