"Well you got your dead cat and you got your dead dog On a moonlit night you got your dead toad frog Got your dead rabbit and your dead raccoon the blood and the guts gonna make you swoon Dead skunk in the middle of the road and its stinking to high heaven"
— Loudon Wainwright III
You know what this is going to be about. Skunks stink. It's a known fact. What isn't so well known (at least among fiction creators) is why they smell. Some works portray it correctly, as a stream of stinky liquid coming out the butt. (The glands are very near the anus proper. Cats and dogs have the glands too, but for marking terrority.) Others show a cloud of gas coming out the butt, maybe accompanied by farting sounds. Sometimes the stuff comes out the tail, an example of Artistic License - Biology which can be less squicky than the former two. Perhaps unfairest of all, skunks are frequently shown as just plain stinky, 24/7!
That skunk spray smells rotten is Truth in Television; it can make a bear clear out! It's so vile, that it adheres to the clothing and hair of anyone within nose-shot. The spray is also very durable, getting even worse in water rather than washing off. And if you live in the country, you know when a skunk's been hit, even if it's a good mile away!
It should be noted that skunks have a limited amount of spray, and if they run out, it can take a couple of weeks for them to get it back. That's why they threaten you as much as they think they can get away with—"Stop or I'll shoot!" in animal form (which might explain the trouble MythBusters had acquiring some of the spray). Their distinctive coloration relates to this as well, serving as a warning signal to both humans and wildlife.
A common subversion of this trope, in works with Talking Animals, is for the skunk character to be upset for someone assuming it to be true (and may make it true in retaliation), or be grateful if they don't bring it up. Another common variant is to only have the skunk spray when startled, in place of a Jump Scare (and make it a Running Gag).
It is possible to remove the stink glands via surgery, and this is obviously standard for pet skunks. Still, having a skunk standing at your door might be better than a dog to deter potential thieves.
In Transformers: Car Robots (and its US counterpart Transformers: Robots In Disguise) one of the Destron/Predacons is a robotic skunk. Instead of spraying, his tail is a weapon that becomes a ponytail/hairwhip in robot mode.
The original version of the toy during the Transmetals II run of Beast Wars toys was even named "Stinkbomb."
In Stitch!, Hamsterviel sends sends a skunk-like alien to retrieve Mr. Stenchy for him, it's able to shoot powerful stink bombs from its fur instead of spraying. It turns out not only is she in love with Mr. Stenchy, her stench and his stench mix to form a delightful smell.
A boy and his hamster friend find out firsthand that when a skunk does a handstand, it's not to entertain, it's mostly to get BETTERAIM!
In this issue of World's Finest comics◊, a skunk sends Batman, Robin and Superman running for cover. This proves that human or superhuman, NOBODY wants to tangle with a skunk!
Getting Back on Your Hooves has Trixie working for Fluttershy. She ends up getting sprayed when her refusal to accept help when she can't figure out what animal is in a den results in her sticking her head in a skunk den. Next time we see her she's getting a tomato juice bath. Fluttershy apologizes for the skunk later, who apparently felt bad about it.
Later on Fluttershy's contribution to the defenses against Checker Monarch's efforts to ruin Trixie's charity show include a skunk hiding under the stage that sprays the Diamond Dog's when they try to sneak under it. According to Word of God, it was the same skunk. Later, during the final Battle in the Center of the Mind with Checker, Fluttershy finishes off the part of Checker's mind invading her dreams by turning into a skunk and spraying her in the face.
In Fatal Instinct, Ned Ravine gets his wife a pet skunk. She does not appreciate it.
Stella in Over the Hedge. '''Everyone in the log knows of her putrid "prowess". R.J's plan calls for her to "vamp" the cat guarding the house by pretending to be another cat so they can loot the house of food.
Stella: I got make-up on my BUTT! And you don't even want to know about the cork!
Upon entering the house trying to rescue her friends, Stella unleashes a massive explosion of her own natural "tear gas"! In the end, she falls in love with the cat because he's completely unable to smell.
In Snow Dogs, after going through the Humiliation Conga, and finding a car buried in the snow, hero is leading his sled dog team in training by towing it. Unfortunately, he doesn't find out about the stinky stowaway in the back seat until it was too late... the dog riding shotgun with him jumping out and running away should have been an indication.
In the live-action version of 101Dalmations, Cruella de Vil mistook a sleeping skunk for her black mink stole. When she and her fellow dog-nappers got arrested and put in the back of the paddy-wagon, the skunk wakes up, and EVERYONE gets sprayed!
In the movie Dirty Work, Chris Farley unleashes skunks inside of a crowded theater.
The Three Stooges get their hands in the fun, too. One of their shorts, I'm a Monkey's Uncle, where they are cavemen, they are using a gas bomb on rival cavemen. The bomb? A skunk.
In another episode, Back to the Woods, where the Three Stooges are Pilgrims, and get chased into a bush by an angry Indian… who then turns tail and runs along side with Moe, Larry and Curly, escaping from the skunk that was there!
And one episode, Ants in The Pantry, before it ended, Moe, Larry, and Curly are fox-hunting. Curly had a cold, and you can guess what he picked up... Moe and Larry fainted after looking in Curly's hunting bag... and the horse did, too! P-U!!!
In at least one of their Western shorts, Curly wears a Davy Crockett hat made out of a skunk pelt.
And don't think the Little Rascals didn't have their share of stinky encounters with skunks!
In the "Johnny Appleseed" segment of Melody Time, the first forest animal to interact with Johnny is a skunk. At first it gets angry when Johnny accidentally hurts it, and gets ready to spray, but then Johnny strokes its back and calms it down, which convinces the other animals that the stranger is friendly.
In Animorphs, the skunk morph is pretty much used in the same way as a nuclear bomb: Only in times of dire need. The human controllers know to run for their poor little lives, but the Hork-Bajir and so on just laugh derisively at the silly little creature — at first.
In one notable example Visser 3 gets sprayed and they trick him into thinking it's grape juice that gets rid of the stench. Not only does it not work it turns him purple.
In Winterdance, the protagonist's first two lessons learned in the field: Don't grab a skunk by the tail and pull; Don't kick a skunk, either. On the other hand, the skunk's smell didn't turn off his dogs.
In Nighty Nightmare, book 4 of the Bunnicula series, at the end of the book Bud and Spud have bought their mother a pet skunk for Mother's Day.
In Hatchet, Brian, the protagonist, provokes a skunk that is eating his turtle eggs and he's sprayed at point blank range. He expects it to just be smelly, because he's smelled dead skunks on the road before, but he temporarily loses his vision and ends up writhing on the ground and retching half the night.
In Brian's Winter a skunk takes up residence beside his shelter, and at first he's annoyed, but after he royally pisses off a bear, the skunk ends up spraying the bear and saving Brian's life. He even names her Betty, after his aunt.
In the furry-populated world of Spellsinger, intelligent skunks make up the police force, using their spray (which is apparently even worse than that of our world's skunks) to disperse crowds and subdue criminals.
The Mythbusters actually had extreme difficulty getting sprayed by a skunk for their tests of skunk scent removal. They ended up having to use vials of imitation skunk scent.
Actually, they soon realized that the imitation skunk scent didn't persist for very long, and so had to continue their efforts to get the real thing. After trying with three different skunks, they eventually managed to get one to spray by cornering it in a restroom. Particularly hilarious since, at least once, the handlers that brought the skunks in assured the Mythbusters that they would most likely spray immediately.
In an episode of Jackass, Johnny Knoxville gets sprayed repeatedly while releasing a skunk from a live-animal capture trap... and once he gets it out, the skunk sprays him one LAST time before escaping!
In a Quantum Leap episode where he leaps into a con escaping from a Chain Gang, he and his co-escapee anger a skunk on purpose, so as to get sprayed to confuse The Hounds.
The late great Billy Mays sets up one of these in his Pitchmen reality show to set up an ad for an odour remover. He'd been a bit of a Jerk Ass before the shoot, so the crew play a little prank on him. There's two skunks, one crankier than the other, but both disarmed. They say the cranky one's fully armed. He ends up reluctant...
While averted in Chouriki Sentai Ohranger, where Bara Skunk, which could spray a gas the reverted the Ohrangers to normal instead of smelling bad, it's played straight in Power Rangers Zeo. Bara Skunk's counterpart, Stenchy sprayed a terrible smelling gas from his mouth or tail that stuck to its victims.
On The Most Extreme, the skunk became the Most Extreme Stinker in the episode of the same name.
Dirty Jobs had Mike tangling with skunks on at least two occasions. For the first, he was an animal control officer and had to wrangle a skunk in a live trap. It must've been quite the cranky skunk (or just plain scared), as it sprayed him almost on sight, not bothering with the usual foot-stomping theatrics. For the second, he had to inspect and clean out crawl spaces, and declared that dead, decaying skunks smelled even worse than live ones.
In one episode of Big Time Rush, Gustavo is mailed a skunk by his archrival Hawk and spends much of the episode attempting to get rid of it with no luck (though he doesn't end up getting sprayed ether). The boys finally return and capture it easily (apparently this is a common occurence back home). Gustavo, seeking revenge, has the boys plant it in Hawk's car and he ends up getting skunked.
This line from “I’m Glad That I’m Bugs Bunny” (1950) touched on one:
Suppose I was a smelly skunk, I wouldn’t have a friend
I’d be alone excepting for a cent I couldn’t spend
One of these showed up to bully Dilbert in a few strips, coercing him to get him food lest he get scared and hose the place.
Skunk: Now I'm scared you won't sing the songs from Cats while I eat.
A Far Side cartoon showed a Skunk stink-gland removal surgery in the midst of going wrong. "You fool! You've armed the thing! It's gonna blow!"
There's also "Skunkers" who is always quick to point out that she isn't an example.
One of Skeletor's minions in the Masters of the Universe toyline was a skunk-man named Stinkor. He, that is, the toy itself, smelled of patchouli.
Skuntank's cry in the Pokémon games is a farting sound. Also, it can spray from its tail tip and the spray is highly combustible, letting it use Flamethrower, and it violently explodes a cloud of musk if you knock it out. Its pre-evolution, Stunky, has a face that looks like a rump, has about the same traits as Skuntank except it sprays from the proper place and has a punny name that seems to deliberately invoke this trope. Both also resemble cats to some degree, probably a play on the other name for skunks, Polecats.
One of their abilities (besides the obvious "Stench"), Aftermath, is based on the other annoying aspects of skunks, of the roadkill variety. They explode when hit, releasing all their musk in one shot. Thus why it can stink for days afterwards.
A whole game was built around this, Punky Skunk for the PlayStation, a Platformer in which your main offensive weapon was your spray. It was trying to ride the Totally Radical wave.
Humorously, they only bothered to add the Totally Radical aspects to the back of the box. The game itself was pretty much left alone, save Kuri/Punky's name.
The Sims 1 and 2 both had skunks that could show up in the neighborhood and spray Sims and Pets. One was named Pierre LeStank.
The Skunk from the Worms series, once deployed, will walk around and, after a few seconds, spray toxic fumes which poison nearby worms.
The Stenches from Crash Of The Titans and Crash Mind Over Mutant are a mix of this, some sort of bird, and in Mind Over Mutant, an astronaut. It is worth noting that in Crash Of The Titans their stink projectiles are fired from their tail, while in Mind Over Mutant their regular stink projectile is fired from a gun that they wield and their special attack is fired from their... yeah.
In Crash Of The Titans, they are somewhat known for tormenting innocent animals, especially smaller ones, with their offensive body odor. One of which sadistically killed a baby fox, or at least knocked it out, with flatulence during the Stench's introductory cutscene, and laughing afterward.
In Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, one of the ammo types you can get are Stunkz, which are basically tiny skunks that, when fired, release a cloud of gas which makes all enemies that are caught in it vomit, and you can capture the enemies while they lose their lunch. You can even capture bosses alive instantly with this if you have lightning fast reflexes and capture them the instant they start vomiting. Later, you get Spark Stunkz, which suck enemies in rather than make them vomit.
Aimee Mouffette from Monsterful is an averted version of the trope. She's a werewolf that had her inner Wolf exchanged with a Skunk (Were-Skunk in a way), instead of a bad smell she produces a delicious floral scent.
Another skunk in the cast is Zig-Zag, a porn star both in-universe and out.
Isolde from Ozy and Millie hams up the failure of the presidential campaign she ran for Llewellyn, citing that there was a stench in the air. Ozy reminds her that it's just Emily, a neighbourhood kid. "I get that a lot." (DC Simpson noted how popular Emily ended up with some fans, despite having an entire two panels to herself in the strip's run.) Other skunks who show up generally don't have their smell commented on.
In the comic Gene Catlow, a bear named Eubie is hunted by a hired-thug ram. The ram not only gets doused with paint, but after Eubie escapes under a hedge, the ram accidentally grabs one of three skunks in the hedge… by the tail.BIG MISTAKE.◊
Kevin & Kell has them show up every so often; Kell's boss RL and Kevin's ex-wife Angelique are the proud (adoptive) parents of twenty of them, no thanks to a no-account father skunk who left them with her. Fenton was changing the little skunks in one strip, causing him to practice his evasion against multiple rounds of stinky anti-aircraft fire. And one strip shows a deer citing a lion that he has pepper spray. Cue Pepper◊, a skunk.
However, in one episode Disco Bear is trying to make a move on her, and the scene cuts to him getting hit by a spray coming from offscreen. It is never specified whether it was pepper spray or her skunk spray.
Disney loved the idea of fox hunters seemingly capturing a fox inside a hollow log, then pulling out a skunk instead. Variations of this gag end all three of the studio's fox hunting cartoons.
In The Fox Chase (1928), Oswald the Lucky Rabbit flushes the skunk out of the log. Oswald and his hounds flee into the distance—and then we see that the "skunk" is really the fox in disguise.
In The Fox Hunt (1931), a generic hunter (this is a Silly Symphony) pulls the skunk out of the log without noticing that it's not the fox. Other hunters, their horses and hounds flee into the distance. The generic hunter realizes the truth, flees as well — and then we see the skunk and the fox shaking hands.
In The Fox Hunt (1938), Donald Duck pulls the skunk out of the log without noticing that it's not the fox. Other hunters (including Mickey, Minnie, Horace Horsecollar, and Clara Cluck), their horses and hounds flee into the distance. Donald slowly realizes the truth, tries to calm the skunk—then flees as well.
Skunk stink was of course the entire point of almost every Pepe LePew Looney Tunes short.
In one Pepe Le Pew cartoon, Pepe becomes aware of his own odor problem when he looks up the word that everyone says in his presence — "Pew!" — and is quite horrified by what he discovers. Pepe immediately goes to Henri's Deodorizing Service, and goes into a vat filled with chlorophyll. His girlfriend, however, runs straight into one of the vats in Pierre's Limburger Cheese Company.Hilarity Ensues.
The cartoon "Odor of the Day" features a skunk who may or may not be Pepe (most likely it's his American cousin). Unlike Pepe, he uses his odor defensively, shooting it out of his tail like a machine gun.
Fifi La Fume of Tiny Toon Adventures is a blatant Distaff Counterpart to Pepe, but seems to be able to control her odor a lot better than Pepe does. Also a bit of a subversion in other reasons as she doesn't stink any time except when she's chasing someone or when she intentionally uses it herself.
In an episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, two of the main characters adopted a baby skunk. Hilarity Ensues. Later it's turned into a bionic skunk that not only shoots stink but missiles fro… yeah.
Worth noting is this is mostly played realistically, with him only spraying if scared or threatened and his parents spraying to protect him, otherwise he smells perfectly normal.
In one episode of Beethoven The Animated Series, Beethoven is in a tracking competition with another dog. The other dog purposefully insults a skunk, making it mad enough to spray, and uses this to mask his trail.
The eponymous character of Skunk Fu! uses the "Farting Skunk" type.
Worth noting is Skunk can't spray of his own free will, only if he's embarressed or startled.
Phineas and Ferb: In his youth, Dr. Doofenshmirtz aspired to be a stage magician, but all his tricks inexplicably ended with him getting sprayed by a skunk.
The bear in Open Season is told to stand his ground—unless it's a skunk. He gets sprayed shortly after that tidbit was given.
The Tex Avery cartoon Little 'Tinker stars a cute little skunk named B.O. Skunk who can't get dates because of his smell. He gets some help from Cupid — but not before he puts on a gas mask first!
No doubt Avery was parodying the earlier MGM short "Poor Little Me", in which a boy skunk can't make friends with the other woodland creatures, until he meets a girl bunny with a cold.
A skunk forces Emma out of her initial staff dorm in Stoked, driving her to bunk with Fin and Lo. Lo pets a skunk in episode two, thinking it's a kitty.
In the Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats episode "Be Prepared", the titular tomcat lures an egotistical Boy Scout leader to a bush where a nest of skunks are sleeping. The scoutmaster looks into the bush (just as Heathcliff drops a firecracker!), waking the skunks up, giving the scoutmaster a full blast into his face!
In the episode, "Riff Raff the Gourmet", Riff Raff is competing against Pierre, a cat who is a French chef and a French Jerk. Riff Raff is busy fishing on a pier, but Pierre hooks Riff Raff's line to a cage with a skunk inside of it...
Riff Raff: Got one! (Reels in his catch.) *GULP!* Just my luck... a lousy skunk!
(The skunk glares at him angrily.)
Riff Raff: OH NO! Sorry, pal! I...
In Strawberry Shortcake — Pets on Parade, it's implied that the reason a little skunk named Soufflé doesn't have any friends is out of fear of this trope; all the people he's ever met panicked when they saw him. He isn't depicted as smelling bad at all in the story.
This is the backstory for "Stinkbomb" in an Animaniacs episode. He was shown chasing Slappy Squirrel into a cave. Not knowing, he lit a match to find it was a den of skunks. After he'd grabbed and threatened one. Green smoke gushes out of the cave as a result.
Elmer Fudd found himself snagging a skunk instead of Bugs Bunny in A Wild Hare. "Well… confidentially… you know…" Elmer winces, sets the skunk down carefully, tries to lower his tail, and hopes for the best as he gently shoos him away.
Plus, in the episode where they play at being superheroes - "The Mega-Diaper Babies" - Chuckie is "Stinkie" ("with the stench of two babies!") and wears a skunk costume. He is NOT happy about it. At least until he's the one to beat the bad guy.
Baby Fozzie: Hey Kermit... how printing a newspaper joke on the front page?
Baby Kermit: Huh?
Baby Fozzie: Like this one: "What's black and white and red all over?"
Baby Kermit: Aw, gee, Fozzie... Everyone knows that joke.
Baby Fozzie: They do?
Baby Kermit: Uh-huh. Newspapers are black and white and read (red) all over!
Baby Fozzie: Gosh! That wasn't the joke I was thinking of! I thought what was "black and white and red all over" was skunk covered in strawberry jam! Hee-hee-hee!
(Cut to a live-action clip of a skunk turning to its "firing position".)
(A hissing noise is heard, meaning the skunk just sprayed Fozzie.)
Baby Fozzie (holding his nose): PHEW! I'd rather be hit by a tomato any day!
And a tomato splatters on Baby Fozzie's face immediately afterwards!!
In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), one of Skeletor's proposed servants was a skunk man named Stinkor, whose power was the ability to generate stench. The cartoon's creators thought the idea was stupid, so he never appeared in the cartoon and barely in the expanded universe. He did, however, get a book about him. As the book read, Stinkor was the lowest ranked in Skeletor's entire army, and he was hated so much for smelling bad that Skeletor actually fired him. Then it turned out that his stench sapped He-Man's strength.
Stinkor was also included in the 2002 cartoon, and got an entire episode devoted to showing how badass he was. His stench is so powerful, it can melt rock.
In fact, despite failing, Stinkor performed so well that, as opposed to the book, he was hired by Skeletor and the only member of the villain's henchman that were not punished that episode; Stinkor seems to be the only henchman that Skeletor actually likes/
In an episode of Dora the Explorer, Dora and Boots come across a skunk, and, wisely, decide to leave it alone. Swiper shows up and tries to use a grabbing device he made to steal from them, only to 'swipe' the skunk instead. While he doesn't get sprayed, the smell of it is enough to scare him off.
Another time a skunk appeared was in the World Adventure special, where Swiper's French counterpart, Fifi (no, no, not THAT Fifi). No comment is made on her smelling bad, they simply don't want her 'swiping' from them.
An episode of Kim Possible had a skunk-based villain named White Stripe, whose suit let him spray like a real skunk, only the stench could knock out most people instantly.
In an episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, a monster named Stinkweed ends up having a skunk attracted to him due to his nasty smell!
This trope was actually inverted in Ace Ventura: The Animated Series where Ace must save a little boy's pet skunk from an evil businessman. The parents allowed their son to keep the skunk because they knew that as long as it wasn't scared, it didn't release it's stinky artillery. This becomes a major factor in defeating the bad guy who was keeping a bunch of skunks captive.
Done in a realistic fashion in Hey Arnold! where Gerald runs right into a skunk resting on a tree trunk and spooks into spraying a concentrated liquid in his face before running off. However, instead of a normally light spray (as it can still be smelled for half a mile), it's a full blast!
In Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico, on their way to Mexico, the gang run across a skunk in the middle of the road. They promptly stop and jump to the top of a billboard to get away from it. It laughed at them for it.
In one of the mid-episode segments on Martha Speaks, Martha is demostraiting things that are pleasant and unpleasant and on of the unpleasant things is getting sprayed by a skunk.
The ironically-named Flower from Bambi. However, he didn't spray in the first film. He did, however, in the second ultimately using it to scare off a dog chasing Bambi.
In the first season of Total Drama Island, a family of skunks appear on several occasions, including a few challenges. Bridgette's first elimination is in part the result of getting sprayed by them.
In Back at the Barnyard, Pig has a pet skunk, Skunky, but he'll only spray Duke. Even the Duke imposter is safe.
In the British preschool quiz show Kerwhizz, one of the regular features is "Hunt the Skunk", in which the teams have to guess where King Pong the skunk is hiding. King Pong's appearance is always heralded by a stinky green miasma. Occasionally averted when King Pong is replaced by Queen Pong or Princess Pong, who smell very nice and produce a fragrant pink vapour instead.
Tootles from Peter Pan wears a skunk suit as clothing.
Subverted in Franklin with Skunk, who doesn't stink and is actually quite happy when people don't make jokes about it.
The episode of Stanley called "PU Pup" dealt with skunks. However, while the skunk did spray his dog, the point of the episode is actually Stanley discovering that skunks spray to defend themselves and don't stink themselves.
On Regular Show, Rigby gets sprayed by a were-skunk, and if he doesn't find a way to clean the smell off, he will turn into one.
In Wonder Pets episode "The Wonder Pets Save The Skunk", Ollie, a rabbit who forced himself on the team for the episode, tries to save the title animal himself, ignoring warnings that scaring it would get him sprayed. Guess what happens to him?
An installment of the "X-Presidents" cartoon on Robert Simgel's "TV Funhouse" shorts on Saturday Night Live had the heroes teaming up with some popular cartoon characters to make updated versions of the notoriously politically incorrect Wartime Cartoons of the 1940s in which a stereotypically ugly Dirty Foreigner would get harassed and humiliated. Two of these cartoons ended with a snarky skunk showing up out of nowhere, pointing at the foreigner, and groaning "Pee-yew!"
In The Proud Family, after both of the Prouds' inlaws ended up leaving from the baptism due to inherent disagreements, Oscar is forced by Trudy to sleep in the tent (because Oscar arranged his cousin Ray-Ray to stay at their house due to wanting to hold off Trudy's relatives, there wasn't enough room in the house for Oscar, Trudy, or... well, the main occupants of the house to actually live in the house, so they were forced to set up a tent). It's raining that night. Oscar, desperately trying to make the best of the situation, tries to comfort himself by saying that its his tent as well, and that the black fluffy pillow is his. Unfortunately for him, said "black fluffy pillow" was actually a skunk that was sleeping in the tent.
A skunk is the titular character in the Barney Bear cartoon "The Unwelcome Guest".
Casper has the friendly little ghost befriend a lonely skunk whose odor has driven the other animals away. By the end, Casper's convinced them to play together, though the others are wearing clothspins on their noses.
On The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Operation: Plush", a jealous King Julien throws all the plush toys of Mort (which were selling better than his plush toys) into the skunk habitat so they would be recalled. On the episode "Out of the Groove", an equally jealous Julien throws skunks at the baboons after they get more attention than he does.
Pepper Clark from Littlest Pet Shop (2012) is a skunk. Unlike real skunks, Pepper is capable of producing a pleasant aroma when she is happy, however she still has the typical unpleasant aroma that she can use when she's nervous, upset or just needs a weapon for whatever reason.
The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Road Hog" has a skunk named Colonel Stench, who breeds flowers and has tried unsuccessfuly for years to make a perfume that would get rid of his stench. What he created instead was hypnotic flower pollen, which Robotnik stole from him and used to hypnotize the law into arresting him and Sonic.
Even a skunk whose spraying glands have been removed surgically can have an unattractive aroma, but it's more the smell of greasy fur than musk. Giving them a bath can help with that, unlike victims of a spraying.
In reality, this trope isn't limited to skunks. Opossums' scent glands emit a rotting stench they use to sell their "playing dead" defense, civets and genets have powerful musk glands, and most mustelids (weasels, badgers, otters, wolverines) smell fairly musky as well. Skunks, however, have the most powerful scent in comparison.
In Real Life, wild skunks are dangerous for a reason far more lethal than their smell: they, along with raccoons, are some of the most common carriers of rabies. If you have a pet skunk, vaccinate it! If you encounter skunks in the wild, stay away from them.
Owls subvert this trope's effects by having virtually no sense of smell, hence large owls have no problem eating a Smelly Skunk.