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 with whom to celebrate their birthday, 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 and A Birthday, Not a Break.


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     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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Stella Dallas - well, not quite, since Stella and the maid are there. But Laurel is crushed when neither her teacher nor any of her friends will come to her birthday party, because they don't approve of Stella.
  • The lonely hero of The Best Offer is seen all by himself on his birthday at the restaurant.
  • This is the killer's motivation in Happy Birthday to Me. At least that's what the person who framed Ginny wanted people to think.


    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.
  • In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Goren and Eames are investigating a murder which seems to have been committed by one of a pair of constantly sniping married psychologists. Each is convinced the other is guilty, while their daughter is caught in the middle. Goren catches sight of a photo in which the daughter, aged around eight, is having one of these, celebrating with only household staff in attendance because her parents aren't around. The insight this gives him into the family dynamic helps him realize the truth - the daughter committed the murder, and is framing both parents, as revenge for her miserable childhood.

  • "Pity Party" by Melanie Martinez about how she threw an elaborate birthday party for herself, but none of the people she invited came. She tries to act like she doesn't care at first and tries to spin it in a good way, saying that now she can have more cake, but she quickly dissolves into tears and has a fit. The music video has Melanie tearing up her stuffed animals, destroying the cake, and eventually having a breakdown.
    Did my invitations disappear?
    Why'd I put my heart on every cursive letter?
    Tell me why the hell no one is here,
    Tell me what to do to make it all feel better.

    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.

  • 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. Yuuka occasionally gets this treatment, though in her case it's because she's too scary for anyone to go.
  • Blue, one of the Brothers Bear in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, is depressed that no one remembered his birthday when you first meet him. As it turns out, one of his brothers - Blizzard - DID remember, but was too far away to attend the party. As such, it falls to the Kongs to relay his gift (and when they do, Blue cheers up considerably).
  • In the opening prologue of Batman: Arkham Knight, as you walk around in Pauli's diner, there is a lone man at a booth with a small cupcake with his name, 'Noel', on it with a single lit candle. Noel is downtrodden and will give you a dirty look if you approach him. He will then return to looking downtrodden as his cupcake. Unfortunately, this is only the start of his troubles, as the booth next to him is a Scarecrow henchmen about to deploy fear gas in the diner.

    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.
  • The Taco-Man Paint short "Today is My Birthday" has the title character throw one for himself, because all his friends died beforehand.

  • In Sinfest it's revealed that this was one of many Break the Cutie moments for Lil' Evil throughout his life.
  • In Brawl in the Family, one of the Waluigi-themed comics depicts Waluigi as the only attendee of his own birthday party. This comes as a big Mood Whiplash for people familiar with the Waluigi strips. As mentioned in the newspost, one forum member rewrote the Downer Ending of the strip to portray Waluigi as someone who prefers to celebrate alone and another wrote an alternate version where Luigi came by.
  • In the achingly beautiful "Counting Stars," the main character comes home on her 16th birthday to find a cupcake and a note of apology from her mother. She has no friends and no one with whom to share the special day, and is clearly despondent.
  • Narrowly averted in the Birthday Episode of Cobweb And Stripes, when Lydia turns 19. Her apologetic father must be out of town for a business meeting, and her oblivious stepmother has a gallery showing of her hideous art. Fortunately for the birthday girl, Betelgeuse is eavesdropping on the conversation and arranges for a much better celebration.
  • In Happy Birthday to Me from Loading Artist.

    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 birthday 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.
      • Brought up in the episode "Radioactive Man," when Nelson laughs at himself for screwing up the audition for Radioactive Man's sidekick, Fallout Boy.
    • 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.
  • Exaggerated for comedy in Megas XLR. Jamie, trying to get a favour, insists that he's always been there for Coop. Cue to Coop recalling all the times Jamie has left him hanging, including Coop waiting alone in front of a movie theater, at the amusement park, this trope as Coop sits alone at a table for his birthday party, and then Coop sitting alone at a table for Jamie's birthday party.

     Real Life 
  • One its one year anniversary on the planet Mars, the Curiosity Mars rover used one of its on-board instruments to hum "Happy Birthday" to itself all on its lonesome.