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Coulrophobia is an abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns. The term is common, but it does not appear to be used in psychology. [1]It is common among children, but is also sometimes found in teenagers and adults as well. Sufferers sometimes acquire a fear of clowns after having a bad experience with one personally, or seeing a sinister portrayal of one in the media. A design study carried out by the University of Sheffield found that children are frightened by clown-themed décor in hospitals.[2]

Coulrophobia in reality

  • Bubbles the Clown from the BBC's Test Card F has been found to be an object of fear for some.[3]
  • In July 2006 the Bestival had to withdraw a request to festival goers to come dressed as clowns due to the unexpectedly high rate of coulrophobia among the potential audience. This was reported by the BBC 6 July 2006 news website.

Coulrophobia in fiction

  • In the Frasier episode Boo!, Frasier treats a patient suffering from coulrophobia with immersion therapy. Frasier's father is also revealed to "not like" clowns, and when Frasier jokingly scares him while dressed as a clown, he has a mild heart attack.
  • The animated series The Simpsons; see "Can't sleep, clown will eat me."
  • In the sitcom Seinfeld, Cosmo Kramer has a recurring fear of clowns which was most prominent when the psychotic "Crazy" Joe Davola, who was after him, was wearing a clown suit as a disguise.[4]
  • Billy of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy has an acute fear of clowns, he is more paranoid than fearing them, as he believes that clowns want to be the dominant species and that "they'll destroy us all to make it happen!". When Billy goes on to explain why he hates clowns, it leads to a montage of him screaming "DESTROY US ALL!", probably purposely to annoy the audience. Later on, he learns not to fear clowns, but to extremely hate them, which later leads to violent mood swings whenever he sees a clown.
  • In the animated series Ben 10, in the episode "Last Laugh", it is revealed that Ben is afraid of clowns, but at the end, he gets over it after defeating Zombozo, an evil clown who uses a machine that steals people's happiness.
  • In the legal-comedy Boston Legal, Alan Shore faces issues while trying a case involving a politically-minded clown due to intense coulrophobia. Simply looking at the clown, let alone cross-examining him, proves to be too much.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander is terrified of clowns due to a traumatic birthday party as a child. In the episode "Nightmares," he is confronted with a dream-like version of that clown, but is able to overcome his fear and defeat it.
  • In the Animaniacs episode "Clown And Out", Wakko gets a birthday visit from a clown, but Wakko suffers from an extreme case of coulrophobia (called "clownophobia" by Dr. Scratchansniff). Mr. Plotz, the studio head, also suffers from coulrophobia (though not to the same degree as Wakko) and gets revenge on the clown by forcing him to continue trying to entertain Wakko.
  • In the TV show Supernatural, Sam Winchester is coulrophobic and is constantly teased by his brother Dean Winchester. In the second season, episode two titled "Everyone Loves A Clown" the brothers disguise themselves as carnies to hunt down a Rakshasa that has dressed up as a clown to lure children into their houses so it can eat their parents.

See also


  1. ^ Robertson, John G. (2003). An Excess of Phobias and Manias. Senior Scribe Publications. ISBN 9780963091932. 
  2. ^ Finlo Rohrer (2008-01-16). "Why are clowns scary?". BBC News. 
  3. ^ BBC News | UK | Test card special
  4. ^ Seinfeld. "The Opera". 4 November 1992.

External links