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