Something gets launched or is stuck to the ceiling, usually something sticky, and often some kind of food item. Sometimes it comes down, sometimes it doesn't. May later fall on someone who has no idea it's up there.
See Ceiling Cling for when a person is hiding near the ceiling.
- Referenced (with instructions) in this Frazz strip.
- Used to great effect in this Garfield strip.
- Foxtrot had an arc where the kids are cooking dinner for their parents on Valentines Day. Peter wonders how you know when the spaghetti is cooked, Jason says he heard that when it clings to the ceiling, it's done.
Peter: Now what?
Jason: I meant one strand.
- He Died with a Felafel in His Hand: A beef patty that's been on the kitchen ceiling for years is pointed out to new housemate Anya... who is a vegetarian.
- The Three Stooges:
- At VERY least once, when a pie is thrown to the ceiling. At a fancy party. Pompous woman: "Why, young man, you act as if the Sword of Damocles was hanging over your head." Moe: "Lady, you must be psychic!"
- In the short Movie Maniacs, Curly's flapjack sticks to the boxcar ceiling long enough for it to land on Moe's face.
- Dude, Where's My Car?: A pizza is hidden by throwing it so it sticks to the ceiling. Later, the pieces fall one by one.
- The famous piece of bologna in The Breakfast Club
- UHF: "Not many people know this, but the turtle is nature's suction cup!"
- Played for horror rather than comedy in Damnatus, where Nira pancakes a cultist who surprises her against the ceiling.
- Done intentionally in Pee-wee's Big Adventure. He has a breakfast machine Rube Goldberg Device that prepares pancakes and flips them onto the ceiling. In the end, he catches then on a plate, neatly stacked.
- The first Problem Child features Junior stabbing his fork into a concoction vaguely resembling mashed potatoes, stretching it like a rubber band, and shooting it upward so it sticks to the ceiling.
- In one of Marissa Moss' Amelia books, Amelia describes a game she used to play with her sister where they threw marshmallows at the ceiling.
- In book 3 of the Star Wars X-Wing Series, Corran Horn uses this to figure out that he and every other Lusankya prisoner are upside-down. The object (a rock) sticks to the ceiling because it's further from the artificial gravity generators in the real ceiling.
- In The Real Animal House (a book of stories by Chris Miller that inspired — and were too rude for — the movie), the, uh, "hero" manages to hit the ceiling of his bedroom with ejaculate after a particularly frenzied bout of masturbation due to sexual frustration. Since the lights are off, he doesn't realize what he's done 'til it drips back down on him.
- The Big Bang Theory: Howard's faulty space toilet malfunctions, and during the attempt to fix it, he launches a piece of meatloaf onto the apartment ceiling. It falls later when Penny joins the guys for dinner.
- Black Books: Pictured above. Manny sees a piece of toast on the ceiling whilst he is calling a cleaner. Curiously, the toast is stuck to the ceiling despite the fact that the jam side is showing. This is probably a comment as to how filthy the shop is (sticky ceiling). Later in the same episode, Bernard launches a piece of toast with jam onto the ceiling, illustrating the futility of the cleaning process. The second piece of toast eventually falls on Manny's head.
- An episode of Coach featured Luther in Hayden's office throwing and sticking pencils up into the ceiling to the point it was literally covered in them. When Hayden kicks Luther out of his office he slammed the door causing all the pencils to fall down.
- In Drake & Josh, one episode had the titular duo working in a sushi store with a conveyor belt a la I Love Lucy, the sushi came in must too fast and they tried to throw them on the ceiling. They did stick, but they all came down a bit later.
- In Dharma & Greg, episode 1, Greg is shown in his new law office throwing a couple pencils at the ceiling. The camera pans up to show a couple dozen pencils already stuck in the tiles above his desk. Later, he throws one more pencil above his head, only to have all the others fall out of the ceiling onto him.
- In a season 3.5 episode of Eureka, a person gets stuck to the ceiling as a result of a mishap involving a magnetic explosion. Of course, the person is Fargo.
- Friends: Monica is making a milkshake, but Rachel says something that surprises her, making her lid hand slip, splattering bananas on the ceiling. It doesn't come down until Monica mops it up.
- In Fries With That, two burger flippers get into a burger flip off, where they show off increasingly complex moves, some require the patty to stick to the ceiling for a few seconds in order to do two at once. Alex mentions that he's attempted to do it with a cheeseburger, but the cheese caused it to get stuck permanently.
- How I Met Your Mother: Marshall, Barney, and Ted are throwing pencils at the ceiling. One falls and bounces up Barney's nose, which Marshall calls a miracle.
- Carly flings a live worm onto the ceiling while trying to compost for a science project. It sticks. It falls back down on Spencer's head.
- In another episode, Spencer flings a tray of "cucumber cups" onto the ceiling.
- In a classic episode of I Love Lucy, Ricky was cooking a couple of chickens in a pressure cooker. He put it on too high and the lid blew off. Ricky looks in to see the chickens are gone. A few seconds later, one chicken fell down and then the other.
- Jeeves and Wooster features a scene where Bertie flips the lid of a jar of treacle onto the ceiling and it doesn't come down until hours later, just at the moment when it is the least convenient.
- In the first episode of Kung Fu, a man tries to attack Caine with a knife in a saloon. He kicks it out of the man's hand, causing it to stick in the ceiling.
- Combination of Live-Action TV and Real Life: Late Night with David Letterman. Viewers know of Dave's tendency to flip pencils up out of view coming out of commercial break. Studio audience members get to see the result; the fake acoustic ceiling above the desk is peppered with pencils, and his accuracy is epic (in half a dozen shows he didn't miss once).
- In an episode of Lois & Clark, Lois is making spaghetti for Clark on their first "official" date. To test its done-ness, she throws a piece against the ceiling. Later, it comes back down.
- In one of the Swedish Chef sketches on The Muppet Show he flips pancakes that go up but don't come down again. After a couple have disappeared this way, he takes out his trusty "boomstick" and shoots up at the ceiling... and a dozen pancakes fall on his head.
- New Girl involves a shishkebab that is stuck to the ceiling in their living room, with the caveat that Schmidt & Nick have a bet about when it will fall. It falls off moments later, with Nick winning the bet, and forcing Schmidt to be his 'slave for 17 days'.
- The X-Files: episode "Chinga", Mulder spends his spare time throwing pencils into the ceiling over his desk.
- In Day of the Tentacle there's a slab of fake vomit stuck to the ceiling of the hotel lobby. The characters comment on it with varying shades of distaste. Eventually, you have to get it loose to solve a puzzle.
- In the Strong Bad Email "couch patch", Homestar has a flashback in which he is spitting Teddy Grahams around Strong Bad's basement. One ends up sticking to the ceiling, and Homestar then starts trying to knock it down by spitting more at it (and catching them back in his mouth each time he fails; it's not indicated whether he ever succeeds).
- Sluggy Freelance: Torg and Riff occasionally play a game known as "Gravity-Defying Ceiling Ninja". This involves lying on the floor and throwing darts at a dartboard attached to the ceiling- gravity-defying because the darts stick and stay up. The ninja part? That's what you need if the darts don't stick...
- Related: In Zero G, this happens when things move toward air vents, as noted in Freefall here.
- Wapsi Square uses the pencils in the office ceiling variant to show Monica's boredom.
- Epic Meal Time used the cooked noodle test in their "Mac Burgers" episode of Handle It, throwing a handful of macaroni onto the ceiling to see if they stick.
- The Simpsons: Bart sticks a waffle onto the ceiling, which Homer mistakes for God, Marge pries the waffle off the ceiling. Homer eats it.
Homer: Why do you mock me, oh, Lord?!
Marge: Homer, that's not God. That's just a waffle that Bart tossed up there.
[Marge pries the waffle off the ceiling]
Homer: I know I shouldn't eat thee, but... [munch munch munch]... Mmmm... Sacrilicious.
- Recess: Gretchen gave advice to a boy in the bathroom when trying to make a wet paper towel stay stuck on the ceiling.
- Coraline: The ancient taffy Miss Spink and Miss Forcible offer Coraline. The whole bowl gets launched and glued to the ceiling when she struggles to get one loose (and comes down when Spink scolds Forcible that "Giraffes don't just fall from the sky, Miriam!")
- The Looney Tunes Show: Daffy accidentally flings a carrot pie onto the ceiling - where it sticks - at the start of "Newspaper Thief". It becomes a Brick Joke at the very end of the episode.
- The Pink Panther: In the episode titled Pink Blue Plate, the Pink Panther sticks a pizza to the ceiling of the kitchen. The obvious solution found to get it down is to go upstairs and saw the floor (which is therefore the other side of the kitchen ceiling)
- One of the closing credits to Henry's Cat has him flipping a pancake, only for it to end up stuck on the ceiling. It comes down again and lands on Henrys, along with dozens of other pancakes that were stuck up there prior.
- One Garfield and Friends short had Garfield stick food to the ceiling by flinging it off a spoon. A baffled Jon asks him how long he's been doing this, until the entire pile falls down on top of him.
- At Cyan, the studio behind Myst, they'll often use their own offices for a Nerf Gun war. When they finished building their world headquarters building in 1996, they played a Nerf war before moving furniture in. One of the darts was shot up on the ceiling, where it remains to this day.
- Kids in school launch pencils up at ceilings which have small holes just small enough for the pencil to stick in.
- A common school prank is to do this with glue sticks.
- Office workers who work in buildings with fake ceilings often throw pencils into the ceiling, as the fake ceilings are often as weak as cardboard. Parodied in this Bud Light commercial.
- In Russia, some kids used to smear (and perhaps still do) matches with whitewash, lighted them and throw them at the ceiling. The trick is for it to stick and burn until it leaves a smear.
- John Ortved's book Simpsons Confidential features the following quote from Tim Long discussing the first time he entered the Simpsons writers' room:
"There was a stain on the roof when I walked in, and I remember saying, 'What the hell is that?" And someone said, 'Oh, I think that's where Conan threw a slice of pizza on the ceiling.' And I had two simultaneous thoughts. The first was, Holy shit, I am in one of the Stations of the Cross of comedy—I've really arrived. And the second one was, Wait a second, Conan left five years ago."
- Any restaurant that hands out those little fringed toothpicks or cocktail umbrellas will likely have several of them stuck in the ceiling since they're perfect for loading into a drinking straw and turning it into a miniature blowgun.
- Also, how some people check to see if their spaghetti is cooked. Toss a noodle at the ceiling — if it sticks, it's ready.
- Epic Meal Time used the above in their "Mac Burgers" episode of Handle It, throwing a handful of macaroni onto the ceiling.
- In a rather grim example, during the SL-1 disaster in 1961, one of the three nuclear reactor operators was standing on top of the core handling a loose control rod when, due to poor design and operator error, the reactor went prompt critical, producing 6000% of rated power in about 7.5 milliseconds. The spike in generated power almost instantaneously flashed all of the reactor's cooling water into steam, and the resulting steam explosion fired pieces of the reactor and shielding in all directions at high velocity. The unfortunate operator's body was found pinned to the ceiling by a radiation shield plug.