Follow TV Tropes


Why Did It Have To Be Snakes / Real Life

Go To

Spiders (Arachnophobia)

  • Arachnophobia is commonly listed as the second most common phobia among humans, second only to Fear of Public Speaking.
  • Sean Connery. In the scene in Dr. No where a tarantula crawls on James Bond, the leg you see belongs to a stuntman, and when it crawls past his head, there is a glass plate between him and the spider.
  • Steve Irwin, who could face down crocodiles and other dangerous animals, had this fear.
  • Fans accused J. R. R. Tolkien of this, pointing out his traumatic encounter with a baboon spider as a child in Africa as evidence. Tolkien denies it, though given the number of giant spiders in his work it's safe to say they've had an impact on him at least.
    • Tolkien claimed he put so many humungous evil spiders in books because of his son Christoper was afraid of them.
  • Peter Jackson is open with his utter hatred of spiders and requested the CGI team in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King make Shelob as horrifying as possible until he couldn't stand it.
  • British comedian Phill Jupitus is terrified of spiders — and irate about people who aren't afraid of spiders and use this fact to torment him.
  • Stephen King, not surprisingly, given the tendency of his Big Bads to turn into Giant Spiders.
  • According to cast interviews, Jacqueline McKenzie from The 4400 is afraid of spiders. Joel Gretsch responded with a series of increasingly unfunny pranks.
  • Taylor Swift. She freaked out on the way to film a scene for the "Love Story," music video because there was a spider on her dress.
  • Advertisement:
  • Like his best-known character, Ron Weasley, Rupert Grint is terrified of spiders and claimed that he couldn't even watch the scenes with the giant spiders in the Chamber of Secrets.
  • J. K. Rowling herself has revealed into interviews she can't stand spiders which probably explains why giants ones show up in her most well known work. When asked what her boggart would be J.K. says she'd probably share Mrs Weasley's (her loved ones dead) but she also claims there's good chance it would be the same as Ron (i.e a gigantic spider).
  • Robert Fuller. His Emergency! castmates found lots of ways to playfully torment him with it.
  • Fantasy artist Amy Brown. At least two of her paintings were created as attempts to help her get over this fear, to no avail.
  • Snooker player Shaun Murphy once refused to play on in a match until a giant spider was removed from the arena. The commentators had a field day making jokes about the fact that "spider" is also the name given to a type of snooker rest.
  • Advertisement:
  • Ellen Rose of Outside Xtra is terrified of spiders, to the point that the channel did two videos where she ranked video game spiders by how creepy they were. She also admitted she didn't play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim until a mod came out that let her replace their model with bears.

Cats (Ailurophobia)

  • Napoleon was scared of cats. Maybe if his enemies knew that, he would have been defeated after his first battle; the caricaturists that represented him riding a cat (supposed to be his marshal Michel Ney, a.k.a the Red Lion) obviously didn't.
    • Other famous historical people who were afraid of or at least disliked cats included Caligula, Nero, Adolf Hitler, and Josef Stalin.
  • It wasn't without malice that the Cheshire Cat was made into a scapegoat in Tim Burton's 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland (2010); Burton really hates cats. Whether this is a phobia or not depends on who you believe.
  • It's safe to say that people in the medieval age generally were afraid of cats due to the superstition they believed that cats are connected to the devil.
  • Sal Vulcano from Impractical Jokers is afraid of cats, which the other jokers often like to exploit, including with a mascot costume of a black cat nicknamed "Benjamin".

Dogs (cynophobia)

  • This is a fairly common phobia in India, Nigeria, and most countries where fewer people keep dogs as pets.
    • This might partly be caused by the fact that such countries frequently have a large number of stray and feral dogs roaming about. There’s also the fact that rabies is extant in a lot of the same countries - when you have a large feral/stray dog problem and rabies coexisting, fear of dogs suddenly looks very rational.
  • Genghis Khan was afraid of dogs. (And you can't blame him; a lot of breeds of dogs in Mongolia tend to be mean.)

Birds (ornithophobia)

  • David Boreanaz has a phobia of chickens. It made the Bones episode "The Tough Man In The Tender Chicken" rather interesting behind the scenes
  • Bea Arthur also had a chicken fear. The Golden Girls scene where Rose brings home a live chicken had to be restaged to make things easier on Bea.
  • Director Werner Herzog is afraid of chickens.
  • During the making of Aladdin when they brought in live parrots as reference for Iago, the crew learned that Jonathan Freeman, who voices Jafar, has a fear of birds.
  • Comedy legend Lucille Ball had a lifelong fear of birds, stemming from the day her father died and, as a small child, having no memory of that day except for a bird that flew into the home and scared her.

Snakes (Ophidiophobia)

  • Michael Strahan is afraid of snakes.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn star Salma Hayek has a real fear of snakes and had always refused to be near them. When she read the script, she knew that her phobia would prevent her from taking the part of Satanico Pandemonium, but Robert Rodriguez conned her into thinking that Madonna was ready to take the part instead, so she spent two months with therapists in order to overcome this fear.
  • Rooster Teeth has Geoff Ramsey, a man who's covered in tattoos but is petrified by snakes.
  • One thing Bam Margera learned the hard way: If you have a deep-seated fear, never, NEVER share it with your Jackass compadres. If you do, they will surely use it against you. Bam's not above exploiting the weaknesses of others for successful pranks or stunts, but exploiting this fear of his will get more than just a Dude, Not Funny! out of him.

Mice & Rats (Musophobia)

  • Elephants.
  • David Attenborough hates rats, though he hides it well on-camera; one episode of his series The Life of Mammals shows him presenting in the middle of an Indian temple devoted to rats.

Other animal phobias

  • Read anything from the Cthulhu Mythos and remember that H. P. Lovecraft was afraid of fish. (Possibly the fact that he had an anaphylactic allergy to shellfish had something to do with it.)
  • Kevin Smith is reportedly deathly afraid of sharks (galeophobia). Ironically, Jaws is one of his favorite movies.
  • Sean Connery also had galeophobia, which made that Shark Pool scene in Thunderball pretty unpleasant for him.
  • General Andoche Junot apparently had an irrational fear of toads, to the point that he completely freaked out at the battle of Vimeiro because he had seen one on the road (that, or he was just drunk).
  • Special effects legend turned actor Tom Savini is terrified of cockroaches. When he was working on Creepshow, specifically the segment "They're Creeping Up on You", one of the cockroaches touched his ankle. Savini has no memory of actually crossing the room, but he ended up on the other side of it.
  • Speaking of cockroaches, the CIA used cockroaches (amid a litany of Cold-Blooded Torture) to extract a confession from a suspected terrorist leader who happened to have a phobia of the bugs.
  • "Soldiers vs Camel Spider", a hilarious Youtube video where a pair of muscular, manly American soldiers are standing on their beds (in their underwear) and hunting down a spider in their room...WITH RIFLES.
    • While "camel spiders" (which aren't spiders) are not actually very dangerous, there's a lot of misinformation out there about them, most of which make them sound scarier than they are. Freaking out is predictable if you think something can literally gouge out chunks of your flesh.
  • Eminem once explained to a film crew that he has a bizarre phobia of giraffes, because he doesn't like their necks. He also claims to have a "serious fear of owls".

Ghosts (phasmophobia)

  • During interviews where Ghostbusters is the topic, Rick Moranis, known for his role as Louis Tully in the movies, claims to be afraid of ghosts.
    "Yeah, ghosts. Scare the pants off me. The polyester pants off me."

Water (hydrophobia)

  • Cats.
  • People used to think rabies caused this and thus named it hydrophobia. In reality, it simply causes you to choke when you try to drink water. Though since it's a reflex which is incredibly painful, and can be triggered just by thinking about drinking, it's easy to see where the misconception came from.
  • Natalie Wood was said to have been terrified of water. She died by drowning.
  • Michael Jordan has claimed that his biggest fear is water (because he can't swim).

Clowns (coulrophobia)

  • Lots of people who watched the mini-series It, where Tim Curry plays a murderous clown, ended up developing a fear of clowns. Especially if they saw it as children or teens.
    • Ironically Stephen King himself hates clowns due to going to the circus and seeing them as a kid and as an adult he once found himself sitting next to a man dressed as Ronald McDonald on a long plane flight. When King asked the clown where he was going, he took a draw of his cigarette and cryptically said “To McDonald world” this encounter directly inspired the titular Monster Clown in his novel.
    • Even more ironic is that Tim Curry himself suffers from a fear of clowns. So much that his contract for It stated that there would be no mirrors near him while he was in makeup.
  • Johnny Depp is scared of clowns too.
  • Two to one odds that Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson interpretations of The Joker in The Dark Knight and Batman (1989) will be the cause of a lot of clown-based nightmares.
    • Any incarnation of the Joker is bound to have caused this reaction at some point or another.
    • Heath Ledger himself had nightmares about the Joker and refused to read some of the more grisly comics about him while getting into character. Conversely, Heath still really enjoyed the role.
  • Lon Chaney, Sr., the "Man of a Thousand Faces" and perhaps the single most iconic horror actor from the silent film era, once made the observation that "Nobody laughs at a clown at midnight."
  • John Wayne Gacy certainly doesn't help make clowns any more reassuring, between his former persona as "Pogo" and his artwork.
  • Daniel Radcliffe has admitted to being scared of clowns.
  • Voice Actor J. Michael Tatum once told a story of him going to a Halloween fun park. Two clowns followed him around the park and in the end, he punched one of them, causing him to get kicked out of the park.
  • Professional dancer Derek Hough is afraid of clowns. On both So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars, he has served as a judge for dances that had the performers dressed up as clowns. Both times he prefaced his review by saying "I hate clowns". On the former, he was visibly uncomfortable before the dance even started.

Flying (aviophobia) or Heights (acrophobia)

  • Filmmaker Lars von Trier rarely moves far from the border of his native Denmark and has never left Europe due to an intense fear of flying. He even turned down an offer to direct for Steven Spielberg due to this.
  • Stanley Kubrick also had a fear of flying, and as a result, spent the last 40 years of his life in England.
  • Former soccer player and now sports coach Marcelo "Bichi" Borghi is also infamous by his fear of planes. The very few times he doesn't travel by bus/train/car with his teams, he has to be sedated to the point of almost passing out when on the plane.
  • Stephen King (again) hates flying in planes, which is why a lot of his stories concern danger-filled flights.
  • Another soccer example, former Inter Milan and Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp; who refused to go to the 2002 World Cup (in South Korea and Japan), because it would require him to fly. He traveled by boat for international/European matches.
  • Legendary American Football announcer John Madden was famous for his aviophobia. This gave him his iconic trademark - the Madden Bus.
  • General of the Air Force Henry "Hap" Arnold was one of the first military aviators, and would eventually rise through the ranks to become the first (and only - the 5-star ranks were discontinued after World War II) General of the Air Force. He was also afraid of flying, due to being one of the first military aviators to be in a plane crash.
  • There was a reason Randolph Mantooth's character John Gage did more high altitude rescues on Emergency!. Kevin Tighe, who played Roy Desoto, is afraid of heights.
  • Sean Bean is terrified of flying thus opted to climb the massive mountains, in full costume even, instead of going by helicopter while filming The Lord of the Rings.
  • Tom Petty was also afraid of heights. In the video for "Free Fallin'", when he appears to be hovering over the opening scene wearing shades, he was strapped into a crane to achieve the effect. He wasn't wearing the shades to look cool, but to hide how terrified he was.
  • Jeremy Dooley of Achievement Hunter is terrified of heights. Of course, this doesn't stop his fellow Hunters from erecting his desk about 20 feet off the ground, forcing him to sit on a crank-powered lift to sit at his desk for a time.

Other phobias

  • The famed director Alfred Hitchcock was reported to be deathly afraid of eggs. Yeah, the guy who made Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo was afraid of eggs.
    • Hitchcock also had a lifelong fear of policemen (dating from a childhood Scare 'Em Straight incident), which is why so many of his protagonists end up wrongly accused.
    • Interestingly, this type of fear is acknowledged in an episode of Full House.
      Joey: Some people are afraid of the dark. Some people are afraid of heights. Some people are afraid of eggs.
      Jesse: Eggs?
    • In a magazine from years ago, Hilary Duff stating her fear (or strong disgust) of eggs.
  • Stephen King is afraid of the number 13, a condition known as triskaidekaphobia.
    • Composer Arnold Schönberg similarly was afraid of the number. His greatest fear was reportedly dying on an age whose digits added up or multiplied to 13. Which he did, at age 76 (7+6=13) on Friday the 13th - perhaps because he feared it that much.
    • French composer Jules Massenet shared their fear as well. Made weirder and arguably funnier by how the letters in his name are... thirteen.
    • In fact, triskaidekaphobia is so common that many multi-story buildings skip the thirteenth floor entirely, going straight from twelve to fourteen.
    • In China there's a strong dislike and sometimes outright phobia associated with the number four, which happens to sound almost like death in Mandarin. So you can get floor numbers going: 12, 13, 13A, 15... if they do not opt for just leaving out everything containing the terrible digit.
    • The number four is also considered unlucky in Japan. The Japanese word for four is shi, which has its origins in Chinese, and the word also translates as "death". In Japanese the number is more commonly referred to by its newer alternative name, yon.
    • About fifteen years ago some taxi drivers in Shanghai refused to drive their new cars. The reason? The taxi company has got quite a few license plates with 666 with their new cars. They never reported the reason behind this – on the one hand the number six is seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity in the Chinese traditional numerology, but on the other hand, there are quite a few Christians in Eastern China. Or maybe it all was just another weird case of superstitions crossing cultural borders.
  • Pamela Anderson probably has the above beaten. She is reportedly a sufferer of eisoptrophobia — in other words, she is freaked out by her own reflection.
  • Former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan is a claustrophobic, or fear of small, confined spaces.
  • The British Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton is terrified of sponges. As in, the porous things you wash with.
  • Mathemaphobia, the fear of math.
  • Markiplier has automatonophobia, or a fear of mannequins and human-like figures, which gets him in a bit of trouble when he plays Five Nights at Freddy's. He's also referenced being afraid of the ocean, and of sharks in particular.
  • Steve Jobs had a phobia of buttons (Koumpounophobia). It has been suggested that this was the reason why he was so enthusiastic about developing touchscreen devices, and why he adopted his trademark turtlenecks over button-down shirts.
  • Jeremy Clarkson has a fear (or at least a very strong disgust) for farting (Flatulophobia) and fart jokes.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: