Follow TV Tropes


Painful Pointy Pufferfish

Go To
Being on the business side of these quills must be quite hurtful.
Pufferfishes are fishes from the order Tetraodontiformes and family Tetraodontidae that are well-known for their ability to inflate their bodies by inhaling water, so they can scare off predators and defend themselves. The closely related porcupinefishes (family Diodontidae) have a groovy bonus feature: their bodies are covered with Spikes of Doom that can deal a world of hurt to the poor souls that try to swallow them. Other factors that have helped their induction into this trope are their quirky colour schemes, cute appearance, and their abundance in temperate and tropical waters, making them fit right in to almost any setting under the sea.

They are as such often seen in fiction stabbing other people with their spikes. Sometimes they spear others by their own accord, other times they are weaponized by another character. Painful Pointy Pufferfishes are notably common in Video Games in the Under the Sea levels. Particularly nasty variants are even capable of poisoning those who are poked by their spikes. Nastier yet, their flesh contains a fairly strong neurotoxin. Fish bites man is not news. Man bites fish is the man. (Unless you prepare it specially, in which case it's a delicacy.)

Sub-Trope of Fiendish Fish and Spikes of Doom. Related to The Spiny. If wielded as a weapon by another character, it is a Sub-Trope of Shamu Fu. See also Sea Hurtchin for another spiny animal used in a similar way.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid King have a pufferfish-boy named Haribo who's feisty, rough, and enjoys using his head-spikes for stabbing people who annoys him in the ass.
  • In One Piece, member of the New Fish-men Pirates Harisenbon is a porcupinefish Fishman: normally lean and unassuming, he can bloat himself up and turn into a ball of sharp spikes before bodyslamming his enemies. He leads a patrol of Fish-men armed with spiked shells.

    Films — Animated 
  • Finding Nemo: Bloat the pufferfish is a member of the Tank Gang, and often inflates himself when agitated (requiring one of the other fish to help deflate him).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Stormbreaker, Jack wins a fight against Nadia Vole by impaling her hand with the pufferfish she had been painting before the quarrel.

  • The mascot for the security-focused OpenBSD operating system is a pufferfish, evoking self-defence.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing: Implied through the series, as every quote the villager speaks when catching a pufferfish is an cry of pain instead of the puns the other fishes elicit.
  • Awesomenauts: One of the attacks that Spike, a jailbird pufferfish, can perform is the "Spike Dive", a diving tackle that launches his spikes out of his body for extra damage, with a new pair automatically growing back after.
  • Banjo-Tooie features blowfish baddies called Swellbellies that are expies of the Puftops enemies from Donkey Kong 64, only orange and lacking the ability to explode.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: Pufferfish appear in the underwater levels. Bumping into one while it's inflated will somehow lead to Crash getting puffed up himself, losing a life.
  • Cuphead: The giant mermaid Cala Maria can summon some puffed-up pufferfishes that can damage the player.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: Porcufish-like baddies called Puftups are common aquatic enemies. Some Puftups explode after inflating, causing them to unleash spikes in four directions (which dire. Puftups can only be defeated by Enguarde.
    • Donkey Kong 64: Puftups make a reappearance in this game, where they act more like hazards than enemies, remaining stationary and exploding like aquatic mines if approached by a Kong. A King Mook specimen called Pufftoss appears as the boss of Gloomy Galleon.
    • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze:
      • The Pufftup enemies are porcupine fishes that randomly inflate and deflate. When inflated, they can only be defeated by Cranky Kong's cane, as their spikes prevent the Kongs from touching them without being hurt.
      • Fugu is a giant yellow pufferfish that can inflate to ridiculous sizes — its biggest form takes up more than two thirds of the screen and literally dwarfs the gorilla-sized Donkey Kong. It is covered in damaging quills except for its rear, which acts as its weak point.
      • The Fish Poker Pops attack with a stick with a porcupine fish at both ends.
  • Ecco the Dolphin and Ecco: The Tides of Time have pufferfishes in many levels. In their un-puffed state, Ecco could eat them to regain health, like many other fish. But eating one would prompt the rest to puff up, and they'd injure Ecco if he tried to eat them in that state.
  • For the King: Puff Puffs and Poison Puffs are giant floating pufferfish that appear as Random Encounters in aquatic areas. They attack by running into you with their spines and pop like balloons when killed.
  • Feeding Frenzy: Pufferfishes regularly inflate their bodies to sting the fishes trying to eat them. Touching one in their inflated state will send a fish backward, and it's the only way the player can lose points in both games. A deflated pufferfish, however, can be eaten as normal.
  • Golden Force has pufferfishes as enemies in underwater environments, who hurts you on contact. That said, they're Stationary Enemy types who remains suspended where they are - piranhas tends to be a bigger problem in underwater areas.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has pufferfish as enemies in the ocean. Their initial turn has them scrape the player with their spines to poison them, which damages the player each turn of the battle and doubles each turn. They may also drop their spines upon defeat, which can be used on enemies to make them suffer similar poisoning.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby Mass Attack has the Stickles, spiky fishes that dwell in the 7th level of the Dedede Resort. In the water, they are covered in vicious spikes that damage the Kirbys on contact, but as soon as they are on dry land, the spikes retract, leaving them open for attacks.
    • The third boss of Kirby's Return to Dream Land is called Fatty Puffer, and his main attack is inflating himself into a huge ball and rolling across the battlefield. He's significantly less pointy than most examples of the trope, but he makes up for that with all the stalactites he sends falling from the ceiling from the sheer force of his weight. Once he Turns Red, his fully inflated body takes up three quarters of the arena, and he can attack Kirby with a huge wave of Waterfall Puke.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Froaks, airborne pufferfish-like creatures. They appear spikeless at first, but will puff up, revealing their harmful quills. They are also prone to exploding.
  • The Legendary Starfy:
    • Fugush, the fourth boss of the fourth game, is a huge pufferfish which wear a diving mask and a snorkel and which will harm Starfy on contact with its quills. Fortunately, at some point, it will fire them to Starfy, and the short time without any spikes protecting it allows Starfy to damage it.
    • Harisen-sans are a species of unbeatable pufferfish enemies which will inflate their bodies when startled, revealing sharp damaging needles.
    • Piranyans are a weird hybrid between piranhas and pufferfishes, chasing Starfy at fast speeds while being protected by a barrier of spikes.
  • The Legends of Owlia: The pufferfish enemies in the game. If you look closely at their sprites when they're inflated, you'll see little spikes on them.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: Before the boss fight with Kruller in a storage room, the ghost frantically searches for a weapon in a cardboard box, and one of the items he pulls out is a pufferfish. Cue Kruller screaming in pain while shaking the fish off.
  • Mega Man Zero 4 has a robotic pufferfish enemy that appears in water areas. They inflate and deflate when Zero is close to shoot out spikes in multiple directions.
  • Minecraft:
    • The Guardians and Elder Guardians, monsters found in the Ocean Monuments, resemble cyclopean fish with long tails and cubical bodies covered with large spikes that they can extend and retract. When their spikes are extended, striking them with a melee weapon will deal players a heart of damage.
    • In the 1.13 update, mob versions of fish were added, including the pufferfish. It starts out small, but it inflates if a player gets near and will cause Collision Damage or inflict the Poison status if the player comes too close to them in this state.
  • Monster Eye have entire swarms of pufferfishes that inflates themselves to flock upon your player.
  • Monster Sanctuary: Thornish covered in spikes, has a vengeful and ruthless disposition, and almost all of its body contains the most poisonous substance in the world.
  • In, the porcupinefishes can inflate themselves to damage the surrounding animals.
  • In Octogeddon, Spike the Pufferfish is one of the aquatic buddies Octogeddon can acquire. It can puff up to tremendous sizes, destroying every nearby enemy with its spikes.
  • The Pokémon Qwilfish, debuting in Pokémon Gold and Silver, is based on a pufferfish. Not only can it sting with its spikes (it learns many spike-related moves like Toxic Spikes, Fell Stinger, Spikes or Poison Sting), it can also fire them at its foes with the move Pin Missile. Further, it often has the ability Poison Point, which makes it so that when an opponent hits it with a physical attack, it has a 30% chance of being poisoned. You can throw fruit at it in New Pokémon Snap to make it inflate and even over-inflate. In Pokémon Legends: Arceus it received a part Dark-Type Regional Form that evolves into the even larger Overqwil, which has a savage temperament and resembles a sea mine.
  • Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday: Pufferfish serve as common enemies in Atlantis. Porky has to hit them when they're deflated or he takes damage.
  • Sabrina: Spooked!: Little pufferfish appear as enemies in the second world. They float slowly towards Sabrina and occasionally inflating themselves. Unlike most examples, they don't count as spinies even when they inflate. The player can bounce on top of them harmlessly while inflated, and destroying them while deflated. They tend to be placed in spots where the player is jumping, where you can jump into them by accident.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has various robotic examples:
  • In Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, the drop-behind-you-to-lay-a-trap item is a blowfish, which deploys with a balloon-like squeak. In the Japanese version however, it's replaced by a Garbage Puyo.
  • Spore: One of the microorganisms in the Cell stage, Puffish, is a slow, round, purple animal defended by an array of spines surrounding its body, which will harm any predator or rival attempting to engage it in melee.
  • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!: The Mystic Marsh level contains all sorts of strange fusions of animals. One of them is a cross between a platypus and a pufferfish. When they're in their platypus form, they can be defeated without an issue, but trying to attack them while they're puffed up will hurt Spyro.
  • Streetpass Mii Plaza: The Mii Force game features the Battling Blowfish, a giant robotic pufferfish submarine with retractable spikes, as a boss. One of its numerous way to damage the heroes is ramming into them with with all its prongs out.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario World introduces the Porcupuffer, a gigantic pufferfish-like Cheep Cheep that chases Mario around some levels. The spikes on its back prevent Mario from jumping on it, as they will damage the plumber (unless you use the Spin Jump or are riding Yoshi, in which case you'll repeatedly bounce off its spikes). After a long hiatus, they reappear commonly in later Mario games (including Super Mario Maker 2, where they're capable of eating the main characters, thus becoming Instakill Mooks).
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has the Puffer Cheeps. They first look like blue Cheep Cheeps, but when damaged by the plumbers, they puff up, revealing their spikes which damage and poison the Mario Brothers when jumped on. Harming them once more will deflate them.
    • Spiny Cheep Cheeps are a purple variant of basic Cheep Cheeps with large spikes down their backs. While they damage Mario on contact, all Cheep Cheeps do so — their main danger comes from the fact that they will actively chase Mario around, which regular Cheep Cheeps don't do.
  • Pufferfish occasionally appear as bosses in the Umihara Kawase games, oftentimes floating around in the air and, depending on the game, firing needles at the player. Not surprisingly, bumping into one will hurt Kawase if she's not careful.
  • WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$: The objective of the microgame "Rough Puff" is to have a pufferfish inflate at the right time to deflect an attack from another fish.
  • Yoshi's Crafted World: In the level "Many Fish in the Sea", Yoshi has to ride on a variety of papercraft fishes, which serve as platforms. Some of the fishes are pufferfishes, which Yoshi has to avoid unless he wants to get damaged.

    Web Animation 
  • Happy Tree Friends: In "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", Russell eats a pufferfish that inflates inside his throat, causing him to choke.

    Western Animation 
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Fire", Grizzly has to save some aquarium fish from a restaurant on fire (which he inadvertently started due to paranoia). One of the fish is a pufferfish, which Grizz juggles due to its spines hurting his paws.