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"Oh yeah... that thing I need to do to not die."
"Skinny people irritate me! Especially when they say things like "You know, sometimes I forget to eat!" Now, I've forgotten my address, my mother's maiden name, and my keys, but I have
never forgotten to eat. You have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat."
— Marsha Warfield, in one of her early stand-up routines
This trope describes a character who's notorious for ignoring their body's need for nutrition and has to be reminded to eat. They'll go out into the wilderness without food supplies, and will forget dinnertime at home because what they're doing is so much more interesting. This is the opposite of Big Eater
, especially if the character doesn't quite suffer all the ill effects of poor nutrition. Grief-stricken characters may show it for a period, particularly during Drowning My Sorrows
or a Mess Of Woe
The Absent-Minded Professor
may exhibit this trope, and it is a common component of The Madness Place
. It may also be a temporary effect of Just One More Level
This is Truth in Television
, as workaholics
and others will become so engaged in something that they do
forget to eat. Isaac Newton
was famous for being so obsessive-compulsive about his work that he would work hours and hours while neglecting to bathe or eat. Because this is common among obsessed gamers, Anti Poopsocking
had to be put in place in many games. Science further backs this up, as the nervous system has the digestive system slow and close up if a person is under stress. Nobody wants to stop for a bathroom break or snack when being chased by a bear
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Anime and Manga
- In the earlier chapters, Naruto begins training from early morning way into the night so he usually doesn't have time to eat. Sasuke has to keep reminding him to eat.
- In Slayers Try, Lina and the group decide to immediately set sail for adventure... only to remember later, after they're stranded at sea, that they forgot to bring food. Cue them pretending to be dead so they can catch seagulls.
- Van in GUN×SWORD regularly passes out from hunger because he's so preoccupied with catching the Claw.
- Fanon says this about Subaru Sumeragi of X1999, only adding to his Woobie quotient.
- Dr. Tenma from Monster has a tendency to do this often enough that even complete strangers start worrying about it. At one point, a restaurant owner gave him free soup and refused to let him leave unless he finished it. Not too much later, his stomach decides that it doesn't like this strange and scary concept known as "food", and he throws up.
- Given he's had to be reminded to speak out loud, blink his eyes, and breathe, this certainly has happened to One Piece's Gedatz.
- Inverted when it comes to Luffy. He's able to both eat in his sleep, and instantly calculate how many meals he's missed as a result of sleeping for more than a day.
- Ren from Skip Beat! tends to do this. Justified Trope since he was often force-fed as a child by his Beloved Smother to the point that he was unable to breathe, and has since slid into this because he's a workaholic.
- Damaramu, of Dragon Half, was so eager to follow the King's orders to hunt down Mink that he hadn't fed his mighty stomach for three days! He still has the strength to lift a boulder over his head and engage in a swordfight.
- Before Misaki moved in to his apartment, Usami of Junjou Romantica used to spend days at a time not eating or sleeping whenever he was up against a deadline, sometimes to the point of collapsing on his living room floor.
- Nodame of Nodame Cantabile sometimes compulsively needs to play the piano and neglects everything (taking a shower, sleeping, eating) in order to do it, despite being a Big Eater.
- Episode 16 of Gankutsuou reveals that Franz has been going a few days without eating or sleeping much while researching stuff on Gankutsuou and the Count.
- Albert does this from time to time.
- Shuusei Usui from Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru.
- Both Spanner and Shuuichi Irie from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. They're so focused on their work that they tune out everything.
- In Hidamari Sketch, Sae is like this when she gets into the groove of writing one of her novels. She eats a lot to make up for it afterwards, which doesn't sound healthy to Yuno, and Hiro agrees.
- Roux from The Good Witch of the West forgets to do this to the point of collapsing so Firiel brings him food.
- In The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, Human Yuki forgets to eat, and her neighbour Asakura Ryouko has to feed her.
- Amuro Ray of Mobile Suit Gundam is first seen tinkering in his bedroom, having forgotten to eat for a couple days and ignoring evacuation sirens. This is not the last time it happens.
- Satou in Welcome to the NHK does this when he get addicted to an MMO. Though it's not specifically mentioned, given Satou's history it also probably happens when he spends days on end playing H-Games and downloading "120 gigs of dirty photos".
- Prince Koumei from Magi - Labyrinth of Magic, as foremost military strategist of the Kou Empire, advisor to his power-hungry elder brother, and a consummate workaholic, doesn't even have time to sleep, let alone eat. This was hammered home when his character profile revealed that he's rather underweight.
- In the epilogue of Snow White And Seven Dwarfs, Fujimaru, having become a Workaholic (which, in turns, stems from him being The Atoner), isn't above neglecting meals to focus on repairing Tokyo instead. Ken has to outright tell him that he won't be helping anyone by wrecking his health.
- This is one of the reasons why Paper Masters in Read or Die are Blessed with Suck; the power to manipulate paper comes hand in hand with such extreme bibliophilia that they often neglect basic bodily concerns and hygiene because they always have to read just one more chapter of the latest book to catch their eye.
- Batman, much to Alfred's despair.
- Iron Man: Tony Stark, whenever he's in his lab. Occasionally, people have had to argue with him in order to get him to come out and eat something — not, actually, because he's being a jerk, but because he is in the middle of working on something, and seriously, just give him a bit longer, he just wants to get this part finished and then he'll come right up, he swears.
- Despite Susan Richards' best efforts, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four isn't much better.
- After being brought back to life in Blackest Night, Boston Brand, the former Deadman, has to be reminded by his power ring to "eat a cheeseburger" in Brightest Day. Being dead for so long has made Brand forget that he actually needs to eat again.
- The fictionalized version of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. After some Character Development, he asks a student how long it's been since he's eaten.
- Mr. Beefy has to remind the titular character of Little Nicky to eat and "do that sleep thing [he] told [him] about". Thoroughly justified since Nicky is a demon/angel hybrid from Hell that hasn't had to do either until now.
- Harry Potter tends to do this during meal time at Hogwarts as a result of anxiety and chaotic thoughts.
- It could also be the fact that he was malnourished by the Dursleys and doesn't really think about eating out of habit or, once again, due to malnutrition isn't usually hungry.
- Jame in Chronicles of the Kencyrath never remembers to eat, and is skinny as a rail with ribs showing. Justified in that the mutant vegetables she had to eat growing up would put anyone off food.
- Sherlock Holmes occasionally gets so wrapped up in a case that he doesn't bother to stop for food, and in one, he deliberately starves himself for several days in order for a plan to work properly.
- Astrophysicist Jacob Buckman in The Mote in God's Eye. He meets Horace Bury in a ship's corridor. Horace wonders privately what an autopsy at that moment on Buckman would show as cause of death... exhaustion or malnutrition?
- In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor has a bit of a habit of this. Mostly when he's angsting, but also when he's doing science. His companion Fitz once brought three meals a day to his door when he was locked away angsting. For four days. They all went uneaten. Somewhat justified by the fact that as a Time Lord he apparently needs to eat less than a normal human being. Also, judging by the descriptions of him in the books, he's lost weight since his sole TV appearance. In one book, while he's already under the weather for several other reasons, his companion Anji has to remind him to eat:
‘Do you want some food? You haven’t eaten in days.’
‘That’s right,’ he said wonderingly, as if she’d made a point that hadn’t occurred to him. ‘You know, I bet that’s one reason I feel so bad.’
- A Mad Scientist with Asperger's Syndrome in a Robert Ludlum novel The Sigma Protocol, who has only two modes: on his meds, he remembers to eat and sleep. Off his meds, he concocts insanely brilliant schemes and invents wacky contraptions. (There are currently no medications for Asperger's with that side effect, but just roll with it. Sounds closer to the side effects of medication to treat bipolar disorder.)
- Happens to Vanyel Ashkevron in the Last Herald Mage trilogy when he's on the front lines. His friends and family are stricken by how thin he looks when he returns, and clothes don't fit him well; his replies to questions about it lampshade this trope.
- In Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure series, Adam Reith at one point realizes that the reason everybody else is so cranky and tired is that they haven't eaten in two days, and by extension, neither has he.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Melisandre often forgets to eat. Because she doesn't need to. But that freaks people out, so she tries to remember.
- Colin from An Abundance of Katherines doesn't think much of eating.
- In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Rupert stops eating when his magical ring loses its powers through his fault. Will brings him a meal and plops it in front of him and tells him, at great length, that he should eat.
- Ana from Fifty Shades of Grey is known for this, and it infuriates Christian whenever he finds out that she hasn't been eating proper meals lately.
- Bertram, in Dinoverse alternately claims this, that he's not hungry, and that eating would take too much time when first put in the body of an Ankylosaurus. Really it's because he knows he'll have horrific gas.
- The eponymous protagonist of the Horatio Hornblower is prone to this. More than once he carries out a protracted action with enemy ships (or some other problem requiring physical and mental exertion) and only realizes at sunset that he only had breakfast. Bush, his Number Two, tries to prevent this when possible.
Live Action TV
- Jack Bauer in 24.
- So he goes without food for one day in each year? Big deal.
- Possibly justified in that if he had to eat he'd probably have to poop at some point too. And Jack Bauer does not poop.
- Stargate SG-1 fanon has Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson often needing to be reminded to eat, though there is some basis for this in canon.
- In "Arthur's Mantle", for instance, Sam has worked all night and Cam comes in to take her to breakfast. He practically has to drag her away as she insists on running one more test which puts them out of phase, so they can't eat anyway.
- Spock from Star Trek, occasionally. While never shown, in "Amok Time", McCoy uses the fact that Spock hasn't eaten for three days in an attempt to convince Kirk that something is wrong, and Kirk dismisses it as simply being Spock in one of his contemplative phases.
- Another example is "The Paradise Syndrome", where Spock hardly eats for weeks while studying the obelisk.
- This happened to Gil Grissom of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation once. He spent so much time at a crime scene that one of his co-workers had to rummage something from the fridge at the scene just to get him to eat.
- Criminal Minds
- As per his literary counterpart, the BBC version of Sherlock often goes without eating while on cases. On one occasion, he refuses a meal because "digestion slows me down". It's a sign of John's positive influence that during the second series, Sherlock can be seen eating proper meals and snacking between the action.
- Another Sherlock from Elementary not only forgets to eat, but also sleep, shower and generally take care of himself, and is a recovering drug addict. After spending most of an episode with little to no sleep he starts to protest to Joan that he's feeling great and can keep going, only to fall dead asleep as soon as her back is turned.
- One of the side effects of the muse shell in Wizards of Waverly Place, as demonstrated when Alex uses it on Mason.
- In Lost Girl, Lauren is implied to do this. In the season 2 premier, she apparently hasn't eaten or slept much since the season 1 finale, being too focused on keeping her patients alive. She later shows up at Bo's to help with the current case, only for Bo to cut her off and demand that she eat something. Then her exhaustion finally catches up her, and she falls asleep.
- Later in season 2, Lauren has working nonstop to stabilize some venom, and Bo asks her point blank when the last time she slept was.
- According to Jamie, Adam of the MythBusters will often forget to eat, which makes him cranky from low blood sugar. So, when they had a spat during the Ping-Pong Ball Ship Recovery myth, and Jamie told him to "go eat a cookie", that wasn't a joke, he actually wanted him to go eat something.
- Both Erk and his mentor Lord Pent in Fire Emblem 7 have done this, the former actually passing out from both this and a lack of sleep at one point in the past (which really displeases his adoptive mother and Pent's wife, Lady Louise). Lord Athos does this as well, though his case is justified in that he's over a thousand years old and "surpassed the needs of flesh".
- Shapers in Geneforge have been known to focus on their research so much they forget to eat, sleep, and bathe.
- Rune Factory:
- Selphie in Rune Factory Frontier. She's an avid book-lover who often Forgets to Eat, and one way to reliably increase her Affection Points is to give her foods she can eat on the go with a single hand, like sandwiches and rice balls.
- Gaius in Rune Factory 3 forgets to eat or sleep when he's working at the forge. Raven mentions at one point that when she went to him for a job, he'd been working for six days straight and was close to collapsing.
- Arthur in Rune Factory 4 will often do this if Porcoline doesn't remind him.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: While he doesn't exactly forget to, way too many people feel the need to remind Big Boss of eating through the course of the game.
- Baldur's Gate 2 lampshades this in one of its loading screen tips: "While your character does not have to eat, remember that you do. We don't want to lose any dedicated players."
- Dr. Asmodeus of Subeta attributes his svelteness to this.
- Not so much in the manga adaptation, the pace of which allows time for Sora to get some food. Granted it's not all that much, but it's at least something.
- Pokémon Gold and Silver's Professor Elm. His wife mentions that he is so busy with Pokémon research all the time that he forgets to eat.
- In Tales of the Abyss, there's a skit indicating that Guy is victim to this - he knows how to cook because he misses mealtimes when he's working on fontech, so he has to make his own food.
- Due to Jade's canonical tendency to hyperfocus when he's working on a project, many fanworks apply this trope to him, as well.
- Fujiwara no Mokou of Touhou frequently neglects to eat. She's incapable of dying so theoretically she could go forever without food, but eventually the hunger becomes enough of a pain that she eats something.
- Weird Ed, in Maniac Mansion, at one point mentions that he hasn't seen Dr. Fred eat in 5 years. Word of God says it was to invoke this trope, but since Ed immediately mentions that Fred has been dragging bodies into the basement, many players (and Nintendo of America, in their infamous censorship process) thought that Ed was accusing Fred of cannibalism. The NES version was thus changed to Ed saying Fred hadn't slept in 5 years, instead.
- Which amusingly is made canon in Day Of The Tentacle where it is revealed that Doctor Fred has gone without sleep for years by means of imbibing massive quantities of coffee. One puzzle requires you to get him to fall asleep.
- By the third act of Dragon Age II, Merrill has become so focused on fixing her Magic Mirror that she barely leaves her house except to buy food. She does *that* so infrequently that Varric has parcels delivered to her doorstep.
- According to his troops, Mitsunari Ishida from Sengoku Basara forgets to eat or sleep, since his life is so consumed by his desire to kill Ieyasu. Which might explain his Lean and Mean physique.
- Diablo III: Having become mortal, Tyrael has a tendency to forget the need for food, since he's never had to deal with it before. In one case he decides to eat all the food he'll need for the day, and get an upset stomach from eating too much.
- Rin Tezuka, from Katawa Shoujo, often forgets to eat if not reminded by either Hisao or Emi. When Emi suggests that she'll just vanish if she does not eat more often, Rin thinks this is an acceptable turn of events.
- Amane in If My Heart Had Wings gets so wrapped up in her work that she frequently forgets to eat for days at a time. To give an example, she has claimed to have gone 70 hours without eating.
- In this sheet showing the characters of Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Chiaki Nanami, who is shown on the lower end of the female BMI spectrum (a bit above the bottom-right corner), says "When playing games, I sometimes forget to eat... I think." Since she's an Artificial Intelligence, she may not even need to eat.
- Pointedly, nobody in the Ed stories on Everything Two.
Sam: My mate Ed has been working on a new project for the last week or so. He hasn't done the classic "never comes out for food or sleep" routine, because, unlike all those other scientists in the movies, he isn't an idiot.
- Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation apparently suffers from this trope. From his Call of Duty 4 review:
"There are two types of games: games that I've stopped playing because I'm bored or frustrated into a state approaching rigor mortis, and games that I've stopped playing because I've just noticed I should've had dinner two hours ago."
- Orion's Arm: This was a problem with early concentration enhancements for Homo Superiors.
- This is a common condition for devisors and gadgeteers in the Whateley Universe, to the point where the cafeteria even has 'Devisor Specials', finger food packed up for someone to bring them.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants: Patrick once actually forgot how to eat. When he asks Spongebob for help regarding his parents visiting, Spongebob assumes he forgot how to eat again and is about to go get a funnel. When Patrick says that it's something worse, Spongebob laments, "Darn, I liked the funnel."
- In the Metalocalypse Episode "Tributeklok", the guys forget to eat because they don't have the Klokateers around to ring bells for them.
- Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas seem to be this (that Sally brings him a food basket, so this is probably an usual occurrence). What is quite unusual is the fact that he needs to eat since he's Dem Bones.
- Professor Isaac Sumdac in Transformers Animated tends to lose track of time whenever he holes himself up in his lab.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Ticket Master", Twilight is continually hungry because her friends' persistent attempts to win her favor (and the Gala ticket) gets in the way of finding something to eat. She deliberately turns down Applejack's sumptious buffet simply because it would be seen as favoring her over the others.
- Definitely a Truth in Television, just ask any long-time gamer.
- In some places, mostly South Korea and China, there's been an epidemic of gamers dropping dead at their computers from heart failure induced by malnutrition and overuse of energy drinks. Because of this, there has been legislation proposed to limit the amount of time Internet cafés are accessible, and to force online game hosting services to restrict the amount of time players can connect.
- Brilliant scientists are noted for this:
- Archimedes would forget to eat, bathe, or sleep when thinking something out. Handlers were assigned to him to make sure he didn't starve himself to death. His death reportedly happened when the city he was residing in fell and he was deep in thought. When the soldiers came to capture him, he paid them no mind and continued on the problem at hand. One of the soldiers lost his temper at being ignored and ran him through.
"Do not disturb my circles!"
- Bill Gates, when Microsoft was young, anyway.
- This probably applies to computer programmers just as much as gamers, if not more.
- Sometimes, when asked if they're hungry, people who rely on very rigid schedules will respond by asking what time it is rather than considering how hungry they are.
- In a more extreme version, you'll be hungry at school at whatever period you normally have lunch, even if it's a minimum day and lunchtime isn't for hours.
- Monty Python member Eric Idle claims to do this. His "Greedy Bastard Diary", a daily blog in book form of a tour he did, records one instance where he only remembered when his vision started getting dark blurry around the edges.
- A good amount of ADHD/ADD medications suppress a person's appetite, so much so that they used to be used as diet pills. When you plain don't get hungry, and happen to lose track of time, this tends to happen.
- This example is actually an invocation of this trope, as the neurotransmitter that mediates alertness and concentration also suppresses appetite. Yes, by invoking hyperfocus, one Forgets to Eat.
- Unfortunately, this can be one of the symptoms of depression. When your world seems to be falling apart around you, details like sustenance become unimportant.
- Equally unfortunately, individuals who suffer from Social Anxiety or other anxiety disorders tend to shy away from going near the lunch room or cafeteria, let alone ordering something. Thankfully there are alternatives (study classes during lunch at school, your office at work) but in some cases this can be a case of Too Scared to Eat instead of Forgets to Eat.
- It can also be a symptom of schizophrenia, as those with severe negative symptoms will begin to lose their ability to take care of themselves.
- And those with paranoia, either as a result of schizophrenia or other disorders, may refuse food on the grounds that someone has poisoned it. This is how mathematician Kurt Godel died, since he would only eat meals prepared by his wife. When she was hospitalized for an extended period....
- One of the major drawbacks of eating disorders such as anorexia is this trope.
- College or graduate students under stress (during finals, for example) fall victim to this trope. Sometimes that "A" in English eclipses whatever the cafeteria is serving. Goes double if what the cafeteria is serving is unrecognizable or unappetizing.
- Writers fall victim to this. Frequently they get hyperfocused on what they're writing so they don't lose their train of thought, and when they finish that particular article, page, chapter, etc., they'll come back to reality and suddenly notice, "Huh, I'm starving."
- Also true for artists when working on pieces for hours. Gives new meaning to the term "starving artist."
- Some diets (for example, most low-glycemic diets that aim to control spikes and drops in blood sugar) require a person to eat five or six small meals a day, which typically means eating a small amount of food every two or three hours. Those who have grown accustomed to eating two or three large meals in a day will often forget the smaller meals, needing time to develop new habits.
- Oftentimes victims of child abuse will fall into this trope, whether they were malnourished as punishment, had unnecessary medications slipped into their meals, or because they've had such extensive mental and emotional abuse that they lack interest in eating due to feeling they aren't worthy of food.
- It is notable that fierce hunger pangs can be confused for extreme nausea, especially under times of stress or sickness. This makes the idea of eating quite unappealing, even if you've gone for days without a real meal. The best solution to this, incidentally, is drinking something with sugar in it, preferably fruit juice, until your blood sugar level rises enough that you're merely hungry again.
- The poet Percy Shelley fell victim to this, as evidenced by this conversation in Trelawny's Recollections:
Trelawny: Cheer up, my lad, and come to dinner.
Shelley: You go, I have dined–late eating don't do for me.
Trelawny: *picks up plate of food* What is this?
Shelley: That–why, that must be my dinner...I thought I had eaten it.
Trelawny: *drags Shelley into dining-room*
- Falling ill can cause a person to forget about eating due to the symptoms that they're suffering from overtakes their need to eat.
- Alcoholics tend to spend more time drinking than eating, and consequently many of them are malnourished. Longtime alcoholics also tend to suffer from chronic pancreatitis, making eating painful.
- Amphetamines have a hunger-suppressing effect, causing users to either not realize how hungry they are or feel outright repulsed by the thought of food while they are under it's influence. Speed users are stereotypically depicted as wire-thin due to a combination of not eating too much and above-average physical exertion they are capable of.
You've been on this site for how long
? Hey you
, go eat some food!