A popular tradition for people to make at the start of a new year
. A new year means a new start, and a new me - so time to drop habit X!
Almost always ends with Failure Is the Only Option
, in part because characters often set lofty goals for themselves that require more motivation beyond "hey it's a new year, better make a resolution". Will sometimes be referenced several episodes later.
Occasionally a character will have fun with this by making resolutions for other people. Naturally, yours truly is a perfect paragon that cannot be improved.
Compare Compressed Vice
and Compressed Abstinence
- A few Donald Duck stories have this theme:
- In one, Daisy Duck suggested him to promise he'd no longer get angry. When he suggested she make a similar promise, the result was a mixture of Hypocritical Humor and Double Standard. Donald's nephews then abused the resolution until Daisy reminded Donald he doesn't need to be angry to hit nephews as punishment. Having overheard that conversation, the nephews wrote a resolution to be good boys so he'd no longer have a reason to hit them. It didn't work.
- In another one, Huey, Dewey and Louie promised they'd always make it on time to school and that they'd do the dishes for a whole month as punishment if they break the promise. Donald promised he'd no longer lose his temper. Growing tired of washing dishes, Donald tricked the nephews into being late for school. Wanting to get out of that, they tricked Donald into agreeing they'd have their meals in paper plates. Then they spent the rest of the story trying to enrage him. It was Gone Horribly Right.
- In yet another one, Donald and the nephews agreed he'd do the dishes if he breaks his resolution before they break theirs and they'll do the dishes if they break their resolution before he breaks his. In order to avoid trickery, they kept their resolution secret and wrote them inside envelopes. Donald promised to only prepare desserts until they have any and the nephews promised not to have desserts. A few days later, Donald decided to figure out their promise and found a way to open the envelope without leaving signs. He then changed his resolution. The next day, one of the nephews asked Donald to pose for a photograph and he agreed. Later on, he tricked them into having dessert so he could punish them. While wondering how he knew what their resolution was, they asked him what his was. He then revealed he promised not to wear a hat inside the house. They then pointed out he was breaking his resolution but he claimed they broke theirs first. None of them remembered Donald wearing his hat inside the house before they broke their resolution until the nephew who took the photograph produced it as evidence Donald was the first resolution breaker among them. That nephew then confided to the others he had seen Donald's papers at the table and, using a Sherlock Holmes trick, had figured out Donald's new resolution and took the photo for that purpose.
- "New Year, New Disasters", an episode of Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, has the protagonists giving their resolutions: Calvin's is to upgrade his inventions, Hobbes' is to break the current tuna-eating record, Socrates' is to prank four million people, Sherman's is to invent something useful, and finally Andy's is to pay Calvin's bond should he land in jail.
- Bridget Jones' Diary
Bridget: New Year's resolution: drink less... and quit smoking... and quit talking total nonsense to strangers... actually, quit talking, full stop.
Alfie: In a flash I have my New Year's resolution: Aim higher.
- Heavenly Creatures
Pauline Parker: My New Year's resolution is a far more selfish one than last year. It is to make my motto, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow, you may be dead.
- After the Thin Man
Nick Charles: Have you made any New Year's resolutions?
Nora Charles: Not yet. Any complaints or suggestions? [snip]
Nick: Well, you don't scold, you don't nag, and you look far too pretty in the mornings.
Nora: All right, I'll remember: Must scold, must nag, mustn't be too pretty in the mornings.
- Frasier episode "The Fight Before Christmas"
Gil Chesterson: My wife and I made a New Year's resolution: Deb and I have joined a gym to slim down and buff up.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Hilary Gets a Life"
Hilary Banks: I'm making a New Year's resolution to find a job... right after Easter.
- Friends: "The One With All the Resolutions"
- The X-Files, "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas": Agent Mulder tries to talk Agent Scully into chasing ghosts on Christmas Eve. She doesn't want to go. When Mulder enters the Haunted House, she says aloud to herself that she's not going to do it as it's her resolution. However, somebody (Mulder or the ghosts) took her car keys so she ended up with Mulder as usually.
Scully: I'm not going to do it. My New Year's resolution.
- TV Colosso: Priscilla, a producer working at the eponymous network, wasn't sure of what to promise and it worried her for a whole episode. At the end, the network's fortuneteller predicted nobody would fulfill their resolutions so she decided not to make any.
- El Chavo del ocho: One episode had the vencidad's residents having a New Year's party at Don Ramón's place. Doña Florinda promised she'd no longer hit him unless she had reasons like Don Ramón hitting Quico or denying doing so. She also promised she'd no longer act as if she's superior to any of her neighbors, albeit the wording of her promise suggests it's unlikely she's able to fulfill it. Quico promised to always allow El Chavo to borrow his toys. Chavo doubted Quico would keep that resolution. Quico explained that his resolution was based on Chavo usually kicking his toys so Chavo promised he'd no longer do it. Quico then allowed Chavo to borrow a ball. Don Ramón promised to pay all his debts. Doña Florinda then said it was only about resolutions that could be fulfilled. Like she's one to talk.
- One episode of NCIS: Los Angeles opened with the team discussing their New Years Resolutions, and ended with them calling each other out on the fact that they all broke them.
- In one of the Babysitters Little Sister books, Karen spends the month of January cracking down on all the members of her family who haven't been keeping up with their New Year's Resolutions, but they retaliate by pulling out Karen's own list of resolutions, which has been heavily altered to give herself loopholes.
- Five Iron Frenzy's "New Year's Eve".
It's New Year's Eve and I'm full of empty promises
I half pretend to keep this time
just like last year.
- Split Enz' "Message to My Girl:
It's no New Year's resolution, it's more than that.
- Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes often made his New Year's Resolution not to change at all, but to force everyone else to change.
Calvin: I've also resolved not to put up with sarcastic tigers.
Hobbes: If I see any, I'll be sure to let them know.
- Lucy from Peanuts also did that at least once. She handed out sheets of paper.
- In For Better or for Worse, the Pattersons discuss what resolutions they are making, but while most are setting up lofty ones, Michael resolves to do things like watch more tv and hang out more with his friends. When his mother confronts him that those resolutions are worthless, Michael responds smugly, "I know, but at least mine are going to be kept."
- In one FoxTrot strip, Bratty Teenage Daughter Paige tells her parents that her resolution is to not let Annoying Younger Sibling Jason bother her anymore. Then Jason tells them that his resolution is to mess with Paige even more. Father Roger comments "This is going to be a real battle of wills" while mother Andy breaks out the medicine and says "More like 'pills'."
- Garfield decided not to sleep more than eight hours a day. Upon calculation, he told Jon to wake him up on May, 3rd.
- TV Trash parodies this concept in "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown": Chris "Rowdy" Moore pledges to watch less bad TV, only to have his resolution broken within seconds, by being told that they would run out of material, and the show would end.
- Wong Fu Productions thoroughly mocks this trope in ''Two Weeks Later: Resolution Fails and how each person fails at their resolution.
- Wish Kid: After surviving a disaster, Darryl tells Nick he decided to make his New Year's Resolution earlier (they were months away from the New Year): never getting involved in Nick's wish again.
- The New Batman Adventures episode "Holiday Knights"
I'm interrupting the Toilet Bowl to bring you my very special New Year's resolution: Ahem, starting tonight at midnight, I, your loving uncle Joker, do solemnly vow not to kill anyone for a whole year. Which means I'm going to have to work extra fast to bump off a few more of you today.
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!
Peppermint Patty: Have you made any New Year's resolutions, Chuck?
Charlie Brown: Yes. You know how I always dread the whole year? Well, this time I'm only going to dread one day at a time.
- Dr. Doofenshmirtz once tried to take over the Tri-State Area by making everyone's New Year's Resolution to obey him. You can easily guess how that plan got foiled.
- The 1961 Heckle and Jeckle cartoon "Sappy New Year" has the two birds swearing off practical jokes as their New Year's resolution. But when their attempts to do good deeds are misconstrued as mischief, Heckle starts to revert back.