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 male and under 11 years old, you have to automatically think romance and females are gross. Girls of the same age sometimes claim that boys have cooties. 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.
- Many anime titles tend to avert this, especially those aimed at actual 10-year-olds (and especially if it's aimed at 10-year-old girls). Cardcaptor Sakura is one example.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: 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.
- 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!"
- 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.
- Damian Wayne (Batman's biological son) turns up his brattiness Up to Eleven whenever he deals with Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) or Supergirl. Both of them are blondes with blue eyes. Maybe he Has a Type.
- In one pre-CrisisShazam 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.
- In Adventure Time With Fionna And Cake Card Wars, the slug boys in the gaming club are initially hostile to Cake joining, they claim because she isn't a slug. But when they later insult Fionna as "the chick" their true attitude becomes clear.
- 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.
- Being a small puppy, Scamp usually doesn't like girls (especially not his sisters), although this varies depending on the writer.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin's GROSS (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) club. "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 is once called on this in a late 2007/early 2008 strip, and admits it... except that he's fine with his mother, Mrs. Wilson and the local tomboy.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship: A comic shows that even hazmat suits aren't safe against 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.
- Played for Laughs in The Swan Princess. Derek and Odette have an Arranged Marriage, so their parents make them spend every summer together from a young age. The first time we see this, Derek's mother forces him to kiss Odette's hand. He finds this absolutely disgusting and wipes his mouth after. (For the record, she looked about ready to sock him herself.)
- Gender Flipped in Despicable Me 2. A flashback to Gru's childhood shows that girls would avoid him for fear of catching "Gru-ties".
- Simba and Nala from The Lion King don't think the other sex is "icky", but as cubs they don't seem to like the idea of them being mates due to this.
- Hotel Transylvania 2: The wolf pup Winnie instantly falls in love with Mavis' son Dennis, but he just squirms away from her. It's pretty clear by the end that he does like her too, though.
- Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: after much gender-based rivalry throughout the movie, at one point Carl asks Jimmy for confirmation that they still don't like girls. He assures him that they do in a suspicious sort of way.
- The Little Rascals and their "He-Man Woman Haters Club".
- 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.
- Little Manhattan has the narrator, Gabe, discussing girls and puberty, mentioning that, once upon a time, word was they gave you cooties.
- 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.
- Cooties is a Black Comedy where any kid who hasn't gone through puberty can catch a virus that turns then 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.
- William Brown in the Just William books can be quite the Kid-anova 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."
- In Artemis Fowl and 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.
- 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.
- 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!"
- 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.
- Bran and Arya Stark of A Song of Ice and Fire dislike — and complain about — the "kissing stories" their elder sister Sansa likes.
- 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.
- 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.
- As seen in the other sections, Tails of Sonic the Hedgehog thinks this in a few continuities. While it comes up less often in the games, it is still there. It actually manages to be a Plot Point.
- In Chapter 4 of BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, 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).
- The Order of the Stick:
- Even demons have fear of cooties in Charby the Vampirate.
- Original Life did a whole storyline about cooties, and it's http://www.jaynaylor.com/originallife/archives/2009/11/052.html monstrously over-the-top]].
- Ozy and Millie goes there, too. But not without some fun. Felicia's response to Millie touching her after being 'infested' by boy germs from Ozy? Runs away screaming for various cleaners, culminating with 'Heck, set me on fire!' And you thought it was useless..
- Precocious subverts this in a comic-within-the-comic C.O.O.T.E.E.S. actually stands for Camera-Outfitted Observational Trackers, Embedded Espionage Systems.note
- In The Whiteboard, Jinx would rather kiss a chainsaw than be the possible subject of a crush.
- In Goblin Hollow, "Girl/boy cooties" causes Lily and Penny to ponder the variable maturity of the goblins.
- In Sinfest, Lil' Evil's reaction to a hug from Monique.
- Girl Genius has this mentioned when Vanamonde was surprised that the Heterodyne heir claimant was a girl.
- Akiko Kitsune in El Goonish Shive is happy that her sister hangs out with a girl because boys are weird and gross. Of course, from this point the situation is bound to get more and more awkward.
- In Thistil Mistil Kistil, one of Coal's objections to bringing Hedda.
Loki: It amuses me that your emphasis was on "girl" out of all that.
- In JL8, which is basically "Justice League in kindergarten", Bruce always carries "Anti-Cootie Bat-idote".
Clark: DIANA does NOT have COOTIES!
Bruce: Aggression is the first symptom of infection.
- Cecil in PS238 freaks out after discovering that he's holding a girl's shirt.
- In 9 to 9 Wolf (an adult mind you) is convinced he has cooties after an accident with muscle relaxants knocks him out in a compromising position with Jessie.
- In El Goonish Shive, Nanase's little sister Akiko thinks boys are "weird and gross".
- One fake Public Service Announcement raises "cootie awareness" by way of Does This Remind You of Anything?.
- Before The Nostalgia Critic matured (physically, that is), he thought girls were loud and annoying.
- TV Trash: Rowdy C is shocked when young kids don't believe that kids have cooties.
- Patrick from The War Comms is this combined with He-Man Woman Hater.
- This joke article at the SCP Foundation wiki treats cooties as a paranormal threat which could potentially destroy the world.
- In one RT Recap featuring various animated works, Team RWBY is confronted by the Rooster Teeth Animated Adventures versions of Burnie, Gus and Joel. Ruby's reaction is to yelp out "Ew, boys! Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew!" and run away backwards. Should be noted that Ruby is 15, long past that sort of thinking.
- Ben from Ben 10 believes this throughout most of the original series (as he's a teenager in 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 it... to creepy, creepy places.
- 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 boy 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.
- 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?
- 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:
- 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 "Femme Fatale", 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails' belief that girls have cooties is very pronounced.
- Having grown up with a girl as his best friend, Fanon is at odds at whether or not Ron Stoppable went through this stage.
- 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."