A Birthday, Not a Break

"Oh man... Not on my birthday..."

Something awful happens. The lovers finally break up, the heroes get captured, a beloved character dies, The Bad Guy Wins... and after the smoke clears, one of the characters suddenly remembers that today is their birthday.

Used to heighten the dramatic irony of something so tragic happening on what is supposed to be a happy day, and symbolizing how the character(s) will never be the same.

Alternately the character is aware it is their birthday, in fact there's a party just for them. But during the party there is an attack, a conversation between two characters, a revelation, etc. that disturbs (and often ends) the party. Basically the party is used as a reason to have all the characters be in the same place. That way they are conveniently together when the supervillain attacks instead of needing to be called, especially crucial if the characters are adults with day jobs or secret identities and wouldn't naturally be spending time together without a cause. This party is why the people who have been avoiding each other will finally have to talk. This gathering of people is how the secret comes out (someone reveals it not knowing it's a secret or someone being drunk both common causes) and the revelation has more of an impact because now everyone knows not just the few people it effects.

Compare/Contrast Ironic Birthday, which is when the bad thing in question has to be kept a secret, and the character in question doesn't remember their own birthday until the party. Related to Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday.


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     Anime And Manga 
  • Black Butler: Ciel's tenth birthday was the day his house burned down with both of his parents inside. He was also kidnapped and taken off to be a slave and, oh sure why not? A human sacrifice to a satanist cult.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods: The entire fight with Beerus takes place in the midst of Bulma's birthday party. When all is said and done, however, Beerus does have the decency to apologize to the Z Fighters for ruining the party before taking his leave.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: When Ed and Al have just gone through a traumatic experience at Laboratory 5 and are both still injured, Ed remembers that it's his birthday.
  • In Mai-HiME, a relatively light-hearted example happens when Mai has to take part in a make-up cooking exam and fight an Orphan on her birthday, and in a sound CD, Nao ends up getting everyone at Mai's room drunk. She briefly notes that this might be the worst birthday for her ever, having no idea how bad things will get for her before the end of the series.
  • InuYasha: Kagome was dragged into the whole mess with the Shikon Jewel and the Feudal Era on her fifteenth birthday.
  • Happens in the first anime adaptation of Mahou Sensei Negima!. Guess when Asuna dies.
  • Tokyo Ghoul has a very subtle example, for those paying attention. December 20th is the date given for the day Kaneki broke under torture and decided to give up on his humanity, embracing his Ghoul nature and gaining several dramatic physical changes in the process. It also happened to be his 19th birthday, adding to the symbolism of his "rebirth".
    • In the sequel, Kuramoto Itou spends his birthday taking part in a high-risk combat operation, fighting a Cute But Psycho Monster Clown. He makes no mention of it in-series, leaving this fact to be noticed by readers that are paying attention.
  • Yatterman Night: Leopard's 9th birthday was absolutely normal until her mother started succumbing to her illness. Then she discovers the truth about her lineage, goes looking for help by sneaking into Yatter Kingdom, gets shot at by her heroes, and ends up watching her mother die in the end. And that's just the beginning of her troubles...
  • Star Driver seems to avert this at first, telling you relatively early in episode 6 that it's Sugata's birthday. Then the episode turns out to be a Wham Episode. And then Takuto's narration at the end of it reveals that it's his birthday too. While his friend cries over a seemingly dead Sugata.

    Comic Books 
  • In Ultimate Fantastic Four, Victor Van Damme, aged 11, had his father drop his entire family history on him, and then leaves him alone in the parlor. Several hours later, Victor realizes that it's his birthday.
  • In Trese, it is only after a major battle with an old war demon that the heroine, Alexandra Trese, and her companions remember that it is her birthday. By this time, a lot of damage has been done to the city, Trese herself is recovering from some battle wounds, and her two sidekicks have very nearly been murdered by their own father.
  • In Persepolis, Marjane finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, is falsely accused of stealing a brooch, and runs away from the only place she had to stay, effectively rendering herself homeless, on her eighteenth birthday.

    Fan Works 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfic Pinkie Pie, and Nothing More explains her behavior in "Party of One" this way. Basically, her parents decided to send her away from the farm to pursue her dreams, without giving her any choice in the matter. When she asks why they sprung this on her birthday, she receives a blank stare and realizes they forgot.
  • In the surprisingly good Young Ones fanfic The Unforgiven, this trope gradually unfolds through Miranda Balowski’s journals and memorial service: she spent her sixteenth birthday giving birth to Vyvyan, and her parents threw them both out of the house shortly afterward.
  • In How I Became Yours, Katara miscarries her unborn son Kuzon a day before her birthday. Unfortunately, her choice of emphasizing the timing makes her come off as unsympathetic.
  • In A Month of Sundays, it's revealed that the day that the story takes place (April 29th) what with all the madness regarding Foundation X, Gamou, Damballa and the crazy Kamen Rider Mannequins, Jun Shigeno states that it's her birthday. It's subverted because she knew that today was her birthday—she just didn't tell anyone about it.
  • In the InuYasha fic Beyond Tomorrow, chapter 7 reveals that Arina's Start of Darkness occurred on her eleventh birthday. Her mother walked in on her father having an affair with one of the female servants, and in the ensuing argument, Arina's father attacked her mother and brutally beat her on the spot; when Arina witnessed this, she ran for her life.
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • DS and Mezzo's 20th and 16th birthdays, respectively, occur during the time they're stuck in the mindscapes.
    • PEFeDOS during the PMD-R arc is awakened and begins her sadistic testing once again on Tagg's 21st birthday.
    • It repeats with Tagg ending up in Ransei 600 years in the past due to concentrated April Fools shenanigans on his 22nd birthday. Herbert, also in the same situation, has his 16th birthday the next day.
    • Straw gets attacked by Shadow!Crewe on his 18th birthday, which was purposely invoked by Aelia For the Evulz.
    • Sarah was accidentally kidnapped, and subsequently held captive for several days, on her 17th Birthday alongside Ren's Treeko by an Illusion grunt.
  • Ashes of the Past reveals this to be the case for the events of Pokemon Heroes, as it took place on Ash's 13th Birthday. As a result of Latios' sacrifice in the original timeline, Ash didn't do anything for his later birthdays.

  • In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne has a party on his birthday. Before that he has to save Rachel from the baddies and demolish half the city escaping from police. Nevertheless, he makes it home in time for his celebration party... only for the League of Shadows to set Wayne Manor on fire and nearly destroy the city with Scarecrow's fear toxin.
  • In Godzilla (2014), the Janjira incident that resulted in the death of Joe Brody’s wife occurred on his birthday.
  • Parodied in The Emperor's New Groove: After discovering that the villain Yzma and her Dumb Muscle sidekick Kronk have coincidentally showed up at the same diner he and Kuzco have stopped at, Pacha buys her a surprise birthday cake and song from the wait staff so that he can use the distraction to make a break for it. When Yzma and Kronk leave the diner, this exchange happens:
    Yzma: Oh, this entire mess is all your fault.
    Kronk: What'd I do?
    Yzma: If you hadn't mixed up those poisons, Kuzco would be dead now! There'll be no more diversions until we track that llama down and kill him!
    Kronk: Said I was sorry. Can't just let it go... not even on your birthday?
  • In The Room, Johnny finds out his fiancee Lisa cheated on him with his best friend on his birthday. He ends up killing himself over it.
  • In Big Game, most of second and entire third act take place on Oskari's thirteenth birthday. His family even made it into tradition - to become a man, you have to hunt down a "big game" the day you turn 13.

  • Happens a couple of time in the Tortall Universe by Tamora Pierce:
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, when the Baudelaires are in jail for allegedly killing Jacques in The Vile Village, Klaus suddenly remembers that it's his 13th birthday.
    • Violet goes through the same thing in The Grim Grotto when they return to the abandoned submarine.
  • In The Great Gatsby, after Tom, Jay, and Daisy have their big confrontation, Nick Carraway recalls that he just turned thirty today.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian: Percy only realizes it's his Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday AFTER he realizes the Great Prophecy had been fulfilled (ending the war).
  • Enola Holmes: Enola is horrified by the day her mother chose to ran off on. Slightly subverted, in that her mother had her reasons . . .
  • PK Pinkerton in The Western Mysteries comes home to find his parents scalped, his father dead and his mother dying. He doesn't remember it's his birthday until he sees his favorite kind of cake on the table. Red licorice strings spell out "HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY PINKY".
  • In Wintersmith, Tiffany only realizes that the day Miss Treason dies is also her birthday once it's all over and she realises Death called her Tiffany Aching, aged thirteen.
  • Mid-way through the book Holes. On Zigzag's Birthday, everyone is in on Stanley and Zero's "agreement" of digging holes in exchange for Reading Lessons. Zigzag, being the type of camper he is, doesn't take no for an answer when he offers to dig Stanley's hole for him, and when push came to shove, got rather vicious on Stanley for not taking a cookie he had offered him in exchange. Zero however would not have any of it and nearly strangles Zigzag to death for hurting Stanley.
  • Ib Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society novel Villains Rising, Mallory mentions in the middle of their activity that it's her birthday. Alex does go and get cupcakes, though.

     Live Action TV 
  • Ultraman Leo: MAC gets utterly annihilated on a team member's birthday.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode "The Shelter", a suburban doctor's birthday party is interrupted by a nuclear alert, followed by all the guests desperately trying to break into his fallout shelter, which has only enough room for the doctor's family. The alert turns out to be a false alarm, but the relationships between the doctor and his friends are damaged, perhaps irreparably.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy's birthday in seasons 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 is marked by some sort of tragedy or crisis that she has to deal with, the first of which being the return of Angelus.
    • By season 6, the Scoobies are all but expecting it, and accordingly don't make any major celebration plans.
  • A minor example, in an episode of Friends, Phoebe has to break the news to Precious, the woman whom Mike was in a relationship with while he and Phoebe were separated, that not only are they getting back together (thus ending his relationship with Precious) but he also proposed to her. Precious then remarks "This is the worst birthday ever!"
  • Towards the end of the second season of Rome, Cassius and Brutus offhandedly remember that it is Cassius' birthday in the immediate lead-up to a battle. They both remark that the battle will interfere with any kind of celebration that day, and promise to have a big event the next year. Both Cassius and Brutus know this is little more than a hopeful lie they are telling themselves, since they fully expect to die during the battle, and do.
  • Doctor Who: In the finale of series 8, we learn that the evil plot of the day and all its traumatic events are, in fact, the Master's idea of a Surprise Party for her arch nemesis, the Doctor. The day ends with Osgood and the Master dead, the Doctor breaking down in tears after his hopes of finding his missing native planet were crushed once again and his parting with Clara, who has been his closest friend for what, for her, were four years and for him, almost a millennium. Made worse by how he was completely unaware that it's his birthday until the Master pointed it out.
  • On an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Miles O'Brien finds out that an alien presence has possessed his wife's body and the alien will kill Keiko if he doesn't help them kill the aliens in the wormhole. It's O'Brien's birthday and at his party he's surrounded by friends he can't tell about his problem because the alien will kill Keiko in an instant. The alien later subtly hints that she could use Keiko's body to harm their daughter as well.
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm gets sick of being repeatedly bullied by a big kid at school and gives him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Not only does it turn out that the kid is much younger than he looks (so he claims, at least, but none of the school staff deny it), making Malcolm feel incredibly guilty for beating him up, he follows up with "THIS IS THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER!"

     Professional wrestling 
  • A running gag is to have a wrestler take an especially harsh thrashing if a show happens to fall on their birthday, bonus points if the thrashed are a baby face and even more it is also in their hometown.

  • In Julius Caesar, Cassius realizes it's his birthday right before the battle where he's killed, after having noticed a ton of bad omens about the battle.

     Video Games 
  • Ace Combat:
  • The Last of Us: The Cordyceps outbreak, along with the death of his daughter, occurred mere hours after Joel's birthday.
  • At the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Link's sister is kidnapped on his birthday.
  • In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze the Snomads invade Donkey Kong Island on DK's birthday.
  • Sonic Generations opens up with Sonic and his friends celebrating Sonic's Birthday. Just as it's getting started, Sonic is attacked and all of his friends are captured by the Time Eater.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Serah and Snow broke the news that Serah had become a l'Cie to Lightning during Lightning's birthday party. Lightning, not believing their story, drove Snow and Serah from the house in disdain, openly declaring it to be the "worst birthday ever." By the time Lightning realized that Serah was telling her the truth, it was too late: the Purge of Bodhum had begun, and Serah had been taken captive by the fal'Cie that branded her.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 confirms that the Bite of '87 (where an animatronic bites the frontal lobe off someone) happened at a birthday party.
    • Two games later, it is revealed that the victim was a birthday boy whose skull is shoved into the mouth of an animatronic by his older brother. To add insult to injury, he really detests the pizzeria and never wanted to have a birthday party there.
  • In Tales of the Abyss Guy's family was killed on his fifth birthday by Luke's father. Also the entire island they lived on was destroyed shortly after.

     Web Comics 
  • This Channelate strip plays this for laughs.
  • In Unsounded, Duane Adelier and his daughter were heading home on her birthday, when they were both brutally murdered by a group of muggers. One of the last things Daune saw before his eyes were gouged out was his daughter's lifeless corpse lying in front of him.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In "Stick Figure Tales of Cotton", Dr. Ironologue is squashed by a giant gorilla and then remarks that it was ironic because it's his birthday, but the others don't buy it. It's a lot less subtle than the usual example.

     Web Original 
  • In Worm, Skitter just can't catch a break.
    Kurt [chuckling]: I'd offer you a drink, but that'd be against the law. How old are you, anyways?
    Taylor: Fifteen.
    Danny: Sixteen.
    [Taylor turns to look at her dad]
    Danny: It's the nineteenth. Your birthday was a week ago.
    Taylor [remembering she was fighting the Slaughterhouse Nine then]: Oh.
    Kurt: That's the saddest goddamn thing I ever heard.
  • Whenever it's a birthday for a member of Hat Films, a special video goes up of the other two planning a "special treat" for the birthday boy. Recent birthday videos have essentially been the other two members physically and psychologically torturing the third with "birthday quizzes", where wrong answers end in destroyed gifts and having to eat food with a new ingredient that makes it taste disgusting. Ironically, their previous birthday videos just involved opening fanmail.

     Western Animation 
  • Two examples in Young Justice.
    • Wally's sixteenth birthday party is interrupted when four giant flying ice fortresses start trying to freeze the entire country. He initially regards this as a good birthday, since it will give him a chance for a team-up with the Justice League, but grows disappointed when the blizzards knock out all transportation services, resulting in him having to run a transplant heart from one coast to the other in time for a little girl's surgery. He barely manages it after being tricked by the girl's Evil Uncle, and collapses in exhaustion right afterward.
    • Dick's fourteenth and nineteenth birthdays are detailed in the show's tie-in comic. The first appears to be fine: his crush kisses him on the cheek because his best friend was kind enough to inform her, and he has a huge party at his house. His nineteenth, however, quickly devolves from a couple routine missions to recruit a new member and prevent a possible assassination to all of that, plus several high-profile Leaguers and Superboy going missing, the city of Metropolis being cut off from the rest of the world, and what appears to be an alien invasion.
  • In Mighty Max two part series finale, see Max celebrating his birthday...which is also the day Skullmaster kicks his apocalyptic plan into action.
  • The Wallace & Gromit featurette "The Wrong Trousers" opens on Gromit's birthday. Not only does he get lousy gifts, it's the day Wallace advertises he's renting out the spare room and Feathers McGraw moves in, kicking off a series of events that leads to Gromit moving out.
  • In the BoJack Horseman episode "Say Anything" the story follows Princess Carolyn for a day, during which she loses a client and a movie deal, gets excited for a relationship only to have it crumble, and ends with her staring out her office window and her phone ringing to reminder today is her birthday. And she's 40.
  • On Miraculous Ladybug, Adrien's best friend Nino wants to throw him a birthday party, but winds up turning into a monster so that Adrien has to fight him. Adrien takes it pretty well, though.
    • Side character Nathanael gets it worse: he gets turned into a monster on his birthday, after getting embarrassed by the Alpha Bitch in front of his crush and the rest of their class.

     Real Life