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Why Did It Have To Be Snakes / Film

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Snakes (ophidiophobia), Reptiles (herpetophobia)

  • Indiana Jones (snakes), who coined the trope's name. He wasn't always afraid of snakes. As Last Crusade showed, his fear came from when he fell into a circus train car that was full of them, and they weren't particularly nice snakes either. The "constantly running into them" part is relatively justified considering where he works. (amusingly, Harrison Ford doesn't bother with them at all)
    • One episode of Kim Possible parodies Indy's fear. When Kim arrives in a spiked pit while searching an abandoned underground temple, she jokingly asks, "Where are the snakes?" When hundreds suddenly appear, she retorts, "I was just being sarcastic!"
    • Also parodied in at least one Tomb Raider comic. "I met this man once who would have been a good archaeologist, but he just couldn't get over his fear of snakes..."
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    • Launchpad also parodies it in the Five-Episode Pilot of DuckTales (1987): "Yah, a snake! I hate snakes! No... that's somebody else. I sorta like snakes." Then one nearly kills him: "Now I hate snakes."
  • Pee Wee Herman (snakes), at least in Pee-wee's Big Adventure, when he rescues them last from a burning pet shop.
  • The FBI agent who's not Samuel L. Jackson from Snakes on a Plane has ophidiophobia. And man-oh-man, is he ever in the wrong movie.
  • In Jackass: Number Two, the gang does a bit where they trap Bam Margera in the back of a trailer with a (devenomized) king cobra. Hilarity Ensues when Bam goes apeshit and actually starts crying.
    • It gets worse in Jackass 3D: They set Bam up to do a prank... but are really sending him directly into a trap door that leads into a pit full of rubber snakes. Bam flips his shit. Then they add in REAL snakes, including a giant yellow one, and he proceeds to frantically hold on to the side of the pit, trying to pull himself out.
    • Poor Preston, afraid of heights. So, of course, the gang is always coming up with stunts that involve Preston way up in the air and falling ("King Kong," the bungee jump off the bridge, walking the plank).
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  • In Journey 2 The Mysterious Island, Hank offers a Shout-Out to Indiana Jones by saying "why did it have to be lizards? Why couldn't it be snakes?" when he runs into a giant lizard.
  • Played with in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Martha's avatar in the titular cursed videogame has a weakness towards venom. This becomes a problem for her in the climax when she has to retrieve the game's precious jewel from a snake pit.
  • Suki in The Scribbler is using an experimental electroshock therapy to cure her Split Personality syndrome. One of the side effects is blackouts; after one such blackout, she wakes up on the ground outside her apartment complex, being harassed by the building's security guard. Luckily, her Bourgeois Bohemian neighbor - who goes nowhere without her pet boa constrictor draped over her shoulders - comes to the rescue, scaring the guard away with said snake.
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  • White Snake (2019): Despite supposedly working as a snake catcher, Xuan is actually afraid of snakes and usually spends his time gathering and studying Healing Herbs instead. This naturally causes some conflict with his Love Interest Blanca, who is a snake demon.
  • In Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, The Pecos Kid declares that he is "fearless...except for snakes".

Spiders (arachnophobia)

  • Dr. Ross Jennings, the protagonist of Arachnophobia, who moves his family to a small town to escape the dangers of big-city life, only to come up against an invasion of deadly hybrid jungle spiders.
  • "Arachnophobia" can also refer to fear of scorpions (who are arachnids too), like Mutt from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow (1999) can handle grisly autopsies... but sees a (admittedly large) spider in his room and leaps onto a chair, yelling, "Kill it! No, stomp it!"
  • Jovanovich, the big tough mob leader in Jungle 2 Jungle, freaks out when he sees a big spider on his head in the mirror, even shouting, "I hate spiders!".
  • James Bond has an understandably harsh reaction to a tarantula in Dr. No that climbed up his legs (while he was in bed) then across his shoulder. 007. Licence to smash.
    • It wasn't just acting either; Sean Connery was so deathly afraid of spiders, that he wouldn't do the scene without a sheet of plexiglass separating him and the spider.
  • Kiss of the Tarantula: None of Susan's victims are killed directly by tarantula bites. Two have fear-induced heart attacks and three kill themselves in a panicked crush inside a parked car.
    Mike Nelson: Luckily for her, all her victims happen to have paralyzing spider phobias!
  • At one point in the movie Lost in Space, the Robinson family and Don West have this moment when the Space Spiders chew through the ship's outer hull with their razor sharp teeth. This encounter with them eventually leads to Don West, Will Robinson, Dr. Smith, and John Robinson to escape to the future only to be in for a surprise when they see that Dr. Smith has turned into a tall spider like creature with a long neck and double jointed arms.
  • Annie Hall: The title character is afraid of spiders, and calls Alvy over to get rid of the one in her apartment, even though she and Alvy have (temporarily) broken up at this point. Alvy is dismissive of Annie's fears at first, until he goes into her bathroom and takes a look:
    Alvy: Honey, you've got a spider in here the size of a Buick!

Insects (entomophobia)

  • Continuing on the Indiana Jones theme, Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has no problem around snakes, but once she discovers she's walking through a room covered in insects and other related critters, she practically freaks out. And she needed to cross the room in order to save Indy and Shorty from a Descending Ceiling. After much complaining, she does.
  • When descending into the tomb in The Mummy (1999), Warden Hassan says "Watch for bugs. I HATE bugs." Boy is HE in the wrong movie... Aaand then he gets killed by a scarab beetle. Disguised as a piece of wall jewelry.
  • Zen from Chocolate goes into a screaming panic when exposed to flies. She's autistic, so she can't actually repress that reaction. It causes a lot of trouble for her when one of her targets turns out to be a butcher with extremely poor sanitation.
  • Groucho Marx as Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers. After bragging about how brave he is, another character points out a caterpillar on his jacket and he immediately faints. The next Marx film, Monkey Business, has him brag that he's "whipped his weight in wild caterpillars", however, so this trait didn't carry between "characters".

Mice and Rats (musophobia)

  • The Chronicles of Narnia star Anna Popplewell (Susan) was so afraid of mice that the scene where the mice chew through the ropes binding Aslan's dead body had to be filmed in two separate places; one with poor Anna and one with the mice.
  • John Rambo in First Blood. While having no problem with surviving in the wild and killing in self-defense, he clearly can't stand being surrounded by rats while hiding in a cave.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it's revealed that Indy's dad is afraid of rats. (Indy says so when he encounters a horde of them in the Italian catacombs, and it is confirmed when he tells his father about it, causing the elder Jones to tremble in fear.) Must be a family thing (see also Indy's son being afraid of scorpions, above).
    • It makes sense. Indy's dad is a professor of Medieval studies and the bubonic plague which ravaged Europe in The Middle Ages was caused by fleas on rats.
    • Elsa Schneider is definitely afraid of those rats as well, judging by her screaming.
    • Harrison Ford, on the other hand, the exact opposite reaction.
  • The Suicide Squad: Bloodsport has a crippling phobia of rats due to being locked in a crate as a child with starving rats. This is problem given that he's on the same squad as Ratcatcher 2, who as you can imagine, controls rats.

Bats (chiroptophobia)

  • Ace Ventura, as revealed in the second movie, when the sacred animal of the Wachatis turns out to be one.
  • When Alfred asks Bruce Wayne why he uses the bat as his symbol in Batman Begins, Bruce responds, "Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread." This fear is also present in his initiation into the League of Shadows, his first encounter with the Scarecrow, and when he first finds the cave and is surrounded by swarming bats.
    • Interestingly, in Batman Forever he specifically says that a vision of bats only scared him at first.
    • In the same movie, The Riddler reacts with absolute terror after being beaten by Batman, going so far as to envision him as the same bat that young Bruce saw flying toward him as a child (a result of having used The Box to map Bruce's mind and learn his Secret Identity).
    • In some versions, Scarecrow himself has a fear of bats owing to his encounters with Batman.

Cats (ailurophobia)

  • Imhotep from The Steven Sommers version of The Mummy cannot stand cats due to his supernatural curse — cats being the Egyptian guardians of the Underworld. Click here to watch Big Bad Imhotep vs Cute Litte Cat..
  • Yuki from the first Ju-on has a huge phobia of cats, and is unable to even look at her friend Kanna's collection of cat ornaments and toys. Naturally, Toshio's ghostly cat companion, Mar, uses this to his advantage.
  • Subverted in Matilda. Ms. Trunchbull freaks out when she sees a black cat- and eventually kicks it. Matilda asks Ms. Honey if Ms. Trunchbull is afraid of cats. Ms. Honey replies "Black cats- she's very superstitious".
  • In The Black Cat with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, Lugosi's character reacts violently to the sight of a cat. His fear only serves a purpose in one scene in the middle of the film. Mostly it makes the character even more unlikeable, as if Lugosi needed the help.
  • The Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland had a deathly fear of cats, to the point where saying the word cat causes him to freak out. Given that he is a mouse, his fear is well founded.

Frogs & Toads (batrachophobia)

  • Big Bully Troy from Max Keeble's Big Move is terrified of a giant Barney-like Scottish frog named McGoogles. That's, like, four fears in one.

Birds (ornithophobia)

  • Though no character was explicitly afraid of birds at the beginning of a certain Alfred Hitchcock movie, they probably were all ornithophobic by the end of it.

Clowns (coulrophobia)

  • In Zombieland Columbus reveals in his narration that he is terrified of clowns. In the movie’s climax he has to face his fear and take down a zombie clown to save Wichita and Little Rock.
  • Richie Tozier has this phobia in It (2017)... he certainly made Pennywise's job easy. He didn't even need to transform to scare him.

Flying (aviophobia) or Heights (acrophobia)

  • Lt. Kaffee in A Few Good Men says that he gets sick when he flies because he's worried about "crashing into a large mountain."
  • The strongest and the most badass members of recon platoon in Heartbreak Ridge are both afraid of heights. On a parachute jump, the badass comforts the big guy thusly
    Sergeant Highway: Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft is not a natural act, so let's do this and do it right.
  • Bastian in The Neverending Story 2. Oddly enough, he doesn't have this same fear in the first movie.
  • Danny Glover's character from Predator 2 is scared of heights. What a mind-boggling surprise that he ends up chasing the alien in question across some very high and precarious bits of the city.
  • Richard Gere's character in Pretty Woman is an acrophobe, so he must really love the heroine when at the end he climbs up an openwork metal fire escape to her.
  • In the Die Hard series, John McClane is rather terrified of heights and flying. In fact, in the first movie, the entire reason he was shoeless most of the film was on the advice of a fellow plane passenger he took off his shoes, and walked around for a few minutes with toes clenched to get over the anxiety from his cross country plane trip.
  • The lead character's love interest in Say Anything....
  • In Star Trek (2009), Bones reveals that he suffers from a "fear of dying in something that flies!"
    Bones: Don't pander to me, kid, one tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in 13 seconds. A solar flare might crop up and cook us in our seats. And wait till you're sittin' pretty with a case of Andorian shingles. See if you're so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.
    Kirk: Well, I hate to break it to you, but Starfleet operates in space.
  • Jimmy Stewart's detective character in the aptly-named Vertigo.
  • Roxy from Kingsman: The Secret Service has a fear of heights.
  • Baloo from The Jungle Book (2016) is afraid of heights.
  • Ironically Peter Parker from Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn't like heights despite all the web swinging he does and has to calm himself down while climbing the Washington Monument. He gets over by the time of later movies, though he was still audibly scared while being carried into orbit in Avengers: Infinity War which is fair enough.
  • Similarly Venom (2018), the titular character, Eddie Brock, outright says he "doesn't do well with heights," and later chickens out of jumping out of a window in favor of taking the elevator, much to the symbiote's chagrin.
  • XX: In "Don't Fall", Gretchen is afraid of heights. Jess pretends to push her over the edge of a cliff in a practical joke that sets the plot in motion.

Water (aquaphobia/hydrophobia)

  • Claire in Aquamarine, because her parents' deaths were water-related.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy is frustrated by finding out that Jason is invulnerable even in his subconscious, until he finds Jason's one buried fear: water. Considering that Jason's initial death as a little kid, which sparked off his entire series, was by drowning in Crystal Lake...yeah.
  • In Great White, Jijo is afraid of water, making being stranded in a small life raft 150 kms offshore, with a great white shark circling, pretty much his worst nightmare.
  • One of the Mogwai rules in Gremlins: Never get them wet.
  • In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Brain Gremlin dies in the same way as the Wicked Witch of the West does. He must be afraid of water, too. No, Gremlins love water for the same reason mogwai owners are told to keep them away from water. Thing was, Billy then fried them all by releasing the trapped Electric Gremlin into the water.
  • In Teen Beach Movie, Butchy admits he has a fear of lighthouses when the surfers and bikers head for the villain's lair which happens to be a lighthouse. In the sequel, he is afraid of the ocean.
  • Chief Brody from Jaws is afraid of water. And a good deal of people after having seen the movie, for that matter.
  • Susie, the little daughter of the hero in the original version of Piranha. With very good reason, in this case. Although when the piranha attack the camp she's attending she swallows her fear to try and save two of the camp counselors - she manages to rescue one of them...
  • Ari in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. Justified in that apes on the whole tend to be very poor swimmers.
  • Truman Burbank, The Truman Show (although, to be fair, he was only afraid of the ocean). Possibly an intentionally-coached phobia to discourage him from deciding to head out and learn the truth about his life.

Fire (pyrophobia)

  • Frankenstein's Monster in some iterations, beginning with the 1931 Boris Karloff movie, in which Dr. Frankenstein's cruel assistant Fritz taunts the chained-up monster with a torch.
    • Parodied in Young Frankenstein when a blind hermit offers the monster a cigar and accidentally lights his thumb, giving him a perfectly understandable reason for his subsequent pyrophobia.
    • On Saturday Night Live, Phil Hartman played a recurring version of the character whose Hulk Speak catchphrase was "Fire bad!"
  • Camille from Quantum of Solace.
  • The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz claims not to be afraid of anything — except a lighted match. Being that he's primarily made of straw, this fear is perfectly understandable.
  • Freddy Krueger is sometimes shown to be afraid of fire (understandably, due to having been burned to death by vigilante parents), which leads to an immensely satisfying moment in the first film...
    • While in the remake they ignore this completely due to his entire domain being filled with fire.
  • The House That Dripped Blood: At the start of "Sweets for the Sweet", Jane Reid is afraid of fire. It later appears that her father John deliberately instilled this fear in her.

Other nature related phobias

  • During filming of The Lord of the Rings, Sean Bean was terrified of taking a helicopter to a filming location in the mountains. Enough that he took what to most people would be the far scarier option of climbing the mountain in full costume.

Ghosts (phasmophobia)

Darkness (nyctophobia)

  • Toni, the punk-loving sister of the protagonist of 1982 Alone in the Dark is revealed to be afraid of the dark. It is also hinted to be so strong that it forced her to go to a mental institution in the past.
  • The Hazing: Due to a childhood trauma when he was 6, Tim is afraid of the dark. He hates being alone when it is dark, and can barely speak above a whisper, being unable to even scream.


  • In Australian horror film Primal, one of the protagonists is revealed to be claustrophobic early in the film, when her friends find a tunnel through a mountain to the other side, where they're headed to see some ancient cave paintings. She has to drive the long way around after she gets a panic attack from entering. Later, the tunnel becomes the only viable way to escape the monsters, as the car's wheels are destroyed and the monsters won't go near the tunnel.
  • Sid Phillips, the main villain of Toy Story, actually gained a fear of toys at the end of the film as a result of a particular cowboy doll coming to life right in front of him.
    • So he ties them to the front of his garbage truck in the third film.
  • Buddy in the first Air Bud is subtly but strongly implied to be fearful of newspapers and loud thumps (often making it a point to retrieve the newspapers and bury them in the former and barking loudly during a court room when the Judge used his mallet regarding the latter). Considering the fact that he was exposed to them frequently by his former, extremely abusive owner, his fear is perfectly justified.
  • Natasha Romanov of The Avengers is a huge badass who has no problem allowing herself to get captured, lying to a god, and flying around New York City on the back of a hostile alien. She gets stuck with the Hulk, which renders all her ninja fighting skills and mental trickery useless. Judging by her reaction, it's definitely a weak spot. It's justified, as the Hulk is nearly invincible, shrugging off bullets that were meant to destroy jets, and going toe to toe with Thor.
  • Characters' reactions to situations that may involve Velociraptors in the Jurassic Park series tend to fall under this trope. The look on Grant's face at the mere revelation that Hammond bred raptors, for example.
    • Seemingly averted in Jurassic World, with Owen managing to establish a somewhat tenuous position as alpha to his four raptors. About halfway through, however it gets subverted with The Reveal that the Indominus is part raptor.
  • Arthur Christmas: Arthur readily admits that he's "pretty much afraid of everything", including heights, flying, reindeer, decapitation, and buttons.
  • In Descendants, Carlos starts the movie with a deep fear of dogs, instilled by his mother, Cruella de Vil. He gets over it once he meets a real dog and spends the rest of the movie carrying him around and petting him.
  • In The Tale Of Osaka Castle, it's shown that Mohei is afraid of snakes, bats and insects.
  • A Fantastic Fear of Everything: Jack is afraid of the laundrette.
  • The Dark Crystal: In the novelization, Jen hates the color black, as it reminds him of the Garthim who raided his village.


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