A lingerie scene is one in which a female character removes her clothes to reveal undergarments. This exposes (and may create or enhance) cleavage and usually quite a bit of skin, but still hides those indecent things known as “nipples” as well as some other body parts, so it is not as risqué as a topless or nude scene.
In most cases, the titillation factor intended seems to be at least as high as if a man had gone shirtless in the same situation. Sometimes the lingerie actually adds a titillation factor compared to outright nudity, perhaps because you are seeing something you are not supposed to see, because the figure-shaping effect of some undergarments makes the actress conform more closely to the current (conventional) fashion ideal, or perhaps because, like other Stripperiffic clothing, the lingerie draws attention to what it hides.
The trope was very common in adventure (especially Westerns), comedy and romance films from the late 1940s through the 1960s, especially in movies set in pre-20th Century periods. Movies of those genres set in the 19th century, particularly the Victorian Era and The Edwardian Era, were particularly prone to feature such scenes because of the elaborate design and trimming of lingerie in those periods, as well as the support and figure-shaping qualities noted above. While The Hays Code restricted the extent to which lingerie could be shown, that particular stricture was more honored in the breach than otherwise, especially as standards liberalized following World War II.
After the infamous Wardrobe Malfunction in 2004note , networks became very conscious of the legal costs of a nipple-slip, and started using lingerie as a substitute for nudity, especially during sex scenes. Where previously a Modesty Bedsheet or other strategically placed objects had ensured that nothing explicit was shown, producers now made it absolutely sure by having their female characters keep their bras (or some other undergarment) on at all times, making the Lingerie Scene more popular than ever.
In general English use, ‘lingerie’ is generally taken to mean undergarments specifically intended to excite prurient interest in the intended audience (whether that audience be actual, imaginary, or just the wearer) as opposed to or beyond the basic functions of undergarments (warmth, and protection of outer clothing). The two categories are not absolutely distinct, but as a
general rule the less well an undergarment performed those basic functions or were elaborated superfluously to the requirements of such, and the less usually it were worn, the more likely it were to be in a Lingerie Scene.
The trope is Older Than Feudalism: there are ancient Roman paintings believed to show brothel scenes, where the women are wearing brasnote and nothing else.
A subtrope of Fanservice. See also Black Bra and Panties and Vapor Wear.
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Anime & Manga
- The very first anime to feature a lingerie scene was Toei Doga’s Mahou no Mako-chan, (1970). An updated version of Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, the series’ coming-of-age motif allowed the heroine to be depicted in her underwear (and even nude in several episodes).
- Once the precedent had been set in Mako, the trope became a standard feature of early seventies anime. Teenaged girls were shown disrobing on the flimsiest pretexts, ostensibly for comedic value (although the Fanservice element was blunt-force obvious to the casual observer). The gratuitous stripteases were toned down considerably after 1975 (probably due to the controversies surrounding Cutey Honey), although Panty Shots still remained commonplace until the end of the decade. Typical examples include:
- Despite stiff opposition from Japanese P.T. groups, Fanservice and Ecchi became extremely popular in 80s manga and anime, even in those aimed at younger female audiences. Lingerie scenes underwent a renaissance during the “anime explosion” of the 1980s, as sexual humor began to pervade every possible genre of the artform. Commonplace examples include:
- Most notable example is Studio Pierrot’s Maicchingu Machiko-sensei, in which the title character found herself publicly disrobed on a weekly basis.
- Lupin III has been showing females in their lingerie since the original manga. As an adult-oriented series, this was considered acceptable, and the creator went even further, undressing male and female characters. The Anime has had to be slightly more restrictive in what it can show, with a lingerie scene often becoming the most an episode/movie could offer in terms of sexual fanservice.
- Maken-ki! features several scenes of Himegami shopping for new lingerie, with one of the first being in episode 2. She’ll usually asks Takeru’s opinion on different sets, before trying them on in the changing room. During which, the audience is treated to seeing her topless, along with close-ups of her legs, thighs, and her lace covered buttocks, as she poses in front of the mirror.
- Fairly common in more recent anime as well: in Minami-ke, Kana has one of these when her younger sister unexpectedly brings home company, giving the entire group an eyeful of Kana in her bra. Also occurs twice for Haruka: When she unbuttons her shirt in front of cross-dressing Makoto, giving him a nice view of her turquoise bra and ample cleavage, and another where she falls asleep after unbuttoning her shirt, then wakes up while not remembering that she is exposed, thus inadvertently giving Touma’s brother ample view of her feminine attributes.
- Parodied in Urusei Yatsura. Lum normally wears a tiger-striped bikini, but in school she often wears a school uniform. There is one scene where Lum starts taking off her uniform in the middle of class to reveal the bikini, and the guys are all drooling over her until someone says, “Isn’t that what she wears anyway?”
- The first time Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya enters the SOS clubroom, Mikuru is changing inside. And that is not the only one. Haruhi changing in the class room and the second changing-scene with Mikuru.
- The more Fanservice-filled first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has main character Nanoha sleepily doing this in front of her suddenly flustered Mentor Mascot, Yuuno.
- Any Lingerie Scene from Ranma in Ranma ½ is usually treated as a very shocking event for the cast, since “she” absolutely despises wearing women’s underwear, and has only relented while under extreme duress. Oddly enough, there is a time she forgets she is wearing male underwear when trying to flash a particularly perverted Orochi.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! does this sometimes. Notably, there is a full chapter of conversation between Asuna and Setsuna, during which they are getting dressed for their upcoming battle. The conversation is apparently so engrossing that they don’t realize how they are dressing until finished.
- There is also the incident where a demon appears on campus and kidnaps Asuna. When Negi goes to rescue her, she’s inexplicably wearing fancy lingerie. The demon explains that it helps complete the Damsel in Distress look.
- It also seemed to have magically enhanced her bust, which the demon was gesturing towards as he made the comment.
- There is also the incident where a demon appears on campus and kidnaps Asuna. When Negi goes to rescue her, she’s inexplicably wearing fancy lingerie. The demon explains that it helps complete the Damsel in Distress look.
- Future Diary: Yuno has two: when she’s imprisoned Yukki and chained him to a chair, and another following having sex with Yukki where she chases him around with an axe while wearing her bra and panties.
- The second episode of Bakemonogatari had a Lingerie Scene that lasted nine minutes. Sure, Senjougahara’s weightlessness made clothing feel heavy and uncomfortable to her, but still…
- Many of the female characters in Gunsmith Cats, especially Rally and Minnie Mae, are shown in lingerie on a regular basis.
- When their shop is burglarized in the middle of the night, Rally and Minnie May get out of bed, sneak up on the thieves, and capture them. There’s no time to get dressed, so throughout the scene Minnie May is in a very short nightshirt and Rally is in her underwear.
- During a climactic fight with the bad guys, Rally suffers Clothing Damage and has her shirt completely ripped off. She continues the fight wearing just a bra and skirt as if nothing had happened.
- In Dragon Ball, minor character Ranfan is actually shown stripping down to sexy pink lingerie with closeups of her breasts and butt.
- Contrary to the general consensus, this particular trope has a long and distinguished history in news-strips and comic books, particularly those of the “spicy” variety.
- Making her debut in Britain’s Daily Mirror, Norman Pett’s Jane (1932) usually fell out of her clothes in less time than it takes to read this sentence. The “strip” continued for another 27 years.
- In a massive shift of wartime morals, Jane was allowed to go topless on the 6th June 1944 as a celebration of the D-Day landings, thus becoming the very first topless woman in a British tabloid.
- On the other side of the Atlantic, Sally the Sleuth (Adolphe Barreaux, 1934) would lose her dress somewhere on the first page, spending the remainder of the story in her underwear. Solving the crime was considered an unnecessary distraction by most readers.
- By the 1940s, hot-blooded American troops were being entertained by the likes of Bill Ward’s Torchy and Milt Caniff’s Miss Lace (presumably because flesh-and-blood women were unavailable on the frontline).
- In the US, lingerie scenes were effectively banned by the Comics Code in 1955, but fortunately, these restrictions didn’t extend to the news industry. Mainstream features like On Stage, Apartment 3-G and The Heart of Juliet Jones spiced up the melodrama with the occasional striptease.
- Meanwhile, back in Merry Old England, lingerie scenes were the main drawcard of the Sunday supplement.
- By the time Jane ended in 1959, Bond girls were already appearing in The Daily Express, and Jim Holdaway’s Romeo Brown was being duped by scantily-clad seductresses.
- Modesty Blaise started a few years later in 1963 — a strip so rife with black lingerie that the American press hesitated to publish it. Despite her name, Modesty had no qualms about stripping down to her underwear to distract the bad guys.
- Vicki Vale’s first appearance in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder is her strutting around her apartment in frilly pink knickers. This lasts for about three pages. The author’s commentary admits, “Okay, I’m shameless. Let’s go for the ass shot.”
- Bronze Age series Superman Family featured a reasonable amount of scenes where Supergirl lounged around her home wearing nothing but undergarments.
- Smurfette was seen in lingerie when she was abducted along with her fellow Smurfs in their nightclothes by the robot servant reprogrammed by the now-sentient waste disposal robot in The Smurfs comic book story “You Don’t Smurf Progress”. Cue drooling male Smurfs.
- Numerous post-Code Archie Comics stories show Betty, Veronica, and/or Sabrina preparing for a day’s exploits while wearing nothing but bra and panties.
- Ms. Fanservice that she is, Lori Lovecraft is often shown lounging in her lingerie at home, and often appears in lingerie in her movies.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Men in Black II.
- The villainess Serleena is passing through security at MIB headquarters. When she’s asked for the reason for her visit to Earth she opens her coat and replies: “I’m hoping to become a Victoria’s Secret model” then knocks out the guards while they’re gaping at her lingerie-clad body.
- In an earlier scene Serleena is in the middle of Central Park wearing nothing but said lingerie which winds up attracting a mugger. He tries attacking her but she immediately turns the tables on him and devours him alive.
- Girl in Gold Boots features a scene in the dressing room with Joan and Michele in their underwear for no apparent reason.
- In Enemy of the State, Robert goes to a lingerie store to get something for his wife, and is assisted by models dressed in lingerie. Later in the film, he sees his wife wearing the lingerie that he bought her, and bemoans that it was meant to be a surprise present for her birthday. And it’s plot relevant both times.
- Lucy Wagner (Britney Spears) in this scene in Crossroads (2002). (mildly NSFW)
- Moira’s Hellfire Club infiltration technique in X-Men: First Class. And Emma Frost in most of her scenes.
- In the SF/Noir crossover Yesterday Was a Lie, Hoyle’s shirt is removed in a rainstorm in order to dress a gunshot wound (see also Sexy Soaked Shirt), leaving her wearing just a bra.
- Showgirl Gobette spends much of her time in fancy Edwardian-era lingerie, ranging from peignoirs to black lace corsets with attached garters, as she wreaks havoc on Paris’ men in the 1952 Italian comedy La Presidentessa.
- Flavia Geste flounces around in elaborately trimmed Edwardian-era lingerie in several scenes in The Last Remake of Beau Geste.
- A well-known scene in Twentieth Century features Carole Lombard‘s character Lily in her underwear with an open dressing gown covering her shoulders. Some like to believe that this was one of the factors that caused The Hays Code to come into play a few years later.
- The Girl in the Ferrari (Christie Brinkley) stripping in this scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation. (mildly NSFW)
- Janet Weiss wears only her bra and panties throughout most of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The other female characters are mostly seen in some variation of more old-fashioned lingerie … and so are the men at times.
- In Star Trek Into Darkness, one fanservice laden moment has the attractive Carol Marcus stripping down to her underwear to change out of one uniform and into another.
- Star Trek (2009) has Uhura change out of her uniform and into another in one scene, giving Kirk (and the audience) a clear view from behind of her white bra and panties. Her Orion roommate Gaila spends the entirety of the same scene in her underwear as well.
- Red Eye has a scene where somebody spills coffee on Rachel MacAdams and she has to go change her shirt, but it’s actually not a fanservice moment and the camera doesn’t pan down or anything. Mostly, the point of the scene is to establish a scar on her shoulder.
- Hitchcock’s original Psycho from 1960 has an iconic scene (used in promo shots and posters) with Marion (Janet Leigh) in her bra and half-slip. In a later scene, after she has decided to run away with her employer’s money, she is shown in lingerie again when getting dressed. There is some colour symbolism as well: in the first scene her bra and slip are white, and in the second they are black.
- Foxy Brown:
- Foxy (who is posing as a High-Class Call Girl to get revenge on her enemies) and Claudia (an actual one) strip to their underwear when setting up a client, a corrupt judge, for an unpleasant surprise.
- In her very first scene of the movie, Foxie is first shown in a see-through nightie which she takes off to get dressed, leaving her in just panties. She then puts on her bra and proceeds to hide a small handgun in it.
- In Gambit, Puznoswki strips down to her bra and panties in an attempt to distract Shahbandar from Deane’s presence in the hotel room.
- Reform School Girls: When in their dorm, standard attire for the girls appears to be lingerie; especially of a type that would not be allowed in a reform school, such as thong panties and teddies. The first time Jenny enters the dorm it resembles nothing so much as a 1980s lingerie show with a grunge theme.
- Common for early-1930s’ movies starring Jeanette MacDonald to have a scene where her characters are asked to strip to her underwear or she’d have a scene walking around in her underwear as she changed. It was somewhat lampshaded in One Hour with You when she willingly showed off her new undies to a friend that are “too stunning for only a husband to see.”
- In Vlog, Brooke makes all of her vlog posts in her underwear. She claims this is to grab people’s attention until they realise what she is saying is interesting.
- The girls in Girl House walk around the house in their underwear most of the time, as part of the titillation they provide their audience. Devon, in particular, favours high-end lingerie and heels.
- Warm Bodies: Julie strips to her underwear after getting wet, while telling R to look away. He does after a moment, realizing he’s actually feeling sexual attraction for her at the sight, as another sign of his returning humanity.
- Loving Annabelle: Played for Drama. Mother Immaculata catches Ms. Bradley and Annabelle while they’re putting on their clothes (they only got to the underwear when she came in) after the pair had sex, revealing their affair.
- In Liar Liar, there’s a brief moment where Miranda is seen wearing nothing but a lingerie undergarment when she throws Fletcher out of her office for saying “I’ve had better” regarding the sex they just had.
- Ondine: Ondine gets quite a few of them as she tries on various underwear at a story or is shown changing later.
- An unusual one occurs in 1634: The Bavarian Crisis when the Habsburg Archduchess Maria Anna is delivered to her husband-to-be, Duke Maximillian of Bavaria. At the border, she is undressed to her shift and redressed in clothes provided by Maximillian’s family, in front of the entire procession. Naturally, some of the teenage nobles present have to be kept from showing too much interest.
- The Benny Hill Show. Benny Hill is practically synonymous with the term gratuitous lingerie scene◊. Every single episode, like clockwork◊, on the flimsiest pretext imaginable◊. (mildly NSFW). The lingerie tended to get racier and skimpier as The ’70s turned into The ’80s and the powers that be grew more tolerant of nudity.
- One notable example is Sex and the City, where Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) never removes her bra during sex scenes, while her castmates do. The weird part is that in previous scenes she’s usually not wearing a bra underneath her top.
- Doctor Who
- In the episode “Terminus”, Nyssa strips down to her underwear. According to the companion novel she was feeling ill, but this is never explained in the script. This was Nyssa’s last episode and the actress wanted to please the male fans.
- Later in the story, she tackles a male character to the ground and sits on him to pin him down. Still in her underwear. He doesn’t look too unhappy about the whole thing.
- In Glee, there are at least two scenes of this. The most memorable ones were from Brittany and Santana in different seasons.
- Brittany was first in season two when she and the rest of the glee club got drunk and ran around the room in her bra after she ripped off her shirt in a drunken striptease for Artie. (Finn nicknamed her the “Stripper-girl Drunk” archetype.)
- Santana removed her vest top (or tank top) in season four and had a moment in her black sports bra before she put on another shirt when she was on loudspeaker to Sam on her phone.
- On Neighbours, Dichen Lachman as Katya gives us a bonzer.
- Mrs Kennedy caused controversy back in the 1980s. In an attempt to put some spice back into her marriage, she played several scenes in the full black set, to a less-than-enthralled husband who’d just had a tough day down the doctor’s surgery. Moral Guardians said this was too indecent for pre-Watershed Britain.
- She did it again in 2017, dressing as ‘Inge the Swedish Masseuse’ in a white corset, pink stockings and a platinum blonde wig, in an attempt to seduce her husband Karl who was, alas, more interested in gardening. She even brought out the mysterious ‘blue box’.
- On Alias, Jennifer Garner opened an episode in lingerie while seducing an enemy agent. And this episode aired right after the Super Bowl. In another episode, her black underwear had to double as a swimsuit when she was escaping from a hotel room by diving from the window into the hotel pool.
- In this scene from the “Liquid Visions” episode of Baywatch Hawaii, Jesse Owens, Kekoa Tanke and Allie Reese strip down to their bras and panties to rescue a capsized sailboat. (mildly NSFW)
- In the pilot for the remake of Hawaii Five-0, an undercover Kono is forced to strip to her bra and panties by a criminal to prove she’s not wearing a wire. Before allowing her to dress, he also takes her picture so he can check with a mole in the police department to see if she’s a cop.
- Anya of Buffy the Vampire Slayer during her song-and-dance number with Xander in “Once More, With Feeling“.
- Double Divas takes place mainly in a lingerie store. There are several lingerie scenes per episode.
- In the first episode of Chuck, there’s a scene where Sarah in her black lingerie mixed with her loading her weapons for her date with Chuck.
- Deconstructed in Top of the Lake (which also plays the trope straight in other cases). Middle-aged people in mismatched underwear in a non-sexual context are not particularly erotic, just underdressed.
- In the first season, Abby has to keep her flat warm for the prehistoric lizard she keeps as a pet. While at home, she wears a T-shirt, knickers, and nothing else.
- When he’s staying at her flat, Connor also tries stripping down to his undershirt and boxers. This is played more for laughs than for Fanservice — and leads to a Not What It Looks Like situation when a colleague rings the doorbell and they open the door in their undies.
- NYPD Blue:
- In one of the first episodes with Det. Connie McDowell, a bar patron spills a drink on her shirt, which makes her go into the restroom and take off her shirt to clean it. She then discovers a hidden camera in the ceiling but doesn’t put her shirt back on until she’s finished investigating it, so for the entire scene she is shown in her black bra.
- The show is famous for its liberal amount of sex and nudity (which earlier had been rather rare on a Cop Show), and more or less the entire female cast has at least one Lingerie Scene, but usually less gratuitous than McDowell’s.
- In The Lakes, philandering bully and village psychopath Gary Alcock makes his wife’s life a misery with violence, the threat of violence, and frequent undisguised affairs. After he is (deliberately) knocked down and temporarily paralysed, Ruth Alcock gets her own back by dressing in the sexiest underwear possible for a night out and an equally undisguised affair, and as she dresses in the classic black set, tells her bedridden husband in explicit detail what she intends to do that night, and for him not to wait up for her. She blows him a kiss on the way out of the bedroom door.
- In The King of Queens, Carrie Heffernan walks into her bedroom partially dressed (black bra) only to discover her eccentric father lying on the bed. She screams at him to get out, but Arthur shrugs and remarks there ain’t anything there he hasn’t seen before.
- Sydney Fox of Relic Hunter doesn’t seem to have any nudity taboo and the show finds many more or less contrived reasons for her to take her clothes off, leading to quite a few of these.
- In the first episode, she receives her new assistant, Nigel, whom she has never met before, and carries on a conversation with him while changing clothes. For most of the scene she is just wearing her black bra and panties.
- One of the most ludicrous examples (which is played mostly for laughs) is when she and her companions hide from their pursuers in a German Laundromat. The proprietor insist that they actually wash something, or leave. Sydney takes off her overshirt and puts it in a machine, but that doesn’t satisfy the proprietor. The entire party ends up standing there in their underwear surrounded by other customers.
- The first-season credits feature a shot of Sydney taking her top off to reveal a black bra.
- In one episode, both Castle’s ex-wife Meredith and his current girlfriend Kate Beckett are staying in Castle’s apartment, Meredith because their daughter is ill, Kate because her place is being repaired. Meredith comes to breakfast wearing only panties and a T-shirt, perhaps to show that she still has a claim on Castle. Kate asks her if she could at least put some pants on.
- Kate has a few lingerie scenes, but one in particular is memorable: she is standing in front of a mirror in her bra, watching the scar where she was shot in the chest, brooding, close to a nervous breakdown. This is about as far from Fanservice that a scene with a beautiful woman in lingerie can get.
- Lost Girl:
- Bo has lots of lingerie scenes, often when shown undressing before a sex scene.
- Kenzi often wears corsets as outerwear, so some scenes with her could be considered Walking Lingerie Scenes.
- Kenzi also spends a lot of time at home in her pajamas, which technically at least could count as lingerie (though it’s of the full-coverage variety and more cute than sexy).
- In the first episode we get a quick glimpse of one of the female moonbase personnel changing clothes. We see her in her Space Underwear: a silver metallic bra and panty set.
- A female journalist strips to her bra and panties in attempt to seduce Col. Straker into giving her classified information.
- In the Police Story episode “Prime Rib”, Buffy (Cheryl Ladd) is shown wearing just her bra and a half slip.
- Ascension (Miniseries): In the very first scene of the first episode, Lorelei is shown slipping out of her dress and going for a swim in her bra and panties. There is then a cut to her lying dead on the beach, still in her underwear.
- In the first episode of The Transporter, the ‘package’ turns out to be a beautiful teenager. She insists Frank wait while she tries out various lingerie in a store, and when he barges into the changing room to ask her to hurry up, asks him for a ‘male opinion’.
- The pilot episode of The X-Files has Scully in bra and panties after taking her robe off in front of Mulder (to check on some mysterious marks on her back).
- Star Trek: Picard: In “Maps and Legends”, Soji and Narek are in bed together in their underwear. We get to see Soji in her Black Bra and Panties as she gets up and gets dressed. Narek has roughly the masculine equivalent (although he exposes less skin than Soji) with a black tank top and boxer shorts.
- The Night Manager: Jed has several, and showcases her very attractive figure doing so.
- Another Life (2019):
- Cas spends a significant chunk of screen time in her first episode walking around in her sports bra and shorts (because she has just been brought out of soma sleep).
- Episode four has Niko, Zayn, Michelle and August all in their skivvies along with her.
- In the alternate version of “My Prerogative”, Britney Spears wears only her bra and panties throughout the entire song.
- The point of the many bra & panties matches they used to have in the late-1990’s and early-2000’s. WWE has since done away with them.
- Noises Off: Brooke’s character, Vicki, strips down to her underwear early in Act I. Since the play repeats Act I three times, she spends the majority of the play in bra, panties, and stockings.