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The zipper's stuck!

A costumed character cannot remove their costume, or an ordinary character cannot remove their clothes. Maybe a Freak Lab Accident has fused it to his body, maybe it's the only thing keeping her alive, or the only thing keeping those around her alive, or maybe it's a cursed Artifact of Doom. Whatever the reason, they have to wear it (or a substantial part of it) all the time; removing it is either very debilitating, very dangerous, or simply impossible.

For long-running series, finding a way to remove the costume may constitute a Story Arc, and actually doing so can provide an excuse to update a character's appearance. For some characters, this is a convenient source of Angst. Genre Savvy works may address problems with (or make jokes about) waste disposal or other biological needs. This is also Fetish Fuel for some people, especially those with a forced chastity fetish.

This trope is found in many traditional RPGs in the form of "cursed" equipment and weapons. Typically these items will be noticeably more powerful than equivalent gear found at that point in the game, but will almost always come at the price of having a really nasty side-effect(such as being randomly stunned or damaging yourself while fighting). Trying to unequip the item under normal circumstances WILL invoke this trope, greeting you with an ominous message about you being unable to remove it. Legitimately removing clingy costumes would usually require a special spell, item, or a paid service from an NPC to do so - sometimes at the expense of that item.

When the item is smaller than an article of clothing, then it's a Clingy MacGuffin. The Heroic Host likely can't remove the costume because it's alive and bonded with him.

Also see Limited Wardrobe, Clothes Make the Superman and 24-Hour Armor. Not to be confused with Form-Fitting Wardrobe.

Examples of Clingy Costume include:

Anime & Manga

  • Appears in Episode 10 of Those Who Hunt Elves, with an elf knight who comes to the group and asks for help removing her armor.
  • Ranma gets stuck in a cursed swimsuit, which will drag 'her' into the depths of the sea unless honestly complimented by a particular man.

Comic Books

  • Spider-Man has a number of villains with this trope, such as the Rhino, the Scorpion, Dr. Octopus, Venom, Carnage, and the Molten Man.
    • Even Spidey himself, when he had the symbiote.
    • The Spider-Man movie video game hangs a lampshade on this. "Man, going to the bathroom must be a nightmare for you!"
      • Scorpion eventually averts this... just to receive the Venom symbiote. Rhino, too, recently managed to get rid of the costume and went straight. Well...
  • For a while, Tony Stark needed to wear his breastplate all the time (even under his civilian clothing) because it was the only thing stopping the shrapnel from reaching his heart.
    • In the movie, it's just the arc reactor and electromagnet which form the glowing blue part in the center.
    • The Ultimate Marvel Iron Man has a genetic problem that requires him to constantly wear biotech armor all over his body.
  • In Kurt Busiek's Astro City, the super-villain Steeljack was coated with a liquid steel that permanently covers his entire body. He's completely human underneath it, however.
    • Debatably 'human'--he's astoundingly tough even ignoring his armor-plating, and he's really strong.
    • It is suggested that the N-Forcer is part of this trope; he is always shown as an Energy Being wearing various technological appliances.
  • In IDW Comics' reboot of G.I. Joe, an accident with an experimental teleportation device requires Destro to wear a full-body metal suit (with face mask) to stay alive.
  • Sonic the Comic specifically mentioned that the character Shortfuse was connected to the circuitry of his armor. He finally escapes it in the penultimate storyline.
  • This happened with DC's Blue Devil, who was formerly a SFX-guy/stuntman. His costume was (magically) fused to him.
  • Beatrix Farmer in the short-lived Comic Book Tales of Beatrix is a (rabbit-)girl who is given a "suit of invulnerability" by hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings. It's actually a kind of force field that can't be removed, and while it keeps her safe from all harm it also prevents her from tasting or feeling things. Bummer.
  • In The DCU, the various Human Bombs have to wear a suit at all times to keep from, well, exploding.
  • One alternate-universe version of Captain Britain named Captain Granbretan got his powers from a magical costume that allowed him to serve as a superhero for a while. The problem was, Captain Granbretan eventually wanted to stop being a superhero... and the costume, which turned out to be sentient organism, decided it wasn't going to let him.
  • Josie Beller from Marvel's' Transformers G1 comic book series was almost completely paralyzed in a Decepticon attack. She built herself a full-body exosuit that restored her mobility and gave her super powers, then called herself Circuit Breaker and started a vendetta against all Transformers.
  • Happens twice in the original Squadron Supreme limited series:
    • As Nuke's power continues to grow, he has to wear a lead-lined suit to avoid irradiating everyone around him.
    • Thermite has temperature-based powers; he has to always wear his costume and regulator pack to keep them in check.
  • The Witchblade in the Witchblade comics/series/film/anime is either a Clingy MacGuffin or a Clingy Costume, depending on the situation.
  • In Johnny Saturn the arch-villain Tactical, who wears power armor, is forced to wear his armor all the time for life support and mobility support after he has a stroke.
  • Like Steeljack, above, the Post-Crisis Captain Atom has (alien) metal permanently bonded to his flesh - in his case, by a nuclear explosion. Unlike Steeljack, he's able to assume human form.
    • Bombshell and Major Force are also bonded with samples of the metal.
  • One of the older comics variants is Vance Astro of the Guardians of the Galaxy (an alternate future self of Marvel Boy or whatever he's calling himself this week). As an astronaut in an experimental sublight journey to Alpha Centauri, he was put inside a copper-lined uniform for the loooooong journey. If it is ever pierced in any way, he will suddenly age a thousand years.
  • The Beta Suit from Echo, though capable of amazing wonders and made of a wondrous new alloy, simply will not come off. This leads to some problems as the suit seems to be slowly rewriting Julie Martin's DNA with the recently-deceased Annie, and in a little while there might not be any of Julie left.
  • Hazmat of Avengers Academy emits all sorts of lethal chemicals and radiation and must wear a Hazmat suit at all times to avoid killing everyone around her.
  • Ambush Bug cannot get his suit off, since the zipper is stuck. (He is that kind of superhero.)
  • The DCU villain Mr. Freeze depends on his cryogenic suit to stay alive, due to a chemical accident that permanently lowered his body temperature. It isn't that he can't take the suit off. He is occasionally seen in a robe or less in well refrigerated places.
  • Invincibleverse hero Zack Thompson aka Tech Jacket. His suit of Adaptive Armor, from which he gets his name, is Imported Alien Phlebotinum from a frail-bodied race where everyone is equipped with a tech jacket at birth. As tech jackets are made with that race in mind, they're programmed to not let the wearer remove them. Zack only received his because its previous wearer was already dying, and so was able to make an emergency transfer to protect Zack from the explosion of its space ship. Fortunately, the tech jacket can retract into the form of a vest that fits under Zack's clothes, and it removes dirt and germs from his body for him, making it unnecessary to bathe. Also, he's been shown to be able to have sex while wearing it.
  • Wonder Woman #80 has the protagonist fall asleep one day (near a pond, no less) then wake up to find herself trapped in a mask that's rigged to explode.
  • Nazi scum Baron Zemo (the original) tried to attack the Allies with his dreaded Adhesive X, but Captain America foiled his plan and caused his pink mask to be permanently glued to his face. Zemo could talk and breathe but needed to feed through an IV. He survived for decades in South America with the mask on his face (imagine the smell!)
  • In Star Wars Legacy, Darth Krayt's armor was, in fact, Yuuzhan Vong symbiotes that could not be removed from his body. And they constantly threatened to take over his body. Hey, are Clingy Costumes a Sith fashion?
  • War Woman, the Wonder Woman-esque protagonist of Chuck Austen's Worldwatch, is permanently stuck in her large winged tiara.
  • Without his ERG-suit, Wildfire is just a mass of anti-energy, shapeless and largely unable to interact with the rest of the world.


  • In Halloweentown II, a magic spell does this to the victim.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask
  • In Star Wars, Darth Vader's bodysuit is also a life-support system.
  • Although obviously not a full costume, Maid Marian's "chastity belt" in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
  • In Edward Scissorhands, Edward is unfinished at the time of his creator's death, leaving him with, well, scissorhands, but also seemingly permanent black leather clothing.
  • The Mask: The mask is pretty damn hard to remove once you put it on, painful even.
  • In Onibaba, this happens with the demonic mask when Kichi's mother tries to scare her.


  • Star Wars: Darth Bane was permanently encrusted with parasites called orbalisks. The good news: They heal you so fast a blade won't even pass all the way through before the cut heals again. They amplify your dark-side powers. They block blasterfire and lightsabers. The bad news: You have to wear special gloves and helmet or they infest your face and hands. They cause flashes of destructive rage. They subject you to constant agony. If any of them die, they take you with them. And they are hideous.
  • In Dune, the stillsuits worn by the Fremen on Arrakis are designed to be worn constantly to keep you alive in the deep desert.
    • And the stink that permeates both suits and sietches is frequently mentioned. Fremen bathe very infrequently, if at all, and stillsuits recycle not only breathed air and sweat, but everything.
      • Leto II has a variant of this in Children Of Dune when he bonds to a suit of sandtrout (larval form of the mighty sandworms). By the next book, God Emperor Of Dune, he's been bonded to the suit for some 5,000 years and is more of a sandworm with a human face and what USED TO BE a human mind.
  • In the Goosebumps book "The Haunted Mask", the main character's mask becomes fused to her face.
    • Norman in Rose Madder, by Stephen King, has the same thing happen to him with a rubber full-head bull mask.
  • The Stationery Voyagers have limited wardrobes on their voyages. Liquidon in particular needs his helmet to fly, as his high speeds and constant radiation could burn his face if he weren't wearing one. Since they can technically take their clothing off, this may be a subversion that doubles with 24-Hour Armor.
  • In Chris Wooding's book Storm Thief, Rail cannot take his mask off because it's actually a black metal oxygen mask; without it he cannot breathe.

Live Action TV

  • An episode of Sanctuary had a guest star appear in a superhero suit that he couldn't take off. Will even asks him about wastes.
  • Imagination Movers had an episode where Mr. Knit Knots is stuck into a colorful costume, which is something he didn't like at all. He needs to take it off before the time he had to meet with his "Boring Club".
  • In Star Trek, Borg have bodies with armor firmly fused on.
  • Season 9 of Stargate SG-1 has those "Marriage Bracelets" that supposedly belonged to Nuit, but were actually very odd shackles that would kill the wearers if away from each other for a period of time, used to…"reprimand" Jaffa who "lose" an important prisoner. That it also killed the prisoner and linked lives makes it…very annoying for the poor guy. I mean, he even dies when it's not really him. Twice. Also he's shackled to the person who singlehandedly stole a large ship AND dragged him into what could be described as a catfight.
  • The Daleks of Doctor Who live inside their battle armor, which doubles as life support and transportation. Outside the shell, they're soft, octopus-like things with exposed brains and feebly wriggling tentacles.
    • Likewise, conversion into a Cyberman is permanent; especially so for the Cybus Cybermen, as it's just a human brain in a robotic shell.
  • Scorpius's coolant suit from Farscape: not impossible to remove, but if it ever is he suffers dangerous heatstroke very rapidly, as his screwed-up hybrid biology makes him unable to control his body temperature if he exerts himself even mildly.
  • Power Rangers Dino Thunder had this happen to Tommy when Jason David Frank was unavailable except for voiceovers for a while.

Tabletop Games

  • Occurs several times in Warhammer 40000:
    • The orks, only caring about war, will often pay the tribes mek to have themselves sealed in a suit of mega armour. If that's not far enough, they can also be sealed inside a Deff Dread, a crude mini mecha. They soon discover the main disadvantage to being sealed inside a can, which is... being sealed inside a can.
    • In the Chaos factions, Obliterators absorb their guns and armor. Their guns replace their hands and their armor replaces their flesh. It's as painful as it sounds.
    • In times past, it was said that Khorne Berserkers' armour fused with their flesh, to the point that it would bleed when struck. It still provided protection from blows equivalent to the unmodified original suit though.
      • If you immediately asked how they go to the bathroom, the suit canonically includes "recyclers." Besides, the more pertinent question is "How do they eat?" since the armour also includes a completely sealed helmet...
      • Power Armour recycles the Space Marine's waste, and turns it into a bland, tasteless nutrient paste which they can survive on for a long time. Yes, their armour turns their poop into food.
  • In the original Warhammer Fantasy, in at least the most recent editions, it's heavily implied this is what happens to Chaos Warriors once they take up Chaos Armor.
    • Only if the warrior gains the 'gift' of Chaos Armor more than once, in which case there is a chance that the armor will permanently fuse with him.
    • Malekith, Witch-King of the Dark Elves, has this going on too. Unable to deceive the Flames of Asuryan, Malekith was burned almost to a crisp when he tried to take the throne of Ulthuan. Crippled and unable to fight, he had the renegade sorcerer Hotek forge the Armor of Midnight and strapped himself into it fresh from the forge, fusing it to his body through a combination of flesh-searing heat and magic. Remind you of anyone?
  • In Exalted, the First And Forsaken Lion has been permanently welded into his armor for failing his Neverborn master.
  • This is the flavour of the Magic: The Gathering card Living Armor.
    • There's also Grafted Wargear, which is impractical to remove without killing the equipped creature.
  • In Infernum, this is one way to look at the "Chain of Living Armor", which increases the natural armor of the demon greatly. It's more an aversion of the trope, however, as one branch lets the character absorb it back into their flesh to move more easily/disguise they have it, and a player can flavor it any way from armor fused to their flesh to a demonic exo-skeleton to transmutation into living stone to a preternaturally tough, inflexible skin.
  • Dungeons and Dragons (2nd Edition) has a nifty creature known as the Resplendent Cloaker. It's a land-based, parasitic ray that resembles, duh, a cloak and feeds, not on its host, but on its host's injuries. On the other hand, it leeches life energy from its host to mend its own injuries.
    • Eberron has the prestige class Bone Knight, members of which Captain Obvious craft armor from bone. At high level, the armor fuses with the bone knight's body and can't be removed anymore. Distressingly, while the Bone Knight gains a lot of powers that make them more and more like undead, the rules don't say the bone knight no longer needs to eat or drink, nor excreting.
  • Rustynuts's armor from The Insane Quest of Unfathomable Randomness. He's had it on for so long that it's rusted to his body.

Video Games

  • Samus Aran can normally get out of her power suit at will, but Metroid Fusion shows that her suit was fused with her skin (due to infection by the X parasite, which visibly damage and spark her suit) and had to have it surgically removed.
  • The Big Daddies from Bioshock are grafted into their diving suits.
  • In City of Heroes, there's Positron—when the game was first released, he was stuck in his anti-matter driven Powered Armor suit. He got better, but at the time, if his suit even caught a leak, he would have exploded with enough force to erase a metropolis from the map. In one comic, the Batman-Ersatz Manticore actually manages to bluff several supervillains into fleeing by threatening to put one of his armor-piercing arrows through Positron's suit. It's revealed in the 'Origins of Power' story arc that his superpower is that his body produces antimatter, which his suit collects and uses for power. When he was injured in the Rikti War prior to the release of the game, he lost control of that ability and was continually producing antimatter, forcing him to remain enclosed in the suit. When he was regenerated after being defeated fighting the Honoree, the process restored his control over his ability.
  • Similarly, Man-Bot in Freedom Force wears a powered exoskeleton that contains the energies he generates. He can't take the armor off lest his power starts killing people.
  • In Golden Sun, cursed armor items cannot be removed unless a healer is paid to remove it for you.
  • There are two occurrences of this in Mass Effect:
    • The quarians have extremely weak immune systems, and their enviro-suits filter out pathogens and germs that could make them sick. Brief exposure to outside air can, at the very least, cause fever, coughing and congestion. Worse, it can cause delirium and death.
    • The volus come from a Venus-like world, where both atmospheric pressure and surface gravity are higher than normal. As a result, whenever they enter the lower-pressure atmosphere that humans and other species live in, they have to wear pressure suits, otherwise they'll suffocate and their bodies will actually split open.
  • In Rogue, cursed armor cannot be removed. Unfortunately, the only way to know if it's cursed is to put it on.
    • Most every Roguelike has cursed armor which behaves like that. As well as jewelry, weapons and other equipment. Throwables and ammo can also be cursed in, and keeps you from unequipping them, but since you can always shoot/throw them anyway, it's not quite as noticeable as with most other items.
  • The Starcraft 2 trailer shows how a Space Marine is made, including getting permanently sealed into his armor. In this particular instance it's because Tychus Findlay is indeed sealed in it thanks to Arcturus Mengsk.. This isn't always the case, since they've shown characters who put it on and take it off (Raynor, for one). Moreover, while they have cybernetics there's no way to use the bathroom in one of those things.
    • Many human infantry are criminals working off their sentence in a sort of a mobile prison. Presumably the suit is unsealed at the end of their "tour of duty". The career of a typical unsealed Terran Marine will typically mean getting ripped apart/severed by claws/fangs/energy blasts/psi blades/plasma blasts/explosions or just plain lead poisoning, so it's actually doing them a favor.
  • The artwork for Cecil's Dark Knight armor in Final Fantasy IV implies it to be this: the individual pieces are apparently tied directly onto his skin, much like a more disturbing version of shoelaces.
    • In the DS remake, due to the graphical limitations, there's a scene early on in the game where Dark Knight Cecil goes to bed. But he keeps his armor on - mask and all! That couldn't be comfortable. Kain does the same when you visit Inns.
    • The same was also true in previous iterations of the same game; not having sprites for characters with and without armor the characters merely climb into bed in full plate mail.
  • The entry for Famfrit, one of the Espers in Final Fantasy XII states that he was sealed inside of his armour by the gods as punishment for joining Ultima's rebellion.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, one of Link's important tools is the Deku Mask, which turns him into a tiny plant-like monster. Link is cursed with it by the Skull Kid at the start of game, but he is able to cure himself and others when he recovers the Ocarina of Time. Afterwards, Link can play a song that turns curses and restless spirits into masks that grant Link some new power. Ironically, Link is faster as a Deku, and needs the form's abilities to finish the game.
  • Expanded in Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner, where Dingo is wearing a suit that's supplementing his internal organs, or lack thereof, which is powered by his mecha, making him unable to exit the machine, lest it kills him.
  • The character Python from the Metal Gear universe wears a liquid-nitrogen suit to prevent his heightened body heat from destroying his internal organs.
  • In Dragon Age, dwarves who are made into golems can't remove the armour they're given, at least not after the molten lyrium is poured in with them..
  • Fighter Roar suffers from this problem in Endless Frontier EXCEED. Wouldn't be that bad if the main crew didn't decide to go relax in an onsen.
  • In the Dragon Quest series, cursed equipment cannot be removed until a priest performs the skill Benediction on the character.
  • Hakuoro of Utawarerumono wakes up with a horned white mask stuck to his face.
  • Ratchet's armor in Ratchet: Deadlocked is implied to be this, with only his helmet being able to easily be removed.
  • The Ghost People in Fallout: New Vegas add-on Dead Money are trapped in their hazmat suits.
  • Alcatraz in Crysis 2, although it's more because he was a corpse when Prophet found him and stuck him in the Nanosuit, it's the only thing keeping him alive.


  • In Deverish Also, Kuroraki's magic armor is supposed to repair itself, but the magic went wrong and caused the armor to effectively weld itself shut. He's just lucky there's no helmet.
  • In Our Little Adventure, Rocky wore a mithril chain shirt that had a minor curse on it (An apparently embarrasing message that was invisible to him.) Rocky couldn't remove his armor until he next levelled up and got anotherwill save to shake the curse off.

Web Original

  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the villainous Shadowspawn is really an alien parasite that grafts itself onto an innocent human being, who it then slowly digests. When it finishes eating its host, it moves on to another.
  • Bluman08 uses this trope a lot with his sentient costume related RPs, even though he sometimes flip flops it around by putting in a removal/turn back to normal scene despite the fact that it's established that the costumes are sentient and thus aren't normal costumes He does this a lot with BrandonKong related RPs regardless of whether or not Brandon likes it.

Western Animation

  • From Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Freeze suffered a Freak Lab Accident that requires him to always keep his body at sub-zero temperatures. When outside of his special prison cell, he has to wear a costume that constantly keeps him cold.
    • Lex Luthor from Justice League needed one of these after the kryptonite he carried around gave him cancer. He could take it off for short periods of time though.
    • The DCAU version of Captain Atom is living energy. His suit is the only thing that allows him to keep a coherent form, and if it is breached he explodes.
  • Spoofed on Invader Zim with Chickenfoot, an ordinary man on a chicken costume whose zipper is stuck, and thus thinks he's been mutated into a chicken.
  • Terra's final costume on Teen Titans (unless you count the schoolgirl outfit) was an armored suit that Slade had fused with her nervous system, which allowed him to control her movements and made the suit impossible to remove.
  • In Ben 10, Ben physically couldn't remove the Omnitrix. No, it's not a full-body costume, but it is the source of his transformations and the one constant that appears in all his alternate forms.
  • Due to a Freak Lab Accident, Max Dillon/Electro in The Spectacular Spider-Man was turned into an energy being with Power Incontinence, and needs to wear a suit with restraints in order to touch anything/not fry any electrical equipment in the near vicinity. Even with the suit, he cannot eat and is deprived of most normal human interaction, so it's no wonder he became Ax Crazy pretty quickly.

Real Life

  • Better hope your diving suit, spacesuit, or hazmat suit is comfortable before you start using it in earnest. Sure, you technically can take it off, but...


  • In the Harry Potter fic His First Kill, Harry tried on the titular victim's Death Eater mask out of curiosity and after accidentally biting his lip, it blood-bonded with him and he was unable to remove it.