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A Sub-Trope of Hollywood Density, common in cartoons, characters will inflate a balloon (or another person) with their breath and automatically it starts to float. A bubblegum-based variant exists. See also Balloonacy for when the same balloons, inflated with human breath, actually can lift something else up, and Balloon of Doom if the same balloons are Played for Horror. Related to Rule of Funny.

Examples with actual balloons:

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  • There is a very old McDonald's ad where Ronald inflates his clothes (apparently a jumpsuit) with lung power in order to fly.
  • A commercial for a Clinique skin care product has a water balloon floating.

    Asian Animation 
  • The title character of Kuang Kuang can blow into a condom to make it float like a helium balloon.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Winnie the Pooh:
    • In the first Winnie the Pooh story, Pooh uses a balloon to pretend to be a cloud. It's not 100% clear whether it was already inflated (in which case it could be filled with helium) or whether it got inflated via lung power during the course of the story, possibly because this story is very specifically being told by A. A. Milne to Christopher Robin (with interruptions and such): on the one hand, Christopher Robin had brought it home from a party; on the other hand, the illustration shows him blowing it up and the text also says "and when the balloon was blown up as big as big". It's also notable that the balloon conveniently rises so it's exactly level with the top of the tree.
    • One episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, "Balloonatics", had a balloon that Christopher Robin described as being "made of rubber and air" but was capable of carrying Pooh just like in the book. Later, Christopher reinflates it with his breath and it is buoyant enough to carry not just Pooh, but the other animals who grabbed on to try to bring him back down (except Tigger, who clearly wanted to go along for the ride).
  • Subverted in one Encyclopedia Brown story. A witness claimed he saw a man known for handing out balloons abducting a child when one of his trademark balloons flew into a tree and got stuck. The witness said he climbed the tree to retrieve it when he saw the balloon man put the kid in his car and drive off. Encyclopedia deduced the witness was lying because the aforementioned balloon man always inflated his balloons by mouth, and therefore none would have flown.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Both averted and played straight in the "Golden Age of Ballooning" episode. When Barry Zeppelin blows up balloons, they immediately fall to the ground when he releases them. However, when he tries to blow up a large balloon, the air rushes back into his body and inflates him, and he floats away.
  • Played with in Are You Being Served?: Mrs Slocombe is accused of being drunk, and she's asked to blow into a breathalyzer balloon. She does so and the balloon floats away.

  • Old Master Q have the titular character filling up Chiu's flat football, with helium (it's ambiguous if he had the gas mixed-up by accident, or did it on purpose to pull a prank). When Chiu tries kicking it, the football promptly floats away.

    Music Videos 
  • The Killers inflate and release balloons in the video for "Read My Mind". Mocked in the literal video version. "How'd we make these fly?"

    Video Games 
  • Wario Land 4: Aerodent, the aerial rodent, blows up its own teddy-bear balloon.
  • In Donkey Kong 64, Lanky Kong can "inflate himself just like a balloon" to float himself places once he buys the potion.
  • Wes in Don't Starve can blow balloons at the cost of five sanity points apiece. He must exhale helium, because they do indeed float.
  • Flower Knight Girl: Balloon Vine specializes in creating balloons, whether for achieving her dream of flight via Balloonacy or weaponizing them against pests. Justified, as aside from her use of magic being one way to sidestep the issue, her handmade efforts are made possible via a special type of medicine that makes one's breath lighter than air, allowing for the buoyant effect when the balloons are inflated by just blowing into it.
  • Kirby can inflate himself to fly around as one of his standard abilities, though some games limit this flight by how long he can hold his breath. King Dedede can pull this trick as well, though it's a little harder to justify a fat blue penguin flying than a little, pink ball creature.
  • Mario Party: Happens in the Balloon Burst mini-game, in which the Bowser balloons float up simply from inflating them with hand-operated air pumps. The two teams of players have to inflate it by rapidly pulling and pushing the pumps, and whichever team manages to make their balloon burst first wins. The minigame returns in Mario Party 2 and works exactly the same way, with the only difference being the scenery.
  • Some Pokémon games have an Air Balloon item that causes the holding Pokémon to float and evade Ground-type moves.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: At the end of Rabbit Stew and Rabbits Too!, the Quick Brown Fox lies dazed on a tablecloth. Rapid Rabbit inflates a big balloon simply by blowing into it, ties the four corners of the tablecloth to it, and sends the poor fox flying.
  • Wacky Races had two examples involving Dick Dastardly. In the The Great Cold Rush Race, Dastardly inflated an inflatable version of the Mean Machine from inside it to overtake the other cars into first place, but it backfired when Muttley tapped him on the back, inflating Dastardly. In Whizzin' to Washington, Dastardly uses his breath to inflate a giant balloon hoping to send the other cars away by popping it. The balloon floats while Dastardly is inflating it, allowing the cars to pass.
  • Vinni Pukh, the balloon Pooh uses to reach the beehive was already inflated, but then Pooh blows even more air into it to make it bigger and only then he manages to fly up with it. Earlier, Piglet tried blowing air into it and inflated himself.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In "Toon Physics", Orson Whales gave a lecture on this after Furball falls victim to an Inflating Body Gag, pointing out that "any old gas will do" for making an object float in cartoons. He also said that a can of baked beans would've been funnier.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "London Town Treachery": After Penelope is kidnapped, Pockets blows up a balloon with his breath and it floats up into the air for use as an observation balloon.
  • Happens in the second season credits for Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Happens in Peppa Pig in the episode Mummy Pig's Birthday.
  • In an episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford inflates a balloon, which floats.
  • An episode of the Beetle Bailey cartoon had Sgt. Snorkel eat so much that he got a literal Balloon Belly and floated away. Makes even less sense than normal examples of this trope, as he's stuffed with food, not air.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Simpsons; a child photographer tries to get Maggie to smile by increasing the pitch of his voice, only to dejectedly realize that the balloon just contains air.
  • Happens in the opening sequence for Mike, Lu & Og, where Lu attempts to inflate a balloon, but the air blows back inside her, causing her to inflate and float away.
  • Mr. Funny did this once in The Mr. Men Show.
  • In one episode of The Robonic Stooges, Curly inflates himself so he, Larry and Moe can escape a castle where all the exits are locked.
  • In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, the brothers create a soap bubble with a super-strong skin similar to a balloon. When it threatens to burst by touching the ground, Baljeet panics and starts hyperventilating - which makes the bubble grow and start rising again.
    • Semi-averted because hyperventilating would increase the temperature of the bubble, and the rise in temperature would cause the bubble to rise.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • In the episode "The Sponge Who Could Fly," SpongeBob accidentally tucks a hairdryer in his pants, which causes them to inflate and thus allows him to float.
    • In the episode "Rock Bottom", a fish blows into SpongeBob's Glove World balloon with his breath causing it to float up with SpongBob tied to the other end causing him to float up and allowing him to escape Rock Bottom.
  • Inch High, Private Eye: The end of the opening titles has Inch High, plummeting to the ground, blowing up a balloon that manages to keep him airborne.
  • Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: Done by Commander McBragg in a flashback, in which he was a balloon vendor.
  • Occurs at the end of an episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when Christopher Robin re-inflates the balloon that Pooh and the others thought was popped when it was really deflated.
  • The Pink Panther:
    • "Dial P For Pink" has a thief inserting a balloon in a hole in the side of a safe he's trying to crack (with the Panther inside it thwarting his every move) and inflating it with his breath. The safe rises, as the thief walks off with the safe tied to a string floating above him.
    • "Pink Outs" (a series of 12 unrelated comedy vignettes) has a segment where the Panther offers to blow up a little boy's balloon. It is inflated to giant proportions, then the air in it suddenly expels back into the Panther. He is now balloon sized, floating in mid-air, as the little boy walks off with him, holding Pink's tail.
  • In one episode of Pippi Longstocking, as she manages to inflate her father's hot air balloon with nothing but her breath and have it fly. Then again, we're talking about Pippi, so this isn't too surprising.
  • The 1947 Donald Duck short Wide Open Spaces ends with a wobbling tree branch pounding onto the pump attached to Donald's air mattress, which floats up in the sky as it expands.
  • The 1956 Tom and Jerry short "Muscle Beach Tom" has a probable example of this trope. Tom uses a tank from a balloon stand to inflate his bathing suit, which causes him to float in the air. The tank is labeled simply with "AIR" by the animators, which could lead to some confusion as to what gas the tank is actually filled with, though in every instance of use, the gas behaves as helium.

Examples with bubblegum balloons:

  • Skittles: In "Inflate the Rainbow", after refusing to share Skittles Bubble Gum with someone, a man blows a bubble, grabs hold of it, and floats away.
  • An Old Navy commercial from 2006 had a woman blow a bubble that lifted her into the air, and people started forming a human chain to make sure she doesn't float away. Said bubble eventually became the size of a house and the chain had at least 15 people wearing denim jeans.
  • A series of animated commercials for Bubblicious bubble gum from the early 80's had kids blowing "The Ultimate Bubble" with their product, allowing them to float off the ground and travel through outer space.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of the comic book version of ALF plays with this trope, justifying it with Bizarre Alien Biology: Melmacians (at least when on Melmac) exhale helium.
  • In Green Lantern #28, the Fool escaped prison by blowing a bubble of sufficient strength to carry his weight and float over the prison walls.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Peanuts, Lucy has been known to chew bubble gum and blow bubbles that make her float.

    Video Games 
  • EarthBound (1994): The Bubble Monkey has the ability to levitate himself with bubblegum.
  • In Sonic Heroes, blowing gum is Vector the Crocodile's chosen method of hovering.
  • Storm Jaxon, the hero of Skuljagger, uses a variety of gum as power-ups. The cherry gives him hovering abilities.
  • In Sid & Al's Incredible Toons and The Incredible Toon Machine, a pack of bubble gum is one of the objects in the game and may be used by Sid or Al to take flight.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island has a puzzle whose solution is to inhale a helium balloon and then chew some bubble gum so that it floats out of a window. Besides this being physiologically impossible without Guybrush passing out from lack of oxygen, one wonders how both helium and bubble gum were accessible in the 17th century.
    • Guybrush is famously capable of holding his breath for a very long time.
  • Two optional quests in Lil Gator Game give you an item you can equip to let you float. One (for rescuing the kid who was riding a bunch of balloons) is an actual helium balloon that appears and disappears, and the other (for cleaning the cardboard monsters off the old man's roof) is gum that you blow bubbles with.


    Western Animation 
  • ChalkZone used the bubble gum variant of this trope in one episode where Rudy is telling a story of one of his escapades in the titular ChalkZone; while ChalkZone is a different dimension with things that make little to no sense in the real world, the trope still applies. Penny hangs a lampshade on this implausibility.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • The episode "For Your Ed Only" starts off with Edd showing the two other Eds some type of chewing gum he made, Ed uses this to blow a bubble and is then lifted away by it.
      Edd: Ed, are you blowing a bubble? Heavens, I don't have data for this!
      Eddy: HEY! Get back here with my gum!
    • Later in the episode, the Eds are cornered by Sarah ready to tear them to pieces when Ed and Eddy make Edd chew the gum so they can float and escape. When he can't chew it fast enough, Ed blows into Edd's mouth causing his hat to inflate.
  • The DuckTales (1987) episode "The Big Flub" centered on a bubble gum-like substance that was marketed as Pep. It allowed its user to float using the bubbles that were blown. The advertising campaign and its effect made it incredibly popular until its horrific side-effects were discovered.
  • Johnny Test: Wacko once made gum with "helium crystals" that, when blown, creates bubbles capable of levitating children into the air in another one of his ultimately omnicidal plans.
  • Sesame Street had an animation where an aviator orders 5 pounds of bubble gum.