[[quoteright:320:[[Film/MissionImpossible http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Mission-Impossible_-Aquarium-Scene_616.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:320:Smooth, Ethan. Real smooth.]]

In action movies, [[ChekhovsGun it has become almost mandatory that if an aquarium is shown at any point, the aquarium will inevitably be destroyed]], spilling the water and all the poor fish it contains out onto the floor. Sometimes this is the result of collateral damage, the fish tank was merely in the way, and sometimes the destruction of the tank is intentional, with the fish - always some deadly and often poisonous species - being used as weapons themselves.

Occasionally PlayedForLaughs in comedies. For the outdoor version, see BigDamPlot.


* Played for laughs in this [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK6usjZ-WcA Yellow Pages commercial.]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In an episode of ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' set at an aquarium, the Water card-spirit invades and causes just the sort of damage you'd expect.

* ComicBook/ThePunisher once had to deal with a druglord who kept a SharkPool with a big glass wall behind his desk. You have all of three guesses as to how the druglord, the glass and the shark ended up at the end of the story.

* Martin Riggs intentionally shoots the aquarium in the office of Arjen Rudd, Minister of Diplomatic Affairs for the South African Consulate, ''Film/LethalWeapon2''.
* Ethan Hunt blows up the floor-to-ceiling aquariums in a restaurant as cover for his escape in ''Film/MissionImpossible''.
* The destruction of a very large (and thus very expensive) aquarium is the driving force behind the plot of ''Film/DeuceBigalowMaleGigolo'', a rare comedy example.
* In the original ''Film/TotalRecall1990'', DiabolicalMastermind 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 without pressure suits.
** As well as a DescriptionCut to the people in the red light district who've had their air cut off for being members of LaResistance.
* ''Film/{{Octopussy}}''. Octopussy is shown feeding her poisonous blue-ring octopus early in the film. Later, the aquarium is destroyed when Film/JamesBond rams an assassin's head into it (and said assassin ends up with the octopus wrapped around his face).
** Done in ''Film/LicenceToKill'' in a scene appropriated from [[Literature/JamesBond the novel]] ''Literature/LiveAndLetDie'' which was too cool to not be filmed.
* In ''Film/{{Push}}'', the [[TheTriadsAndTheTongs Pop Family's]] first encounter with Nick and Cassie. The [[MakeMeWannaShout Bleeders' screams]] first make the fish ''inside'' the tanks burst, and then the tanks themselves explode.
* Happens in ''[[Film/RushHour Rush Hour 2]]''.
** And earlier, in ''Police Story 4: First Strike''.
* In the 2008 ''Film/SpeedRacer'' movie, the mob boss's piranha tank gets a single bullet hole, forcing one of the mobster underlings to sacrifice a finger to plug the hole.
* Several shots are enough to crack an aquarium at a zoo in ''Film/{{Eraser}}'', which then explodes, covering the bad guys with water… And alligators.
* Bizarrely ''averted'' in ''Film/{{Gigli}}'': a man is shot in the head with a large enough caliber gun to blow a chunk of brain out the back of his skull-- and the chunk of brain lands in the undamaged fishtank behind him, leading to a [[NauseaFuel lovely]] shot of fish nibbling at the thinkymeat.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Sing}}'', Buster equips the Moon Theater with a hastily built glass stage and fills it with bioluminescent squids to create a living light display. This becomes his downfall, for when the glass breaks, it floods the theater and [[spoiler:causes the already dilapidated building to colapse.]]

* Don't forget the aquarium with the huge Portuguese Man-of-War in ''[[Literature/AlexRider Stormbreaker]]''.
* Happens with some very large fish tanks when [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Harry]] [[DestructiveSavior Dresden]] gets into a fight with some Denarians at an aquarium in ''Literature/SmallFavor''.
* What did you think was going to happen in ''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus'' when you put Percy in an aquarium exhibit?
* Early on in [[Literature/{{Illuminatus}} The Illuminatus Trilogy]] an office building gets destroyed along with a whole shop full of rare fish.

* In ''Series/TheXFiles'', {{Agent Mulder}}'s fish tank never took any damage. The fish ''inside'' the tank, on the other hand...
** In another episode, a man who is drowned in his own fish tank reincarnates as a creepy, telekinetic little girl who, after taking revenge on her murderers, telekinetically shatters the same fish tank.
* This happened to Catherine Weaver's aquarium in ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles''. It also revealed that [[spoiler: her pet eel was a liquid metal construct, presumably a part of herself detached and used to keep an eye on her office when she wasn't there.]]
* A narcissistic killer on one of the ''Franchise/LawAndOrder'' programs poisoned his tank full of exotic saltwater fish when he fled his apartment, presumably so nobody else could ever enjoy having them.
* It was a very bad idea to even think of damaging Sipowicz's fish tank in the squad room of ''Series/NYPDBlue''. So you can imagine his reaction when it was summarily taken out by a stray bullet from a rampaging perp.
* ''Series/{{CSI NY}}'' had a guy who died when he fell into his aquarium, shattering it.
* ''Series/FallingSkies'' has an alien version: Ben shoots out a tank of PuppeteerParasite harnesses, causing the ExplodingFishTanks effect.
* ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark'': In The Tale of the Curious Camera, this happens to a fish tank when photographed with the titular camera.
* ''Series/TheDefenders2017'': During the fight in the Royal Dragon, automatic gunfire from one of the Hand's henchmen naturally destroys a fish tank.

* The music video for Stupify by Music/{{Disturbed}} has a recurring fish globe explode for no reason. Guitarist Dan Donegan mentions that they had a stunt-fish for different scenes.
* The music video for "21 Guns" by Music/GreenDay has one in it.

* The video game series, ''VideoGame/TheIncredibleMachine'', includes aquarium objects. With few exceptions, if any moving object (such as a cat or a tennis ball) just touches one, the aquarium will [[MadeOfExplodium explode spectacularly]].
* The intro of ''[[VideoGame/JakAndDaxter Jak X]]'' has Jak crashing through a fishtank with a car.
* The player can do that in the first ''VideoGame/SplinterCell''.
* In the [[{{Roofhopping}} Kowloon level]] of ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'', there is a room (apparently a kitchen) in one of the buildings, with 3 fishtanks. Considering the area is swarming with [[EliteMooks Spetsnaz]], it is extremely likely the at least 1 tank will be shattered in the fighting.
* ''VideoGame/{{Zork}} II'' hides a transparent object in a fish tank holding a sea serpent. The game makes sure you feel bad about the serpent dying in the open air once you break the tank.
* Occurs in ''VideoGame/EnslavedOdysseyToTheWest,'' and is actually used as symbolism/foreshadowing.
* Happens when you destroy ''the entire aquarium'' in ''[[VideoGame/TheSpellcastingSeries Spellcasting 301]]''.
* In ''VideoGame/SleepingDogs'' aquariums are one of the environmental hazards you can use to dispatch you enemies. After breaking one you can [[ImprobableWeaponUser pick up a fish and use it as a weapon.]]
* In one of the chapters in ''VideoGame/ProjectEden'', there is a floor to ceiling aquarium containing a handful of fish, blocking the characters' way and there is no way around it other than shooting it down. The low-polygon fish flop around on the floor for a while and can explode with a greenish spatter (like mutant enemies in the game) when shot.
* In the Citadel DLC for ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', a firefight breaks out at a sushi restaurant. Predictably, the fish tank does not survive the encounter. ''Nobody'' lets Shepard forget this:
-->'''Miranda''' "Oh, they shut down my favorite sushi place."\\
'''Shepard''': "That's... a shame."\\
'''Miranda''': "Shepard, you didn't..."\\
'''Shepard''': "I did. Fell right through the fish tank."\\
'''Miranda:''' "And how did you manage ''that?''"\\
'''Shepard:''' "It... exploded."
* While it doesn't happen in ''VideoGame/SonicColors'', one of Eggman's PA recordings has him strongly advise against this trope.
-->"Please avoid breaking the glass, as it is the only thing between you and ten million gallons of ''freezing wet death''."
* Happens during the shootout in [[spoiler:the Chinese]] restaurant in ''VideoGame/MafiaII''. The setup cutscene prominently features a large aquarium between the restaurant's entrance and main dining area. Before control has even been fully returned to the player, [[spoiler:the Triad]] gangsters have already completely wrecked it.

* In a ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'' on-line serial, Zaktan and the tank he's in are blown up by a sonic wave. He survives by [[WormThatWalks dispersing the creatures that make up his body into the air]].

* The comic version occurs in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Brother from the Same Planet" when Homer and Bart's 'bigger brother' Tom have a brawl in the aquarium. After the tank is shattered, they use the starfish as shuriken.