Created By: fulltimeD on March 5, 2012 Last Edited By: fulltimeD on March 21, 2012
Troped

Empty Fridge Empty Life

Artists, hipsters, bachelors and Cloudcuckoolanders never go grocery shopping.

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Trope
If the characters are at all "Outsiders," be they members of a subculture (like stoners, slackers, hipsters, or rock musicians), modern artists, lonely single men, or Cloudcuckoolanders, and their refrigerator is shown, it will be entirely or nearly empty, possibly save for a mysterious, unidentifiable stain, a carton of long-expired milk, or an ancient, inedible sandwich. The empty refrigerator is usually shorthand for alienation from society due either to lifestyle or poverty, and often both. Generally, the more socially alienated a character is, the higher the probability that their refrigerator resembles this trope. Other variants of this include a refrigerator full of alcoholic beverages and little else, or a refrigerator stocked entirely with expired food. In very, very extreme situations, the refrigerator may contain a dead (non-food) animal such as a rat or pigeon, or some other random object not usually stored in a refrigerator, like old sneakers or underwear.

Often a symptom of Lonely Bachelor Pad; the implication being that a bachelor can't/won't shop properly or consistently. They may be in Perpetual Poverty or from the Wrong Side of the Tracks. Frequently seen in the Broke Episode.

Examples

Film

  • In Time Chasers, bachelor inventor Nick Miller's fridge is empty except for a head of lettuce (of indeterminate age). When Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured this movie, they quipped "Loser status: confirmed," upon seeing this scene.

  • In TRON: Legacy, Sam had a couple of cans of beer and not much else in his refrigerator.

  • Fight Club: "How embarrassing. A house full of condiments and no real food."

Literature

  • In his autobiography, Meat Loaf revealed that Song writer Jim Steinman had a refrigerator that had nothing but an ancient milk bottle and some weird colored vine-like strands all over the place.

  • Fight Club: "Yeah, I know, I know, a house full of condiments and no real food."

Live-Action Television

  • Lister's fridge in Red Dwarf contains lager and, for some reason, a pair of trainers (sneakers).

  • In an episode of Friends, Joey opens the fridge and says "We have ... ice."

  • Most episodes of Cribs

  • Both implied and averted in Seinfeld: Kramer comes to Jerry's apartment to eat, presumably because he has a refrigerator like this. Jerry's refrigerator is usually the aversion, but Kramer drank expired milk from it at least once.

  • Sara Sidle on CSI only had some take out cartons in hers. She throws them all out after considering Grissom's urging her to get a life and get out more, symbolizing her wanting to take his advice.

Music

  • David Bowie claims that in 1976, during the era of his "Thin White Duke" Persona, he lived on "red peppers, cocaine and milk."

Western Animation

  • The Lane Family Refrigerator in Daria may be the trope codifier:
    (Trent wanders into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door)
    Trent: Nothing. (peers into the freezer) What's that red stuff?
    (Jane comes up beside him and also looks into the refrigerator)
    Jane: Hmm. Nothing. (looks at the red stain) What do you think that is?
    Trent: Cherry soda?
    Jane: No, it looks more like cranberry juice.
    (Amanda suddenly appears between them)
    Amanda: Nothing.
    Jane: Well, hi, Mom.
    Trent: Hey, Mom.
    Amanda: What is that? Strawberry syrup?
    Jane: I'm guessing cranberry juice.
    Trent: Cherry soda.

  • When Alex moves into his new apartment in Downtown, the first time he investigates the refrigerator, he finds some flies buzzing and two lumps of unidentifiable rotten food.
    Chaka: Oh, look, you've got a microwave.
    Alex: That's the refrigerator.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • March 5, 2012
    cygnavamp
    In his autobiography, Meat Loaf revealed that Song writer Jim Steinman had a refrigerator that had nothing but an ancient milk bottle and some weird colored vine-like strands all over the place.
  • March 5, 2012
    Sackett
    Single men in need of a wife are also subjected to this.

    I think there is a trope in here about an empty refrigerator and then a list of different things it can be used as short hand for.
  • March 6, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    It's also that such types tend to be broke and dont have money to go shopping to keep the fridge full.
  • March 6, 2012
    DaibhidC
    • Lister's fridge in Red Dwarf contains lager and, for some reason, a pair of trainers.
    • I think I recall an episode of Friends where Joey opens the fridge and says "We have ... ice."
  • March 7, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Every episodes of Cribs, ever.

    (Okay, most episodes)
  • March 11, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Tweaked the title, laconic, and description. Looking for feedback and more examples. I know they're out there.

    @Sackett: What else would you say this is shorthand for (besides social alienation, eccentric lifestyle, loneliness, and/or poverty)?
  • March 11, 2012
    pawsplay
  • March 12, 2012
    fulltimeD
    That's a good one, any other suggestions?
  • March 12, 2012
    Folamh3
    • Fight Club (both book and film) - "How embarrassing. A house full of condiments and no real food."
  • March 12, 2012
    IuraCivium
    • In Tron Legacy, Sam had a couple of cans of beer and not much else in his refrigerator.
  • March 12, 2012
    chicagomel
    Sara Sidle on CSI only had some take out cartons in hers. She throws them all out after considering Grissom's urging her to get a life and get out more, symbolizing her wanting to take his advice.
  • March 14, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Tie this to the Lonely Bachelor Pad trope, should it launch; the implication being that a bachelor can't/won't shop properly or consistently.
  • March 15, 2012
    MetaFour
    • In Time Chasers, bachelor inventor Nick Miller's fridge is empty except for a head of lettuce (of indeterminate age). When Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured this movie, they quipped "Loser status: confirmed," upon seeing this scene.
  • March 15, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Are there any objections, issues, whatnot?
  • March 16, 2012
    fulltimeD
    @Daibhid C: Ummm... help an American out here. Are "trainers" British slang for a specific type of underwear, like boxers or briefs? I did a google search and it didn't help.
  • March 16, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    ^ They're what Yanks call "tennis shoes" or "sneakers"; it's short for "cross-trainers" or generic athletic footwear.
  • March 17, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Thanks
  • March 19, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Alright, are there any objections to a launch?
  • March 19, 2012
    fulltimeD
    bump
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