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Some Kind of Force Field

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Does it feel like water, or what?

"It's some kind of force field..."
Everyone who has ever walked into some kind of force field
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Because of the Rule of Perception, whenever a character walks into an invisible force field, expect a brief flash of the field and a light-sabery crackle. The trope name is the Stock Phrase that often results, in an odd aversion of Not Using the "Z" Word.

Using Some Kind of Force Field allows you to save your CGI budget for more attractive spacecraft. See also Deflector Shields and Force-Field Door. The primary difference is that those tropes refer to the barriers, whereas this trope refers to the scene where someone is required to walk up and experimentally poke it a few times while reciting the required phrase (as above).


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Typically, the AT Fields in Neon Genesis Evangelion are invisible to the naked eye, until an enemy attack smashes into them and results in a bright orange, octagonal ripple wave.
  • Tower of God: Lero-ro's shinsoo barrier, which the characters have to cross. It is touched and discussed quite a bit.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, an invisible force field stops Joey from flying over a wall the heroes need to cross.

    Comic Books 
  • Parodied in Fables when Kevin Thorn sets up a force field around himself. Bigby runs into it and exclaims, "It's like some kind of... I don't know what it is!"

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Pearls Before Swine strip, the crocodiles say this when they try to attack Zebra but run into his screen door.
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    Fan Works 
  • Hellsister Trilogy: At the height of The Apokolips Agenda, Supergirl is heading towards Darkseid's headquarters' cells when she runs into something invisible forcing her back, and guesses it has to be some kind of force-field.
  • The Lion King Adventures: In The Final Task, the heroes are blocked from entering the Pride Lands by an invisible force field.
  • In Pokémon Master, the heroes are heading towards Indigo Plateau when they run into something invisible and hard. Ash states there's some kind of unbreakable energy dome surrounding the whole of the Plateau.
  • The Smurfette Village: A magical invisible force field is cast over the entire village after The Plague first struck and killed The Smurfs and Smurfettes in it, keeping out Hefty, Toughette, Brainy, Brainette, Baby, Babette, and the Smurflings so that they would not be infected.

    Films — Animation 
  • Played with in Antz where the "force field" is Saran Wrap covering picnic goodies.
  • The Return of the King (Rankin/Bass Productions version) has one of these generated by the Watchers and exaggerated from the book. ("Bless my soul! It's some kind of invisible barrier!") By using the phial of Galadriel, the field rolls back like doors in response to sparkly magic. Note that in the book, the Watchers merely sapped the will of anyone trying to pass through; the barrier was more psychic than physical.
  • Given a Lampshade Hanging by Patrick in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The "force field" being a glass fish bowl, but still huge compared to SpongeBob and Patrick.
    Patrick: It appears to be a wall of psychic energy.
    SpongeBob: No, Patrick. It's a giant glass bowl.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, there's no visible boundary at the entrance/exit of the Sugar Rush game, but when Ralph tries to drag Vanellope past it, a multicolored force field looking somewhat like plastic wrap stops her on the spot, since she's a glitch and can't leave the game.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The shield dome used by the aliens in Battleship can be seen from the outside, especially since it cuts through the clouds. However, a naval fighter jet still ends up slamming into it moments after it goes up.
  • Deadpool 2:
    • Cable's personal Deflector Shield is visible as a yellow Beehive Barrier when he's hit by bullets, fire, explosions, concussive forces, etc.
    • As Wade is having a Near-Death Experience, he sees Vanessa in the afterlife, but is prevented to reach her by an invisible wall, which ripples like water whenever touched.
  • Donny Darko from Donnie Darko encounters one in his bathroom. Except it's a hallucination. Well, maybe. He does the logical thing: Stab it repeatedly with a butcher knife while sporting a slightly deranged Kubrick Stare.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons movie, the main party (which includes a mage) encounters a Wall of Force spell. The mage, who should know about these things already, proclaims "It's some kind of wall of force!" Must have failed his Arcana check.
  • Used to dramatic effect in Forbidden Planet, where an invisible monster attempts to break through the force field the crew have set up: they can see the flash caused by something trying to break through, but that's all they can see.
  • Combined with Not Using the Zed Word in Independence Day. As soon as the first wave of missiles splashes uselessly against the alien ships' force fields, Will Smith's character yells out "they must have some kind of protective shield over the hull!" However, everyone immediately knows what that means and casually calls them shields afterward.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Played straight in the opening to Avengers: Age of Ultron. The force field around Baron Strucker's base isn't visible until Iron Man flies headlong into it. Jarvis even describes it as, "Some kind of energy shield."
      Iron Man: Shit!
      Captain America: Language!
    • Thor: Ragnarok: When Thor tries to leave the Hulk's abode, despite the latter's warning that he's going nowhere, he walks straight into an invisible force field that blocks the hallway. The force field flashes with red intricate motifs similar to those of the rest of the room, and gives Thor a shock strong enough to stun the Asgardian.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Although the domed force field over Wakanda City is already visible as a faint blue glow, Proxima Midnight tests it out with the tip of her sword, making it brightly crackle, while awaiting Captain America and Black Panther for a face-off.
  • The mushroom ring around the house in The Spiderwick Chronicles. Whenever anything other than a human tries to pass through it, they comically bounce off the magical barrier.
  • Played with in Suburban Commando, where the alien Shep Ramsey thinks that a mime, who is doing "the wall", is actually trapped in a force field. He tries to rescue the mime by punching through the field and ends up punching out the mime.
  • Averted in Time Bandits, where the invisible barrier surrounding the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness is hard, and shatters like glass to reveal what's really behind it. "So this is what an invisible barrier looks like!"
  • In Zardoz, Zed (Sean Connery) simply presses up against the "invisible wall", i.e. a glass panel between him and the camera. No sparks, but the way it smushes his face and palms reveals the barrier's presence.

    Literature 
  • Gaithim's barrier around the Crown in The Quest of the Unaligned is invisible until someone touches it, at which point it turns into a wall of lighting. This may be a deliberate design feature, given that it functions more like a booby-trap than a conventional forcefield.
  • In the Star Darlings book Stealing Starlight, Vivica projects a negative energy force field to keep the Star Darlings away from her and her Wisher.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Millennium trilogy, several characters trapped in a bad future are surprised that the new-model confinement fields don't "emit Pauli exclusion sparks", Lampshade Hanging the frequency of this trope in Star Trek.
  • In Under the Dome, an enormous force field surrounding the town of Chester's Mill is discovered when several cars and a small airplane crash into it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted hard in 3rd Rock from the Sun with the "invisible box". In keeping with the show's usual vaudeville antics, they use absolutely no special effects. Instead, we get some brilliant physical comedy as John Lithgow and French Stewart try to convince us that a perfectly normal patch of thin air is really an impenetrable barrier.
    • ...which gets lampshaded with appropriate drama: "My God! He's turned me into a mime!"
    • It's completely consistent with the logic of this trope though. The trope is included in most works to make the barrier 'feel' real. In the Third Rock example, 'feeling real' just doesn't come into it. The scene is that much funnier because we know it's all pretend.
  • On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Asset" Quinn has a neodymium laser force field surrounding his compound which vaporizes anything that touches it. It is invisible until something touches it; then it appears as a bright gold/yellow grid pattern.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The series has invisible barriers that prevent vampires from entering residences uninvited. An Angel episode shows Angel leaning against one of them, causing a slight ripple upon impact.
    • The barrier that kept the Master imprisoned in Buffy season one also makes a rippling effect.
    • In season five, Willow casts a spell to imprison Glory by thickening the air around her into tar, causing little ripples as she touches it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Five Doctors" subverts it, when the Second Doctor and the Brigadier find former companions Jamie and Zoe unaccountably in the Death Zone with them, frantically telling them to turn back. They claim that they are trapped by a forcefield and any disruption of it would kill them, so the heroes don't dare try to reach out to them to see the field. However, the Doctor, after trying to find a way to free them, realizes a basic fact, that Jamie and Zoe's memories of their time with him were erased, and simply steps forward where the field is supposedly in place. It turns out there was nothing, and the companions vanish as the holographic decoys they really are.
    • "Smith and Jones": The Doctor gets this effect when he throws a rock through the forcefield holding the hospital's air in on the Moon.
    • "The Hungry Earth": The Doctor discovers the area he and everyone else are in has been closed off by a forcefield with a slingshot and a rock.
    • "A Good Man Goes to War": When the antagonists begin their counterattack, Madame Vastra discovers they've surrounded the TARDIS with a forcefield by touching it.
    • "The Snowmen": The force field created by Jenny glows red whenever the Ice Governess it imprisons slams into it.
    • "Rosa": The antagonist approaches the TARDIS while the Doctor and company are out, and deduces it's protected by a forcefield after shooting it with his temporal displacement weapon has no effect.
  • In season 3 of Hero Corp, John gets trapped in a cabin surrounded by a forcefield, normally invisible but looking like a Beehive Barrier when touched. This leads to two such scenes, first when John is testing it, and then when Mique tries walking through the forcefield and smashes his head — thrice in a minute (because he's a moron with the memory of a goldfish).
  • Space: 1999: "The Metamorph" has a classic Force-Field Door for the prison cell on the planet Psychon. Normally invisible, it emits a brief flash that stun the prisoners when touched.
  • Stargate SG-1: Several varieties of force fields appear in the series, with various visual effects revealing their presence. Most of them are indeed invisible unless touched, but the results of a contact are quite variable.
    • In "Upgrades", the Goa'uld force fields inside a ship in construction glow blue and looks somewhat like frost on windows when touched — or when going through at Super Speed thanks to the Atoniek armbands.
    • In "Deadman Switch", Daniel Jackson walks nose-first into a red-glowing force field, put in place by Aris Boch to capture SG-1. Later in the episode, Teal'c is encased in a smaller version of the same field used as a detention device, and "knocks" on it to show the audience it's there.
    • In "Window of Opportunity", a force field surrounding Malakai and the Ancient control device doesn't just glow when hit: a mere contact propels Teal'c backwards and knocks him out. When the team tests the field again by throwing a stone at it, it shoots back with the speed of a bullet.
    • In "The Other Guys", SG-1 is imprisoned in a force field that glows bright white on contact — as well as giving a serious shock when touched, if O'Neill's reaction is anything to go by.
      Jack O'Neill: Don't touch this...
    • In "The Ties That Bind", the scene is actually a Throw It In!: when Daniel Jackson tries to touch the power coil that is passed off as a religious artifact, he finds out it's protected by a small anti-thief shield which zaps his fingers. That wasn't scripted, but the special effect was nonetheless added in post-production.
    • In "The Road Not Taken", Mitchell walks into a lab, where Carter is experimenting on Merlin's device and smacks his head onto an invisible shield. Carter tries to warm him but doesn't manage it in time. She points out that she put up a sign outside the lab, only for Mitchell to take that sign from her desk, indicating she forgot to actually put it up. The shield is invisible, except when Mitchell walks into it or when it engages/disengages.
  • In every Star Trek series. Consistently accompanied by a sparkly effect and a static crackling sound.
  • Downplayed in the series version of Under the Dome. The eponymous dome is invisible unless seen in very wide-angle shots. Direct contact only cause a slight iridescence on the touched zone. It also gives a static shock the first time it's touched, but afterward only tingles a bit. Although it's dangerous to do so while carrying any electronic devices, which tend to blow up. The presence of the dome is quite obvious from plenty other hints, though, like the deep gouge it left in the earth. Or, the cow who was sliced in half because it had the bad luck to be right on the Dome's line.

    Video Games 
  • Barrow Hill has a variant that ripples when touched, even more like water than the one the picture above.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker had one set up at the back of Hyrule Castle. A swipe of the Master Sword would break it like glass.
  • In the Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3, Shepard dutifully utters the page quote when encountering the Cerberus force fields.
  • In Persona 4: Arena, you know a character has run into an invisible wall because a distinctive sound plays and there is a white flash.
  • Walking into a magic barrier in Risen leads to your character saying "It appears to be some sort of 'magic barrier'."
  • In Wolfenstein2009, mooks will commonly say something to the effect of, "He's protected by some kind of shield!" whenever the player has the Shield power active. While they don't generally walk into it (unless the player has weaponized it with an upgrade) they will continue to shoot at it even when it proves ineffective.
  • When the protagonists of The World Ends with You run into invisible walls, a Beehive Barrier can be seen.

    Web Original 
  • This is pointed out in Seanbaby's review of Superfriends as Superman's other weakness.
    "Besides kryptonite, Superman's main weakness was forcefields. He HATED forcefields. There are episodes made up entirely of Superman ramming himself headfirst into a forcefield over and over."

    Web Videos 
  • In Flander's Company episode "Unlimited", the force field protecting Caleb's latest invention is indeed visible only when Hippolyte fires a Hand Blast at it. Nadège says (the French equivalent of) the trope name afterward.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long season one episode four, the teeth minions try to run into the Long's apartment but are blocked by a Deflector Shield Jake's grandpa had set up earlier. The bad guy of the episode (a dentist) then proceeds to say, "What? It—It's some kind of shield!"
  • Happens ridiculously often in Danny Phantom, usually with added electric shocks. Danny is understandably not very fond of this one.
    Danny: We've gotta find out what's going on in that hospital!
    Tucker: Have fun, dude.
    Danny: Tucker, I said "we".
    Tucker: You also said "hospital".
    Danny: Pfft. I turn invisible, I go ghost, I'll be in and out in no time! Watch!
    [cut to Danny flying towards hospital, gets zapped by ghost shield]
    Danny: GYAAAH!! [gets blasted into ground]
    Tucker: Maybe we could come back during visiting hours.... Or, you know, not at all.
  • Lampshade hung by Skeletor in an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), after Tri-Klops has just crashed a vehicle into one.
    Tri-Klops: Ugh... force field.
    Skeletor: How intuitive.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Ponyville Confidential", the Cutie Mark Crusaders experience walking snout-first into an invisible force field (all three of them one by one, because of delayed reactions) when Twilight Sparkle doesn't want them getting into the library.
  • When The Penguins of Madagascar attack a killer whale balloon thinking it's a real whale and bounce off, Kowalski remarks that "the creature appears to be protected by some kind of blubbery force field. Also, Whee-hee-hee-hee!"
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns believed he had encountered "some kind of force field" when reaching for food at a cafeteria. It was a plastic sneeze guard.
  • Superfriends had this as a recurring problem for the team, particularly Superman, to the point where it seemed like his secondary weakness.
  • In Brother Blood's second appearance on Teen Titans, the force-field around his tidal wave-generator is invisible until Cyborg walks into it. During their fight, Blood pins Cyborg against it, shocking him painfully.
  • Averted in Xiaolin Showdown. When the heroes are stuck dealing with the villain du jour, a magical mime, he traps most of them in an invisible box (marginally similar to the Third Rock from the Sun example above). There's no indication of its existence, and indeed, they don't realize there's a wall until they run into into it. From then, the only evidence that there is a box is people smacking into it and the outline of the kicked-up dust. Of course, the thing was shaped like however you think it is. The Stock Phrase half of this trope ends up being spoofed, as when Clay finds the others in the box and can't hear them (it's soundproof at the time), Raimundo uses charades to goad him into walking into the barrier and then mocks him for doing the usual routine:
    Clay: [Rai points to himself] You. [points to his rear] Butt. [kicks] Kick. [points to Clay] Me. Raimundo's gonna kick my — HEY!
    Dojo: Oooh, Five yards for unnecessary roughness.
    Clay: Mister, you done made me mad. I'm gonna— OOF!
    Raimundo: [as Clay investigates the force field] "Iiit's... some... sort... of... in... vii... sii... bullll... bahhhhhhhx." Ai, took him long enough.

    Real Life 
  • Mist nets, made of threads too fine to reflect sound, are this trope for the echolocating bats they are designed to snare.
  • Assuming you haven't concussed yourself (or worse, lacerated yourself), it's a fun quip to follow walking into a glass door.

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