Ironic Fear

"A pegasus who's afraid of heights. Huh. What's up with that?"

This is when a character has an overwhelming fear of something that someone of their kind just shouldn't be afraid of. For example, a bird who's afraid of heights or a mermaid who's afraid of water.

Often, they get an episode or subplot dedicated to resolving this fear. Almost always Played for Laughs, although there will often be a dramatic moment where they are forced to confront said fear.

These can often be considered Absurd Phobias. May be part of a "What Do They Fear?" Episode. Compare Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?, in which the thing that the character fears pops up at an unexpected and inconvenient moment, rather than being something that constantly confronts them. If a character is afraid of something they are, they're a Boomerang Bigot. If they become the thing that they fear, it's a Karmic Transformation.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tokyo Mew Mew features the hydrophobic character with water (and swimming) related powers variant.
  • Brook in One Piece is an undead skeleton who is afraid of ghosts and zombies.
  • Tsunade from Naruto, a legendary ninja who is said to be the world's most talented healer, is afraid of blood.
  • Sound Stage M4 of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise reveals that Shamal, the Knight of the Lake, is afraid of swimming.
  • In one of the Johto episodes of Pokémon, Misty is excited to meet the Nurse Joy who comes from a line of Joys who specialize in treating Water Pokémon... only to discover that this Joy is afraid to even touch Water Pokémon because she hates them so much. Needless to say, as Misty is a Water type specialist, she is not happy in the least.
    • Misty herself used to be afraid of Gyarados until she retook her Gym Leader position — normally justified, but given she tends to love all Water Types (notably Tentacruel)...
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma saved the clones of the Sisters Network from being brutally killed in an experiment. Later, a new type of clone was created: WORST, who runs on the negative emotions of the Network. Apparently, none of the nearly ten thousand clones have any negative feelings for Touma at all, so WORST is genuinely freaked out by him. The real irony is that this is probably one of the only emotions she can truly call her own.
  • ˝ Prince has Doll, a little girl necromancer, who gets scared of the undead she herself summons.
  • Water-elemental user Yako of Yurara is afraid of water. Specifically, bodies of water large enough to swim (and drown) in.
  • Chika from Neko Musume Michikusa Nikki is terrified of ghosts and spirit. Not only is one of her friends a cat yokai, but a kitsune is in love with her, and she winds up being pestered by the town's yokai who want help.

    Fanfic 
  • In the The Dark Eye fanfic Fünfzig Schattierungen ... ("Fifty Shades ..."), one of the characters is a necromancer who is afraid of the dead. Talk about irony. He's scared in the dark, to the point that he can't go outside alone at night. And yes, it's a parody on Fifty Shades of Grey, and makes about as much sense.

    Films — Animation 
  • Blue of Rio is a macaw with a fear of flying.
  • The polar bears Muk and Luk in Balto are afraid to go in the water. They mention that it's the reason they are shunned by the other polar bears.
  • Dusty from Planes has a fear of heights, despite being, well, a plane.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Movie of The A-Team explains B.A Baracus's fear of flying using this. After his first experience with Murdock's piloting skills, he was so scared he could not stand flying anymore, despite being in a occupation where jumping from a plane is an occasional must. He is not happy about it.
  • Bruce Wayne from The Dark Knight trilogy. His deepest fear? Bats. Or at least it was for the first half of Batman Begins. The same film gives us this exchange:
    Alfred: Why bats, Master Wayne?
    Bruce: Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread.

    Literature 
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Thalia Grace has a deathly fear of heights. Her father also happens to be Zeus, lord of the sky.
  • In Island Of The Aunts one of the titular aunts can't swim, and is afraid of water. She also lives on a tiny island. Somewhere in the middle of the book, another character points out the irony of this, and tries to teach her how to swim.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Clark Kent is afraid of heights.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a barber who hates hair, which explains why he only pretends to do his job. He never wanted to be a barber, anyway; he wanted to be a lumberjack!
  • Horatio Hornblower: Horatio is prone to sea-sickness and he is really afraid of heights. Excellent material for an officer in the Navy, isn't it? His fear of heights is referenced quite often, and he has to climb in the riggings or onto the fighting top several times when he has to deal with shortening sails and similar things. He's also shown trying to fight and overcome his fear voluntarily.
  • The resident Drill Sergeant Nasty in Get Some In!, Corporal Marsh, is almost paralytically afraid of flying - which is unfortunate for an NCO in the Royal Air Force.note  When he is forced to accompany the National Servicemen on a flight, he remains rigid with panic throughout, and begins babbling to one of the recruits that the pilot, a World War II veteran, has shrapnel in his head and is planning to fly straight into the Sun.

    Video Games 
  • Youmu from Touhou is a half-ghost who is afraid of, you guessed it, ghosts. Even more ironic in that her mistress is a ghost, and Youmu has never reacted to that. Youmu is not so much scared of real ghosts as much as she is afraid of ghost stories. Youmu isn't scared of much, but has trouble dealing with scary things. Imaginary horrors are her weakness: in one of the canon manga she fails a test of courage when she keeps fleeing hysterically from people in cheap halloween costumes, even though she was perfectly aware they were false.
  • Romeo, the sniper of the squad of Halo 3: ODST is implied to be afraid of heights.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, Gangrel mocking Emmeryn's Heroic Sacrifice of jumping off a cliff becomes this when his profile reveals he's afraid of heights.
  • Mini-Histoire/Histy in Hyperdimension Neptunia V is a fairy who can fly. She's also afraid of heights.
  • In the various Pokémon games, you occasionally encounter trainers in the Hiker class who are afraid of heights... on mountains.
  • In the Sonic Rush Series, it's shown that Blaze the Cat is afraid of heights. In gameplay, she has an acrobatic playstyle that lets her get lots of air time.
  • In Ittle Dew, the titan de Graphiques is a golem with tiny wings who is afraid of heights, but can't stop flying.

    Toys 
  • Tamaru from BIONICLE. He lives in a Tree Top Town and wants to be a pilot, but is afraid of heights.
  • Teslo from Mixels, being an Electroid, makes his home in the high mountains to gather electricity from the highest storms. He's also afraid of heights, while also being completely unaware that the other Electroids know this.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon Jake Long features a hydrophobic mermaid.
  • Ruby Gloom has a bat who's afraid of heights.
  • Extreme Ghostbusters had a "What Do They Fear?" Episode with a ghost who could make phobias come to life. Eduardo's fear was of death: ironic both because he was taunting Kylie earlier claiming she was afraid of death, and because he interacts with ghosts on a daily basis, so he knows there's an afterlife.
  • Fluttershy in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is afraid of... a lot of things, but the one that fits here is her fear of heights. She's a Pegasus.
    • Justified example. Her wings are much weaker than those of most pegasi, and she spent her childhood on a city in the sky.
  • Early in Season 2, Stella of Winx Club was shown to be afraid of heights, despite being a fairy. Later, she seemed to overcome it.
  • Transformers Generation 1
    • Silverbolt is afraid of heights, despite being a giant robot capable of transforming into a jet and being the leader of the Autobot's main air squadron, the Aerialbots. Despite this, he proves to be a level-headed, extremely qualified leader who always does his duty. It's specifically why Prime puts him in charge of the team. He says that the demands of the position will give him something to think about instead of his phobia. The fact that he has a sense of caution is also probably a plus, since the other four at that point were all extremely reckless.
    • Broadside of the same series gets it twice as bad. He's a triple changer with the vehicle modes of a jet and an aircraft carrier (yeah, yeah, we know), but he's both afraid of heights and gets the robotic equivalent of motion sickness at sea. Mocking his much unenviable lot in life is an infrequent joke among the fandom.
  • Blades, from Transformers Rescue Bots, is likewise afraid of heights despite turning into a helicopter. However, thanks to some Character Development over the course of the first season, he becomes better at dealing with it.
  • Billy Joe Cobra, the titular ghost in Dude, That's My Ghost! is afraid of ghosts, and spooky stuff in general.

    Real Life