Created By: PaulA on February 27, 2011 Last Edited By: PaulA on May 31, 2011
Troped

Apothecary Alligator

The workshops of apothecaries, alchemists, and wizards always have a stuffed alligator.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
(previous working title: Ceiling Crocodile)

The magical equivalent of a Mad Scientist Laboratory is never complete without a stuffed crocodile or alligator hanging from the ceiling.

Examples

  • The description of the apothecary's shop in Romeo and Juliet, Act V Scene I:
    And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
    An alligator stuff'd, and other skins
    Of ill-shaped fishes
  • "The Alchemist at Work", painting by David Teniers the Elder
  • "The Return of the Sorcerer" by Clark Ashton Smith:
    There were tables strewn with archaic instruments of doubtful use, with astrological charts, with skulls and alembics and crystals, with censers such as are used in the Catholic Church, and volumes bound in worm-eaten leather with verdigris-mottled clasps. In one corner stood the skeleton of a large ape; in another, a human skeleton; and overhead a stuffed crocodile was suspended.
  • Merlyn's cottage in The Once and Future King:
    There was a real corkindrill hanging from the rafters, very life-like and horrible with glass eyes and scaly tail stretched out behind it. When its master came into the room it winked one eye in salutation, although it was stuffed.
  • Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
  • Lord Portico's study in Neverwhere:
    The stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling; the leather-bound books, an astrolabe, convex and concave mirrors, odd scientific instruments
  • Frequently mentioned, and lampshaded as a occupational necessity, in the Discworld series.
    • The Light Fantastic:
      Like all wizards' workshops, the place looked as though a taxidermist had dropped his stock in a foundry and then had a fight with a maddened glassblower, braining a passing crocodile in the process (it hung from the rafters and smelt strongly of camphor).
    • Mort:
      There was a large crystal ball with a crack in it, an astrolabe with several bits missing, a rather scuffed octogram on the floor, and a stuffed alligator hanging from the ceiling. A stuffed alligator is absolutely standard equipment in any properly-run magical establishment. This one looked as though it hadn't enjoyed it much.
  • The dog wizard Tibbeth's shop in Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly:
    A mummified crocodile hung from the low rafters overhead
  • An early edition of The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein shows, on the cover, a scene set in a wizard's sanctum. You can tell it's a wizard's sanctum because of the stuffed crocodile hanging from the roof -- an interesting case of trope-as-shorthand, since the wizards' sanctum in the book itself is entirely bereft of taxidermied reptiles.
  • The Voodoo Lady in The Curse of Monkey Island has a stuffed alligator whose tongue you have to pull to summon her.
  • Mentioned in Book 1 of The Bartimaeus Trilogy in the description of the magician Arthur Underwood's study. Bart notes that this is a good indication that Underwood is distinctly second rate and trying to hide it; truly powerful magicians favor a sleek, modern look.
  • Call of Cthulhu campaign The Fungi from Yuggoth, adventure "The Thing in the Well". Dr. Cornwallis has a stuffed alligator hanging by wires from the ceiling of his alchemical laboratory.
  • In "One Good Knight" (from the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey), one character comments that the Tradition requires Acadian magicians to have a stuffed crocodile hanging from their rafters. Which makes one wonder how Solon managed to hide the fact that he's a magician...

Rolling Updates
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • March 3, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    Real Life: The Mayoral building in Nimes has four stuffed crocodiles hanging from the ceiling (the chained crocodile is the symbol of the city).
  • March 3, 2011
    PaulA
    ^ I assume it's not a wizard's workshop, though? Unless civic politics is very different in Nimes from the way it is here.
  • March 3, 2011
    UnicornBlood
    In "Despicable Me", Gru's couch is a taxidermied Crocodile/Alligator
  • March 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Not related to Ceiling Cling (which, if you combine the two titles, makes a very interesting mental picture).

    Maybe just Stuffed Croc?
  • March 6, 2011
    Puck
    Mentioned in Book 1 of The Bartimaeus Trilogy in the description of the magician Arthur Underwood's study. Bart notes that this is a good indication that Underwood is distinctly second rate and trying to hide it; truly powerful magicians favor a sleek, modern look.
  • March 7, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Call Of Cthulhu campaign The Fungi from Yuggoth, adventure "The Thing in the Well". Dr. Cornwallis has a stuffed alligator hanging by wires from the ceiling of his alchemical laboratory.
  • March 7, 2011
    Antigone3
    In "One Good Knight" (from the 500 Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey), one character comments that the Tradition requires Acadian magicians to have a stuffed crocodile hanging from their rafters. Which makes one wonder how Solon managed to hide the fact that he's a magician....
  • May 7, 2011
    PaulA
    I think we're good for examples, but is the proposed title all right?
  • May 7, 2011
    Stratadrake
    No, title is not alright. I don't know about you, but to me it implies a live crocodile doing a Ceiling Cling.
  • May 7, 2011
    jaytee
    I think we can do better on title and we obviously need a better description.
  • May 8, 2011
    Arivne
  • May 19, 2011
    TBeholder
    Crocodile Stuffed Under Ceiling?
  • May 19, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    Does the giant croc clock from Hook count?
  • May 19, 2011
    Ryuuma
    ^ Its not hanging to something, he's just standing here. Until the end, that's it.
  • May 19, 2011
    TooBah
  • May 19, 2011
    TTurtle
    How about Suspended Stuffed Crocodile? It's a bit long, but it gets the image across.
  • May 19, 2011
    peccantis
    I see no problem with Ceiling Crocodile. It's clear and concise. Or do we have a notable number of people who thought it meant a live croc?
  • May 19, 2011
    jaytee
    ^It fails to point out the context of the trope.

    What about Apothecary Alligator?
  • May 19, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    If I may be a pain in the ass for a moment - what is the narrative significance of stuffed crocs hanging to the lair's ceiling?

    It seems a little Chairs to me. But something as simple as "it makes the owner look Bad Ass" would mitigate that a little - Needs A Better Description.
  • May 19, 2011
    jaytee
    ^From the examples that are popping up, it seems like this is a pretty stock item in the Mad Scientist/alchemist/apothecary/wizard type lair. No idea where the trend came from, but it definitely seems like a tropeable trend - it's linked with a very specific type of character at the very least.

    I only mention this because my first instinct was to call chairs as well. But you're absolutely right, this Needs A Better Description before it launches. I think it counts as Up For Grabs though, since the OP hasn't been back in almost two weeks.
  • May 19, 2011
    EzzyAlpha
    Could I suggest Decorative Alligator or such? It doesn't seem to be limited to the ceiling exactly.
  • May 19, 2011
    Riddlewizard
    Decorative Alligator sounds good to me, when I read Ceiling Alligator, I immediately thought of an crocodile doing a ceiling crawl like a gecko. Perhaps Stuffed Monster Animal? But with Ginsengaddict pointing out the Hook's Croc Clock (I couldn't resist) the definition could be changed. ANY bad guy base or scary old house seems to have a taxidermied scary animal. Crocodiles, bears, gorillas, wolves, lions, owls (The huge unblinking owl eyes that seemingly follow you around the room, admit it, that's freaky) Bonus points if the person stumbles into it in the dark, shines their flashlight on it, screams and runs away. Double bonus points if a lightning strike outside the window lights up the room so it can be seen.
  • May 19, 2011
    PaulA
    Riddlewizard, I'd say you have a good trope there, but it isn't this trope. I encourage you to create your own YKTTW discussion for it.

  • May 19, 2011
    PaulA
    jaytee, I've been here the whole time, I just haven't had anything to say. If I could think of a better title or description, I'd have said so.

    Actually, I like Apothecary Alligator. It's still snappy, and it brings in the key point that this isn't just any stuffed reptile, but specifically stuffed reptiles as decoration for mysterious old beardy people in robes.
  • May 19, 2011
    PaulA
    ...or would Alchemist's Alligator be better? It's more alliterative, but somehow it feels less descriptive.
  • May 19, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    As a standard stock feature of the Wise Wizards Lair? Yeah, I'd be ok with that.

    Might as well create a separate page for that, just so you don't have to use Mad Science Lab.
  • May 20, 2011
    Riddlewizard
    @ Paul A Should I? I've put up three things already, two failed, and one looks like it's about to fail. I was just about to say "screw it" and just stick to editing and suggesting examples in YKTTW.

  • May 20, 2011
    jaytee
    ^The worst that can happen is that it won't get made into a page. Can't hurt to throw it up and get a discussion going.

    ^^Do we not have anything for a wizard's lair? Like a pre-science Mad Science Lab? That could be worth auditioning as well.

    ^^^I could go either way, I like both. If we wanted to make your suggestion more descriptive, we could do Alchemists Alligator Above, but that might be stretching things too much for AAA.
  • May 20, 2011
    tyg13

    Not so sure if she had a stuffed alligator in any of the previous games...
  • May 31, 2011
    TBeholder
    See also Witch Doctor

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=fejclazbj4s82or5fakjmrrr