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Balloon of Doom

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They float. They all float.

"BALLOOOOOOOOOOON!"
The Nostalgia Critic, reacting with faux horror to Pennywise's balloons in It (1990)

Party balloons. They're colorful and fun, and kids love them. Naturally, this often leads to their fun reputation being twisted into something horrifying. This trope is when such balloons are seen negatively. They may be symbols representing villainous clowns or other characters, or the balloons may be characters themselves.

This is perhaps due to the rising trend of Monster Clowns — many people are scared of clowns, so clowns are portrayed as evil, and as a result, clown props like balloons get the same treatment.

May be combined with Balloonacy.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Mannish Boy's Death Thirteen's bring his targets in an Amusement Park of Doom dream world that's brightly-coloured with balloons, various rides, and roller coasters, enough to make the victims doubt they're in any danger until it's too late.
    • Steel Ball Run: Mike O.'s Tubular Bells allows him to inflate balloons out of metal that can be twisted and bent to turn into animals to attack their opponents.

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy:
    • Played with in episode 6; when Adu Du and his minions learn BoBoiBoy Lightning has a fear of popping balloons, they proceed to pop several balloons in his face, frightening him to near-exhaustion, and eventually enraging him enough to unlock his Next Tier Power-Up, BoBoiBoy Thunderstorm.
    • In BoBoiBoy Galaxy, Jugglenaut equips himself with Balloonbot in order to weaponise balloons. He appears to make a harmless balloon flower, but it blows up when touched. Then he attacks the heroes with balloon animals and mines.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween: When R.L. Stine sees Slappy's army of Halloween monsters rampaging through the city, he notices an ominous red balloon floating near him and exclaims "I knew it! I knew I came up with that first!"
  • It (2017): The titular Eldritch Abomination often carries balloons in its Monster Clown disguise or leaves balloons for the children to find as a tacit threat that it's watching them. Exaggerated when It appears before Eddie standing stock-still, its face hidden by the point of a huge triangle arrangement of red balloons.
  • The Living Daylights: In Vienna, Necros is disguised as a balloon salesman at a carnival, where he kills Saunders with rigged sliding doors. He leaves a balloon with the words 'Smiert Spionam' written on it floating next to the body for Bond to find.
  • The Black Phone: The killer is shown handling some surprisingly ominous black balloons.
  • Nope: Gordy's violent rampage was kicked off when the chimp actor, already on edge from the studio audience full of smiling humans making eye contact with him, was startled by a balloon popping in the hot studio lights. As more balloons went off, the chimp renewed his violence. Jean Jacket is also basically a giant living weather balloon in its true form seen at the end, and is itself is killed by a giant balloon popping inside it.

    Literature 
  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Human Nature, one of the aliens has the appearance of a little girl with a balloon. She can kill people by using it to 'snuggle' (suffocate) them, rather like Rover. note 
  • It: In the book, as well as its adaptions, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is frequently seen holding balloons of various colors. In the 1990 miniseries, the balloons burst with blood and come out in masses out of small containers.
  • The Origin of Laughing Jack: A variant. Laughing Jack uses a bit of Isaac's intestines to make a balloon animal, inflating it and twisting it into a poodle shape.
    Laughing Jack: I can make giraffes too!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Batman (1966): The Puzzler's episode had him associated with balloons, from using special "puzzle balloons" to fill a room with paralyzing gas, to sending up Batman and Robin in a hot air balloon as the episode's midpoint death trap.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: In "The Day of the Clown", children who receive a ticket for Spellman's Museum of the Circus start seeing a mysterious clown with a red balloon which no one else can see, until they mysteriously vanish. Sometimes it's just the balloon that shows up, a sign that the clown is watching. The clown, Odd Bob, is in fact an alien who was the original Pied Piper, seeking to feed on the fear of parents by kidnapping kids. In Part 2, Odd Bob drops balloons across Ealing that control any child who takes one, summoning them to him.
  • Stranger Things: When Max is trapped in her memories of the Snow Ball in the Season 4 finale, Vecna makes the decorative balloons explode blood to scare her.
  • Ultraman Ace has Bad Balloon, a cruel Choju that can disguise itself as a normal hot air balloon. It's an Emotion Eater that drains the youthful spirit of the children that took a ride in it and leaving them as joyless husks, and takes some children hostage in its body when it assumes its monstrous form to battle Ace. Horrifyingly, the drained children were so well-behaved that parents actually welcomed the balloon to their neighbourhoods before its monstrous identity was exposed.
  • In the The X-Files episode "The Calusari", a two-year-old wanders away from his mother while she is in the bathroom (even though he is in a safety leash) and ends up getting on a set of train tracks. Mom finds him just in time to see him get hit by the train. Scully and Mulder examine an image of the little boy that shows that he was following a balloon all the way from the rest room to the tracks, except the balloon was being pulled against the direction of the wind. It was the work of his older brother\'s dead twin, who died at birth.

    Music 
  • In the anti-war song "99 Luftballoons" by Nena (also known as "99 Red Balloons" in English), 99 balloons released into the sky are mistaken for a UFO by a trigger-happy Cold War-era government, causing an apocalyptic nuclear war.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic. Some magical balloons are dangerous to those who approach them. They include: Carnivorous (drains 2-12 Hit Points of blood by contact), Poison (releases a deadly poisonous gas), Rust (destroys metal objects that touch it), and Soap (sprays a soapy fluid that blinds victims for ten minutes).

    Video Games 
  • In Bloons Tower Defense series, the so-called Bloons are the enemies that you need to defend the lanes from. Although considering the No Plot? No Problem! nature of the games, it's unclear as to why you're fighting them at all.
  • Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars: The game starts with George encountering a clown with grinning balloons before it bombed a cafe.
  • Cuphead: Beppi the Clown, one of the game's many tricky bosses, has a stretchy, balloon-like body, most noticeable with his bulbous head. In phase 2 of his battle, his body is attached to a giant helium pump, and his head inflates into a giant balloon tied to his body with a string. The pump also shoots out balloon dog heads that swarm the arena to attack you.
  • In Five Nights At Freddys, Balloon Boy is an animatronic that resembles a small boy holding a balloon and sign. Once he gets into the office, he won't leave, and your lights will stop working... He also has a creepy laugh.
  • Garfield's Nightmare: The third boss is Jean Cloud, a sentient animal balloon that moves in the air thanks to three red balloons, and aims to harm Garfield by throwing teal-colored water balloons. Garfield has to hop onto an ascending helium balloon and stomp the boss to burst one of the three red balloons. Repeating the tactic until all three balloons explode will make the boss lose control of its flight and erratically move away, consumating its defeat.
  • The main antagonists of King & Balloon are hot-air balloons that drop from the sky and attempt to capture the King. The player has to shoot them down before they can reach the ground and pick up the King before lifting him away.
  • Mario Party:
    • Mario Party 4: One of Bowser's minigames aptly called "Balloon of Doom" has him force the players to take turns pumping a balloon that has his insignia on it by Ground Pounding a pump. Whoever is unlucky to pop the balloon loses the minigame and suffers one of Bowser's punishments afterwards (whether by stealing their coins or items) while the other players get off scot-free.
    • Mario Party 7: The minigame Balloon Busters has each player use the Mic to inflate a red balloon with the drawing of a huge explosion engraved in it (the player doesn't blow, but instead says "Bigger" to make their character blow once and "Stop" to end their turn). Each player must blow at least once so they have the option to stop, and can only blow up to five times; once they do either action, they go to a safe cover and the next player begins their turn. If a player plays for more than 15 seconds, their character will automatically blow up to the fifth time. Only the character who is behind the cover will be safe once the balloon explodes, as both the player blowing and the next two in the waiting line will be blasted away, losing the minigame.
  • No Delivery: One of the enemies you battle in the game is a balloon, going along with the theme of a Suck E. Cheese's being Played for Horror.
  • Pok√©mon: Drifloon, the Balloon Pokemon, is a Ghost type. Its Pokedex entries claim that it grabs onto children and carries them away. Or, at least it tries to, anyway. It still only has the lifting power of a single balloon, after all.
  • The 7th Guest: A Monster Clown akin to Pennywise appears in the game parlor as a cut-scene asking in a sinister tone if someone would like a balloon.
    Sinister Clown: Hehehe, want a balloon sonny? Here's a nice one. (voice distorts) Red ballooooooon! (evil laughter).
  • The Simpsons: The second boss is a giant, sentient balloon shaped like Krusty the Clown.

    Web Video 
  • The Nostalgia Critic: In his review of the It miniseries, the Nostalgia Critic frequently comments on how he does not find the balloons scary. That is, until a sentient balloon with hyper-realistic eyes begins stalking him, and at the end of the review seemingly murders him. The killer balloon would become a cameo character in the Nostalgia Critic's various Halloween specials in later years.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: In "Der Inflatable Fuhrer", Frylock takes on a freelance gig on filling up balloons with a deadly virus, something that even Shake calls sick. Frylock is then horrified to find out his employer are Those Wacky Nazis led by Adolf Hitlarious as a talking balloon.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Return of Harmony Part 1", Discord uses an illusion of creepy laughing balloons (Pinkie Pie's cutie mark) to mock Pinkie Pie in order to Corrupt the Cutie and break the Power of Friendship.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Balloony is a balloon that Doofenshmirtz obtained as a child. He painted a face on it and considered it his friend, but one day it drifted away. Doofenshmirtz would learn as an adult that Balloony had floated into outer space and been captured by the alien poacher Mitch, but was disappointed when the balloon "refused" to follow him any longer and chose Mitch over him.

    Real Life 
  • Balloonfest '86 was a fundraising event/publicity stunt where United Way set a world record by releasing 1.5 million balloons over Cleveland. Unfortunately, it was raining heavily that day, and the rain pushed the balloons back down, burying Cleveland in balloons. An airport runway had to shut down, multiple traffic collisions were reported, a woman's horses panicked and injured themselves, and two missing boaters in Lake Erie drowned because it was impossible to find them with the water covered in balloons.

You'll float, too.

 
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Dr. Crabulous

When arriving, Sonic encounters a giant inflatable version of a Crabmeat with a mustache called Dr. Crabulous.

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