Pillow fights are often used to display and highlight innocence, immaturity, and child mischief. Pillow fights usually happen at a kid's Slumber Party, and other such events where kids have to stay the night with each other.
They almost always start where one character chucks a pillow at a more serious character out of boredom or just to provoke them, the second chucks it back and like a Food Fight, and it snowballs from there. When adults get into pillow fights, it's usually either to show that they are immature, or still kids at heart. In works that don't take themselves too seriously, pillow fights play out like fight scenes, cause exaggerated amounts of damage, and might even cause injuries.
Pillow fight also tend to cause a big mess with feathers littering the room. Parents will often have to come up to the room to see what all the noise is about.
Childish pillow fights are a staple in Kid Coms and in shows aimed primarily at girls.
- Eyeshield 21: A "uselessly bad-ass" pillow fight between members of the Japanese team during the World Youth Cup arc involves players using their special techniques with the pillows against each other.
- In Fairy Tail, there is a pillow fight after the Garuna arc, just before Loki is revealed to be Leo, stellar spirit of the Lion. It starts out pretty normal, then Natsu hits Lucy so hard with a pillow she ends up flat on her back in the yard. She decides to leave before she gets killed.
- In the two-part "Remote Island Syndrome" from Haruhi Suzumiya, the title character is extremely good at it during the club trip. Just before the murder mystery starts, Haruhi throws one into Arakawa's face unerringly. The Mood Whiplash is quite hard, especially if you haven't read the light novels.
- In K-On!, Mugi can hardly wait to start a pillow fight during the class trip. She has scarily good aim, too.
- In episode 12 of Kotoura-san, after Haruka rightfully calls her mother Kumiko out on her cold treatment of her for the past ten years, the two engage in this.
- One Piece: When the Strawhats spend the night in Yuba, a pillow fight is started when Usopp tries to sleep, claiming he'd worked hard that day. Zoro angrily throws a pillow at him saying he'd rested the most of any of them. Usopp throws one at Zoro as payback, one at Chopper for having to be carried the whole way, and one at Sanji for trying to sleep in Vivi's bed. Eventually the four of them start beating each other up.
- In Sailor Moon S, Usagi and the rest of the inner senshi have a pillow fight while staying at a shrine while Makoto was training.
- Akira and Fumi from Sweet Blue Flowers love to show their friendship by pummeling each other with pillows from time to time.
- In Tokyo Mew Mew, the girls have a sleepover on Minto's house and ended up having a pillow fight. One of the pillows rip and stuffing (feather?) rain ensues.
- In a Garfield strip, Jon challenges Garfield to a pillow fight. Garfield easily defeats him with a pillow stuffed with a giant chicken's feathers.
- Comically exaggerated by Fluffle Puff, who appears to be misunderstanding why pillow fights exist the whole way through. It says a lot that she starts by bludgeoning Dan unconscious with a pillow and goes on from there.
- In A Voice Among the Strangers, Jessica and Ebony start one with Aurora Blossom, which quickly draws in Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Twilight Sparkle, Spike and Luna. It resumes several times over the course of the fic.
- In Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted the penguins are seen having a pillow fight as they trash a Monte Carlo hotel room.
Skipper: Chimichanga! These pillows are filled with baby birds!
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Legend of Everfree: One of the snapshots shown during the song "Legend You Were Meant to Be" features Applejack, Sunset Shimmer and Rainbow Dash indulging in a pillow fight.
- In Almost Angels, the choirboys get involved in a pillow fight after hours, during a time when they are supposed to sleep. The choir director hears them, but waits outside the door for a few minutes before knocking on it, at which point all the boys scramble back into their beds before they go to sleep. The implication is that the director is tolerant of a certain degree of childish mischief, and was willing to let them have a bit of fun before getting them to stop so that they could get enough sleep. The pillow fight also fits in with one of the themes of the movie, which is that the choirboys may sing like angels but they still act much like ordinary children.
- Played straight in Fanny and Alexander, when Fanny, Alexander, some other kids, and the maid have a pillow fight on Christmas, complete with a pillow exploding into a cloud of feathers.
- Napoléon: After two bullies at Brienne College set Napoleon's eagle free, he demands to know who's responsible. When nobody will tell him, he declares all of them guilty, and a pillow fight breaks out.
- Roy, Chon, and a bunch of girls have one in Shanghai Knights.
- Taken to Serious Business levels in the Community episode "Pillows and Blankets", in which an attempt to build a school-wide pillow fort turns into a schism about whether the fort should be a pillow fort or a blanket fort, which in turn becomes a massive school-wide pillow fight that is treated by the combatants (and a documentary crew filming a record of an attempt to break a Guinness World Record) as if it were an unseen chapter of the American Civil War.
- The Jeffersons: George & Louise are given a pair of foam bats as a part of couples therapy. At the end of the episode they, the Willises, and Florence all go after each other (in a playful way) with the bats and some throw pillows for those without bats.
- This is referenced in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where Lisa and Will are given foam bats as part of their pre-marital counseling. George and Louise are there for counseling themselves. Sure enough, the two couples eventually engage in an all-out brawl when each person gets offended by another's snide comment about their partner. Bizarrely enough, the counselor's tactics work—whatever bickering both couples were engaging in, it's put aside to join forces against a common enemy.
- How to Be Indie: According to "How To Keep Your Cool In A Heat Wave", Evil Cousin Rubi takes these very seriously. She even has a hand-tooled fighting pillow.
- The Partridge Family: Danny and Chris get in one in "This Is My Song." Shirley goes into their room to tell them to quit fighting and go to sleep, but as soon as she's gone, they start hitting each other again.
- In The Sims, Sims can have pillow fights. In The Sims 2, their likelihood of doing so is influenced by their level of playfulness. If you have a couple playful Sims in the same place, a pillow fight is bound to break out eventually, to the annoyance of some players. It's a bit silly when a Senior Manager brings home one of her coworkers and they start beating each other with pillows.
- Hisao and Emi have a few during Emi's route in Katawa Shoujo.
- During The Nostalgia Critic's and The Nostalgia Chick's review of FernGully: The Last Rainforest, the two get into a brutal fistfight... intercut randomly with them cheerfully pillow fighting.
- Towards the end of the Arthur episode, "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", after successfully making it through the night at Muffy's slumber party without wetting the bed, Jenna has a pillow fight with her friends. Since she had a pull-up hidden in her pillowcase, she ends up exposing it during the pillow fight.
- The end credits for Code Lyoko Season 1 (taken from the short pilot Garage Kids) show Ulrich and Yumi having a pillow fight.
- On Dragon Tales, there's one in "The Big Sleepover," though it doesn't last long at first because Cassie is missing her family too much to get into it. After the solution is devised of her staying for a "half sleepover," she initiates a new one, surprising everyone.
- Played straight in Family Guy when the guys start out as playful until it turns into an all out brawl.
- In the Goof Troop episode "Midnight Movie Madness", Max and PJ have a pillow fight to settle a dispute about whether Pete was telling the truth about the Mutilator being real. Apparently, they have decided this is the only proper way to settle any best friends' dispute.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: The pilot "Meet The Reaper" ends with Billy having a pillow fight with Grim's body. Grim's head is with Mandy.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Look Before You Sleep" features Twilight Sparkle throwing her first slumber party, and she's eager to take part in all the trappings. She's a little slow realizing that a pillow fight is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, even as one breaks out between Rarity and Applejack, who get a teensy bit too competitive.
Twilight Sparkle: Ohhh, I get it. Pillow fight. Fun!
- A less hostile version occurs in "School Daze" between students.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Secret Box", SpongeBob sneaks into Patrick's house at night in order to get his secret box. When Patrick wakes up, he thinks SpongeBob is the Clam Burglar and tells him to 'prepare for the most unpleasant pillow fight of [his] life!' before cocking his pillow like a gun.
- In the We Bare Bears episode "Slumber Party", Chloe and the Bears have a pillow fight during their impromptu sleepover.
- In The Angry Beavers, a drowsy Norbert and Daggett have the least energetic pillow fight ever.