: If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud formation...What do you think you see, Linus? Linus
: Well, those clouds up there look to me like the map of the British Honduras in the Caribbean....That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor...and that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen...I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side.... Lucy
: Uh huh...That's very good... What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown? Charlie Brown
: Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind.
Basically looking at clouds and what shape they resemble. Often done in Real Life
, but fiction will of course play around with it. Sometimes the cloud will literally look like the thing, for one. The official term for this is "pareidolia".
, just to be funny, someone will say "It looks like mashed potatoes / marshmallow / an airborne agglomeration of moisture!
Compare Does This Remind You of Anything?
, Watching the Sunset
, Inkblot Test
Anime and Manga
- This is how Shute and Captain start to bond in SD Gundam Force.
Shute: That cloud looks like you!
Captain: Am I really that fat?
Shute: Don't worry; the sky adds ten pounds.
- In "Vol 11: Clay" of Ga-Ra-Ku-Ta or Mr. Stain on Junk Alley, a series of CGI anime shorts, Mr. Stain does this alongside a clay duplicate of himself, seeing a train, a horse, a whale, a car, an elephant, and his strange cat, Palvan, that the clay duplicate has replaced. Rain from the clouds then washes away the clay, bringing back the cat and then Mr. Stain imagines seeing himself in the clouds.
- In a one-page Smurfs gag, the characters look at the various cloud formations in the sky and are able to recognize what each of them resemble...except for the last, which takes on the form of continental Europe.
- In Up, it happened in the montage with Ellie and Carl.
- Played straight in The Agony And The Ecstasy, where Charlton Heston's Michelangelo sees a vision of "The Creation of Adam" in the clouds and is inspired to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
- The opening scene of the film version of James and the Giant Peach
- The young Amélie took pics of these clouds with her secondhand Instamatic camera.
- Variation: Shrek 2 has Donkey mentioning "that bush that looks like Shirley Bassey".
- In Short Circuit, Number 5 doing this provides one of the first clues that he's become truly intelligent and self-aware. Later his creator invokes the trope with an Ink Blot Test.
- In the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film, Harry sees the Grim in a stormcloud during a Quidditch match.
- During a rather entertaining Quidditch match in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Luna Lovegood (filling in as commentator) was not interested in such "mundane" things as the score, and kept trying to draw the crowd's attention away from the game to "interestingly shaped" clouds.
- The children in The Candymakers do this. One boy has dyslexia, and wishes that doing this was taught in school instead of reading.
- The picture book It looked like spilt milk is all about this.
- In The Dragon Hoard: Jasleth, faced with a group of men with hostile intent, attempts to distract them by engaging them in a conversation about the shape of a cloud. It doesn't work.
- In Pug & Doug, a picture book about an Odd Couple of two anthropomorphic dogs, Doug does this. Pug doesn't, because he's short on imagination.
- An episode of Popular Mechanics For Kids had the male and female hosts looking at clouds. The female saw a variety of shapes, but the male always responded with "Cotton ball.". When pushed on this, he said he saw "A shirt. Made of cotton, and all wadded up into a ball".
- Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Imaginary Friend":
: I believe what you are seeing is the effect of the fluid dynamic processes inherent in the large-scale motion of rarefied gas. Guinan
: No, no. First it was a fish, and now it's a Mentonian sailing ship. Data
: Where? Guinan
: Right there. Don't you see the two swirls coming together to form the mast? Data
: I do not see it. It is interesting that people try to find meaningful patterns in things that are essentially random. I have noticed that the images they perceive sometimes suggest what they are thinking about at that particular moment. (pause) Besides, it is clearly a bunny rabbit
- Star Trek: The Original Series episode "This Side of Paradise". Spock (affected by mind-altering spores) and his girlfriend Leila Kalomi are looking at clouds.
Spock: That one looks like a dragon. You see the tail and the dorsal spines?
Leila: I've never seen a dragon.
Spock: I have. On Berengaria Seven. But I've never stopped to look at clouds before.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Haunting of Deck Twelve," the crew encounters a class J nebula and Tom Paris calls it "something out of Edgar Allen Poe" and Harry Kim thinks it looks like a vampire bat. He asks Tuvok what he sees and Tuvok replies "Two Starfleet officers with juvenile imaginations." Paris asks "Haven't you ever looked up at the clouds and seen an animal?" and Tuvok grouses "I will never understand the human need to find imagery in something as innocuous as a cloud."
- On The Golden Girls, Rose said she saw a cloud that looked just like a cotton ball.
- Another gag has Sophia saying she's going to hang out with the 'Cloud Society', which entails the group getting drunk and saying what they think the clouds look like.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A slight variation in the episode "Listening to Fear" with Willow and Tara on a roof at night, making up new names for constellations of stars.
- The Meteorological Mix of Kate Bush's The Big Sky has several examples scattered throughout in different voices, mostly starting with the title of this trope. (From 'That cloud looks like Ireland' through 'That cloud looks like cumulus castelis' to 'This cloud should be removed immediately!'... Did I mention this was Kate Bush?)
- Creedence Clearwater Revival's hit song Looking Out My Back Door is completely this trope. The singer is telling his audience everything he sees in the clouds and his backyard.
- Done in a Bloom County strip, where Binkley sees prosaic things, and Milo sees something along the lines of "a galloping herd of appaloosa, nostrils flaring, hooves pounding; astride the lead beast rides the lithesome form of Meryl Streep".
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin described one as looking like "a bunch of suspended water and ice particles".
- In another strip he's mildly disturbed to see one that looks like his head, which proceeds to pull faces at him.
Calvin: It must be a sign!
Hobbes: Of what?
Calvin: Really weird high-altitude winds, I guess.
- There's a good one in the Cul De Sac comic strip where Alice sees an Eldritch Abomination in the clouds. Her description of it leaves her friend Benni cowering on the ground.
- The page quote comes from a classic Peanuts strip. The gag (and dialogue) were later used in one of the stage musicals based on the comic strip, as well as the opening of A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
- B.C. did a few, such as "all the ills suffered by mankind" (a mushroom cloud) and "the dust cloud raised by a herd of stampeding mammoths" (cue stomping as it turns out it is, indeed, the dust cloud raised by a herd of stampeding mammoths).
- Garfield also had a few clouds, such as one that resembled Odie, the same ears, the same stupid expression...
Garfield: (being rained on) The same slobber...
- Another time, Jon observed that one cloud looked "just like a cloud." After a Beat Panel, Garfield asked, "which one?"
- In Prickly City, Carmen observes one looks like a bunny — while one like a T. rex with fork and knife has scared off Winslow.
- Rose Is Rose combined this with Leaning on the Fourth Wall, with a strip that had the family lying on the grass, and Pasquale pointing straight up (into the "camera") and saying "That one looks like a person reading the comics."
- Frazz, Mr. Burke, and the kids once did this on a completely overcast day.
What a waterfall sounds like.
- The opening sequence of the Disney Theme Parks 3-D Movie Magic Journeys (1982) has kids at play pondering the clouds. In the fantasy sequence that makes up most of the film, one of the kids has encounters with (among other things) the things he and his friends were "seeing" in them.
- In Little Busters!, a scene involving this is important to the plot of Mio's route. Mio was really into pointing out all the different shapes, but her not-so-imaginary friend/little sister Midori wasn't, and eventually yelled that she couldn't see anything in them - they just looked like clouds. Mio was upset at the time because that was the first time she realised that she and Midori didn't see the world the same way, while to Midori this was evidence of the fact that she wasn't a real person at all, but just like a cloud herself, something that would eventually be whisked away by the wind - to her, it only made sense that someone like that couldn't see shapes in other clouds.
- At one point in Funny Business, Jeannette and Lucy pass the time by looking at clouds. Of course, Jeannette being what she is, the clouds actually become what they imagine them to be, leading to the two of them acting out a story of a knight rescuing a princess from an Evil Sorceror in the air. It ends disastrously when they start including objects that aren't made of water vapor.
- Spoofed in Powerpuff Girls. In a Flashback in "The Bare Facts", Bubbles was talking about the clouds she was looking at while flying to Mojo Jojo's lair to rescue the Mayor, ending with, "And there was one that looked like a cloud."
- Done in The Simpsons in the episode where Bart steals the head off a statue. He's hanging around with some anti-social kids who see people being stabbed and the like in the clouds.
- Parodied in the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Pressure", which opens with Spongebob and Sandy cloud-gazing. Spongebob remarks: "That one looks like a flower!"
- In one episode of Arthur, they're comparing Mr. Ratburn's class with the class next door: both are studying clouds, but while Mr. Ratburn's students are going to the library to look up stratus and cumulonimbus and cirrus clouds, the kids in the class next door are lying on a hillside and telling each other what shapes they see.
- In the Recess episode when the gang are all mentoring kindergartners, Mikey and his younger counterpart bond by looking at clouds together.
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Kiara and Kovu look at the constellations, a scene reminiscent of that in the first movie with Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba. This is how Kiara first gets a feel for how it is for those in exile.
- The opening of the episode "It's a Bird, It's a Plane... It's an Elephant?" of PB&J Otter finds Peanut and Jelly Otter doing this. They even make up a song about it, called "Imaginings." "When you open up your eyes, looking high into the skies / Wondrous things things, imaginings, come soaring by and by!"
- In The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario and Luigi look at clouds in "Crimes R Us":
Mario: Hey, Luigi, you ever noticed how clouds can look like other things? Like that one over there, it looks sort of like the princess!
Luigi: Yeah, it sure does Mario! And that one looks like Aunt Maria! Hey, but for realism, how about that one over there? It looks just like the Doomship!
- Played with in an episode of King of the Hill when Bobby repaints some clouds on his wall and Hank decides to bond by "watching the clouds go by", and he describes each as looking like a propane tank or an accessory.
- Done in Hey Arnold! where Arnold and his friends are trying to show rich kid Lorenzo what it's like to be a real kid. One of the activities they do is looking at the clouds.
Gerald: A guy in a chef's hat.
Harold: A Mr. Fudgy.
Arnold: A Scottish terrier.
Lorenzo: Rising forms of cumulonimbus? (everyone sits up and gives him strange looks)
- Timothy and Charles to do this in "Taking the Plunge" on Timothy Goes to School while relaxing in the swimming pool. They see one that reminds them of a cowboy hat, another of apple pie and one that looks like the school bus driver, Henry. Another sudden "cloud" actually turns out to be Doris doing a cannonball into the pool. It's reprised at the end of the episode.