Stock Visual Metaphors

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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A visual metaphor uses an image to represent something else entirely. Some have become standard through use and re-use—some even to the point of having standard parodies or subversions.

For internal emotions and sensations, visual metaphors mostly serve the Rule of Perception. For external actions and events, they can serve as unusual euphemisms for sex and violence.

See also Briffits and Squeans.



  • Drama:
  • Excrement:
  • Getting clocked:
  • Penis:
    • Banana
    • Hot dog
    • Elephant (in Japanese things) - also eggplant (traditional phallic symbol) and turtle's heads (pun on a slang term for foreskin)
  • Sex:
    • Large rocket lifting off
    • Train entering a tunnel
    • Geyser spouting
    • Fireworks
      • Parodied in a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, where a couple are revealed to be watching a home movie of these visual metaphors instead of having sex.
      • Also parodied in a Simpsons scene, where Homer and Marge are having sex while the kids are at a Stock Footage Festival, with no idea what their parents are doing. Also during a romantic scene, Homer and Marge use the metaphor while looking lustfully at each other, right before they begin launching literal fireworks.
    • Something Else Also Rises - visual metaphors for erections and/or orgasms.
  • Phlegmings uses saliva or phlegm to suggest fear and fright.
  • Power Glows uses glowing to show the presence of energy.
  • Time Compression Montage uses cuts to imply that a large amount of time has passed without showing the time directly.
  • Audible Sharpness uses sound to imply sharpness. (Might not count as a *visual* metaphor.)