"Eeeeeegh, a needle! N-noo! Get me outta here! GET ME OUTTA HERE!! Please, I'd much rather be sick than get a needle!!"
— Goku, Dragon Ball Z, after discovering a syringe in the medical supplies of Frieza's ship when Vegeta, Krillin, and Gohan were taking him to get healed after a battle.
You're tough. Tougher than tough. You're Made of Iron! What's more, nothing, and we mean nothing can surprise you or unsettle your Stoic countenance. Except for injections, that is. Those make you scream like a little girl and hide behind your love interest. Trypanophobia, the fear of injections and hypodermic needles, is a recognized disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the psychiatrist's bible) which is estimated to afflict up to 10% of adults.
For some reason, the Fatal Flaw of many a badass is fear of hypodermic needles and antiseptics. Not knives, not absurdly large guns, not even Snakes! There's just something deliciously ironic about a Big Damn Hero who routinely gets cut up with huge knives, beat to within an inch of his life and without giving up, becoming squirmy and panicky when his lady friend comes over with a simple syringe and sanitary cotton to clean his wounds. It seems most any non-battle pain can cripple this dude. It's certainly a "clever" way to bring a Badass Longcoat into a less Marty Stu-ish territory, and is a very humanizing flaw to have. In extreme cases, expect fainting — even if the needle isn't going into him!
Mind you, this isn't always played for comedy. Someone who's had bad experiences with needles, such as someone who suffered horribly at the hands of people Playing with Syringes, is likely to have very understandable reasons for wigging out when one is in their presence, especially in a medical or scientific setting.
Even the Fearless Fool can fear needles.
This can help make the pain of the fight more recognizable. Few viewers will have been riddled with bullets or been hit by a speeding motorcycle, but most will have had antiseptic rubbed on a wound or a bandage removed, and know how much that hurt.
This is a common enough fear among many people, and a particularly fun example of Truth in Television. It may be related to the fact that while combat injuries and the resulting pain are usually suppressed by adrenaline, the pain that comes along with tearing off bandages, or putting peroxide into wounds is not.
A subset of Fatal Flaw. See also Afraid of Doctors.
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Anime and Manga
Rose of Versailles: Oscar — a woman who regularly gets into bar fights, duels, etc., and who towards the end happily storms the Bastille whilst suffering from terminal tuberculosis - bursts into floods of tears after scratching her hand on a broken violin string.
Dragon Ball Z: Only in the anime, Goku (a guy who has been through Heaven and Hell - literally - and fought titans capable of laying waste to planets and come out victorious) is screaming in fear when the doctor is giving him a shot while in the hospital. The second time he goes into panic when he sees a syringe among a pile of medical equipment, much to the embarrassment of his son Gohan and his friend Krillin, and the annoyance of Vegeta. This happens three more times in Dragon Ball GT.
Mamoru of Sailor Moon comments on this jokingly to Ami, one of the few personal quirks we ever learn about him.
Edward Elric from the 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist acts like an adult, but betrays his young age when he has to be restrained to have an injection. This is the child, who, after performing an unholy ritual and losing a limb, does it again, even offering his heart to bring back his brother... Then, when being fitted for automail to replace the arm and leg and having things connected to his nerves, didn't cry once. Mustang commented he had seen grown men break down crying from this process.
A creepy example is Cowboy Bebop 's Pierrot Le Fou, an insanely violent assassin who is impervious to guns - and yet, when he gets hit with a small knife, he starts bawling his eyes out. This event reveals his true nature. The stab was bad enough to fully justify his collapsing and screaming. Flailing around and calling for mommy, not so much.
His suit deflected bullets flying at him before they could even touch him, which probably meant he doesn't feel any pain from them at all. The knife actually penetrated the force field, which meant it really did hurt, and was possibly the first instance of pain he's felt since his 'conditioning'. More of a fear of pain, then a fear of needles.
Ranma ˝: In one episode, Ranma crash-lands in front of the Cat Cafe after another trip to sub-orbit, and a kindly wandering salesman, who had originally intended to sell to the Amazons (currently out on business) tends to his scrapes with disinfectant. This leads to the Made of Iron martial artist hissing and wincing in pain, leading to the page quote. Somewhat disconcerting, given the sort of abuse Ranma has stoically endured in the series—and while he has complained at medical treatment before, that's been due to the treatment itself being painful (Tofu brutally snapping Ranma's joints back into place and proper rotation, being burned with the counter-moxibustion, etc).
Not only is he afraid of needles, but Yogi from Karneval utterly fears being anywhere near Doctor Akari, which provides humor for the readers insofar (though there could be more to it). Gareki is probably correct to guess that it's the after-effect of a traumatic surgery done or headed by said doctor.
Jigen of Lupin III isn't afraid of getting a shot, but he hates going to the dentist. Given that he's once been attacked by a venomous snake, and also had a car crash into the dentist's room with him, it may be justified.
In the first episode of City Hunter, Ryo Saiba is confronted by a bad guy who responds to his gun by pointing out the crowded street through the window behind him, saying the gun's too powerful and if Ryo shoots him he'll also hit someone in the crowd. Ryo fires, and when the falling bad guy reveals an undamaged window, Ryo casually explains that he slowed the bullet by shooting through his own hand. He casually walks out of the restaurant, and after a brief shot of him grasping his wounded hand and screaming there's a cut to him sobbing like a baby while his partner is disinfecting and bandaging his hand up.
Excel from Excel♥Saga is mortally afraid of needles in the manga due to some forgotten trauma. She manages taking anesthetic needle while visiting a dentist though, since she considered it a lesser evil compared to the drill.
Justified in Mahou Sensei Negima!, where several characters are utterly terrified of a hypodermic needle containing a powerup drug... because the point of the needle in question is 1.8 centimeters across and is delivered in the butt. Most of them will probably fit this trope quite comfortably for the rest of their lives after that one.
Possibly Keiichi from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. When he's hallucinating from Hinamizawa syndrome he thinks there's needles in the ohagi and that a marker as an injection needle. Hinamizawa syndrome makes you hallucinate some of the things you're most afraid of. So it would make sense.
It's actually explained that when he was younger, Keiichi saw a movie where a guy was killed when he swallowed needles that had been hidden in his food. The scene freaked him out to the point he's since had an irrational fear of finding needles in his food.
Mr Kiasu: Kiasu's boss, Saboh Singh, is an almost fearless man even during his Reservist NS training exercises. He has only one fatal flaw - the fear of needles.
Lanfeust: Hebus is a nine-foot-tall troll. He gets pierced by arrows, sliced by swords and axes and burned by magic nearly on a daily basis. He has such a fear of needles that his reaction when faced with a deadly illness was to take a butcher knife, cut his leg and say "It has to go in the blood, right? Then pour it there, that's better!".
Beast Boy from the Doom Patrol and later Teen Titans has this problem. Thankfully, his powers give him universal immunity, but that doesn't stop the writers from forcing him to take shots anyway.
Escape from New York: No less a badass than Snake Plissken remarks that he "doesn't like needles". When you say it in his voice, it's still cool.
Saw II: Slightly subverted in the "needle pit" scene. There's a trap with a key to a door. The resident jerkass tosses Amanda into a trap set for himself: A pit filled with dirty syringes. Though shocked at first, she rises to the occasion and gets the key out of the trap as everyone else looks on in cowardly fear and revulsion.
Also she was a recovering drug addict, which made it much scarier for her.
In Love at First Bite, Dr. Rosenberg isn't afraid of Dracula or gangbangers, yet he freaks out when he's bundled into an ambulance and about to be injected with a sedative. "Get the air bubbles out!"
In the movie Help! starring The Beatles, Ringo had to get an injection and was noticeably scared through the entire ordeal. At one point he even claimed to be "allergic to penicillin and all them other wonder drugs." George immediately passes out at the sight of the needle in question.
Nine Months: Robin Williams does a turn as a Russian-American obstetrician. "That is vhy vomen haf de babies, you know? Because men couldn't handle the p—-" (nurse holds up huge needle) "aaaaaahhh" *faints*.
Sleeper: Woody Allen's character, examined after being revived from cryogenic sleep 200 years in the future, is approached by a technician with a huge hypodermic...he stares in horror as the man walks by him to inject a potted plant, and promptly blacks out. Allen plays an anti-badass - he claims he was beaten up by Quakers.
Alanna from the Song of the Lioness Quartet receives any number of battle wounds and continues to fight back. But when she has her ears pierced, she faints.
The protagonist of Larry Niven's A World Out Of Time died of cancer before the book begins (he got better). He reflects on how that experience cured him of any fear of needles.
In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Guns Of Tanith, Gaunt arranges to have his shot before his men rather than in his cabin to set a good example; Dorden says they've had a few shirkers.
They'll bayonet anything, but the sight of a needle —
In Arthur C. Clarke's novel A Fall of Moondust, the passengers of a buried moon rover are sedated to conserve oxygen until rescue can arrive. One passenger has to be physically knocked out to bypass his fear of needles which was hypnotically imposed as a cure for drug addiction.
As a thirteen-year old noncombatant, Tash Arranda from Galaxy of Fear is not terribly badass, but she's still been through a lot of traumatic things. And she still gets anxious and shudders when she sees her brother being injected. He's fine with the things, himself.
In Doom, Fly can blast his way through alien monsters and swim through toxic goo with few reservations. He needs to work up the nerve to give himself injections and fight off the excuses not to.
In John Hemry's Burden of Proof, Santiago bravely fights the fire in the compartment, even when the heat gets through her suit and "broils" her arm. After, Paul has to order her to get treatment, and she begs — she doesn't need a shot, does she?
Adrian Monk is afraid of close to everything, but needles are very high. In fact, needles are second only to germs on his list (yes he has a list of 312 fears and phobias; he's afraid of not having lists).
In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", a roadie named Greg Murray, nickname "Stork", is found dead in a port-a-potty, by Monk and Natalie (not their fault, as they are walking by the port-a-potty when a repairman pries open the door). Shortly thereafter, Natalie is calming Monk down when they are approached by Stork's girlfriend Kendra Frank:
Kendra Frank: Excuse me! Excuse me! I—I heard some cops talking back there. They said you're some kind of detective?
Adrian Monk: That's true, I am "some kind of detective"....
Kendra Frank: Hi, I'm Kendra Frank. I'm a roadie with Trafalgar. [She shakes hands with Monk]
Adrian Monk:[hands Kendra a wipe] Now, here.....
Kendra Frank: I was a friend of Stork's. [returns Monk's wipe] Here. [sighs] I was more than his friend. I was his sponsor at Narcotics Anonymous.
Natalie Teeger: Uh-huh, and, uh, Stork is?
Kendra Frank: The roadie! The roadie they just found!
Natalie Teeger: Oh! God, I'm so sorry.
Adrian Monk: "Stork"?
Kendra Frank: His real name was Greg Murray. Look, they're trying to say that he OD'd! Okay? That's impossible! He's been clean for 17 months! I know, I talked to him about it every day!
Natalie Teeger: Well, Kendra, we were there. We saw a needle in his arm.
Kendra Frank: No, that's how I know there's something wrong. Stork was completely phobic about needles. He was the only roadie I've ever met that didn't even have one tattoo! I mean he missed a whole South American tour last year because he wouldn't get vaccinated!
Natalie Teeger:[shrugs] Maybe he got over it.
Kendra Frank:[angrily] You don't just get over a phobia like that overnight!! Do you?!
Adrian Monk: No. [shakes his head] You don't.
Kendra Frank: So, please! [She holds up a Trafalgar "2001-2002 World Tour" jacket in her left hand]
Adrian Monk: Wha—What is this?
Kendra Frank: Well they gave me his stuff, so, uh, it's his tour jacket. [Monk and Natalie search Stork's pockets, and find a backstage pass and a map of the grounds]
Adrian Monk: Is this a map?
Natalie Teeger: Yeah I have one of those. They—they gave it out at the door. [Monk notices a circle around one tent with the number "7:30" underneath it. He looks up at Kendra]
Adrian Monk: You say he was afraid of needles?
Kendra Frank: Yeah, that's right.
Adrian Monk: He had an acupuncture appointment at 7:30 this morning.
Kendra Frank: What?! [Monk hands Kendra the map, and points it out. After a few seconds, she looks up and glares at him, an angry look on her face]
Also used as a plot point in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum," in what appeared to be a murder-suicide case: a junkie named Bill LaFrankie was hiding in the medical supply room after hours, then shot and killed the beloved director Dr. Conrad Gould when he came in while doing his rounds. He then used Dr. Gould's keys to break into a cabinet to steal some morphine. The police found him dead in the woods the next day, from a self-overdose. Monk however, finds that LaFrankie was the fall guy when he breaks into current director Dr. Morris Lancaster's office and finds LaFrankie's file, which shows that he was afraid of needles, not to mention that Dr. Gould's keys were still in his pocket in one crime scene photo.
At least twice on What's Happening!!!, when someone mentions "a needle" around Raj, Raj can only whimper a rough approximation of the question "A needle?"
Battlestar Galactica. In "Rapture", badass pilot Starbuck winces repeatedly as Dualla jabs her with morpha needles, despite already being in incredible pain from 2nd degree burns to both hands. As Starbuck was having an affair with her husband at the time, Dualla clearly wasn't trying to be gentle.
Oz: Neo-Nazi inmate Robson hates needles, so he insists on laughing gas while getting his receding gums replaced. This has serious consequences for him when he racially insults his Middle Eastern dentist while high; in revenge the dentist implants him with the gums of a black man, then lets everyone in prison know about it. After which needles become the least of Robson's worries.
"What is it with you Nazis and gas?"
Chuck: Chuck is terrified of needles. At one point he takes advantage of that fact to prolong/avoid torture.
In one episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the Monster of the Week catches Kimberly's flu bug. Although this creature isn't afraid to fight the Rangers, he shivers in fear when Finster offers to give him a vaccine with a needle. Luckily for the monster, Finster had a cure in a cold pill, instead, which he was coaxing his creation to take in the FIRST PLACE!
Will and Grace: Grace is so afraid of them that she can't even say "Ringo," because he was a Beatle and that sounds like "needle." Karen takes advantage of this fact when she finds out the other three are betting against her, and employs a ridiculously young and airheaded nurse to take Grace's blood ("don't worry, ma'am, I've done this bunches of times. Mostly on oranges, but...") Most decidedly a Crowning Moment of Funny.
On Friends, Phoebe and Rachel decide to get tattoos, but Phoebe backs out at the last moment when she realizes it's actually done with needles.
Rachel: You don't say! Because MINE was licked on by kittens!
Ross doesn't like needles either. In one episode, he has a severe allergic reaction to kiwi fruit and doesn't want to go to the hospital for a shot. He suggests that they could "take the needle and squirt it into my mouth, you know, like a squirt gun" instead. Monica says he can hold her hand while he gets the shot; he grips it so tightly that she ends up with a bone bruise and a puncture wound from her ring.
M*A*S*H: The jolly surgeons of the 4077 needed a rare blood type to save a man's life. They found the right donor, but he was terrified of needles. "I can't stand those things! They make me feel — oogy!" This shriveling coward's usual job? Bomb disposal.
Frank Burns is terrified of shots too, and has to be dragged to a blood drive. Of course, unlike the first example, Frank is very much a Miles Gloriosus.
In Sanctuary, Will's date can't stand needles, so she stays away while he's forced to function as doctor by their captors. Unfortunately, she still gets stuck by a different kind of needle, in an effort to get Will to work harder.
Early in Smallville, Clark uses this as an excuse to get out of a blood drive.
In Barney Miller, tough ex-Marine Wojohowicz is shown to be afraid of a flu shot.
Played with in an episode of Gilligan's Island in which the castaways all develop an allergy to Gilligan. The Professor develops an allergy shot for it, but the fear comes from the size of the "needle" on his handmade syringe. It's about the size of a small dagger.
One minor plot on an episode of NCIS is Abby convincing Team Gibbs to donate at a blood drive. Tony gives a slew of excuses before admitting that, ever since his stay in the hospital with the Plague, he's deathly afraid of needles. In the end, Abby finds a special volunteer who's specially trained in helping people with trypanophobia and Tony goes off to give blood.
Used as the punch line in one strip of Funky Winkerbean. The high school is doing vaccinations. A student with tons of tattoos and piercings faints at the sight of a needle, and the improbability of this is lampshaded by the nurse.
Parodied in Calvin and Hobbes. The doctor gets out various non-needle instruments (stethoscope, tongue depressor, etc.), with Calvin frantically yelling, "What is that?! Will it hurt?!" and the doctor saying no. Then the doctor gets out the device for looking into people's ears, Calvin says it again, and the doctor snarks:
Doctor: It's a cattle prod. It hurts a little less than a branding iron. (Calvin faints) Kids these days have no sense of humor.
Garfield has a Sunday strip where Garfield and Odie are at the vet to get shots. Garfield exaggerates the details, saying that the needles are massive, sharp, and terrifying, making Odie nervous. When his is done, it's Garfield's turn. The needle Liz carries under her arm for Garfield is massive, sharp, and terrifying.
Garfield:*completely deadpan look on his face* Inside, I'm screaming.
In ''Peanuts, Linus is not only afraid of getting shots, he's scared when he has to get a sliver taken out of his finger with a needle or tweezers. (For the latter, Charlie Brown gave some advice, telling him to pretend he was being tortured by pirates who wanted him to tell them where the gold was buried. After having his mother remove the sliver - indicated by an off-panel scream from Linus - he came back and said "I told them where the gold was buried!")
I Love Bees has Yasmine and all her wacky personas scared of needles after she's forced into surgery.
In one sketch, Bill Engvall recounts the time he went in for an acupuncture session to see if it would help him stop smoking. His first question to the acupuncturist was "Will it hurt?" Just as she tells him no, he hears a man in another room yelling in pain, an she says that the other man is "a big baby". His response? "I'm a big baby!"
Turns out he had reason to be afraid, as the acupuncturist accidentally left a needle in his head, which he didn't notice until he tried to take his hat off. On the flip side, the acupuncture worked.
In Metal Gear Solid 4, it is stated that resident Butt Monkey Johnny Sasaki has skipped out on mandatory shots due to his fear of needles. This leaves him with no nanomachines in his body, unlike every other soldier out there, and makes him immune whenever anybody futzes with the nanos. Although he's never shown being afraid of needles and only mentions it right in the middle of his Big Damn Heroes moment, this also explains the character's trademark chronic diarrhea; because he skipped out on the shots, he's also not immunized to any bugs that might be in the local water.
Prior to getting an injection to update his own nanos from Drebin, Snake resists, and Drebin asks if he is scared of needles. In this case, his fear, or rather hesitance, was justified, since the last time he received an injection before a mission, he got an unwanted gift: the FOXDIE virus. His gut instinct turns out to be correct, as Drebin also injected him with a new FOXDIE strain programmed to kill EVA/Big Mama, Ocelot, and Big Boss himself, but also serves as a blessing in disguise, as the new FOXDIE uproots and cancels out the original mutating strain and helps prevent Snake from becoming a walking biological weapon.
Montley from Valkyria Chronicles suffers from this, being afraid to the point that being close to a Lancer and their Lances causes him to hyperventilate and lose health.
In Tamagotchi Corner Shop 2, at the clinic, one of the phrases that Mrs. Frill says is "I should tell you, I dislike needles."
In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, if you go to the hospital later in the game and talk to the girl behind the counter, she teasingly offers to give everyone free flu shots. Cue the young Luke freaking out (though he does stay more composed than some of the examples on this page).
In Dead Space 2, the player must guide a needle into Isaac Clarke's pupil, in order to extract information from his brain. The needle begins to shake as you get closer to Isaac's soft, tender eye. Sounds bad? Try messing it up.
Mass Effect 3: Mordin claims this about Wrex when he's eager to leave his lab and donate tissue samples later. It may or may not be true, but either way it's hilarious. But when he finally gets around to it...
Also Shepard, if you recruit Dr. Michel instead of Dr. Chakwas.
Shepard: After Cerberus, I'm not much on medical exams... No needles, right?
Dr. Michel: You get shot twenty times a day and a little pinprick makes you nervous?
Subverted in one of the Least I Could Do: Beginnings comics, wherein a young Rayne goes to the doctor and recieves a shot without batting an eyelash. However, when the tongue depressors come out...
Invoked savagely in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures , as Dan is dragged into the pre-enrollment physical at the Succubus and Incubus Academy. The "needle" is also so comically oversized that the doc has to hoist it over his shoulder, and he's stroking it lovingly like an infant.
Abel: Dan here needs to take the placement test, but can you bypass the needle part? Dan: Needle pa— Doc: Abel, I'm hurt. My needles are the gentlest thing since jumper cables. Dan: (THUD)
It also leaves him as a deer in the headlights when charged by a Nidoran.
Pato from M9 Girls!, is shown in overt distress and covering her eyes when a blood sample is taken from her.
In Sunstone Cassie has never been fond of needles, it doesn't help that the poor girl's best friend is a tattoo artist and she just can't resist getting the most extravagant tattoo worthy of her personality.
I jump straight onto a thumbtack sticking up. I am terrified of needles. This was a very bad experience for me. If he (his roommate) had been there, he would have heard my wrath.
The title character of The Saga of Tuck also has a fear of needles. And doctors. And psychiatrists. And hospitals. Childhood asthma with recurrent bouts of pneumonia will do that to you.
In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "This Won't Hurt an Ed", Eddy learns that Kevin is afraid of needles and uses this to torment him by convincing everyone it's Booster Shot Day. Though by the end of the episode, Kevin overcomes his fear of needles and it turns out that Eddy has to get a shot, providing a very lulzworthy ending.
In an episode of Little Lulu, a Badass Biker has been trying to summon the courage to get a tattoo. Near the end of the episode, he observes kids and their mothers coming out of the tattoo parlour with (painted on) tattoos and nearly collapses on his bike with shame.
In the The Penguins of Madagascar episode Needle Point it reveals that the leader of the penguins is deathly afraid of shots. Even to the point that he almost had his team leave their home forever, then viciously fights them to get out of getting one. The other three even were afraid he might leave the zoo on his own and never return.
Batman: The Animated Series: Harley Quinn cries like a little girl when Poison Ivy gives her a shot in "Harley and Ivy" (which she needs to survive the toxic waste dump Ivy's is hiding out in). Harley even lampshades this by saying, "You'd think after hangin' out with Mistah J, I'd be used to a little pain."
In 6teen, Nikki at first believes Jonesy is this when he refuses to donate blood, makes excuses, and lies about it, but then she realizes that he's actually Afraid of Blood.
Jackie Chan Adventures: Jackie wouldn't let a dentist anesthetize him because of this trope until he saw the instrument that'd later be used to remove his bad tooth.
101 Dalmatians: The Series features Lucky doing everything he can to avoid getting a shot from the visiting veterinarian. This of course comes back to bite him when he comes down with the very unusual condition (pink spots, green fur, and an itchy and blue clown-like nose) that the shot would have prevented.
Tucker lists this as one of the reasons he hates hospitals.
One episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series has Sabrina have to go get treated for "Witch-itis" a disease that turns her tongue green and throws her magical powers out of whack. When she initially goes she gets scared off by the the doctor's supposed needle (it wasn't, it was just a watering can) and refuses to get treated because of it causing the symptoms to grow worse.
The Fairly Oddparents: Poof catches the "Chicken Poofs" in the episode of the same name (meaning he turns into a chicken and whatever he sneezes on does too). When taken to get treated, Poof runs at the first sight of the doctor taking a oversized needle out to give him the medicine, leading to the main cast chasing after him as he causes chaos with his disease. When they finally catch Poof, the doctor reveals the needle is actually a carrying case for the medicine and he could've just gave Poof a little sippy cup to cure him. Wanda is less then amused when she finds this out.
Jackie Chan. Terrified of needles. Yet he did all his own stunts for years. Cannot be insured due to the guarantee of injury during filming. The man has broken nigh every bone in his body, fractured his nose three (or more) times, has a hole in his skull, burned most of skin of his hand off, to count among others.
Al Capone was also afraid of needles. He had syphilis for most of his life (he "interviewed" many of his prostitutes), which could have been cured by a shot of penicillin, but instead suffered for years and eventually died of the disease because he refused to have an injection.