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Absurd Phobia

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We would be sorry, but this is Lucy we’re talking about here...
Varla: You afraid of milk? How old are you, man? I got a two-year-old nephew who's not afraid of milk!
Monk: You must be very proud of him.
Varla: For what? Not bein' afraid of milk? That just means he's normal!
Monk, "Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf"

Everyone is afraid of something. While phobias are defined as irrational fears, most of the time they still make perfect sense. Fears of things that can hurt you like spiders, heights, needles, and snakes are perfectly understandable.

A crippling fear of grass, on the other hand, not so much.

Sometimes, in a work, a character has a phobia of something that is so ridiculous that people have a hard time comprehending it. Often comes in one of these flavors:

A Comedy Trope, this kind of phobia is usually Played for Laughs. In the rare instance that this phobia is Played for Drama or characters sympathize with the phobiac because of it, such as if the said phobia is a result of childhood trauma, then it is considered a subversion. Justified if a logical reason is given for said fear.

Remember, however, that Reality Is Unrealistic. While an absurd phobia is played for humor in fiction, people in real life can have phobias and trauma triggers that seem ridiculous to others but have very logical origins — for instance, a person who has repressed memories of being abused by a man in a red cap could develop a phobia of red hats without knowing where it comes from. Ignoring or deliberately poking at the phobia because "it's silly" is cruelty, and helping someone get over a phobia requires psychiatric training and should not be attempted by nonprofessionals.


Compare Faux Horrific, Nightmare Retardant, and Weaksauce Weakness. An Ironic Fear can be considered one of these. If one of these phobias is a recurring plot point, then it is Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?. In contemporary settings, when irrational fear causes magical creatures to hide from Muggles, it is a Masquerade Paradox. To the phobia sufferer, of course, it is always Serious Business. This can add some levity to a "What Do They Fear?" Episode. See also Elephants Are Scared of Mice, where a huge and powerful animal is irrationally afraid of a small and harmless one.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Battle Angel Alita: Alita is a fearless warrior, but it turns out that she has a phobia of owl-eye moths because the "eyes" on the wings unsettle her (same thing as author Yukito Ishiro) She accidentally reveals herself to a roaming warband the only time this phobia affects the plot by emptying her Hand Cannon trying to kill one of these moths.
  • Durarara!!: Celty has several odd fears, in fact there’s a whole chapter of Shinra explaining that no, the world will not end in 2012, the photon belt is not sentient and will not kill everyone, tesseracts from the fourth dimension will not destroy the earth and aliens did not kill the dinosaurs. Celty herself is a dullahan.
    • Izaya is afraid of dogs and dead fish eyes. Later, in his spin-off, due to being traumatized from nearly being killed by Shizuo, he develops a fear of anything remotely related to Shizuo. The mere sight of a woman wearing a bartender uniform was enough to make him freeze up, and he panicked after hearing about a man capable of lifting a vending machine.
  • Sara of Jewelpet Twinkle has a fear of mushrooms due to the little gills under their caps and will invariably do a Wild Take if she sees one. This is the same girl who thinks snakes are cute, by the way.
  • Josuke Higashikata from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable has the fear of reptiles - including turtles.
  • Mio Akiyama in K-On! (mostly the anime) has a fear of barnacles, mold, cray fish, other people's blisters, the covers of horror films and pretty much any string of scary words involving blood, injury, or ghosts. In The Movie, she gains a fear of things that turn (including conveyor belt sushi and The London Eye of all things).
  • Tohru of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is afraid of the shopping mall, due to it resembling a castle to her. The white color in particular reminds her of the fortresses of the crusaders who'd try to kill her on a regular basis.
  • My Balls. Elyse has a literal fear of penises, picturing a horrifying monster whenever she looks at one.
  • One Piece: Sugar, a member of Donquixote Pirates, developed a phobia to long noses or anything that resembles them, due to the long-nosed Usopp accidentally scaring her with a Nightmare Face (after being unknowingly fed with a spicy pepper) that made her faint.
  • Ranma of Ranma ½ has a crippling phobia of cats. It's often played for laughs for being a Weaksauce Weakness. But then it's revealed that this was the result of learning a particularly brutal martial art that activates his Berserk Mode whenever said fear reaches its limit. And, of course, the brutal martial art training, which entails being repeatedly thrown to the mercy of hungry cats by his asshole father as a child whilst wrapped in fish-meat, kind of makes it very understandable why he is afraid of cats.
  • Soul Eater. Death The Kid has Asymmetriphobia (a fear or strong disgust towards asymmetrical things) due to being extremely obsessive-compulsive. Because of this, anything slightly out of place will cause him to freak out. And don't remind him that he only has stripes on one side of his hair. In the manga, they reveal this fear is due to being a lord of order, and as asymmetrical objects are disorderly, naturally he detests them.
  • When Momoko of Sumomo Mo Momo Mo was six years old, her father tried to increase her protein by putting her on a diet of hardboiled eggs. Momoko has since developed a trauma-induced phobia of them, to the point she won't even use eggs in the food she cooks. She can handle it if they're normal hardboiled eggs, but the trauma kicks in to full gear if faces are drawn on them since her well-meaning father did that to all of the eggs to try and make it more enjoyable for her.
  • Alice Asmodeus from Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is afraid of fish. He can't even approach one without wearing a full hazmat suit.
  • The title character of Yotsuba&! has an intense fear of targets and eyeballs, or anything that resembles either. This first comes up when she gets scared of a scarecrow with a target design on it, with her wanting to avoid being seen by "him" while walking with Miura.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool is afraid of cows. As he puts it:
    You ever had one of 'em stare you down? It's chilling! And that's all they do! Stare at you. Waiting.
    • Conversely, him admitting this got Domino to open up and confess she's afraid of chickens... Which would factor in his Zany Scheme to get the X-Men in the clear when Norman Osborn was trying to make them out as murderers during Dark Reign. And it worked.
    • Deadpool has also expressed an extreme fear of clowns, considering them a greater threat than Galactus.
  • There is a Mickey Mouse comic that shows Minnie being afraid of mice. Which makes more sense than it sounds as most people would scream too, if they found a primitive hominid like say an Australopithecus waiting for them in their living room.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Super-Villainess Titania had a crippling fear of Spider-Man, despite the fact that she is far stronger than him and routinely takes on stronger heroes (She-Hulk in particular) with gusto. Her debut story in Secret Wars (1984) has her get defeated in embarrassing fashion by Spidey, and she fears he'll do it again every time she sees him. She gets over it when she realizes she's been in a battle with a disguised Spidey.
      Titania: S-S-Spider-Man? I can't fight you!
      Spider-Man: Really? You've been doing a pretty good job so far!
      Titania: [beat] You know, you're right! [goes on the attack]
      Spider-Man: Me and my big mouth.
    • Doctor Octopus also had, at one point, a fear of spiders. He needed psychiatric counseling to overcome it.
  • Minor villain Dementoid develops one towards buttocks and anuses after Venom turns his rear end into a set of jaws and nearly eats him in reverse.
  • New Avengers (2015): Terry the Henchman has a crippling fear of squirrels. Of course, in the Marvel Universe, such a fear is entirely justified, because squirrels can only mean Squirrel Girl. Though Terry's fear is mainly their fluffy tails. His second worst fear is his fear of betrayal.

    Comic Strips 
  • Wiley from B.C. is terrified of water. Not bodies of water, the substance; he tries to run away from his own sweat on a hot day.
  • Walter the Softy from Dennis the Menace (UK) had a few of those, among others from things like butterflies as part of his extra-wimpy characterisation from the late '70s to the '90s. He'd run in tears to his mother for shelter whenever he encountered one of these.
  • The Far Side had several cartoons describing implausibly detailed (in a slightly disconnected way) phobias, including:
    • Anatidaephobia: The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you. Although in his case, is might actually be warranted.
    • Luposlipophobia: The fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a newly waxed floor.
  • Peanuts.
    • Snoopy suffers from Weed Claustrophobia — a fear of standing in tall grass.
    • Lucy once admitted to being afraid of small pieces of fuzz.
    • One strip (later adapted for a scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas) has Lucy trying to assign various phobias to Charlie Brown. Eventually she arrives at pantophobia.
      Charlie Brown: What's pantophobia?
      Lucy: The fear of everything.
      Charlie Brown: [so loud that Lucy face faults] THAT'S IT!!
  • Wade the Duck of U.S. Acres suffers from paranoia and the above-explained pantophobia. Both of which are almost always Played for Laughs.

    Fan Works 
  • Coyote: Played for Drama with original character Riley Coyote and him being Afraid of Blood — or being more specific, him being afraid of hurting other people with his Quirk, a fear so great that he goes into a several-day Heroic BSoD and his subconscious nerfs his Quirk greatly on the meanwhile if he ever so much as thinks this happened. It is treated as absurd by the other members of Class 1 because physical hurt (inflicted or received) in a fight is an accepted risk of being a Hero, and Izuku Midoriya (Riley's best friend) knows that this is a great (read: may get him hurt/killed in a fight) issue, so he asks his classmates to help him wean it out of Riley. The only one who treats it as something worth mocking is Bakugo, and and he really comes to regret doing it within earshot of Izuku.
  • Returning gives us Scorpius Malfoy, a wizard who is afraid of flying.
  • Played for Drama in Running Around in Circles. Yakko spends most of the story terrified of pencils because the guy who attacked and raped him weaponized pencils during the assault. According to the epilogue, Yakko does recover from this eventually as he heals from the emotional trauma.
  • The RWBY Loops shows that Ruby Rose has developed what she calls a healthy respect for rabbits, hares, and all things lagomorph. She attempts to justify it by pointing out the multiverse is filled with literal killer rabbits who can pass for "harmlessly cute" until it's far too late, but while other Remnant loopers are portrayed as being somewhat wary around errant bunnies and bunny-themed individuals Ruby is consistently terrified of them (unless they are people she already knows are decent).
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In "The Nightmoon Mare Zone":
    Narrator: What are you afraid of? Is it death? Perhaps spiders? Why not be afraid of something original for once? You know what, from now on, you're afraid of farts. [fart sound] Did I scare you?
  • A Growing Fire In My Heart: All the dragons in the barracks in chapter 14, despite dragons being huge fire-breathing monsters and many being depicted as a Proud Warrior Race Guy, are shown to be absolutely terrified of mice. When they spot a changeling disguised as a pony sized mouse, they all scream like little girls and run around the room, trying to stay away from it with only a few trying to kill it. Then when they lose track of it they all try Playing Possum until they are sure it is gone.

    Film — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One segment in The ABCs of Death features a child who is literally afraid of the toilet, to the point of having nightmares about it turning into a monster and killing his parents. Justified at the end, when the toilet ends up falling apart and crushing him to death.
  • Our RoboCop Remake hilariously gives Murph a fear of clowns.
  • Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors!: The supporting character, Gouki, is revealed to be deathly afraid of.... tomatoes. Naturally when attempting to infiltrate Etelgar's fortress, his fears then manifests itself into giant, sentient tomatoes that bounces after him.
  • Dan Mott in Without a Paddle divulges to his friends that he's terrified of (among other more mundane things) Saran Wrap.
    Dan: I won't even keep it in the house anymore, because I'm afraid that somehow it'll get draped over my head and stick to my mouth and nose and I'll suffocate. How pathetic is that?
    Tom: Very.

  • In Castle Hangnail, the castle's cook has an irrational hatred of the letter Q as a result of a past trauma. This mainly manifests in a running gag about Molly finding books and bits of books missing whenever she goes to look anything up in the castle library.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Deborah is apparently afraid of inflatable arm-flailing tube men and the feel of rubber bands.
  • The Nomes from the Land of Oz series are terrified of eggs. They claim they're toxic to them, but it's heavily implied that's not true.
  • In The Savannah Reid Mysteries, the tough, manly-man cop Dirk is terrified of chickens. Savannah finds this amusing.
  • Aunt Josephine from A Series of Unfortunate Events suffers from phobias of everything, tripping over the door mat, getting electrocuted by using a telephone, and finally, realtors. In The Film of the Book, her fears of them prove amusingly rational for just one evening, when a hurricane strikes her house and causes all her appliances to malfunction in exactly the way she claimed they would. Apart from the realtors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 100 Things to Do Before High School: In "Run with the Bears Thing!", Fenwick reveals that Crispo has a phobia about orange juice pulp.
  • A.N.T. Farm: Olive Doyle claims she has many phobias, including "ghosts, vampires, witches, zombies, leprechauns, giraffes, double decker buses, balloons and... (shudders) curly fries." Cue Fletcher sitting next to her with a tray of curly fries.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon has a fear of birds. The guys often tease him for it, particularly about the time he was chased up a tree by a chicken. Amy and Penny help him get over his fear when a bird flies into the apartment.
  • Big Train did a sketch where one new office manager had a phobia of spoons and was explaining to his new co-workers about this by passing a piece of paper with the word "spoons" written on it so as not to even mention spoons himself. Sadly, one of the employees is late to the meeting and enters the room stirring a cup of tea. Cue the office manager diving out the three-storey window to get away from the spoon.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Anya is afraid of bunnies.
  • Cheers: After Diane leaves, Carla's hatred of her turns into a full-blown fear of her, screaming in horror when anyone mentions her name, since she believes it will "summon" her. By the finale, Carla's fear of Diane is so extreme she'd rather believe she's near death in hospital rather than acknowledge she's seen her again, and when she's faced with Diane in the flesh repeatedly screams in horror.
  • In Community, Abed has a bizarre fear of Daylight Saving Time, claiming that it "makes no sense". He finds the change back to Mountain Standard Time even more frightening.
  • Corner Gas: A "What Do They Fear?" Episode is sparked by the other characters learning that Lacey is globophobic (afraid of balloons), which is treated as a ridiculous fear. Although Hank seems to think the name is even more ridiculous than the actual fear.
    Hank: Shouldn't it be called "balloonophobia"? I mean, what if you're afraid of globes? What, your phobia doesn't get a name because the balloon people took it already? How's that fair?
  • Doctor Who:In "The Woman Who Fell to Earth", Karl is a tower crane operator who is afraid of heights. While a common fear, it makes it nearly impossible for him to do his job.
  • In For the People, Jay claims to have a legitimate fear of fluorescent colours because of Kate's propensity for neon tabs on her paperwork.
    Jay:Do you realize I have an actual fear of fluorescent colours because of her? Because of the tabs! A clinically verifiable phobia. I have been treated for this. Unsuccessfully!
  • Friends' "The One with the Embryos": Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance, scares the bejeezus out of Chandler.
    Joey: The Irish jig guy?
    Chandler: His legs flail about as if independent from his body!
  • In Full House "The House Meets the Mouse, Part 2", as Joey freaks out over seeing a shark swimming around their underwater radio station, he says this:
    Joey: Some people are afraid of the dark. Some people are afraid of heights. Some people are afraid of eggs.
    Jesse: Don't worry, Joey. We're safe in here-- Eggs?
    [Joey shrugs]
  • Happy Days:
    • "Fearless Malph": Ralph admits to having literally every phobia in the book. The episode centers on Ralph becoming fearless through hypnotic suggestion.
    • "The Muckrakers": Richie potentially exposes the Fonz's fear and disgust for liver. Fonzie eventually chokes down the fear and eats some.
  • House of Anubis: One episode has the Sibuna characters admitting and discussing their fears. Patricia's turns out to be feet, which immediately garners weird looks from the others, who are afraid of things like bugs, skulls, and tight spaces.
  • How I Met Your Mother: While not explicitly described as a phobia, Marshall has an extremely strict rule about having food, any food, in his Fiero car, even something as basic as a bottle of water or a granola bar. The reason for this? He got the car from his older brothers, who wouldn't sell it to him unless he performed a dare; drive up naked to a Mcdonald's drive-through and order a bunch of coffees with no lids. They then hid in the backseat and jumped up, scaring him and causing him to drop all the scalding coffee right in his naked lap.
  • The IT Crowd: Roy is afraid of balloons.
    Roy: Balloons explode, Jen. They explode suddenly and unexpectedly. They are filled with the capacity to give me a little fright, and I find that unbearable.
  • Kaamelott:
    • Guenièvre is afraid of birds because they don't have arms.
    • Later, it's revealed that Arthur is afraid of snakes. While it's a common fear, his reason isn't:
      Arthur: They walk on their belly, it's creepy!
  • Kenan & Kel: Until seeing a hypnotist for a cure, Chris had an irrational fear of sandwiches; Kenan thought it was ridiculous.
    Chris: If it wasn't for hypnotism, I would have never gotten over my fear of sandwiches.
    Kenan: You were afraid of a sandwich?!
    Chris: Not anymore!
  • In Li'l Horrors, Webster Swampson is a fish man who is afraid of water.
  • In Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure, all mermaids not accustomed to life on land scream in terror upon seeing an ordinary house cat. No explanation is given, and over time all of the mermaids come to realize that cats aren't any sort of threat to them; in fact, the cat most commonly seen in the series (Poseidon) is owned by Rita, a mermaid who had been living on land for well over a decade before the series begins, and all other merpeople who are accustomed to life on land immediately declare their love of cats upon first seeing Poseidon. (The fear does not appear to extend to dogs, as an early episode has a dog bark at Lyla, and she only reacts with annoyance.)
  • Maury: Some episodes focus on people with weird fears, such as pickles and cotton balls. First they talk about the fear, then Maury has the thing that the guest fears brought out, guest freaks out and runs backstage. Somehow, they're all cured by the end of the show.
  • Monk: Adrian Monk has a VERY long list of irrational fears, including milk, glaciers, clouds, chalk, bees, blenders, bees in blenders, soccer riots, round things, dryer lint, underwear, harmonicas, mixed vegetables, "the miracle of birth", and fear itself.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the Barber Shop Sketch the barber has a fear of cutting hair, which makes him murder every client he gets. As it turns out he would have rather been a lumberjack...
  • In the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Murdochophobia", Murdoch admits he's phobic of butterflies. At first Dr. Ogden believes he's rather patronizingly attempting to connect with her phobic patients, but starts laughing when she realizes he's serious.
    Murdoch: I hope you don't react to your patients like that.
  • Out Of This World 1987: Donna has a fear of gelatin.
    "I don't like the way it wiggles around. It's just not right."
  • Psych episode "Shawn Interrupted" featured a possibly crazy, possibly Obfuscating Insanity character with an Absurd Phobia of saxophones. Cue Gus putting on some Kenny G and the genuinely crazy man having a panic attack.
  • Ronen And Renana: This Israeli comedic education show featured a skit where a librarian blackmails someone by threatening to splash water on him. She figured out his fear of water based on his aversion towards the book Three Men in a Boat and that he once ran screaming at the sight of a glass of water.
  • Schitt's Creek: David Rose has a number of phobias, including heights, moths and butterflies, and business women in sneakers.
  • Seinfeld: George Costanza refuses to carry a pen around with him because he's afraid that it might accidentally puncture his scrotum.
  • The Sketch Show: The "Phobias Workshop" sketch is about a support group for people with these. The group has one member who is afraid of the word "Aagh!", one who is afraid of apologies, one who is afraid of repetition, one who is afraid of awkward silences and one who doesn't have a phobia but who compulsively barks at other people's. They keep setting one another off.
  • The Slammer has a Tyrant Takes the Helm episode where the Governor is replaced by Mr. Beltsem, who suffers from 'show-biz phobia': a crippling affliction for someone running a prison for show-biz offenders.
  • In Smallville, Clark Kent had a crippling fear of heights, despite his invulnerability. He eventually gets over it.
  • So Awkward: In "Friendundancy", Ollie decides that due to his fear of clothes he can't take the girls talking about clothes any more.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt one of the lasting effects of Kimmy's fifteen years in the bunker is a fear of Velcro. Eventually explained as related to the moment when she was first abducted: she was alone and vulnerable because she fell behind her friends while struggling to deal with Velcro straps on her shoes.
  • In Zoey 101, Lola reveals during a psychology class that she has a fear of people in mascot costumes due to a man in a hot dog costume falling over and nearly trampling her when she was five.

  • "Bang" ("Frightened") by Doe Maar from their album Virus is about somebody who feels anxious and frightened of all kinds of things but is unsure why.
  • Liam Payne of the band One Direction has a phobia of spoons, exaggerated for comedic effect in the fanvid series The Adventurous Adventures of One Direction.
  • The Psychostick song "Quack Kills" is about a man who's afraid of ducks and convinced they're trying to kill him. The song ends with him being attacked by a massive flock of ducks. Twice.

  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour: Frank and Sadie Doyle regularly face down supernatural threats, such as ghosts, genies, and even actual gods. Despite this, they both have a crippling fear of bees after a Noodle Incident in which a bee got into their apartment; every time it's mentioned it's with a touch of terror or dread. In the "The Haunting of Howard Schroeder", the Doyles calmly explain to a Monster Clown that they see ghosts all the time, socially even, and there is nothing in the world that can frighten them; they completely freak out when Sadie notices that a bee has gotten in.
  • In a season 3 episode of Wolf 359 that Jacobi has an "inexplicable, nearly pathological fear of ducks."

    Puppet Shows 
  • In "The Masked Veggies" from Donkey Hodie, when Purple Panda goes on the The Masked Veggies game show, he has a fear that he might suddenly put on a Santa beard and sing Jingle Bells, though this stems from a deeper stage fright. Wackily enough, it turns out his fear is actually justified, as he ends up doing just this while Donkey is trying to help him.

  • Bleak Expectations:
    • Mr. Benevolent is terrified of badgers. The mere thought of the "appallingly stripey" creatures is enough to drive him away, until series 3, where he without comment is no longer afraid of them.
    • After the opening episode of series 3, Pip Bin develops a fear of cheese, thanks to Mr. Benevolent cheeseboarding him.
  • It's a minor Running Gag in Old Harry's Game that Satan himself is creeped out by...motorcycle couriers.

  • The titular antagonist of Destroy the Godmodder is terrified of tubas, to the point where seeing one in his chronologically early incarnations could easily be used to deal damage. He's gotten less scared of them as he continues fighting the Descendants, however.

    Video Games 
  • Afterlife (1996): The "Fear, Unlimited" generic punishment dedicates itself to inventing new kinds of phobia, then testing them out and implementing them on the damned souls that are tossed their way to torment them more and more. Given as examples are the fear of characters in a movie stepping out of the screen to murder you and the fear of fizzy drinks.
  • In the Borderlands 3 DLC "Guns, Love, and Tentacles", Wainwright asks the Vault Hunters if there's anything that scares them. Moze is terrified of exploding bees, Amara fears her personal trainer on leg day, Zane is so terrified of birds that he can't even eat chicken nuggets, and FL4K admits to being afraid of... tapioca.
    FL4K: That texture. Ugh.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, Exdeath is stated to have a fear of turtles, a reference to Ghido the tortoise sage from Final Fantasy V.
  • In I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Ellen has a crippling fear of the color yellow. It's predictably a hindrance in her area, as AM has painted several rooms and things yellow. It's eventually revealed that Ellen was once raped by a stranger in a yellow jumpsuit, and the trauma broke her. She doesn't consciously remember the event, only the color yellow. On the upside, after AM forces her to confront the rapist again and she manages to defeat him, she no longer fears the color.
  • In "The Champions' Ballad" DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Daruk is revealed to have a phobia of dogs. It stems from an incident in his childhood where he angered a dog by stepping on its tail. It's especially comedic when he curls up in fear upon seeing a dog less than a tenth his size that he had just saved from a pack of Bokoblins he fearlessly attacked right beforehand.
  • Chase McCain from LEGO City Undercover, immediately after scaling a building and being thankful he doesn't have vertigo or some other ridiculous phobia, is revealed to be terrified of French parrots.
  • One of the Toads you lead on an Escort Mission in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has a fear of clocks and gears, which even he admits is irrational. So, naturally, that takes place in the Old Clockworks mansion. And you've gotta carry him past that which scares him.
  • Guybrush Threepwood of Monkey Island has a crippling fear of porcelain that is never explained.
    • Meathook is terrified of the beast that supposedly claimed his hands long ago, and which he forces Guybrush to confront if the latter wants to prove himself worthy. The beast turns out to be an ordinary parrot and is harmless.
  • Buddy of MySims Agents is afraid of pudding, and casually mentions Pudding War I. Justified, as he's allergic to it.
  • Arlene from Stick It to the Man! had a phobia of grapes up until she got therapy for it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ikemen Sengoku, it's revealed in Sasuke's Dramatic route that the normally stoic, intelligent, and rational Sasuke has a deep fear of butterflies. The main character, upon learning this, tries and utterly fails to hold back her laughter.
  • In Sasami's route of Little Busters!, Masato develops a fear of cats after Sasami knocks him out in her cat form twice. No one except Riki (who knows the context behind it) takes his fear seriously.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, in one conversation during the third act, Trucy states that, one time, presumably while making a magic act, she accidentally made a girl get prasinophobia, a fear of the color green. Problem is, that girl was a landscape artist, so her career was practically ruined, and made Trucy feel so bad she could not stand green things anymore, developing prasinophobia as well. Athena believes it's just an excuse, however.
  • The Lilim in VA-11 Hall-A have their fears programmed completely at random. Dorothy, in particular, has a fear of dogs and chinchillas.

    Web Animation 
  • ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Due to her schizophrenia, Kylie from "I Am Schizophrenic And Stopped Taking My Pills" has some pretty strange fears. She's afraid of staircases, crosswalks, the colors red and yellow, and traffic lights.
  • A guy in ASDF Movie 8 has a fear of backstories. When he consults a doctor who asks how said phobia began, he starts screaming in terror.
  • Homestar Runner: In the 2019 Halloween episode "The Homestar Runner Enters the Spooky Woods", The Homestar Runner must travel through the spooky woods and face his fears... which take the form of a middle-school life science textbook, decorative toothpicks, and the more-understandable but still oddly-specific "dead raccoon being held by a family of wet pigeons".
  • Puffin Forest: Ben's character Alagaros is afraid of libraries.
  • In Red vs. Blue, Grif is afraid of bats. Never mind that he's in Powered Armor that no bat could ever penetrate (as Simmons points out), he won't even go into the cave under Blood Gulch due to the possibility of there being bats.

  • Scott of Basic Instructions once mentioned a fear of birds. The "absurd" part was that it included pigeons and Big Bird. According to later commentary, the real Scott apparently developed a dislike of birds from having been around raised peacocks in his youth.
  • Laser Pony of The League of Super Redundant Heroes is extremely arachnophobic. Made absurd by the fact that whenever he's made aware of the presence of spiders, he freaks out and lasers everything around him until it's dead. Considering the fact that he's blind...
    • His friend and fellow hero Arachno-Dude points out that he's a spider-themed hero. The results aren't pretty.
    • Good Girl is secretly afraid of being electrocuted whenever she vacuums.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. These three comics talk about Commander's irrational millipede phobia.
    Commander: Look, unless you done two tours 'a duty on th' Millipede Planet in Millipede Season you don' get t' judge.
  • Yuki of Ménage à 3 has her fear of phalluses, due to inadvertently reading a hentai doujinshi when she was very young. Not especially comic in itself, but played for (rather cruel) laughs in that she hallucinates tentacles whenever she sees a penis, and then goes into a berserk fugue state. Which is kind of rough on Gary, the Loser Protagonist who wants to date her.
  • In one [NAME REMOVED] strip, Rabish becomes afraid of birds after watching Rabid get eaten by a giant penguin.
  • The Order of the Stick: Durkon, like all other dwarves, is terrified of trees (the roots of which break into their tunnels and are thus seen as violent invaders). In dwarf culture, destroying a tree is an act of heroism. The argument goes something like this: Thor is the god of lightning. The vast majority of lightning bolts strike trees. Therefore, trees must be Thor's mortal enemies. I mean, Thor wouldn't waste a perfectly good lightning bolt on a supposedly harmless tree just for shits and giggles, would he? (Well, yes, actually he would...) Thor himself has tried to repeatedly explain this to his followers when they arrive in Valhalla and freak out at the trees dotting the landscape, but it's so ingrained in Dwarf culture they have difficulty grasping the concept. At this point, he usually just gives up and tells them that these trees are good-aligned individuals who have turned against their evil kin.
  • Finn of Warrior U has a phobia of horses. Justified since during his childhood he was attacked by a psychopathic unicorn

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • An episode of Badman features the Scarecrow using his fear gas to fight Batman. The results are... unexpected.
  • Formula 1: The absurdity of Pascal Wehrlein's answer of waking up early in Grid Confessions: What Scares F1 Drivers? compared to the other drivers who gave far more normal fears like spiders and heights, is highlighted by him being placed last.
  • Catatoullie 101 on Ghabulous Ghoti 's channel has a fear of clocks moving really fast.
  • The Necro Critic has an admitted fear of babies that is Played for Laughs in his Baby Geniuses review.
  • SuperMarioLogan's version of Bowser becomes afraid of bananas after his son Junior forces him to watch a scary movie with him. On the 3rd time, Bowser gets a fear of milk.
    • A justified example in "Bowser Junior's Biggest Fear". Junior is paranoid that cotton balls would kill him due to Bowser shoving cotton balls in his mouth when he was a baby in an attempt to substitute a pacifier.
    • "Jeffy's Biggest Fear" has Jeffy be afraid of the number 7 the day after Junior tells him the classic "why is 6 afraid of 7?" joke. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Vester And Friends: Red Yoshi Is Scared of Minecraft because it is too pixelated.
    • While it looks like Blue Yoshi is scared of Brum , in episode 7 of Total Drama Plush Season 1 it is revealed he was faking it the whole time . Subverting this trope.
    • Yellow Yoshi is scared of the Playstation 2 Red Screen Of Death.
    • Black Yoshi is afraid of the Nintendo Switch because he thinks it will beat Sony.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius where Jimmy invents a Dream Walker machine to help Carl with his nightmares reveals that the "horrible spooky thing" that Carl doesn't want to talk about is lima beans. Jimmy thinks this is just a case of Does Not Like Spam at first, but when he meets a lima bean in Carl's dream, it grows to giant size and reveals itself as a terrifying Man-Eating Plant. (It is defeated by luring it out of the dream, where it becomes harmless and is semi-reluctantly eaten by Jimmy, Carl and Sheen.)
  • American Dad!:
    • Stan has an unexplained phobia of seagulls.
      Stan: A SEAGULL? WHERE? Don't let it touch me with its feet!
    • He eventually conquers this fear when he and Roger are stranded on a small island atoll for several months, and seagulls are the only edible thing around.
    • And his son Steve is shown to be afraid of moths.
  • In the episode of Arthur titled "The Squirrels" the kids in Elwood City all develop a temporary phobia of squirrels after seeing a movie called "The Squirrels" a la The Birds.
  • Back at the Barnyard: In "Buyers Beware," Otis tries to scare away an old lady who he thinks is someone trying to buy the farm from them. Unfortunately, she isn't fazed by the underworld, zombies, earthquakes, locusts, or any of the creepy things Otis claims the barnyard contains. She doesn't even freak out when Otis admits he's a talking cow! Otis gives up and hands her the keys to the barn... and she freaks out and drives away because she's terrified of jingling keys.
  • Something of a subversion in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, in that the gang takes it seriously when he's confronted by it, but they aren't above mocking him when he isn't. Fred isn't afraid of heights. He's afraid of widths. He believes it's more rational than Velma's more traditional fear of water because:
    Fred: The human body is 85% water. But how wide are we? Hmm?
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • "Bed and Breakfast" reveals that Teddy has an irrational fear of costumed mascots that stems from catching one in flagrante delecto with his ex-wife. After Louise sics a bunch of "Fuzzy Buddies" she hired from a party supply store on him in an effort to get her bedroom back, Teddy claims to have mostly worked out his issues.
    • In "House of 1000 Bounces", Bob has a fear of pigeons stemming from him being attacked by a flock of them in the attic of an old house. He got over it after he realized that he was describing a scene from The Birds. Apparently he watched it as a kid and it freaked him out.
  • Camp Lakebottom "Cheeks of Dread": After much needling, McGee finds out that Gretchen has a phobia of chipmunks. The episode's monster turns out to be a vicious chipmunk that keeps a giant pile of skulls from the people it has devoured.
  • Ed from Ed, Edd n Eddy is shown to be afraid of soap and deodorant in "Once Upon an Ed", and the fear of soap becomes a plot point in "Run For Your Ed", when Double D's solution to removing a bottle stuck on his finger being to lubricate it with soap to slip it off. He also has a fear of wigs and hairpieces as shown in "X Marks the Ed" For context, Eddy had a pimple on his head that he tried to cover up with his dad's toupee.
    Ed: ATTACK THE WIG! [does so, specifically with his teeth]
    Edd: Ed, you're violating a hairpiece!
    Ed: [frowns, in earnest] Wigs scare me, Double-D.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • The Yugopotamians have a species wide phobia of such innocent things as candy, flowers, small children, displays of affection, and anything cute, safe, or fun. Justified in that, biologically, these things can actually hurt and/or kill them.
    • In "Deja Vu", Francis appears to have a phobia of getting wet.
      [Timmy throws a water balloon at him]
    • In "A Bad Case of Diary-Uh!", one of the embarrassing secrets revealed in Vicky's journal is her fear of cows. In the same episode, Timmy is revealed to have a fear of both clowns and feet. Vicky manages to use both (along with his allergy to oranges) against him by going to his school and declaring "Barefoot Orange-Juggling Clown Day".
    • It's not known exactly why, but Cosmo will have a breakdown hearing the words, "Super Toilet."
      Cosmo: SO! MUCH! CLOGGING! [enters fetal position, starts sucking his thumb]
    • In one episode, Timmy goes to a "Wishing Well" boot camp with two other kids, Molly and Dwight, to learn to deal with things without wishing. One of the challenges has all the kids face their fears. While Timmy and Molly have reasonable fears (Vicky and snakes, respectively), Dwight is afraid of a harpoon.
      Dwight: I dreamt I was a whale one, and it wanted my blubber!
  • Family Guy plays with the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism by having Brian, an erudite talking dog, freak out when Lois turns on the vacuum and chases him around the room with it. Similarly, he also has a fear of the sound of nickels rattling in a can, ambulance sirens and helicopters.
    "Stop it, you're scaring me! UGH, it's so loud! *starts barking at it*"
  • The Garfield Show episode "Fraidy Cat" revolves around Dr. Whipple creating an invention that can be used to remove people's fears as well as give them fears they didn't have already. In a commercial where he advertises his service of using the device to cure people of their phobias, he mentions some rather ridiculous fears, including a fear of sitting on a grilled cheese sandwich and a fear of moving with your family to Peru and subsequently becoming a toboggan salseman. At the end of the episode, Garfield uses the invention to make Nermal afraid of being too cute and Dr. Whipple afraid of being in a cartoon.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: While Billy has the more standard fear of spiders, he's also absolutely terrified of clowns, and for some reason, the mailman. When the main characters were facing their worst fears manifest in The Movie, Billy ended up having to face a clown car full of spider-clown-mailmen.
    • Mandy meanwhile, is afraid of professional figure skaters.
      (defensively) "That's not a fear! I just don't trust the way they spin is all.
  • The plot of many Invader Zim episodes revolve around him developing an insane phobia of a random mundane Earth object/group/action, and taking drastic measures to be rid of them.
  • Kim Possible: Played with in the half-episode "Roachie", which begins with Kim chiding Ron for being scared of ordinary bugs and then had Kim totally freaked out by giant roaches (which are actually harmless and friendly when separated from the influence of the story's villain, as shown by one that Ron develops a rapport with).
  • King of the Hill:
    • There is an episode of where Hank develops a serious crippling fear of propane, the thing he sells for a living. Justified, in that he had survived a gas leak explosion in the previous episode.
    • Played straight in another episode where the entire cast treats Hank's fear of bats like this.
      Hank: You know, we've all got fears. What about Bill's fear of balloons?
      Bill: [alarmed] Where!?
  • In The Legend of Tarzan, Jane spends a whole episode trying to figure out what Tarzan is afraid of, which seems to be nothing whatsoever. But at the end of the episode, she picks up a powder puff, causing Tarzan to go wide-eyed, jump back, and run out of the room. He then reveals to Terk that he was faking it to get Jane to stop.
  • In the Let's Go Luna! episode "Day of the Dead", Luna is helping Carmen to get over her understandable fear of skeletons and suggests laughing in the face of her fear to make it less scary. The whole gang explain the fears they laugh at, which are all pretty reasonable... except for Andy, who laughs in the face of celery.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012):
    • Russell apparently has a phobia" of marshmallows, justifying it by claiming they're "soft and... squishy..."
    • Sunil in "Heart of Parkness":
      Sunil: I am scared of creatures with six or more legs, loud noises, curtains, avocados, and quiet jazz music, but no, not cobras.
    • In the episode "Game of Groans,'' Youngmee reveals that she has a fear of jester hats.
  • Norman of Mighty Max has arachnophobia so extreme that he once jumped through a ceiling in response to a tiny spider landing on his shoulder. Justified when you learn that he is destined to die by being eaten by a giant spider.
  • Milo Murphy's Law plays with this - while Melissa's fear of roller coasters is perfectly commonplace, the reason WHY she's afraid of them (one fell out of the sky on the first day of summer and crushed her science project) is what's absurd. Zack's fear of fish (especially bagged ones) and Milo's fear of Chinese finger traps, however, play the trope straight.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • According to one of Pinkie Pie's party files in "Party Pooped", Twilight Sparkle has a fear of quesadillas.
      Twilight: They're just so... [shudders] cheesy.
    • In the short "Starlight the Hypnotist", Twilight reveals that she's terrified of ladybugs because when she was a filly, a swarm of them invaded her family home and her brother, Shining Armor, joked that their spots were actually extra eyes.
    • In "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", we learn that Rainbow Dash has a phobia of the ultra-saccharine.
    • The episode "Between Dark and Dawn" reveals that Princess Celestia is deathly afraid of chickens and needs her little sister, Princess Luna, to scare them away for her.
  • In the various Peanuts specials has Charlie Brown admit he's afraid of all sorts of things that seem silly. Partly this is justified as he often tries and fails at things to better himself. However, he does rise up to the challenge despite the odds, and tries again.
  • Nicky's fear of swans is a running gag in Pepper Ann. This fear, which her older sister secretly shared, is revealed to have a specific cause: they both had the same exceedingly creepy toy swan when they were kids. To be fair, swans are some of the most violently territorial animals on Earth.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz has many fears, including heights, bats, and... shellfish. He freely admits that most of his fears are irrational, with the exception of his fear of vending machines, which he insists will one day gain sentience and enslave humanity.
    • His fantasy counterpart, Malefishmirtz admits that he's afraid of unicorns, whales, octopus, pegasi, scorpions, barnacles and girls. Then a few seconds later a uni-whale-scorpio-Pega-squid-icorn Candace appears behind him, though he admits that when combined it's more ridiculous then scary.
    • "Monster From the Id" shows that Baljeet is afraid of contractions (the Frankenstein monster of grammar) and Irving is afraid of the color lavender.
    • Candace, for reasons unknown, fears the number seven. Probably because seven ate nine.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: One episode reveals that Randy is afraid of chickens, which gives us this priceless quote:
    Have you ever looked into a chicken's eyes, Howard? There's nothing there.
  • On Rick and Morty, Rick mentions that he had a fear of wicker furniture before he transferred his consciousness into a Federation agent. He also has a fear of pirates (despite his passion project, The Pirates of The Pancreas, back in season 1).
  • In Sea Princesses, Isa, the Princess of the Penguins, was afraid of water, but with the help of Santa Claus, she overcame her fear.
  • The Simpsons: In "Fear of Flying" it is revealed that Homer has a fear of sock puppets.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Fear of a Krabby Patty", SpongeBob becomes afraid of Krabby Patties after working nonstop and not getting any sleep.
  • Ludo from Star vs. the Forces of Evil appears to have a phobia of hair stemming from an early birthday party when he was assaulted by the Tickle-Monster.
  • Chuckie from Rugrats has a long list of these. The most famous being his unexplained fear of "that guy on the oatmeal box." Taken Up to Eleven in another episode where Chuckie meets a kid who has even more ridiculous fears than he does, including the fear of being eaten by oatmeal.
  • The title character of Jimmy Two-Shoes is afraid of pickles, which he claims are evil and out to get him. He claims it was due to an incident where fell into a pickle truck and was drenched in pickle brine, but even Beezy and Heloise find his fear to be silly. Ironically, it's less unjustified than it seems, given that his neighbor across the street actually is a pickle monster bent on destroying everyone.
  • The Total Drama Island episode "Phobia Factor" shows the castmates' worst fears. While some of them are common, like Owen and Izzy's fear of flying and DJ's fear of snakes, others are very absurd. Examples include Tyler's fear of chickens, Duncan's fear of Celine Dion music store cardboard standees and Courtney's fear of green jello. Lindsay and Sadie both share the same fear, bad haircuts (Lindsay originally said her fear was walking though a minefield in heels before changing it). There are also some that are dangerous things but also rather odd, like Heather's (sumo wrestlers), Harold (ninjas) and Cody (having to defuse a time bomb).
  • In the Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy episode "Tyrannosaurus Wrecked", Whirl mentions that she is afraid of spaghetti.
  • In an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man the villain Nightmare puts all of New York, except for Spider-Man and Iron Fist, to sleep and traps them in their worst fear. What is Nova afraid of? Rabbits!
  • On the We Bare Bears episode "More Everyone's Tube", Grizz and Panda discover that Ice Bear, usually the most fearless of the three, is afraid of cucumbers. They shoot a whole video of them pranking Ice Bear by placing cucumbers all over the house and watching him freak out. (Oddly enough, he reacts normally to a pickle.) It ends with Panda dressing up in a cucumber costume, which causes Ice Bear to throw him out the window and ending up on traction at the hospital.
  • Omi of Xiaolin Showdown is afraid of squirrels. Even Jack Spicer thought that was incredibly lame.

    Real Life 
  • There are a wide variety of real-life phobias that can come across as this to other people. Including fear of clowns, ducks, babies, hair, colors, numbers (triskaidekaphobia), words, etc...
  • Probably the single most generally known absurd phobia is a fear of firecrackers and fireworks, a common side effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This one, at least, is well-publicized enough not to be used for comedy.
  • According to interviews, Alfred Hitchcock was extremely afraid of eggs. He also was afraid of the police, but that one is a bit more reasonable.
  • Billy Bob Thornton admits to having an unexplained phobia of antique furniture.
  • Not even the father of modern psychology was immune to this trope. Sigmund Freud had a crippling fear of ferns.
  • The myths of elephants having a phobia to mice has an element of truth. Elephants' eyesights are not keen enough to clearly see small creatures on the ground, and so they react with fear when they detect unexpected movement from below, not because they hate mice, but because they can't tell the difference between a harmless mouse and a dangerous threat like a snake. Thus their phobia reacts with equal fear, to both harmless creatures and genuine threats. When a mouse is brought up close to the elephant's face, elephants do not tend to fear them at all.
  • As seen on the Internet, cats are utterly terrified of cucumbers, them thinking it is a poisonous snake that has somehow snuck up on them.
  • The Little Albert experiment where scientists proved classical conditioning in humans by conditioning a baby to fear white lab rats. Eventually they found he feared all white, fluffy things. That's how the story went, anyway, though the experiment has since been questioned a lot.
  • In an instance that overlaps with Shaped Like Itself, Phobophobia is having a phobia of having a phobia.


Video Example(s):


Raphael and Cockroaches

He's fought aliens with lasers, ninja mutants, alien dinosaurs and the Shredder... yet cockroaches make him scream like a little girl.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / AbsurdPhobia

Media sources:

Main / AbsurdPhobia