Created By: Jack Butler on July 11, 2009
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Exploding Fish Tanks

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A subtrope of Chekhov's Volcano. As it is with Volcanoes, Chekhov's Aquarium states that if an aquarium is shown at any point of time in a television episode or movie, that aquarium will invariably be destroyed as collateral damage in any way, shape, or form.

This trope typically only applies to action movies.

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Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • January 21, 2008
    BobbyG
    Depends on the genre. In an action movie, this is probably true; romantic comedies, not so much.
  • January 21, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    In comedies, the aquarium is just as likely to become part of a nondestructive gag: character loses something in the water, character must pick out a live lobster to be eaten, character overfeeds the fish (which somebody ought to combine with Weekend At Bernies once), character swims around in a really big aquarium, character is Zoidberg.
  • January 21, 2008
    Unknown Troper
  • January 21, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Somebody ought to take Chekhov's gun and put the poor bastard out of his misery. We ought to have some variation of Godwin's Law for him.
  • January 21, 2008
    adam850
    Agreed. However, this is a type of Chekhovs Gun.
  • January 21, 2008
    Fanra
    The aquarium in the office of Arjen Rudd, who is the minister of diplomatic affairs for the South African consulate in Lethal Weapon 2.
  • January 22, 2008
    foxley
    Deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo.
  • January 23, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    @ Unkown Troper - Chechovs Chekhov?
  • January 24, 2008
    Seanette
    In The X Files, Mulder's fishtank never took any damage. The fish were used as excuses a time or three, but the tank remained intact.
  • January 24, 2008
    Arivne
    In Total Recall, Diabolical Mastermind Vilos Cohaagen has an aquarium in his office. After he is forced to give the order to kill his brainwashed undercover best friend, he angrily kicks over the the aquarium. The shot of the fish gasping for air was a foreshadowing of the scene later in the movie where several characters are ejected onto the airless surface of Mars.
  • January 26, 2008
    SAMAS
  • July 9, 2009
    Jack Butler
    bump
  • July 9, 2009
    foxley
    Octopussy. Octopussy is shown feeding her poisonous blue-ring octopus early in the film. Later, the aquarium is destroyed when Bond rams an assassin's head into it (and said assassin ends up with the octopus wrapped around his face).
  • July 9, 2009
    Lord Aaronus
    There's been a few aquarium accidents in Americas Funniest Home Videos.
  • July 10, 2009
    Blackwell
    Don't forget the aquarium with the huge Portuguese Man-of-War in Stormbreaker.
  • July 10, 2009
    Lee M
    I suspect the idea of a huge fishtank getting shattered by one bullet is inaccurate because the glass would need to be really tough to hold the weight of all the water. Possibly a job for Myth Busters.
  • July 10, 2009
    Pinata
    Didn't this happen to Catherine Weaver's aquarium in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles?
  • July 10, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    A video guide called Videohound, which categorizes movies with a variety of idiosyncratic features, contains "Exploding Fish Tanks" as one of these categories. Exploding Fish Tanks might be a good name, come to think of it.

    In an episode of Card Captor Sakura set at an aquarium, the Water card-spirit invades and causes just the sort of damage you'd expect.
  • July 10, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    How has nobody mentioned the Portuguese Man O'War tank in Stormbreaker yet?
  • July 10, 2009
    Pinata
    Actually, Blackwell did mention it.
  • July 10, 2009
    Jack Butler
    In Push the telekinetic first makes the fish inside the tanks burst, and then the tanks themselves explode.
  • July 11, 2009
    Vekter
    I'm changing the name to Chekhov's Aquarium.

    Happens in Rush Hour 2, if I recall correctly.
  • July 11, 2009
    Jack Butler
    And I'm changing it back, thanks.
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