Linus: Well, those clouds up there look to me like the map of the British Honduras in the Caribbean... That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor...and that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen...I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side....
Lucy: Uh huh...That's very good... What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown: Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind.
Basically looking at clouds and what shape they resemble. Often done in Real Life, but fiction will of course play around with it. Sometimes the cloud will literally look like the thing, for one. The official term for this is "pareidolia".
Sometimes, just to be funny, someone will say "It looks like mashed potatoes / a marshmallow / an airborne agglomeration of moisture!" Another common joke is for the character to say it looks like some kind of airborne object (i.e. an airplane, a bird, a Giant Flyer, or a spaceship) only for the audience to then see that it's exactly that.
- This is how Shute and Captain start to bond in SD Gundam Force.
Shute: That cloud looks like you!
Captain: Am I really that fat?
Shute: Don't worry; the sky adds ten pounds.
- In "Vol 11: Clay" of Ga-Ra-Ku-Ta or Mr. Stain on Junk Alley, a series of CGI anime shorts, Mr. Stain does this alongside a clay duplicate of himself, seeing a train, a horse, a whale, a car, an elephant, and his strange cat, Palvan, that the clay duplicate has replaced. Rain from the clouds then washes away the clay, bringing back the cat and then Mr. Stain imagines seeing himself in the clouds.
- On Suzy's Zoo: Daisuki! Witzy, Witzy, Ellie Funt and Boof imagine a cloud story in the sky in "Picture Book of Clouds."
- In episode 11b of Jewelpet Sunshine, the Jewelpets of Plum Class all have a science class outside. Peridot sees a cloud in the sky whose shape her of a big fish, and Sapphie responds saying it's called a whale.
- Lamput: In Season 3's "Wig", the docs watch clouds together. Slim Doc thinks one cloud looks like Lamput, while Fat Doc thinks it looks like a heart.
- In a one-page Smurfs gag, the characters look at the various cloud formations in the sky and are able to recognize what each of them resemble...except for the last, which takes on the form of continental Europe.
- One of Sergio Aragonés' margin doodles in MAD depicted some boys looking at the clouds and pointing out what they looked like, one of the boys being embarrassed because he sees a cloud that looks like a pair of breasts.
- Used in an episode of The Amazing Final Fantasy Race, a fanfic that combines the characters of the Final Fantasy series with the format of The Amazing Race. Blank from Final Fantasy IX and Lucil from Final Fantasy X-2 argue over whether a cloud looks like a dragon or a chocobo.
- Calvin and Hobbes do this in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, and Hobbes only sees jungle cats.
- In A Re-Telling Luna states that one cloud resembles a rabbit.
- In The Road Not Taken Harry and Ron are cloud-watching and Ron claims if Harry were taking Divination he'd be better at spotting shapes in them.
- Like Broken Glass:
"Do you see the snake?" Luna dreamily asked.
"It looks like a bunny to me," Hermione responded.
Violet thought the cloud looked like a frumpy top hat.
- In A New Pack Remus comments that one cloud looks like a Hungarian Horntail.
- In The Unwanted One Snape claims to spot a cauldron and a vial and Lily states that he's pants at cloud-watching.
- In The Ghost of Ochs, Monica and Linhardt take a break from pulling weeds to look up at the clouds in the sky. Linhardt sees a cloud that looks like an apple, while Monica notices one that reminds her of a wolf's head.
- Harry Potter And The Summer Of Change:
Harry: What is that one?
Tonks: Um, a plimpy and a fish swimming together. What is that one?
Harry: A beater getting ready to hit that Bludger at me.
Tonks: That is the fifth Quidditch related cloud you have seen today. I think you are in a rut, Harry.
- In Up, it happens in the montage with Ellie and Carl. When they're thinking about having a baby, all clouds start to look like babies to them.
- Variation: Shrek 2 has Donkey mentioning "that bush that looks like Shirley Bassey".
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Kiara and Kovu look at the constellations, a scene reminiscent of that in the first movie with Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba. This is how Kiara first gets a feel for how it is for those in exile.
- Played straight in The Agony and the Ecstasy, where Charlton Heston's Michelangelo sees a vision of "The Creation of Adam" in the clouds and is inspired to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
- The Great War: Giovanni and Oreste are soldiers in the trenches of World War I. Giovanni, who is pretty horny in a place without women, thinks a cloud looks like a naked lady. Orestes points out that if the cloud is a naked lady, she'd have a beard.
- The opening scene of the film version of James and the Giant Peach
- The young Amélie took pics of these clouds with her secondhand Instamatic camera.
- In Short Circuit, Number 5 doing this provides one of the first clues that he's become truly intelligent and self-aware. Later his creator invokes the trope with an Ink Blot Test.
- In the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film, Harry sees the Grim in a stormcloud during a Quidditch match.
- Heichiro the English teacher in Japanese film Good Morning Cannot Spit It Out to Tamiko that he loves her, so he resorts to this. What makes it worse is that he can't think of anything the cloud looks like.
- The Sense of Wonder: Thanks to Pierre's synesthesia, the shape and color of clouds reminds him of numbers.
- During a rather entertaining Quidditch match in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Luna Lovegood (filling in as commentator) was not interested in such "mundane" things as the score, and kept trying to draw the crowd's attention away from the game to "interestingly shaped" clouds.
- The children in The Candymakers do this. One boy has dyslexia, and wishes that doing this was taught in school instead of reading.
- The picture book It looked like spilt milk is all about this.
- In The Dragon Hoard: Jasleth, faced with a group of men with hostile intent, attempts to distract them by engaging them in a conversation about the shape of a cloud. It doesn't work.
- In Pug & Doug, a picture book about an Odd Couple of two anthropomorphic dogs, Doug does this. Pug doesn't, because he's short on imagination.
- In the Stella and Sam picture book Read Me a Story, Stella, Stella reads to Sam a poem which says "...White puffy cloud rabbits are running by, Like clouds in a grass-green sky, Looking for carrots to bake a pie..." Sam then points out a cloud in the sky which looks like a rabbit. Stella asks if it's looking for a carrot and Sam says "Yes."
- In The Light Fantastic, Rincewind invokes this following his first encounter with trolls, when trying to explain how rocks that sort of looked like people suddenly came into focus as people made of rock.
- In the picture book Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon, Molly Lou does a number of things that her grandmother did as a child such as this, because as her grandmother told her "Back in the olden days, I didn't have a television. I watched the clouds that floated by and I saw lots of things in them."
- An episode of Popular Mechanics For Kids had the male and female hosts looking at clouds. The female saw a variety of shapes, but the male always responded with "Cotton ball". When pushed on this, he said he saw "A shirt. Made of cotton, and all wadded up into a ball".
- Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Imaginary Friend":
Data: I believe what you are seeing is the effect of the fluid dynamic processes inherent in the large-scale motion of rarefied gas.
Guinan: No, no. First it was a fish, and now it's a Mentonian sailing ship.
Guinan: Right there. Don't you see the two swirls coming together to form the mast?
Data: I do not see it. It is interesting that people try to find meaningful patterns in things that are essentially random. I have noticed that the images they perceive sometimes suggest what they are thinking about at that particular moment. (pause) Besides, it is clearly a bunny rabbit.
- Star Trek: The Original Series episode "This Side of Paradise". Spock (affected by mind-altering spores) and his girlfriend Leila Kalomi are looking at clouds.
Spock: That one looks like a dragon. You see the tail and the dorsal spines?Leila: I've never seen a dragon.Spock: I have. On Berengaria Seven. But I've never stopped to look at clouds before.
- Star Trek: Voyager
- The episode "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" provides this gem:
Paris: Now, there's a creepy image. Reminds me of something out of Edgar Allan Poe.
Kim: Looks like a vampire bat. You can make out the wings, even the ears. What do you see, Tuvok?
Tuvok: Two Starfleet officers with juvenile imaginations.
Paris: Come on, Tuvok! Haven't you ever looked up at the clouds and seen an animal?
Tuvok: I will never understand the human need to find imagery in something as innocuous as a cloud.
- In "Scorpion", Captain Janeway enters the Leonardo da Vinci holoprogram and finds the great artist and inventor in his darkened study contemplating the shadows thrown on a wall by candlelight. When Janeway herself studies them, she gets a "Eureka!" Moment that inspires her Deal with the Devil (an Enemy Mine alliance with the Borg Collective).
Leonardo: What do you see?
Janeway: A wall with candlelight reflecting on it. Why? What do you see?
Leonardo: A flock of starlings... the leaves of an oak... a horse's tail.. a thief with a noose around his neck. [beat] And a wall with the candlelight reflecting on it. There are times, Catarina, when I find myself transfixed by a shadow on the wall, or the splashing of water against a stone. I stare at it, the hours pass, the world around me drops away, replaced by worlds being created and destroyed by my imagination. A way to focus the mind.
- The episode "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" provides this gem:
- On The Golden Girls, Rose said she saw a cloud that looked just like a cotton ball.
- Another gag has Sophia saying she's going to hang out with the 'Cloud Society', which entails the group getting drunk and saying what they think the clouds look like.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A slight variation in the episode "Listening to Fear" with Willow and Tara on a roof at night, making up new names for constellations of stars.
- On Wings, Joe and Brian are flying an astronaut who they hope to hire as a spokesperson for the airline, but they start to question his credibility when he looks out the plane's window and remarks, "That cloud looks like a giant boob!"
- A recurring challenge in Impractical Jokers involves the Jokers describing what a cloud supposedly looks like to passerby on the street and trying to get them to agree that the cloud looks like that. This challenge is near-impossible to win, as the other Jokers tend to give hilariously bizarre and overly specific ideas for what the cloud resembles, such as "Sigourney Weaver pumping gas into her car".
- The Meteorological Mix of Kate Bush's The Big Sky has several examples scattered throughout in different voices, mostly starting with the title of this trope. (From 'That cloud looks like Ireland' through 'That cloud looks like cumulus castelis' to 'This cloud should be removed immediately!'... Did we mention this was Kate Bush?)
- Creedence Clearwater Revival's hit song Looking Out My Back Door is completely this trope. The singer is telling his audience everything he sees in the clouds and his backyard.
- Bloom County:
- Binkley sees prosaic things, and Milo sees something along the lines of "a galloping herd of appaloosa, nostrils flaring, hooves pounding; astride the lead beast rides the lithesome form of Meryl Streep".
- Another strip has Binkley asking Oliver what a particular cloud looks like, and Oliver replies "Rain." Cue a shot of Binkley getting drenched.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin described one as looking like "a bunch of suspended water and ice particles".
- In another strip he's mildly disturbed to see one that looks like his head, which proceeds to pull faces at him.
Calvin: It must be a sign!
Hobbes: Of what?
Calvin: Really weird high-altitude winds, I guess.
- In another strip he's mildly disturbed to see one that looks like his head, which proceeds to pull faces at him.
- There's a good one in the Cul de Sac strip where Alice sees an Eldritch Abomination in the clouds. Her description of it leaves her friend Benni cowering on the ground.
- The page quote comes from a classic Peanuts strip. The gag (and dialogue) were later used in one of the stage musicals based on the comic strip, as well as the opening of A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
- B.C. did a few, such as "all the ills suffered by mankind" (a mushroom cloud) and "the dust cloud raised by a herd of stampeding mammoths" (cue stomping as it turns out it is, indeed, the dust cloud raised by a herd of stampeding mammoths).
- Garfield also had a few clouds, such as one that resembled Odie, the same ears, the same stupid expression...
Garfield: (being rained on) The same slobber...
- In Prickly City, Carmen observes one looks like a bunny — while one like a T. rex with fork and knife has scared off Winslow.
- Rose is Rose combined this with Leaning on the Fourth Wall, with a strip that had the family lying on the grass, and Pasquale pointing straight up (into the "camera") and saying "That one looks like a person reading the comics."
- Frazz, Mr. Burke, and the kids once did this on a completely overcast day.
What a waterfall sounds like.
- "Bee-Friended" from The Book of Pooh opens with Pooh doing this and seeing a whole bunch of clouds that look like honey jars.
- Older Than Steam, because William Shakespeare did it:
Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?Polonius: By th' Mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.Hamlet: Or like a whale.Polonius: Very like a whale.
- Note that this scene takes place indoors, and at night. Hamlet is, at this time, Obfuscating Insanity and taking an opportunity to mess with Polonius's head. Many productions play Polonius's confusion straight, but Kenneth Branagh's film version had Polonius deliver the lines in a steadily more irritated manner, demonstrating that he realizes the degree to which he's being mocked by the insolent Prince.
- The opening sequence of Disney Theme Parks Magic Journeys (1982) has kids at play pondering the clouds. In the fantasy sequence that makes up most of the film, one of the kids has encounters with (among other things) the things he and his friends were "seeing" in them.
- In World of Warcraft, Watcher Tolwe serves on board the Orgrimmar-Thunder Bluff zeppelin, and spends his time "watchin'".
Watcher Tolwe: Dat cloud look like da Warchief.
- He's been there through two Warchiefs, so he's seen clouds that look like Thrall and Garrosh Hellscream.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: One system in the Heleus Cluster is named after a famous krogan. The Tempest pilot Kallo is initially confused by this, until science officer Suvi points out the nebula that comprises it does look like a krogan's head.
Kallo: I don't- Oooh, I see it!
- In Little Busters!, a scene involving this is important to the plot of Mio's route. Mio was really into pointing out all the different shapes, but her not-so-imaginary friend/little sister Midori wasn't, and eventually yelled that she couldn't see anything in them - they just looked like clouds. Mio was upset at the time because that was the first time she realised that she and Midori didn't see the world the same way, while to Midori this was evidence of the fact that she wasn't a real person at all, but just like a cloud herself, something that would eventually be whisked away by the wind - to her, it only made sense that someone like that couldn't see shapes in other clouds.
- In this Count Your Sheep strip all the clouds look like Ship the sheep.
- Played straight and then immediately parodied in Concerned. Oh, you and your imagination.
- In Absurd Notions, a cloud is remarkably cloud-shaped. Also,
Jag: What about that one?Jay: Gene Wilder holding a hammer between his teeth.Jag: Hey, yeah!
- In Sinfest, this starts in that direction -- to veer off and talk of seeing pollution.
- Zoë and Rachel partake in a spot of cloud-watching in this Ladies In Waiting strip.
- Subverted in this strip of Camp Weedonwantcha, where the girls are actually proclaiming what their fellow campers look like.
- According to this xkcd strip, Google isn't very good at this.
- In Yokoka's Quest, while Yokoka and Yfa are lying on the grass to relax, Yfa points out a heart-shaped and a person-shaped cloud.
- At one point in Funny Business, Jeannette and Lucy pass the time by looking at clouds. Of course, Jeannette being what she is, the clouds actually become what they imagine them to be, leading to the two of them acting out a story of a knight rescuing a princess from an Evil Sorceror in the air. It ends disastrously when they start including objects that aren't made of water vapor.
- In the first episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, the puppets indulge in a bit of this while practicing being creative.
I can see a hat, I can see a cat
I can see a man with a baseball bat!
I can see a dog, I can see a frog
I can see a ladder leaning on a log!
- Homestar Runner:
- In the Strong Bad Email "cartoon", during Strong Bad's attempt at a solo cartoon, he describes himself as looking up at either a bird or "a cloud that looked like a bird, y'know, like a bird-cloud."
- In "retirement", an Easter egg shows one of the "important documents" on the Lappy is a "Cloud Shape Spotting Log", including such entries as "michigan w/2 bites taken out of it", "oversized novelty comb", and "strong sad's ghost".
- DuckTales (1987): Done by Burger and Bouncer Beagle in "Working for Scales".
- Spoofed in The Powerpuff Girls. In a Flashback in "The Bare Facts", Bubbles was talking about the clouds she was looking at while flying to Mojo Jojo's lair to rescue the Mayor, ending with, "And there was one that looked like a cloud."
- The Simpsons
- Done in "The Telltale Head", the episode where Bart steals the head off the statue of Jebediah Springfield. He's hanging around with some anti-social kids who see people being stabbed and the like in the clouds.
- In a Simpsons comic, Homer is going on a diet, but all of the clouds look like donuts to him.
- In "Loan-A-Lisa", an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon called "P.U." parodies the opening of Up. At one point in the cartoon, Scratchy and his girlfriend look up at the sky and see clouds shaped like Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and WALLE.
- Parodied in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Pressure", which opens with Spongebob and Sandy cloud-gazing, even though they're underwater and the equivalent to clouds are large aquatic flowers. Spongebob remarks: "That one looks like a flower!"
- In one episode of Arthur, they're comparing Mr. Ratburn's class with the class next door: both are studying clouds, but while Mr. Ratburn's students are going to the library to look up stratus and cumulonimbus and cirrus clouds, the kids in the class next door are lying on a hillside and telling each other what shapes they see.
- In the Recess episode when the gang are all mentoring kindergartners, Mikey and his younger counterpart bond by looking at clouds together.
- The opening of the episode "It's a Bird, It's a Plane... It's an Elephant?" of PB&J Otter finds Peanut and Jelly Otter doing this. They even make up a song about it, called "Imaginings." "When you open up your eyes, looking high into the skies / Wondrous things, imaginings, come soaring by and by!"
- In The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario and Luigi look at clouds in "Crimes R Us":
Mario: Hey, Luigi, you ever noticed how clouds can look like other things? Like that one over there, it looks sort of like the princess!Luigi: Yeah, it sure does Mario! And that one looks like Aunt Maria! Hey, but for realism, how about that one over there? It looks just like the Doomship!Mario and Luigi: THE DOOMSHIP!?
- Played with in an episode of King of the Hill when Bobby repaints some clouds on his wall and Hank decides to bond by "watching the clouds go by", and he describes each as looking like a propane tank or an accessory.
- Done in Hey Arnold! in the episode "Rich Kid" where Arnold and his friends are trying to show rich kid Lorenzo what it's like to be a real kid. One of the activities they do is looking at the clouds.
Gerald: A guy in a chef's hat.
Harold: A Mr. Fudgy.
Arnold: A Scottish terrier.
Lorenzo: Rising cumulonimbus formations? (everyone sits up and gives him strange looks)
- Timothy and Charles to do this in "Taking the Plunge" on Timothy Goes to School while relaxing in the swimming pool. They see one that reminds them of a cowboy hat, another of apple pie and one that looks like the school bus driver, Henry. Another sudden "cloud" actually turns out to be Doris doing a cannonball into the pool. It's reprised at the end of the episode.
- The Gravity Falls episode "The Love God" opens with the Mystery Twins hanging with Wendy and her friends and doing some cloud-spotting. Mabel sees one that looks like a chipmunk, while Thompson describes a clearly waffle-shaped cloud as looking like "a cloud", much to the mockery of his friends.
- In "The Big Dig" on Tumble Leaf, the main character Fig and his friend Hedge do this for a while until they observe a crying sad cloud and decide to cheer it up.
- Played for drama on Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang thinks he sees Appa (his currently-missing flying bison) flying in front of the moon, but it turns out to be an Appa-shaped cloud.
- On The Hive, Buzzbee and his friends do this in the opening of "Have You Heard?"
- Blue's Clues
- In the episode "Nature!", this is the answer to Blue's Clues, that Blue wants to do this as a game.
- In the book release Blue's Backyard Mystery, Blue and her friends Magenta and Periwinkle play the "Cloud Game" at Blue's suggestion. Blue sees a boat, Magenta sees a dinosaur and Periwinkle sees a banana.
- In "Cloud Castle" from Kate & Mim-Mim, when Kate and her father are cloudgazing, Kate's father says that he can't quite see the cloud shape that Kate's seeing and goes to get some binoculars. This leads to Kate imagining herself in Mimiloo with Mim-Mim, where they and their friends have an adventure in a cloud castle.
- In "Roller Coaster Dragon" on Dragon Tales, Wheezie tries this as a way to distract herself from her impatience to get on the roller coaster dragon, but all she can manage to see in the clouds is the roller coaster dragon.
- On Little Princess, Princess does this in "I Want My Duck" after being freed of her duck-watching obligation. She sees one that looks like a duck.
- The Wild Animal Baby Explorers do this in the opening of "Colorful Coral Reefs." When Benita says that she sees a rainbow forest, they realize that it's no longer the clouds being talked about, but rather the subject of the story's title, kicking off the day's exploration.
- In "Summer Days" on Guess How Much I Love You, Big Nutbrown Hare has Little Nutbrown Hare and Little Field Mouse lie down on their backs with him in a meadow when they're looking for something to do. At first, they're not sure of the point of it, as they want to get up and play, but then he has them do this.
- In "Franklin's Cellar," when Franklin realizes that his imagination allows him to see shapes in clouds, he realizes that it can also help him to conquer imaginary monsters in the cellar.
- "Franklin and Snail's Dream" opens with Franklin and Snail doing this. Snail sees a cloud that looks like a bird and then seeing a real bird flying inspires him to share his dream with Franklin, that he wants to fly.
- Some of Franklin's friends also do this in "Franklin's All Ears" on Franklin and Friends.
- On ''Higglytown Heroes", in "Missing Grandpop", Eubie looked at the clouds, one looking like Grandpop Crink's truck, and one looking like Grandpop Crink's beard.
- On Llama Llama, in "Llama Llama Red Pajama," Llama Llama and Mama observe clouds and Llama Llama sees one that reminds him of his favorite red pajamas.
- In the beginning of the Ready Jet Go! episode "Project Pluto", the kids look at the clouds and see a cloud that looks like Sunspot with a hat and three ears.
- The Rugrats episode, "Send in the Clouds" begins with the babies looking up at the clouds. They find clouds shaped like a lollipop, a rabbit, and Reptar. Chuckie then thinks he sees a cloud that looks like an airplane, only for Tommy to point out that it really is an airplane.
- The very first scene of Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart begins with 3 Sweetie Pies staring up at the clouds. It also serves as an Establishing Character Moment for Adorabat as she happily describes seeing a monster while the other 2 see a daffodil and a bunny.
- On Esme & Roy, Esme and Roy do this in the opening of "Dark and Stormy Knight." Esme sees one that looks to her like a horse, and Roy sees one that reminds him of a meatball. Then another that looks like a meatball, and another that looks like a really big meatball.
- In "Jodi's Asthma" from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, when Jodi is temporarily too winded to play tag due to her asthma, the kids sit down and play this for a while instead. Jodi sees a teddy bear, O sees a flower and Katerina sees a splat ball. Daniel then decides to take it one further by imagines he is riding a magic carpet through the clouds, and us along with him.