Afraid of Needles
"Oh, quit your whining. I have a three-year-old daughter that complains less than you!"
You're tough. Tougher than tough. You're Made of Iron! What's more, nothing, and we mean nothing can surprise you or unsettle your Stoic countenance. Except for injections, that is. Those make you scream like a little girl and hide behind your Love Interest. Trypanophobia, the fear of injections and hypodermic needles, is a recognized disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the psychiatrist's bible) which is estimated to afflict up to 10% of adults.
For some reason, the Fatal Flaw of many a Badass is fear of hypodermic needles and antiseptics. Not knives, not absurdly large guns, not even Snakes! There's just something deliciously ironic about a Big Damn Heroes who routinely gets cut up with huge knives, beat to within an inch of his life and without giving up, becoming squirmy and panicky when his lady friend comes over with a simple syringe and sanitary cotton to clean his wounds. It seems most any non-battle pain can cripple this dude. It's certainly a "clever" way to bring a Badass Longcoat into a less Marty Stu-ish territory, and is a very humanizing flaw to have. In extreme cases, expect fainting—even if the needle isn't going into him!
Even the Fearless Fool can fear needles.
This can help make the pain of the fight more recognizable. Few viewers will have been riddled with bullets or been hit by a speeding motorcycle, but most will have had antiseptic rubbed on a wound or a bandage removed, and know how much that hurt.
This is a common enough fear among many people, and a particularly fun example of Truth in Television. It may be related to the fact that while combat injuries and the resulting pain are usually suppressed by adrenaline, the pain that comes along with tearing off bandages, or putting peroxide into wounds is not.
A subset of Fatal Flaw.
Anime and Manga
- Rose of Versailles: Oscar—a woman who regularly gets into bar fights, duels, etc., and who towards the end happily storms the Bastille whilst suffering from terminal tuberculosis - bursts into floods of tears after scratching her hand on a broken violin string.
- Dragonball Z: Only in the anime, Goku is screaming in fear when the doctor is giving him a shot while in the hospital. The second time he goes into panic when he sees a syringe among a pile of medical equipment, much to the embarrassment of his son Gohan and the annoyance of Vegeta. This happens three more times in GT.
- Mamoru of Sailor Moon comments on this jokingly to Ami, one of the few personal quirks we ever learn about him.
- Edward Elric from the 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist acts like an adult, but betrays his young age when he has to be restrained to have an injection. This is the child, who, after performing an unholy ritual and losing a limb, does it again, even offering his heart to bring back his brother... Then, when being fitted for automail to replace the arm and leg and having things connected to his nerves, didn't cry once. Mustang commented he had seen grown men break down crying from this process.
- A creepy example is Cowboy Bebop 's Pierrot Le Fou, an insanely violent assassin who is impervious to guns - and yet, when he gets hit with a small knife, he starts bawling his eyes out. This event reveals his true nature. The stab was bad enough to fully justify his collapsing and screaming. Flailing around and calling for mommy, not so much.
His suit deflected bullets flying at him before they could even touch him, which probably meant he doesn't feel any pain from them at all. The knife actually penetrated the force field, which meant it really did hurt, and was possibly the first instance of pain he's felt since his 'conditioning'. More of a fear of pain, then a fear of needles.
- Ranma ½: In one episode, Ranma crash-lands in front of the Cat Cafe after another trip to sub-orbit, and a kindly wandering salesman, who had originally intended to sell to the Amazons (currently out on business) tends to his scrapes with disinfectant. This leads to the Made of Iron martial artist hissing and wincing in pain, leading to the page quote. Somewhat disconcerting, given the sort of abuse Ranma has stoically endured in the series—and while he has complained at medical treatment before, that's been due to the treatment itself being painful (Tofu brutally snapping Ranma's joints back into place and proper rotation, being burned with the counter-moxibustion, etc).
- Not only is he afraid of needles, but Yogi from Karneval utterly fears being anywhere near Doctor Akari, which provides humor for the readers insofar (though there could be more to it). Gareki is probably correct to guess that it's the after-effect of a traumatic surgery done or headed by said doctor.
- The Hot-Blooded Kid Hero Jin from Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh is turned to a screaming freak at the sight of needles. This fear even incapacitated him for a while in a mecha battle when he was made to face a syringe-themed Monster of the Week.
- In the first episode of City Hunter, Ryo Saiba is confronted by a bad guy who responds to his gun by pointing out the crowded street through the window behind him, saying the gun's too powerful and if Ryo shoots him he'll also hit someone in the crowd. Ryo fires, and when the falling bad guy reveals an undamaged window, Ryo casually explains that he slowed the bullet by shooting through his own hand. He casually walks out of the restaurant, and after a brief shot of him grasping his wounded hand and screaming there's a cut to him sobbing like a baby while his partner is disinfecting and bandaging his hand up.
- Excel from Excel Saga is mortally afraid of needles in the manga due to some forgotten trauma. She manages taking anesthetic needle while visiting a dentist though, since she considered it a lesser evil compared to the drill.
- Justified Trope in Mahou Sensei Negima, where several characters are utterly terrified of a hypodermic needle containing a powerup drug... because the point of the needle in question is 1.8 centimeters across and is delivered in the butt. Most of them will probably fit this trope quite comfortably for the rest of their lives after that one.
- Possibly Keiichi from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. When he's hallucinating from Hinamizawa syndrome he thinks there's needles in the ohagi and that a marker as an injection needle. Hinamizawa syndrome makes you hallucinate some of the things you're most afraid of. So it would make sense.
- It's actually explained that when he was younger, Keiichi saw a movie where a guy was killed when he swallowed needles that had been hidden in his food. The scene freaked him out to the point he's since had an irrational fear of finding needles in his food.
- Guts: A guy who's Covered in Scars, Made of Iron, and whose ultimate attack is basically flinging himself into a hoard of barbaric and often demonic enemies with his BFS and raw, Unstoppable Rage (not to mention that he has this pesky scar that burns like hell whenever a demon approaches him) no matter what they throw at him (be it stingers, arrows, horns, rock-like appendages, fire, lightning, or entire TREES why don't you) HATES getting sewn up with needles after the fact. And he'll cry and whine all the way through.
- In How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord, registering as an adventurer requires a blood seal, which means pricking your finger with a dagger and smearing blood on a scroll. Both Rem and Shera are too afraid to do this, so Diablo scolds them for being such wimps - trying to hide the fact that he's always been terrified of even getting vaccinations from modern doctors.
- Max, the psychotic rabbit of Sam & Max: Freelance Police fame, passes out on sight of a needle. At least according to a single 1994 strip in a series that has Negative Continuity up the wazoo.
- Mr Kiasu: Kiasu's boss, Saboh Singh, is an almost fearless man even during his Reservist NS training exercises. He has only one fatal flaw - the fear of needles.
- Lanfeust: Hebus is a nine foot tall troll. He gets pierced by arrows, sliced by swords and axes and burned by magic nearly on a daily basis. He has such a fear of needles that his reaction when faced with a deadly illness was to take a butcher knife, cut his leg and say "It has to go in the blood, right? Then pour it there, that's better!".
- Beast Boy from the Doom Patrol and later Teen Titans has this problem. Thankfully, his powers give him universal immunity, but that doesn't stop the writers from forcing him to take shots anyway.
- Escape from New York: No less a badass than Snake Plissken remarks that he "doesn't like needles". When you say it in his voice, it's still cool.
- Saw II: Slightly subverted in the "needle pit" scene. There's a trap with a key to a door. The resident Jerkass tosses Amanda into a trap set for himself: A pit filled with dirty syringes. Though shocked at first, she rises to the occasion and gets the key out of the trap as everyone else looks on in cowardly fear and revulsion.
- Also note that she was a recovering drug addict, which made it much scarier for her.
- In Love at First Bite, Dr. Rosenberg isn't afraid of Dracula or gangbangers, yet he freaks out when he's bundled into an ambulance and about to be injected with a sedative. "Get the air bubbles out!"
- In the movie Help! starring The Beatles, Ringo had to get an injection and was noticeably scared through the entire ordeal. At one point he even claimed to be "allergic to penicillin and all them other wonder drugs." George immediately passes out at the sight of the needle in question.
- Nine Months: Robin Williams does a turn as a Russian-American obstetrician. "That is vhy vomen haf de babies, you know? Because men couldn't handle the p---" (nurse holds up huge needle) "aaaaaahhh" *faints*.
- Star Wars: A New Hope: Certainly George Lucas was drawing on the audiences' fear of this when he zooms in on Darth Vader's evil Mind Probe, showing a needle waiting to be stuck into Princess Leia. Fortunately she's made of sterner stuff.
- Sleeper: Woody Allen's character, examined after being revived from cryogenic sleep 200 years in the future, is approached by a technician with a huge hypodermic...he stares in horror as the man walks by him to inject a potted plant, and promptly blacks out. Of course, Allen plays an anti-badass - he claims he was beaten up by Quakers.
- Kitiara from the Dragonlance books - warrior woman, general of the Forces of Darkness, possessor of a frightening combination of her younger brothers' respective strengths. She's been wounded in battle several times, and fought on with injuries that would have crippled a lesser person. But when she cuts herself on a broken wine-glass, not only does she burst into tears, she also has a full Minor Injury Overreaction...
- Considering she very nearly severed her hand and just winced a bit, this is untrue.
- Alanna from the Song of the Lioness Quartet receives any number of battle wounds and continues to fight back. But when she has her ears pierced, she faints.
- The protagonist of Larry Niven's A World Out Of Time died of cancer before the book begins (he got better). He reflects on how that experience cured him of any fear of needles.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Guns Of Tanith, Gaunt arranges to have his shot before his men rather than in his cabin to set a good example; Dorden says they've had a few shirkers.
They'll bayonet anything, but the sight of a needle --
- In Arthur C. Clarke's novel A Fall of Moondust, the passengers of a buried moon rover are sedated to conserve oxygen until rescue can arrive. One passenger has to be physically knocked out to bypass his fear of needles which was hypnotically imposed as a cure for drug addiction.
- Surprising, Bex of The Gallagher Girls has a slight case of this.
Live Action TV
- Firefly: River is also deathly afraid of needles, operating theaters, and the like, for perfectly understandable reasons.
- The various Star Trek series use hyposprays, which are supposed to be painless and which don't pierce the skin. Nevertheless, many recipients wince when the spray is "injected."
- The Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men" shows Quark screaming at having received repeatedly ineffective injections of Sodium Pentethol.
- Lost: Benjamin Linus actually declares he can't stand needles. Of course, at the time he was manipulating Sawyer, so this may have been a lie to play up the drama.
- Monk: While Adrian Monk is afraid of close to everything, needles are second only to germs on his list (of course he has a list; he's afraid of not having lists).
- An interesting take in season 5's "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", where the girlfriend of a roadie found dead in a port-a-potty with a needle sticking out of his arm goes to Monk and Natalie, thinking that he was murdered because he had a pathological fear of needles, despite the needle found on the body.
- At least twice on What's Happening!, when someone mentions "a needle" around Raj, Raj can only whimper a rough approximation of the question "A needle?"
- Battlestar Galactica. In "Rapture", badass pilot Starbuck winces repeatedly as Dualla jabs her with morpha needles, despite already being in incredible pain from 2nd degree burns to both hands. Mind you, as Starbuck was having an affair with her husband at the time, Dualla clearly wasn't trying to be gentle.
- Oz: Neo-Nazi inmate Robson hates needles, so he insists on laughing gas while getting his receding gums replaced. This has serious consequences for him when he racially insults his Middle Eastern dentist while high; in revenge the dentist implants him with the gums of a black man, then lets everyone in prison know about it. After which needles become the least of Robson's worries.
"What is it with you Nazis and gas?"
- Chuck: Chuck is terrified of needles. At one point he takes advantage of that fact to prolong/avoid torture.
- Will & Grace: Grace is so afraid of them that she can't even say "Ringo," because he was a Beatle and that sounds like "needle." Karen takes advantage of this fact when she finds out the other three are betting against her, and employs a ridiculously young and airheaded nurse to take Grace's blood ("don't worry, ma'am, I've done this bunches of times. Mostly on oranges, but...") Most decidedly a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- On Friends, Phoebe and Rachel decide to get tattoos, but Phoebe backs out at the last moment when she realizes it's actually done with needles.
Rachel: You don't say! Because MINE was licked on by kittens!
- Ross doesn't like needles either. In one episode, he has a severe allergic reaction to kiwi fruit and doesn't want to go to the hospital for a shot. He suggests that they could "take the needle and squirt it into my mouth, you know, like a squirt gun" instead. Monica says he can hold her hand while he gets the shot; he grips it so tightly that she ends up with a bone bruise and a puncture wound from her ring.
- Mash: The jolly surgeons of the 4077 needed a rare blood type to save a man's life. They found the right donor, but he was terrified of needles. "I can't stand those things! They make me feel -- oogy!" This shriveling coward's usual job? Bomb disposal.
- In Sanctuary, Will's date can't stand needles, so she stays away while he's forced to function as doctor by their captors. Unfortunately, she still gets stuck by a different kind of needle, in an effort to get Will to work harder.
- Early in Smallville, Clark uses this as an excuse to get out of a blood drive.
- In Barney Miller, tough ex-Marine Wojohowicz is shown to be afraid of a flu shot.
- I Love Bees has Yasmine and all her wacky personas scared of needles after she's forced into surgery.
- Subverted in one of the Least I Could Do: Beginnings comics, wherein a young Rayne goes to the doctor and recieves a shot without batting an eyelash. However, when the tongue depressors come out...
- Invoked savagely in DMFA, as Dan is dragged into the pre-enrollment physical at the Succubus and Incubus Academy.
Abel: "Dan here needs to take the placement test, but can you bypass the needle part?"
- The title character of The Saga of Tuck also has a fear of needles. And doctors. And psychiatrists. And hospitals. Childhood asthma with recurrent bouts of pneumonia will do that to you.
- In the Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "This Won't Hurt an Ed", Eddy learns that Kevin is afraid of needles and uses this to torment him by convincing everyone it's Booster Shot Day. Though by the end of the episode, Kevin overcomes his fear of needles and it turns out that Eddy has to get a shot, providing a very lulzworthy ending.
- In an episode of Little Lulu, a Badass Biker has been trying to summon the courage to get a tattoo. Near the end of the episode, he observes kids and their mothers coming out of the tattoo parlour with (painted on) tattoos and nearly collapses on his bike with shame.
- In the The Penguins of Madagascar episode Needle Point it reveals that the leader of the penguins is deathly afraid of shots. Even to the point that he almost had his team leave their home forever, then viciously fights them to get out of getting one. The other three even were afraid he might leave the zoo on his own and never return.
- Transformers Cybertron. Done with Humongous Mecha, no less, with the Hand Wave-by-Techno Babble version of a needle. The team dreaded, the idea of injection, especially Leobreaker. He's not the worst, though: Red Alert has to chase Jetfire down.
- Batman the Animated Series: Harley Quinn cries like a little girl when Poison Ivy gives her a shot in "Harley and Ivy". Harley even lampshades this by saying, "You'd think I'd be used to a little pain after hangin' out with Mistah J."
- In Metal Gear Solid 4, it is stated that resident Butt Monkey Johnny Sasaki has skipped out on mandatory shots due to his fear of needles. This leaves him with no nanomachines in his body, unlike pretty much every other soldier out there, and makes him immune whenever anybody futzes with the nanos. Technically Subverted Trope, as he's never shown being afraid of needles and only mentions it right in the middle of his Big Damn Heroes moment. This also explains the character's trademark chronic diarrhea; without nanomachines to filter it before it is absorbed into his body, drinking the local water gives his stomach bugs a-plenty.
- Montley from Valkyria Chronicles suffers from this, being afraid to the point that being close to a Lancer and their Lances causes him to hyperventilate and lose health.
- In Tamagotchi Corner Shop 2, at the clinic, one of the phrases that Mrs. Frill says is "I should tell you, I dislike needles."
- In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, if you go to the hospital later in the game and talk to the girl behind the counter, she teasingly offers to give everyone free flu shots. Cue the young Luke freaking the hell out (though he does stay more composed than some of the examples on this page).
- In Dead Space 2, the player must guide a needle into Isaac Clarke's pupil, in order to extract information from his brain. The needle begins to shake as you get closer to Isaac's soft, tender eye.
- Plays a big part in Nightmare Ned's Medical Nightmare stage.
- Mass Effect 3: Mordin claims this about Wrex when he's eager to leave his lab and donate tissue samples later. It may or may not be true, but either way it's hilarious. But when he finally gets around to it...
- Jackie Chan. Terrified of needles. Yet he did all his own stunts for years. Cannot be insured due to the guarantee of injury during filming. The man has broken nigh every bone in his body, fractured his nose three (or more) times, has a hole in his skull, burned most of skin of his hand off, to count among others.
- Al Capone was also afraid of needles. He had syphilis for most of his life (he "interviewed" many of his prostitutes), which could have been cured by a shot of penicillin, but instead suffered for years and eventually died of the disease because he refused to have an injection.
- Some condemned criminals have actually opted for the electric chair over lethal injection because of this.
- Gerard Way has mentioned he doesn't have tattoos because of a fear of needles.