Created By: nemui10pm on May 25, 2013 Last Edited By: nemui10pm on June 1, 2013
Troped

One Person Birthday Party

Lonely characters celebrate their birthdays alone.

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You've spent hours hanging balloons, decorations and banners on the wall. You've cooked the food to perfection. The cake is ready, and the candles have already been lit. You even have the music all sorted out. It's a perfect birthday party, but there's just one tiny problem - nobody's coming.

Birthdays are supposed to be a great occasion to get together with friends, when everything is about you. So when someone has only themselves to celebrate their birthday with, it's a sign that they really are alone.

Writers tend to use this trope to establish that the character in question is The Woobie (if Played for Drama) or The Chew Toy (if Played for Laughs).

Compare Forgotten Birthday.

Examples:

Film
  • In the film Little Man Tate, the main character hands out invitations to his party at school, only to see them blowing around on the ground when they rush in from recess. Cut to the party, where it's just him and his mom (and she doesn't count).

Literature
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, after Harry's 11th birthday is forgotten by the Dursleys because of the flood of letters from Hogwarts, Harry sings the "Happy Birthday" song to himself.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of Mr. Bean, Mr Bean goes to a restaurant on his own for his birthday, and gives himself a birthday card.
  • The Golden Girls: Rose flashes back to a time when she celebrated her birthday alone, after the death of her husband.
  • A flashback in Smallville shows that as a kid, Lex Luthor had a birthday all alone. It gave context to his miserable childhood and how he developed into the adult he eventually became.
  • Once Upon a Time begins this way. When it turns out that her date was just a sham to get a bounty, Emma goes home to have a cupcake with a single candle on it by herself.

Theatre
  • Crimes Of The Heart begins with the main character trying to have one of these, attempting to stick a birthday candle into a cookie.

Video Game
  • The "Claptrap's Birthday Bash" sidequest from Borderlands 2, where you send invitations to Claptrap's birthday party for him. None of the guests accept the invitation, so you end up alone with Claptrap.
  • In the first Simon the Sorcerer game, when Simon visits the swampling's house, Swampy mistakes him for a guest come to celebrate Swampy's birthday. Swampy's actual birthday was three weeks earlier, but Swampy doesn't mind Simon being late because he's still the first guest to show up.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Exaggerated and parodied in the backstory of Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb. He states that neither of his parents bothered to show up to his birth, and that he had to throw surprise birthday parties for himself. Also, at age eight, he was abandoned at the Captain Ersatz Chuck E Cheese to the point that the employees working there let him lock up the shop at closing.
  • The Cow and Chicken episode "Factory Follies", in which Red Guy plays the foreman of a factory who treats his employees like worthless slaves. At the end of the workday, he reminds everyone that his surprise birthday party will be held in the conference room later that night. Of course, nobody shows up, so he throws the party for himself and sings, "Oh birthday boy, add one more year/oh birthday boy with the big fat rear!"
  • Subverted in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode, "Party Of One'', when Pinkie celebrates a party with a bunch of inanimate objects because her friends were busy, and she thinks that they don't want to be her friends anymore. However, she had forgotten that day was her birthday, only remembering upon Rainbow Dash forcing her to go to her surprise party.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Nelson throws a birthday party and invites all of his classmates. Bart is the only one to turn up because Marge forces him to go.
    • In the episode where a crazy big white guy thinks he's Michael Jackson, it's Lisa's 8th birthday. She begs Bart not to forget but of course he does. She sits with only the baby Maggie for company, singing:
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday, overlooked middle child
    Happy birthday to me.
  • The first Christmas Episode of South Park ends with Jesus singing "Happy Birthday" all by himself.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • May 25, 2013
    foxley
    In an episode of Mr Bean, Mr Bean went a restaurant on his own for his birthday, and gave himself a birthday card.
  • Western Animation
    • Probably one of the most well-known examples of this would be the Cow And Chicken episode "Factory Follies", in which Red Guy plays the foreman of a factory, where he treats his employees like worthless slaves; at the end of the workday, he reminds everyone that his surprise birthday party will be held in the conference room later that night. Of course, nobody shows up, so he throws the party for himself, and frequently sings, "Oh birhthday boy, add one more year/oh birthday boy with the big fat rear!"
  • May 25, 2013
    KTera
    I haven't gotten that far, but I've heard that the quest "Claptrap's Birthday Bash" in Video Game/Borderlands2 is like this.
  • May 25, 2013
    MrRuano
    Phineas And Ferb: Mentioned in Doctor Doofenschmirtz' backstory. Apparently, not only did his own mother miss his birth, but also at age eight, he was abandoned at the Captain Ersatz Chuck E Cheese to the point that the employees working there let him lock up the shop at closing.
  • May 25, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    Subverted in Party Of One. Pinkie was celebrating a party with a bunch of inanimate objects because her friends were busy (And because she thinks that don't want to be her friend anymore) However she forgot that day was her birthday and remembered upon Rainbow Dash forcing her to go to her surprise party
  • May 25, 2013
    chicagomel
    The Golden Girls: Rose flashes back to a time when she celebrated her birthday alone, after the death of her husband.
  • May 25, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • The Simpsons. In the episode where a crazy big white guy thinks he's Michael Jackson, it's Lisa's 8th birthday. She begs Bart not to forget but of course he does. She sits alone singing:
      Happy birthday to me
      Happy birthday to me
      Happy birthday, overlooked middle child
      Happy birthday to me.
    Admittedly Lisa is not entirely alone, since baby Maggie is there too; but Maggie doesn't really know what's going on.
  • May 26, 2013
    Melkior
    We probably want to add a No Real Life Examples Please to this. I say this because I could easily add my childhood to this trope but doing so would encourage others to wallow in self-pity publicly, and that's not what tropes are for. And also, the unsympathetic could add snarky comments possibly leading to a trope war.

    No Real Life Examples Please. There are many people who have had that experience and many who are still having it, but having real life examples would encourage self-pity sessions and possibly lead to trope wars.

    (Feel free to edit or replace the above if you come up with a better wording)
  • May 26, 2013
    nemui10pm
    ^ We don't allow Troper Tales, and I don't think people who violate that rule would pay attention to a NRLEP notice. We stopped putting NRLEP notices in the description anyway, and although I can tag it with [[noreallife]], I don't think it would be too problematic.
  • May 26, 2013
    Bisected8
  • May 26, 2013
    TonyG
    The first Christmas Episode of South Park ends with Jesus singing "Happy Birthday" all by himself.
  • May 26, 2013
    Quag15
    How about mentioning in the description something along the lines of "writers tend to use this in order to fully emphasize the Woobie status of a character."?
  • May 26, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Webcomics
  • May 26, 2013
    Chabal2
    A disturbingly high number of Touhou fanart shows this situation, usually involving Alice Margatroid or Yuuka Kazami.
  • May 26, 2013
    Astaroth
    In the first Simon The Sorcerer game, when Simon visits the swampling's house, Swampy mistakes him for a guest come to celebrate Swampy's birthday. Swampy's actual birthday was three weeks earlier, but Swampy doesn't mind Simon being late because he's still the first guest to show up.
  • May 26, 2013
    foxley
    Another example from The Simpsons: Nelson throws a birthday party and invites all of his classmates. Bart is the only one to turn up because Marge forces him to go.
  • May 26, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Theater
    • Crimes of the Heart begins with the main character trying to have one of these, attempting to stick a birthday candle into a cookie.
  • May 26, 2013
    BearyScary
    IIRC, a flashback in Smallville shows that as a kid, Lex Luthor had a birthday all alone. Even though it was Lex Luthor, it was gutwrenching to watch because it gave context to his miserable childhood and how he developed into the adult he eventually became.
  • May 26, 2013
    Itzika
    A variation of this trope: In Lab Rats, the rats throw a birthday party for Leo--but accidentally lock him in the lab, meaning he misses his own birthday party.
  • May 27, 2013
    nemui10pm
    I don't think that example fits. This trope is supposed to show that the character is lonely and/or has no friends. If his friends are throwing a party for him, that doesn't have the same meaning.
  • May 28, 2013
    TooBah
    In the film Little Man Tate, the main character hands out invitations to his party at school, only to see them blowing around on the ground when they rush in from recess. Cut to the party, where it's just him and his mom (and she doesn't count).
  • May 30, 2013
    nemui10pm
    bump.
  • June 1, 2013
    Skylite
    • Once Upon A Time begins this way. Emma's date turns out to have only been a sham to catch a bounty. She goes home to have a single candle in a cupcake by herself.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=b73v2bv2c00g8m0bsxmjwhbd&trope=OnePersonBirthdayParty