The art of spoon bending is the deformation of objects, especially metal cutlery, either without the use of physical force, or with less force than would normally seem necessary. It is a common form of stage magic, and a variety of methods are used to produce the illusion.
Spoon bending attracted considerable media attention in The '70s when some people claimed to have the ability to cause such events by paranormal psychic means. The most notable was Uri Geller, who performed by bending metal spoons as well as metal keys and several other objects and materials. Geller's performances were attributed to stage magic by critics such as James Randi and Martin Gardner.
While spoon bending in real life is an art based around misdirection, simply convincing the observer that the spoon is moving, pop culture has come to associate bending spoons as a technique among those with psychic powers. Spoons are small enough to grasp, common enough to find and are easy enough to bend with physical force, so it stands to reason that utensils like the common spoon would make a harmless, psychokinetic demonstration.
- Mewtwo, an incredibly powerful psychic pokemon from Pokémon Adventures, is shown to wield a massive spoon.
- In the anime episode "Abra and the Psychic Showdown", many of the psychics in Sabrina's gym are shown to be practicing their psychic abilities by trying (to limited effect) to bend spoons. One such psychic tries demonstrating this to Ash, Brock and Misty with great difficulty. For some reason, Ash was unimpressed, then bent a spoon with his hands and boasted his method was better.
- Fumiaki Uchida from Occult Academy developed psychokinetic abilities at a young age, it first manifesting when he was mentally able to bend spoons, only to lose such an ability when his mother denied him a normal life because of it.
- In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Torhu and Kanna try to pull this off after seeing a man do it on television, but ultimately fail. They become convinced there's something deeper to it and engage in Training from Hell to try and discover the secret, before Kobayashi finally steps in and tells them how it's done.
- Mob Psycho 100:
- A Running Gag is that Mob has trouble eating soup, since he always subconciously bends his spoons with his mind. When he gets upset while talking about things over dinner, his power makes them fall over limp. His brother Ritsu usually fixes or replaces them.
- Ritsu discovers his powers at the Awakening Lab, where he thought he was the only member with no powers at all until a bust of anger caused three spoons to twist together into a gnarled mess. He then became the single strongest esper in the group, and his help led the rest to improve their less-than-impressive abilities.
- In an iconic scene in The Matrix, the unreality of the matrix is properly demonstrated to Neo when a boy mentally bends a spoon. Neo's successful attempt at doing so is the first time Neo learns to manipulate the world around him.
- When the protagonist family from Poltergeist discover that all of their cutlery has been distorted at the beginning of the movie, that is their (and the viewer's) first clue that the house is being haunted. Of course, everything gets downhill from there.
- A skit on A Bit of Fry and Laurie had Stephen Fry interviewing Hugh Laurie as a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Uri Geller who bends a spoon between his hands.
Stephen: Well, I could bend a spoon with my hands.Hugh: I never claimed that my powers are unique! Always, I stress that anybody can bend a spoon! And my book is not expensive, by the way.
- Doctor Who: Referenced in "The Pirate Planet" (written during Uri Geller's heyday), when the Doctor needs to maintain a distinctive mental image so that a psychic ally can keep track of his location, and chooses the image of a bent fork.
Romana: Why should anyone want to bend a fork?
Doctor: I haven't the vaguest idea.
- Fast Forward. A skit parodying Uri Geller had him eventually resorting to an oxy-acytelene torch to get the spoon to bend.
- Mystery Hunters: Discussed and potentially subverted in one episode. Araya investigates whether it is possible to bend spoons using the mind and attends a workshop dedicated to learning on how to bend forks, spoons and knives. While Araya is able to bend a fork and his classmates get very noticeable bends with their objects after getting instructions from the teacher (such as telling them to think of a frivolous animal while trying to bend), it is noted that they were bending the objects with their hands and that suggestions from other, as well as what the individual wants, can influence the mind to move the muscles. Thus, psychic powers might not have had any role in it.
- In the Supernatural episode "The Mentalists", Sam and Dean investigate the death of two alleged psychics in Lily Dale, New York, the "most psychic town in America." While prop spoons are commonly seen in the episode - used as souvenirs and props for fake psychics - utensils bending on their own occurs whenever the Monster of the Week the ghost of an actual psychic looms nearby.
- Kadabra and Alakazam from Generation One of Pokémon - two particularly iconic Psychic-type Pokemon - each wield spoons. Their Signature Move is Kinesis, which reduces the target's accuracy by bending spoons to confound them. In Generation IV, the item Twisted Spoon can be used to increase the power of psychic-type attacks when held by a pokemon.
- Ford Cruller from Psychonauts occasionally refers to the Psychic Children that attends the camp as "spoonbenders."
Ford Cruller: This training facility is built smack on top of the largest Psitanium deposit known to man. It runs under this whole valley and makes this a very critical area for Psychonauts, so I'm here to look after it. And to make sure you little "spoonbenders" don't kill each other.
- In EarthBound Beginnings, one NPC in Magicant has a spoon he wants someone to bend back into shape. Ninten does it with his PSI powers.
- One King of Fighters manga has Athena Asamiya do this to a spoon while the USA Sports team struggle to bend theirs to no avail. The image in reference is shown here.◊
- SCP-463 "A Spoon That Bends People" from SCP Foundation is a spoon that bends people's spines backwards by 90 degrees when it's picked up, acting as a playful inversion of the trope.
- Several Chuck Norris Facts go like this: "[Insert a famous psychic's name here] can bend spoons with his mind. Chuck Norris can bend [psychic's name] with his."
- El Cucharon (Spanish for "The Big Spoon") from El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera was a villain with the power to manipulate spoons. Mocked for his supposedly useless power, he became a super villain. However, with counseling from Manny's mother Maria, El Cucharon becomes reformed and uses his spoon-based powers to save the day.
- Spoofed in Spliced: Entree attempts to twist a utensil, but ends up twisting everything around but it. Peri counts the test as a fail.
- In Rocko's Modern Life, Heffer is tempting Spunky with a Fatheads-brand chewable vitamin by asking him to perform common dog tricks, the last of which is bending a spoon with his thoughts.
- When Uri Geller first came to prominence in The '70s and demonstrated his putative skill on TV in Great Britain, the watching audience was invited to join in. Indicating something interesting was going on, or possibly the extreme gullability of the British TV viewing public, the BBC's switchboards were inundated with calls from viewers alleging not only spoons bending to order, but also anomalies like long-stopped clocks springing into life again, or else clocks and watches inexplicably stopping at the very instant of Geller putting out the 'fluence. Either way - genuine paranormal event, mass gullibility or people misinterpreting wholly coincidental event - it provided lots of material for publications like Fortean Times to fill space with. FT still deals with spoon-bending, under the general headings of things like parapsychology, telekinesis and poltergeist activity. He was eventually caught rigging the spoons by bending them back and forth until metal fatigue set in to the point that they could subtly be pushed with the tip of the thumb as a slight-of-hand trick. He also was never able to bend a spoon that was offered by someone else and usually refused to do so. He also tried to sue Nintendo for use of his likeness with the Pokeémon Kadabra and Alakazam, claiming they were based on him and the symbols on their bodies (actually taken from Zener cards) were occult Nazi symbols used to defame him. The suit lasted from 1999 to 2017 before finally being dismissed.
- The Bent Spoon Award is an award given by the paranormal and pseudoscientific investigating organizations Austrailian Skeptics and NZ Skeptics to those who are "perpetrator[s] of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle." While there is an actual, physical award that exists, there is only one in existence (having claimed to have been made from wood from Noah's Ark and a spoon from the last supper to Troll winners) and the winners are only allowed to possess the award for themselves if they acquire it through supernatural means. Naturally, no one has accomplished this task.