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Ghosts Abhor a Vacuum

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Sucks to be a ghost right now

I am not afraid of you, fool! I fear only that infernal Poltergust 3000 you carry on your back! Stupid machine! But I am a KING among Boos! I swear it... I shall fear no mere house-cleaning device!!
King Boo, Luigi's Mansion
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Ghosts are terrifying. They're murderous. They can't be reasoned with. They're unstoppable. No weapon you use on them shows any effect. No barrier you set up can keep them away. You're doomed.

And then you pull out your secret weapon. The one thing in the world that can stop an evil spirit.

Is it a magical sword, imbued with the power of angels?

A powerful talisman that can shine holy light?

No, indeed, it isn't remotely magical at all, and in fact can be found in at least one closet of most modern homes: The dreaded vacuum cleaner.

Apparently, ghosts, wraiths, genies, and other specters are simply floating lumps of conscious gas, and quite easily dispelled by vacuuming them up. Of course, with ghosts being intangible, how exactly they are unable to escape the vacuum again afterwards is often left unexplained.

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Subtrope of Weapons That Suck. Compare Vicious Vac (which the vacuum certainly looks like from a ghosts perspective).


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • In an unusual variant, Matsuri's pinwheel can suck out evil spirits possessing a human body into itself through the base, then expel them out through its blades as a gust of wind. If he uses the technique on a (solid) ayakashi, it will suck away their power, weakening them.
    • Reo is introduced sucking up an ikon into a tube, not with a vacuum cleaner, but a hand-pumped air cylinder. This only works on amorphous ayakashi, whereas Shirogane simply got his tail caught in the nozzle. Paper talismans wrapped around the tube keep the ayakashi inside—until it breaks out because it's more powerful than Reo expected.
  • M78 Love and Peace: One of the short gags of this OVA spin-off of the Ultra Series has Ultraman working as a janitor in the Monster Graveyard, where he proceeds to suck up a whole ton of ghosts using a vacuum cleaner. He then noticed one last lonely ghost still around, which he quickly sucked up, only to result in said vacuum overloading and exploding, where all the ghosts in the vacuum merges into a giant-sized super-ghost and proceeds to chase Ultraman off-screen.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: Whisper has been sucked into a vacuum by accident in at least two episodes: once in "The Sleepover," and again in "Yo-Kai Peppillon."

    Comic Books 
  • The Dandy: Subverted. In one issue Brain Dwayne, feeling smug at people getting scared by a haunted house builds a modified vacuum and goes around it sucking up the ghosts. Its only after he gets home and boasts about it to his mother, that she asks what exactly stops the intangible ghosts from simply leaving the vacuum and he realises he didn't think of that. Cut the reveal all the annoyed spirits are now haunting his house.
  • Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges spirits' exist in gaseous forms that can be temporarily trapped inside a vacuum. The rest of the time they're contained inside a Crystal Prison.
  • Suske en Wiske:
    • In "De Sprietatoom", after Savantas dies and comes back as a ghost, Wiske disposes of him by vacuuming him up.
    • In "De spokenjagers" (the ghost hunters), Jerom captures the final two ghosts with a vacuum cleaner.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Casper: James Harvey gets into a fight with the Ghostly Trio. The ghosts initially have the upper hand, until James gets his hands on a vacuum cleaner (which the ghosts have never seen before), and vacuums them all up (though it takes some effort on his part to completely suck up Fatso). They can be heard bickering with one another inside the vacuum as the scene ends. The next morning, Kat uses a dust buster for protection as she wanders the mansion.
    • Ultimately subverted the next morning, as they're right back to terrorizing James and Kat. They later show that there are few things they won't touch when going for a scare or gag (including pretending to summon James' deceased wife); the vacuum was an opportunity to demonstrate that they aren't going anywhere. They even pull a Weakened by the Light gag in front of James and Kat to hammer their position home.
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    Literature 
  • One of the earlier Alice, Girl from the Future stories has Alice claiming she met a ghost. When her father sees it and runs toward it, it seems to disappear, and the girl says it must be approached slowly, so that it won't be blown away by the wind. In the end, the "ghost" turned out to be a Professor Guinea Pig whose body was all but completely dispersed when a fuse was blown during a teleportation experiment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Stinger of the Good Luck Charlie episode, "Scary Had a Little Lamb", the ghost of Ezekiel Fitchhorn comes to the Duncan house to return the favor to Amy for visiting his grave the night before. When he asks Amy to go on a date with him, she turns him down due to him being 90 years older than her and dead. She then sucks him up in her vacuum cleaner.
    Ezekiel: Next time, a simple "No, thank you." will suffice.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Out of the Abyss: Ogrémoch's Bane is a demonic spirit in the form of a cloud of intangible dust, which can only be affected by Banishing Rituals or a strong wind. Since it manifests Beneath the Earth, the latter requires magic and only has a temporary effect.

    Video Games 
  • Activision's 1984 Ghostbusters game. The title characters have a "ghost vacuum" on their vehicle, the Ecto-1. It sucks down ghosts that are wandering the streets, which reduces the rate of increase of PK Energy in the city.
  • In the type-in BASIC adventure game Haunted House (from Write Your Own Adventure Programs for Your Microcomputer) the vacuum cleaner is used to defeat paralysing ghosts.
    WHIZZ- VACUUMED THE GHOSTS UP!
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap: The Gust Jar is your go-to for defeating any ghost-like enemies, like ghinies and that one wraith thing possessing the old man from the Wind Tribe.
  • Luigi's Mansion: Luigi's Weapon of Choice is the Poltergust, a modified vacuum invented by Professor E. Gadd for the express purpose of catching ghosts.
  • Gal*Gun 2: One of your weapons to defeat the mini-demons attacking the school is a vacuum weapon that sucks them in... and also sucks the clothes off of any girls that are in the vicinity. Yeah, it's that kind of game.
  • One of the mini-games in the PC adaptation of Monopoly Jr. takes place in the Haunted House, where the goal is to suck up ghosts with a vacuum cleaner.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In Danny Phantom, one of the ghost catching devices built by Danny's parents is a vacuum-like device called the Fenton Ghost Weasel. It turns out to work quite effectively.
  • In the DuckTales (2017) promo "Meet Mrs. Beakley!", Mrs. Beakley is vacuuming while the kids flee from a ghost. She calmly flips a switch on the vacuum from "dirt" to "ghost", vacuums up the ghost, then returns to her cleaning.
  • Fairly OddParents:
    • Genies can be sucked by either magical lamps or vacuum cleaners with bags made of smoof.
    • In "Poltergeeks," Timmy's parents become ghost hunters and capture ghosts (or rather, Timmy's fairies pretending to be ghosts) using a vacuum-like device as a Shout-Out to Ghostbusters. However, a problem arises when they borrow a vacuum device from Crocker that can actually capture fairies.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Of a sort in the episode "Bloooo." Wilt, Eduardo, and Coco mistake Bloo (who is sick and very pale) for the ghost from the scary movie they had just watched. They remember that an "Atomic Suckulator" was used to defeat the ghost, and end up arming themselves with a vacuum cleaner from an egg Coco lays.
  • On one episode of The Smurfs, Brainy and Clumsy become "Ghostsmurfers", hunting for ghosts in a haunted castle. Handy equips them with ghost catching devices, which suck the ghosts into a jar using bellows.
  • In the The Simpsons episode, "Loan-a-Lisa", in the Itchy and Scratchy episode that parodies the beginning of Up, Itchy kills Scratchy and his girlfriend, and when their souls try to float up to heaven, Itchy sucks them up in a vacuum cleaner. Then he takes out the vacuum bag (which the souls are struggling to get out of) and lights it on fire.
  • Super Friends: Superman once imprisoned an evil genie by inhaling him and then blowing him back into his lamp.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In "Laundry Day," Cyborg dies from smelling Beast Boy's dirty clothes. Before his spirit can go to the great beyond, Beast Boy sucks it up with a vacuum and puts it back into Cyborg's body, which revives him.
  • The 1942 Tom and Jerry cartoon "Fraidy Cat" has Jerry Mouse drape a nightgown over an upright vacuum cleaner, then switch it on/off in succession to mimic an angry ghost. Tom falls for the ruse to the point where his "lives" desert his body, neatly numbered 1 through 9. Lives 1 to 8 seem horrified as they're being drawn by the suction toward the closet; number 9, however, grins like an idiot, enjoying the ride.
  • In an episode of Kidd Video the band find themselves in a city full of ghosts. Whiz saves the day by inventing a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks them all up.

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