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Painful Pointy Pufferfish

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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.

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.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • 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 — 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 Incredibly Lame Puns the other fishes elicit.
  • In 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.
  • Pufferfish appear in the underwater levels in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Bumping into one while it's inflated will somehow lead to Crash getting puffed up himself, losing a life.
  • In 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. They could be defeated only when deflated. They make a reappearance in Donkey Kong 64 where they act more like hazards than enemies, remaining stationary and exploding like aquatic mines if approached by a Kong. A boss version called Pufftoss appears as the guardian of Gloomy Galleon in the same game.
    • 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 more than two thirds of the screen and literally dwarfs the big ape that is Donkey Kong). It is covered in damaging quills except for its rear, which act 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, Qwilfish 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.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has various robotic examples:
  • In the Sonic and All-Stars Racing games, the drop-behind-you-to-lay-a-trap item is a blowfish, which deploys with a balloon-like squeak.
  • In Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, there is a level called Mystic Marsh, which 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.
  • The Streetpass Mii Plaza game Mii Force 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 introduced the Porcupuffer, a gigantic pufferfish-like Cheep Cheep that chases Mario around some levels and provides this page's image. The spikes on its back prevent Mario from jumping on it, as they will damage the plumber. After a long hiatus, they now appear commonly in recent Mario games.
    • 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 the Mario Brothers when jumped on. Harming them once more will deflate them.
  • 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 damage.

    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.


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