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Hangover Sensitivity
But it was so worth it.

Is it just me, or is that cockroach shuffling too loudly?
Kryten, Red Dwarf, "The Last Day"

So a character has had a long night. Maybe he was playing a certain kind of game, or maybe he just Can't Hold His Liquor at the bar. But whatever the reason, he was blind drunk the night before, meaning that the next morning is one of the worst days of his life.

What do you get when you spend a night of endless drinking and carousing with friends? A hangover, of course! And when a character's got a hangover, chances are he's also got Hangover Sensitivity.

Doubtlessly a case of Truth in Television, as many of us know, a ridiculous amount of irritability and sensitivity is the best way to show someone paying the price for their drunken adventures the night before. The most common ways to show a character's hangover are:

  1. Enormous sensitivity to light.
  2. Enormous sensitivity to sound.

So when the hung over character has got a friend who comes in and opens the blinds? 'Aaaahhh! Close the blinds!' Or when their friend is trying to tell them something in a moderately audible voice? 'Sssshhh! Not so loud!' While all this is going on, it's very likely that the character's friend is fixing a Hideous Hangover Cure, and perhaps even pepping them up to return to a state of normality and ambition. And it doesn't usually work - but without another character to trigger them off, we might never see their sensitivity.

This is something we see everywhere, sometimes in real life, but it's also a convenient tool for writers to use, reminding us that no drinking fest is going to be without consequence. The consequences for fictional characters are just as rough as they are for us, as media will constantly remind you.

Compare/contrast Super Senses, which are less likely to be portrayed as debilitating or disorienting unless the trope is being Deconstructed.

See Hideous Hangover Cure and Must Have Caffeine.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, after getting really drunk, a hungover England covers his head with a blanket and weakly groans "Why won't the lights just shut up? I swear, I'm never going to drink again. Someone, please kill me."
  • Rin from Mnemosyne starts every episode but 5 waking up with a hangover induced headache, and a little "Russian Water" to fix it.

    Comic Books 
  • Astérix:
    • Obelix suffers from this. An example among others is when he's imprisoned in the Tower of London in Asterix in Britain.
      • The Roman legionnaries suffered from this, too. Which was a shame, for them, considering the loud yelling of their centurion...
    • Asterix in Switzerland: in Helvetia, the guards get out of their little drinking session to be confronted by their boss, holding their heads and saying "Yes, yes, but stop yelling, please!"
    • Asterix and the Laurel Wreath: Metatarsus constantly suffered from this, until Asterix and Obelix managed to cook up a Hideous Hangover Cure.
  • In one Nemi comic Nemi is so hungover that the sound of birds' feathers brushing together leaves her in agony.
  • In Gorsky and Butch a badly hung over captain complains about the seagulls walking around too loudly. He is a spaceship captain.
  • Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire: Hive-mind bounty hunter Psmith drinks and passes out in Asteroid Al's bar, with every other member of the hive-mind being similarly affected (to the point where they think the original one is dead because they're no longer receiving signals from him, and also pass out themselves); when the original is finally isolated in a psionic-proof chamber, they all wake up with roaring hangovers (even the light 'ssssshhhh' of a hover-tray being sent into the room with a hangover-cure causes groans of pain) and villain Grispfat's annoying attempt to Chessmaster them at that point results in him being disintegrated.
  • Underground Comics artist Leslie Sternbergh made an autobiographical comic where this happened to her.
    Leslie: Turn off the light!!
    Roommate: That's the sun!

    Fan Works 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic "A Night (to Try)to Remember", Applejack's hangover makes her sensitive to sound; when Fluttershy first speaks to her, Applejack thinks she's screaming, and when Fluttershy's decibel level plunges to inaudible for Big Macintosh, Applejack can still hear her. Big Macintosh, for his part, uses this sensitivity to tease her. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash are sensitive to light, though Pinkie's sensitivity seems to last far longer.

    Film 
  • In a 1958 romantic comedy named Teacher's Pet, Gig Young undergoes this effect after a long night. As chimes in his house begin to go off, he takes special care to cease each of their individual motions.
  • In The Philadelphia Story, starring Katharine Hepburn, there is one morning where several principal characters are hung over. There are a few gags concerning their massive ear sensitivity while exchanging dialogue, as well as Katharine Hepburn shielding her eyes from the morning sun.
  • In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye wakes up hung over, and is quite frustrated when his wife claps for joy on numerous occasions.
  • In Pillow Talk, starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Rock Hudson wakes up to what he considers a particularly strong hangover. As his co-star Tony Randall dials a telephone, he protests 'Not so loud!'
  • "Futtocks End" (written by, and starring, Ronnie Barker) is a film with no dialogue, only sound effects. The morning after a drunken dinner, the characters are seen at breakfast, and we hear what they hear. The lids on serving dishes sound like cymbals crashing, cereal being poured sounds like a cement mixer, and so on.
  • In the original version of The Nutty Professor, after a night drinking as his alter-ego, the titular professor has to teach a class with a hangover. Several shots from his point of view feature very amplified sound effects.
  • In My Man Godfrey, Mrs. Bullock usually has one in the morning. She sees "pixies".
  • Sherlock Holmes reacted to Watson opening up those windows after a long time without a case.
  • At the Riker-Troi wedding, Worf spends the whole time nursing a hangover.
    Worf: Romulan ale should be illegal...
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, after the disastrous state dinner with the Klingon dignitaries involving the previously mentioned Romulan Ale (which was indeed illegal at the time), all the senior staff were nursing hangovers. McCoy sought solace in a pot of black coffee, Kirk went straight to bed, poor Chekhov had bridge duty, and Spock seemed completely unfazed. And then an anomalous sensor reading piques Spock's interest...
    Kirk: Chekhov, do you know anything about a neutron radiation surge?
    Chekhov: (leaning his head into his hand) Only the size of my head...
  • In Charlie Chaplin's The Cure, Charlie's an alcoholic drying out at a health spa. His substantial cache of liquor is dumped out—right into the communal mineral water well. Everyone at the spa wakes up the next morning with a hangover, following the wild party.

    Literature 
  • Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil. The morning after Joan/Johann and her guests get drunk, she tells her butler to have the staff be quiet around them:
    ...my ears might fall off. You'll find evidence of the debacle in my lounge - a case lot of empty magnums. Remove them - quietly - for Heaven's sake don't bang one against another; I can hear an ant stomp this morning.
  • This condition also pops up in David Eddings' stories quite often, particularly the Belgariad and Malloreorn, since most of the main characters are Alorns - a people who are justly famous for their hard-drinking lifestyle. Inevitably, the women around them reacts with barely-hidden schadenfreude, though Polgara the Sorceress has been known to prepare an effective remedy for the condition. (Sadly, it tastes so vile that most of the characters prefer to just suffer in silence.)
  • Mentioned in Night World, Ash comments that he reads so much because he parties so much. All he can do the morning after is stay in bed in his dark room.
  • In A Civil Campaign, the day after THE dinner party, Ekaterine has to shush her 10-year old son as he bounces into the room. Aunt Vorthys has to reign him in and guide him away, explaining that his mother has a hangover. There is much widening of eyes as the boy makes the never-before-imagined-possible connection between a "hangover" and his mother.
  • Evoked in one Judge Dee story, after Ma Jong spends the night in a bar with a poet he's keeping under surveillance.
  • The Master and Margarita scene where Stepa Likhodeyev meets Woland may be the best description of hangover and its effects in the literature.
  • In the Jeeves and Wooster canon, when the duo meets for the first time, Bertie is suffering from this, and Jeeves cures him with his miraculous version of the standard Hideous Hangover Cure; this prompts Bertie to hire him on the spot.
  • After the Quarter Quell announcement in Catching Fire, Katniss has a minor Heroic BSOD, drinks white liquor with Haymitch, and feels terrible the next morning.

    Live Action TV 
  • Criminal Minds
    • Season four's "Memoriam" of had the team Waking Up Elsewhere after solving a case. Morgan and Rossi are sitting in the hotel lobby. Morgan is playing a really loud slot machine. Prentiss comes in, looking like she has the hangover from hell, and tells everyone to quiet down. JJ comes in, and notices that Morgan's slot machine still has credit on it and almost pressed the button but Prentiss death glares her. Crowning Moment of Funny for Rossi's pantomime response to JJ's "what's wrong with Prentiss?" question. Can be seen here.
    • There's the season 7 episode "A Family Affair" where at the end of the episode on the plane ride back home, JJ complains about forgetting to book a babysitter for her son so she can go with Prentiss and Garcia to "ladies night out." So Reid offers to babysit. Cue the Oh Crap look from Prentiss and JJ. Prentiss is says "he can do a couple of hours." Reid adds, "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" Smash Cut to Hotch's race with the team in crowd. The girls are wearing sunglasses and look like hell.
      Reid: (cheering as loud as possible) A couple of hours. A couple of hours! You guys didn't come home until sunrise!
      (cue Death Glare from the girls)
      JJ: (deadpan) Why are you yelling?
      Prentiss: (deadpan) Make him stop.
      Morgan: What did you guys drink last night?
      Garcia: The Green Fairy. You're in the FBI, could you get the entire crowd to stop cheering?
      (cue amused look from Morgan)
  • There's at least one episode of Rumpole of the Bailey wherein Rumpole, after a night of "carousing" with the chambers clerk Henry, has to come in to court shading his eyes. It doesn't help that his drink of choice is a cheap claret.
  • An episode of Smallville had Lois react this way when Clark opened the curtains after a party the night before.
  • Once on Just Shoot Me!, Maya wakes up from a fashion party with a hangover and arrives to work wearing dark sunglasses and shushing anyone speaking louder than a whisper. Enter Nina (for whom hangovers are a natural state of being) in identical glasses, and the two start shushing each other.
  • Charlie from Two and a Half Men, being the self-professed womanizing boozehound that he is, often wakes up hungover, which provides lots of fun for others, particularly his Servile Snarker housemaid Bertha.
  • Ashes to Ashes: Alex Drake drinks a lot, bordering on Lady Drunk, but her "oh God, who turned on the sun?" reaction in 1.03 (after mixing champagne with red wine and sleeping with a Thatcherite Wanker with braces) is hysterical.
  • The West Wing: Josh turns up severely hungover the morning after a party, having already been warned by his secretary that he should know by now that he can't hold a drink.
    Donna: Are you gonna listen to me from now on?
    Josh: [under his breath] Not even listening to you now.
    Donna: I SAID ARE YOU GONNA LISTEN TO ME FROM NOW ON?
    Josh: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. [collapses onto his desk]
  • Mad Men: Betty and Don wake up after a night out. Betty says she's going to get the Alka-Seltzer. Don tells her to do it in the other room so he doesn't have to hear the bubbles.
  • One of the less used games on Whose Line Is It Anyway? mimics this with Ryan providing sound effects on a mic with reverb added.
  • Mark Antony often suffers from this in Rome, most notably during the creation of the Triumvirate.
  • In The Nanny episode "Oy Vey, You're Gay", Maxwell is hung over after a night of partying. At breakfast, he winces from the sounds of his children, which sounded dubbed over with much louder similar versions: Brighton pouring milk on his Rice Krispies (which sounded like firecrackers,) Maggie buttering their toast (sounding like loudly ripping Velcro), and Gracie stirring her chocolate milk (a cowbell.) But when he sees Fran, he lets out a Big "NO!".
  • In Community episode Communication Studies Britta, Jeff, and Abed all show sensitivity to lights and sounds after drinking.
  • Hawkeye and the other doctors were frequently shown in this state in the earlier, wackier seasons of Mash.
    Hawkeye: (sleepy tone of voice) Trapper? Trapper?
    Trapper: I'm not gonna talk until you stop screaming.
    Hawkeye: I'm sorry. I'll be better after I shave my tongue.
  • The Glee episode Blame it on the alcohol, in which the whole club (except, of course, Finn, who was the designated driver) shows up to school in sunglasses after The Rachel Berry House Party Trainwreck Extravaganza.
    Tina: I need to close my locker and it's gonna sound like a gunshot.
    Mercedes: I have had the worst hangover since Saturday, and it's Monday.
    Santana: I've been dry heaving all weekend. When my mother asked what the sound was, I said I was practicing bird calls.
    Mike: Hey guys. I can't stop barfing.
    Tina: Please don't say barf.
    Santana: I caught a whiff of hairspray and went full Linda Blair in the girls' bathroom.
    Mike: I told my mom I had the flu, and she made me a traditional tea made out of panda hair.
    Tina: Can we talk about anything else?
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Robin finds out that Ted's college class, and Ted himself, have been playing a Drinking Game based on her morning news show. She gets revenge by deliberately repeating the trigger phrase over and over, and then dropping in on the miserable class the next day with a megaphone.
    • In "The Scorpion and the Toad", after Lily, Ted, and Robin get hammered trying to cheer Lily up, Ted and Lily are crippled by this the next morning, but Robin's still drunk. And very boisterously so.
    • Future!Ted wistfully lampshades this trope in "Murtaugh" by comparing the gang's reactions to a night of hard partying when they were twenty four to when they were thirty. This trope hits them much harder in the latter example.
    • In "Rally", Barney has some fun with this while preparing his patented Hideous Hangover Cure for a hungover Ted. He explains how his ancestor Barney Stinsonheimer invented it and how the first two batches exploded, shouting "Boom!" into Ted's ear each time.
  • In BBC's Merlin the third episode of season 3 has Gaius (who at this time is a Goblin) do this.
    Gaius: Shhh! Too much talking! I have a head like the inside of a drum and a mouth like a badger`s armpit!
  • Sharona experienced it on an episode of Monk. It was Spring Break in Mexico, 'nuff said.
  • In an episode of Cybil, Cybil's friend Maryann attempts to get information out of a man by trying to outdrink him. (Maryann was a Lady Drunk, but the man was twice her size. She won.) The next morning, she screams in pain when Cybil unzips her purse, and when Cybil and Zoe are arguing very loudly, they could occasionally cut back to Maryann holding her head in pain and shouting things like "Searing pain! Nerve Damage!" "Temporary Blindness!" and "The Taste of Burnt Pennies!"
  • The Mythbusters once tested various hangover cures. Kari, who got out of it because she was pregnant, had far too much fun tormenting Tory and Grant.
  • The infamous Globelink Christmas Party in Drop the Dead Donkey was like this for George, Henry and Dave. It was worsened by the antics of a totally sober and vindictive Damien Day (who came armed with bacon sandwiches and bellowed greetings).
  • In Parks and Recreation, everyone gets wasted on Tom's new concoction "Snake Juice" at the club, and are all horrifically hungover at work the next day.
  • Done in an episode of Scrubs when Julie, Elliot, Carla and Jordan come to work after a drunken night out and range in demeanor from "perky" to "catatonic", reflecting their increasing age-brackets.
  • Red Dwarf, Kryten, after his first night of actual partying, which included a "mechanoid homebrew", offers up the page quote above.
  • Game of Thrones. Tyrion Lannister on several occasions. Played for Laughs the morning after his wedding when his secret mistress Shae (who is also his newly-wed wife's Sansa's maid) barges into their room and slams down a breakfast tray, then yanks a cloak out from under Tyrion's head and wraps it around Sansa.
  • Detective Murdoch of Murdoch Mysteries rarely drinks. In "Green Muse", he drank a bottle of Absinthe with Dr. Ogden to find out how it effects people and if the victim could be disoriented. The next day is hard for him.
  • 'Allo 'Allo!: Colonel von Strohm is once heavily hungover. Pity his Sexy Secretary Helga has No Indoor Voice when she announces visitors.
  • The hard-drinking students/doctors in the Doctor in the House franchise inevitably run up against hangover sensitivity in a few episodes, and get no sympathy from their colleagues who abstained or drank in moderation the previous night. For example, in "The Epidemic" from Doctor in Charge, Dr. Waring arrives one morning in a cheerful mood to find Drs. Stuart-Clark and Collier badly hung over, and proceeds to make as much noise as he can purely to aggravate their conditions. As he leaves the room, he throws a metal kidney dish onto the floor, to which the other two react as though a thunderclap has just gone off inside their own heads.
  • A frequent gag in Black Books, given the amount of red wine the characters are always chugging, and the reason that the perpetually grouchy Bernard is even worse first thing in the morning. However, special mention goes to "The Entertainer", where the characters' dark glasses are part of a Coincidental Accidental Disguise that leads some charity fundraisers to think they're all blind.

    Music 
  • The song "Twelve Pains of Christmas" has one singer who has a hangover, who, towards the end of the song, snaps, "Shut up, you!"
  • In the ZZ Top song "Cheap Sunglasses," this is the reason the narrator is wearing the titular sunglasses.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Combined in one Hägar the Horrible comic with Breaking the Fourth Wall: The narrator wonders where the noise comes from and concludes that someone must've turned the last page too loudly.
    • There was also one strip where we see him, in the first panel covering his ears as large 'BAM BAM BAM' sounds appear around him, and he painedly asks if it can't be done a bit more quietly. The next panel then zooms out to reveal his wife, Helga, knocking open a soft-boiled egg with a teaspoon, creating tiny little 'tok tok tok' noises, and replying frostily, "Seems like you had a really good time last night..."
  • A Garfield strip has Garfield on the morning after New Year's Eve, all we see of him is a crumpled party hat and an arm sweeping around the table, looking for coffee. Jon conversationally says "Good morning", to which Garfield replies "Not so louuuuuuuud....."

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect
    • Doctor Chakwas asks the player how they're feeling after waking up from taking a Prothean Beacon's message (and exploding shortly thereafter) in the face, one of the options to respond is "Like the morning after shore leave."
    • Likewise, the third game has a scene where Shepard finds Ashley on the floor with a hangover. They can joke about now being the perfect time for a fire drill. And threaten to make Joker sing over the intercom, no less.
    • The third game's final DLC, "Citadel", ends with a party that leaves several characters hungover the next morning (depending on how much Shepard amps it up). Tali is curled up in a ball and Javik thinks everything that's happened since he got out of stasis was a dream. Ashnote  is still vertical, but in need of coffee. Kaidannote  has already had coffee. If the second phase of the party is Loud, then Wrex cites this state as being the best time to train with guns when declaring a "man emergency" over Joker letting his small arms training get rusty, as it makes you "angry at every little sound".
  • Conker has some equilibrium, energy, and sound sensitivity issues when hung over in Conkers Bad Fur Day.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island: A bartender will do nothing but complain that everything is too loud until you get him a cure for his hangover.

    Web Original/Web Comics 
  • One demotivational poster addresses this with a quote "some mornings, even a cat standing still is too loud."
  • In S.S.D.D Norman thinks a bird is singing too loud, so he fires a shotgun at it... And then realizes the blast is even worse.
  • Happens to most characters in Dubious Company, except Walter. Hell, he met Tiren by her puking on his shoes during a hangover.
    Sal: Why do you keep doing this? Why do ''I'' keep doing this?
    Leeroy: Am I indoctrinated yet? *Bleeh*
  • In Sinfest, Squigley, after a New Year's party.
  • Shows up in an early Nodwick story as the "ultra-hangover plugin" for Piffany's sobriety spell.
  • In episode 5 of Black Jack Justice, Jack manages to hear the elevator at the far end of the hall from his office as it opens.
    Trixie: Elevator? Down the hall? You can hear that?
    Jack: Today, I can.
    Jack (voiceover): There was no time to explain the extrasensory qualities of a truly eye-popping hangover.
  • Skin Horse seems to take it to a new level: Another person's blinking is too loud.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Crack That Whip", Dr. Doofenshmirtz suffers from extreme sensitivity to noise, including his own evil laughter, when he has "a headache" after staying out late at an evil mixer.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Cosmo, Wanda and Jorgen suffer hangover sensitivity the next morning after a wild party celebrating friendship.
  • The Road to El Dorado. Tulio and Miguel wake up after a night of partying with killer hangovers, complete with sensitivity to light.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Bart's teacher Ms. Krabappel tells her class "Okay class, today we'll be sitting quietly with the lights off because teacher has a hangover."
  • Shows up all over on Archer - Pam's often seen drinking a 40 after a night of partying, and Lana wears dark glasses into work after nights of heavy boozing. The only one who's not seen with hangovers is Archer... likely because he's perpetually drinking.
    I'm afraid if I stop drinking all at once, the collective hangover would literally kill me.


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