Guaranteed to send a character into a Slippery Skid, a Banana Peel is one of the most dangerous things you can encounter in a cartoon. Just stepping on one will inevitably lead to a pratfall or some variety of injury, often capped by a case of Circling Birdies.
The use of a banana peel as an injurious prop is actually alarmingly realistic and a reference to its ubiquity on the streets of American cities in the early part of the 20th Century. Refrigeration and shipping speed had combined to make bananas the most popular fruit in the country, and in that age before anti-littering laws, people would just eat the fruit and discard the peels wherever they were. As they rotted, the peels would become quite slippery and thus dangerous to tread upon. Banana peels were in fact responsible for a large number of accidents and injuries, including several severely broken legs that eventually had to be amputated, according to period sources. The problem grew so bad that modern urban street sanitation systems were invented mostly to deal with the peel; in New York City, the banana peel actually became something of a symbol of modern sanitation. This is also frequently homaged, just about anytime a cartoon character ends up crashing into a trash can, garbage truck, or any other public-sanitation device, he's likely to find himself having at least one banana peel stuck to him.
It has been claimed that the trope actually originated in the time before cars with combustion engines and electric trams, when almost all public transport was powered by horses. And the huge amount of horse manure that piled up in the streets became a serious slipping hazard. When film was invented, this was considered inappropriate to show, so the banana peel became a substitute.
Note, however, that the slippery banana peel trope is often used unrealistically — a fresh banana peel is hardly slippery at all. One episode of Jonathan Creek makes the point that you're more likely to slip on a dog turd. Even so, it is still not an inconsiderable risk — for example, in 2001 Great Britain recorded over 300 banana-related accidents, most of which were caused by slipping on a peel.
And the rest? Well...
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Anime & Manga
While Azumanga Daioh never showed a banana, much less a peel, Osaka mentions slipping on a banana peel as something she wants to try.
The Ouran High School Host Club anime uses banana peals as a running gag. At first the local Trickster Twins are seen eating them to set it up; then chimpanzees start appear out of nowhere right about the time the St. Lobelia Academy girls show up. Ten episodes in they stop trying to explain it, but the banana peels keep turning up anyway. This gag does not show up in the manga.
In an episode of Sgt. Frog, Giroro distracts Keroro with a banana peel. Keroro being the big show-off that he is, he can't resist stepping and slipping on the peel. Keroro's inability to resist slipping on banana peels becomes a minor Running Gag.
One strip has America tripping on one. He breaks his leg even though he landed on his face.
It also happens to South Italy (Romano) in an old strip when he tries to charge at Germany. He trips on the peel, but winds up with a skinned arm and forehead from landing on his face.
Happens in episode 7 of Season 2's Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu. Right after responding to a guy who sent him a text message about why he was so curious about peeping in the girl's bathroom, Akihisa sends a reply stating "Isn't it obvious? I like what I like." Unfortunately, he sent that message to one of the main girls of the show (so to her it would seem like a Love Confession from the Oblivious to Love character), and before he can correct his mistake, his friend Yuuji walks by to see what was wrong, and happens to slip on a banana peel. It causes him to slip, and he accidentally steps on Akihisa's cell phone before a reply can be made.
Features in the opening theme animation (and song) to Excel♥Saga.
Occurs in the beginning of the Eiken OVA, the male protagonist slipping on a banana peel for a Crash-Into Hello with the future love interest. More specifically, he ends up on top of her with both hands on her (enormous) breasts. (You can watch it on JesuOtaku's review.)
In the Pokémon episode "Beauty and the Beach" (initially banned in the West, and then aired with several edits), Meowth uses banana peels to slip up Bulbasaur and Misty, who are helping to serve customers at a restaurant.
In one episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Itoshiki talks about wanting to die a "celebrity death", which he initially means dying by something owned by a celebrity. One example is "slipping on a celebrity's banana peel", which is immediately followed by the Rim Shot sound.
It happens early on in Bakemonogatari, when the protagonist, Araragi, discovers Senjogahara's "condition"... Because she slipped on a banana peel and fell from the stairs into his arms. After their slightly later, slightly more traumatizing encounter, Araragi demands that Hanekawa never eat a banana in school, and if she does, to always throw it away properly.
In an episode of the anime adaptation of Kochikame, a banana on the subway platform tracks caused a train to derail with hilarity reaction.
Ranma from Ranma ½ slips on a banana peel, causing a chain reaction which results in the creation of a clone of his girl-side possessed by a ghost, stepping from a Magic Mirror. After much trouble, the twin (who wasn't so much evil than horny) is sealed again in the mirror, at which point Ranma slips on a banana peel in the exact same place, resulting in a clone of his male side.
In a variation, when Shouma from Mawaru-Penguindrum steps on a discarded bottle in episode 15, it has the same effect as if he had stepped on a banana peel.
A short comic bit at the end of V for Vendetta has V lock a guy out onto an 18 inch ledge, where the guy slips on one of these.
In the Marsupilami comic series, there is an evil businessman who wants to make profit out of banana plantations, and his henchmen try to find original product ideas. One suggests making lubricant out of the banana peels since its slippy factor would be of great advantage, but this idea is already heavily patented. Another henchman suggests making concrete out of the banana peels, but another one points out that the concrete would be very slippery.
In the comedy comic series Nabuchodinosaure, there is an episode where the title character has to outrun another dinosaur and is carrying a lot of bananas. Therefore, he throws the banana peels at his pursuer so he keeps on slipping. The end of the story is him being bloated up because he ate all the bananas that he peeled since he doesn't like wasting food.
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets has one villain set a banana peel as a trap for Tintin. Snowy takes notice and moves the banana peel right next to the man's foot, and he gets Hoisted by His Own Petard.
In Cigars of the Pharaoh, Tintin attempts to foil security guards with banana peels. He manages to foil two of them, but the third manages to turn the tables.
Issue number five of The Batman And Robin Adventures (a tie-in comic to Batman: The Animated Series) features the story "Second Banana", which begins with The Joker trying to beat a man to death with bananas ("Bananas are funny. Death by bananas is a positive riot."), complains how long it took for him to do so, and states that he'll bring plantains next time. Cue about ten or so pages of him trying to kill The Riddler, who had been declared smarter than he was. After an old bait-and-switch, he comes to kill Riddler for real... with plantains this time. The peel itself comes in at the very end, where The Joker, about to shoot Batman with a Hand Cannon, slips on it and falls, allowing the Caped Crusader to haul him back to Arkham.
A recent issue has The Joker facing off against the equally villainous Dr. Simon Hurt. He places a gun just out of his reach and they have a contest to see who can get to the gun first, but Hurt fails to notice the banana peel Joker had left on the stone steps; he ends up slipping on it and cracking open his skull, allowing The Joker to bury him alive.
Used in The Smurfs comic book story about Baby Smurf's paper dolls, who play that trick on a hapless Greedy Smurf carrying a dessert with him.
Subverted in another strip. It could be argued it's Double Subverted, though, because after Jon picks up the peel and comments on how lame an attempt it was, he then falls into a hole that Garfield sawed into the ground.
Anacleto agente secreto:
Played with in this Spanish strip: in one gag, the main character slips on a banana peel... in the middle of a frozen river in the South Pole.
Yet another strip shows the main character trying to infiltrate in one house by walking right up the façade. It works well, until he slips on a banana peel.
One Far Side comic features a penguin slipping on a banana peel in the middle of a vast plane of ice.
An old New Yorker cartoon by Charles Addams shows a banana peel lying innocently on a busy city sidewalk, cordoned off by "caution" signs.
There is a humorous full-page cartoon in a magazine showing a monkey skating in the jungle by having its feet in banana peels. It would be very hard for banana peels to slide on jungle soil, not to mention that the peels had the "non-slippery" part on the outside.
One of Makoto's pranks that he tries to pull on Yuuko in Canon In G is leaving a banana peel; she can't believe he actually thought she would fall for it.
Films — Animation
In The Wizard of Speed and Time (both the short and the feature), the title character, after a minute of running hyperfast across the world, encounters a banana peel that trips him up.
The Princess and the Frog gives an example of the real-life conditions causing this trope in the description. Tiana is negotiating a real estate deal with the Fenners, and the shorter of the two eats a banana peel and discards it carelessly on the ground. No-one slips on it, however.
Parodied in Flushed Away. The rats notice and carefully step around a banana peel despite it being bigger than they are. They fall on a pair of much smaller slugs later.
Played straight and subverted. In an early scene, the main character and his coach watch a women trip on a banana peel, they then cut to a shaolin temple where a monk trips, catches himself and procedes to jump across a field banana peels, landing on each one and using it as a jumping point.
There's a callback to this at the end of the movie, when a woman slips on a banana peel and catches herself spectacularly, starting a chain of scenes showing that now the main character and his girlfriend are now world-famous and have started a craze for learning amazing martial arts skills.
Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl subverts the banana peel joke as part of the "Custard Pie Lecture" sketch. Rather than slipping on the skin, Michael Palin picks it up and stuffs it down Terry Jones's overalls.
In Singin' in the Rain, Donald O'Connor sings that one of the ways to "Make 'em Laugh" is to slip on a banana peel.
In Woody Allen's Sleeper, the future has produced giant-sized bananas. Naturally, two characters have lots of trouble staying upright when the peels are left on the ground.
In the movie version of The Colour of Magic, the wizards try to kill Trymon by using a banana peel as a distraction so that he would die because of wet cement covering him; it fails. Later on, during the climactic battle atop the Tower of Art, Trymon slips on a banana peel and is hit by his own spell.
In the football game of Horse Feathers, one of Chico and Harpo's plays involves the use of banana peels for offensive blocking — but Harpo is enjoying it so much, he tosses one under teammate Zeppo, who is running with the ball.
In Billy Madison, a bus driver tosses a banana peel out of the window onto the highway. The banana peel slowly rots, forgotten, as the film goes on... until the end of the film when the Jerk Ass O'Doyle family's car drove onto and swirves around and ends up driving off the cliff.
One of Sam Boga's men slips on a large bunch of them in The Gods Must Be Crazy. It was pretty much inevitable, considering the guerrillas were camped out in a forest of banana trees.
Subverted in the French movie La vengeance du serpent à plumes. The protagonist is trailed by an assassin in the Parisian subway while eating a banana. You'd expect this trope to come into play, but the bad guy instead slips on a discarded metal can just as he's about to strike, and falls on his own blade. The clueless "hero" then discard the banana peel, which lands on the face of the dying assassin.
An especially goofy example occurs in the Bob Hope movie, The Son of Paleface, when he tosses out handfuls of banana peels to trip up Red Indians, who are pursuing his old car on horseback!
In the V for Vendetta movie, this is part of the Benny Hill-inspired skit on TV, with Gordon Dietrich (Stephen Fry) dropping a banana under the feet of the fake V, allowing the guards to catch him.
A very old joke:
Q: What do you call two banana peels? A: A pair of slippers!
Mentioned in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, when Nick Rostu stalls a mob by firing into the floor and making the first meter or two turn into slippery goo, so that they all fall in heaps and struggle in vain to stand.
An outtake in one of the Tough Magic books has the main character duelling a clown. Unsurprisingly, one of the tricks the clown pulls is making a banana peel field. Which he himself falls prey to.
Acme School of Stuff had a Radio Shack Armatron try inserting a VCR cassette. One instance had the robot slip on a peel.
In the pilot episode of Dead Like Me (called "Pilot"), George goes to collect a soul and the banana peel on the floor of the bank is the subject of debate, as she thinks she is Genre Savvy enough to know that this will be the cause of someone's death — and even after the bank is held hostage and shot up, she turns out to be right.
In episode "Cunning Stunts", Bill is seen throwing several banana peels on the floor just so he can slip all over them as part of his entry in the Eurovision Loony Contest. Graeme and Tim also slip all over the skins.
And a mimed banana peel causes a nasty accident in "Daylight Robbery on the Orient Express". It Makes Sense in Context (sort of).
An episode of Good Eats featuring bananas and plantains spoofed this multiple times.
The MythBusterstested this trope by building a field full of banana peels and running an obstacle course over it. For comparison, they also had a similar field coated in animal birthing lubricant (which Jamie happened to have in the shop). While the peels were definitely more slippery than solid ground, it was nowhere near as slick as the lubed ground and (assuming you know the peel is there) it was certainly not an automatic slip like you'd see in a cartoon.
In The Muppet Show this trope is in play when the Swedish Chef's demonstration of making a banana split by chopping a banana is continually interrupted by a Mexican musical conga line passing by at different times. At the end of his patience, he gets his revenge by throwing the peel on the floor and luring the conga line to make another pass and they all fall on their faces.
In a Sesame Street segment, Grover returns from Jordan with a basket of banana peels. As he dumps them on the ground, he calls out the viewer's expectations that he'll slip on them ("Comedy 101!") and vows that won't happen. He sitll manages anyhow.
The "Homebrewed" Falling Anvil discipline for Dungeons and Dragons version 3.0/3.5 contains three different maneuvers related to this, ranging from dropping a single banana peel near you from your hand, to causing banana peels to rain from the sky for thirty feet around you.
Is it a crime to tell him or is it a crime not to? Is it "you mustn't" or "you've got to?" Should you say, "Hey watch out for that banana peel, Bud," Or just remain silent, then laugh as he crashes with a thud?
The Mario Kart series features banana peels as an item; crashing into one causes you cart to spin out and possibly lose coins.
The PC racing game Crazyracing Kartrider also features a banana peel item.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl has banana peels as items, and also Diddy Kong can drop them any time. Oddly, they cause tripping just as effectively if you opt to throw them directly at your opponents instead of letting them step on them.
Pipo Monkeys from Ape Escape occasionally drop these.
In Kingdom of Loathing, if your character eats a banana and then continues adventuring in the same area, you will eventually trip over the peel. There is a trophy for doing this multiple times.
In the adventure game Gobliiins, one of the player characters can make a werewolf novelist laugh by intentionally slipping on a banana... just a banana.
Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon has Raidou slip on a peel early in the game while cornering a suspect with unbelievable luck. The banana peel is later used as the standard slip/tripping animation.
Um Jammer Lammy involves a banana peel accident. After Lammy gets her new guitar and dashes off, in her haste she slips on PJ Berri's banana peel and dies. This leads to performing concerts in Hell. The U.S. version, however, significantly alters the accident and the result location to a/an (presumably more humid) island.
There is a powerup called Banana Peel in Backyard Hockey which sends the opponent into a Slippery Skid, even though there is no actual banana peel in the powerup except for the icon.
Also, in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep during the Fruitball minigame, if your character gets hit by a bunch of bananas, banana peels will spead thoughout your side of the field. If you slip on one, your character is knocked out for several seconds.
During one phase of the final boss in Donkey Kong 64, you have to make him slip on giant banana peels. There are also parts earlier in the game where running over a banana peel results in slipping on it.
Water Warfare has banana peels as an item that make you slip if you run over them—rather difficult to distinguish from the pick-up-able item, too. Strangely, they make you unable to turn your head as well, which we're still working out.
Subverted in Sam & Max: Freelance Police Season 3: The Penal Zone. Max's psychic visions hint very heavily that a thrown-away banana peel is important, and that the heavy they're trying to dispose of ends up falling down a manhole. If the player opens the manhole and places the banana peel in front of it, the heavy comes over to tell them "no littering", and while he's distracted, Max runs up behind him and bangs two dustbin lids together, stunning the heavy into the hole.
Sam: Oldest trick in the book!
Luigi's Mansion has banana peels which can be sucked by your vacuum cleaner.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future features several maze puzzles based on the banana peel gag, usually triggered by Layton finding a discarded banana peel and expressing dismay at the careless littering.
Banana peels are one of Octodad's biggest obstacles. Slipping on one will cause Octodad to flop over completely, greatly increasing the chance of him knocking something over and causing a spike in his Suspicion meter if anyone is watching.
Referenced in Jardinains! and the sequel Jardinains 2! with the powerup that looks like a banana peel and makes all the nains slip and fall off their bricks. You can go on a mad nain-bouncing spree, but have to watch out for the flowerpots that the nains were holding and dropped when they fell.
Subverted in an episode of Happy Tree Friends. Lumpy notices he's about to step on one, and lifts his foot over it... only to see that the floor also has nails, a snake, spikes, a frayed cord and lava in various places. Then he falls over anyway back outside and onto a bike, breaking his spine.
One Funimation Update Quickie takes this to truly ridiculous extents in one of its funniest episodes by having a careless Scott drop a banana in frustration. Then, a man walking by who was a major character in the rest of the month's quickies slips on the banana, falls off the roof of the building from it, and dies. Turns out it was All Just a Dream... which in return was All Just a Dream Chris Sabat had before getting hired by Funimation.
Darkwing Duck villain Splatter Phoenix, who has the ability to call something into existence by painting it, made a banana peel for Darkwing to slip on, and bemoaned the necessity of painting such a mundane object.
Garfield engages in a little rapid-fire banana eating in order to slip up the "monster" he thinks have invaded his home. It is Jon, back from the store.
Happens in the Orson's Farm segment, where aliens arrive to steal away the Earth's comedy. The animals try everything to convince them otherwise by trying to make them laugh, such as jokes, slapstick humor, and a singing segment about the joys of humor, but nothing works. Finally, with their time almost up, Roy the rooster accidentally slips on a banana peel he threw away seconds ago, making the aliens burst with laughter.
It would be easier to list the Looney Tunes cartoons that don't use this trope than the ones that do. Still not a short list, though.
Kevin slips on a banana peel in the episode "See No Ed".
Kevin: Man, that's old.
And in the episode "If It Smells Like An Ed", after Jimmy successfully frames the Eds because Eddy gave him a wedgie, after the Eds are taken away by the Kankers, Jimmy walks away and slips on a banana peel.
Jimmy: Owie, Sarah!!
A subversion from Family Guy: After Cleveland found out Quagmire was sleeping with his wife, Mayor Adam West gives Quagmire a banana to protect him from an angry Cleveland, the implication being that Quagmire would use it to slip Cleveland up. When the big chase scene comes to use the fruit, Quagmire instead throws the entire banana at Cleveland. It does what it would do in real life.
Subverted in a "Behind the scenes" of the original Battlestar Galactica: we see a montage of clips of the Cylon actors falling over in the costumes in a variety of interesting ways, culminating with a lone Cylon taking his time to walk down a hallway towards a banana peel on the floor. Just as he's about to reach it he's hit by a wrecking ball and sent flying through the hull into space.
Played straight...er when Jesus slipped on a banana peel while walking on water.
Futurama. Fry gets tiny, tiny fruit as a gift. He throws a near-microscopic banana peel on the floor. Amy Wong slips and falls on it. Of course, Amy IS a klutz....
Inspector Gadget got turned into a cyborg super-investigator (sortof) after he seriously injured himself by... slipping on a banana peel. A surprisingly realistic depiction for a children's cartoon.
Metalocalypse: The band gets an in-house therapist who reinforces good behavior with banana stickers (the sort of thing one would reward to preschool kids) — when they have enough of him and give him his notice, he rushes them in a fit of rage, but slips on a banana sticker, and plummets out a window.
The Popeye cartoon "Be Kind to Aminals" has him squaring off with Bluto, who owns a produce cart pulled by a mistreated horse. A bunch of bananas gets thrown to the pavement, and things go naturally from there.
In the Eek! The Cat special "It's a Very Merry Eeks-mas", Santa Claus slips on a banana peel and gets severely injured after he complains about the mob of angry reindeer.
Zelda defeats a dragon this way (while Link is trying to defeat it) in the The Legend of Zelda episode "Kiss N'Tell".
Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: S.N.O.W.I.N.G.", Numbuh One throws some banana peels before a quadruped Humongous Mecha (straight out of The Empire Strikes Back). The mecha pilots burst into laughter at this sight, but then their vehicle steps on a peel in the snow... and it immediately topples to the side.
In Richard Scarry's Best Learning Songs Video Ever, Freddie Fox slips on one after his song about numbers. Epic Fail ensues.
In episode "Shiver Me Dodgers", incognito on a pirate spaceship, Dodgers slips on some banana peels on a staircase while trying to be "inconspicuous". He then angrily rants about how someone can be stupid enough to leaves banana peels on stair steps — to find out that the culprit is an enormous gorilla crewmate.
In "The Six Wazillion Dollar Duck", Dodgers' first test of his new cybernetic legs is to run at Super Speed over a treadmill while eating a banana... and he lets the peel slip under his feet, naturally causing a crash.
Skrawl uses this as a form of attack in ChalkZone. Snap laughs this off at first, saying it's one of the oldest gags ever, but he shortly falls for it just the same.
The Powerpuff Girls: In "City of Frownsville" , when Hal Larious (a.k.a. Lou Gubrious) slips on a banana peel dropped by Bubbles, it causes the then-crying populace of Townsville to start laughing again.
Used liberally in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Gorilla". Beast Boy (turned into a gorilla) throws them at Robin as a Running Gag. And Raven somehow slips on a peel while levitating above the ground.
In "Strange Things", a short from the What A Cartoon! Show series, the robot museum has on display "the most dangerous thing in the world", a banana peel. (At the end, the custodian decides to replace it with his assistant instead.)
A CGI ident for Nickelodeon's Nicktoons block had its orange blob mascot slip on one of these at the end.
The Magic School Bus: During the "Producer" segment at the end of "Plays Ball", the producer slips on a banana peel towards the end of the phone call that makes up the segment. Liz slips on the same banana peel shortly after that.
Bobby Leech did numerous death-defying stunts like swimming down Niagara in a barrel. One day he slipped on an orange peel, fell, broke his leg so badly it was amputated, and eventually died. Bananas and oranges: the difference between hilarity and gruesome, horrible death.
Guy Delisle tells in Shenzeng when he saw, in real life, a man slipping on a banana peel and he was surprised because it was just like in "comics".
Many marathons offer bananas to runners late in the race. Bananas are a tasty and digestible source of energy. And there's nothing like having dozens of discarded (and decaying) banana peels in the middle of a footrace.