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Thumbtack on the Chair

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Strong Bad: Okay, let's get down to brass tacks.
Homestar: Oh, I didn't bring any. I drove.
Strong Bad: [to himself] Oh, this is gonna be painful...
Homestar: What, the tacks? I'll bet. Try not to sit on 'em.

A prank that has been done lots of times throughout the years, this is when a character places a thumbtack in a chair, and when another character sits down, what results after that is a pained jump due to the sharpness of the tack. In cartoons, this may sometimes result in a Pain-Powered Leap. Also the rare prank that women (usually schoolteachers) tend to be the victims of more than men.

Related to the Whoopee Cushion, but much more painful. May be just as embarrassing. Compare Butt Biter and Rump Roast. Subtrope of Pain to the Ass, as it results in a literal pain in the butt.


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  • GunBuster: One of the many bullying moments endured by Noriko involves having a thumbtack placed on the seat of her Humongous Mecha.

    Comic Strips 
  • Discussed in an early Garfield strip.
  • Parodied in The Far Side in a strip titled "The hazards of teaching young Neanderthals", in which the tail of a Stegosaurus has been placed on the chair of a prehistoric teacher.

    Fan Works 
  • In this fan-made Punch-Out!! comic, Aran Ryan attempts this trick on Rick and Nick Bruiser, but the brothers catch him in the act and Aran ends up with the nail in his rear instead.
  • The Simpsons: Team L.A.S.H.: In "First Day of Cruel", Liv puts five thumbtacks on Mrs. Gunderson's chair. However, Simon catches her in the act, and she ends up getting sent to Principal Skinner's office.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Incredibles, it was implied that Dash did this to his teacher at school. The teacher claims that he caught him on camera, but when the tape plays, Dash moves too fast to actually be seen, which allows Dash to get off easy. Frame-advance actually does catch Dash mid-placement of tack, for the curious. In fact, it is possible to watch the split-second moment occur in regular speed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A variant in the live-action Dennis the Menace film. Instead of placing a tack in a chair, the babysitter's boyfriend places a tack on the doorbell, not knowing that it was Dennis who was ringing the doorbell. Before Dennis can ring the doorbell again, Mr. Wilson shows up, prompting Dennis to come back in through the pet door so Mr. Wilson ends up the victim of the thumbtack prank instead.
  • In The Little Rascals short "Readin' and Writin'", one of Brisbane's pranks is to put tacks on all of the other students' chairs. Miss Crabtree has everyone sit down on her count, leading to a chorus of yells.
  • A variant occurs in The Sound of Music. The Von Trapp children place a pinecone in a chair that Maria was going to sit in.
  • This was a common gag on The Three Stooges, though normally it'd be something even more sharp and painful than thumbtacks. One instance where thumbtacks were used came when the Stooges infiltrated the office of a high-ranking Nazi officer, and placed a map with thumbtacks in it on his chair.

  • In The Circle Opens, Daja has the displeasure of experiencing a serial arsonist's crime through her magic, and compares his emotions to "a nasty little boy putting a nail on his sister's chair."
  • Little House on the Prairie: In Little Town on the Prairie, a schoolboy in Laura's class is the victim of this prank (with a bent pin), causing the Sadist Teacher to have him stand in the corner for making a scene in class. (She was going to hit his palm with her ruler, but couldn't find it in her desk.) Later, when the boy recounts the incident to the school board, he glibly remarks, "I was not punished for sitting on it, but for getting up off it." The board has a hard time stifling their laughter, and has to admit it's Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Lumbanico The Cubic Planet: When the Great Guardian tells Vinca to sit down so he can ask her some questions, the little girl suspiciously passes her hand over the seat of the chair. The Guardian assures the chair is safe to sit down; he has heard she likes putting thorns on her house's couches, but he is not such a prankster. Vinca protests it is just one innocent game: she puts spikes on all couches but one. The one who sits down on the spike-free couch wins the game.
  • According to Osipko Khripunov's biography from The Newest Plutarch, Ivan the Terrible, when a senior nobleman once complained that he's supposed to sit by the Czar's side, told him to do just that... while putting a needle in the seat. Khripunov has then gained the Czar's favor by asking to sit on that chair despite the needle.
  • In the second-to-last The Wheel of Time book, Elayne is about to sit on the throne of Cairhien for the first time, but Birgitte insists on checking it, to her annoyance and embarrassment. This disappears when Birgitte finds a poisoned needle on the seat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • El Chavo del ocho had an accidental example in the episode "El Alacrán". When Quico shows Doña Florinda the scorpion Professor Jirafales lent him, she gets scared and scatters a box of needles all over the living room, a few of which land on the armchairs and couch. Hilarity Ensues when everyone starts thinking the scorpion's around stinging them.
  • Once in Hogan's Heroes, Hogan puts Klink's spiked helmet on his chair.
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch circa the early 90s has a character caught between this trope and drinking bad milk (or something bad).

    Video Games 
  • Neighbours From Hell: A recurring prank in the second season is to put drawing pins on Rottweiler's chair.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • This is one of the pranks Satoko did to Keiichi on his first day at Hinamizawa's school.
    • Satako pulled a variant of this prank involving taping a bunch of tacks to the door in Watanagashi-hen. Target was the same.
  • Magical Diary: Luke, who has a notably juvenile sense of humor, can propose putting tacks on Professor Grabiner's chair during one detention.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Homestar Runner short The Interview, Strong Bad tells Homestar that he wants to "get down to brass tacks". Homestar seems to think he's talking about actual tacks and replies "Oh, I didn't bring any."
  • One scene in the I'm Getting Nutten For Christmas cartoon has Timmy putting a tack on the teacher's chair.

  • Defied in Allen the Alien; Bonnie thinks about doing this to RR-TWTTW, but decides "it'd be too messy".
  • Implied in Precocious, the school supply store sells tack-proof pants for teachers.

    Web Videos 
  • Hitler Rants: One episode of Viva la Fegel has Fegelein do this to Hitler, among other antics.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Substitute Teacher!", Bowser Junior and Joseph dare Cody to put thumbtacks on Jackie Chu's chair to prank the substitute teacher, which Cody reluctantly does. Cue an "Oh, shit!" from Cody when he finds out that Judy is the substitute teacher.

    Western Animation 
  • In the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode "Practical Hoax", Baron von Cavitus' first minion places a Tell-a-Liar (a dart-like alien) on Midgel's chair.
  • On the Gerald McBoing-Boing short "How Now, McBoing-Boing", Professor Joyce, an expert on human speech, is brought in to try and cure Gerald, who can only communicate through sound effects. One of the methods he tries is to make him sit on a tack, in the hope that this will cause him to let out an reflexive "Ouch!" Instead, Gerald makes a sound like a car tire blowing out, then gives Prof. Joyce a Death Glare.
  • Invader Zim pulled the seat tack prank on Dib. Dib believes that Zim's prank is pathetic, even for Zim, until he realizes that the tack contained mutagenic contamination that was slowly turning him into bologna.
  • Happened at least twice on Ren & Stimpy in the "My Shiny Friend" episode:
    • Ren placed a big, rusty thumbtack on Stimpy's chair in the hopes of deterring him from his incessant television watching. To his chagrin, Stimpy felt nothing (even with the Gross-Up Close-Up and Scare Chord of the thing stuck in his butt!)
    • He then takes it to the extreme and placed a bomb on his chair. In spite of it literally blowing up his ass, he still happily and unknowingly watches his programs.
  • In The Simpsons when Marge becomes Bart's substitute teacher, he didn't know his mother would be teaching him beforehand and quickly rushes to remove the tack he placed on her chair. He then has to rush back there again when he remembers the other booby trap he put there: a giant swinging log on a chain.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Super Robotnik", Scratch hangs up a picture in Robotnik's office and one of the nails accidentally falls on Robotnik's chair. Since Robotnik's butt was the only thing that wasn't affected by the Superpower formula Coconuts inadvertently created, it wasn't invulnerable like the rest of his body. Thus, he is in genuine pain when he sits on the nail.
  • A memorable Tom and Jerry short involves Tom trying to keep quiet to avoid waking up a sleeping king. One of the methods that Jerry and Nibbles makes this difficult for Tom is by placing a pin under Tom just as he's about to take a seat.


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Coincidence? I think NOT!

Dash puts a thumbtack on his teacher's stool.

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