Created By: mischief7manager on February 18, 2014 Last Edited By: mongol on June 30, 2014
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Carpe Diem

Anything can happen to you anytime, so live your life to the fullest.

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft


A Stock Aesop about living your life and fighting against all odds. Or "seize the day", as Carpe Diem's meaning (in Latin) goes—don't waste time, enjoy the present, live life instead of letting it pass you by. Generally used as an encouragement for people stuck in their problems and thinking they can't enjoy life. This is the common purpose of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the guy she's close with.

On the other hand, sometimes this aesop can be warped into "anything can happen to us, so be crazy" - literally (read: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll). The saying YOLO (you only live once) is the epitome of said warping.

This is contrasted with another saying tempus fugit (time flies away), which is about using your time for most productivity and not wasting it for useless things.

Not to be confused with the webcomic Carpe Diem.

Compare The Anti-Nihilist and We All Die Someday (aka memento mori - remember [about] death).

Examples

Comic Books
  • In Wanted, Mr. Rictus follows an extreme version of this philosophy. Since a near-death experience showed him The Nothing After Death, he's convinced that he might as well do anything he feels like doing, no matter who gets harmed by it.

Fan Works
  • Fanfic "A Life Less Ordinary" by Jebiwonkenobi.
"You could have died," says Derek.
"Two hundred people die in bathtub related incidents every year," says Stiles. Derek raises an eyebrow at him and Stiles shrugs. "Death’s never not on the table."

Film
  • School Of Life. Mr. D's teaching methods are highly unorthodox, yet he does make learning fun for his students, which increases his popularity, threatening Mr. Warner's chance of being named Teacher of the Year; later, Warner finds out that Mr. D is dying of lung cancer, and only has one lung left, so he's pretty much living everyday as if it's his last.
  • In Dead Poets Society this is a Discussed Trope. Cool Teacher of poetry John Keating (Robin Williams) tries to inspire his students to love poetry and live life.
    Keating: Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

Literature
  • This trope is actually one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, as it dates back to The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest piece of written fiction in existence. Siduri the friendly "alewife" urges Gilgamesh to abandon his futile quest for immortality, and instead enjoy his life every day, instead of fearing death.

Live-Action TV
  • In Police Squad!, after an undercover Drebin takes down a threatening ventriloquist (and his dummy), his manager is concerned.
    Mr. V: That was nice work. You took a big chance doing that.
    Drebin: Well, you take a big chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street or sticking your face in a fan.

Music
  • Love is compared to various unfortunate mishaps in the Bachelor Girl song, Buses and Trains. The meaning seems to be, "Love Hurts, but life can be worse and yet still Worth Living For, so why give up when it comes to love"?
    So I walked under a bus
    Keep falling in love
    I've sunk out at sea
    Crashed my car, gone insane
  • In the song 1999 by Prince:
    "Everybody's got a bomb, we could all die any day
    But before I let that happen, I'll dance my life away"
  • "Seize the Day" by Avenged Sevenfold:
    Seize the day or die regretting the time you lost
    It's empty and cold without you here, too many people to ache over
  • This sentiment is expressed in the song "Let's Live for Today". The American band The Grass Roots had a big hit with their cover of "Let's Live for Today" in 1967.
    "Let others plan their future/I'm busy loving you..../Live for today/And don't worry about tomorrow, hey"
  • "Love You To" by The Beatles is about this. George Harrison urges his love to "love me while you can/before I'm a dead old man."

Newspaper Comics
  • Calvin and Hobbes rebutted this in one strip.
    Calvin: "Live for the moment" is my motto. You never know how long you've got. You could step into the road tomorrow and — wham! — you get hit by a cement truck! Then you'd be sorry you put off your pleasures. That's why I say, "Live for the moment." What's your motto?
    Hobbes: Look down the road.

Poetry
  • The Trope Namer is from 23 BC, and the Odes of Latin poet Horace. Horace's idea was that the future is unknown, so one should seize opportunities now to make one's life better.
    "dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero." (While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next [day]).

Video Games
Gatling Pea's parents: But honey, (joining the military) is dangerous!
Gatling Pea: LIFE is dangerous.

Real Life
  • Barack Obama uses a variant during ads for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): "You never know when you might take a hit, so sign up today."
Community Feedback Replies: 67
  • February 18, 2014
    DAN004
    Straight to the point plz.
  • February 19, 2014
    Arivne
    Most of the first paragraph reads as an Example As A Thesis (at least it doesn't mention Alice And Bob). It needs to be changed to a simple description of the trope.

    Like so:

    A hero decides to end a relationship because Its Not You Its My Enemies puts their significant other in danger. The SO responds with a statement like "Yeah, and I could walk across the street tomorrow and get hit by a bus", meaning that life itself is inherently dangerous, so why deny themselves happiness when something bad could happen anyway?
  • February 19, 2014
    Arivne
    • Formatted Examples section.
    • Split Description into paragraphs.
    • Moved part of the description that was placed after the Examples with the rest of the Description.
    • Changed the name because (a) the punctuation was causing problems and (b) "Response" matches the Description better than "Defense".
  • February 19, 2014
    DAN004
    I don't think INYIME has to be involved here - a guy with Samaritan Syndrome or Chronic Hero Syndrome can also trigger this response from people. Like:
    Sam Aritan: What if somebody else gets robbed right now?
    Love Interest: Hon, we're in the beach now, you just need to enjoy our time here...
  • February 19, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave


    I don't normally like Stock Phrase, but good job on specifying that this is about "life is dangerous anyway, so Live Like You Were Dying" speeches.
  • February 19, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    Name needs to be changed. It took the entire description for me to figure out what this was about and "bus" on this wiki is associated with characters leaving a show.
  • February 19, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ I think it makes for a clever in-joke. If you are hit by a bus, you will be literally Put On A Bus and probably in an offscreen hospital for quite some time. the laconic did it for me though. but i think "getting laid" is a bit too damn narrow.
  • February 19, 2014
    StarSword
    Unfortunately the Troper Hive Mind has shown time and again that a lot of tropers don't look closer than the title. Hit By A Bus Response is quite opaque, and expecting people to get it as an in-joke sends it into Everythings Worse With Snowclones territory.
  • February 19, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Well, the i'd keep the joke in the description then.

    "Life Is Deadly So Live Dangerously"? Live On The Edge Of A Deadly Life? man, this one's hard...
  • February 19, 2014
    frosty
  • February 19, 2014
    DAN004
    Variant in Plants Vs Zombies
    Gatling Pea's parents: But honey, (joining the military) is dangerous!
    Gatling Pea: LIFE is dangerous.

    This is also the idea behind #YOLO.
  • February 19, 2014
    StarSword
    @Shanghai Slave: I agree with keeping the joke, that's fine.

    @frosty: How about dropping the "also" and making it "Life Is Dangerous" Justification?
  • February 19, 2014
    frosty
    ^ I did that originally, but now I can't remember why I changed it. Either way is fine by me.
  • February 22, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Erma Bombeck mentions this when describing bad houseguests: "she has a husband who refuses to stop drinking beer because 'I could get hit by a truck tomorrow.' (How can I help?)"
  • February 22, 2014
    OmarKarindu
    Carpe Diem is the most widespread expression of this idea: seize the day, for tomorrow we may die. It goes back millennia.
  • February 22, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    ^ I rather like Carpe Diem as a trope name for this.
  • March 10, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Calvin And Hobbes rebutted this in one strip.

    Calvin: "Live for the moment" is my motto. You never know how long you've got. You could step into the road tomorrow and — wham! — you get hit by a cement truck! Then you'd be sorry you put off your pleasures. That's why I say, "Live for the moment." What's your motto?

    Hobbes: Look down the road.
  • March 11, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Seconding Carpe Diem for the name. If the concept already has a name, better use that than try to come up with some clumsy alternative.

    EDIT: Hmm, the redirect to that webcomic needs to be removed though.
  • March 11, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    as much as i hate the term, I think YOLO is less obscure than the still correct Carpe Diem. Viewers Are Morons but titles shouldn't be dumb. So pick your poison.
  • March 11, 2014
    DAN004
  • March 11, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ ... furry Webcomic about gays. I am officially stunned at how gays name their shows. (Noahs Arc, etc)
  • March 11, 2014
    frosty
    I think Carpe Diem and YOLO are both bad names because a) They don't mean what people think they do and b) They're not clear and c) Both are only tangentially related to this.

    YOLO is weak because at its core, it's just a fact. A fact which happens to be a valid justification for two completely opposite acts. "Should I do this dumb/fun thing even though it might injure me? You only live once, so I guess I should squeeze in as much fun as possible." or "Should I put off self-gratification in favour of planning and preparing my future career? You only live once, so I can't afford to waste time with stuff that's not important."

    Incidentally, that second example is closer to the idea of Carpe Diem than the first one, but I'm not a fan of either. I like my original suggestion of Life Is Dangerous Justification.
  • March 11, 2014
    FalconPain
    In Police Squad, after an undercover Drebin takes down a threatening ventriloquist (and his dummy), his manager is concerned.
    Mr. V: That was nice work. You took a big chance doing that.
    Drebin: Well, you take a big chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street or sticking your face in a fan.
  • March 11, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ I got your point... Yolo and Carpe Diem are diametrically opposite but rekated concepts, so you want a title that encompasses the two.

    However, not sure if I like your title. If I compress the two definitions together, it'd be "life is full of uncertainty and danger, and your time is limited, but you still can do what you want/need to do." Maybe... Living Your Life To The Fullest? :p
  • March 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Btw this is a Stock Aesop.

    Compare We All Die Someday.
  • March 11, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In Same Time Next Year, the premise of which is a man and woman who engage in an annual extramarital affair, this trope is one of their justifications.
    Doris: The Russians have the bomb. We could all be dead tomorrow.

  • March 29, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In the song 1999 by Prince:
    "Everybody's got a bomb, we could all die any day
    But before I let that happen, I'll dance my life away"
  • March 29, 2014
    Sackett
    I believe the biblical phrase is: "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Which tends to be viewed negatively as a position of the wicked, foolishly trying to justify sinful behavior.

    Also: "Watch therefore, for no man knoweth the day nor the hour." Which is the positive side of this, as in you should always live righteously because you might suddenly be called to account for your behavior (either because you die or because Jesus has returned).
  • March 29, 2014
    DAN004
    So who wanna grab this? Looks like the OP is missing.
  • March 30, 2014
    MetaFour
    "You Only Live Once" was initially an encouragement to be careful and responsible. It was Memetic Mutation that turned YOLO into a rallying cry for recklessness.
  • March 30, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Real Life: Barack Obama uses a variant during ads for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): "You never know when you might take a hit, so sign up today."
  • March 30, 2014
    MercenX
    Perhaps Hit By A Bus Retort would work better than "response". The latter sounds like someone is reacting to an bus accident.
  • March 30, 2014
    Omrega
    ^ I agree.
  • March 30, 2014
    DAN004
    Can I grab this? Pretty please?
  • April 2, 2014
    frosty
    ^Who exactly are you asking?

    On a related note, I recall reading that a YKTTW is de-facto up for grabs after 6 months of no OP input, but I'm having trouble finding the page where I read that.
  • April 2, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ According to the Administrivia page, Up For Grabs, the required time of inactivity by the OP is a mere two months.
  • April 2, 2014
    frosty
    ^ Ah. Well then, another 17 days and Dan is good to go.
  • May 27, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Dan, you're clear.
  • May 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ yay.
  • May 30, 2014
    DAN004
    Bump for now
  • June 1, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Books
    • In Wanted, Mr. Rictus follows an extreme version of this philosophy. Since a near-death experience showed him The Nothing After Death, he's convinced that he might as well do anything he feels like doing, no matter who gets harmed by it.
  • June 1, 2014
    eroock
  • Film
    • School Of Life. Mr. D's teaching methods are highly unorthodox, yet he does make learning fun for his students, which increases his popularity, threatening Mr. Warner's chance of being named Teacher of the Year; later, Warner finds out that Mr. D is dying of lung cancer, and only has one lung left, so he's pretty much living everyday as if it's his last.
  • June 4, 2014
    gallium
    I remember looking for a trope like this once and being surprised that we didn't have one.

    Love Carpe Diem for the name. And that leads us to the iconic example...

    Film
  • June 4, 2014
    gallium
    Poetry
    • The Trope Namer is from 23 BC, and the Odes of Latin poet Horace, making this Older Than Feudalism. Horace's idea was that the future is unknown, so one should seize opportunities now to make one's life better.

      "dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero." (While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next [day]).
  • June 5, 2014
    gallium
    BTW, there is a webcomic called Carpe Diem that has a page. I do not know if it can be said to actually be an example of the trope.

    EDIT—I see the webcomic is mentioned in the intro to the trope. Has anyone ever read it?
  • June 5, 2014
    gallium
    Music

    • This sentiment is expressed in the song "Let's Live for Today". The American band The Grass Roots had a big hit with their cover of "Let's Live for Today" in 1967.
      "Let others plan their future/I'm busy loving you..../Live for today/And don't worry about tomorrow, hey"
  • June 10, 2014
    TheWanderer
  • June 10, 2014
    gallium
    Music
    • "Love You To" by The Beatles is about this. George Harrison urges his love to "love me while you can/before I'm a dead old man."
  • June 10, 2014
    gallium
    The Manic Pixie Dream Girl will often wind up teaching the protagonist this lesson.
  • June 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Hats?
  • June 11, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    I thinkI get the idea here; let's try this:

    Western Animation
    • George Jetson is told by his doctor that he's in terrible shape, likely to croak at any moment in The Jetsons episode "Test Pilot." George, with nothing to lose, volunteers to test an indestructible outfit for Spacely Sprockets. Imagine his surprise at learning that the doctor's prognosis was completely wrong; George is likely to live to a ripe old age. That is, if the tests don't kill him first.
  • June 12, 2014
    gallium
    ^That seems like Your Days Are Numbered—but then again, there's overlap between this trope and Your Days Are Numbered, so I guess that counts as an example.
  • June 12, 2014
    gallium
    Tweaked the definition a bit to put more emphasis on the idea of enjoying life instead of letting it pass you by.
  • June 12, 2014
    gallium
    Literature

    • This trope is actually one of The Oldest Ones In The Book, as it dates back to The Epic Of Gilgamesh, the oldest piece of written fiction in existence. Siduri the friendly "alewife" urges Gilgamesh to abandon his futile quest for immortality, and instead enjoy his life every day, instead of fearing death.
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
    Pmub
  • June 19, 2014
    gallium
    Well now I know that "pmub" is supposed to be "bump" spelled backwards. Which still doesn't explain why one wouldn't just write "bump".

    Anyway—hats?
  • June 19, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ cuz typing "bump" all the time is boring.
  • June 21, 2014
    DAN004
    What would be the indices?
  • June 22, 2014
    lakingsif
  • June 22, 2014
    gallium
    ^It can't go on Stock Phrases because of that goofy No New Stock Phrases rule. But it certainly should go on Stock Aesops.
  • June 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ Besides, this is rarely even a phrase.
  • June 22, 2014
    lakingsif
    ^^ that's the one I was thinking of.
  • June 28, 2014
    MorningStar1337
    Why do I get the feeling that the original name was You Only Live Once?
  • June 28, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ nope, it was "Hit By A Bus Response". It was named after the fanfic example.
  • June 29, 2014
    DAN004
    One last bump for moar examples
  • June 30, 2014
    TheHandle

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