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I guess I can live with the fact that the Incredible Hulk changes size drastically when he transforms, but why does his shirt rip off and not his pants?

I think that we need a little better answer than "it keeps us tied to the fact that inside he's still human".

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Does this want/need a comics/marvel tag? – AncientSwordRage Apr 4 '12 at 19:05
@Pureferret that's up to the site here, I just asked the Q because someone else brought it up and I thought it was interesting. – jcolebrand Apr 5 '12 at 3:25
I agree, it is :D – AncientSwordRage Apr 5 '12 at 8:45
Just wanted others on the site to realize I don't have a dog in that fight ;-) – jcolebrand Apr 5 '12 at 13:05
I always assumed Banner woke up naked in an alley after his first Hulk-out and realized he urgently needed to find a solution to the pants problem. He used his outsized genius brain and figured out a way to keep his jolly green junk hidden after that. – Kyle Jones Jan 7 '13 at 19:02
up vote 55 down vote accepted

Stan Lee answered this question in an interview with Eric Spitznagel of Vanity Fair (March, 2011). You can read the transcript on

VF: If it weren’t for the Comics Code, would the Hulk’s pants have ripped off like his shirt?

Stan Lee: I guess it probably would have. So occasionally the Code did some good things.

VF: Did you ever try to make sense of the Hulk’s magical purple pants? Why did they always conveniently remain intact while the rest of his clothes were ripped to shreds?

Stan Lee: I just figured that Bruce Banner had probably been a friend of Reed Richards [Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four], and Reed had given him some elastic trousers. There’s an explanation for everything, but you may not be technically advanced enough to follow me on all of this.

This is known on TV Tropes as Magic Pants.

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I dunno. There's that, and ... well, I've gained about 30 lbs in the past year. My pants from before I gained weight still fit, but my shirts sure don't. – Karl Katzke Sep 26 '11 at 22:03
@KarlKatzke You must be working out then, because my last 30 lbs definitely contributed exclusively to my pants size. :( – Bill the Lizard Sep 27 '11 at 21:50
All mine's gone straight to my liquid grain silo, aka Milwaukee Blister, aka spare tire, aka... – Karl Katzke Sep 27 '11 at 21:55
Unstable molecules. – jonnyflash Sep 28 '11 at 0:36
Huh. I'd never made the connection back to Mr Fantastic and the existence of other super-stretchy materials within that universe. That's actually a more reasonable explanation than I was expecting... – Nerrolken Mar 12 '15 at 21:28

As I remember in looking at the early (Kirby) issues of the Hulk comic, Dr. Banner wasn't a "total square." He wore purple pants with cuffs. Not daring, as he was otherwise dressed like a good researcher of the day would have. Blues, grays, browns and greens, were also common colors for pants. But dark purple slacks were not unseen. They could have been something like pleated work slacks from Sears. Those slacks had hip pleats. I know that when you snap off the belting fabric you still only gain about two to four inches at the hips and no inseam. And as the joke goes, "If my pants were that tight, I'd turn green too."

OK, so we give Bruce pleated work slacks with Inseam Guard (1966?) and almost no wear. Brand new! That might let the fabric stretch out to paper thin for a while. Is the tension itself holding the stitching in place? Is the fly fused shut?

Looks like some questions breed more questions.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

I always assumed that the hip region just doesn't expand that much when you gain muscles. In the TV series, his trouser legs always ripped apart, just the hip region stayed conveniently intact.

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Or Stan Lee may have answered this already ... – jcolebrand Mar 13 '15 at 16:37
that comment by stan lee didn't sound like a serious explanation, did it? – ths Mar 13 '15 at 22:07
Yeah, actually, it did. Since ya know, he wrote the comic. – jcolebrand Mar 14 '15 at 22:22

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