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One-Person Birthday Party

You've spent hours hanging balloons, decorations and banners on the wall. You've cooked the food to perfection. The cake is ready, and the candles have already been lit. You even have the music all sorted out. It's a perfect birthday party, but there's just one tiny problem - nobody's coming.

Birthdays are supposed to be a great occasion to get together with friends, when everything is about you. So when someone has only themselves to celebrate their birthday with, it's a sign that they really are alone.

Writers tend to use this trope to establish that the character in question is The Woobie (if Played for Drama) or The Chew Toy (if Played for Laughs). It may also be a Cloud Cuckoo Lander since these will often understand the "everything is about you" tendency literally (if a friend is with you, then not everything is, technically, about you).

Compare Forgotten Birthday.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Mazinger Z: In episode 19, the Small Name, Big Ego Butt Monkey Boss tries to get people to purchase tickets to attend his birthday party. However everyone runs away from him, and he can not figure out why. Kouji tries to explain to him that people don't like getting bullied into paying for a party they do not want to go to start with. Finally, Kouji agrees to attend Boss' party out of pity and even performs a couple of tricks with his bike so that more people come. However, during the party, Kouji gets summoned to the Institute, and he leaves. As a result, everybody else leaves too, leaving Boss alone.

Fanfiction
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: The Departure", the Smurfs are all busy preparing for Empath's 155th birthday party when they all get sucked into the prehistoric past when Papa Smurf opens a time portal to bring the baby dinosaur they found back home. By the time Empath arrives, only Polaris Psyche is left in the village, and the party is pretty much abandoned as Empath heartbreakingly celebrates his birthday by toasting marshmallows instead.

Film
  • In Little Man Tate, the main character hands out invitations to his party at school, only to see them blowing around on the ground when they rush in from recess. Cut to the party, where it's just him and his mom (and she doesn't count).
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has this with Max before he becomes Electro. Since nobody remembers his birthday, Max celebrates it all by himself by buying a small birthday cake, putting up some meager decorations, and even making a invite card all for him.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of Mr. Bean, Mr Bean goes to a restaurant on his own for his birthday, and gives himself a birthday card.
  • The Golden Girls: Rose flashes back to a time when she celebrated her birthday alone, after the death of her husband.
  • A flashback in Smallville shows that as a kid, Lex Luthor had a birthday all alone. It gave context to his miserable childhood and how he developed into the adult he eventually became.
  • Once Upon a Time begins this way. When it turns out that her date was just a sham to get a bounty, Emma goes home to have a cupcake with a single candle on it by herself. She blows out the candle, presumably wishing she wasn't alone, and there's a knock at the door, which turns out to be the son she gave up for adoption.
  • On Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson celebrates one of his birthdays alone in a small office with a steak and a bottle of scotch. The twist is that this is the party that his friend Leslie has thrown for him, knowing what he likes.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, in a hypothetical Alternate Universe where Sheldon and Leonard are not living together, Amy is tearfully singing the Happy Birthday song to herself since she would have never met the gang.
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday to me
    There are tears in the frosting
    Happy birthday to me.
  • On the first season of A Different World, Whitley's birthday is coming up and she planned on spending it with her best friend, Millie - who backs out because she and her boyfriend, Ron, are celebrating their 3-month anniversary. Near the end of the episode, Whitley sadly sings "Happy Birthday To Me" to herself with a cupcake and a single candle in it. Averted as everyone comes in right after she finishes singing.

Professional Wrestling
  • Not a birthday, but when AJ Lee threw a party to celebrate her becoming the longest-reigning Divas Champion ever, she was the only one in attendance.

Theatre
  • Crimes Of The Heart begins with the main character trying to have one of these, attempting to stick a birthday candle into a cookie.

Video Game
  • The "Claptrap's Birthday Bash" sidequest from Borderlands 2, where you send invitations to Claptrap's birthday party for him. None of the guests accept the invitation, so you end up alone with Claptrap. You could make it a little less sad by having four players go, but that's four out of six playable characters — under the best circumstances, not even all the Vault Hunters go to Claptrap's party, which only ends up lasting a few minutes. Word of God states that the mission was based off of an actual One Man Birthday Party that the creative designer once witnessed.
  • In the first Simon the Sorcerer game, when Simon visits the swampling's house, Swampy mistakes him for a guest come to celebrate Swampy's birthday. Swampy's actual birthday was three weeks earlier, but Swampy doesn't mind Simon being late because he's still the first guest to show up.
  • A disturbingly large amount of fanwork depicts Alice Margatroid of Touhou (depicted above) this way, perhaps due to her (fanon) isolationist, tsundere persona.

Web Animation
  • In the Ultra Fast Pony episode "Purple Party Pooper", Twilight sends invitations for her birthday party, then finds out that no one is planning to attend. She becomes increasingly unhinged as she tries to figure out why her friends won't come. The end of the episode implies that Princess Celestia had the same problem (the day was coincidentally her birthday as well)—since Twi was the only one to show up, and she only came because Celestia commanded her.

Webcomics

Western Animation
  • Exaggerated and parodied in the backstory of Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb. He states that neither of his parents bothered to show up to his birth, and that he had to throw surprise birthday parties for himself. Also, at age eight, he was abandoned at a Suck E. Cheese's to the point that the employees working there let him lock up the shop at closing.
  • The Cow and Chicken episode "Factory Follies", in which Red Guy plays the foreman of a factory who treats his employees like worthless slaves. At the end of the workday, he reminds everyone that his surprise birthday party will be held in the conference room later that night. Of course, nobody shows up, so he throws the party for himself and sings, "Oh birthday boy, add one more year/oh birthday boy with the big fat rear!"
  • A Cutaway Gag in Futurama shows that nobody came to Zoidberg's birthdays party, in the episode where time keeps skipping.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Party Of One" plays with this one. Pinkie celebrates a party with a bunch of inanimate objects because her friends were busy, and she thinks that they don't want to be her friends anymore—but the party in question is for (the day after) her pet alligator's birthday, not her own. At the end, it's revealed that the real reason her friends can't attend this party is because they're organizing a surprise party for Pinkie's birthday. Pinkie had somehow completely forgotten her own birthday. Since she only attends this party after Rainbow Dash drags her there, the cast almost winds up with a party where everyone except the birthday girl shows up.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Nelson throws a birthday party and invites all of his classmates. Bart is the only one to turn up because Marge forces him to go.
    • In the episode where a crazy big white guy thinks he's Michael Jackson, it's Lisa's 8th birthday. She begs Bart not to forget but of course he does. She sits with only the baby Maggie for company, singing:
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday, overlooked middle child
    Happy birthday to me.
  • The first Christmas Episode of South Park ends with Jesus singing "Happy Birthday" all by himself.
  • Happens to Ling Ling in Drawn Together.


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