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"All right, you lousy bunch of bugs. I want to see a nit on every hair in a ten inch radius. Now!"
General Louse, "The Lousy Week", Arthur
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Everyone has had head lice and nits at some point in their life, typically as a child. They're itchy, embarrassing and hard to eliminate. If you have them, then it's likely everyone around you does too. In series featuring kids (or featuring people who have kids), the head lice plot serves to make everyone paranoid, uncomfortable, and accusatory of one another. It spreads like a disease, so there are often allegories to pandemics or viruses.

Since lice outbreaks typically happen at schools, expect scenes with school nurses inspecting everyone's hair. Drastic reactions include head-shaving, which solves the issue of lice but leaves one bald. Because girls are more likely to have lice, boys might overreact at first, especially if they catch them. Character who fear or dislike bugs will literally feel their skin crawl and may freak out.

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Aside from using lice shampoo and a comb, there's various old remedies associated with the trope. Parents may try coating their child's or their own scalp in things like mayonaise, oil or honey. The liquid, if thick enough, coats the lice's airways and suffocates them.

Compare Flea Episode, Inconvenient Itch, Pest Episode, and Sick Episode.


Examples:

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    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In "Balancing", Jake and Amy struggle to find a balance between their jobs and taking care of Mac. It only worsens when Mac's daycare has a lice outbreak and it reaches Jake and Amy. Unfortunately, they don't have time in their schedules for an appointment to get the lice removed, so they're forced to use Jake's mom's old remedy of putting honey on their heads. This is major issue for Amy, who has an important presentation she cannot afford to mess up.
  • Creeped Out: In "Itchy", there's an outbreak of lice that terrorises an island town. The main character Gabe begins hearing voices, but realises it's actually the lice talking into his ear. He and other school peers have to seek two vats of lice shampoo that the lice are trying to destroy. In a final attempt to save everyone, he puts the shampoo into the sprinkler system and activates it. Everyone is cured, but he can still hear the lice on his scalp screaming out in pain and wanting "revenge". The episode has an open ending that suggests the fight with the lice isn't over yet.
  • Motherland: The third series premiere revolves around a a nit pandemic at the parents' school.
  • The Office (US): In "Lice", Pam accidentally catches lice from Cece and it spreads across the office. Everyone blames Meredith for it, and Pam can't find the courage to confess. Dwight wears a hazmat suit and quarantines everyone who has lice.
  • The Wild House has an episode in which the whole family has lice, shortly before Granny's visit. After they have been treated, the mother wears a sign saying "Nobody is to mention nits to Granny". Smelling the treatment on the family, Granny wonders if they have started using new after-shaves or perfumes.
  • Workin Moms: In "Lice," Kate catches lice from Charlie and accidentally spreads it to her co-workers. She attends a job interview and tries to resist scratching.

    Literature 
  • Bugs In My Hair: This picture book by David Shannon tells of a boy who catches lice and is desperate to get rid of them.
    "Just talking about bugs made my mom itchy. Her problem wasn't on her
    head, it was in her head!"
  • Horrid Henry: In "Horrid Henry's Nits", Henry tries to be nit free when he receives a letter warning of a lice outbreak at school.
  • The Witches: While watching the witches scratching the backs of their necks, the narrator believes they have lice, and describes in passing a boy at school who was made to dip his whole head in turpentine, causing half his skin to come away from his scalp.
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    Radio 
  • One episode of King Street Junior had an outbreak of head lice at the title school, including one teacher who catches them from a pupil.

    Video Games 
  • In Psychonauts 2, in one of the levels in Ford Cruller's mind, giant lice are an obstacle that prevent Raz from jumping.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "The Lousy Week", Muffy catches lice and has fears of being excluded. She lies about having lice and accidentally spreads it to Francine via her hat. From there, the lice spread across the entire school. The episode is intercut with scenes of the lice depicted as an army, traveling across the kids' scalps.
  • As Told by Ginger had an episode dealing with a lice outbreak in the school. Courtney Gripling comes down with a case of lice. She's dumbfounded by the irony that the fact that she keeps her hair immaculately clean probably contributed to her infestation. Dodie also spreads a list of the kids who have lice on the school news, which is played similar to doxxing/revealing private info.
  • Beavis And Butthead: One episode is dedicated to Beavis getting lice. When a number of treatment options fail, he decides to stick his head onto a bug zapper to kill them off.
  • Bluey: In "Hairdressers", the characters play a Lice Episode as a game in-universe. Bandit's character Bert Handsome discovers he has nits while getting a haircut, and the rest of the episode is dedicated to trying to get them off.
    Bluey: *crossing out and replacing the episode title* This episode of Bluey is now called "Nits".
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Lice Things Are Lice", the Wagstaff school nurse grows bored of looking after kids who aren't really sick. Tammy comes to the office and is scratching her head, which the nurse pounces at. She sees lice in her head and determines it's necessary to quarantine those who have lice. The nurse shaves her head and wants to do it to everyone else. Tina, who is stuck inside, realizes the nurse wears glasses but not on that day. The nurse realizes she mistook dandruff for lice and lets the kids out of her office.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has the team fighting an army of hair eating lice in their own tree house and find that they dissolve when exposed to nacho cheese sauce.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum: In "Lice Lice Baby", Nurse Lady Pam is holding a lice checkup and the two titular boys gush over her appearance and that she's apparently a fan of Man-Arctica like them, and make it their mission to have their checkups. When it turns out Fanboy doesn't have lice because he never takes his cowl off, while Chum Chum does have lice, this makes Fanboy jealous and the two brawl each other for Pam's attention. They immediately stop their feud in the end when Pam reveals she's literally in love with Man-Arctica and is dating him (he breaks up with her eventually when he discovers she isn't "cold" enough).
  • A segment in Kablam called "Emmett Freedy", a single piece of cereal lands on titular character's head which gets mistaken for lice during a lice inspection which sends him home. Soon enough an angry mob is forming around his house and protesting against him for spreading lice.
  • Grossology: In "Club Parasites", Abby is upset because she has head lice and has to be miss a baseball game, but she ends up coming out of quarantine when Insectiva invades the school with nits that mind-control their hosts so that she can force humans to obey her.
  • Invader Zim: In "Lice", everyone in Skool is infected with lice except for Zim. He ends up being the one to save them from the lice outbreak because lice immediately die upon contact with Irken skin.
  • King of the Hill: One episode had Hank, Boomhauer and Dale all getting lice, thanks to Bill. The three cut off ties with him for the episode, all having enough of his shenanigans. It's only when Hank has his head shaved, revealing he got a tattoo of Bill's name on the back of his head (due to Bill saving Hank in a bar fight back when they were younger and Hank getting the tattoo as a token of appreciation) that he forgives him.
  • Little Princess: In "I Don't Want Nits", the Princess has an itchy head, and the Maid suspects that she might have nits. The Princess, who is afraid of nits, runs away, but when she tries to play with the other adults, they're also afraid of nits and so run away when the Maid shows up, asking her about them. It turns out that the Princess does have nits, and at the end, the adults may or may not have also caught them, but everyone's hair gets washed anyway.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): In "Sugar, Spice and Super Lice", Buttercup gets headlice while attempting to grow a mullet, so Blossom and Bubbles shrink down to fight the lice on Buttercup's scalp.
  • South Park: In "Lice Capades", someone at South Park elementary has lice. The audience is lead to believe it's Clyde, as we cut to various scenes on his scalp that parody the disaster genre. The scenes feature a young male louse who loses his wife after Clyde washes his hair with lice shampoo, and he must navigate the scalp while protecting a nit. Meanwhile, Cartman bullies Kenny for spreading the lice (based on the stereotype you have them if you are poor). Parodying a scene from The Thing (1982), Cartman takes samples of the boys' blood and puts a hot wire into each petri dish. Annoyed with the conflict, Mr. Garrison reveals that they all had lice.

    Web Series 


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