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Inconvenient Itch

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"What's the matter with her? Has she got fleas or something?"
Councillor Sid Fiddler, Carry On Girls

When a character suddenly becomes afflicted by an intense itch, and they can't scratch it. The intensity of the itch will often scale upwards with their inability to take care of it, especially if they are tied up or busy holding a sensitive package full of Explodium.

Nearly always Played for Laughs, the victim of an Inconvenient Itch will often be left begging for their companions (or even antagonists) to help them out. If the afflicted character is left tied up and alone, the humor of the situation may arise from their attempts at contorting their body in an effort to find relief. Though the Inconvenient Itch can hit any part of the body, the nose is a popular target.

A subtrope of Rule of Funny. Compare Amusing Injuries, Potty Emergency, and Anti-Sneeze Finger. This trope is a typical result of being Bound and Gagged in comedic works.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • NSFW short Hell Season: The Holes tells us the story about a girl named Yumiko, who once felt a weird itch on her backside. When she scratched that, it felt undescribably good. Soon, the itch spread and... let's say that, at the end of the story, poor Yumiko looked like a beehive.
  • 'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess: Chapter 188 has the Princess develop an itch on the middle of her back. Luckily for her, the "torturer" that day is Cat Girl Krall, whose claws prove an exceptionally adept means of relieving it.

    Comic Books 
  • Hulk: The Thing invoked this trope when he had to go into the Negative Zone, and also had to trust the Red Hulk to hold onto the rope that would allow him to make his way back.
    The Thing: You let go of that rope and I'm gonna come back as an itch you can't scratch.
  • NOT played for laughs in the JLA storyline "Obsidian Age", where Plastic Man is trapped for 3000 years as crumbs scattered along the ocean floor. While conscious the but unable to do anything about the situation but think. The entire time he felt an itch which was just to make sure that entire time he suffered since he was unable to move.
  • In the Tintin book Land of Black Gold, Prince Abdullah is kidnapped by Dr Mueller and driven away in a car, only to throw a Spanner in the Works when he puts itching powder on the back of Mueller's neck.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld, a young witch finds herself being sexually harassed by a soldier, who should have known better. She wishes him an itch. The sort that will come on while he is tanding at attention on the parade square while a drill sergeant is watching for the merest movement to find fault with. And that itch is going to become more uncomfortable, soldier. And you are going to want to scratch it. Even though your sergeant is then going to scream in your face from inches away. As described in the works of A.A. Pessimal, that witch was not bothered again.

    Film — Animated 
  • Shrek in Shrek the Third is trussed up in some Impossibly Tacky Clothes for a royal appearance, and suddenly develops a horrible itch on his rear. He has some poor servant scratching that itch when the curtains open, giving the waiting crowd a view they really didn't want.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the king of the Moon (Robin Williams) is gleefully happy to be rid of his lower body, leaving his head to roam freely in intellectual pursuits. Then he begins feeling a terrible itch in his non-existent body, and is completely unable to do anything about it.
  • One of the sisters in Cinderella (1997) gets itchy when she's nervous and so keeps trying to discreetly scratch herself while dancing with the prince.
  • Cheech & Chong use this in Nice Dreams. Scene opens with Cheech screaming his lungs out and writhing, clearly in a straitjacket and prison cell. Maybe all those psychelics he took finally fried his brains? Finally he manages to get his wits together to enunciate the problem. MY BALLS ITCH! Enter Chong.
  • In Night at the Museum Battle for the Smithsonian, a bust of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) comes to life along with the other statues and paintings in the Museum. Larry and Amelia Earhart get some information about the tablet from him since he can read the hieroglyphics. One thing he does ask for them to scratch his nose, since he has no arms nor hands.
  • In On the Buses, spiders hidden in Vera's cab crawl on her legs during her bus route, which causes her to try and scratch one leg with the other as she tries to drive the bus.
  • When he first starts working out, Dennis in Run Fatboy Run gets a nasty, itchy rash in his crotch that he absolutely has to scratch... as he is at work as a security guard in a lingerie shop. One can guess what this looks like.
  • Undead or Alive: Luke's nose starts to itch when he and Elmer are stripped naked and forced to ride on a horse together with their hands bound. Once they are finally untied, Luke spends several moments flailing about with his now-numb hands trying to scratch it.

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: This happens to Tom Sawyer when he is trying to hide silently in the dark.
  • In The Bible, Job is afflicted with a horrible itch all over his body after his possession and all of his offspring die.
  • In Have Space Suit – Will Travel, while trekking across the lunar surface, Kip itches all over but can't scratch because of the space suit he's wearing.
  • Played for Drama in the New Jedi Order book Destiny's Way. The Yuuzhan Vong have captured the galactic capital, Coruscant, and begun aggressively xenoforming the planet — but the World Brain, the living computer responsible for running the process, is working against them due to the events of the previous books. One of the symptoms is an "itching plague" that strikes at the worst times, like inside Supreme Overlord Shimrra's Decadent Court. One member of the court (Master Shaper Yoog Skell, whose job it was to fix the World Brain; obviously he didn't do it very well) was actually executed for scratching.
  • In the murder mystery "The Sibyl in her Grave", one character is writing a letter from her sickbed where she's confined with a broken leg. "I used to think Heaven was just a place where you played the harp and sang hymns all day, and I wasn't particularly bothered about going there, but now I know it's somewhere where you can scratch your ankle any time you want for the rest of eternity, and I really, really want to get in."
  • Starship Troopers also addresses this as the only major fault in Mobile Infantry power armor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The A-Team episode "Till Death Do Us Part", Jackie Taylor, the victim of the week, and every member of the team but B.A. ends up with something in a cast after a bad landing, and judging from the fact that people are warned against saying "itch" several times, they're experiencing a lot of itchiness in the affected parts.
  • Barney Miller: In "The Kid", Barney broke his foot in a home accident and is wearing a cast. Throughout the episode he keeps getting distracted/annoyed by his itchy foot.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - on "Some Assembly Required", Xander is playing around with a model head in the science lab, making it say "Hello - I wanna get a-head!" and "For the love of God, will someone scratch my nose?!"
  • Criminal Minds: Played for Drama in one episode. The unsub has delusions and genuinely believes the government injected live bugs into his arm when he got a vaccine, causing constant, uncontrollable itching. Everyone's attempt to explain to him that there are no bugs inside him serves to drive his paranoia. He ends up kidnapping people and covering them in bugs to subject them to the same itching sensation to try to get them on his side. He also joins a support group for people with a downplayed version of the disorder (the itching without the delusions). One of them is easily swayed to his side because he can provide her an explanation to why she itches, even if he has no proof for it. The group's leader is much more rational, but when the BAU comes around asking about the unsub, she still genuinely believes it's a government plot to disperse them so they don't get too close to the truth.
  • Friends: Phoebe and her current boyfriend get chickenpox during the only weekend they can spend together. They end up covered in itchy marks that will leave scars if scratched. Rachel resorts to duct taping oven mitts to their hands to stop them scratching each other.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall realizes he has head-lice halfway through a job interview, and starts "discreetly" trying to scratch it. Eventually, it's too much for him and he screams out "I HAVE LICE!". Suffice to say, he did not get the job.
  • In one episode of M*A*S*H, Margaret is afflicted by a rash on her backside but can't scratch because she doesn't want anyone to learn of her plight.
  • In one episode of NCIS, McGee gets a poison ivy rash. On his crotch. At one point Abby turns around to find him trying to ease the pain by rubbing his groin on the corner of a table.
  • On Newhart, Bob ends up locked in stocks at a historical town festival. He gets an itch and desperately cries out "Anybody? $5 to scratch my nose!" Cloudcuckoolanders Larry, Darryl, and Darryl show up— and they each scratch Bob's nose and give him $5!
  • On an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, two men must face a magical test to win Sabrina's heart, which involves running through an obstacle course to reach Sabrina, who is sinking into a pit of quicksand. At a point where her hands are submerged, seemingly pinning her arms to her sides, Sabrina says: "Help, someone save me! Or scratch my nose..."
    • On another episode, Libby was placed in the stocks during a school trip. Naturally, her nose started to itch.
  • Invoked by Toby in an episode of Scorpion. A Mexican drug cartel had cornered Team Scorpion, but luckily they had reprogrammed the cartel's own motion-activated turret gun to shoot at the side of the yard where the cartel was standing. The cartel is forced to let them leave, as the muzzle flash of shooting would certainly draw the turret's fire. As they walk away, Toby mischievously leans back and tells one of the cartel members, "Your nose does not itch."
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Phage", Neelix has to be immobilised in a biobed after hostile aliens remove his lungs. At one point he gets an itchy nose and the Doctor has to scratch it for him.
  • Supernatural. Sam is under a bad-luck curse where things go wrong with no fault of his own. Dean, working on fixing it, leaves him in a hotel with instructions to not move or budge, "Don't even scratch your nose." Cue an itching nose on Sam's part.
  • In an episode of Teen Wolf a group of people are taken prisoner and thoroughly tied up. One asks if anyone else has an unbearable itch they can't scratch. One of the others replies that had didn't until she mentioned it but now he does.

  • "Scrotal Torment" by Psychostick.
    In a crowd
    with no escape
    is when I feel
    my privates wake!

    Got to find
    some privacy
    or they will see
    me scratching me!

    They're itching, I gotta scratch 'em
    My balls are a ball of fire!

    Scrotum itching!
    Leaves me bitching
    Can't endure this!
    Scrotum itching!
    Leaves me bih…

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Bloom County: Steve Dallas once developed an itch on his back while wearing a torso cast (due to having his back broken by Sean Penn). Making it worse was that the only person there to help him was Opus, who (being a penguin) didn't even have fingernails.
  • One Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip has Calvin trying desperately not to scratch his mosquito bites, because he knows that scratching will just make it feel worse later. Calvin's pain is visualized by showing Calvin being eaten alive by ants, or with his head on fire.
  • One The Far Side comic had a hospital patient in a body cast visited by someone who kept babbling about how he'd once had a cast on his leg and gotten an itch underneath that drove him crazy, implying that the patient will be unable to put that idea out of his head and will suffer unscratchable itches of his own as a result.
  • An early Garfield strip had the titular cat bothered by an itch directly in the middle of his back, and with this being his earlier design, his limbs are too short to reach it. It ends with him screaming loudly in frustration, loud enough to disturb Jon.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Seán Cullen demonstrates how a lot of country music is about some sort of misery or hardship by singing the following:
    Well, I only got one leg, and it's itchy.
    And I only got one arm, but it's on the wrong side!

  • In Fiddler on the Roof, there is a scene where one character invokes this:
    "May he get an itch he cannot scratch!"

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, the Emperor, apart from constant torment of being ripped apart and struggling to control Astronomicon, also suffers from an itch on his nose that just won't go away, despite the fact that he doesn't have a nose anymore. Nurgle inflicted him with phantom itching thinking it would eventually drive him insane, causing him to destroy humanity and ascend to the Warp as a new Chaos God.

    Western Animation 
  • Avenger Penguins Harry Slime gets one in Computer Chaos when he and Caractacus P Doom are tricked into a compressor.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: In the Wartime Cartoon "Donald Gets Drafted", Donald Duck is instructed by Sergeant Pete to stand still. Unfortunately, he's standing on an anthill.
  • In one Danny Phantom episode, Danny and Valerie end up in the Ghost Zone and are forced to team up against Skulker. After a while, they end up paralyzing him and leaving him on the floor as they exit the zone. At that point Skulker exclaims: "okay now my nose itches."
  • In one episode of Detentionaire, Tina's nose gets itchy while she's trapped in crystal and unable to scratch it.
  • On Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter gets the chicken pox and is told not to scratch the pox, or he'll turn into a chicken. He tries ways of keeping from scratching, even restraining himself completely, but nothing works and he eventually goes on a scratching spree... after which he indeed turns into a chicken.
  • Pruneface to Itchy on The Dick Tracy Show: "Stop scratching, Itchy!"
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Yuppy Duck", Scrooge gets "loot lice" and finds himself itchy. He uses mounted moose antlers to scratch his back.
  • On Futurama, Lrr has just finished a broadcast warning Earth of its impending doom, when he comments on getting an itch at the worst possible time (and place) and proceeds to scratch it. Then he's informed that they're still broadcasting...
  • In the Looney Tunes short "An Itch in Time", Elmer's dog tries very hard not to scratch a flea bite lest he get the ultimate penalty: a bath!
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "I Had an Accident", SpongeBob breaks his butt while skiing. Doctor Fish tells him that if he's not more careful, he could end up "like that poor creature there, in the iron butt." The guy in the iron butt then says "Oh, man. It itches!"

    Real Life 
  • The worst timing for a case of Inconvenient Itch.
  • An Irish-Gaelic curse runs, "May you be afflicted with the itch and have no nails to scratch."
  • A common dilemma for people receiving IV medication or fluids, who don't dare scratch around the cannula even though the tape holding it in place can itch like crazy.
  • It's been said that getting an itch on your nose while being an astronaut out on a long EVA mission is utterly maddening. Thankfully, NASA kindly installed small velcro strips on the inside of spacewalking suit helmets to allow scratching.
  • Makeup can be very itchy, but you can't scratch without taking the makeup off, so if you really want the makeup on, you just have to deal with it.
  • It is inconvenient to have an itch in your eyes or on the roof of your mouth. Your eyes are a bad spot because they are very sensitive, so if you rub them too much, they will get sore. The roof of the mouth is a bad place to get an itch because the skin and gums are so hard that you can't get it with your fingers and using your tongue is very hard.
    • It’s really inconvenient to get an itch on your backside. The kind that makes you feel like you got ants in your pants and you can’t just yank down your trousers to scratch that itch either.



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Main / InconvenientItch

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