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.
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 his/her own birthday until the party.
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Anime And Manga
- 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.
- In Ultimate Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom, age 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.
- 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), 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 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.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- 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!"
- On one episode of Rome, Cassius remarks before a major battle that it's his birthday. He's later killed during the same battle.
- 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 realises 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Two examples in Young Justice.
- Wally's sixteenth birthday party is interrupted when the villains start trying to freeze the entire country and the blizzards knocking out all transportation services result 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.