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Girls Have Cooties

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Jason: [balancing on a brick wall with Marcus] I like to balance like this and imagine there's a pool of lava below. Or a pit of snakes and deadly alligators. Or a...
Eileen: Hi, guys!
Jason: OK, now I'm REALLY scared to fall.
Marcus: Does lava burn off cooties?

A law which is especially prevalent in Sitcoms: If you're a prepubescent male, you have to automatically think romance and females are gross. Prepubescent girls having similar opinions of boys also happens, but is notably less common. What cooties are supposed to be are germs that come from the opposite gender and make you sick and look disgusting.

"Cooties" do exist; the term just happens to be WWI slang for "body lice" (and is thus not limited to girls).

It should be noted that Cooties is generally only something that happens to girls their own age. It rarely, if ever, affects older girls. In fact, a boy can think that Girls Have Cooties even while having a Precocious Crush on an older girl or woman.

Arguably becoming a Discredited Trope as in Real Life young boys are just as likely to boast about their "girlfriends". This may or may not be due to the increased prominence—compared to a generation ago—of romance and sexuality in entertainment media aimed at or enjoyed by kids. Often leads to jokes about STDs.

If the boy does not get over his dislike of women when he grows up, he might be a He-Man Woman Hater, or think that heterosexual relationships are disgusting. Likewise, a girl who doesn't outgrow this trope may become a woman who Does Not Like Men. Compare Allergic to Love. If a child of either gender hates all affection, regardless of gender or whether it's romantic or platonic, see Affection-Hating Kid. Often results in Unknowingly in Love.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Negi's friend Kotaro plays this fairly straight (especially the romance thing), with a few exceptions in his adoptive sisters and girls who can fight. That said, he still thinks kissing is gross.
  • Garu from Pucca may or may not have this. In the webisodes where he and Pucca first appeared, he was with her, but was a stoic sort and not fond of her energetic bouts of affection.
  • Sonic X is notable for zig-zagging this trope. Tails gets defeated in a match when Rouge kisses him on the cheek, grossing him out and playing this trope straight. This is subverted when he gets a love interest in a plant girl named Cosmo in the third season.
  • Kanta from My Neighbor Totoro believes this, whenever he is near Satsuki he backs away from her and refuses to speak to her, when he gives her his umbrella to shield her and Mei from the rain he stands several feet away so he doesn’t have to touch her, he gets better when he learns of their sick mother and sympathizes with them, and later helps Satsuki look for Mei after she goes missing.

  • The Frantics sketch "Outgrossing" involves two boys trying to out-gross each other (turning their eyelids inside-out, etc.). A girl comes along and says she can out-gross them both, which they have a hard time believing — until she describes exactly how.
    "I can kiss you! And I can be your girlfriend!"

    Comic Books 
  • In Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wars, the slug boys in the gaming club are initially hostile to Cake joining. They claim it's because she isn't a slug. However, when they later insult Fionna as "the chick," their true attitude becomes clear.
  • In the Archie spin-off “Lil Archie”, Archie, Reggie, and Jughead believed this when they were kids, they frequently wouldn’t allow little Betty and Veronica to play with them, while Archie and Reggie grow out of it as teenagers, Jughead never really does.
  • Batman: Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne's biological son, turns up his brattiness whenever he deals with Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) or Supergirl. Both of them are blondes with blue eyes, so maybe he Has a Type.
  • Fantastic Four: In Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius, Franklin (who must be 6 or something) initially rejects Katie Power (same age) specifically because she has cooties. In a different universe of the multiverse, Katie Power from the future tells Katie Power that Franklin Richards was her first boyfriend; young Katie insists that "boys are gross" but future herself calmly tells her that, in a few years, she'll change her mind.
  • Referenced in an issue of Marvel Adventures Avengers; Ego the Living Planet attempts to seduce the Earth, but ultimately leaves after finding out it has life on it. The Avengers specifically refer to humanity being cooties in this scenario.
  • In Sam & Max this is mostly how Max's dislike of girls is portrayed. Given that his mentality resembles that of a highly impulsive child. In the later video games, a time travel incident causes him to overcome this and become extremely flirty with certain female characters.
  • Shazam!: In one pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths story, Billy fights a gang of female villains called the Rainbow Squad. However, their mysterious boss Mr. Mind tells them how to fight Captain Marvel off—whenever he shows up, five of them (the sixth refuses) run up and start kissing him all over. Despite the fact that pre-Crisis Captain Marvel was supposed to be a Super-Powered Alter Ego, the fact that he's (apparently) based on Billy's own personality means that he freaks out and runs away.

    Comic Strips 
  • The title character in Agnes has the "boys have cooties" variant, although she still engages in a kind of passive-aggressive flirting with a boy at school named Bob.
  • Calvin's GROSS (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) club from Calvin and Hobbes. "I know that's redundant but otherwise it doesn't spell anything. Now go away." Calvin also notably attempts to see movies like "Vampire Sorority Babes". He might just be overacting to shut Hobbes up about Susie. Calvin wants to see the movies solely because he knows they are considered "grown-up" and "naughty"; he never displays any understanding of why those sorts of movies are considered "grown-up" or "naughty". (He once asks Hobbes what "contains adult situations" means; Hobbes says that the movies show people paying bills, going to work, etc., and he's always wondered how movies like that make any money.)
  • Dennis the Menace (US): The eponymous character is once called out on this in a late 2007/early 2008 strip, and he admits it... except that he's fine with his mother, Mrs. Wilson, and the local tomboy.
  • FoxTrot:
    • Jason is an odd example. He started out firmly in this trope, but a couple of decades of extremely subtle Character Development due to his sorta-friendly relationship with Eileen seems to be weaning him off it. Jason still would rather be caught dead than be known at large as being her friend, but he's not quite so adamantly paranoid about it recently.
    • Marcus, on the other hand, started firmly in the trope but seems to have thrown it off completely.
  • Averted in the comic strip Heart of the City, where Dean is Heart's best friend and frequent partner-in-crime. He's generally more befuddled by girls than disgusted. (Heart's occasional declarations that Dean's her boyfriend draw a bemused "Um... okay" as often as not.) One New Year's Eve, he actually dressed up in a tux and announced that to celebrate, "I thought I might hang out with the prettiest girl in Philadelphia." Making it clear that, yes, he meant her.
  • Scamp: Being a small puppy, the title character usually doesn't like girls (especially not his sisters), although this varies Depending on the Writer.

    Fan Works 
  • A Bit Of Luck And A Hospital Visit has Kyoko's little sister Momo who likes her sister's girlfriends, but is convinced they all have cooties.
  • Shutaro from Kyon: Big Damn Hero follows this trope hilariously:
    The dusty blue-haired boy gave Matsuri a skeptical look, and with great decorum noted, "Icky."
  • Played With in Joe's New Look when Silvia refuses to put on Joe's battle suit, finding the idea of her wearing male clothes scandalous. As Joe's already unwillingly wearing Silvia's garments, he isn't happy with her reaction.
  • Subverted in The Concert. Amy Rose is 8 and says that boys have cooties, but still likes Sonic.
  • Evershade: Referenced after some sibling ribbing:
    "HEE!" She squealed out as I grabbed her, and gave her a noogie she'd remember for a while. She squirmed and squirmed, trying to get out of my hold. "NOOOOO COOTIES! COOTIES!"
  • Gender-flipped in Son of the Sannin, where Hanabi found the idea of kissing to be gross when she was a child, though Hinata tells her she'll understand when she's older. Humorously, she's one of a very short list of canon characters who shows up in the epilogue without any mention of a significant other.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cooties is a Black Comedy where any kid who hasn't gone through puberty can catch a virus that turns them into savage zombies. Naturally, Patient Zero is a girl.
  • Louis has this reaction in The Last Starfighter when he sees his brother Alex and Alex's girlfriend Maggie kissing.
  • Little Manhattan has the narrator, Gabe, discussing girls and puberty. He mentions that, once upon a time, word was they gave you cooties.
  • The Little Rascals and their "He-Man Woman Haters Club."
  • The eponymous eighteen-year-old trio in Mystery Team. Jason outgrows this when he meets Kelly, but the others show no signs of progress, going so far as trying to pay strippers to leave them alone.
  • In the Live-Action Adaptation of Speed Racer, Speed's kid brother, Spritle, and his pet chimp, Chim-Chim, break the fourth wall to give a "cooties warning" when Speed and Trixie are about to kiss. Earlier they interrupted a kissing scene and followed up with the classic cootie shot.
  • Spider-Man 3 has a little boy repulsed by the idea of Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy kissing for a picture, and the boy is even more repulsed when they actually do kiss.

  • In The 39 Clues. Dan seems to think this. Example: in Book 5, when he is doing something immature and his sister Amy says something to the effect of, "This is why you'll never have a girlfriend," he replies, "Like I'd want one!"
  • Angela Nicely: Gender-inverted for Angela’s club, which is called Girls Only, Boys Smell (GOBS).
  • In Artemis Fowl: In The Time Paradox, 10-year-old Artemis says of Holly and 14-year-old Artemis kissing that you wouldn't catch him wasting time like that. Not as vehement as some of the other examples, but does contain built-in proof he'll grow out of it: Within three years, back in the second book (or at least non-U.S. editions thereof), he's consciously aware that he'll be attracted to Holly when he's older.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Wonderful Doctor of Oz, when the Thirteenth Doctor inadvertently gives Missy (who she's meeting out of order) a hint about her next incarnation, Missy's reaction is "Not back to a stinky boy! I might give myself cooties!"
  • Danny, the main character in Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath series, is shown to believe this in the second book, though his best friend Wendell does not. He's pretty much over it by the end of the book, and in future books hangs out with girl characters with no complaints (or at least, none that are gender-based).
    Wendell: Name one good reason we shouldn't eat with a girl!
    Danny: [stares at him incredulously for a moment] Cooties.
    Wendell: Cooties. [grimly pushes glasses up his snout] Listen carefully to me. There is no such thing as cooties. What are you, five?
    Danny: [takes a bite of corn dog to give himself time to think] There are totally cooties.
    Wendell: There are not.
  • Gangsta Granny: When his mother thinks he's "expressing an interest in girls", Ben says that girls are gross.
  • The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School, set in an all-girls boarding school, has a gender-flipped example. First-year student Gillian Little shies away from contact with visiting male student Alfred, evidently believing that she'll catch "germs" if she touches him.
  • Downplayed in Henry Huggins. Henry is a 10-year-old example of The All-American Boy who thinks that girls are rather silly, and he reacts with disgust if he sees a girl act particularly girly. However, his usual hang-out group (consisting of himself, Robert, Scooter, Beezus, and Mary-Jane) include two girls, and he regularly visits Beezus' house to play checkers with her, even though he is rather reluctant to hang out with her alone in public.
  • William Brown in the Just William books can be quite the KidAnova with his chivalrous pining for Girl Next Door Joan and susceptibility to pretty actresses. But Violet Elizabeth Bott leaves him shaken to the core:
    "I'm not going to have anything to do with any old girl ever again," said William.
    "It's all very well saying that," said Douglas, who had been deeply impressed that morning by the inevitability and deadly persistence of the sex, "it's them what has to do with you."
    "Well, I'm never going to marry any old girl," said William.
    "It's all very well saying that," said Douglas. "But some old girl is prob'ly going to marry you."
  • The book No Talking by Andrew Clements features an entire group of children who are said to be at the point where they should have gotten over this, but never did. In order to try to prove that one group (either boys or girls) are better than the other, they stage a "no talking" contest. In the end, the group largely gives up on cooties.
  • Bran and Arya Stark of A Song of Ice and Fire dislike — and complain about — the "kissing stories" their elder sister Sansa likes.
  • In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, Sheila Tubman used to tease Peter Hatcher by touching him and saying he's got the cooties, even up to when she is ten years old. It's after Peter's brother Fudge falls off the jungle gym set, thinking he's a bird, and loses his top two front teeth that she finally stops with the cooties.
  • Jackie and Jaymee's initial attitudes toward each other in We Can't Rewind, though true to the more recent innovations, they're well over it and into being Flirty Step Siblings by about a third of the way through the novel.

    Video Games 
  • In Chapter 4 of BlazBlue: Chronophantasma, Makoto warns Noel that she'll "get Kagura cooties" if she touches a woman's undergarments. Justified on Makoto's behalf in that [A] Noel is technically single-digits in age (most of what Noel knows about sexuality she likely learned from Makoto in the first place) and [B] Kagura is a raging perv (not to mention hung over at the time they meet).

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: As in the original film, Jimmy, Sheen, and Carl all exhibit this sentiment from time to time, especially at the beginning of the series. It wears off as the show progresses, however, giving way to Distracted by the Sexy.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails' belief that girls have cooties is very pronounced.
  • Back to the Future: In "Verne's New Friend", Verne makes a new friend named Chris, who turns out to be a girl posing as a boy. When Marty doesn't see what Verne's problem is with Chris being a girl, Verne protests that the kind of interaction he had before learning her gender involves "major cooties."
  • The eponymous character from Ben 10 believes this throughout most of the original series (as he's a teenager in Ben 10: Alien Force, he's outgrown it). He does make an exception for Kai Green, a Navajo girl seen in one episode... but Kai takes his attention and runs with creepy, creepy places.
  • Beverly Hills Teens: Normally averted with Chester, who is quite interested in female attention (and gets much more than some of the older boys). However, in one episode Jillian responds to a remark about "embracing" boys with "how totally yucky." She changes her mind after a few minutes, when she is thrown into the air and Troy catches her.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • In the episode "Operation: O.U.T.B.R.E.A.K.", Sector V is sent on a mission to decontaminate the organization's underwater research center from the much-feared Coojatisnal Octo Oogie Terta Infecto Epi Streptacaucus. Also subverted, once the team finds out what they're dealing with (an operative's kid sister), they think said operative is nuts for calling them.
    • Inverted by Numbuh 86 and (to a much greater degree) Margie, who both hate boys in the same immature way other examples hates girls. In both cases, it seems to be because neither one likes their brother(s).
  • Cooties actually appear as pastel-colored butterflies which are kept by Dee Dee in her bedroom in Dexter's Laboratory. Dexter himself greatly fears them.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy This seems to be one of the main reasons the Eds flee from the Kanker Sisters. This doesn't seem to apply to pretty, girl-next-door Nazz.
  • The Fairly Oddparents has Chester McBadbat, who spends one episode desperately trying to avoid girls, while A.J. keeps offering them a dead frog.
    Chester: (Screams) Nothing makes sense anymore!
    A.J.: Frog?
  • Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The gang all act like this when forced to hang out with Donald's cousin Betty (who has the double whammy of being a girl and a southerner) in "The Stranger." She gradually wins them all over, except for He-Man Woman Hater Rudy.
  • Johnny Test: Zig-zagged depending on the episode. Sometimes, the title character shows interest in girls. In one episode, he's disgusted to have been kissed by a girl.
  • Kim Possible: Having grown up with Kim as his best friend, Fanon is at odds at whether or not Ron Stoppable went through this stage.
  • Subverted on an episode of King of the Hill, when Bobby is invited to a sleepover at a girl (note the space) friend's house:
    Hank: Hey there, Bobby. I guess they found a cure for the cooties, huh? Heh heh heh.
    Bobby: I dunno. What're "cooties"?
    Hank: Well, when I was a boy, that's what we called the germs you get from girls.
    Bobby: Oh, you mean like chlamydia?
    Hank: Huh?
  • On The Penguins of Madagascar, the zoo animals see some boys talking about girls having cooties and are later convinced that Marlene has caused an outbreak of them after they start getting itchy. Turns out Marlene had mistaken poison ivy for a moisturizing plant and had unwittingly spread it to the others.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • Inverted in the episode "Cootie Gras", where our kindergartener heroines are terrified of a boy said to have cooties. Mojo Jojo uses this fact to keep the girls at bay until they get over it. Once they do, however, they leave him Covered in Kisses, then go kick Mojo's butt.
    • In the episode "Equal Fights", Bubbles says that boys "are worse than their cooties".
    • Also, used in the first episode featuring the Rowdyruff Boys: The girls' key to defeat them is to look prettily at them and actually kiss them... and it works so well the guys explode in horror. Lampshaded right after this, when Bubbles and Blossom think kissing isn't that bad, but Buttercup is shown coughing and almost throwing up in disgust. Note that in their second appearance this doesn't work, as Him had given them a "cootie shot."
  • Rugrats: In the episode "A Very McNulty Birthday", Timmy doesn't allow the girls to play party games with him on account that he thinks they have cooties. The other boys, who don't understand what cooties are, try to cure them.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Because of Negative Continuity, the show is all over the place with this one. Bart will go from apparently genuinely thinking girls have cooties, to making out with a girl, and then right back to thinking they have cooties.
    • Played with in one episode. Bart has asked Ralph and Milhouse to sweep up the leaves in the garden (they're presumably getting paid). Then Sherri and Terri come along and ask the boys if they want to play with them. Bart refuses and gives Ralph and Milhouse their "cootie shots". However, when Bart sees their cousin, he's more than happy to play with them.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): This version of Tails was particularly disgusted seeing Sonic kiss Sally in the mouth. He didn’t even want to answer Sonic when he asked how serious the kiss was.
    Tails: Yuck. (Sonic and Sally are still kissing each other.) Eww, gross.
    Sonic: Mwah! So?
    Sally: Not bad.
    Sonic: Not bad? Not bad?!
    Sally: Yes. As in, just OK.
    Sonic: Sal, Sal, Sal. I know it was a serious kiss. Right, big guy?
    Tails: Nuh-uh, yuck. Blech.
  • The South Park kids have managed to maintain this for quite a while, except for Kenny, who appears to have been horny since age 8 and Stan, who's had the hots for Wendy Testaburger since the first episode. Usually the other boys just think it's stupid to be so interested in girls, not bad per se. (This, of course, changes when they get a Girl of the Week.)

    Real Life 
  • The term "cooties" originated from the first World War when the soldiers had to spend hours upon hours in trenches infested with body lice, rats, and other gross things. They called the body lice "cooties".
  • Truth in Television for both sexes in many cultures and environments (remember the cootie shots?), but the behavior tends to disappear around fourth grade. The general feeling and how early or late it tends to disappear, however, vary across cultures. Even once it disappears, there's a clear boy/girl divide usually until around the middle of Junior High. Until then, the boys and girls typically sit at separate lunch tables, engage in separate activities at recess, etc.
  • An article some years back (no link, sorry) about Tamora Pierce played with this trope with an anecdote about the author's eight-year-old son, an avid reader. It was Mum's job just to bring home the books. At one point, Mum noticed that the pictures on the cover were of girls. Not boys, not animals, girls. She asked his son, "Is this a girl's book?" "No, it's not a girl's book," replies her son with all the scorn of an eight-year-old boy. Then he says, "It's about a girl." Later on in the article, the book's author (Tamora Pierce, of course) mentions that parents have thanked her for including the subject of girls' periods. "Hmm, Mum didn't know that."
  • Cooties can be used as a possible euphemism for the crab lice (a.k.a. "crabs") infesting some people's pubic hairs that one can catch from considerably more intimate activities with the opposite sex.
  • A gender inversion occurred during the filming of Interview with the Vampire, when ten year-old Kirsten Dunst had to kiss Brad Pitt. Most women would have sold their souls for a chance to do it, but Dunst said "I thought it was gross, that Brad had cooties. I mean, I was 10."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Boys Have Cooties


The Rowdyruff Boys' defeat

The girls defeat the Rowdyruff Boys by simply kissing them, causing them to explode.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / GirlsHaveCooties

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