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"I want to cover your body with pepper, and then sneeze all over you!"
—General Melchett, Blackadder
When an animated character's nose is doused with black pepper, it causes the victim to explode in an exaggeratedly violent sneeze. The origin is uncertain, and although consuming amounts of pepper on food can make eyes water and cause sneezing, it probably has more to do with how recognizable a prop pepper shakers are.
There is some Truth in Television, as you actually can sneeze from inhaling pepper, although if you directly inhale pepper, you'd feel more like coughing than sneezing.
Anime and Manga
- Used on Inspector Zenigata at least once in Lupin III.
- Ranma was briefly cursed in one episode of Ranma ½ to hug anyone who sneezes. Naturally, Shampoo followed him home with a shaker of black pepper. Hilarity Ensues when Akane develops a cold in the same episode.
- In To Love Ru, Ren/Run carries pepper to fling at his/her nose to change gender when the need arises.
- First seen when, upon learning that sneezing is the Ren/Run's transformation trigger, Lala chases Ren with a pepper shaker trying to get Run to come out and play.
- Usopp from One Piece has his Pepper Star, which explodes into a huge cloud of pepper causing the enemy to sneeze. Usually goes hand-in-hand with his Caltrops Hell.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventure Doctor Who and the Pirates, the Sixth Doctor attempts to hide from a bloodthirsty band of pirates in what he thinks is an empty barrel. However, when he gets the lid off, he finds the barrel is full of pepper, which causes him to sneeze and reveals his presence to the pirates.
- Pretty self-explanatory in regards to Sneezy of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.
- Though actually most of them are caused by an allergy to goldenrods.
- In Hot Shots Part Deux, Topper Harley is trying to get some keys hanging above a sleeping guard's head using a broom handle. Unfortunately, he keeps hitting everything except the keys, including several clattering things on the table, a radio (which switches to rock music, almost rousing the guard before turning it back to "Rock-a-Bye Baby") the guard himself (repeatedly), a shaker of pepper, and a fan (turning the broom handle to a stake afterward). The guard sleeps soundly through all this, until Topper gets the keys, at which point a small mouse wanders by on the desk, sniffs the pepper, and lets out a barely audible, high-pitched sneeze. The guard wakes up with a start, and Hilarity Ensues.
- In Yellow Submarine, loose pepper causes the Headlands to sneeze the Beatles and Jeremy into the Sea of Holes.
- In The Scarlet Pimpernel, the eponymous hero sneaks some pepper into Chauvelin's snuff box; when Chauvelin sniffs it, he is incapacitated by the intense sneezing attack.
- Literary example: Alice in Wonderland features a scene with the Duchess, a sneezing boy, pepper and the verse: "Speak roughly to your little boy / And beat him when he sneezes. / He only does it to annoy / Because he knows it teases."
- In American McGee's Alice, the Duchess can actually turn into a cloud of pepper to move rapidly around the arena, and wields a pepper mill as a weapon. When defeated, she gets a terrible sneezing fit which makes her head explode.
- In Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels, guns that shoot pepper are used to keep dragons from getting too close to the ground during battles.
- Another literary example: in G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown mystery story "The Salad of Colonel Cray", a key clue to the mystery is some unexplained sneezes heard near the scene of the crime. It is eventually explained that the criminal sneezed when throwing away to the dustbin the pepper that could have beeen used to counter the action of the poison he was planning to use.
- In The Riftwar Cycle novel The King's Buccaneer, Nakor and Anthony defeat the villain, an evil sorceress, by throwing pepper in her face and then hitting her with a sack of apples. They then run like hell.
Live Action TV
- Mr. Bean smashed up some pepper with his hankie for a sandwich, and then, while using the same hankie as a bib, dropped his sandwich after sneezing.
- Blackadder General Melchett is rehearsing his pickup lines in the mirror, including the line; "Darling, I want to cover you in pepper and sneeze all over you!"
- In Myth Busters, they used pepper to test whether or not you can hold your eyes open while sneezing (and if there are any adverse effects of doing so).
- A later episode has them using tobacco snuff instead, since pepper proved to be unreliable in producing sneezes. In case you're curious, they were testing how far/fast the spray from a sneeze can go.
- Referenced in The Muppet Show, with Miss Piggy and Billy Crystal parodying When Harry Met Sally. When Piggy demonstrates how a woman can fake a sneeze to get out of a date, the woman at the next table says "I'll have what she's having ... but with less pepper."
- Used in Mystery Science Theater 3000, in the episode, The Indestructible Man; during a host segment, Joel and the Bots hold their "Undersea Kingdom" parade. Gypsy sneezes when the Pepper Institute float(a giant pepper shaker) passes under her, causing Tom Servo to burst into flames.
- You know Sneezing Powder, that hilarious practical joke? It's pepper.
- A major plot point for the third case of the second Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, Justice For All: Acro wanted to kill Regina Berry (a liontamer) because she'd put pepper on his brother's scarf, unintentionally causing a lion to sneeze when his brother had put his head inside the lion's mouth.
- You use this in the video game La-Mulana to make a statue sneeze and give up its treasure.
- Dr. Loboto from Psychonauts uses this to extract his victims' brains. Yes, that's right -- pepper doesn't just make you sneeze, it makes you sneeze so hard your brain flies out of your head and hits the wall with a splat.
- At the end of The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush defeats LeChuck by making him sneeze with pepper, breathing fire onto a rope connected to a rum barrel, making it explode and trapping him under falling ice.
- Magus briefly contemplated exploiting this trope to trick Ellen into sneezing so that she would-- it's better not to go into too much detail.
- At least one cartoon directed by Tex Avery.
- It happened a few times in Tom and Jerry as well.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Stop That Pigeon" (part of episode 5 on the DVD set), the Vulture Squadron chased the pigeon with a pepper gun.
- In Dora the Explorer, It happened in the double-length episode, Dora's Dance To The Rescue, after Swiper fell in the water and got swallowed by a whale. Just before anyone could come up with an idea, Backpack sneezes, because of the pepper, so Dora uses the pepper and the whale blasts Swiper out of him.
- The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: The Hooded Claw did this to Penelope in "Tall Timber Treachery".
- In one episode of Invader Zim, a scientist (in a movie that GIR is watching) demonstrates an alien invader's weakness to germs by inhaling a handful of pepper and sneezing into a tube attached to the alien's holding tank. The alien immediately explodes.
- Considering Tiny Toon Adventures has a character named Li'l Sneezer, it's only appropriate that this happens to the little guy at least once.
- Li'l Sneezer was the TTA counterpart to Sniffles, a similar Looney Tunes character.
- In DFE's The Ant and the Aardvark short "Ants in the Pantry", the aardvark inhales a large amount of pepper and sneezes hard enough to go flying out of the house through a brick wall. When he sneezes again, he re-enters the house through the same hole.
- Although a handful of dust was the typical go to thing for a forced sneeze, pepper sneezes do come up in Monster By Mistake.
- Used in an episode of The Magic School Bus to get the bus out of Ralphie's nose.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe used it in one episode. He was surrounded by many mirror reflections of Skeletor. In order to find the real one, He-Man sprinkled some special pepper around. The mirrors shattered, Skeletor remained.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes used it to get a child to drop his ice cream For the Evulz.
- One episode of Angela Anaconda was about the titular character getting pepper up her nose, causing it to itch. She doesn't sneeze it back out until towards the end.
- The Popeye cartoon "Spree Lunch" deals with Popeye and Bluto as competing diner owners fighting to keep Wimpy as their diner customer. Bluto pours pepper blown by a fan toward Popeye to make him sneeze at Wimpy, pushing him to Bluto's diner.
- In two episodes of Darkwing Duck, pepper is used as a weapon against, as Gosalyn puts it, "those brain-sucking alien hats". The hats are sentient aliens that need to sit on someone's head if they want to use the host's body, and the only way to dislodge them is to make them sneeze; pepper is the quickest way. However, the second time around, the hats are prepared for pepper, using clothespins to block their noses. Hair oil is used instead to prevent the hats from grabbing on.
- In Here Comes the Grump, the Grump's dragon has a sneezing problem. The trickster hero Terry uses pepper to trigger the dragon's allergies to slow down the Grump. Sneezes of Doom and Ash Faces result.
- In an episode of Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat, an Italian trader wants to adopt Sagwa and Dongwa's little sister Sheegwa so they blow some pepper into the air to make him think he was allergic to cats and it worked.
- A weird version on Phineas and Ferb' ...since it was induced on a robot/mecha. Heinz gives Perry a platter of various dishes (because he doesn't want to be rude and have his nemesis just watch him), and starts putting some pepper on it "Say when!". Of course, since Perry can't talk, after the pepper has become a big pile on his plate, he blows on it and it causes the building/robot/mecha they're inside to sneeze.
- Total Drama Action: Trent spills pepper on his breakfast and then tosses it over his shoulder, straight into Heather's face: causing her to sneeze for the rest of the episode.
- Happened in the Disney vignette Mickey and the Beanstalk, causing Mickey to blow his cover.