Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The lady on the right is evil, because more of her boobs are showing.

Kabal: Whaddaya think? Friend or foe?
Stryker: Foe.
Kabal: Dressed like that?
Stryker: Definitely foe.

Kurtis Stryker and Kabal upon sighting Mileena, Mortal Kombat 9

Just as good and evil can be Color Coded for Your Convenience, you can also tell them apart as heroes dress sensibly (more or less), and villains dress in skimpier outfits.

Although it's not that common nowadays, this likely started as a form of Getting Crap Past the Radar. "It's okay if they dress immorally. They're the bad guys! (wink)"

This trope doesn't require the good guys to dress like prudes, nor to never put on revealing clothing (because, you know, Fan Service). It's just that their regular outfits are significantly less skimpy than what the villains wear (and the heroes can dress like that with an Evil Costume Switch).

The exact way an outfit is skimpier can vary. It can be anything from being more form fitting to outright Stripperific.

This often overlaps with Evil Is Sexy, except this doesn't require the villain to actually be sexy, just dressed skimpily (there can be a difference). Furthermore, that trope often has the villains dress just as sensibly as the heroes, or the heroes to dress just as sexy as the villains (most Superhero comics). Neither of those is this trope.

A Sub-Trope of Dress-Coded for Your Convenience. May overlap with Make-up Is Evil.

Compare Good Eyes, Evil Eyes, Obviously Evil, Good Colors, Evil Colors. An author that uses the Madonna-Whore Complex will often invoke this trope.

Examples of Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains include:

Anime and Manga

  • Zigzagged in Bleach. Although shinigami wear far more conservative outfits than the arrancar, the most standout stripperific baddies (Halibel, Mila Rose, Grimmjow, and Lilinette) are some of the most sympathetic ones. By contrast, Loly Aivirrne, who has a schoolgirl-like skirt, thigh-high boots, and a shirt that reveals her midriff and half of her breasts, remains one of the most unpleasant characters in the series' run (in the manga at least; the anime actually gave her a good measure of redemption). However, Neliel wore a pantsuit as an Aizen-affiliated Espada, only to wear torn-apart rags upon regaining her memories as an Espada. The others, like Szayel Aporro, Nnoitra, Aaroniero, and even the Shinigami-born Aizen wear more clothing than any of the others ever do. Although Matsumoto may be presented as sexier, other than a low-cut top, she's still wearing much more than the others mentioned.
  • Inverted in Black★Rock Shooter, where the eponymous hero is dressed in the skimpy outfit, and the villain wears something more sensible.
    • Likely just the author's tastes, though. Plus, it isn't really skimpy in the sense that it's actually made to show off her body or anything (considering how she's rather...flat.)
  • In Genzo, we have Princess Kiku, who dresses like a Samurai, and Genzo as sensible heroes, while the Evil Redhead Maria Kurusu wears only a black corset, a long skirt, and boots.
  • The first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The Hero wears a long-skirted uniform for her combat outfit, and her allies are either dressed casually or garbed in full military uniform. Meanwhile, The Dragon is wearing what's basically a black swimsuit with a short skirt and interestingly placed red belts, her Familiar wears even less, and the Big Bad shows Absolute Cleavage. This trope stops applying in later seasons, once Nanoha starts befriending people.
  • Yaiba, where the moon empress Kaguya dresses like a Playboy Bunny (she's apparently an anthropomorphic rabbit, actually an Eldritch Abomination, possessing a human), while the heroes dress sensibly.
  • Silent Moebius.
  • Yatterman. The heroes wear jumpsuits, while the main female villain wears a revealing leather outfit. Her ugly cronies also have their midriffs bared at all times.
  • The girls in Lime-iro Senkitan and Lime Iro Ryukitan X, while their casual and military outfits are rather form fitting and on the short-skirted side, compared to the villains, who dress in barely-covering-anything black leather, they look positively modest.
  • In the first half of Fresh Pretty Cure, Eas, the sole female in the evil Labyrinth organization, wears a Stripperiffic black outfit complete with a bared midriff and short shorts, while the heroines wear comparatively modest frilly dresses when transformed. When Eas makes her High Heel Face Turn and becomes Cure Passion, she gets a modest frilly dress of her own.
  • Star Driver. Almost all evil characters have openly Stripperiffic uniforms, while good guys usually dress modestly.
  • Kinda inverted in Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Chris is introduced as a mostly clothed villain with a visor. (she still has underboob showing, though) In the episode where she begins her heel/face turn, she switches it out for a cleavage, shoulder, and thigh exposing costume.
  • Jesse's default outfit in Pokemon with its halter and short skirt isn't all that risque, but she more so that what the current female Deuteragonist wears.

Comic Books

  • In Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, the dark witch's outfits are even skimpier than those of her good sister, and that's really saying something.
  • Parodied, along with most of the The Dark Age of Comic Books, in Grant Morrison's one-shot Doom Force. The villainess first shows up dressed fairly sexily, which her brother finds disgusting - because she's wearing too much clothing. She obligingly switches to exotic lingerie. The brother, meanwhile, later shows up in a speedo and pasties.
  • In DC's Young Justice, Arrowette fears she's turned evil. "I'll have to get a tight, skimpy black leather outfit that shows off my cleavage. Oh god. I'll have to get cleavage."
  • The Unfortunate Implications of this trope are lampshaded in an issue of Avengers Academy where the Avengers confront Cyclops' post-Schism X-Men team. Hawkeye (IIRC) says of Emma Frost, "I knew someone who dresses like that couldn't stay a good guy!", to which Tigra responds, "What does that make me? Doctor Doom?"
  • The comparison shows up when a DC or Marvel good gal gets brainwashed or possessed or simply chooses to be bad.
  • From the Fantastic Four: Sue Storm is usually has far more modesty than your typical Ms. Fanservice heroine, but during the 90s, there was a brief time where she wore a slutty outfit with a thong and Cleavage Window. It was eventually revealed [1] that the change in outfit was influenced by her long-assumed-gone dark side, Malice.

Film --Animation

Film -- Live Action

  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Frank N. Furter often dresses in nothing more than a corset, fishnets, heels, and short shorts (or panties...). When others "succumb" to his power, they start dressing this way.
  • Princess Aura's metal bikini with shoulders & cape from the 1980s film of Flash Gordon, although some of the heroes were wearing pretty immodest outfits too.
  • In Lair of the White Worm, the entire cast is dressed in a manner fitting people living in the English countryside. That is, except for Lady Marsh, who wears very little and happens to be an evil vampire worshipping an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter films counts, at least in Order of the Phoenix. Justified in that most of the goodies are either teenagers or over fifty, and those that aren't, such as Tonks or Fleur, are Demoted to Extra.
    • Technically, Bellatrix is fairly close to 50 (47 at the time of her death), it's just that her actress is over 15 years younger than the character, and thus movie viewers easily forget that Bellatrix is actually older than characters like Snape. She's actually only 2 years younger than Molly Weasley, if one goes by the official character birthdates. (Then again, wizarding folk live longer and age more slowly than Muggles, so...)
  • While this can fit the comics too in a way, the only skimpy mutants in the X-Men films either started or ended on the evil side: Mystique (doesn't wear clothes, except when she was still with the X-Men), Emma Frost (a bikini or cleavage for most of First Class - the "Wolverine" version doesn't count!) and Angel Salvatore (justified in that she worked as a stripper). Although this is because all the female mutants end up on the Brotherhood's side, and all the women in the movie are used for fanservice.
  • The Marine: Triton's down-to-earth wife Kate wears a denim jacket, white tank top, and jeans. Bad Girl Angela wears a leather getup with a leopard top. And, if memory serves, heels. In a swamp chase. Compare.

Live-Action TV

  • The Syfy original film Tin Man with Neal McDonough and Zoey Deschanel, the evil sis had some costumes.
    • Let's just say there was a reason why the flying monkeys in this version were nicknamed "boobmonkeys".
  • The Mirror Universe in Star Trek
    • Averted with Mirror Kira, whose black jumpsuit shows rather less skin than normal Kira's red uniform.
      • Mirror Kira's still a lot more openly sexual.
  • One gets the sense that Charmed was trying to use this trope, only the female lead characters were so Stripperific that it would have been hard to make the female demons even more so; therefore, the Charmed Sisters are only marginally less sexy than the female demons. Male demons would seem to be a straighter example of this trope, at least in the later seasons, when you had fellows like Zankou using leather outfits as a symbol for their status as evil demons.
  • Compare Colonel Deering (good) with Princess Ardala (bad) in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer gives a controlled example with vampire/human Willow, the same character except for alignment. Upon discovering how tight her vampire self's corset is, human Willow comments, "I guess vampires really don't have to breathe." She later delivers the gem: "I'm a bloodsucking fiend! Just look at my outfit!"
    • There was also Faith, who, while not exactly Stripperific, tended to show a lot more cleavage than Buffy (and wear generally tighter outfits).
      • Averted in later seasons. After she became good, she wore the exact same clothes she normally did.
  • Stargate SG-1 played with this trope a bit. While Carter and Dr. Frasier were always well covered up, the female Goa'uld were generally pretty Stripperific. This is partially justified by the setting, as Carter and Frasier are military personnel on active duty, and the Goa'uld base their power on being worshiped as gods, and part of the A God Am I schtick would be to show off their physically near-perfect bodies.
    • In the episode "The Warrior", a lot of the males wore similarly skimpy outfits when not in the uniforms they were made to wear by their former masters.
  • As with the anime, in the live sction series of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon it's hard to miss Queen Beryl's rather generous chest. It's especially noticeable compared to the scouts' street clothes and Sailor Fuku -- and generally more modest... "talent".
  • This happens with some of the seasons of Power Rangers: compare the suited heroes and heroines to villainesses such as Divatox and Vypra.

Music Videos

  • In the video for "You Belong with Me" by Taylor Swift, when the nerdy girl takes off her glasses and reveals that she was Beautiful All Along at the High School Dance, she is wearing a modest white dress. The Alpha Bitch character, also played by her, is in a skimpy red dress with plenty of cleavage.

Professional Wrestling

  • Back when she first debuted in the late 90s, Stephanie McMahon wore tasteful formal and semi-formal outfits. When she first turned heel to join up with Triple H and D Generation X, she switched that look for tank tops and leather hot pants.


  • The Final Fantasy series is a fan of this.
    • Rinoa, the hero's girlfriend and good girl, versus Sorceress Ultimecia, the game's ultimate villain. Rinoa may be prettier, but evil gets a dress where the neckline ends at the crotch. And then it's slit up a little further for good measure.
    • Also, Edea's dress shows a fair bit of cleavage while she is the villain, but when she turns good, her dress changes to something that covers her chest. Then again, she's possessed by Ultimecia when wearing the black dress, so she's probably been borrowing her fashion sense.
    • Sorceress Adel wears nothing but a skirt. This is Fan Disservice, however, as Sorceress Adel has the build of a man.
    • Final Fantasy X follows it perfectly - with both men and women. Although many of the male protagonists aren't wearing full shirts, Seymour is showing even more than that (to the point of being the male equivalent of Absolute Cleavage). Yunalesca is just wearing a bikini. Jecht never wears a shirt either - and the player eventually finds out that he's currently Sin, the ungodly horror tormenting the entire world.
    • Final Fantasy III gave us the Cloud of Darkness, a woman wearing a cape, paint...and that's it. All other female characters in the game are significantly more dressed up.
    • Final Fantasy IV plays with this as pretty much every female boss can't be bothered to wear more than a bikini (especially Barbariccia), while the female leads are wearing actual clothes. Adult Rydia pushes this though.
    • We've gotten this far without mentioning Final Fantasy IX's fine male example, Kuja?
  • This also carries over into the spin-off Dissidia Final Fantasy. Just compare the Cosmos and Chaos female characters. Terra wears a fairly normal outfit, albeit with a miniskirt, though she is wearing tights underneath. Shantotto, as someone (marginally) on Cosmos's side, wears a full uniform. Cosmos herself is wearing a long white gown. Meanwhile, the Chaos side only has two women - and they're Ultimecia and the Cloud of Darkness, mentioned above.
    • It gets a little amusing in the prequel game, Dissidia 012, where we see that several heroes were on Chaos's side in the previous war. Terra loses the leggings and skirt in favor of a white leotard and a hip scarf, and Tidus seems to have developed an allergy to shirts. Runs in the family, I guess. Cloud actually gains more clothing with much fancier armour, but also adds more jewellery, and Jecht is exactly the same despite being a good guy.
  • The Dark Queen of Battletoads: even though the toads are technically naked, it doesn't count due to them being anthropomorphic toads.
  • Inverted in Knights of the Old Republic 2, in which the more light-side of your female party members (Mira and the Handmaiden if the player is male) expose a lot more skin over the course of the game than the darker pair (Visas and Kreia). The Twin Suns, two female Twi'leks that are minor bosses on Nar Shadda, play this trope straight by wearing less than any female party member, except for the Handmaiden in her underwear.
    • Though the clothing doesn't change too much, Bastila is much more open to the possibility of sex after falling to the Dark Side in Knights of the Old Republic.
  • In Luminous Arc series, the first Stripperiffic female antagonist character you meet WILL Heel Face Turn. Subverted with the second female antagonist that appear will has much less revealing outfit eg.Priel,Elicia and Yorg. Valerie will switched to much more revealing outfit when she reveal her true identity.
  • In Mass Effect, your teammate Liara wears a perfectly ordinary tunic of the sort many female NPCs are comfortable wandering around in public wearing. Her mother Benezia, suffering from a case of More Than Mind Control, has an Impossibly Low Neckline to show off her huge...tracts of land.
    • Also played straight in the sequel, where Shepard's nicest female allies (Tali, Ashley, and Liara) run around in the same sensible clothes as in the first game, the more morally questionable ones (Miranda and Samara) have extremely close-fitting outfits (with Absolute Cleavage in Samara's case), and the only thing the psychotic one (Jack) wears from the waist up is tattoos and a leather strap that's only just wide enough to cover her nipples.
    • Oddly enough, you get a bit of this with some of the male characters as well. Thane shows off a strip of bare chest (for medical reasons, apparently), and Grunt has bare arms (in both cases more skin than any non-Asari alien in the first game displays), and are also the most Renegade of your team (unless you download Zaeed, but that's another story).
      • Zaeed's armor doesn't cover everything either. So yes, this game includes several male examples.
  • Also shows up in Dragon Age with Morrigan's...outfit as compared to the nice modest Chantry robes Leliana shows up wearing. One of your clues that Ser Cauthrien can be reasoned with is that she wears perfectly ordinary heavy armor.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake wears a (admittedly a little revealing, but mostly fairly sensible) Spy Catsuit. His Evil Twin, Liquid Snake, walks around only in tight trousers and a coat undone at the front. He has no shirt.
  • Lunar The Silver Star. Luna wears a peasant dress at first, then practically nothing after her (apparent) Face Heel Turn.
    • While all the women of the Vile Tribe shown in Silver Star Story Complete and beyond wear rather skimpy clothes, it should not be a shock which one of them chooses to make a Face Heel Turn later in the game considering that she's the most conservatively dressed of the three.
  • I-NO of Guilty Gear is...improperly dressed. Works for "That Man", who appears to be The Man Behind the Man. Though this is kind of subverted because the heroine, Dizzy, is wearing even less
    • On the other hand, Dizzy doesn't have a winpose where she takes her clothes off...
  • Somewhat averted with the player characters in Champions of Norrath. While they're all technically good guys, you can play as a Dark Elf Shadow-Night, and the female version of that class is one of the two most covered female characters. The most skimpily dressed one is the Desert Mage, who is the only one with Absolute Cleavage.
  • While every female in BloodRayne is some degree of Stripperiffic, Rayne's costume is somewhat protective compared to Ephemera's skin exposure and Feral's animated tattoos. In the first, Rayne's mentor, Mynce, shows more leg, and later is revealed to be a traitor.
  • Golden Sun is a minor example, as Mia, Jenna, and Sheba all dress modestly, with nary a hint of cleavage to be seen (Mia's a justified case, as she comes from a snowy mountain region). The villainous Karst, on the other hand, runs around in a midriff-baring top, mini-skirt, and thigh-high boots. Her big sister, Menardi, however, wears a dress that's every bit as modest as the heroines'.
  • Lampshaded in Mortal Kombat 9, as seen above in the page quote. Stryker sees Millena and automatically assumes she's a foe. Fellow cop, actually Kabal, says "dressed like that?" and Stryker says "definitely foe."
  • League of Legends plays this trope straight and subverts it at the same time. While most of the females are Stripperific, All the well-dressed female champions are good.
  • Played with a bit in La Pucelle. Princess Eclair normally wears a Battle Ballgown, while her Super-Powered Evil Side wears sexy black lingerie. However, the circumstances where Dark Eclair first shows up seems to suggest that that's just Eclair's normal sleepwear.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, Rouge, the vain, rather selfish Anti-Hero, dresses in clothes that show off everything she's got to maximum effect, while Amy, Cream, and Blaze dress modestly, and Tikal doesn't even have anything to show off.

Web Comics

  • While The Order of the Stick‍'‍s lead female, Haley, usually gets by with nothing sexier than a bare midriff, her Evil Counterpart Sabine is prone to do things like engage in battle wearing a schoolgirl outfit.
    • Tsukiko is the only thing identifiably female on Team Evil, and flies around in a short skirt. Belkar even lampshades it at one point, thanking her for the in-universe fan service on behalf of all (living) males in the city.
  • Inverted in Kit N Kay Boodle -- the heroes are nudists who have sex all the time, and the villains wear clothes.
  • Homestuck: compare White Queen and Black Queen's outfits.
  • The main characters in At Arm's Length wear reasonable shirt and pants combos into battle, but their arch nemesis Temujin looks like she bought her outfit from the barbarian section of Victoria's Secret.
    • Ally's outfit might still count as Fetish Fuel, however.
    • Averted with Kiley, who wears a tube top.

Web Originals

  • In A Very Potter Musical, once he gets his body body back, Voldemort wears nothing but a cape, tight pants, and tap shoes for the rest of the play. Evil Is Sexy, indeed. His outfit is actually far more revealing than Bellatrix's (who dresses rather modestly except for a pretty high slit in her skirt), in an unusual subversion.
  • Whateley Universe examples: Bladedancer vs. Vamp, Phase vs. Vamp, Lancer vs. Lady Darke, Lady Astarte vs. Cruella...
    • Although Vamp turns out to be The Mole and she still dresses like that now that she no longer has to act like a supervillainess. On the other hand, in the most famous Lady Astarte vs. Cruella battle (according to legend), Cruella had such a skimpy outfit that she had a 'wardrobe malfunction' in the middle of a superbattle. In front of news cameras.
  • On Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara notes that while men gain more clothes from a Face Heel Turn, women always become skimpier. He uses evil! Mary Marvel's miniskirt as a prime example.
  • Agents from Protectors of the Plot Continuum wear bulky black military fatigues. Compare this with the skimpy or overly ornate clothing of the average Mary Sue...

Western Animation

  • Transformers Animated: Compare Arcee and Blackarachnia's designs and see which parts of their bodies resemble exposed skin.
    • Arguably applies to Blackarachnia all by herself in Beast Wars. Compare her original body to her post-Heel Face Turn outfit and try to spot the "skin". And then there's Airazor, who seems to be a fairly modest Maximal from the get-go.
  • Teen Titans offers what could be considered an inversion. The female villains are usually dressed more conservatively than Starfire, who flies around in a midriff baring shirt and a short skirt, and Raven, who, under the cloak, wears a ridiculously tight looking leotard.
    • Comic book Starfire takes this a step further, they had to put more clothes on her for the cartoon. She's even occasionally naked in the comics.
  • Winx Club; while it does seem Bloom, Flora, Stella, Musa, Techna, later Aisha, and still later Roxy are no less fond of midriff-bearing tops and short skirts as their foes the Trix are, the Trix, well, let's be honest, their specific choice of style makes them look like whores. No nice way to say that. It's pretty easy to tell the good guys from bad here due to fashion sense.
  1. Possibly an excuse made via Retcon, seeing as most fans hated it.