Eek! A Mouse!
"Mice to me mean the little white furry things with the cheese fixation and women standing screaming on tables in early Sixties sitcoms..."—Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
A staple of early domestic comedies in both film and television. The mere sight of a mouse (or sometimes another animal who is the subject of a common phobia) will drive a housewife up onto a chair or a table, where she stands shrieking, stomping her feet, and clutching the hem of her skirt until the rodent is captured or driven away. This is largely a Dead Horse Trope today, rooted in a very specific and sexist image of women dating back to the early part of the 20th Century, but it is still visible in old Looney Tunes cartoons and in the odd ironic reference.
Looney Tunes cartoons will sometimes play with this trope by crossing it with the old myth (deemed plausible by the MythBusters) about mice frightening elephants, resulting in elephants that shriek and leap up onto some (possibly insufficiently-strong) object upon sighting a mouse.
Not to be confused with Eek! The Cat. Also not to be confused with the Jamaican reggae artist "Eek-A-Mouse".
Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]
- There was a commercial that had a woman do "EEK a Mouse!" bit and her husband hunts the mouse down but before he can dispatch it the wife see the mouse cornered and now it's a cute little mousey and she stops him. End of commercial has couple cuddling on the couch and mouse in a cage running on a wheel.
- This Samsung Infuse commercial, only with the image of a large spider.
- A cheese advert in New Zealand in the early 1990s featured local celebrity Lana Coc-Kroft in this situation. She finds a wedge of Gouda cheese to ward off the mouse, only to frown and pause for a moment before eating it herself. Oops.
- Freya from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is, among other things, a Badass Lady of War Action Girl Hot Amazon with Boobs of Steel and has apparently eschewed femininity. However, she still freaks out when she sees Shigure's pet mouse.
- Used for a second in the last episode of Gakuen Alice, where Hotaru uses a gang of robot mice to keep two Girly Girl classmates at bay.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, Maria is scared of cockroaches (they even have a nickname within the story so they can be talked about around her). Shiranui brings one into the house and she shrieks standing on Hayate until he apparently shoos the kitten away. Still trying to figure out how he did anything with her standing on him like that.
- In Saber Marionette J, in order to make the marionette robots as much like (stereotypical) women as possible, every one of them is programmed to be afraid of mice—except the tomboyish Lime, who merely finds them cute.
- Kekkaishi had Tokine perform this trope, right after fighting a much bigger rodent that could breathe fire. She and her grandmother also have a similarly disproportionate fear of cockroaches.
- In Ranma ½'s second movie, all the girls run away from a horde of mice. Ranma stands there unaffected and comments on how silly they are to be afraid of mice, until he discovers that cats are following said mice. At that point, he starts screaming in terror.
- Rabbit Team of Girls und Panzer bail out of their tank like it's on fire when they discover a Creepy Cockroach has taken up residence in it, and nobody else wants to go near their tank until it's dead. Perhaps because they fear that speaking its name will attract its attention, nobody calls it by its full name (gokiburi), instead calling it a "G". To take the gag even further, it's also drawn as a capital G (with antennas) rather than as a roach.
- In the Gundam Seed Visual Novel Tomo to Kimi to Senjou de, Athrun decides to make a robot pet for his crush Cagalli. He ends up giving it a hamster design, but when she first sees it she has this reaction and smashes it. Kira steps in and explains, and Cagalli is both very touched by the gesture and very apologetic for destroying it.
- Inuyasha: Kagome can handle Youkai, blood, guts, wounds, two-timing boyfriends, time-travel, saving the world while trying to pass exams, lifting the spirits of the depressed, downtrodden and bullied and can even befriend the reclusive, the painfully shy, and aggressively hostile, but ask her to help a giant beast-faced hanyou in his herb garden when there's an earthworm in plain sight and she'll fall to pieces.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Tintin. The Thomson twins are startled by mice used for experiments in "Destination Moon".
- This once happened in Archie when Ms. Grundy jumped on her desk and Jughead took a picture of it for the school newspaper. She actually was worried that the picture would be about how scared she was of a little mouse but instead it turned out to be proof the school needed an exterminator.
- The protagonist of Jennifer Blood takes advantage of this stereotype in issue 3, when a neighbor who's convinced she's attracted to him has cornered her in a bathroom and exposed himself to her. She doesn't want to ruin her "perfectly ordinary suburban housewife" facade by maiming or killing him, but as someone who moonlights as a brutal Vigilante, that's all she's trained to do. So she starts shrieking about a pretend mouse.
- There is a great scene in Conan the Destroyer where Grace Jones' character, who up until now has been afraid of nothing, taking on whole villages and men much larger than her in combat fearlessly, jumps and screams at the sight of a mouse. When all of her party look back she looks sheepish.
- The 1959 movie The Mouse That Roared opens with the Columbia Studios girl-with-torch logo suddenly hiking up her gown and fleeing from a mouse at her feet. (The title is a metaphor for a tiny, innocuous nation that ends up holding the fate of the world in its hands.)
- The 1934 film Hollywood Party has a whole roomful of women doing this when one of them sees a mouse. It turns out to be Mickey Mouse.
- In She's the Man, Duke and Viola scream and leap on the bed, hugging each other, when a big spider enters their dorm room.
- The two female leads in Eight Heads In A Duffel Bag take this kind of behavior Up to Eleven when they find a disembodied head in their luggage during a family vacation. ("Eek, A Head!"?) One shuts herself up in a closet and refuses to come out (until the protagonist jokingly suggests that the dead guy's body might be in there), while the other attacks the protagonist with a fork. The latter is especially hilarious because what causes her to snap is the protagonist innocently asking, "Would you like an enchilada?"
- Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks has the "mouse frightening an elephant" version. During the animal soccer game on the Island of Naboombu, an alligator uses a mouse to scare the elephant goalkeeper of the opposing team.
- Timothy Q. Mouse uses this to his advantage against the cruel female elephants in Dumbo.
- An American Tail, in the scene with the wax cylinder gramophone.
- During the Wizard's Duel in The Sword in the Stone, Madame Mim turns into an elephant, and Merlin counters by turning into a mouse, scaring her.
- Journey Back to Oz has the returned Dorothy scaring off Witch Mombi's elephant army with a herd of magical white mice.
Literature[edit | hide]
- In one of the Clue mystery books, Mr. Boddy reveals that several white mice have escaped. The first one to actually do this trope is the duel-crazy Colonel Mustard, but the other guests don't laugh because they're doing the same thing.
- The non-fiction book that inspired Homicide: Life on the Street mentions that one of the detectives had been called home by his wife to deal with a rampaging mouse. "I disposed of the body, but considered leaving it as an example to others."
- Happens in a Doctor Dolittle story: A smaller African kingdom is warred upon by a bigger, expansionist one, whose crack troops are Amazons. The White Mouse who lives in Doolittle's pocket points out that while they are fearsome warriors, the Amazons are still women, and gather a force of local mice who scares them away.
- Played with and justified in the last Hawk & Fisher story, where a crime lord keeps a bunch of naked Amazons as bodyguards. Rather than fight them, Hawk and Fisher turn a sackful of ravenous sewer rats loose in the crime lord's lair, and the bodyguards start climbing the furniture in a panic when the starving rodents swarm them to bite their bare toes.
- In The Chronicles of Narnia, Badass Adorable Talking Mouse Reepicheep wants to be a herald, but he's too small to be seen until he's up close (and therefore not very impressive). Of course, since he's very touchy when it comes to his honor, nobody wants to tell him this, so they tell him that it wouldn't be quite fair to their enemies since some humans are afraid of mice.
- In Mousenet, this is part of the "EEEK Test," a test used by mice to gauge a humans' feelings towards mice. Jumping on a chair results in a "Loud EEEK" and a grade of C, with fainting being the worst possible response and earning an F. Talking to or touching the mouse is "No EEEK" and an A+.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent associates mice with cheese and women standing screaming on tables in early Sixties Sit Coms.
- The Three's Company episode "The Best Laid Plans" revolved a mouse being loose in the trio's apartment, with Janet being the mouseophobic one.
- Spinoff the The Ropers featured a gender-flipped version of this trope: it was Mr. Brooks, not his wife, who leaped up onto the couch screaming at the sight of a white mouse—safely in a cage, no less.
- Adrian Monk frequently reacts this way to a variety of analogous situations.
- Justified in the episode when it was a venomous snake that was loose in the room.
- Used in an episode of the Adam West version of Batman; villainess Nora Clavicle manipulates Gotham City into hiring only women police officers, then unleashes an army of tiny mechanical mice. At least Batgirl remains "immune".
- Referenced in The Goodies episode "Kitten Kong", where a housekeeper (suspiciously similar to the one in Tom and Jerry, we even hear her shouting for "Thomas") jumps on the table and shrieks at the sight of the team dressed as mice.
- Also referenced (and inverted) in Punky Business when a mouse trying to assure Tim that he is ugly tells him that when he walks into a room all the mice jump onto a chair.
- On Imagination Movers, Knit Knots wasn't scared by Warehouse Mouse to the point of panic, but did urge the Movers to keep the "woodland creature" away from him. An episode of the show also focused on the Movers helping a TV repairman to get over his fear of mice, so that he could stick around to fix their TV and not be afraid of Warehouse Mouse.
- An amusing variant happened on Xena: Warrior Princess. Gabrielle (not quite an Action Girl yet) was hiding from some bad guys when she noticed a mouse crawling about. She had to remain perfectly still and silent lest she blew her cover, and Hilarity Ensues as she stares at it with wide eyes and covers her mouth before a whimper comes out.
- Actually, it was a rat
- Subverted (actually, double-subverted) on an episode of Unhappily Ever After. Ryan, who believes the old legend that the Earth would spin out of its orbit if all the Chinese people in the world jumped off their chairs at the same time, panics when he spies a group of Chinese exchange students standing on their chairs in the school cafeteria. One of the students explains that they had just seen a mouse, causing Ryan to calm down. Once Ryan is gone, though, the student gets angry and mutters: "Curses! They're onto us!"
- The late 80s sitcom Kate And Allie spent an entire episode dealing with a mouse, complete with jumping on chairs and tables in fright(Allie's son Chip was taking care of his classroom's pet mouse and it got out of its cage). Subverted in that 1) they realized that they were behaving like 60s sitcom housewives, 2) Kate and Allie were running a catering business at the time and were justifiably concerned about mice on the premises, and 3) Allie's sportscaster boyfriend also turned out to be deathly afraid of mice.
- A late episode of El Chavo del Ocho has Doña Florinda's restaurant plagued by mice. She and Chilindrina exhibit the expected reaction throughout, especially in a hilarious scene where Chavo unknowinlgy brushes the latter's leg with the broom he is using to hunt the mouse; she has an absolute panic attack, thinking it's the mouse climbing up her leg.
- This is how Ma Gorg reacted to Fraggles on Fraggle Rock.
- In Community episode Environmental Science Troy freaks out when a lab rat accidentally escapes.
- In the Mexican Soap Opera Carrusel, Pablo releases a mouse in the middle of class. All but one of the girls start screaming and crying. The one girl who isn't scared, Valeria, "punishes" Pablo by pretending to pass out and tricking him into believing she had a heart attack.
- In a Sex and the City episode, Charlotte dates a Camp Straight man and they both react to a mouse in a similar way.
- Pan Am has Laura reacting this way to the appearance of a lizard in her hotel room in Rangoon, as she jumps on her bed to get away. Maggie calmly appears to pick it up and put it outside then joins Laura on the bed shrieking upon discovering a snake in the bathroom.
- Averted in the premiere episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The heroine doesn't even twitch when a sewer rat runs over her foot.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Ellie in Donkey Kong Country 3 is an elephant who rapidly runs away from any Sneeks (basically rats) that she sees. One level requires the player to either dispatch the Sneeks from a distance or in the dark (apparently, she doesn't mind if she can only barely see them), and another features her running madly away from a trio of Sneeks, with the player only able to control her jumping until she settles down.
- Princess Zelda in The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks reacts to mice in that manner. Not that that makes her any less awesome.
- And hence why stage 2 of the final battle has Link having to take down the ghost mice used to attack Zelda by Chancellor Cole.
- Played with in Galaxy Angel, where in an Amazon Brigade full of girly-girls, the one with the paralyzing phobia of mice is the powerful and intimidating, Rare Gun-collecting, ultra-violent Bifauxnen Forte.
- HanPan from Wild ARMs uses this to his advantage in several places in the game to spook certain NPCs and make them move.
- Dragon Quest VIII has Prince Charmles who refuses to undergo the hunt for an Argonian Lizard to prove he's worthy of the throne because he's afraid of lizards. All lizards. Even little ones. You have to scare him out of a room he's holed himself up in at one point by nudging a lizard into it, provoking this trope as a reaction to it.
- Mongoria, an otherwise extremely formidable enemy, had this as her weakness.
- Elh from Solatorobo absolutely hates bugs and insists that Red kill them as quickly as possible when you come upon them (which is a good idea, since the bugs attack you like most everything else in video games). There are also two Protection Missions in which the goal is just "don't let the bugs get near Elh" (this includes if you accidentally throw a bug across the line, because apparently even a dead bug is creepy).
- Played with for a laugh in Final Fantasy IX. Incognito princess Garnet picks up an oglop (a beetle-like insect), having no problem with the little critter whatsoever. However, since she's supposed to be undercover as a normal country girl, when an old woman comments that most girls hate them, she squeals theatrically and flings it into the air.
- Can be invoked for rewards in the PS2 release of The Bard's Tale, by summoning and dismissing the rat in bars. In fact, this is how the eponymous Bard starts the game.
Web Original[edit | hide]
- Often Florida wildlife will invade the live webcast of The Funday Pawpet Show, leading Ezra to envoke this trope, while Mutt commands the show's border collie to "Eat it, Bandit! Eat it eat it eat it!"
- Referenced in South Park episode "Eek, A Penis!" where a mouse frightened women with a genetically engineered human penis growing on its back.
- Actually they were frightened by the penis. But the trope still stands.
- Monterey Jack actually uses this trope in the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "The Carpetsnaggers" to chase humans from one side of a flying house to the other.
- Done many a time in Tom and Jerry.
- Several old Looney Tunes shorts utilize this trope.
- In one short, a mouse mocks the way the housewife panics.
- Also played with in the Ren and Stimpy short "The Boy Who Cried Rat", in which Ren impersonates a rodent so Stimpy can earn his keep by catching him.
- The Dog's reaction to rats in Footrot Flats. The cat, Horse, has the opposite reaction.
- Bella from Fireman Sam often freaks on seeing mice, regardless as to whether they're real or clockwork ones.
- Titanic: The Legend Goes On had a scene where Angelica's stepsisters were scared by mouse.
- Ratatoing plays this trope straight too.
- In the special Toot and Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas, the boarding of Toot's train home is delayed by an elephant who doesn't want to be left alone in jumbo class. He's afraid that a mouse might sneak in. When Toot expresses disbelief that a big guy like him would be terrified by a small mouse, the elephant responds "What can I say? It's genetic." Toot agrees to ride with him to watch for mice.
- Subverted in The Simpsons at Apu's wedding. When a mouse runs out in the the elephant's path, the elephant recoils for a moment... and then proceeds to deliberately step on it.
- Taken to ridiculous lengths in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls where a rivaling villain reanimates a mammoth (which appears as comically large as any city destroying monster) to cause destruction in Townsville. To stop it, Mojo-jojo instructs the girls to leave a large hunk of cheese to attract the town's mice and scare the mammoth off. And you know what? It works!
- Played straight and then subverted in an episode of Tom and Jerry where during the usual chase, Jerry stumbles on a circus elephant weeping from a tack stuck under its foot. Jerry removes the tack and the elephant panics, afraid of Jerry (as he is a mouse), desperately trying to hit him with Tom (who happened to be there at that moment) like a drum on a stool. Jerry shows the female elephant the tack and, in Androcles' Lion fashion, hugs Jerry in appreciation. From then on she treats Jerry like her own child, protecting him from a persistent Tom in addition to giving the cat a good beating.
- The main villain of the second half of Disney's Goliath II is a mouse in which only the titular elephant can get rid of.
- Tex Avery, naturally, built an entire cartoon out of this trope. "Slap Happy Lion" has a mouse scaring a much-feared lion simply by saying "Boo!" at him. The cartoon ends with the mouse being scared by a much smaller mouse.
- The narrator of that cartoon- a mouse- even wonders why anyone would fear a mouse.
- Stu from Rugrats has a moment like this when he discovers the thing wrecking his garage wasn't a rowdy Spike, but a mouse. He even apologizes to his dog when he "saves" the day by chasing it away with a bark.
- When Captain Fanzone winds up on Cybertron in Transformers Animated, this is basically the Transformers' response.
- In the silent Krazy Kat cartoon "Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse at the Circus", Ignatz knowingly employs this trope this to scare a woman in the circus dressing room. When Krazy tries it himself, he gets hit with a broom.
- While elephants don't typically leap onto small objects at the sight of a mouse, research has provided a possible reason for the elephant's fear of mice: an elephant's eyes are located on its head in approximately the same position as a human's ears—add this to the elephant's large body, (relatively) poor eyesight, and sensitive hearing, and what the elephant sees turns from a small, furry rodent into a small, barely-visible, blurry and mostly-unidentifiable squeaking blob somewhere near its feet.
- This was actually tested by the MythBusters. Myth Plausible.
- If a mouse is brought close and shown to an elephant, however, it's generally not alarmed in the slightest, and may even lift the rodent in its trunk for a better view. The reality may be that elephants are wary of any small moving critter on the ground, just in case it turns out to be something a lot nastier than a mouse (e.g. a scorpion or coiled-up cobra).
- Semi real-life, with another type of vermin rather than a mouse: The late X Japan guitarist hide and the drummer/bandleader Yoshiki were/are both terrified of cockroaches. One story has it that when the band members were in Los Angeles for the first time, a roach had gotten into the room hide and Yoshiki shared. This trope ensued with both, according to the story, jumping up onto the bed and shrieking until it was finally agreed that someone had to kill the roach, and depending on who's telling the story, either Hide or Yoshiki finally did.
- Real life: weatherman vs. cockroach.
- Psychologists who studied the Eek! a Mouse! phenomenon concluded that it's not the mouse itself which the typical distressed housewife is afraid of, but her awareness that she'll probably have to kill the animal to remove it from her residence. The mouse is harmless, killing is Squicky.
- Besides, as humans have co-evolved with mice ever since the dawn of agriculture, screaming, shouting and stamping if a mouse enters your kitchen is a moderately sound response- perfectly sensible for a woman to aggressively protect her food-store by trying to frighten away small invaders.
- Learn From EEK's Fail.
- In the nonfiction book Retail Hell: How I sold my soul to the store, this happened in the "Big Fancy" store when someone returned a product to the handbag department that had a huge Cockroach in it. Naturally; this trope ensues and Freeman is told to kill it as the sole male working the department.
- In Real Life, there's very good reason to be afraid of mice. House mice in particular can carry deadly diseases and there have been reports of ones growing so large they attack albatross chicks nearly one meter tall. In addition, in 1993, Australia was beset by one of the most devastating mouse plagues in the world; mice began eating the livestock alive.
- Inverted with mice and rats as pets, which are far more popular with women than men. This was even so in Victorian times, where some upper-class young ladies would keep them almost like toy dogs.
- Actress Jaimie Alexander has admitted that, while she has no problem with things like snakes or spiders, she is terrified of mice. You read that right - The warrior goddess Sif is afraid of mice.