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Neat Freak

"Who robs a place, then tidies up and dusts the shelves before leaving?"
Zib, Lackadaisy

A character who has some sort of obsession with cleanliness as a character trait. It may be a sign of their dedication, obsessiveness, or perfectionism. Generally they'll be one of the few main characters to complain about neatness, unless someone ends up Covered in Gunge or something extremely messy.

This is stereotypical behavior for any character with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In older movies and shows, an obsession with cleanliness can be a metaphor for homosexuality in men. Women who are extremely tidy are usually shown as frigid neurotics who probably deny their husbands sex and their children unconditional love.

This is obviously Truth in Television.

For the opposite behavior see Men Can't Keep House, Trash of the Titans, and The Pig Pen. See also Spring Cleaning Fever, Terrified of Germs.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Levi from Attack on Titan.
  • Not a main character, but Kimblee in Fullmetal Alchemist wears a white suit all the time, and gets upset with a soldier for being blown up while talking to him, not to mention the small amount of blood spatter that ends up on his pristine suit. Kimblee's barking mad. He says that it is expensive at one point in Brotherhood.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Roderich Edelstein aka Austria. Being an aristocrat and proud of it, he gets pissed off if seen disheveled. Heck, he even is embarrassed when his wife sees him like this.
    • Ludwig aka Germany. In one strip, Italy was cooking and Germany was next him, cleaning. Germany is very big Neat Freak, as revealed by one manga
      Germany: He is also very good at baking, and his cakes both taste and look exquisite... BUT I'M THE ONE WHO HAS TO CLEAN UP AFTERWARDS!
  • Takasu Ryuuji from Toradora!. You get no points for guessing what his neighbor, best friend and potential love interest is. Hilariously, Ryuuji's face breaks out into a Slasher Smile most every time he's removing mold from something or other.
  • Death Note:
    • The illustrator Takeshi Obata thinks of L as Neat Freak, which is why he chose to depict him as such (the writer, Tsugumi Ohba, didn't tell him to do so) and made him grab things with the tips of his fingers. Does not extend to his personal experience (he might well sleep in his clothes. In his defense, they look comfy).
    • According to Gevanni's observations, Teru Mikami is also this (which fits his overall personality pretty well).
  • Chiri from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has this as her gimmick. And she's been slowly Flanderized from a simple Neat Freak to a near psychopathic Control Freak who'll be perfectly willing to slaughter the cast in order to maintain order. Any scene featuring her as centerfold for the scene will inevitably result in comedy and scary moment. In one of the OVAs we're introduced to her older sister, Kitsu Tane, who is her complete opposite and great character foil. We have it explained that in their childhood, Tane chose to become The Pig Pen and personification of the Trash of the Titans trope in order to save the life of their gold fish, which Chiri had decided to clean... With shampoo...
  • Hazuki Oikawa from Moyashimon. What a disinfectant-happy girl like her is doing at an agricultural college (and hanging out with people who study microorganisms for a living, at that), we're not sure.
  • As an extension of his Super OCD, Death the Kid always makes sure everything is neat, tidy and, most importantly, symmetrical.
  • In the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Plus manga, Blue Link is revealed to be one of these in an omake. It's impossible for him to sleep at night unless his clothes are neatly folded and in a nice neat stack near where he's sleeping.
  • Ranma ˝: Not overly shown to be a Neat Freak, but Ranma finds himself compulsively tidying Hinako-sensei's apartment (twice), forgetting that he sneaked in to steal her fighting fish in manga volume 30, chapter 5.
  • Eiichirou from Baby Steps eats from both sides of his lunch box to keep the sides even, freaks out over the possibility of his food touching, and takes two sets of notes in class: a pristine "master" copy, and a second that he doesn't mind lending out to his less tidy classmates.
  • One chapter of Franken Fran has a woman, raised in extremely sterile circumstances, recruit Fran in an attempt to wipe out cockroaches. She freaks out at the merest hint of contamination. The experiment does not go as planned...
  • Pokémon:
    • In "Black & White", Ash and Co. run into a Minccino who is obsessed with cleaning dirty things. It steals Ash's badge case to clean it and most of the episode is revolved around trying to get it back. This proves difficult due to Minccino's elusiveness and speed. Just when it's about to runoff, Bianca, Professor Juniper's lab assistant, pulls out a dirty Pokeball to catch it. Knowing couldn't pass up the opportunity, it decides to clean her Pokeball and ends up getting itself caught.
    • Ash's mom Delia owns a Mr. Mime who's a neat-freak too, keeping it in the house as a sort of maid. Mimey's been known to run its vacuum over Ash's face as he sleeps if he doesn't wash it.
    • Serena's Fennekin downplays this — she doesn't like to get her fur dirty or messed up, but will ignore it if it means saving her trainer.
  • In the Sailor Moon manga Sailor Jupiter is shown to be this, at one point spending two days cleaning her apartment.
  • As is obvious once you get a glimpse of his meticulously clean, almost-empty apartment, Barnaby from Tiger & Bunny does not appreciate clutter. He keeps only the bare minimum furniture; one chair, one small table, one bed etc., and the only "unessential" objects in the living room (the one room we see properly) are a laptop, a television (both of which he uses to research his parents' murder), a family photo and a toy robot (a birthday present from his parents). He also dislikes the thought of anyone visiting his place, worrying that they'll make a mess.
  • Nami Yamigumo of Silent Mobius is the AMP's resident neat freak. Unfortunately for her, most of her teammates are the exact opposite. This is played up in comic omake strips.
  • Charles and Ray Beams in Eureka Seven keep their ship impeccably clean at all times. One of the first signs of Ray's breakdown after Charles is killed is the fact that the ship has been utterly trashed. Things just get worse from there.
  • Inverted in Fruits Basket: Machi can't stand when things are spotlessly clean. She frequently messes up clean rooms and such because she can't stand the "perfection".
  • QT from Space Dandy. Being a vacuum cleaner robot, it's in his programming, but Meow's room is still beyond him.
  • Chiaki from Nodame Cantabile, especially when he first sees Nodame's apartment.
  • Hachi of "Kaitou Joker", a trait revealed upon seeing the state of Joker's airship, the creatively named Air Joker.

    Comic Books 
  • In "The Neat Job," from the first issue of EC Comics's Shock SuspenStories, a man drives his wife over the edge with his obsessive demand that everything in the house be stored in a precise location and manner, even requiring her to keep a running inventory. In the end, when he berates her for breaking a jar of nails, she goes Ax-Crazy on him and then places each of his body parts in carefully-labelled jars.

     Fan Fic 
  • Craig Brice's neat freak tendancies in Emergency! are amplified in "Vectors'' by Rose Po. When he gets delerious with fever, he hallucinates killer dust bunnies. When it first happens, his girlfriend had called paramedics after discovering he was sick, and she covered his head with a blanket, saying they wouldn't get him if they couldn't see him. In the hospital, they keep a broom near his bed as it seems to calm him better than the alternative, heavy sedation.

    Films — Animated 
  • Finding Nemo:
    • Jacques the French cleaner shrimp. It's all in the name.
    • Gurgles appears to be more of a germophobe than an actual Neat Freak, but when they're deliberately making their tank dirty, he's the most distressed by it. Jacques, aside from some small difficulty fighting his cleaning urges, isn't overly stressed.
  • M-O from WALL•E. "FOREIGN CONTAMINANT"
  • Cinderella in the third Shrek film, as a Take That to the original story.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Hercule Poirot, though more obsessed with tidying than cleaning.
  • The main character in Peter Pays Tribute has a pathological fear of germs. He can barely stand to sit on a public bench, and he spends most of his weekends sanitizing his room.
  • Han Qing-yao from the Ender’s Game sequel Xenocide.
  • Aunt March from Little Women. Poor Amy really didn't know what she was getting into when she replaced Jo as her lady-in-waiting, when Beth was sick...
  • Flora Poste of Cold Comfort Farm. ("I cannot endure messes")
  • Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles has Morwen, a witch who lives cleanly enough to subvert the "Kill Witches With Water" stereotype.
  • Mr. Standish from The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul is an eccentric variant: a clutter-averse man who keeps his phone, intercom, and personal ornaments sealed up inside his desk, leaving every horizontal surface in his office absolutely bare. The picture frame on the wall is empty, and he has to open a desk drawer every time he wants to check his notes.
  • Carnifex from the Wild Cards series.
  • Jace Wayland in The Mortal Instruments. Clary notes that his room is as neat as a pin. When he is rooming with Magnus Bane, the poor messy warlock is driven nuts by Jace fixing up his apartment.
  • Tris in the Circle of Magic series. The various relatives she was fobbed off on during her childhood made her earn her keep by housekeeping, and when she first comes to Discipline she corrects the other kids' attempts at it. She makes a point to pitch in with the chores in whatever house she's visiting.
  • In a Dresden Files short story from Thomas' point-of-view, he mentions that Harry seems to have inexplicably become this a few years ago, as his apartment is nearly always spotless. Readers know that this is actually the work of the tiny Fae under orders from the Summer Lady, and Harry cannot tell anyone about them or they go away.
  • In Going Postal, the obsessive Stanley's side of the Post Office bunkroon is extremely neat, in contrast to Groat's side, which is covered in bits of paper and the chemical residue of his home-made medicine. Where a bit of paper has fallen over the line, Stanley - in strict accordance with the unwritten rules - has carefully removed exactly the bit that's on his side, possibly with a razor blade.

    Live-Action TV 
  • TV's Ur Example is probably Felix Unger from The Odd Couple.
  • Adrian Monk from his titular series has this as his premise. One episode has him unable to concentrate on a crime scene because a nearby cop's socks don't match.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Odo. Dax likes to move everything in his office over by an inch to drive him nuts.
  • Seemingly everyone in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Whenever anyone notices anything out of place, they point it out instantly, and it always turns out to be a major plot point. Likewise, no messes are ever seen aboard the Starship Enterprise. They're on a starship; a large one but still a starship. It's a closed environment. Anything that spills and gets left out eventually gets into everything and there are some really high-tech gadgets all over the place that could be affected by being gummed up. It is confirmed in "Up the Long Ladder" that the ship is self-cleaning; the mechanism for this is never described.
  • Boober from Fraggle Rock
  • Tutter from Bear in the Big Blue House, a Muppet program. Muppet fans have noted a strong similarity between the two. Tutter even has own song about it— "Why Can't the Dirt Just Leave Me Alone?"
  • Mrs. Benson on iCarly flits between this and Super OCD Depending on the Writer.
  • Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. There's an episode in the first season where, seeing the messy state of across-the-hall-neighbor Penny's apartment, he sneaks over in the middle of the night while she's sleeping to clean.
    Leonard: Sheldon, this is not your home.
    Sheldon: No, this is not anyone's "home"! This is a swirling vortex of entropy!
  • James May on Top Gear, who keeps a paintbrush in his car to clean the air vents and gets uneasy when things are out of order. Most likely has some degree of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Mocked by Clarkson via application of a watch bezel. If it's not aligned to the right point he'll forcibly try to sort it out. The result was jokingly compared to Kryptonite.
  • Danny Tanner from Full House fits this trope, so much so the trope could be named after him. He thinks of big spring cleaning as an equivalent of Christmas.
  • Monica Geller in Friends, who (amidst many, many other things) can't sleep after she willingly leaves her shoes in the living room in order to prove she's not as much a Neat Freak as everybody thinks. Everybody's right, of course. Or she vacuumed her vacuum cleaber with a smaller one, and that one she vacuumed with another even smaller.
  • Desperate Housewives:
    • Bree Van der Kamp/Hodge.
    • Orson Hodge.
  • Niles Crane from Frasier.
  • NCIS agent Nikki Jardine was so obsessively germ-phobic that she even turned off Tony DeNozzo with her constant cleaning.
  • Harvey and Val Denton on The League of Gentlemen, to the point where they force Benjamin to clean the cleaning implements.
  • Emma Pillsbury on Glee
  • On Saturday Night Live, one of Phil Hartman's reoccurring characters was the cooking-show host "The Anal-Retentive Chef", who painstakingly cleaned up every last scrap following each step in the recipe of the day.
  • Cat in Lip Service to the point where she is considered autistic.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Mayor often delivers little speeches on the importance of cleanliness (including clean fingernails), keeps thing neatly aligned on his desk, and abhors germs.
  • Jerry on Seinfeld. Whenever it comes up, the other characters make fun of him for it - after all, Men Can't Keep House.
  • Jamie on Mythbusters shades into this at times. One of his trademarks is his always-spotless white shirt - which remains spotless even when his hands are completely covered in oil and grease, right up to his rolled-up sleeves.
    • In the background, when they're filming in the main M5 shop area, you'll often see one of the signs Jamie made, reading "Clean Up Or Die".
  • Claireparker from Pixelface. In "Reset", she explains that because everything in her game is so dirty and broken, she feels compelled to keep the console as neat and perfect as possible.
  • Subverted with Sylar on Heroes. Flashbacks show that he kept an eerily clean and organized apartment with plastic covered furniture. But when the second he snapped and began murdering people, he had no qualms about getting dirty to get what he wants. He also had emptied out and cleaned his apartment with amazing speed after realizing Mohinder had discovered evidence of his crimes.
  • Ricky Fitness of The Aquabats! Super Show! doesn't like getting dirty and keeps sanitation products with him at all times; his Handi-Gel defeats Dr. Eva Mudlark's muck monsters in "Laundry Day!" but his Wet Naps don't work against a monster who is made of lint and cleaning chemicals.
  • Recurring character Craig Brice on Emergency!, who drives Roy nuts rearranging the drug box alphabetically and wanting everything just right.

    Video Games 
  • One of Geary's two personalities in Crash Nitro Kart.
  • In The Sims 2, Sims with a high Neatness score will be bugged by messes more than other Sims. The same goes for Sims with the Neat trait in The Sims 3.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical, as revealed in his and Quirrell's "I Am" Song.
  • Fractious (Dee Castle) of the Whateley Universe, who not only has this but also has a Reality Warper power which messes things up. This tends to cause a vicious cycle.
  • Implied for Omega Zell from Noob, whose appartment is shown to be much better kept than the homes of other characters.
  • Gabriel seems to be this as he said that he enjoyed cleaning dishes and mopping, as revealed in Lets Drown Out Sims 3 and Viscera Cleanup Detail respectively but not for the trope’s conventional reason of neuroticism but rather having the satisfaction of seeing a job done.
  • John Darling in The New Adventures Of Peter And Wendy. He takes this obsession Up to Eleven when he's intoxicated.
  • Tlf Travel Alerts would like very much if the public would wipe their feet and stop tracking mud into all their clean stations.

    Western Animation 
  • Lemongrab of Adventure Time.
  • Mechanicles from Aladdin: The Series had this as a weakness.
  • Alfred in Batman: The Animated Series. When he and Bruce briefly visit some run-down movie-store, Alfred tries his finger on the counter, reproachfully looks at the dirt it comes up with and then proceeds to wipe the counter clean (well, cleaner) with a cloth.
    • Given that he's a butler, and part of his job is the upkeep of Wayne Manor, it's pretty understandable.
  • Alfred from Batman the Animated Series later appears in Justice League, having still retained this problem. After an attack squad of Thanagarians barge in to attack the League in the Batman, he's seen dutifully sweeping up the enormous mess they've made as the team head out to make their assault. "Mind the broken glass, sir."
  • Samson from Camp Lazlo.
  • F.O.W.L. agent Ammonia Pine from Darkwing Duck. (Ironically, she had a sister named Ample Grime who was the opposite, a complete slob. Even more ironic, the two siblings made quite an effective team in one episode - until the end where both villains were apprehended, at which point they started flinging insults at each other.)
  • Dexter's mom in Dexter's Laboratory. The episode "Pslyghtly Psycho" suggests that she is actually germophobic, particularly when her gloves and slippers are removed and she finds herself afraid to even set foot on the carpet barefoot.
  • Edd from Ed, Edd n Eddy.
  • Petunia from Happy Tree Friends qualifies, especially considering that dirt in one episode drove her to suicide.
  • Zim of Invader Zim at one point become this after realizes (incorrectly, by the way) that Earth was covered in germs that could quite possibly kill him. He then goes on a cleaning spree, even going as far as tying Gir onto a tree outside because he was so infested. At the end of the episode, he's seen wearing a "suit" of meat since the meat itself was designed to be sanitized for space travel and, thus, germ-free.
  • Disney's Lilo & Stitch: The Series has experiment 010, whom Lilo names Felix. The problem is that Jumba programmed it to be too much of a Neat Freak.
  • Deconstructed with Bloberta (mom) on Moral Orel. This is her psychological problem. A real one.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rarity displays this at times, especially in the episode "Look Before You Sleep". She hates getting dirty, folds bedsheets a precise way, and spends her time picking up and positioning fallen trinkets instead of focusing on the huge tree that has crashed through the window. Her attention to detail helps solve the problem, though.
    • Played with in "Sisterhooves Social" when Rarity discovers her sister Sweetie Belle has organized her "inspiration room", which was previously messy and gets completely outraged. Sweetie Belle comments about how Rarity now "likes" messes, to which Rarity clarifies that it was "organized chaos" on her end, which plays into her being an artist/fashion designer. At first still pissed about the supposed lack of inspiration, a short time later Rarity comes up with an idea for a full spectrum clothing line based on how Sweetie Belle organized the different colored fabrics.
  • Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life is a subversion in that while he does like his house clean, he often does let cleaning fall by the wayside. While he does produce Trash of the Titans, he always cleans it up...with hilarious results.
  • Chuckie from Rugrats is shown to be this way, which is Tommy's breaking point after spending a week with him in one episode. Chuckie ends up taking it to a major extreme in another episode, where he dons a germ-proof "suit" and attempts to force the babies not to play anything to keep clean. Tommy and the twins quickly get him out of that phase.
  • Spiffy from The Oddball Couple, the Funny Animal version of The Odd Couple.
  • Marge from The Simpsons often displays this trait. In one episode she wins a free housecleaning but wants to pre-clean the house in order to impress the maids.
  • Mr. Herriman on Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, although he often takes it to ridiculous and incredibly strict proportions. For instance, when Frankie throws a banana peel in the bin labeled "B", thinking that's where a banana should go, Herriman tells her it should go in the "P" bin, because it's a "peel of banana".
  • In Time Squad, Amelia Earhart is depicted as this, and that's what prevents her from flying airplanes - at first.
  • Hamton from Tiny Toon Adventures gets special notice considering he's a pig.
  • Jen on 6teen, especially when stressed.
  • Totally Spies!: Sam seemed to be one when the girls started to live together, all while her room was a pig sty.
  • An episode of My Dad The Rock Star has Willie meeting his new girlfriend's parents. They throw away the flowers Willie wanted to give them because they came from dirt, they spray the tracks he leaves and have everything wrapped in plastic (including the dog).
  • Porky Pig in The Looney Tunes Show. His reorganization of Bugs's house in "Gossamer is Awesomer" drives Bugs round the bend.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Rabbit is an extreme case. In one episode, Rabbit finds there's nothing left for him to clean, so he decides to go on a vacation to visit his relatives, only for him to hate it when they won't let him clean anything. And when he gets back and sees that his friends had totally wrecked his house while he was away, he was actually happy because he can spend all his time cleaning up the mess.


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