Created By: Draken on January 10, 2012 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on April 24, 2015

Fears Of A Clown

Clown will eat me.

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Page Type:
Trope
In a LOT of media, clowns evoke a sense of fear or dread in certain characters (e.g. Monster Clown). Of course, media being what it is, this means that the fear of such people or beings leads to a very large amount of over-dramatizing. This CAN be subverted, but expect in a kid's show the dumbest strong guy to fear clowns; in adult shows, it can either be the dumb person or the straight man.

Truth in Television as the Other Wiki discusses children frequently fear clown-type decorations in doctor offices and hospitals. It's implied that it might be tied into the Uncanny Valley.


Examples:

Film
  • Poltergeist. Robbie Freeling is afraid of a clown doll in his room. His fear turns out to be justified, as the ghosts haunting the home later animate it and use it to try to strangle him.
  • The kid in Problem Child is afraid of clowns if I remember correctly.
  • In Zombieland, Columbus is afraid of clowns. At the end, a zombie clown stands between him and saving the girls. He Drops the Hammer and saves the day.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • The Mentalist. In the episode "18-5-4" the Victim of the Week was scared of clowns, and his killer dressed as a clown while killing him.
  • Alan Shore from Boston Legal suffers from both night terrors and a fear of clowns.
  • On Bones Booth was scared of clowns; it didn't come up much, and after he came out of a coma he discovered he's no longer afraid of them.

Newspaper Comics
  • B.C. strip for November 7th 2013. The Adder (Snake) complains about the Fat Broad beating him with her club. The Apteryx advises him to dress up as something she doesn't fear. The Adder dresses up in a clown outfit and she clobbers him anyway, making it clear that she fears clowns.

Video Games
  • Nathan Drake of the Uncharted franchise claims to be afraid of clowns when asked what his "fear scale" looks like. Clowns are 10/10.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Word". After spending the night in a frightening Krusty the Clown style bed, Bart is found curled up in a fetal position.
Bart: Can't sleep, clown will eat me.
  • In Rugrats Chuckie (and his father's) fear of clowns was a Running Gag.
  • Billy And Mandy.
    Billy: ""Ya gotta believe me Mandy. The clowns are nothin' but ultimate evil. They want to be the dominant species on the planet and they will destroy us all to make it happen. DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL!..."
  • Wakko Warner and Thaddeus Plotz of Animaniacs are revealed to be terrified of clowns in one episode. Hilarity Ensues when Plotz sends a clown over to the Warners for Wakko's birthday, only learning afterwards that Wakko is afraid of clowns.
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • January 10, 2012
    foxley
    There is currently a list of fictional characters afraid of clowns in Why Did Ithave To Be Snakes?
  • January 11, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Mentalist: In the episode "18-5-4" the Victim Of The Week was scared of clowns, and his killer dressed as a clown while killing him.
  • January 11, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    The name and laconic are awkward.
  • January 11, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Poltergeist. Robbie Freeling is afraid of a clown doll in his room. His fear turns out to be justified, as the ghosts haunting the home later animate it and use it to try to strangle him.

    Western Animation
    • The Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Word". After spending the night is a frightening Krusty the Clown style bed, Bart is found curled up in a fetal position.
    Bart: Can't sleep, clown will eat me.
  • January 11, 2012
    morenohijazo
    ^^ I think the laconic was written thinking of the Simpsons example (which should be the page quote, by the way(. But yes, it's bad.
  • January 11, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
  • January 12, 2012
    Bisected8
  • January 12, 2012
    azul120
    • Billy And Mandy: Billy: ""Ya gotta believe me Mandy. The clowns are nothin' but ultimate evil. They want to be the dominant species on the planet and they will destroy us all to make it happen. DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL!..."
  • March 1, 2013
    Arivne
    Coulrophobia is a Zero Context Example and needs to be expanded upon before launch.
  • March 1, 2013
    LordGro
    How exactly is this distinct from Monster Clown? Monster Clown has the laconic "Clowns are scary", and the Bart Simpson quote as a page quote.
  • March 1, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Monster Clown is about the scary clown.

    This trope is about people who are scared of clowns, Monster Clown or not.

    That said, is this worth to be separated from Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?
  • March 1, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    Does It count?

    The kid in Problem Child is afraid of clowns if I remember correctly.
  • March 1, 2013
    elwoz
    Part of the initial creepiness of the circus in Something Wicked This Way Comes. (It gets worse.)
  • March 1, 2013
    Rotpar
    • In Zombieland, Columbus is afraid of clowns. At the end, a zombie clown stands between him and saving the girls. He Drops the Hammer and saves the day.
  • March 1, 2013
    AmyGdala
    How is "person fears clowns" different from "person fears anything else"?

    For comparison, we have Why Did It Have To Be Snakes, which isn't about a specific fear It's about anytime when someone shares their phobia and then that fear comes into play later in the story. Trope-wise, the trigger is irrelevant.

    Note that claustrophobia, acrophobia, arachnophobia and many other common fears that show up in media also aren't tropes.
  • March 1, 2013
    Krendall
    As noted, this is generally covered under Why Did It Have To Be Snakes. If the clown in question is an actually character it would fall under Monster Clown.
  • March 1, 2013
    LordGro
    Not sure if it is always a subtrope of Why Did It Have To Be Snakes, which the description calls "a subset of Fatal Flaw." But I dare say Fears of a Clown is more often just a one-time gag, not a persistent character trait. There is a certain difference when a character that is afraid of clown has to cross a room full of clown puppets (Why Did It Have To Be Snakes) and when Bart Simpsons develops a fear of clowns (which was never mentioned before) as a one-time gag. That said, Why Did It Have To Be Snakes has an example folder for "Coulrophobia" (fear of clowns).

    As a side note, that a trope is a subtrope of another trope does not in itself disqualify it for getting a page on the wiki.

    Btw, "Clown will eat me" is not a laconic. Those laconic definitions are actually supposed to be serious, not just another punchline.
  • March 3, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    The only examples that support the one-time gag interpretation are those in Western Animation.
  • March 3, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On Bones Booth was scared of clowns; it didn't come up much, and after he came out of a coma he discovered he's no longer afraid of them.
  • March 3, 2013
    AmyGdala
    If this were a subtrope of Why Did It Have To Be Snakes, it might merit its own page. But it isn't. This isn't "a character expresses fear of clowns and then later a clown pops up in the narrative." It's just "character fears clowns." That isn't a trope. The trope would be how that fear affects the storyline (regardless of the specific fear), which could be Chekhov's Fear or Compressed Vice or Flaw Exploitation or Face Your Fears or Author Phobia.
  • March 3, 2013
    MaxWest
    Wakko Warner and Thaddeus Plotz of Animaniacs are revealed to be terrified of clowns in one episode. Hilarity Ensues when Plotz sends a clown over to the Warners for Wakko's birthday, only learning afterwards that Wakko is afraid of clowns.
  • March 3, 2013
    MaxWest
    Truth In Television as the Other Wiki discusses children frequently fear clown-type decorations in doctor offices and hospitals. It's implied that it might be tied into the Uncanny Valley.
  • March 3, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    You got to do something about that Problem Child example. There's no "I" in the example section and Examples Are Not Arguable.
  • November 8, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work titles, fleshed out the Coulrophobia and Boston Legal Zero Context Examples.
  • November 8, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Amy Gdala: I think examples already mention clowns appearing to show the phobiacs being frightened. Description still needs work...
  • November 8, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ replace "clown" with "snakes" in your sentence.

    and you'll see that this is just a Too Rare To Trope subtrope of Why Did It Have To Be Snakes.
  • November 8, 2013
    Alucard
    Nathan Drake of the Uncharted franchise claims to be afraid of clowns when asked what his "fear scale" looks like. Clowns are 10/10.
  • November 13, 2013
    Arivne
    Newspaper Comics
    • BC strip for November 7th 2013. The Adder (Snake) complains about the Fat Broad beating him with her club. The Apteryx advises him to dress up as something she doesn't fear. The Adder dresses up in a clown outfit and she clobbers him anyway, making it clear that she fears clowns.
  • November 13, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Shanghai Slave: I guess a dozen examples are enough.
  • April 24, 2015
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    Puppet Shows
    • In an episode of Sesame Street, Elmo is afraid of clowns, especially when he sees his friends dressed up as Cuckoo, a famous clown. Throughout the episode, Elmo's friends try to help him overcome his fear of clowns, but to no avail. Towards the end of the episode, Elmo hears Telly singing a sad song about how he doesn't want to play with him, while dressed as a clown, which actually helps him overcome his fear, as Elmo doesn't want his friends to be sad.
  • April 24, 2015
    Rjinswand
    Just want to say that I like the Laconic :)
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