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Cobweb of Disuse

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"This only proves what I've long suspected: grapes are eternal."
A cobweb or two is often used as a sign that something hasn't been used or hasn't moved in a while. This is a standard part of the decor in Haunted Castles and Haunted Houses, so much so that white fibrous decorations simulating cobwebs appear in stores every October.
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In Real Life, this is only partially true. A spider only needs a few hours to build a web on something. On the other hand, not regularly removing cobwebs from something will allow dust to build up on them, making them a lot easier to see.

Taken to extremes, this can become a Cobweb Jungle. Compare Bat Scare and Wallet Moths. See also Trash of the Titans and Extremely Dusty Home.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • A Duracell commercial from 1988 features a man putting a flashlight powered by Duracell batteries in a shed. Inside the shed, a spider spends the next three years making cobwebs, which the announcer uses to describe the shelf life of the then-new-and-improved Duracell battery. The spider flees when the man who put the flashlight in the shed takes it out from beneath the cobwebs to test it.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ranma ½: Happens within minutes to the Tendou household when they temporarily lose all their money due to shenanigans involving Nabiki.
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    Asian Animation 
  • In certain episodes of Happy Heroes, characters accumulate several cobwebs after standing or sitting in the same place for a long time.

    Comics 
  • MAD Magazine did this a LOT, particularly Sergio Aragones' "A MAD look at _____". If a person bought something that sits in disuse, you'll see it sitting on a shelf or in a closet with spider webs.
  • Persons sleeping at work or waiting for a long time in any situation are sometimes depicted like this as well.

    Fanfic 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: As in the episode Amending Fences, Twilight’s old tower is a dusty, cobwebbed mess when she and the others visit in chapter 13, since nopony’s set hoof in it since she left for Ponyville in the first episode. The seven promptly set to cleaning it up.

    Film 
  • Played with in the 1931 Dracula, where much of the Count's castle is swathed in cobwebs that make it appear totally deserted. At least, they seem to imply nobody's been using it ... until a sneaky camera cut makes it appear that the vampire has walked straight through a large orb web without disturbing it.
  • The Indiana Jones movies had this, what with all the ancient ruins and stuff.
  • The chapel in The Legend Of Hell House has these, especially over the crucifix. Since the house's previous inhabitants were notoriously irreligious, the trope is apropos.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie keeps the desk of his late brother and partner Teddy untouched since his death as a Shrine to the Fallen. It is covered in cobwebs and layers of dust.
  • Cobwebs and dust litter the old church basement in Evilspeak.
  • Common set decor in the Roger Corman/Vincent Price films based on Edgar Allan Poe stories. Lampshaded by Peter Lorre in The Raven (1963):
  • The page image is from the 1973 Polish film The Hourglass Sanatorium, in which the protagonist visits the eponymous institution and learns it is falling into neglected ruin.
  • In A Christmas Carol (1984) the ringer on Scrooge's doorbell is covered in cobwebs, implying that no one ever calls and Scrooge is too cheap to hire a maid.
  • Alien vs. Predator. Appear in a pyramid buried under the Antarctica ice. Exactly how spiders manage to exist in these conditions is not mentioned.

    Literature 
  • In the Thursday Next books, Thursday mentions the cobwebs at Satis House when she goes there to meet her Jurisfiction mentor Miss Havisham.
  • Jenna's Palace in Septimus Heap is filled with cobwebs, mostly due to the staff being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Palace and only a few parts being truly used.
  • In The Mallorean, Salmissra aims a Take That! at Polgara when the snake queen says that the long centuries have filled the sorceresses wits with cobwebs.
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    Live Action TV 
  • In the beginning of the BBC series Sleepers, about a couple of KGB agents sent to be sleeper agents in the UK in 1966, the present day (1990) KGB discover the bricked up, unused facility where the agents were trained, full of mid-sixties British pop culture and cobwebs.
  • Doctor Who: The banquet hall and the suits of armour (which are actually the Gundan robots) are covered in cobwebs when the Doctor finds them in "Warriors' Gate".

    Pinball 
  • Not surprisingly, Gottlieb's Haunted House is full of these. There's even a cobweb covering the window overlooking the lower Cellar playfield.

    Religion 
  • Invoked by Allah himself in one of the very few miracles stated to have happened around Muhammad is, when he was escaping the city of Mecca and the Qraysh who were out to kill him, that he and his friend Abu Bakr hid in a tiny cave. Their pursuers followed their track to the entrance of the cave, but in the meantime a spider had woven her web all over the entrance and a dove had set her nest there. They decided that clearly no-one had gotten in there, and resumed their search elsewhere.
  • A similar tale is also told about King David (hiding from Saul) in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The second edition of Dungeons & Dragons had an illusion like this, to confuse burglars and thereby protect valuables.

    Theme Parks 
  • Fairly ubiquitous in Disney Theme Parks:
    • While the foyer of The Haunted Mansion is fairly clean and orderly, the further into the mansion, the dirtier the mansion gets. But never too dirty, as it is inhabited by 999 happy haunts.
    • The lobby of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is absolutely covered in dusty cobwebs to show how supernaturally quickly the hotel was abandoned.

    Video Games 
  • The school in Aka Manto has a few huge cobwebs in it.
  • As one of its first puzzles, Anchorhead has a cobweb standing between you and an intriguing-looking iron key in the corner of the Verlac mansion basement.
  • In both expansions for the first F.E.A.R., cobwebs mark abandoned areas. Those are usually more haunted than normal.
  • In Minecraft, poisonous spiders have webs in abandoned mine shafts. Cobwebs also show up in libraries within strongholds, though this scenario doesn't guarantee spiders.
  • In Psychonauts, parts of people's minds which haven't been accessed in a long time are blocked by "mental cobwebs" which you need to buy a specific piece of equipment to clear.
  • Scrap Garden: Seen in at least one level.
  • Soul At Stake: A screenshot of the game shows off an area with quite a lot of cobwebs.
  • The abandoned inn in the mountains in Yuki Onna (2020) has some pretty big cobwebs in it.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Scooby-Doo episode "What the Hex is Going On?", the old Kingston Mansion has these in the background (corners, connecting furniture to walls). Also present in the Vasquez Castle (notably on the portrait) in "Hassle in the Castle".
  • The Simpsons: When the family goes to the library to do research for school they find no books and cobwebs on the shelves. So Marge tells them stories of Henry VIII, Sacagawea and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
  • On the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Pretty Patties", the Krusty Krab is covered in cobwebs when business gets slow. SpongeBob tries to clean one, a spider makes another one. Later, Mr. Krabs himself is seen covered in cobwebs.
  • In Donald in Mathmagic Land, the Spirit of Adventure finds Donald's mind full of cobwebs (along with filing cabinets full of stuff like "Antiquated Ideas" and "Superstition"), and literally cleans it out to prepare Donald for some mental exercises.
  • Hilda: in Episode 10, the room inside the weather station where Hilda and David end up after entering through a window is filled with these, proving none of the equipment has been used in a long time. David naturally runs into some of the cobwebs.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • In "Edward, Gordon, and Henry/Henry to the Rescue", Henry spends several weeks in his tunnel after Sir Topham Hatt bricks it up when Henry refuses to leave during a rainstorm that occured in the previous episode, "The Sad Story of Henry/Come Out Henry". When Gordon breaks down near Henry's tunnel and Edward is unable to move the heavy express coaches by himself, Gordon suggests that Henry pull the train. When Henry gets out of the tunnel, the narrator tells the viewers that Henry was dirty and covered in cobwebs.
    • In "Granpuff", the Mid-Sodor Railway closes down, and when Stuart and Falcon are sold but not Duke, Duke is left alone in a shed. He takes a nap that lasts several decades as his shed is buried by an overgrowth of vegetation. In the following episode, "Sleeping Beauty", a rescuer searching for Duke so he can restore him to his former glory unknowingly stands on the roof of Duke's shed, causing it to collapse from under his weight and him to fall inside. When the rescuer finds Duke, Duke is shown to be covered in cobwebs.

    Real Life 
  • When the Nazis invaded France, many French people would hide their valuables in their wine cellars by bricking off part of the cellar. They would then find spiders and place them in front of the newly built walls so they would build webs and make the walls look older. (In a similar vein, wine merchants would often run a scam against Nazi officials by sprinkling dust on top of bottles of cheap crap to pass it off as old and valuable.)
    • Speaking of wine and cobwebs, wine bottles are possibly the only food-item that you'd want to be delivered to you with dust and cobwebs all over it, unless the wine wasn't bottled and kept properly and turned into vinegar.
  • Invoked by Halloween cobweb decor, and often Giant Spider models.

Alternative Title(s): Cobwebs Of Disuse

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