Created By: CaveCatJune 23, 2013 Last Edited By: CaveCatOctober 29, 2013
Troped

Vicious Vac

Vacuum cleaners being depicted as sentient yet monstrous beings.

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Trope
Vacuum cleaners are one of the staples of good housecleaning dating all the way back to the mid-20th century, making them Older Than Television. However, sometimes in media, vacuum cleaners can also seem monstrous in the eyes of small children or pets. Be prepared to be sucked in by this trope.

Related to Weapons That Suck.

Can be a part of AI Is A Crapshoot.

Not to be confused with Vacuum Mouth.


Examples:

Advertising
  • In Goldfish commercials, the vacuum cleaners are portrayed as monsters by the goldfish living under the bed.
  • Some animated commercials for Eureka vacuum cleaners were like this. This early-70s ad has "dirt blobs" on patrol against the Eureka.

Anime And Manga
  • The vacuum in Haiyore Nyarko San, which seems like a normal vacuum, but can shout "CYCLONE!!" for some reason.
  • Invoked in one episode of Pokemon, Ash, Dawn and Brock explore a haunted house and get pursued by kitchen appliances, being controlled by a pokemon named Rotom, one of them being a vacuum cleaner.

Film
  • This was part of a scene in the film Mister Mom starring Michael Keaton. An old-style vacuum cleaner goes out of control and rolls forward, devouring a poor boy's woobie blanket. For good measure another boy is "attacked" by a washing machine lurching forward on its legs.

Literature
  • Not exactly killer or sentient per se, but the Hank The Cowdog book "The Case Of The Vampire Vacuum Sweeper" involved Slim Chance using a vacuum to tease Hank.
  • In Terry Pratchett's novel The Carpet People, the microscopically small civilization living in the Carpet are periodically subject to catastrophe caused by a massive and invisible demon-god called Fray, whose advent is heralded by changes in air pressure and a mighty wind destroying everything in its path...
  • Zenna Henderson's short story "Hush!" is about a small boy who, after being told to keep quiet, imagines a sentient vacuum cleaner designed to suck up sound—only to see his imagined invention actually become real, and start sucking up every sound possible—including heartbeats.

Live-Action TV
  • In a long Horror Movie sketch on The Benny Hill Show about various electric devices coming alive, a vacuum cleaner kills a maid by strangling her with its hose.
  • In the one-season wonder TV series Testees, wherein the protagonists are employed as product testers for a weird range of products, episode 4, "Vac Attack," has them testing out a military vacuum cleaner imbued with artificial intelligence, which becomes more and more aggressive as it deals with their slovenliness, until it sets out to kill them and must be destroyed with their giant collected hairball.

Newspaper Comics
  • There was an arc of Mother Goose And Grimm strips from the early-to-mid 1990s where Grimm and Attila find themselves being pursued by Mother Goose's vacuum cleaner. They tried to stop it by sticking it in the toilet and flushing it, but unfortunately, that only caused the vacuum bag to inflate before the chase resumes once again.
    • A 1999 arc had Grimm and Attila find a broom vacuum cleaner in the closet before it also goes on a rampage throughout the house.
  • In one strip of Get Fuzzy, Rob, Bucky, and Satchel are going to a Halloween party. Satchel goes to change into his costume, and comes out dressed as a vacuum, with a sign reading "Dirt devil! Run away!" Bucky congratulates him for making a really scary costume.
  • Marmaduke, despite being a huge dog, is known to be terrified of vacuum cleaners. http://mail.29-95.com/time-suck/comic/marmaduke-explained-10-25-11 and http://mail.29-95.com/time-suck/story/marmaduke-explained-07-12-09

Video Games
  • In Little Big Planet 2, the intro movie features a close up of a vacuum cleaner sucking up the small floating images that represent imagination. Also, the Negativitron resembles a vacuum cleaner.
  • In Ar Tonelico, one of Aurica's cosmosphere levels depicts a cat on a vacuum cleaner that has been sucking away her power. Once that is discovered, another her comes and redirects the cat-vacuum toward Misha and Shurelia. The rest of the level is spent dealing with Aurica's inferiority complex with the other two potential love interests.
  • In Bart's Nightmare, one of the levels features killer vacuum cleaners.
  • In Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening, the vacuum cleaner is depicted as a very friendly dog that eats soil wherever Sam places it. This is required for one puzzle.
  • A sub-boss of Fur Fighters was a vacuum cleaner. Said vacuum cleaner was designed by dinosaurs to detect dirt and apparently you're dirty.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Similar to the original comics, an episode of the Mother Goose And Grimm animated series had Grimm and Attila try to stop Mother Goose's vacuum cleaner while she is out of the house.
  • The second act of the Mr Bogus episode "Meet Mr. Bogus" had Bogus rewiring the TV remote so that it could control other appliances other than the TV, but unfortunately, when Kevin the family bulldog takes the remote from him, this also causes a broom vacuum to bust out from the closet and start going on a rampage, even pestering the repairman hired by Mrs. Anybody.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons Bart causes mayhem at Lenny's birthday party by switching all the Roombas (which Lenny had given everyone as party favors) from "off" to "Malevolent Sentience."
  • On Family Guy Brian, being a dog, is scared of the vacuum cleaner. At one point Peter shoots the vacuum (for unrelated reasons); Brian comes in and sees the "dead" vacuum and says "whoever did this, thank you."
  • In Earthworm Jim, as part of Peter Puppy's origin, he tried to stand up against a vacuum cleaner, only to get sucked up and find himself in Planet Heck, home of Evil the Cat.
  • Rockos Modern Life had the Suck-O-Matic, a giant vacuum cleaner that also literally had a mind of its own.
  • Subverted in The Brave Little Toaster. Kirby the vacuum cleaner is the Grumpy Bear of the group, but he turns out to be a Jerk With A Heart Of Gold and a reliable teammate, rather than a villain.
  • In one episode of Fetch With Ruff Ruffman, the kids are sent to the island of Dogtopia/Catlantis, where cats and dogs used to live in harmony until a civil war broke out between them. They use their clue finding skills to solve the mystery of what caused the conflict, eventually finding that both sides blamed each other for a horrible howling that was terrifying everyone. On a smaller island nearby, the kids find the answer: the howling was caused by evil vacuum cleaners living there.

Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • June 23, 2013
    Antigone3
    An early story arc in Two Lumps involved "Mom" getting a can't-call-it-a-Roomba, which began hunting the cats.
  • June 24, 2013
    Deltadiamond
    Perhaps YMMV, but the seemingly sentient vacuum cleaner from Teletubbies seems to apply.

    Would this by chance be related to Weapons That Suck ?
  • June 24, 2013
    BOFH
    Video Games
    • In Little Big Planet 2, the intro movie features a close up of a vacuum cleaner sucking up the small floating images that represent imagination. Also, the Negativitron resembles a vacuum cleaner.
  • June 25, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • In a long Horror Movie sketch on The Benny Hill Show about various electric devices coming alive, a vacuum cleaner kills a maid by strangling her with its hose.
    • In an episode of The Simpsons Bart causes mayhem at Lenny's birthday party by switching all the Roombas (which Lenny had given everyone as party favors) from "off" to "Malevolent Sentience."
    • On Family Guy Brian, being a dog, is scared of the vacuum cleaner. At one point Peter shoots the vacuum (for unrelated reasons); Brian comes in and sees the "dead" vacuum and says "whoever did this, thank you."
  • June 25, 2013
    DracMonster
    Villainous Vacuum. Who is of course subjected to...

    <puts on sunglasses>

    ...The Reason You Suck Speech.

    YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHH

  • June 25, 2013
    NESBoy
    In Earthworm Jim, as part of Peter Puppy's origin, he tried to stand up against a vaccum cleaner, only to get sucked up and find himself in Planet Heck, home of Evil the Cat.
  • June 26, 2013
    kjnoren
    Is Vacuum used as a noun in modern English? I believe it's only used as a verb, with vacuum cleaner used for the object.

    An alternative would be Hostile Hoover.
  • June 26, 2013
    DracMonster
    ^Sure. "Honey, get the vacuum, I spilled something." I dunno if it's grammatically incorrect or something (I doubt it, vacuum is used as a noun when talking about outer space for instance.)

    Actually, I do like Hostile Hoover, but that might get into Trope Namer territory, not sure how "universal" the Hoover brand is.
  • June 26, 2013
    Stratadrake
  • June 26, 2013
    SharleeD
    The trouble with using just "vaccuum" in the title, rather than "vaccuum cleaner", is that it makes the trope sound like it has something to do with shoving people out a spaceship's airlock. :-/
  • June 26, 2013
    kjnoren
    The trouble with using vacuum here is also that it's ambigious - it might be misinterpreted as that space is dangerous.
  • June 26, 2013
    DracMonster
    Well, ok, if there's potential confusion, Villainous Vacuum Cleaner works fine. Although I think I like "Vicious" better.
  • June 28, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Vicious Vacuum Cleaner works for me. Two syllables per word, a 'c' in each (even though the first one sounds like 's' and not 'k').
  • June 28, 2013
    Clevomon
    In Ar Tonelico, one of Aurica's cosmosphere levels depicts a cat on a vacuum cleaner that has been sucking away her power. Once that is discovered, another her comes and redirects the cat-vacuum toward Misha and Shurelia. The rest of the level is spent dealing with Aurica's inferiority complex with the other two potential love interests.
  • June 29, 2013
    DA
    Western Animation:

  • June 29, 2013
    Arivne
  • July 1, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    @Sharlee D: And if I recall correctly, we already have a trope for Thrown Out The Airlock. Which, incidentally, I ended up launching.
  • July 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
  • July 2, 2013
    Speedball
    I think there was something like this in the film Mister Mom staring Michael Keaton, where a vacuum cleaner "attacked" a kid by sucking up his woobie blanket. The film also featured a similar "attack" by a washing machine so unstable it "walked" forward in the garage.
  • July 5, 2013
    AgProv
    In Terry Pratchett's novel The Carpet People, the microscopically small civilisation living in the Carpet are periodically subject to catastrophe caused by a massive and invisible demon-god called Fray, whose advent is heralded by changes in air pressure and a mighty wind destroying everything in its path...
  • July 12, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    I seem to recall an episode of the original The Twlight Zone series that had a technology-hating man literally pursued by appliances, including the vacuum cleaner...
  • July 13, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ You're remembering "A Thing About Machines". I just watched the episode on Hulu, and the appliances that harassed him were his TV, telephone, typewriter, shaver and car. Sorry, no vacuum cleaner.
  • July 15, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Thank you for the research. My geriatric computer doesn't always play streamed video well, and I lack a working TV.
  • July 20, 2013
    Sibuna
    • In Goldfish commercials, the vacuum cleaners are portrayed as monsters by the goldfish living under the bed.

    • In Bart's Nightmare, one of the levels features killer vacuum cleaners.

    • Invoked in one episode of Anime/Pokemon, Ash, Dawn and Brock explore a haunted house and get pursued by kitchen appliances, being controlled by a pokemon named Rotom, one of them being a vacuum cleaner.
  • August 7, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    • In Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening, the vacuum cleaner is depicted as a very friendly dog that eats soil wherever Sam places it. This is required for one puzzle.
  • August 14, 2013
    rimpala
    As noted, cats and dogs being terrified of them is Truth In Television
  • August 16, 2013
    Jallen
    • As sub-boss of Fur Fighters was a vacuum cleaner. Said vacuum cleaner was designed by dinosaurs to detect dirt and apparently you're dirty.
  • August 30, 2013
    DracMonster
    • In one strip of Get Fuzzy, the owner and his dog and cat are going to a Halloween party. The dog goes to change into his costume, and comes out dressed as a vacuum, with a sign reading "Dirt devil! Run away!" The cat congratulates him for making a really scary costume.
  • August 31, 2013
    Quatic
    In the one-season wonder TV series Testees, wherein the protagonists are employed as product testers for a weird range of products, episode 4, "Vac Attack," has them testing out a military vacuum cleaner imbued with artificial intelligence, which becomes more and more aggressive as it deals with their slovenliness, until it sets out to kill them and must be destroyed with their giant collected hairball.
  • September 14, 2013
    Prfnoff
  • September 14, 2013
    SpocktorWho
    Subverted in The Brave Little Toaster. Kirby the vacuum cleaner is the Grumpy Bear of the group, but he turns out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and a reliable teammate, rather than a villain.
  • September 20, 2013
    CrazyLegs2
    Zenna Henderson's short story "Hush!" is about a small boy who, after being told to keep quiet, imagines a sentient vacuum cleaner designed to suck up sound—only to see his imagined invention actually become real, and start sucking up every sound possible—including heartbeats.
  • September 21, 2013
    MonaNaito

    Also, I'm pretty sure the laconic should say "sentient" instead of "sapient", as "sapient" means "wise" or "possessing judgement". In speculative fiction it generally refers to things with human-level intelligence, which is not usually the case with monstrous vacuum cleaners.
  • September 21, 2013
    eedwardgrey3
    The Roomba's on Questionable Content can get pretty vicious sometimes.
  • September 22, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Advertising — some animated commercials for Eureka vacuum cleaners were like this. This early-70s ad has "dirt blobs" on patrol against the Eureka. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtLETb17B8o

    A later commercial shows animated dust characters being sucked up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj3evP5yRBk
  • September 23, 2013
    reflaxion
    Added Haiyore Nyarko San example.
  • September 27, 2013
    Speedball
    I believe this was part of a scene in the film Mister Mom starring Michael Keaton. An old-style vacuum cleaner goes out of control and rolls forward, devouring a poor boy's woobie blanket. For good measure another boy is "attacked" by a washing machine lurching forward on its legs.
  • October 2, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Newspaper Comics — Marmaduke, despite being a huge dog, is known to be terrified of vacuum cleaners. http://mail.29-95.com/time-suck/comic/marmaduke-explained-10-25-11 and http://mail.29-95.com/time-suck/story/marmaduke-explained-07-12-09
  • October 4, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Cleaned up the description (removed "do we have this?", etc). Have a hat!
  • October 16, 2013
    MonaNaito
    ...Any particular reason why this is lacking hats? Seems solid to me.
  • October 25, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    • In one episode of Fetch With Ruff Ruffman, the kids are sent to the island of Dogtopia/Catlantis, where cats and dogs used to live in harmony until a civil war broke out between them. They use their clue finding skills to solve the mystery of what caused the conflict, eventually finding that both sides blamed each other for a horrible howling that was terrifying everyone. On a smaller island nearby, the kids find the answer: the howling was caused by evil vacuum cleaners living there.

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