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"A male rogue will wear dark leather armor with little metal studs all over it, because nothing says "stealth" like a bunch of glittering bits of metal all over the place. Ladies in the same profession lean towards the skin-tight catsuit look, because the first step in being stealthy is apparently to make sure every able-bodied man within a hundred paces is staring at you with his mouth slightly open... It's nice to see that when it comes to apparel, roleplaying games have a lot of equality: Everybody dresses like an idiot."

During any infiltration or stealth operation, the female lead will wear an impossibly tight catsuit. It's almost always black, may be shiny leather or plastic. It's never a camo pattern, and it can't have pockets. There will often be a single zipper on the front, which will result in Absolute Cleavage when it's unzipped. The suit will frequently be accompanied by ridiculous high heels. If you see someone in one of these, there's little she can say to convince you she's not a spy or a fetishist (unless It's a Sci-Fi series).

The writers may try to justify it, saying it's a stealth garment with sensor defeating properties--so she's seductively slathered herself in Applied Phlebotinum. It could be for freedom of movement (a Critical Research Failure if the outfit is leather). It could be that she just swam up to the facility and can't ditch the wetsuit. In reality, it's to make the inevitable climbing, shimmying, flipping and belly-crawling through a Laser Hallway look that much more like a lapdance.

Shows up in most Spy Drama shows. Any action show that puts a female character through an infiltration scene will use it. Mostly used with at least a wink these days.

Often extremely shiny, with vertical lines that accentuate the lady's...assets, against all logic.

Popular variations:

  • A male character uses one, especially an attractive one. (see Mr. Fanservice)
  • It's some very bright color.
  • The female spy shows up to the mission in normal, practical clothes, and males around her express disappointment.

A variant on this is the excessively Stripperiffic outfits worn by female ninja in Anime (see the female teachers from Naruto). Another variant are leather motorcycle jumpsuits.

See also Superheroes Wear Tights, Impossibly Cool Clothes.

Examples of Spy Catsuit include:


Advertising

  • Erin eSurance, the female agent in the inescapable eSurance commercials, frequently sports one.
  • Ali Larter sports a bright-yellow suit in the Absolut Citron advertisements/short films as her alter-ego Lemon Drop.
  • Some of William Shatner's recent "Priceline Negotiator" ads have a girl named "Naomi Pryce" wearing one.
  • In the first ad of T*Mobile's most recent ad campaign, their mascot-spokeswoman trades in her girl-next-door pink dress for a pink-and-black motorcycle jumpsuit. Justified in that she's going motorcycle riding (as a metaphor for the company's high-speed wireless network).


Anime and Manga

  • In Ghost in the Shell, Major Kusanagi wears a spy catsuit that really is a stealth device, called thermoptic camouflage. In the movie at least, this technology is used fairly extensively, although she has to be nude to use it (or rather, a flesh-colored skinsuit. The suit leaves a noticeable neckline where her skin color contrasts with the suit's.) It's somewhat less drastic in other iterations, which look more practical.
    • While the Major's normal combat wear shows more curves than the standard models, it's generally quite practical. The major exception to this is in the Stand Alone Complex the 2nd Gig episode Cash Eye, which plays with the infiltration and espionage tropes, and repeated references to Ocean's Eleven, and has her wear a catsuit that fits this trope to tee with little purpose. Perhaps the outfit let the android fetishist Corrupt Corporate Executive to mistake her for a combat android.
      • Although the episode does reference Cat's Eye (see below) with the 'Cash Eye' logo.
  • In Gantz the male characters also wear skin-tight jumpsuits. It's also worth noting that each outfit is so specifically designed that only the person it was meant for could wear it.
  • The special corps in Bleach wear a variation of these, their leader wears a kimono version (though Omake shows both her and Yoruichi in more standard ones).
  • Cat's Eye, anyone? Spy catsuits complete with Xtreme plunging necklines and built-in high heels, for added stealth obviously.
  • Used rather bizarrely in Death Note, where professional thief Weddy wears a classic 60's style catsuit (built in high-heels and all) while infiltrating a building, for no apparent reason. Possibly justified in that the series artist has admitted basing her on stereotypical female spy archetypes, but it still clashes with the feel of the story.
  • Natsuki Kuga in Mai-HiME sports the motorcycle variant.
  • In Lupin III, one of Fujiko Mine's regular outfits is a black leather spy catsuit which she frequently doesn't zip up all the way.
    • The 1969 Pilot Film had Lupin in one, in a shot that gets homaged throughout the series.
  • Angel of The Big O will occasionally wear one of these. Like almost everything else she wears, it's bright pink.
  • Miu in Historys Strongest Disciple Kenichi wears this for nearly every fight, which allows for the artists to outline every curve for her t&a even when they decide it should be reduced to just covering the essentials for the rating.
  • In Tetsuwan Birdy, Birdy wears one of these when she's spying/fighting. She's an alien, so it's easier to explain why she can move so easily in it. Most of it is also skin-colored, so it looks like she's wearing what amounts to a bathing suit.
  • The Belladonna Lily Woman in Noir wore one. All of her male compatriots wore suits.
  • Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess: sweet, kind natured, domestic and prone to wearing really tight racing leathers with heart patterns.
  • Cure Muse in Suite Precure.
  • Celty from Durarara.


Comic Books

  • Catwoman (DC Comics) often, but not always, wears these.
    • Subverted in a Batman Adventures tie-in comic that introduced Catman as a villain inspired by Catwoman. So much that he wears Catwoman's rather feminine-looking catsuit, which looks rather comical on a male figure.
    • Talia too, on Depending on the Writer. Batman tends to attract ladies in catsuits.
  • The Black Cat (Marvel Comics) also wears catsuits, unsurprisingly.
  • The catsuit is the basic uniform for agents in Marvel's spy agency SHIELD, for men and women (and, as seen in the 1990s miniseries Nick Fury vs SHIELD, even pudgy overweight male administrators).
    • Justified in that said catsuits are resistant to mundane blades (non-adamantium or energy blades, etc.), fireproof, and insulate the wearer from electrical shocks and extremes of heat and cold. They also have radar and infrared absorption capabilities (stealth), depending on the story.
    • Carol Danvers, who did espionage work when she was depowered, noted that often, going unnoticed is less important than nobody remembering your face after you leave. Drawing attention to other areas can help with that.
  • In Adam Warren's Empowered comic, the heroine doesn't just wear a shiny skintight suit, it's a shiny skintight suit of power armor that tears like a wet hanky if she brushes against anything that has a point on it. Of course, his comic is a parody of all the tied-up, mostly naked superdamsels in distress he was drawing for commissions, but still...
    • "Empowered" goes well beyond skintight; the power suit is actually a membrane-thin piece of nothing that leaves the wearer effectively naked, while fighting crime in public. The point to 'Empowered' is to get your humiliation fetish in your ironically-titled supers fantasy.
  • Similarly to the Empowered example, Artificial Human Girl One from Top Ten wears what at first appears to be a full body catsuit. In reality, she's actually nude -- her creators gave her an aversion to clothing, while at the same time giving her body the ability to hide this fact via built in full body tattoo/bodypaint that she can control at will -- she typically looks like she's wearing a full body purple spandex catsuit with logos and patterns on it. They didn't explain this until several chapters in.
  • The Black Widow in the Marvel Universe.
  • Oddly averted in Codename: Knockout -- though it's a spy parody practically made out of Fan Service, the protagonist almost never wears her catsuit outside of covers.
  • Archie Comics Betty and Veronica wear black catsuits when acting as "Agents B & V".
  • The Baroness in G.I. Joe wears this as her standard outfit in every incarnation. Scarlett of the Joes does as well, though hers is more of a leotard worn over tights.
    • Also, Scarlett did wear a standard black catsuit with some armored parts in the live-action film.
  • Jakita Wagner from Planetary wears one, likely in homage to Emma Peel.
  • When she lost her powers and operated as "Diana Prince, Wonder Woman", Wonder Woman sometimes wore a white catsuit (though less often than popularly imagined - much of the time, she simply wore "normal" all-white outfits including minidresses, pantsuits, etc).
  • Jennifer Mays of The Maze Agency wears one whenver she is on a stealth mission.
  • The eponymous heroine's one piece racing suit in Chassis.
  • Femme Appeal from the Darkwing Duck comic wears one. Hardly surprising, considering that she's a furry Captain Ersatz of Emma Peel.


Film

  • The Kensington ladies and Foxy Cleopatra from Austin Powers, obviously.
  • If there was a point to the movie Entrapment beyond showing Catherine Zeta-Jones in one of these as she slinked through a maze of trip beams, it's not clear.
  • Selene in Underworld wears one of these constantly. She's not actually a spy (she's closer to an assassin), but often has to be stealthy - she is a vampire, after all. The sequel explains her instantaneous Vampire Healing Powers but never mentions the fact that her suit seems to heal itself as well.
  • Trinity in The Matrix trilogy.
  • Played straight and inverted in the 2008 Get Smart movie. Agent 99 plays it straight through the laser field wearing a skintight dress. Max Smart then copies her moves halfway through with a near-lampshade look over his shoulder.
  • In the X-Men movies both the male and female X-Men wear the tight leather suits. The problem of mobility is pointed out in the DVD extra material by Hugh Jackman as the suits created literal Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence situations.
    • Also Lady Deathstrike from the second film.
  • Subverted in the Roger Moore thriller FFolkes, where the titular character, upon discovering the wetsuit he will be using to infiltrate the hijacked North Sea oil platform to stop terrorists from blowing it up snarks, "A wet suit in vermilion. Just what one needs at night."
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a quartet of jewel thieves posing as animal rights activists wear these to steal diamonds while the titular heroes are duped into freeing animals from the lab next door as a diversion.
  • The Avengers 1998: Mrs. Peel and her clone (Uma Thurman) followed her predecessors' examples by wearing lots of skintight catsuits.
  • Averted in the Bond flick Quantum of Solace, where in the Final Battle, Camille is wearing a practical outfit and tennis shoes, and even has her hair in a ponytail.
    • Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies spent the final combat sequence in a wetsuit. Justified, it was on a ship in the middle of the ocean.
  • Worn by the team during the raid on the compound and in the V-Formation Team Shot behind the closing credits in Angels Revenge.
  • Black Widow in Iron Man 2 wore this a couple of times in the movie. She even once changed out of her dress and into the suit in the back of a moving car.
  • Based on a recent promo image, Anne Hathaway's outfit as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises appears to be little more than this.
  • The likely Trope Maker is Irma Vep in the 1915-16 French serial Les Vampires. Musidora, the actress who played Irma had been a circus acrobat and the catsuit is probably derived from her leotard and tights.


Literature

  • Lampshaded in Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Invincible; Jaina Solo more-or-less complains about how the suit she stole from a GAG soldier is more suitable for someone trying to draw some attention to themselves: ...a full size too small, and snug in all the wrong places for a woman trying to avoid attention.
  • The Executioner: A male example is Mack Bolan's blacksuit, worn not only to hide him in the dark but also for its psychological effect.
  • Mord-Sith in The Sword of Truth. Skintight leather suits coming in brown, red, or white. At one point Richard sees one naked, and notes the only difference is color.
  • As pointed out below, these crop up a lot in Warhammer40k fiction. In Eisenhorn and Ravenor "bodygloves" are popular for both men and women. Inquisitor Amberly Vail wears something a lot like one to fit into and interface with her Powered Armor, and the sight is enough to distract even Ciaphas Cain from the prospect of imminent danger...
  • Pookie, a Pervect bodyguard from Myth Adventures, wears one of these as her work clothes, along with a short cape. How much this qualifies as Fan Service depends on whether the reader is into bald, rail-thin women with green scales.
  • In Vorpal Blade, Two Gun uses this to describe the skintight suits that Wyvern operators have to wear when using their suits.
  • Robert Westall's Futuretrack Five has Keri's motorcycle leathers. Frequently a zipper away from becoming Absolute Cleavage and regularly employed as a means to distract male policemen. So often used, during her career as a Racer, that's it gets referred to in-Verse as the Keri Roberts Victory Stretch And Yawn.


Live Action TV

  • Rather persistently averted in Alias, where any given spy is much more likely to be in nightclub wear. There are also episodes featuring camo Army-style getups, various forms of local ethnic costume, and tourist gear. Somewhat effected anyway in that nearly all these costumes end up being form-fitting and flattering.
  • The Avengers has the female lead, Emma Peel, and Cathy Gale before her, in this outfit frequently, and may have originated it. It didn't look so out of place in the '60s. She also had a purple one.
    • This was, essentially, the entire point behind the character. Her name alludes to it, even: Emma Peel ==> M. Appeal or Man Appeal. (Her original name was the less subtle 'Mantha Peel, but it was changed perhaps on account of being the unsexiest name in television history)
    • In later Emma Peel seasons, this ended up as a Justified Trope. The actress insisted on switching from the black leather catsuit to a colored jersey version - just as skintight, but far more practical for gymnastically kicking Mooks in.
    • It worked in the '60s just because it was less Stripperiffic than modern versions, and looked like something a motorcycle-riding woman would wear. In fact, many male and female bikers wear something similar but more colourful right now. As the time went on, catsuits began to shine, reveal and tighten to the point of asphyxiation.
  • One episode of Walker, Texas Ranger had the rangers break into a vault (for some reason). The relatively minor female ranger does it because "She's the only one that can fit into the stealth suit."
  • Wendy Watson in The Middleman. Actually, she wears one in the opening credits, but "The Obsolescent Cryogenic Meltdown" is the first episode in which she wore one within the episode.
  • Eartha Kitt wore in an episode of Mission Impossible where she guest starred as an acrobat-contortionist used by the IMF to crawl through the vents of a foreign embassy.
  • Honey West often wore a bodystocking in a clear mimicry of Emma Peel's "Emmapeeler" catsuit. Unless she actually predated it. In which case, it wasn't a clear mimicry at all.
  • Parker in Leverage is fond of these... under street clothes or bulky harnesses that provide pockets and carabiner loops.
  • In NCIS, McGee fantasizes about Kate in a catsuit in one episode.
  • Seen on Gugu Mbata-Raw in the promo pics for Undercovers.
  • Michelle Ryan wore one as Lady Christina De Souza in The Planet of the Dead
    • And Wendy Padbury, as Zoe Heriot in the Second Doctor's era, wore a sparkly catsuit.
    • And Jean Marsh, as Sara Kingdom in the First Doctor era, wore an Emma Peel-style catsuit. Unlike Zoe and Christina, her character was actually a bona fide spy, or at least an agent of a paramilitary organization.
  • Seven of Nine and T'Pol from Star Trek aren't spies, but still wear catsuits.
  • Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman wore one on a couple of rare occasions in which it replaced her regular costume when she needed to go swimming (likely lampshading the fact that her regular costume was basically a swimsuit). It actually fits the trope name because in the TV continuity, Diana Prince worked for a spy organization.
  • Kochanski in the Red Dwarf Season 7, Episode "Ouroboros" (later destroyed in "Duct Soup").


Music


Tabletop Games

  • Seen occasionally in Warhammer 40000. Several Eldar have one, but it's pretty much standard issue for the Officio Assassinorum agents of the Imperium. Some employ chamaeleonic mimicry abilities, others have no special reason apart from being Fetish Fuel. In one of the newer novels, this tendency is repeatedly lampshaded when several characters can't keep their eyes from the girl-assassin brought up by a rather puritanical sect who would most likely kill them if she had any idea why they looked at her like that...
    • And, of course, there's the Harlequins in their skin-tight acrobat leotard that emits hologram fields.


Theater


Video Games

  • Half-Life's Black Operations females wore skintight suits. In fact, in Half-Life 1, their breasts jiggled when they walked. It was removed in Opposing Force, an expansion. It's also worth noting that the males wore skin-tight black, too.
  • Strangely enough, in the Metal Gear Solid games, the Spy Catsuit is the domain of male spies. The female spies get to wear proper camo, suits, military uniforms or flight suits. The Boss starts out in a proper BDU, but switches this for possibly the a more "space age" type outfit. Eva in Metal Gear Solid 3 plays this pretty straight though, complete with the front-zipper cleavage, which features prominently in first-person cutscenes.
    • The character designer for Metal Gear Solid admitted that Snake and Raiden's outfits, particularly Raiden's, were inspired by looking at bondage gear, probably an admission that it was intended as Fetish Fuel. On the character art, he draws an arrow to Raiden's buttocks, explicitly pointing out where his underwear lines can be seen through his clothes - it's subtly visible on the in-game model itself.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots has the Beauty and the Beast Corps. Every last one of whom are wearing a full spandex (actually nanotech) bodysuit covering what appears to be a complete neck-to-toe see-through latex catsuit. What's even more notable was that this wasn't even intended at first. Originally, they were supposed to be stark naked, but they had to edit it to catsuits because it would have given Metal Gear Solid 4 an Adult Only rating.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat has a tight suit complete with a heart breastplate.
    • Replaced with a generic Stripperiffic outfit in Heroes. In addition, in Sonic X Rouge has a "stealth" version that's all black in some scenes(the SA2 version has a good deal of white). It still has the pink heart breastplate(and the pink hearts on her gogo boots for that matter) though.
  • Metroid's Samus Aran wears a bright blue catsuit underneath her Power Suit. This being Metroid, however, you only actually get to play as her in it in two games, the second being a Super Smash Bros game.
    • Uhm, Zero Mission, Other M, and a Smash Bros. game? That's at least 3.
    • Also in said Super Smash Bros. game, Snake appears in his catsuit.
    • Captain Falcon as well.
  • Cate Archer in No One Lives Forever wears one of these on occasion, probably as homage to Emma Peel, as the game is an irreverent take on Sixties spy fiction.
  • In Splinter Cell, the main character, a guy, wears a skintight black rubber suit. He often wears standard BDU pants on it, though.
  • Joanna Dark in Perfect Dark.
    • At least her catsuit had some armored parts.
  • A few of the Tomb Raider games have Lara in a cat suit.
  • Quite a lot of the outfits for Nina Williams from Tekken are spy catsuits, given that she's an assassin.
  • In Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Jennifer Mui's last unlockable costume is a catsuit with cleavage nearly reaching her navel. She will drop a Lampshade Hanging when she puts it on. The male characters get a yellow chicken costume instead.
  • In the Fallout 3 DLC Operation: Anchorage, one of the rewards for completing the simulation is Chinese Spy Catsuit that allows the wearer to gain a stealth field while sneaking. Although both male and female characters can equip it, the enemies who wear it are all males. Unlike most examples here, The Chinese Spy Catsuit does have stealth field properties, and is a great asset to an infiltrator, which makes this a justification or subversion, depending on your angle.
  • The Mrrshan spy from the first Master of Orion game.
  • The Elder Scrolls has the shrouded armor for assassins.
  • The kunoichi Kasuga from Sengoku Basara wears an especially Stripperiffic black catsuit complete with some impressive Absolute Cleavage.
  • Miranda's outfit in Mass Effect 2. Something of a subversion, as it's actually white, then later played straight as it's upgraded to black. Kasumi has a similar outfit, but with less Fan Service. Miranda's outfit also has a cutout in the front stopping right above her breasts that is not commonly seen on outfits of this type. The second Appearance Pack DLC lets players swap out the catsuit for a far more practical suit of Cerberus armor.
    • Every Quarian ever wears a skintight bodysuit, though they have a reasonable excuse.
    • Seems to be the normal outfit of Asari Commandoes. "Commando leathers" are mentioned a few times in explicitly fetishistic context.
    • The Nemesis and Phantom Cerberus troops of Mass Effect 3 are women dressed in these, in sharp contrast with other Cerberus soldiers who are men in Powered Armor.
    • Ashley's alternate armour in 3 has some catsuit qualities to it. In the same game, there's Eva Core, who's kitted out in the same catsuit as Miranda, which can then later be put on EDI for no fathomable reason.
  • The Ghosts in Starcraft got the Hostile Environment Suit which is designed act like a wetsuit while being undetectable by thermal sensors. It also supports Personal Cloaking.
  • Natalya wears one in the last location of Destroy All Humans! 2. Lampshaded in one conversation, wherein Krypto asks her how she managed to fit in it. Her response? "Shoehorns and lubricant."
  • C. Viper, a CIA Double Agent wears a black catsuit with a heart-shaped cutout in the back as one of her alternate outfits.
  • In Resident Evil, Jill Valentine sported a dark purple one while she was under Wesker's control in the fifth game. She has subsequently appeared in it in Resident Evil Afterlife and Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
    • And don't forget when she's aiding Josh Stone in DLC, Desperate Escape.
  • Jenny sports a tight racing suit in Dance Dance Revolution.
  • The Spy unit in Civilization 4 look like this, at least in the later eras.
  • Catwoman in Batman: Arkham City gets special mention for sporting one of these with the zipper down, showing off her Most Common Superpower in sub-zero weather.


Webcomics

  • El Goonish Shive uses the second type of subversion during the Painted Black arc, where three female characters are put into brightly-colored catsuits for a infiltration / rescue mission. This is only clear in the colored strips, though, not the standard black-and-white artwork.
  • In the Future Developments arc of SSDD Tessa wears a dark grey catsuit that's implied to provide some protection (though an Inlay's bullet penetrates it easily), and as she's putting it on she complains about how tight it is and that Dr. Cook only designed it so he could see her tits when she wore it.
  • Averted in Order of the Stick: While Haley inexplicably dons black leather in her role as sneaky leader of the Azure City Resistance, it actually is LESS revealing than her normal day-to-day outfit.
  • When Zoe from Sluggy Freelance tries spying on the cloner nerds, she dons one of these suits, seemingly because that's just what you do when you spy. It doesn't keep her from getting found out but it does have other uses.

 Bill: Oh no, Phil! I left this Project Mindswarm dossier out on the floor!

Phil: Gee, Bill! I hope nobody spies on it!

Zoe: I am not putting on my spy clothes!


Web Original


Western Animation

  • Aeon Flux wore an even less practical outfit on her missions. It must be seen to be disbelieved.
    • Turns out all Monicans wear this.
  • On Totally Spies, the uniform worn by the three teenage girl spies is a shiny plastic catsuit. The stealth part of the trope is usually subverted, as each suit is of a unique bright color. At other times, the suits can change appearance to look like more ordinary clothing, subverting the skintight aspect of the trope.
    • In one episodes, one of their gadgets were a "literal" catsuit, a skintight black suit with cat ears on the hood. It was specifically designed to give the wearer the nimbleness of a cat.
    • The catsuits on The Amazing Spiez manage to be quite stealthier as parts of them are black along with the usual bright coloring. They also include shoulder and knee pads, unlike their predecessors.
  • Notably for a show about an Action Girl, Kim Possible uses this trope very sparingly with the main character. Her usual mission wear is more practical, although in the early seasons it bares her midriff. A "Stealth Suit" was introduced for the Series Finale, but it was retired in the Post Script Season because it was too much of a Game Breaker. Also, the overweight Gadgeteer Genius Wade wears one of his own.
  • In the Dial M For Monkey shorts on Dexters Laboratory, the titular Monkey's Emma Peelish sidekick/love interest wore one of these.
  • Standard day-to-day wear for Agent K in The Replacements.
  • Talia al Ghul's outfit of choice in Batman the Animated Series.
  • Molotov Cocktease from The Venture Brothers.
    • Subversion No. 3 is played in the 3rd Season finale, when she shows up to help Brock and the Venture family while wearing her "off-duty" getup.
  • Dr. Wakeman wears one in an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot. Its skintight nature is meant more for laughs than for Fetish Fuel, as it emphasizes her rear more than anything else; she needs to take off the mask in order for her to be recognizable.
  • The usual outfit of Kitty from Tuff Puppy. Bonus points since she's, y'know, a cat.
  • One episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic had Rainbow Dash wearing one when trying to sneak into a hospital in order to steal a book.
    • In a later episode, Twilight, Pinkie, and Spike each don into one in order to sneak into the Canterlot Archives.
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