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Static Electricity

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"Zappity Zap-Zap!"
Ed, Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Every Which Way But Ed"

So you're minding your own business and then you're about to touch something and then ZAP! You're in for a shock.note 

Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material. The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge. Static electricity is named in contrast with current electricity, which flows through wires or other conductors and transmits energy. At times this imbalance corrects itself by transmitting the built up charge onto another surface, creating a brief shock. Other times this ends up developing into a static cling, causing two surfaces to stick to one another.

In-fiction, that small spark is exaggerated and often used for comedy. Characters can rub their hands together, creating friction in their palms. Alternatively, a character will shuffle across a carpet in socks to build up a charge to do this. Idiots discover it one day and become obsessed with shocking as many people as they can, leading to some debatably hilarious hijinks. Those with Shock and Awe powers can add an especially lethal kick to it, turning a mild annoyance into something that could cook the flesh off of your bones with the speed and precision of a bolt of lightning, or static cling causing trucks and metal bridges to start flying through the air via electromagnetism.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Since Shirogane's depowering, one of the few "spells" he's capable of is "Feline Thunder Clap", a cat ayakashi's ability to generate static electricity by rubbing their fur with a pencil board. Despite some impressive visuals, it's barely strong enough to cause a human pain or wake them up from sleep.
  • Occurs in Case Closed as the trigger for a murder.
  • Lucky Star: One skit has the girls getting shocked by static electricity from the handle to their classroom door. Konata is apparently unaffected, and Kagami half-jokingly suggests it's because she spends so much time around electronics. Then we see Konata's dad get in on the act.
  • Kill la Kill: Mako uses this metaphorically in trying to convince a Brainwashed and Crazy Ryuko into discarding Junketsu and wearing Senketsu again, only for it to actually happen in doing so.

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: Fone Bone rubs his feet on the ground to build up a static charge ("for luck") before touching the Crown of Horns. This causes a chain reaction that kills Briar.
  • In "Smart and Smarter," the last story of The Powerpuff Girls under DC, Blossom goes mano-a-mano with Mojo Jojo. She emits static electricity from her hands, not noticing her foot is in a puddle of water. Blossom gets fried to a frazzle as a result.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: a few strips had Dogbert shuffling along to carpet to charge himself with electricity. He confronts Dilbert and demands to be called "Thor, Dog of Thunder". When Dilbert responds with a joke about resistors, Dogbert shocks him with electricity, complete with X-Ray Sparks.
  • Baby Blues: in one strip Hammie rubs his feet on the carpet to use X-Ray Sparks on his older sister with static electricity.
  • One Garfield strip has Garfield shuffling across a carpet to zap Odie, and declaring that he loves static electricity. Then he ends up zapping his food bowl...

    Fan Works 
  • Weaponized by Akira Otoishi in Iron Touch, where he converts all the electricity inside a plane to static electricity while it's still airborne, keeping them stuck to a plane like a balloon to the side of someone's head in Chapter 19.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, Ponder Stibbons and his Witch daughter speculate that some forms of magic operate rather like flashes of generated static electricity; things or people not intrinsically magic in themselves might be "charged" with magic in the way you can, for instance, see a blue flash when pulling on a sweater in a dry dark room, or else when the equivalent of amber rubs up against the equivalent of hair. More durable longer-lasting magical abilities or attributes depend on a sort of direct current plugged into the Disc's magical standing wave; but induced effects of this sort can last for just long enough.

    Films — Animation 
  • On Cats Don't Dance, Battle Butler Max rubs Pudge on his bald head and makes him stick to the roof of the theater with static cling. He eventually comes down, his feathers standing on end in a fright wig. Later, he shakes hands with T.W the turtle, inadvertently shocking him.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The method for transferring the ability to see Lectrons as they really are in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension initially is transferred through a simulation of this. The problem is that Banzai ends up giving everyone he touches a mild electric shock at least once like his body is overcharged with static.
  • In Office Space, Peter gets a static shock every day when he comes into work touching the door handle. One way it illustrates his changed self is that he comes in one day with a power screwdriver and removes the handle, which shows he's taken control of his life.
  • In Mr North, Theophilus North discharges his body's overactive static electricity before shaking hands with people. He also uses his static electricity to ease the migraines of Elspeth Skeel.

  • On Arthur, when the class is having a sleepover at the museum Binky complains that it will be the same as last year's. A Flashback shows us Binky being throughly bored & annoyed last year including someone in the static electricity display shocking him. "OW!" Then in this year's field trip eveything happens the same as last year, including the shock. This time Binky reacts with Dull Surprise. "Ow. Even that's the same as last year."
  • In The Way Things Work, a mammoth whose hair has been lovingly combed attracts a lot of litter, loose laundry and stray cats.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The King of Queens: After accidentally shocking each other, Carrie and Doug start a static shock fight in their socks.

    Video Games 
  • Space Quest: Roger Wilco used a shag rug and some dance moves to deliver an incapacitating static charge to a cyborg kidnapper.
  • In Super Smash Bros., Master Hand weaponizes this in a Combination Attack with Crazy Hand to perform a Shock and Awe attack. He also does this attack to break a hole in reality in World of Light.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: A gag in the Cold Open of "Francine's Bad Hair Day" has Prunella frizzing up her hair when she sits down on a metal chair after wiping her feet across a carpet.
  • In Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Catteries Not Included", recurring Mad Scientist Professor Nimnel uses Robot Dogs to kidnap cats from all over the neighborhood. He then uses a cat-petting machine to build up static electricity and power a Lightning Gun.
    Monterey Jack: First, you rub somethin' fuzzy to build a charge, then you picks yer target...
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Edd demonstrates the concept to Ed, who of course takes it too far Zapity Zap Zap!
  • El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera: A group of geeks helped El Tigre defeat the Mustache Mafia. One of them named Captain Photon used this trope against the gang.
  • Family Guy: Peter gains the "power" to zap people after he buys a pair of long underwear. This results in annoying Lois so much she has all of the carpet removed from the house, kicking off the B plot.
  • On Pinky and the Brain, one of Brain's plans is to build a giant dryer that will create enough static cling to trap everyone in their own clothes.
  • Naturally gets a mention in the Schoolhouse Rock! short "Electricity, Electricity".
  • Steven Universe: In "Legs From Here to Homeworld", it is revealed that this is Yellow Diamond's method of using her Healing powers, giving Nephrite back her true form from corruption by generating electricity via friction between her hands. This even causes her to cling to Yellow's fingers via static cling.
  • The Tick: A minor character, the Carpeted Man, has this as his superpower.