Sticky Situation

This will end well.note 

"Now, that's what I call a sticky situation."
Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, South Park

A classic Comedy Trope: someone comes in contact with something sticky (flypaper, glue, gum, molasses, tape, tar, wallpaper paste, etc.) and Hilarity Ensues.

If it's not actually superglue, the substance tends to act as a far stronger adhesive than it is in reality. Compare Tongue on the Flagpole, where somebody licks something frozen...

If the character sheds footwear or other clothing to escape, this trope becomes Giving Them the Strip. If two characters get stuck to each other, it becomes a case of Chained Heat.

There's a wiki for this trope. It even has a list for the times that these happened in popular media.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Sailor Moon anime had several villains employ this as an attack, including one in the second season seemingly made of goo, Eudial in season 3, and the Amazoness Quartet in four. Strangely, they never seem to have trouble cleaning it out of their hair.
  • One Lupin III movie had the title character using a bazooka loaded with a sticky bomb to immobilize several pursuing ships (gluing them to each-other, not the water).
  • Ranma has a story where Principal Kunō tries to force the students to prostrate themselves before him. One of his tricks is to coat the floor with glue, leaving several of the cast stuck on their hands and knees. Ranma, rather than let himself be humiliated in such a way, rips the entire floor out of the ground.
  • The Tenchi Muyo! manga had a pair of alien criminals breaking into the Masaki houehold to steal a priceless artifact nobody knew was valuable, easily bypassing Washu's most ingenious security traps. When they try again the next day, she's augmented them with tiger pit traps, swinging spiked balls, and a floor coated in glue, none of which the pair had gadgets to deal with. This is all in the Masaki's living room.
  • Sakuramochi-nesan from Anpanman throws plain, uncoated mochi at her enemies. Thanks to having no coating, it's horribly sticky, sticking enemies (and sometimes others that attempt to copy her ability) to each other and gumming up Baikinman's robots. Since Sakuramochi-nesan's made out of mochi (and has very quick throwing reflexes), she can handle and launch it without any consequences.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Trapster, a.k.a. Paste Pot Pete centers his whole shtick around this trope. In one case he made a stairway out of glue to flee a building, daring Spider-Man to follow, who simply swung over the trap with his webbing.
    • Not learning from PPP's failure, Mr Stone, one half of a B-List merc team, tried to slow down the wall-crawler by using his Swiss Army Weapon to coat the entire floor in glue so as to give his life-draining partner Mr. Styx a chance to use his touch of death. Spider-Man easily leaped out of his boots onto the ceiling.
  • Astro City has an Expy of the Trapster called Glue Gun.
  • Proving there's more than one way to take a girl out, Green Arrow's first use of his glue arrow was in a battle against future wife Black Canary.
  • Empowered features Sistah Spooky coming upon the aftermath of the title character's disastrous encounter with Glue Gun Gil, considered to be the all-time lamest villain in the city next to Ladder Master.
  • In a comic book story of The Smurfs, Gargamel creates a treat that ends up trapping a Smurf that touches it, but as Gargamel runs over to where he has set the trap, he also gets stuck in the trap, and so do birds, a cow, and several other things on his way home. Papa Smurf makes a potion that frees everything that got stuck in the trap — everything, that is, except for Gargamel, which Papa Smurf has no more potion for, but he does leave a recipe for the formula for Gargamel to make up.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In a Carl Barks story, Donald Duck and his nephews invent a glue and invit Uncle Scrooge for a celebration at a bar. Upset at them for spending money before knowing if they'll ever make any from marketing the glue, Scrooge used it to stick their money at their hands, which forced him to pay. Later on, taking advantage of the fact the glue only sticks things on people, spread some at Scrooge's money to catch the Beagle Boys.
  • Two Tintin books (The Calculus Affair and Flight 714) feature a line of people in succession trying to flick a strip of sticking plaster off their hand. Whenever they succeed, it flies onto the next person, and so on.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, when trying to assemble a plastic model Calvin got glue on his hands while Hobbes obliviously mused about the tri-lingual instructions.
  • A week long arc in FoxTrot involved Paige and jason having their faces stuck together by experimental bubblegum.
  • For their pranks, The Katzenjammer Kids tend to use an extremely effective superglue which will always get their victim stuck immediately and completely. However, the kids' Genre Savvy rival Rollo often happens to be nearby with a kettle of hot water.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fatty Arbuckle's short The Butcher Boy gets a lot of mileage from a pail of molasses.
  • Charlie Chaplin's A Day's Pleasure features fresh asphalt.
  • Buster Keaton uses this gag a lot.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Judge Doom punches a container of glue and gets it on his fist. He then accidentally hits a steam roller and gets stuck to it. He steps in the glue and when he tries to push off the steamroller with his foot, gets that stuck to it as well. He's eventually run over by the steamroller, but he survives because he's a toon.
  • In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Jamieson delivers Freddy to a party of sailors on shore leave who Freddy had earlier attempted to deceive. The next morning, we see that he has apparently gotten along with them just fine, casually leaning with his hand against a doorframe as the last of them leaves the room. He then asks Jamieson to get his hand un-superglued from the door frame.
  • In The Man With Two Brains, Dr. Hfuhruhurr consults with his boss, who spends the conversation with his index fingers placed pensively against his upper lip. At the end of the conversation, the doctor asks when the operation to separate his fingers from his lip will happen, and notes that superglue is something you have to be careful with.
  • In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Clark and his wife go to bed after he just cut down a pine tree, coating his hands in sap.
  • IIRC one of the GIs in Saving Private Ryan gets a sticky bomb stuck to his hand just before it's about to detonate. YMMV on how funny that is.
  • American Pie 2 has this with Jim's hand and a pornography tape. Then again, since this happened when he mistook superglue for lubricant, he was more worried about what his other hand was glued to.
  • Happens to The Three Stooges in the movie The Outlaws Is Coming.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master had Debbie, who is deathly afraid of roaches, being turned into one by Freddy, which led to her walking into a giant roach motel. Most definitely not played for laughs (unless you're Freddy).
  • Cactus Jack does this in The Villain (which is, in places, basically a live-action Roadrunner cartoon). He paints the railroad tracks with glue, and his targets roll over it in their wagon to no effect. Furious, he runs after them... only to be stuck in the glue and hit by a train.
  • In Honey We Shrunk Ourselves, the direct-to-video sequel of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne manages to accidentally shrink himself, his brother, and their wives to the size of cockroaches. Of course, they end up fleeing from a real cockroach into a Roach Motel-like glue trap. Wayne has made a hobby of disassembling these traps for some reason, and knows there's a clear path through which they can safely pass to the other side. His wife, freaking out over being attacked by a giant cockroach, manages to step in the glue and get stuck, with the cockroach biting at her, until Wayne comes back and pulls her free.
  • In Into the Woods' version of Cinderella's tale, she loses one of her slippers when she gets stuck in pitch that Prince Charming had spread on the palace stairs to prevent her escape. Later, the survivors lure the woman giant into a sticky puddle as the first step in their plan.

    Literature 
  • The title character of the Roald Dahl book Matilda glues her father's hat to his head. She also mentions the boy down the road who got Superglue on his finger and then tried to pick his nose, with disastrous results.
  • Adrian Mole ends up with a model aeroplane glued to his nose at one point, prompting accusations that he was trying to sniff it.
  • In The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul, the Norse god Thor gets glued to the floor by an obnoxious demon who took one of Odin's orders literally. He has his hammer Mjolnir smash the floor apart to free himself, but is left with bits of floorboard stuck to his back.
  • Windrunner Radiants in The Stormlight Archive have the ability to bind two objects together with a temporary but virtually unbreakable bond. Often used for comedy, especially when Kaladin is learning his powers and practices by gluing his squadmates to random walls.

    Live-Action TV 
  • I Love Lucy: In the episode "The Moustache," when Ricky grows a mustache that Lucy dislikes, she dons a false beard in protest. It's accidentally attached with Bulldog Cement ("Holds fast forever. Will not let go. Can only be removed with Bulldog Cement Remover Number Three") instead of spirit gum.
  • In Lucille Ball's later sitcom Life With Lucy, her character (yet again named Lucy) becomes stuck to Curtis after a mishap while trying to glue a lamp back together.
  • An episode of The Captain and Tennille (a '70s variety show) has a superglue salesman demonstrating his product then accidentally getting his hand stuck to the hand of a pretty housewife. Then her husband came home and his hands got stuck around the salesman's neck.
  • Deputy Andy Brennan runs afoul of a roll of Scotch tape in Twin Peaks.
  • Done with a zombie mask on Victorious, when Tori's ditzy friend uses the wrong glue. She is supposed to be the lead in the play that night, and ends up performing her entire (serious) part wearing the zombie mask. With the author of the play in the audience.
  • Home Improvement:
    • Tim gets his head stuck to a board while demonstrating Binford's Miracle Glue.
    • In a different episode, he gets both of his hands stuck to a toilet tank's interior wall.
  • Happens in an episode of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger when Chiaki and Ryuunosuke become glued together by the Monster of the Week. Which naturally carried over into the Power Rangers Samurai version of the episode. Given the franchise's predilection for puns, it was naturally titled "A Sticky Situation".
  • On Boy Meets World, Cory, Shawn and Topanga get superglued to their classroom desks as part of an Escalating War.
  • In Gilligan's Island there are two episodes where this occurs:
    • In the episode "Goodbye Island", the group accidentally discover a new glue when they attempt to use the sap of a local tree to create pancake syrup. They then try to use it to repair their boat. Very clumsily, of course.
    • In the episode "Beauty Is as Beauty Does" the group holds a beauty contest between the three women. During the talent portion Mary Ann is to perform a dance routine, and Mr. Howell tries to sabotage it by pouring glue onto the stage. Mary Ann, of course, steps right in it, becoming instantly stuck and loses her shoe (which is still stuck in place in a later scene).
  • The Slammer: In one episode, the Governer, Mr Burgess, Gimbert and Peter have to host the Freedom Show stuck together after Gimbert uses the 'Dangerously Sticky Glue' to repair the showtime lever.
  • In The Bugaloos episode #6 "If I Had the Wings of a Bugaloo", Benita Bizarre's well camouflaged flypaper glue disks traps Courage and Joy for a while.
  • In one episode of Cheers, Cliff wins the bar beard-growing competition by super-gluing a fake beard to his face. He then calls a doctor about getting the beard removed, and gets some very bad news: "...Can that be done on an out-patient basis?"

    Myths & Religion 
  • One of the stories about Anansi, spider trickster-spirit of Africa, involves an enemy of his using a "tar baby", a scarecrow-like moppet made of sticky, to catch the trickster. Anansi gets angry when the tar baby won't talk to him, tries to punch it, and gets stuck fast.

    African-Americans during the slavery period mixed this story with the Br'er Rabbit cycle, putting the title Rabbit in the starring role and making the tar baby a creation of Br'er Fox. Sadly, those tales are almost forgotten in modern America, especially because Disney's Song of the South has been put into permanent storage due to Values Dissonance and meddling from political correctness authorities. It's gotten to the point that even modern people who've heard of the tar baby story think it's some sort of archaic racist remark, when it's nothing of the sort.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: In the Gilda Radner episode, Dr. Honeydew's superglue spills all over the stage and characters keep getting glued to everything. By the end of the show, everyone is stuck in one big ball.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Among D&D monsters making good use of glue are the mimics, which pseudopods can stick very efficiently to immobilize their victims, and also un-stick at will.
    • The sovereign glue is a classic magic item that creative PCs can put to multiple uses. Although it is safer to have another magic fluid, the universal solvent, at hand whenever you're sovereign glue, to avoid embarrassing accidents.
  • Pathfinder has a few monsters that can do this. The Adherants are mummy-like creatures wrapped in layers of extremely sticky fibers. Any melee weapon used on them risks becoming stuck to it, as any player using a bare-handed attack. Giant Flail Snails can also leave behind a trail of glue-like mucus that can trap unwary PCs.
  • One Paranoia module has a bunch of indestructible Commie pamphlets that keep showing up, until the Troubleshooters finally get superglued to them (and each other). At least it lets them survive a laser cannon blast.

    Video Games 
  • Monster Madness: One of the myriad of weapons was the Glue Cannon, which fired a puddle of goop onto the ground in which ground-based enemies, as well as your fellow players, can get caught (though it mostly only slows them down). As long as the player has the weapon equipped, he/she wears boots that makes him/her immune to becoming stuck in glue.
  • Red Alert 3: Paradox: The GOOP, the Allies' other non-lethal weapon of choice after the Freeze Ray, works by trapping enemies in sticky pink foam.
  • Revolution 1986: Some levels contain adhesive surfaces, and touching them will cause the bouncing ball to stop bouncing.
  • Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal: Near the end, when Guybrush's demonic hand acts up and prevents him from telling Winslow what to do, Guybrush cleverly devises a way to stop the situation by opening up the tar barrel and trapping his hand in sticky tar (he even says, "That's what I call a sticky situation!" while looking at the tar puddle again).
  • Chex Quest is a game whose entire enemy roster are sticky slime creatures that try to cover you in sticky slime to defeat you.
  • The Resident Evil series has several enemies that use sticky substances to immobilize the player character. Resident Evil 5 had a bat/scorpion creature that shot sticky slime out of its tail, and Resident Evil 6 has strong mutated enemies which spit sticky mucus. The player character has to fight to break free.
  • Folklore has a class of enemies that releases sticky mucous. The stuff ensnares the player character, who has to fight to escape.

    Web Animation 
  • In a promotional web short for Up, Russell has problems handling Band-Aids, which keep getting stuck to his fingers.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode Lost Our Lisa, Bart decides to glue some novelty items to his face with industrial strength adhesive. Eventually Dr. Hibbert removes the items by making Bart sweat, as apparently human sweat is great at dissolving glue.
  • There was an episode of The Flintstones dealing with Fred's attempt to invent a new, unbreakable superglue, and getting stuck to Barney (as I recall) in the process. In the end it turns out the secret ingredient was superglue.
  • In Family Guy Stewie and Bryan spent most of an episode glued together.
  • In the TaleSpin episode "Stuck on You", Baloo and Don Karnage are stuck together by an experimental superglue.
  • In the Squirrel Boy episode "The Rod Squad," an escalating situation involving sticky buns ends up with most of the cast stuck together in a huge ball.
  • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner: One of many traps Wile E. Coyote has used to catch the Road Runner. He uses this trick multiple times despite the Road Runner being immune to them.
  • Totally Spies! uses this trope several times, involving everything from glue guns to a human-sized roach-motel when one of the girls became an insect hybrid.
  • Animaniacs has Daffy Duck recounting an incident where the Warner Kids made a movie themselves where they use the flypaper gag, which he admitted was funny, but ran several hours too long.
  • Teen Titans had a minor villain getting hold of some Reality Warper powers, and Raven, having been knocked into the ocean, discovered the hard way that the water had turned into glue.
  • Happens in the classic Disney short "Playful Pluto", when Pluto gets stuck on a sheet of fly paper and has a hard time getting it off. (This scene is used prominently in Sullivan's Travels, inspiring the main character's epiphany about the power of laughter.)
  • The Smurfs:
    • Gargamel tries to trap the Smurfs in a sticky glue trap, only to end up trapping Hogatha who is none too pleased about it. She demands to be freed from the trap, but Gargamel tells her to get herself out. Hogatha does, but she uses her magic to put Gargamel into his own sticky trap.
    • In another episode, Gargamel casts a spell that causes the Smurfs to get stuck to each other, which Papa Smurf uses to his advantage by having the stuck Smurfs stick on Gargamel, forcing him to come up with a counter-spell that frees him and all the other Smurfs.
  • In an episode of Chowder, the title cat...bear...thing gets some Grubble Gum. Unfortunately, it gets stuck on his face, then his body, then to Mung Dahl, Schnitzel, Truffles, a random bear, and eventually all of Marzipan City. Bonus points for playing the Katamari Damacy theme in the background.
  • The plot of an entire episode of Kick Buttowski called "Hand in Hand" where the titular character gets stuck together with Kendall due to cave sap... the only way to get them unstuck is by using the anti-sticky agent in Kendall's boyfriends garage.
  • In an episode of Danger Mouse, the heroes are superglued to a roller coaster of doom. Hilarity Ensues when they describe to Colonel K how they escaped it.
  • Taz-Mania: In "Gone to Pieces", Taz's attempts to mend a broken vase end up with the vase stuck to the table, and then Taz stuck to the vase.
  • Happens to The Powerpuff Girls in "A Sticky Situation" (their Whoopass Girls short), "Something's A Ms." and "Stray Bullet."
  • Mr. Bogus:
    • This happened to Ratty and his rottweiler accomplice, after getting squirted with a bottle of glue (thanks to Brattus), in the first act of the episode "Totally Bogus Video".
    • Ratty (again) and Mole both fall victim to this by the weasel mobster pair in the second act of the episode "Bogus Private Eye".
  • Five of the Squirrel Scouts from the cartoon Camp Lazlo mistook Raj for a yeti because he was covered in liquid marshmallow & start chasing after him. They later find out their little mistake & decide to return to their cabins... only to find their feet stuck in the same material that Raj used to be covered in.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Ponyville Confidential" has Snips and Snails getting their rears stuck together by bubblegum. When this ends up on the newspaper, they willingly demonstrate it for their classmates (despite still having patches of fur missing from the earlier incident) because they are such class clowns.
      Sweetie Belle: Snips and Snails and bubblegum fail.
    • In "Make New Friends but Keep Discord", the Smooze's slime is (thankfully) not corrosive, but it is extremely adhesive. We see Rainbow Dash getting entirely unable to take flight once her hooves are glued to the floor by it, despite her efforts. Also, Fluttershy and Tree Hugger end up stuck against a glass window by the slime, Tree Hugger upside-down (not that she seems to care...).

    Real Life 
  • This Krazy Glue ad is not an illusion — but note the carefully prepared surfaces.
  • Apparently, it's not unheard of for people to visit an emergency room after mistaking a tube of superglue for personal lubricant. (OW.)
  • The Sticky Bomb was a real ally weapon in WW2. It resembled a German stick grenade but with the end coated in glue, to be tossed on the weak-parts on enemy tanks. Pulling the pin would pop the end off, revealing the sticky end and arming the device, and having one where the glue leaked onto the handle was a very real possibility.
  • Police have experimented with a sticky foam gun as a method of non-lethal urban pacification. Besides the obvious cleanup issue is the risk of accidentally (or not) shooting someone in the face.
  • Some predators create sticky traps to capture prey, or exploit pre-existing ones:
    • Spider webs are an obvious example.
    • Velvet worms, soft-bodied primitive cousins of arthropods, hunt by spraying streams of glue at smaller invertebrates to stick them to the ground.
    • There is a hazard in nature called a predator trap, where animals can get hopelessly stuck in thick mud or sticky tar (or in some cases, quicksand). Their corpses attract the attention of predators, whom also get mired while feasting on them.
  • The Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919, when a molasses tank burst and a wave of molasses traveling at 35 mph covered a large portion of the city, killing 21 people. It's rumored that to this day, when it gets particularly warm, some can still smell the molasses, over 90 years after the disaster.
  • Certain glue are used to capture pest.
  • Victims of Parkinson's disease sometimes describe their inability to walk with ease by saying it's like having their feet glued to the floor.
  • Gerald Durrell noted that African kids which caught birds for him employed a special glue cooked from various jungle plants. He noted that it was an amazing method of birdcatching as it was completely harmless: unlike various snares, the glue didn't risk breaking bird's bones, and it could be easily washed off or would just dry and fall off in a few hours. A larger, stronger birds would struggle free, though.