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[-[[caption-width-right:300:Dear Strong Bad, how do you make shadow puppets with boxing gloves on?\\
Anything but Crapfully yours, Wiki/TVTropes.]]-]

Shadow puppets are a fun manipulation of light, shadow, and one's body parts (generally hands) to create images that are unexpected given the standard human body design. However interesting they are, there's only a limited number of times you can show "doggy, [[Literature/{{Discworld}} deformed rabbit]], [[ShapedLikeItself hand-shaped cactus]]" before it gets old.

Not with this trope.

With Impossible Shadow Puppets, a character makes a shadow of something else that is clearly not possible to create using only one's hands or body, or a normal sillhouette. For maximum effect, this is usually preceded by several more plausible shadows.

Compare ScaryShadowFakeout.



* A commercial for Nationwide Insurance has the Nationwide sales rep doing shadow puppets to illustrate the company's policies to a client. The shadows become more and more improbable, even adding a third hand... at the end of the commercial the insurance agent is shown having three arms.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* A chapter opening image early in the ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple'' manga shows Shigure doing a shadow puppet of Apachai (who will be starting his tutoring of Kenichi in said chapter) against a spotlight to scare Kenichi... And her hands look like she's just doing a dog or something.
* Inverted in ''Manga/OnePiece'': Gekko Moria's Shadow Revolution allows him to manipulate shadows into any shape and, with it, the shadow's caster, as demonstrated when he turned the giant Oars into a RubberMan and a giant ball.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* At the end of ''WesternAnimation/DespicableMe'', one of the Minions makes a perfect shadow puppet of Gru.
* In ''Disney/{{Mulan}},'' Cri-Kee makes a little shadow puppet of Mushu -- especially impressive since he doesn't have fingers.
* During the "B-Movie" musical number in ''WesternAnimation/TheBraveLittleToaster'', one appliance stands in front of a light and casts a shadow that quickly [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=nOeK0Ig-H9g#t=105s falls apart and becomes a flock of bats]], leaving behind ''no shadow at all''.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/KillerKlownsFromOuterSpace'', one of the Klowns makes hand shadows that come to life and kill a group of people waiting for a bus.
* During the theater takeover in ''Film/Gremlins2TheNewBatch'', one of the gremlins manages to create UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln with shadow puppets.
* ''Film/AustinPowers'':
** In ''Film/AustinPowersTheSpyWhoShaggedMe'', guards see what seems to be Felicity Shagwell [[AssShove removing various different objects out of Austin's ass]]. It's actually a bag on a table next to Austin, who's hunched over a map.
** In ''Film/AustinPowersInGoldmember'', a {{mook|s}} believes he is seeing an impossible silhouette of a man with a small arm for a penis, who shakes hands with it and bites it before giving birth. It turns out to be Austin, Mini-Me, some tubing and an apple.
* A trailer for ''Film/MouseHunt'' has the Mouse making shadow-puppets, one of which is the [=DreamWorks=] logo.

* In ''Discworld/MovingPictures'', Victor's uncle does (so he claims) "Lord Henry Skipps and his men versus the trolls at the battle of Pseudopolis" and mopes when nobody can guess it.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The "Family Values" episode of ''Series/PennAndTellerBullshit'' starts with Teller doing shadow puppets on a wall. The last one is a shadow of a traditional American family, complete with two parents, two kids, and a dog.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' has the cast (in one of J.D.'s {{Imagine Spot}}s) create an impressive naval battle out of shadow puppets.
** Complete with a small human shape running along a ship, with visible tiny arms and legs, and at one point a giant alligator ("battleships are ''boring''!")
* One video from ''Series/AmericasFunniestHomeVideos'' once had a woman doing some impressive puppets, a dove, a peace sign, the Seattle skyline, and a 1980s Mustang. [[spoiler:It was an illusion; the shadows were done using props by an off camera puppeteer.]]
* One episode of ''Series/BarneyAndHisFtiends'' has Barney making a very realistic shadow puppet of a dog, despite the fact that, being a T. rex, he has only two fingers on each hand.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* In ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', Calvin makes a shadow puppet which looks like, as Hobbes calls it, "a bug-eyed tentacled thing." Turns out it's the real thing, to the [[HorrorStruck duo's horror]].
* Subverted in ''ComicStrip/TheBroons''. The family have just watched a home movie and the children want to make shadow puppets in the light from the projector. The final shadow puppet is a remarkably realistic cat, which turns out to be made by a real cat that has just stolen the salmon that they were about to have for lunch.
%%* A character in a newspaper strip published on September 24, 2014 pulled this off, making a large suspension bridge. Gimme a few days to find out what the strip's name was.

* In ''VideoGame/MortalKombat3'', [[BruceLeeClone Liu Kang's]] {{F|inishingMove}}riendship has him make hand shadows of [[SigilSpam the Mortal Kombat dragon logo]].
* At the end of ''VideoGame/Rayman3HoodlumHavoc'', Rayman's hands wander off while he's sleeping. They do some of these for a Red Lum [[spoiler: scaring it into becoming Andre]]!
* In ''VideoGame/TheCurseOfMonkeyIsland'', Guybrush holds Murray in front of a lamp, first making a realistic (and not at all scary) shadow puppet, then adjusting his hands to produce a surprisingly realistic-looking [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3OT-ppvii4 winged demon]].

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Strong Bad in the ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' episode "[[http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail155.html theme song]]" makes a "Trogdor" shadow that breathes fire. Wearing gloves ''without fingers''.

* Jason Love's Snapshots: [[http://www.jasonlove.com/cartoons/00290-daily-cartoons-shadow-puppets.gif Jimmy is pretty good at it.]] Or pretty tasty.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Near the end of ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' episode "The Pest", Billy uses makes elaborate finger puppets with his FingerlessHands to explain why he was bullying Anais.
* Sid the Squid in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' once makes a squid shadow on the wall, using just his fingers.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'''s AnimatedAdaptation of ''ComicBook/EmperorJoker'', at the beginning of "[[VillainSong Where's the Fun in That?]]", a Bat-Signal appears, and suddenly a silhouette of the monstrous Joker devours the bat shape and sings, "WheresTheFunInThat" before the scene moves to the Joker on top of the beacon, using his fingers to mimic his monster form the whole time while he sings.
* ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'': Courage sometimes does this; one episode even has a LivingShadow that "projects" itself to scare him.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'', Edd manages to create a highly detailed skeleton-creature shadow (and in one commercial, the Creator/CartoonNetwork logo) with just his two hands. [[AchievementsInIgnorance Ed]] manages to invert the trope; no matter what pose he puts his two hands into in front of the light, it just looks like his hand.
-->'''Ed:''' I think it's broken, guys.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' had Bender use his hands to make a Professor Farnsworth shadow puppet convincing enough to fool a sniper. Talented, but not that much of a stretch. He ''then'' used his ''circular feet'' to make shadow puppets of himself and Fry to match it.
* Done on ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes'', when Jimmy needs to fight boredom.
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'':
** The short "One Meat Brawl" ends with what looks like a ShadowDiscretionShot of a big fight, but turns out to be the characters using shadow puppets.
--->'''WesternAnimation/PorkyPig:''' "That way, no one gets hurt."
** WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck manages to create a group of dancing chorus girls in the WarTimeCartoon ''WesternAnimation/DaffyTheCommando'', with only eight fingers!
* This was also used in the ''WesternAnimation/MrBogus'' episode "[[Recap/MrBogusS2E5BadLuckBogus Bad Luck Bogus]]", while Bogus is trying to figure out the problem for the power failure caused by his [[EvilCounterpart evil lookalike]]. The shadow puppets that he makes are a parrot, a chicken and a horse.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** For the talent portion of the pet contest in "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E7MayTheBestPetWin May the Best Pet Win]]", one of the animals decided to do shadow puppets, ending with a figure of a galleon in full sail. For added hilarity, the animal that did it was a wasp.
** During the transitions from Rarity's storytelling to the actual animated story segments in "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS7E16CampfireTales Campfire Tales]]", she uses her hooves to depict the form of the character Mistmane, creating a full silhouette a walking pony despite -- being a pony -- not having any fingers. Her first demonstration takes the form of [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS7E10ARoyalProblem Twilight as a ballerina]], the shadow even ''detaching'' itself from her offscreen hooves in a dancing leap.
* This is one of the more benign skills of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz on ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb''.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife'', Mr. Bighead does shadow puppets of the Thinker statue, a running deer and the Eiffel Tower. Much to his frustration, everyone else is way off on their guesses as to what he's making.
* ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'':
** In one episode, Shaggy and Scooby entertain themselves by making shadow puppets, and the last one is the MonsterOfTheWeek.
** In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheNewScoobyDooMovies'', Don Adams is making and identifying shadow puppets of various insects as exterminator training for Shaggy and Scooby. When the last one appears:
--->'''Shaggy:''' What's that?
--->'''Don:''' I don't know. I'm not making it.
** Similarly, an episode of ''WesternAnimation/WhatsNewScoobyDoo'' showed that Scooby is skilled at making shadow puppets. At one point, he makes WesternAnimation/BugsBunny, a dragon and UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln's head.
* Happens more than once on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.
** In one episode, Lisa ''subconsciously'' makes a hand shadow of a California condor.
** As part of a VillainSong in which he made full shadow impressions of various villains, Mr. Burns did hand shadows of [[Theatre/{{Othello}} Iago,]] [[ComicBook/{{Batman}} The Joker,]] [[Literature/HarryPotter Voldemort]] and John [=McEnroe=] "on center court", even making the [=McEnroe=] shadow throw his racket and throw a tantrum.
* In ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' episode "Historical Friction", Jamie somehow managed to make a dolphin and a frowning face with both of his hands.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSuperHeroSquadShow'', Thor, stranded on the far side of the galaxy, decides to practice his shadow puppetry. He starts with a rabbit ("Fluffy"), a detailed wolf ("Fenrir") and concludes with an impossible dragon ("Fáfnir"). Having mastered shadow puppetry in seven seconds Thor then goes mad with boredom.
* ''WesternAnimation/TitanMaximum'': "Bunny, horsey, ducky, 10-speed bike, Music/EddieVanHalen, Titanic, Titanic sinking, scene from ''Film/{{Titanic|1997}}'' where Leo drew Kate."
* Buzz Lightyear does this in the ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'' ''[[WesternAnimation/PixarShorts Treat]]'' "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXLNBM-iWwA Shadow Play]]".
* ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTalesInTheHouse'': In "Sorry, We're Closed Today", Junior and Laura, and then Ichabeezer, make shadow puppets on the walls in Pa Grape's store. Probably the most impossible example of all, since '''''none of them have hands!'''''