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Pepper Sneeze

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"I want to cover every inch of your gorgeous body with pepper, and then sneeze all over you!"
General Melchett, Blackadder

When an animated character's nose is doused with black pepper, it causes the victim to explode in an exaggeratedly violent sneeze. The origin is uncertain, and although consuming amounts of pepper on food can make eyes water and cause sneezing, it probably has more to do with how recognizable a prop pepper shakers are.

There is some Truth in Television, as you actually can sneeze from inhaling pepper and other fine particulates, although if you directly inhale pepper you'd feel more like coughing than sneezing.

Often used in conjunction with the Sneeze of Doom. Sometimes Anti-Sneeze Finger is used to attempt to stop this sneeze.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used on Inspector Zenigata at least once in Lupin III.
  • Ranma is briefly cursed in one episode of Ranma ½ to hug anyone who sneezes. Naturally, Shampoo follows him home with a shaker of black pepper. Hilarity Ensues when Akane develops a cold in the same episode.
  • In To Love-Ru, Ren/Run carries pepper to fling at his/her nose to change gender when the need arises. First seen when, upon learning that sneezing is the Ren/Run's transformation trigger, Lala chases Ren with a pepper shaker trying to get Run to come out and play.
  • Usopp from One Piece has his Pepper Star, which explodes into a huge cloud of pepper causing the enemy to sneeze. Usually goes hand-in-hand with his Caltrops Hell.
  • Sansho-kun from Anpanman is a living pepper container (filled with sansho, a mild green peppercorn commonly sprinkled on barbecued eel). He's managed to weaponize using this by sprinkling his pepper onto Baikinman, leaving him sneezing for enough time to distract him from the other heroes.
  • A filler scene in Dragon Ball first series has Crillin accidentally do this to Lunch..causing her violent alternate personality come out.
  • At the beginning of The Testament of Sister New Devil, Basara rescues Mio from a group of delinquents and uses pepper to cover their escape, causing them to sneeze.
  • In episode 46 of Jewelpet Twinkle, Kaiya uses magic to create a big pepper sprinkler and use it to make Akari and Ruby sneeze. Akari and Ruby, who are pretending to be a cloud to catch a sleeping Flora, wind up plummeting to the ground after sneezing.

    Audio Plays 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventure Doctor Who and the Pirates, the Sixth Doctor attempts to hide from a bloodthirsty band of pirates in what he thinks is an empty barrel. However, when he gets the lid off, he finds the barrel is full of pepper, which causes him to sneeze and reveals his presence to the pirates.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Tintin book King Ottokar's Sceptre, while stealing food, Tintin throws pepper around on the ground behind him as he runs to put tracking dogs off his scent, making them and their handlers sneeze.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Yellow Submarine, loose pepper causes the Headlands to sneeze the Beatles and Jeremy into the Sea of Holes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Caractacus sneezes from the pepper while making breakfast during the song "You Two."
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux: Topper Harley is trying to get some keys hanging above a sleeping guard's head using a broom handle. Unfortunately, he keeps hitting everything except the keys, including several clattering things on the table, a radio (which switches to rock music, almost rousing the guard before turning it back to "Rock-a-Bye Baby") the guard himself (repeatedly), a shaker of pepper, and a fan (turning the broom handle to a stake afterward). The guard sleeps soundly through all this, until Topper gets the keys, at which point a small mouse wanders by on the desk, sniffs the pepper, and lets out a barely audible, high-pitched sneeze. The guard wakes up with a start, and Hilarity Ensues.

  • Bob: I know a woman who uncontrollably orgasms every time she sneezes.
  • Alice: Oh dear. How debilitating. What is she taking for it?
  • Bob: Pepper!

  • Once word gets out in Ankh-Morpork that there's a werewolf on the Watch, the Discworld's criminals start carrying pepper bombs to put her off the scent just in case.
  • In The Scarlet Pimpernel, the eponymous hero sneaks some pepper into Chauvelin's snuff box; when Chauvelin sniffs it, he is incapacitated by the intense sneezing attack.
  • Literary example: Alice in Wonderland features a scene with the Duchess, a sneezing boy, pepper and the verse: "Speak roughly to your little boy / And beat him when he sneezes. / He only does it to annoy / Because he knows it teases."
    • In American McGee's Alice, the Duchess can actually turn into a cloud of pepper to move rapidly around the arena, and wields a pepper mill as a weapon. When defeated, she gets a terrible sneezing fit which makes her head explode.
  • In Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels, guns that shoot pepper are used to keep dragons from getting too close to the ground during battles.
  • Another literary example: in G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown mystery story "The Salad of Colonel Cray", a key clue to the mystery is some unexplained sneezes heard near the scene of the crime. It is eventually explained that the criminal sneezed when throwing away to the dustbin the pepper that could have been used to counter the action of the poison he was planning to use.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle novel The King's Buccaneer, Nakor and Anthony defeat the villain, an evil sorceress, by throwing pepper in her face and then hitting her with a sack of apples. They then run like hell.
  • In John W. Campbell's story "The Brain Stealers of Mars", Rod Blake sneezes when exposed to pepper. This clues Ted Penton into the fact that he is the real Rod Blake, since he figures that the shapeshifting aliens couldn't have spontaneously imitated such a complicated reflex as sneezing.
  • In The Small Bachelor by P. G. Wodehouse, Officer Garroway finds himself unable to stop sneezing after Mrs Waddington throws the contents of a pepperpot in his face.
  • In The Littles whenever the title family has to go anywhere armed the middle child, Lucy, carries a pepper shaker to cause this to happen to any creature that might attack them.
  • In Karma Wilson's picture book Bear Snores On, the titular Bear sleeps as other forest animals take shelter from the snow and have a party in his lair. But then the pepper from the stew they're making causes him to sneeze himself awake.
  • John Taylor of the Nightside series has weaponized this trope to such a degree that he uses it against gangsters, sorcerers, supervillains and all other manner of Nightside riffraff. Never leave home without condiments.
  • Played for laughs in Shel Silverstein's poem "Always Sprinkle Pepper". Why should you always sprinkle pepper in your hair? Because if a hag tries to eat you, when she sniffs your head to see if you smell good, she'll sneeze because of the pepper, decide you're not worth it, and let you go.
  • In The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, the titular girl's first mistake (besides falling down earlier) is accidentally grabbing a pepper shaker to juggle instead of a salt shaker. When juggling the shaker, her pet hamster Hubert, and a water balloon, the pepper makes Humbert sneeze, which startles him into grabbing, and so popping, the water balloon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mr. Bean smashed up some pepper with his hankie for a sandwich, and then, while using the same hankie as a bib, dropped his sandwich after sneezing.
  • Blackadder. The mad General Melchett is shown rehearsing his pickup lines in the mirror, including the line; "Darling, I want to cover you in pepper and sneeze all over you!"
  • In Mythbusters, they used pepper to test whether or not you can hold your eyes open while sneezing (and if there are any adverse effects of doing so).
    • A later episode has them using tobacco snuff instead, since pepper proved to be unreliable in producing sneezes. In case you're curious, they were testing how far/fast the spray from a sneeze can go.
  • Referenced in Muppets Tonight, with Miss Piggy and Billy Crystal parodying When Harry Met Sally.... When Piggy demonstrates how a woman can fake a sneeze to get out of a date, the woman at the next table says "I'll have what she's having ... but with less pepper."
  • Referenced humourously in an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place. Zeke comes over to Harper and says that they should take the next step in their relationship (their First Kiss).
    Harper: Let me guess. You want to see if we can keep our eyes open while we sneeze? I'll get the pepper.
  • Used in Mystery Science Theater 3000, in the episode, The Indestructible Man; during a host segment, Joel and the Bots hold their "Undersea Kingdom" parade. Gypsy sneezes when the Pepper Institute float (a giant pepper shaker) passes under her, causing Tom Servo to burst into flames.
  • Bassie & Adriaan: In "Het geheim van de schatkaart" (the secret of the treasure map), Bassie and Adriaan eventually find the treasure, but before they can open it the crooks also show up, force the two protagonists to back off, and open the treasure chest instead. Unfortuantely for them, the chest is filled with black pepper (which was still a very valuable spice in Europe back when the treasure was hidden), and it sends all three of them into a sneezing spree.

  • Both Shopkins and The Grossery Gang, both blind-bag toys by Moose Toys, have characters that are self-sneezing pepper shakers. Shopkins has Peppe Pepper (pictured above), while The Grossery Gang has Snot N Pepper, a salt and pepper shaker pair where one's about to sneeze, while the other's already splattered with snot. The Grossery Gang also has Grot Pepper Sauce, a bottle of pepper sauce that has also already sneezed, splattered in snot as well.

    Video Games 
  • The first Streets of Rage has occasional shakers of pepper that you can find and toss at enemies, causing them to halt in place and go into fits of sneezing. They have a small area of effect, too, letting you affect multiple thugs at a time.
  • La-Mulana has a puzzle involving using pepper to make a statue sneeze and give up its treasure.
  • Dr. Loboto from Psychonauts uses this to extract his victims' brains. Yes, that's right — pepper doesn't just make you sneeze, it makes you sneeze so hard your brain flies out of your head and hits the wall with a splat.
  • At the end of The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush defeats LeChuck by making him sneeze with pepper, breathing fire onto a rope connected to a rum barrel, making it explode and trapping him under falling ice.
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, one of Alice's weapons is a pepper grinder, also used to shoot pepper at the giant Pig Snouts scattered through the levels, making them sneeze to unlock secret paths and collectibles.
  • The Beat 'em Up Die Hard Arcade (originally Dynamite Cop / Dynamite Deka in Japan) includes the occasional pepper shaker as a weapon. You shake it, a little cloud of pepper comes out, and anyone it reaches starts sneezing for a second or two, leaving them open to attack. Oh, and it deals about as much damage as a kick and can defeat an enemy, meaning the terrorists you're up against can sneeze themselves unconscious. Yeah, it's that kind of game.
  • In the unlockable Show Within a Show in Spongebob Squarepants Lights Camera Pants, this is how the villainous Sneaky Hermit is defeated: he has a handful of pepper thrown in his face, causing him to sneeze uncontrollably. In the console version, it's a Logical Weakness, as it causes the enormous tower of stolen items he's carrying to topple over, crushing him; in the PC version, it's more of a Weaksauce Weakness, as the exact manner in which it defeats him isn't shown.
  • One of the three ways to get out of Arnold in the The Magic School Bus explores the human body is this - the other two are sweat on Arnold's skin or a hot pepper in his mouth (to make him spit the bus out).
  • A major plot point for the third case of the second Ace Attorney game, Justice For All: Acro wanted to kill Regina Berry (a lion tamer) because she'd put pepper on his brother's scarf, unintentionally causing a lion to sneeze when his brother had put his head inside the lion's mouth.
  • In the Home Alone Licensed Game for the Sega Genesis, one of the homemade weapons Kevin can assemble is a pepper bazooka, which causes Harry and Marv to go into a sneezing fit if he uses it on them.
  • The old Burgertime video game had the player collect pepper doses, which could be used to temporarily stun the mooks chasing him, presumably as they were paralyzed by a sneezing fit.
  • Freddi Fish 4: The Hogfish Rustlers of Briny Gulch features three spice dispensers that can be found in a boat in all versions. One of the spice dispensers contains pepper, and upon clicking on it, Luther will consume an entire mouthful of pepper, which causes him to sneeze and blow himself around. Freddi even blesses him the first time it happens.
    • The version with the spice shaker, however, allows you to carry some pepper with you. You can use it on Luther to make him release a slightly different-sounding sneeze. Besides saying the "Bless you" from when he first sneezed and a more emphatic "Bless YOU!" there's a chance Freddi will actually say "Gesundheit!"
      • Oh, and Freddi herself sneezes from the pepper when you use it on her. She takes out the spice shaker and tries to open it, but has a little bit of trouble doing so. And when she finally pops the lid off, a cloud of pepper will emerge, causing her to sneeze and blow herself backwards. Luther will say either "Bless you!" "Gesundheit!" or "Wow, that was a good one!"
    • The spice shaker, however, is actually important to this version of the game's plot. The only way to get rid of it is to go over to the mine where the blowfish is and use the pepper on him. After he puffs himself up, Freddi shakes some pepper onto his face, and just smelling the pepper is enough to make him sneeze and blow himself away.
    Freddi: Gee, I hope he's okay...
  • In Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, after the battle with Genocide Jack results in her changing back into Toko, the Servant walks up and throws pepper in Toko's face. This is a bit of a problem, as Toko swaps personalities whenever she sneezes.

    Web Animation 
  • Happy Tree Friends: Happens to Cuddles in "Dunce Upon a Time" and "Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow."
    • Also happens to Sniffles in "Tongue in Cheek". Except merely tasting pepper is enough to make him sneeze, as opposed to just smelling it.
    • "Letter Late Than Never" has Lumpy try to use a pepper grinder against a dangerous turtle (which kills him at the end of the episode), but all the pepper does is make Lumpy sneeze.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • At least one cartoon directed by Tex Avery.
  • It happened a few times in Tom and Jerry as well.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Stop That Pigeon" (part of episode 5 on the DVD set), the Vulture Squadron chased the pigeon with a pepper gun.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: The Hooded Claw did this to Penelope in "Tall Timber Treachery".
  • In one episode of Invader Zim, a scientist (in a movie that GIR is watching) demonstrates an alien invader's weakness to germs by inhaling a handful of pepper and sneezing into a tube attached to the alien's holding tank. The alien immediately explodes.
  • Considering Tiny Toon Adventures has a character named Li'l Sneezer, it's only appropriate that this happens to the little guy at least once.
    • Li'l Sneezer was the TTA counterpart to Sniffles, a similar Looney Tunes character.
  • In DFE's The Ant and the Aardvark short "Ants in the Pantry", the aardvark inhales a large amount of pepper and sneezes hard enough to go flying out of the house through a brick wall. When he sneezes again, he re-enters the house through the same hole.
  • Although a handful of dust was the typical go to thing for a forced sneeze, pepper sneezes do come up in Monster by Mistake!.
  • Used in an episode of The Magic School Bus to get the bus out of Ralphie's nose.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): He-Man used it in one episode. He was surrounded by many mirror reflections of Skeletor. In order to find the real one, He-Man sprinkled some special pepper around. The mirrors shattered, Skeletor remained.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes used it to get a child to drop his ice cream For the Evulz.
  • One episode of Angela Anaconda was about the titular character getting pepper up her nose, causing it to itch. She doesn't sneeze the pepper back out until towards the end.
  • The Popeye cartoon "Spree Lunch" deals with Popeye and Bluto as competing diner owners fighting to keep Wimpy as their diner customer. Bluto pours pepper blown by a fan toward Popeye to make him sneeze at Wimpy, pushing him to Bluto's diner.
  • In two episodes of Darkwing Duck, pepper is used as a weapon against, as Gosalyn puts it, "those brain-sucking alien hats". The hats are sentient aliens that need to sit on someone's head if they want to use the host's body, and the only way to dislodge them is to make them sneeze; pepper is the quickest way. However, the second time around, the hats are prepared for pepper, using clothespins to block their noses. Hair oil is used instead to prevent the hats from grabbing on.
  • In Here Comes the Grump, the Grump's dragon has a sneezing problem. The trickster hero Terry uses pepper to trigger the dragon's allergies to slow down the Grump. Sneezes of Doom and Ash Faces result.
  • In an episode of Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, an Italian trader was offered one of the kittens as a gift to repay him for a kindness to the Magistrate. Sagwa and Dongwa cover themselves in pepper to dissuade him; this backfires as they neglect to do so for baby sister Sheegwa, making her his selection because she's adorable, treated him nicely and doesn't make him sneeze.
  • A weird version on Phineas and Ferb ...since it was induced on a robot/mecha. Heinz gives Perry a platter of various dishes (because he doesn't want to be rude and have his nemesis just watch him), and starts putting some pepper on it: "Say when!". Of course, since Perry can't talk, after the pepper has become a big pile on his plate, he blows on it and it causes the building/robot/mecha they're occupying to sneeze.
  • Total Drama: Trent spills pepper on his breakfast and then tosses it over his shoulder, straight into Heather's face: causing her to sneeze for the rest of the episode.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Happens in the Disney vignette "Mickey and the Beanstalk", causing Mickey to blow his cover.
    • The short "The Simple Things" had this happen to a clam stuck in Pluto's mouth.
  • Used practically in the 1990s Iron Man series: Julia uses pepper to make Hawkeye sneeze out Iron Man and Ultimo, who had been shrunken and were inside Hawkeye's body at the time.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf: Scrappy uses pepper to force a monster to sneeze and spit out Shaggy and Scooby.
  • Taz-Mania: In "Food for Thought", Taz sprinkling pepper on an egg causes the alligator inside to sneeze and hatch out.
  • The Secret Saturdays: Happens to Fisk during the Diner Brawl in "Cryptid vs. Cryptid".
  • In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy had Billy accidentally spill some salt at a diner and when he tried to throw some over his shoulder to prevent bad luck, he accidentally threw the pepper instead, causing everyone behind him to sneeze. This turns out to be important, as Billy's proceeding bad luck was brought upon by a "catastrophe snail" that went inside his head to give him nothing but bad luck. Billy would have sizzled it by throwing salt over his shoulder as it was entering his ear had he not panicked and picked up the pepper instead.
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Sheen does this to get himself and Jimmy out of Carl's body.
    Sheen: Like my dad always says: "When in doubt, break out the pepper!"
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants special "Truth or Square" this happens to Patchy the Pirate after he gets swallowed by a whale, except it is not pepper that sets the whale off, it's smoke from a malfunctioning projector.
  • In one episode of Muppet Babies (1984), "Journey to the Center of the Nursery," an Imagine Spot sees the kids forced by a villain to work in a "pepper mine," a parody of a salt mine that makes them all sneeze uncontrollably as they try to mine the pepper.
  • In the Muppet Babies (2018) episode, "The Great Muppet Cook-off", when Piggy tries to make a meatball pizza better than the Swedish Chef's, she decides to add an entire shaker of pepper to it. Summer warns her that if she uses that much pepper, it will make everyone sneeze, but Piggy ignores her. Sure enough, Summer is right, as the pepper makes her, Gonzo, Fozzie, and Camilla sneeze.
  • Doug: This kicks off the plot of "Doug on the Trail." When the Bluff Scouts are heading out on their camping trip, Doug carries both the navigational computer and a pepper mill, but the pepper makes him sneeze and he drops and breaks the computer. This forces Mr. Dink to leave the camp to go get the spare computer, leaving Roger in charge.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Bedevilled Rabbit," the Tasmanian Devil captures Bugs Bunny and prepares to cook him, trussing him up like a pig with an apple in his mouth, then shaking salt and pepper all over him. But the pepper makes Bugs sneeze the apple out of his mouth, which lets him talk to Taz and, of course, con him into setting him free.

    Real Life 
  • You know Sneezing Powder, that hilarious practical joke? It's pepper. Before that, though, the powder used to be one of a number of toxic (or carcinogenic!) chemicals, either from a plant or an industrial process. Pepper isn't nearly so good at making you sneeze, but at least it doesn't do you any other harm. People have died from what they used to put in Sneezing Powder.
  • A more serious use for sneezing pepper is to avoid being tracked by scent, e.g. by search dogs. Thieves, saboteurs and commandos used to sprinkle their tracks with herbal powders containing pepper, tobacco and other irritant plants to knock out the olfactory senses of any dog that tries to track them.


Video Example(s):



Super Sneezing-Powder makes you sneeze so hard you LITERALLY sneeze your brains out.

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