Bullwinkle: [tears off a shirt sleeve] Nothing up my sleeve. Presto!
[reaches hand into hat and pulls out the head of a lion]
Bullwinkle: No doubt about it, I gotta get another hat!
The trick can also be done to pull out something other than a rabbit, but a White Bunny is the iconic thing.
A common way for the trick to go wrong is for the magician to make a mistake and pull out something other than what he intended. Another common twist is for the rabbit to be discovered sitting on the magician's head when he takes his hat off.
In animation, the hat is often depicted as having some kind of Hammerspace portal in it, allowing the magician to stick his arm in up to the shoulder, and can contain much larger and stranger things than a mere rabbit. Another mutation is the Rabbit Magician, who may use the hat as a gate to its burrow or other domicile.
Rabbits are popular for this trick over other small animals (like, say, a cat) because they're better at sitting still for long periods of time. However, it should be noted that despite how it's commonly depicted, lifting a rabbit by its ears is very painful and could permanently injure them. It's also likely to ruin the act if they freak out. Normally they put the hand under the rabbit's belly or, if you must, lift by the scruff of the neck.
See also: What Have We Ear?
- A commercial for Magic Gushers had a pretty disturbing version of it by having a kid's head transform into a top hat. One pull inside the hat and out pops the head of a rabbit!
- In The Unfinished Spelling Errors of Bolkien, Elrond tries to give Aragorn the sword Andúril, and winds up pulling out two white rabbits and a dove. Aragorn is bemused; Elrond is rather sheepish.
- The Post-Crisis version of Hoppy The Marvel Bunny came from a World of Funny Animals linked to The DCU via a magician's top hat. The magician would then pull terrified bunny citizens out of their world by their ears. Hoppy gained his powers when a suspicious Billy Batson investigated the hat, and said his magic word just as the magician pushed him in.
- In a 1990s Dork Age version of Challengers of the Unknown, this was the first thing Ace attempted when he was reinvented as a mystic. Since one of his teammates was actually named Rocky, he even used the Bullwinkle quote.
- Played with in a Cattivik story: two rabbits (a male one and a female one) jump out of a magician's top hat, and proceed to make out. Cattivik looks inside the hat and after getting out three panels later he finds out that the rabbit had a lot of babies meanwhile.
- One Monica's Gang story involving Monica getting a giant bunny (actually Jimmy Five and Smudge in disguise) for her birthday had her father attempt this with her plush bunny Samson.
- In one Doctor Strange story, his lover/disciple Clea pulled a rabbit out of a hat (while making it sound like she was about to perform some impressive feat of sorcery) to get him to smile.
- Zatanna, as demonstrated here◊. Try to focus on the rabbit.
- A Bizarro comic shows a magician in a hospital in traction after inadvertantly pulling a rhinoceros out of his hat.
- In one Mandrake the Magician story, Mandrake did a magic show for a group of school children in which he appeared to pull an elephant out of his hat (it started out tiny, grew to normal size, and then shrank again as he put it back). When the school bully suggested that he'd merely used an elephant-shaped balloon, Mandrake stuck him into the hat, and invited the rest of the children to look into the hat and watch him being chased around by the tiny elephant.
- A What's New? with Phil and Dixie strip about live-action role-playing talks about how magicians get the short end of the stick. The strip shows a stage magician telling one of his teammates how his "useless" magic tricks has just saved their lives. The teammate then asks what he is going to do when he runs out of rabbits and pulls back to show the magician pulling rabbits out of his hat to feed to the monster that is attacking them.
- In Night of Rime, the main character uses this trope to solve the problem of an old nemesis and a Phyrexian infestation simultaneously by intentionally pulling something less pleasant than a rabbit.
He plunged his arm into the accessory up to his elbow, and with a furrowing of his eyebrows, wrenched forth a fist full of tentacles. The ancient horror birthed its way into the realm through the tightly stretched brim.
- In Busting Boasts, Trixie turns this trick Up to Eleven. First she considers pulling a rabbit out of a hat, then a dragon out of her hat. She settles on pulling a rabbit out of a dragon.
- Discussed in Child of the Storm when Doctor Strange pulls out a top hat, and Harry wonders if a rabbit will be coming next. Instead, it turns out to be a Portkey.
- This is part of Tatischeff's stage act in The Illusionist.
- In Hoodwinked!, when Wolf and Twitchy are trying to figure out how to get to Granny's house to intercept Red Puckett, Boingo shows up, asking if they are going there to throw a surprise birthday party for Red because he's great at parties. He says, "Watch me pull myself out of a hat!" and forcefully scratches his right ear against his head with a very pained look on his face.
- In The Secret Life of Pets, Snowball's backstory is that he was a magician's rabbit who was abandoned when the rabbit-in-the-hat trick grew stale and unpopular.
- In Night of the Demon, an investigating psychologist visits devil-cult leader Karswell at his palatial estate, and finds him playing a magician to a party of children, pulling puppies out of his top hat. How could he possibly be evil?
- Referenced in Now You See Me 2, where it's mentioned that avant garde magician Lula's first famous trick involved pulling a hat out of a rabbit.
- In Twilight Zone: The Movie, Reality Warper Anthony forces one of his "family" members to do this trick. To everyone's obvious surprise and relief, the resulting rabbit seems normal enough... at first.
- Now You See It...: When the contestants are given the name of a famous magician to emulate for one of their performances, Zoey gets Alexander Herrmann, and of course ends up emulating his famous rabbit trick for the audience- pulling out rabbits of wildly varying sizes, no less.
- In G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown story "The Absence of Mr Glass", when explaining Mr. Todhunter, Father Brown observes that a hat which does not fit him is none the less his hat — because he is a Stage Magician.
"What could Todhunter get out of this one old hat?"
"Rabbits," replied Father Brown promptly.
"What?" cried Dr Hood.
"Rabbits, ribbons, sweetmeats, goldfish, rolls of coloured paper,"
- The Pilo Family Circus naturally has a magician perform this trick on show day. Unfortunately, Mugabo is a real magician with real magical powers, and feels more than a little degraded by having to perform it. Naturally, he lets the audience know this by detonating the rabbit all over them.
- Harry Potter:
- In the first book, when Harry sees the Sorting Hat for the first time he wonders if they're supposed to get a rabbit out of it.
- In the third book, Harry visits a magical pet store, where "a fat white rabbit kept changing into a silk top hat and back again with a loud popping noise."
- Pottermore reveals that the Fat Friar was executed by senior churchmen for two major slip-ups - curing the pox by poking people with his wand, and pulling rabbits out of the communion cup.
- The children's book Pretty Good Magic is about a magician named Presto who has this as part of his act, but he only gets called "pretty good" because while his tricks do work, they're not overly impressive or he fumbles some part of it. He gets upset about this and tries out a bigger magic spell that ends up producing dozens of rabbits from his hat. Unfortunately, there's no reverse spell to make all the rabbits go back into the hat. Hilarity Ensues.
- Inverted as a gag in the Nightside series, where one of the bar patrons at Strangefellows had evidently pissed off the rabbit he'd used in this act. His top hat now sits atop the bar, from which a human hand occasionally extends to receive a consoling drink.
- While visiting Egypt in All-Consuming Fire, the Doctor is buttonholed by a conjurer who does a series of tricks with baby chickens, including making them appear and disappear. When he pauses in expectation of payment, the Doctor pulls a rabbit out of his own hat and hands it to him. (How he manages this when he presumably had no idea in advance that a rabbit would be called for is never explained.)
- In the Redwall book Mattimeo, Basil the hare says it's perfectly fine for the circus troupe to come perform in the Abbey "as long as they don't pull rabbits out of hats." An odd joke for him to make, considering rabbits in this setting are sapient and among the largest creatures around.
- An unfortunate rabbit who had faithfully served for years being pulled out of a hat didn't survive in the "Oh Oh It's Magic" episode of Pushing Daisies.
- Dr. Cox in Scrubs actually reveals this trick to Turk and a bunch of children to "rob their innocence."
- Hilda teaches Sabrina a version of this with real magic in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Zelda is not impressed:
That's the oldest trick in the book. That's so old, mortals are doing it!
- The Wild Wild West: A gypsy magician is shown struggling with this trick at the end of "The Night of the Gypsy Peril". Artie steps in to show him how it's done.
- The Vanity Plate for the production company Hat Trick depicts a rabbit pulling a man out of a hat.
- The Artistic Title sequence for The Frank Sinatra Show (ABC), designed by Saul Bass, is based around different symbols coming out of a hat. Inevitably, a rabbit appears at one point.
- In a 2015 appearance by Penn & Teller on The Tonight Show, Penn talked about realizing that although it's a cliché, neither he nor Teller had ever seen an actual rabbit produced out of an actual top hat during a live magic performance, only watered down versions like a fake rabbit being produced from a handkerchief with a top hat printed on it. While Penn spoke, Teller produced a fake rabbit from a handkerchief with a top hat printed on it, then a real live rabbit from a real top hat.
- Doctor Who. During the Frost Fair of 1814, the Twelfth Doctor (who's been compared to a magician In-Universe) produces pies from his hat to give to a gang of street urchins.
- The Munsters; in one episode, Herman is signed up as a magician in Eddie's school talent show. For practice he tries to pull a live chicken from a hat he just cracked an egg into, only to get a fistful of yolk instead. To make Herman feel like he's really a magician, the rest of the family has Grandpa stand off to the side and use his real magic to improve Herman's tricks, so he does end up pulling a live chicken from the hat during practice.
- Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck: In one of the animations, the Whammy is a magician who pulls all the player's money out of his hat.
- Mentioned in Don't Touch That by "Weird Al" Yankovic. In Bullwinkle's voice:
Hey, watch me pull
A rabbit from my hat
Wait, that's not a rabbit
Oooh! Don't touch that
- The cover of Helloween's album Rabbit Don't Come Easy depicts a magician trying to do this trick, but the rabbit is fighting back.
- Lapins! by French singer Juliette is about a magician named André who pulled anything from his hat, from beasties to weather hazards, but he won't do rabbits because he doesn't like them. His wife accuses him from having Complexity Addiction.
- Mentioned as a universal stock magic in Fairytale Gone Bad by Sunrise Avenue:
There's no more rabbits in my hat to set things right.
- The "Hat Magic" illusion in Theatre of Magic, where the magician produces a rabbit, doves, and a telephone(!).
- Inverted in Capcom's Pinball Magic; the Skill Shot requires the player to shoot the pinball into the hat.
- In The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, Bullwinkle tries to do this trick on the backglass. He ends up producing either a rhino, a lion, or Rocky the Flying Squirrel.
- On the Doug Henning episode of The Muppet Show, Fozzie Bear attempts to perform his own magic by pulling the old rabbit hat trick. However, being Fozzie, he has some trouble with it; he pulls out a rabbi, followed by a robot. Fozzie then hits the hat too hard, and suddenly dozens of rabbits come bouncing out of the hat.
- Sesame Street:
- In a Muppet sketch, Grover watches as the Amazing Mumford tries to produce a rabbit from his hat. Neither of them is aware that Grover is gradually taking on the features of a rabbit.
- In a more recent episode, Professor D. Rabbit agrees to be pulled out of Mumford's hat if Mumford allows the roles to be reversed afterward.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the bag of tricks, from which you can pull all manner of fauna (roll percentile dice). Apparently, they come out as little furballs that expand to full size. Of course, one could always put the bag in a hat.
- Red Dragon Inn has Pooky, the psychotic rabbit familiar of Zot the Wizard, whose 'impress the others' move is "Pooky pulls Zot out of a hat!"
- The picture on this page is from the Avernum series. While pulling rabbits out of hats was never done in-game, assuming that magic in game is only stated for combat/support uses, it could be done in universe.
- Foglio's already done that joke. there's one problem..
- The icon for Audiosurf's "Bizarro" achievement features a rabbit pulling a man out of a hat.
- This seems to be the default backstory for bunnygirls and boys in City of Heroes.
- In The Longest Journey the protagonist must at one point beat an evil sorcerer in some contest. When she considers a conjurer's contest and says that she can pull a rabbit out of a hat, the sorcerer responds that he can pull a hat out of a rabbit. She promptly switches to other options.
- Mortal Kombat II: This is Kung Lao's friendship move. It's later done in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks as two of Kung Lao's fatalities, the rabbit horribly mauling the opponent in one of them, while the other one just involves him beating them to death with the said rabbit. Lampshaded in 11.
Kung Lao: Stop reaching for my hat, Johnny.
Johnny Cage: You hiding a rabbit in there or not?
Kung Lao: Only my friends know for sure.
- In the Sega Genesis version of Ghostbusters (1990), you encounter the Silk Hatton (?), who can pull a deranged, chihuahua-looking ghost rabbit out of his hat.
- Referenced in Majesty, by one of the Easter Egg voice clips that can be heard by selecting a unit or buyilding and pressing Shift + 2. (In other words, the quotation mark key.) Try it on the Wizards Guild building: "Hey, Randolph! Watch me pull a rock golem outta my hat!"
- Don't Starve: The Prestihatitator, a machine that is basically a magic top hat, has a chance of spawning a rabbit each time it is used.
- Luigi's Mansion 3: When Luigi first encounters Nikki, Lindsey, and Ginny, the magician sisters of the Twisted Suites level, they show off their magic skills by pulling a stuffed rabbit, some billiard balls, and Luigi's hat out of their hats.
- The Cyanide & Happiness Show: One video has a magician offer to pull out whatever a group of children wanted from his hat. He hands out a balloon and a toy race car. Then a kid asks for a little brother, and he pulls out a fetus much to everybody's (including his) horror.
- Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "Magic Trick", one of the many types of magic trick Strong Bad riffs on is "the ubiquitous live woodland creature cleverly smooshed into the lining of one's jacket or pants."
- A Season 2 skit of RWBY Chibi has Jaune do a magic show, and of course he tries this. He ends up pulling out rabbit faunus Velvet Scarlatina by the ears, and since she isn't fond of having her ears pulled, she starts yanking on his ears in retaliation.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Summertime Shorts: In "Good Vibes", Fluttershy is looking for her pet rabbit Angel. Trixie casually pulls Angel out of her hat and hands him over.
- In Turnabout Storm, when Trixie pulls the obligatory Ace Attorney prosecutor breakdown, she headdesks and her wizard hat falls off her head. Cue a rabbit coming out of her hat on its own before jumping its way offscreen.
- Zero Punctuation: The best games of 2019 are pulled out of a magician's hat, while the blandest games are pulled out of a cardboard box and the worst games are pulled out of a rusty soup can.
- Jack Magic is about a rabbit who was pulled out of a hat.
- Kavonn from Charby the Vampirate frequently has jackalopes appear into his hat.
- Subverted in Daisy Owl. A wizard is asked to do some magic, and then he pulls a rabbit out of his hat... then it turns out that the rabbit was in there because he was using the hat for carrot storage, and he hadn't intended for it to be there at all.
- Used defensively by Merlan in Adventures of Fifine. (After describing it as "an amazing magic feat, never seen before in this world." Well, maybe his world...
- Wapsi Square uses the phrase to mean magic-like things not understood by mundanes here.
- An over-elaborate Bob the Angry Flower comic depicted Bob pulling a hat out of a rabbit.
- In Sinfest, the magician promises to produce a rabbit -- though not out of a hat. One hops up. Given that God's the puppeteer -- did he do it?
- In Faux Pas, the little rabbits all hide in a hat.
- Mountain Time:
- Rocky and Bullwinkle:
- A famous Running Gag on had Bullwinkle try to do this trick for Rocky, but instead, ends up pulling out either a bear, a lion, a rhinoceros, a tiger and finally (after the camera went into a dramatic close-up on the hat) Rocky himself!
- It was even added to a Mr. Know-It-All sketch about magic which resulted in Bullwinkle somehow pulling himself out of the hat!
Bullwinkle: You know, the more I try this, the further away I get!
- It was reprised in the 2018 Amazon Prime reboot where Bullwinkle ends up pulling a double of his own head out of the hat and gets scared away by it. It becomes the show's DreamWorks logo, as seen here.
- Another episode of the Amazon Prime reboot has Bullwinkle try the trick, only to be interrupted by a ferocious monster that chases him and Rocky around the stage. Then a regular rabbit sticks its head out of the hat and waves to the audience.
- Bugs Bunny has inevitably been involved in this trick on more than one occasion.
- One of his earliest appearances (before he became Bugs Bunny proper) was as a magician's rabbit in a Chuck Jones short, from 1939, Prest-O Change-O.
- In another Chuck Jones short, Case of the Missing Hare, Bugs has a run-in with a stage magician, and this trick features. He manages to upstage the magician by performing the trick himself... with himself.
- In the cartoon Hot Cross Bunny, Bugs pulls himself out of a hat to amuse a group of doctors. They were not impressed.
- In Easter Yeggs, Bugs pulls the Easter Bunny himself out of a hat.
- The magician Presto from the Pixar short of the same name performs this trick via a wizard hat and a top hat that are connected Portal-style. His rabbit assistant Alec Azam wears the wizard hat and is pulled out of the top hat. Hilarity (and a lot of slapstick) ensues when Presto forgets to feed Alec before one performance.
- One Classic Disney Short had Goofy as a train baggage handler who is trying to load a magician's trunk. Inside is a hat, and inside the hat were several rabbits, as well as some doves. There was also a magical cape that produced a bull, a boxing kangaroo, a fishbowl, and several other animals which Goofy then had to wrangle into the trunk when the train arrived.
- Another Disney cartoon, Mickey's Grand Opera, featured a sentient magic hat which Pluto chased onstage. The hat fell in a tuba, and from there came an unending stream of rabbits and doves to mess up the performance. Oh, and a tall flower from which a frog emerged to further sabotage the performance.
- This was the basis for one of many "counting to 20" cartoon inserts on Sesame Street.
- In an episode of Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, the Teen Angels were trying such an act on a TV talent show. Captain Caveman came out of the hat, and then he produced the rabbit from his own fur.
- There's a Tom and Jerry cartoon, "Haunted Mouse", involving a magician relative of Jerry's who has mouse sized rabbits in his hat.
- The Tex Avery cartoon "Magical Maestro" has a magician and his rabbits taking revenge on an opera singer.
- An episode of Teen Titans features Raven being turned into a bunny for this trick by the Amazing Mumbo.
- The Pink Panther
- Pink encountered a mischievous rabbit in "The Hand Is Pinker than the Eye".
- As well as a rabbit who didn't appreciate his sleep being disrupted while in the magic cape Pink was using in a bullfight in "Bully For Pink."
- In Rugrats, when Angelica is training to be a proper magician, the Running Gag in the episode is Lil constantly asking her to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
- In Count Duckula's first appearance on Danger Mouse, he puts on a brief magic show where instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, he pulls hats out of rabbits.
- In his youth, Phineas and Ferb villain Dr. Doofenshmirtz dabbled with stage magic, but when he went to pull a rabbit out of his hat, he got a skunk instead. All his other tricks also ended with him getting sprayed by a skunk, so he gave it up. In a Brick Joke, after Perry comes out of Doofenshmirtz hat, he produces the rabbit that Heinz tried to get when he was younger...along with the rabbit's many, many offspring.
- Inverted in an episode of Defenders of the Earth: a magician does this to upstage Mandrake the Magician. Mandrake then tops his competitor with a big rabbit appearing on the table. When the big bunny opens its mouth, out flies a top hat!
- One Tiny Toon Adventures episode involved a magician pulling Buster out of his hat at Montana Max's birthday party.
Buster: Nothing up my sleeve...
Montana Max: AND NOTHING IN YOUR HEAD!
- One episode had Jon attempting to perform this trick, with Garfield (in a rabbit suit) as the rabbit. The real rabbit had ditched Jon because he couldn't stand being pulled by the ears.
- In another episode, Jon and Garfield visit a magic shop. The owner said that he knew every trick except pulling a top hat out of a rabbit. When Jon mentions it's the other way around, the owner cries "That's why that trick never worked!".
- The Bump in the Night episode "Hocus Dopus" involved Bumpy trying to perform this trick in order to cheer up a sick Squishy.
- Snoopy starts the magic show with this trick in It's Magic, Charlie Brown, but the "rabbit" is actually Woodstock wearing bunny ears. This raises the ire of an audience member, who heckles Snoopy before the beagle shuts him up by hitting him on the noggin with his top hat.
- Zatanna plays with this in an episode of Justice League Unlimited during her show. She reaches into the hat, wondering aloud where "Bugs" is, then suddenly, a giant hand descends from the ceiling and grabs a member of the audience. Zatanna pulls the man (now tiny, of course) out of her hat, then turns him back to normal.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "The Show Stoppers", Snips and Snails perform a variation on this trick by placing the hat on top of the rabbit and having it be replaced by a bunch of carrots. However, when the time comes, the carrots fail to appear, due to Snails getting the munchies.
- In the season 6 finale "To Where and Back Again, Part 2", Discord mocks Trixie by using his powers to pull another Trixie out of her magician hat.
- In the season 8 episode "A Matter of Principals", Discord does a variant of the above prank — when Trixie tries to pull a rabbit out, Discord makes it so on three separate tries, she instead gets a winged pig, Derpy Hooves and an Ursa Major.
- The Rankin Bass version of Frosty the Snowman had the evil magician trying to pull Hocus Pocus the rabbit out of his hat. At first, he isn't there, then he jumps off and runs off with the hat, leading to it being found and put on Frosty. The rest of the show is the magician trying to chase down Frosty, the kids and Hocus to get his hat back.
- In one episode of CatDog, it's inverted (and lampshaded) when Rancid Rabbit pulls a magician out of a hat.
- Timon & Pumbaa: Timon teams up with a large fat rabbit, and they both become ridiculously famous with this trick. However the rabbit tries to get get rid of Pumbaa.
- In the Superfriends episode "Superfriends Rest In Peace", The Riddler pauses in the middle of a battle to pull a rabbit out of a hat. When Batman asks what the point of that was, the rabbit turns monstrous and grabs him. Batman quickly steals Riddler's magic wand, dispels the rabbit, and traps Riddler in the hat.
- This was the source of many headaches for Tracy the Gorilla on Filmation's Ghostbusters. He would reach in, intending to grab a rabbit, but would get a babbling ghost instead, which he would then irritably shove back into the hat.
- The Fairly OddParents: Timmy's Dad is such a horrible magician that he can't even get this trick right until Timmy wishes for his father to be a true magician. His acts then become bigger and fancier incarnations of pulling rabbits out of hats.
- In one episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet is trying to become a magician with little success, especially with this trick. At the end of the episode, he believes he has gotten the trick down, and much to his surprise, he pulls out...a clone of himself!
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: The episode "Tween Wolf" opens with a parody of the Rocky and Bullwinkle gag in which Grim tries to pull a werewolf out of a hat, and instead producing...a rabbit. Annoyed, Mandy throws the hat outside, at which the werewolf does come out and attacks Irwin, kicking off the episode's plot.
Grim: I guess I should have waited for a full moon.
- The Venture Bros.: This is Red Mantle's contribution to a Halloween gathering of real magic users hosted by Dr. Orpheus. He claims he will perform the feat for real with no trickery, but we don't see it happen.
- Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Magicians", Stumpy tries to do this. He fails because he didn't have a trick and he thought magic was real.
- An episode of Arthur quotes the Rocky and Bullwinkle version mainly word for word, with D.W. as Rocky, Arthur as Bullwinkle, and Buster as the rabbit.
- In one episode of Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, Mr. Whiskers talks about pulling himself out of a hat, then pulling a hat out of himself before deciding the latter might not be appropriate for children.
- A variant occurs in the Ready Jet Go! episode Magnet, PI"; Sean attempts to pull Sunspot out of a box as part of his magic show.
- One of the pet tips on Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats has Heathcliff demonstrating how to perform the trick without hurting the rabbit (scooping the rabbit up from underneath and not grabbing it by the ears).
- Harry Blackstone Sr. is credited to be the first magician to pull a rabbit out of a hat. On a sidenote: One way to perform the trick is by hiding the rabbit under a false lining, so that you can show the audience there's nothing in the hat before pulling the rabbit out. Why rabbits? Because they sit still enough to keep the lining from shifting and giving it away.
- One book of simple magic tricks advised the budding magician to carry chocolate raisins at all times. When asked to pull a rabbit out of a hat, you palm the raisins, drop them in the hat, then dump them out and say "Well, there was a rabbit in there..."