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Annoying Patient

"I am not only walking out on this case, Mr. Whiteside, I am leaving the nursing profession. I became a nurse because all my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was filled with the idea of serving a suffering humanity. After one month with you, Mr. Whiteside, I am going to work in a munitions factory. From now on, anything I can do to help exterminate the human race will fill me with the greatest of pleasure."
Nurse Preen, The Man Who Came to Dinner

A sick character (usually the flu) is selflessly tended to by another, unless of course the latter also caused the malady. The sick character will inevitably abuse the situation and be as demanding and obnoxious as possible. In a sitcom, this immediately occurs right after they're given a summoning bell.

Sometimes the sick person may get more sick and make it a serious episode, but generally the one tending to them gets sick, and karmic payback kicks in.

Another common variation is to have the sick character ''faking'' the illness in one way or another. After their abused caretaker discovers this, the tables are often turned, and they become the servant by the end of the episode.

Doctors as patients can be very annoying, particularly if they have already made an Informed Self Diagnosis.

Contrast its opposite, Nurse with Good Intentions.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • The Colonel in Carry On Nurse infuriates the nurses with his incessant demands on their time. Similar characters appear in the other medically-themed Carry On films.

    Literature 

  • In a Miss Marple story by Agatha Christie, one set of characters was a pair of sisters, one whom was a chronically-ill Annoying Patient, and her long-suffering caretaker of a sister. It turns out that these were just false identities, though, as part of a large Nefarious Plot.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle Howl was a terrible patient. Sophie ignored him, though Michael his apprentice did plenty of running around when he was in. There were no consequences for Howl.
  • Zak Arranda shows some symptoms of this in Galaxy of Fear: The Planet Plague, when he's clearly falling ill but refuses to rest in bed... until the illness gets much worse and he's too weak to run around, which scares his sister Tash more than the prior behaviors had annoyed her.
  • In Dolores Claiborne, Vera Donovan gradually devolves from a strong-minded businesswoman to a feeble helpless old lady through the novel. It doesn't help that she maliciously craps the bed in order to make life harder for Dolores, her carer.
  • A borderline case: in the Lensman series, when protagonist Kimball Kinnison is hospitalized, his desire to eat heartily and get back into action causes incredible friction with the hospital staff. One doctor comments that they actually like to see patients like this, as it indicates they'll likely recover completely. Later, he uses the incident as a way to cue his former nurse in on his presence in an enemy facility. Averted when Kinnison is hospitalized again, later, with a much worse condition.
    • Part of the difference might be the simple fact that the first time, Kinnison knows that he was injured by being an idiot, and he's frustrated.

     Live Action TV  

  • In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "Interior Decorator", chronic malcontent Larry David, throws a tantrum at his doctor's office over their waiting list policy, culminating in Larry tackling another patient.
    • In a later episode "The Hot Towel", he manages to get his doctor's home number on the condition that he will only use it when it's absolutely neccessary. He ends up calling it accidentally and tries to start a conversation with the annoyed doctor.
  • Perhaps the quintessential example is Elaine Benes of Seinfeld, who is blacklisted by the American Medical Association. When in desperation she books an appointment with a vet, his office receives a call just moments before she sees him. The AMA sends over her medical records, including the blacklisting.
  • Everyone's very sympathetic about House's brain cancer until it turns out he was faking it to get into an experimental drug trial. In something of a subversion of the trope, what House is annoying about is insisting that he doesn't want anyone's help or sympathy for his supposed illness; he didn't even want any of his associates to find out, and when they do, by accident, he's very annoyed.
    • Played straight in the aptly named episode "The Jerk," where the patient is an insufferable chess player who has an almost supernatural ability to turn everybody against him (even his mother). The equally insufferable House is the only one who can stand him long enough to cure him. And at the end, even House can't stand him.
  • On NCIS, Tony can get like this... when minorly and/or humorously injured. When seriously injured, he suddenly becomes stoic and all "I'm fine, just let me work."
  • Dr John Becker constantly suffered from Annoying Patients. After accidentally being shot, he was an Annoying Patient to his doctor at the hospital due to him constantly disagreeing with her diagnosis.
  • Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory suffers from severe social ineptitude, as well as mild hypochondria, making him an absolutely awful person to have around when he becomes sick in one episode. Specifically, he continuously infuriates his neighbor, as his roommate and friends have long since learned to avoid him in this state.
  • Dick Solomon of 3rd Rock from the Sun did this after he sprained his foot. Once his foot got better, he started faking it to keep the treatment going. His family and Mary wreaked vengeance on him when they found out, injuring him much more in the process.
  • On Frasier, the title character makes Daphne's life hell when she tends to him in "Frasier Crane's Day's Off." She gets her revenge when he becomes crazed from fever and medication and makes an ass of himself on the air.
    • In another episode, Martin makes Daphne put off getting her flu shot. When she inevitably comes down with flu, she forces him to read romance novels to her. (After his initial horrified refusal, however, Martin gets hooked.)
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - STOP WITH THE DAMN BELL!
  • Monk becomes even more irritating when ill.
  • Miranda's mother is this in one episode.
  • There was an episode of Steptoe and Son where Steptoe Snr was recovering from a bad back, making Harold do everything for him and constantly calling him lazy. He then discovers he is all better, but fakes illness to continue Harold waiting on him hand and foot. He's eventually caught when Harold finds evidence of him making it downstairs. The pay-back is rather amusing.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Deanna Troi loses her empathic powers, she becomes the insufferable patient.
    • Trek captains have a tradition of giving their doctors a hard time because they're so eager to get back in action.
  • The "doctor as annoying patient" angle (specifically regarding the Informed Self Diagnosis trope) is lampshaded in an episode of Scrubs when a doctor who comes to Sacred Heart literally informs the staff of what he diagnosed his problem with, brings along a lackey who agrees with everything he says to legitimize his claims, and demands that they sign off on the treatments he's prescribed for himself immediately if not sooner.
  • In 100 Deeds For Eddie McDowd, Justin breaks his leg and has to be taken care of my his parents. However, he's not the annoying patient—his sister, jealous of all the attention her little brother is getting, fakes a sprained ankle and makes her parents wait on her hand and foot. When Justin chooses to grit his teeth through the pain and bike through town to find Eddie, she actually tells their parents that he must be the faker. Her masquerade is destroyed a moment later when her mother accidentally(?) spills iced tea on her leg, causing her to jump up. By the end, Justin has made his leg worse by biking and has to be waited on again, this time by his sister as her punishment.
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "How Lily Stole Christmas", Robin takes care of Barney when he has the flu. He complains about everything and acts like a spoiled child, and the plot culminates in this exchange:
    Ted: Oh, how's Barney feeling?
    Robin: You mean the whiny bottomless pit of neediness? He was bugging me, so I spiked his echinacea tea with codeine.
    Ted: You're gonna be a great mom.
  • On an episode of Wings the recurring character Carlton takes a fall down Helen's stairs, forcing her to take care of him with the threat of his "big lawyer son" who wants to sue. When Helen finally catches him dancing in front of the TV, he gives up the deception, and for good measure, dials the annoying Up to Eleven (typical for Carlton):
    Carlton: I may have exaggerated about my son.
    Helen: Oh, he's not really a big-shot lawyer, is he?
    Carlton: I don't have a son.
  • One episode of The King of Queens had Carrie exaggerate her illness when Holly started bringing her food and realizing what a great cook she was. She took advantage of her, even asking her to bring food for Doug also.
  • ER trotted out a ton of these in its 15 year run. One of the best examples is from the first season, where a psychologist would deliberately ask the staff questions meant to irritate them. A fed-up Carol put him in a room with a recently injured boxer. Within minutes, the staff was treated to the sight and sound of the shrink getting his lights punched out.
  • In an episode of Parks and Recreation April gets the flu and goes to the hospital, using the opportunity to give this treatment to Anne, who she's holding a grudge against. Anne takes it all like a true professional until the very second her shift ends, at which point she shouts "What the fuck is wrong with you?!"
  • Both Played for Laughs and Played for Drama, Hank became a stay at home one to Marie in Breaking Bad after Hank is in recovery from his encounter with the twins. The argument between rocks and minerals was played for laughs, but soon became a Mood Whiplash when Marie's patience wears so thin she starts stealing again.
In an episode of Matlock, Matlock himself is one of these, until his nurse gives him some medicine for a headache, leading to an epiphany, and a change of attitude towards the nurse.

     Newspaper Comics  
  • An arc in Calvin and Hobbes focuses on Calvin's sickness, climaxing when he hollers "ROOM SERVICE!"
    • To be honest, this trope pretty much fits any arc where Calvin gets sick and goes to the doctor.
  • Alluded to in Baby Blues, when Bunny is in labor with her twins. Her husband calls Daryl at one point, suggesting that he should give the nurse painkillers. A nurse can be seen leaving Bunny's room in the background, making strangling gestures and growling "Ooooh, that woman—!"

    Theatre 
  • The entire premise of The Man Who Came to Dinner- famous and acerbically witty critic Sheridan Whiteside breaks his leg on a family's doorstep and proceeds to make their life hell. The very first thing heard in the play is him howling abuse at his nurse offstage. He later finds it advantageous to pretend he hasn't recovered yet.

     Video Games  
  • Lifesigns Surgical Unit has a few of these, most notably Kagayaki.
  • Akihiko Sanada makes a lousy patient after being injured at the beginning of Persona 3, due to his eagerness to return to fighting. As Mitsuru is the one looking after him, the main character only sees occasional hints of this when he expresses boredom and frustration, or schemes to rejoin the fight behind Mitsuru's back. Later in the game, however, the main character becomes ill following a minor event. Afterwards, Mitsuru specifically requests that s/he rest quietly until well again and NOT subject her to a repeat performance of what she went through with Akihiko, indicating she really had her hands full during that time.
  • Another Shin Megami Tensei example: Late into the main story of Persona 4 Ryotaro Dojima winds up in the hospital after a car accident, but keeps sneaking out of his room because of doubts regarding his current case. As you can expect, the hospital staff are rather irked at this.

     Web Original  
  • In With A Bullet, the third book of the Shadow Of The Templar webseries, Simon goes through a long and grueling recovery after being shot by a madman. Jeremy, tasked with looking after him, gets a great deal of verbal abuse heaped upon him, though it's less "Get me this and that, stat!" and more "I'm a man and I don't need to be babied, so fuck off!"

     Western Animation  
  • Rugrats - Angelica fakes a broken leg, almost causing Aunt Didi and Uncle Stu to have a nervous breakdown. She even made Stu make her pudding at 4 in the morning. In the end, Angelica's mom Charlotte comes home with a real broken leg, and is just as demanding to Angelica and her dad as Angelica was.
  • Angry Beavers, "Fakin' It": Norbert feigns illness in order to get out of repairing the house, and Dagget works so hard catering to his brother's every whim that he gets sick for real... but in the end, it turns out that Dag had gotten wise and was also faking it.
  • Sarah, in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Is There An Ed In the House?"
  • The Simpsons: Bart fakes a serious illness to get out of taking a test - while "recovering" his parents do everything from getting every variety of ice cream he desires to hauling the big screen TV upstairs so he can watch it.
  • Squidward in the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?". In this case, it's not illness, but unemployment.
  • An episode of Strawberry Shortcake has one of the characters (a pony) break her leg and have to recover in the titular character's house. She suddenly started whining and making all kinds of unreasonable demands. But this was dismissed by the main character as being nothing more than boredom, even when the pony rejected all forms of entertainment. Eventually, she stopped being such a whiner and her leg got better.
  • In the Taz-Mania episode "Nursemaid Taz", Digeri Dingo fakes a broken leg so he can get Taz's family to wait on him. They soon start killing him with kindness, force-feeding him soup and piling pillows on him till he nearly goes insane.
  • One episode of Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat has this. After his sprained paw heals, Dongwa feigns continued agony in order to get out of chores. His mother has him make up for it, though.
  • In one episode of Adventures in Care-a-Lot, Grumpy takes advantage of Wingnut's willingness to help when his foot is hurt, even faking it still being hurt after it heals.
    • In another episode, Funshine got a case of Bubbles, and had to stay in bed for a whole day. In this case, he was an annoying patient because he kept getting out of bed to play outside, and his friends had to capture him each time to get him back inside. In the end they all came down with it from chasing after him so much.
  • In an episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Dale pretends to break his leg in order to sit around on his ass during a mission and get attention from Gadget. He's later found out and then breaks his leg for real, and now he hates sitting on his ass all day.
  • In an episode of Hey Arnold!, Helga bosses Phoebe around just a bit too much, and Phoebe ends up being hit by a truck trying to do what Helga wanted, resulting in a broken leg. Helga feels horribly guilty and pledges to take care of her friend. Phoebe resists at first, but then she discovers that she enjoys being taken care of by Helga for once, instead of the other way around, and still fakes her broken leg after it healed, demanding more and more of Helga, who gladly does whatever Phoebe asks. Finally, Helga's put in the same situation that Phoebe is in the beginning, scrambling around to do her friend's bidding, and is also hit by a truck, suffering a broken leg. Phoebe feels terrible and they return to the status quo of Phoebe performing tasks for Helga.
  • in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Discord is like this when he gets sick with Blue Flu in "Three's a Crowd". It turns out that he was faking it, but his shenanigans result in him getting sick for ''real''. He's more well-behaved the second time around.


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