Created By: cabr321 on September 14, 2012 Last Edited By: cabr321 on March 15, 2013

Lust for Sympathy

A character fakes or purposely becomes sick/unconscious to get romantic attention

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Trope
This happens when character has a major crush, but the crush doesn't know it. In a desperate attempt for attention, the character either fakes being sick or purposely becomes sick, all for the purpose of getting the crush's sympathy.

May take the form of a character feigning sickness to get a nurse's attention, faking drowning in order to receive mouth-to-mouth, or breaking a leg to get his/her cast signed by a crush.

Related tropes are Playing Sick, Weakness Turns Her On, Wounded Gazelle Gambit.

Examples:

Film
  • In the The Sandlot, Squints deliberately pretends to drown in order to get the kiss of life from a hot lifeguard.
  • Greg Heffley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid briefly wears a fake cast on his hand to get attention from girls. It doesn't work.
    Greg: It's a raging infection that resulted from a splinter left untreated. Would you like to be the first to sign my sympathy sheet?
  • In the Korean film Sweet Lies (titled in English as Lost and Found), TV writer Ji-ho gets hit by the car of her high school crush Min-woo. In order to avoid having to go home, Ji-ho pretends to have amnesia, and Min-woo lets her stay at his home.
  • In 50/50, Kyle suggests that Adam uses his cancer diagnosis to pick up women.

Literature
  • In the Bible, Amnon pretends to be sick to get the attention of Tamar.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of Testees (a sitcom about test subjects), one of the roommates is temporarily paralyzed by the drug-of-the-week, but when a Hello, Nurse! comes to the apartment to give him a bath, his roommate pretends it's him instead. This goes majorly awry when she injects him with a high-powered muscle stimulant he doesn't need.
  • In at least one sketch from The Benny Hill Show Benny plays a man who gets rescued from the ocean. He pretends to be out cold in order to get mouth-to-mouth from a pretty lifeguard, but runs away once the male lifeguard takes over.
  • In Arrested Development, Buster fakes being in a coma not only to avoid having to testify in court, but to get attention from Adelaide, the nurse.
  • Sinjin from Victorious fakes unconsciousness in an (unsuccessful) attempt to get mouth-to-mouth from Tori.
  • In an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati a tornado blows through town, and Andy gets hit by a shattering window. Jennifer brings him back to consciousness with mouth-to-mouth, which makes Herb (who lusts after Jennifer) jealous. In The Stinger we see Herb lying on Jennifer's receptionist desk, pretending to be passed out. She calmly ignores him, and after she leaves the room he gets up, straightens his tie, and goes back to work.
  • Adam De Mamp in Workaholics actually does choke on his gum and gets saved by Alice's Heimlich maneuver, but even after Adam spits the gum out he still pretends to choke to continue being held by Alice.

Western Animation
  • An episode of Beavis And Butthead has the boys sent to the nurse's office for hygiene issues where they meet a sexy Granola Girl. They beat each other up so they can be sent to the nurse's office again, only to find she's moved on.
  • An episode of the animated series The Replacements shows Riley faking drowning to get saved by the hunky lifeguard.
  • Used in American Dad!, after seeing girls sympathize with a boy whose brother lost his arm in a skiing accident (and is clearly milking it for affection, even going so far as to carry the arm around for display) Steve gets Roger to pose as his deformed sister to gain a date. This backfires when an insecure Roger starts stealing all her attention from Steve.
  • The Popeye episode Hospitaliky involves Bluto and Popeye trying to be the first to get themselves seriously injured so that they can be nursed back to health by Olive Oyl, who in this episode works at a hospital.

Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • September 14, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    Sounds like its related to Fainting, especially the Fake Faint. Some of the examples there may work here. We also have Playing Sick, for when characters pretend to be sick for other reasons.
  • September 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In at least one sketch from The Benny Hill Show Benny plays a man who gets rescued from the ocean. He pretends to be out cold in order to get mouth-to-mouth from a pretty lifeguard, but runs away once the male lifeguard takes over.
  • September 14, 2012
    KTera
    I think this is Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
  • September 14, 2012
    cabr321
    ^From reading the page, it looks to me like that's done out of animosity, falsely victimizing yourself at the expense of an adversary, while this is done out of lust/love. I could be wrong, though; I'll leave it open for discussion.
  • September 15, 2012
    Duncan
    In an episode of Testees (a sitcom about test subjects), one of the roommates is temporarily paralyzed by the drug-of-the-week, but when a Hello Nurse comes to the apartment to give him a bath, his roommate pretends it's him instead. This goes majorly awry when she injects him with a high-powered muscle stimulant he doesn't need
  • September 15, 2012
    captainpat
    Please rewrite the trope description without the Alice and Bob. See Example As A Thesis. Don't need a example is the description, examples are what the example section is for.

    • In the The Sandlot Squints deliberately pretends to drown in order to get the kiss of life from a hot lifeguard.
  • September 15, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • In the Korean film Sweet Lies (titled in English as Lost and Found), TV writer Ji-ho gets hit by the car of her high school crush Min-woo. In order to avoid having to go home, Ji-ho pretends to have amnesia, and so Min-woo lets her stay at his home.
  • September 15, 2012
    cygnavamp
    • An episode of Beavis And Butthead have the boys sent to the nurses office for hygiene issues where they meet a sexy Granola Girl. They beat each other up so they can be sent to the nurse's office again, only to find she's moved on.
  • September 16, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Related to (but not the same as) Playing Sick and Munchausen Syndrome.
  • September 16, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    This is (exactly, or a minor variation on) Wounded Gazelle Gambit: "a ploy in which the schemer pretends to be a victim in order to garner sympathy for themselves or foster animosity towards the alleged aggressor"
  • September 16, 2012
    suliaulen
    WGG: Callie throws herself onto the floor when Bob's not looking and claims she was pushed by Alice. Bob helps her to the nurse's office, angry at Alice and sympathetic towards Callie.

    This trope: Callie comes to school with a fake cast on her leg, telling Bob that she broke it, in an attempt to get Bob's sympathy.

    This is Wounded Gazelle Gambit without the framing of another by self-victimization. They're different.
  • September 17, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
  • September 17, 2012
    suliaulen
    "... make sure the line is clear."

    This is faking an illness/condition. That is falsely framing someone else. This is done for romance. That is done out of hatred. The line's clear.
  • September 21, 2012
    Arivne
    This is definitely not Wounded Gazelle Gambit, the Laconic for which is "Perp plays the victim to frame their real victim."
  • September 26, 2012
    captainpat
    Unfortunately 90% laconic are wrong so it's best just to go with the description.
  • October 5, 2012
    Chabal2
    Might as well call this one Munchhausen syndrome.
  • October 5, 2012
    Psi001
    • Used in American Dad, after seeing girls sympathise with a boy whose brother lost his arm in a skiing accident (and is clearly milking it for affection, even going so far as to carry the arm around for display) Steve gets Roger to pose as his deformed sister to gain a date. It backfires when an insecure Roger starts stealing all her attention from Steve however.
  • October 6, 2012
    Waterlily
    The description only refers to males. Should it? I'm sure females have done this before too. I can't specifically recall any fictional instances but I used to watch a lot of soap operas and I'm pretty sure it's happened there.
  • October 7, 2012
    cabr321
    No, it's for both genders. The only requirement is that a character attempts to appear disadvantaged/vulnerable in some way to garner attention from a love interest.
  • October 7, 2012
    OutlanderOmega
    Disney channel much?
  • October 7, 2012
    Surenity
    The Popeye episode Hospitaliky involves Bluto and Popeye trying to be the first to get themselves seriously injured so that they can be nursed back to health by Olive Oyl, who in this episode works at a hospital.
  • November 3, 2012
    McKathlin
    This trope is an exploit of Weakness Turns Her On.
  • November 4, 2012
    MorganWick
    Re: title: Sex =/= romance.
  • November 4, 2012
    LeeHarter
    Literature: In the Bible, Amnon pretends to be sick to get the attention of Tamar [[en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamar_(2_Samuel)]].
  • December 20, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of WKRP In Cincinnati a tornado blows through town, and Andy gets hit by a shattering window. Jennifer brings him back to conciousness with mouth-to-mouth, which makes Herb (who lusts after Jennifer) jealous. In The Stinger we see Herb lying on Jennifer's receptionist desk, pretending to be passed out. She calmly ignores him, and after she leaves the room he gets up, straightens his tie, and goes back to work.
  • March 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    We already have Munchausen Syndrome. Wounded Gazelle Gambit covers everything else.
  • March 15, 2013
    cabr321
    Most of these tropes wouldn't go under either one of those, as Munchasusen requires feigning an illness and WGG requires pretending to be the victim of another person.
  • March 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    As people said before, WGG doesn't require pretending to be a victim, just pretending to be hurt to get people to do what you want (see the first line of the description. The reason the rest of the description describes specific variations is that the basic version is... well, quite self-explanitory). Take a look at the examples and especially its use on other pages.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=1776y4rt56o2omdfprvuj65u