9 knockoff Halloween costumes that will make you raise an eyebrow

Finding the right costume for Halloween is never easy, especially when retailers don’t always want to pay for official licensing. To get into the spirit (pun intended), here’s a roundup of the best bootleg and unlicensed Halloween costumes for 2016.

Although the latest costume trends tend towards what dominates the airwaves — this year it was mostly superhero movies and bizarre politics — we’ve tried to make sure this list has something for everyone. Sure, there are some questionably named superheroes and some costumes which may have been intended as generically political but in fact edge into the nightmarish. However, 2016’s costume catalogues also provide ’90s throwbacks, poorly thought out tributes to late celebrities, shout outs to online horror memes, and whatever the hell “Teen Anime Fighter” is. It’s a rich tapestry woven from the purest WTF, as well as a middle finger to copyright lawyers everywhere.

To make it onto this list, all costumes had to be easily recognizable, with no explanation needed as to what the official character or franchise was. They also had to pass a basic offensiveness test, so nothing labeled as “Sexy [Insert Cultural Stereotype Here]” was getting within a thousand miles of this list. Luckily, these criteria still left a lot to work with, which you’ll see below.

Purple Pain Pop Costume

Purple Pain
CREDIT: Halloween Express

There are loads of knockoff Prince costumes this year. Out of this multitude, the Purple Pain Pop Costume has risen to the top by virtue not only of its bad pun, but of the hopefully inadvertent awful taste contained therein. Tip: don’t put the word “pain” in a costume based on someone who died from a painkiller overdose.

Sexy Hacker

Sexy Hacker
CREDIT: Yandy

The Sexy Hacker costume is perfect for those of us who want to take down the 1 percent while maximizing cleavage. Why is the mustache white, though? And so thick? It’s more Colonel Sanders than Guy Fawkes. Sorry, I mean sexy Colonel Sanders.

Notionless

Notionless
CREDIT: Costume Culture Franco

Relive your youth with this outfit from the hit movie Notionless, with its classic catchphrases like “Whenever” and “As but!” This company also sells a Prince hairpiece called the “Formerly Wig,” which kind of sums up their approach to the whole licensing thing.

Mother of Dragons & Adult Barbarian Warrior

Untitled drawing
CREDIT: Yandy/CostumeCraze

It was hard work going through all the not-Daenerys-Targaryen costumes, but eventually these two standouts emerged. The one on the left, Mother of Dragons, is notable for somehow being recognizable as a Dany knockoff despite bearing almost zero resemblance to anything she’s ever worn. (She wears a blue dress sometimes. That’s about it.) The right-hand costume, Adult Barbarian Warrior, is maybe meant to be Dany in Vaes Dothrak, but it kind of feels like the manufacturers went off their adult children’s description of what she does in the show without ever Googling it themselves.

Ms. Rebellious & Sexy Dead Assassin

Not Deadpool
CREDIT: HalloweenCostumes/Wholesale Halloween Costumes

Another twofer, this time featuring Marvel’s motormouthed mercenary Ms. Rebellious, a.k.a. Sexy Dead Assassin. I’m actually digging the name “Ms. Rebellious,” which sounds like the stage name of a very prim female rapper. Sexy Dead Assassin just sounds gross, though. Was she sexy in life, and then she died? Is she sexy because she died? Either way, nasty.

Sexy Captain USA

Sexy Captain USA
CREDIT: Yandy

Considering Captain America: Civil War was one of the big superhero movie events of 2016, our list wouldn’t be complete without Sexy Captain USA. This costume was presumably inspired by the part of the movie where Captain America kept having to pause mid-battle to pull his leotard out of his butt and deal with accumulated boob sweat from his outfit’s non-breatheable fabric.

Misfit Hipster

Misfit Hipster
CREDIT: Costume Supercenter

The grand finale: Harley Quinn, from this year’s other big multi-superhero event, Suicide Squad. Or rather, Misfit Hipster, who was murdering people before it was cool. The first guy she killed was an obscure resident of this totally non-gentrified neighborhood in Gotham. You’ve probably never heard of him.

As you can see, there’s a lot of scope for costume shopping this year, whether you’re sexy and dead, trying to bypass HBO’s licensing division by dressing in something their characters have never worn, or fishing wedgies out of your crack in the name of patriotism. Remember, nothing screams “Halloween” like a near-total indifference to copyright.