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Aerosol Spray Backfire

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Aerosol sprays, whether in the form of modern-day cans or the classic Cartoon Bug-Sprayer flit guns, are one of the most convenient inventions in human society, especially in regards to things like insect repellent, sunscreen, spray-on tans, pepper spray, etc., allowing for quick application of the products in seconds instead of having to laboriously rub and slather it on to places with your hands or a brush.

However, the mechanics of aerosol sprays can be a bit of a double-edged sword to the user or other people in close proximity. There can be common instances where someone creates a big enough cloud, or if someone is dumb enough to walk in the direction that the spray is moving in, that they wind up choking on a rather unpleasant taste. There are also times where someone may have an allergic reaction to the substance, get knocked out by it, accidentally hold the can backwards and spray themselves in the face resulting in uncomfortable situations, or in the most extreme cases, death. Either way, one must be careful when using sprays, as you never know what could happen.

Usually Played for Laughs. See also Had the Silly Thing in Reverse.


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  • At one point, evil agents kept coming up with plans to steal the secret formula for Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes from Tony the Tiger. One such plan involved a Fem Bot tiger that would spray Laughing Gas at Tony when he said about Frosted Flakes, "They're grrrrrreat!", giving the robot a chance to grab the formula while Tony was Helpless with Laughter. Just as she started to spray the gas, though, Tony accidentally hit her arm, causing her to spray the gas at herself instead.
    Robot: Ha ha ha! Hee hee hee! Ho ho ho...!
    Tony: Gee. She must think I'm a real gas.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop: Non-bug example. In "Mushroom Samba", Ed tracks down a bounty who pulled a hit and run on the Bebop's ship. When she confronts him, she tries to subdue him with stinky gas only for the gas to spread a little further then she was anticipating, causing not only her target to cough but her as well.
  • Moyashimon: Hazuki Oikawa is a bit of a neat freak, and tends to spray disinfectant everywhere she goes. When she does it in Misato and Kawakama's filthy dorm room, she accidentally kills the rare mold they were trying to cultivate on dead caterpillars. The two go ballistic on her, going on a rant about how trying to kill all germs is futile and can actually be bad for you, and that the human body is covered in harmless or even beneficial microscopic life-forms, including tiny mites that live on your eyelashes. This just causes Oikawa to freak out and try to spray the disinfectant on herself; in the manga, she goes so far as to deliberately spray it directly in her face.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency: Before talking to Speedwagon in episode 11 of the anime, Von Stroheim is seen killing flies with a can of bug spray, although he winds up choking on it shortly afterwards.
  • One-Punch Man: When one of Mosquito Girl's mosquitoes tries to steal Saitama's blood, he tries squishing it, only for it to somehow keep avoiding all of his attempts. Saitama then tries killing it with a can of bug spray when it returns to Mosquito Girl, only for him to be running into the spray and getting it in his mouth, desperately choking and trying to spit it out.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: (Pictured) Jon corners Garfield and triumphantly tells him it's time for his flea spray... then proceeds to spray a huge cloud of it in his own face.
  • Iznogoud: In "The Merchant of Forgetfulness", Iznogoud has spent most of the episode trying to get the Caliph to sniff any object he has sprayed with the amnesia-inducing perfume. In the end he decides to cut the middleman and spray the Caliph directly, only to make his attempt in a very drafty room...
  • A variant from The Far Side: A pair of explorers realise too late that they're using "On" instead of "Off".

    Films — Animation 
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Carl brings in his inhaler for show-and-tell. When he tries to demonstrate to the class how it works, he accidentally sprays himself in the face.
  • Rio 2: In one scene, Blu tries to get rid of a pesky fly by following its movements with blasts of bug spray. He accidentally sprays himself in the eyes when the fly goes by his face.
  • A variation in Monsters, Inc.: While hiding Boo in his & Sully's apartment from the authorities, Mike has a can of disinfectant to use on anything Boo touches. Unfortunately, when Boo sneezes on his face, he freaks and deliberately uses the disinfectant on himself, resulting in him screaming when the spray burns his eye.
  • In Vivo, the title character tries to get rid of some pursuing and rather aggressive girl scouts by spraying silly string at them, only to spray it backwards and into his own eye.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: During their big fight, Veronica sprays mace in Ron's eyes. A few moments later, Ron grabs the mace, intending to give Veronica a taste of her own medicine... only to spray himself in the eyes because he's holding it backwards.
  • Cruel Intentions: The confrontation with asthmatic hitman Wheezy Joe ends very suddenly when he puts his gun to his mouth and pulls the trigger, having mistaken it for his inhaler.
  • Dumb and Dumber: Not an aerosol, but in the movie, there's a running gag where Lloyd tries to spray breath freshener into his mouth only to have the nozzle pointed the wrong way, inadvertently spraying someone next to him by accident.

  • Trust Jennings: Jennings is playing around with an aerosol spray, but without paying attention to the nozzle direction, he ends up coating his hair with silvery grey paint. He then has to concoct one of his famous schemes to sneak into town and visit a hairdresser without the teachers' knowledge.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Community: In one episode, Annie and Shirley get jobs as campus security officers, although they are kinda mediocre at it, such as constantly arguing who is the bad cop of the duo. When Annie tries chasing Jeff, she starts spraying pepper spray, only for her to keep running through it and start crying in pain. The next scene shows Annie picking her hat up off the ground with a lot of makeup running down her face.
  • In the Frasier episode "Momma Mia," Niles accuses Frasier of having an Oedipal attraction to Mia, his new girlfriend because she's a dead ringer for his deceased mother. When Frasier gets frustrated and tries to put some bug spray on Niles, he accidentally sprays himself in the face as he was unknowingly holding it backwards, screaming "I blinded myself!" — an allusion to the historical Oedipus.
  • In one Friends episode, Chandler has started smoking again. His office has a no-smoking policy, so after he takes a drag he sprays some air freshener into a fan to cover up the smoke smell, then sprays his mouth with breath freshener. At one point he's so distracted that he swaps the two cans, spraying the breath freshener into the fan and the air freshener into his mouth. Ugh.
  • Game Shakers: One episode has the office being invaded by a flock of pigeons, which prompts Double G to call an exterminator named Bobby Dong to get rid of them. The latter does so by using a device resembling a bug bomb to release a knockout gas, which not only knocks out the pigeons but everyone else in the office except Bobby himself.
  • When Blanche tries to apply hairspray in The Golden Girls, she points the canister at herself as intended. The problem is that she took the container from Rose's purse without asking and didn't know it was actually a can of mace.
    Blanche: So I took out your hairspray to give my hair a final spritz? Only surprise, it wasn't hairspray... it was mace. You had mace, your hairspray was mace, I maced myself right there in the police station!
  • In the finale of The IT Crowd, the heroes launch a new, concentrated pepper spray for women. To give it a feminine touch, it comes in a pretty perfume bottle. What could possibly go wrong?
  • M*A*S*H; in the episode "The Price of Tomato Juice", the camp is dealing with an infestation of flies and BJ ends up taking an errant flit gun spray from Hawkeye when trying to clear out the Swamp.
  • One playing of "What's in the Bag?" on the revival Whose Line Is It Anyway? features Ryan making a bad breath joke and spritzing breath spray he found in his purse at Colin (who is well out of range). He quickly jolts in surprise when he realizes that the spray was pushed back into his own face. And it wasn't breath spray...
    Aisha: (still laughing hysterically at the end of the game) "You maced yourself..."

    Visual Novels 
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry's Eye-Opening Arc, Shion winds up needing to fend off a surprise attack from Rika at the main house. Rika starts out by using pepper spray to disable Shion, but she accidentally manages to breathe in a little herself. While it doesn't affect her too badly, it gives Shion the opportunity to get herself together and hit Rika. This gets rid of Rika's advantage of surprise. The fight doesn't last very long after that point.

    Web Comics 
  • Pip from Sequential Art goes to kill a spider in the bathroom using aerosol deodorant and a cigarette lighter. He succeeds in torching the entire bathroom and singeing himself as well in strip #9. However, Pip only supplied the ignition source; moments before, Scarlet had used an aerosol can to drive that same spider out of the attic and into the bathroom in strip #462.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ant and the Aardvark: In "Technology, Phooey", Aardvark attempts to use some spray on Charlie. But instead, he inadvertently ends up spraying himself, which results in the side effect reaction of him switching positions quickly and spasmodically, and changing into an assortment of colors and patterns.
    Charlie: Man, he must be having a bad trip!
  • In the Beavis and Butt-Head segment "Die Fly, Die!", after attempts to get rid of a fly using a shovel, a hammer, and a hedge trimmer fail, they use a can of insecticide but because they stay in the room and don't open any windows, they pass out. When they wake up, they see the mess their room is in and think they must have had a party in their house.
  • Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese: In "Camp Champs", the boys are attacked by a huge swarm of mosquitoes, only for Dog to pull out two cans of insect repellent and start frantically spraying them everywhere. The mosquitoes then head towards the girls, but the boys wind up choking on the massive cloud of bug spray.
  • In Carmen Sandiego, the A.C.M.E agents are all armed with knockout gas guns that seem to hit themselves or fellow agents more often than the intended targets.
  • In one episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Fat Cat plans to swap out gold bars with bricks spray painted gold. While painting the bricks, Mole has the spray can backwards and accidentally sprays Mepps in the face. Aggravated, Mepps takes the can to do it himself...only for him to spray himself in the face.
  • In "Dan Vs. Baseball", Dan gets maced right in the face; however, he's been maced so many times he's completely immune to it. While being sprayed with the mace, Dan just simply twists the bottle around so the man ends up macing himself and does feel its full effects.
  • Futurama: In "The Deep South", Professor Farnsworth prepares to spray his fishing hook with the most powerful aphrodisiac known to fish kind. He ends up spraying his face resulting in multiple fish jumping on his head. Followed by Zoidberg...
  • In the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Mickey's Garden", Mickey uses a flit gun to fumigate his garden, but after he reloads the gun gets stuck. While trying to clear the tip, Pluto, whose head is stuck inside a pumpkin, accidentally backs up and sprays Mickey in the face, the fumes of the pesticide giving him hallucinations of giant bugs.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "No Free Rides", Mrs. Puff steals SpongeBob's boat. He tries to pepper spray her but sprays himself instead. While he's in pain, Mrs. Puff kicks him out of the boat.
    • He does it again in "Eek! An Urchin" when trying to clean up some ketchup he spilled, this time with a can of cleaning spray.


Video Example(s):


Blu Tries To Spray A Fly

Blu tries to get rid of a pesky fly by following its movements with blasts of bug spray. He accidentally sprays himself in the eyes when the fly goes by his face.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / AerosolSprayBackfire

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