Too Hungry to Be Polite

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Spoon, darling. Use the damn spoon. It's right there. Use it.
"First you must feed us, and then we'll all behave."
Threepenny Opera, "What Keeps a Man Alive?"

Not everyone has had the fortune to grow up in an environment where there was enough time and opportunity available to learn proper dining etiquette. Such folks may shock others when they sit down to eat.

Sometimes Played for Laughs if the work in question is poking fun at the character for their table manners. May be a case of Values Dissonance, as dining etiquette varies from culture to culture.

May overlap with Raised by Wolves and My Instincts Are Showing. May also overlap with Big Eater, but this trope does not necessarily require that the character eat a lot. Compare Jabba Table Manners, which is similar to this trope, but uses bad table manners to demonstrate that a (usually rich and villainous) character is overly gluttonous. This trope involves less moral judgment.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, Sasha Blouse hails from a village where famine was rampant, and has thus learned to eat things quickly. In one episode of the anime, she is seen stuffing a whole roll in her mouth.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku, who was raised in isolation from other people, doesn't have any table manners whatsoever and devours everything he gets his hands on. And he eats a lot.
    • Most Saiyan characters, including Vegeta and Gohan, eat with little regard to proper etiquette. No matter how many times their friends and allies bear witness to their ghastly table manners, they always stare on in dumbfounded awe.
  • In Hunter Hunter, Gon and Killua have a tendency to eat their meals in the most appalling manner possible, reflecting their innocent amorality.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, the first time we see Markl eat, he's cutting his breakfast with his fork and shoveling large portions into his mouth, as a reflection of the fact that his master Howl has never bothered to teach him proper table manners.
  • In Kill la Kill, the lower-class Mankanshoko family treats dinner as a free-for-all. Humorously, when Mako and Ryuko briefly get the family promoted to higher status, their table manners improve dramatically.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Jounouchi is a Big Eater and former street punk, and you'd do best to keep your hands away from his mouth when there's free food around.

    Comic Books 
  • Lampshaded and defied in Fables; Prince Brandish claims that he's been kept in a prison and starved by Mister Dark in order to gain the Fables' trust, but Grimble notices that he showed impeccable etiquette and patience at dinner, which seems unlikely for a man having his first proper meal in months. That, combined with his exercise regimen showing him to be in far better shape than a starving man could possibly be, makes Grimble realise he's up to something.
  • In 52, Doc Magnus takes to wolfing down can after can of cold baked beans after he's taken to Oolong Island against his will and denied his medication so he can get enough tin to make a new Metal Man and disrupt their plans.
  • In Runaways, Klara comes from a rural background, and prior to joining the Runaways, was married off to an abusive older man who almost certainly starved her. Whenever she's seen eating in the series, she's usually wolfing down her food. Given her background, her teammates are very understanding.
    Klara: Mhhff... frrgve me...
    Molly: Oh, we shoulda brought you here sooner!
  • In the Villains United special, the Secret Six go out to eat at a restaurant, where Catman, who's spent several years living among a pride of lions, tears into an order of ribs in a bestial manner, disgusting his teammates.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach, who's not big on social graces, is seen shoveling the contents of a can of cold beans into his mouth with his fingers.
  • Batgirl (2000): Cassandra Cain regularly devours large amounts of food with a hilarious lack of thought towards etiquette. Her mentor, Oracle, is quite amused by this. It is implied that it is a result of her being homeless between the ages of eight and seventeen.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast's eating habits initially disgust Belle, as he's become used to dining alone.
  • Shrek 2 features Shrek's confusion with proper dining when having dinner with Donkey, Fiona and her parents, such as drinking water meant for washing hands and belching at the table. While this is a sign of his grungy upbringing, it escalates into a sign of anger when both he and King Harold start ripping apart the food in tune to their insults at one another.
  • A Deleted Scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs shows the dwarfs, who've been relatively isolated, sitting down to dinner and loudly slurping their soup in ingenious ways. Snow White teaches them how to use their spoons properly to eat like "gentlemen". They learn quickly... but then keep slurping from their spoons.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone — the young wizards and witches at the Beginning of the Year feast dig in with both hands. Hermione, in contrast, eats very neatly with a knife and fork, letting us know that she's very mature for her age.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, when Elizabeth gets captured by Barbossa, he invites her to dinner in his private chambers. At first, she plays her role as the governor's daughter and refuses to touch the mountains of food on the table, but when Barbossa encourages her on account of her being half-starved after being held on his ship for quite some time, she forgets all table manners and messily devours what she can grab.
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rocky tears into his dinner with his hands, prompting Columbia to remind him to use a fork. To be fair, he's only seven hours old and only has half a brain to work with.
  • In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Jar-Jar Binks annoys Qui-Gonn by using his long tongue to just grab food and wolf it down, whereas everyone else is using cutlery. The first time he awkwardly excuses himself. The second time, Qui-Gonn loses patience, grabs his tongue and simply tells him "don't do that again".
  • In Thor, after Thor arrives on Earth and joins his new friends in a small-town diner for breakfast, he finishes drinking a cup of coffee, throws it down to the floor like a mug of ale at a Viking feast, and loudly exclaims "Another!", to the embarrassment of his companions. In Thor: The Dark World, it's revealed that smashing mugs is a common practice in Asgard.

    Literature 
  • In Citizen of the Galaxy, after being bought by Baslim, the slave Thorby wolfs down his meal as if he's afraid that it will be taken from him. This shows the harsh treatment he's received growing up as a slave.
  • In Billy Bathgate, Dutch Schultz and his gang are out for dinner along with his socialite moll Drew. Drew makes a point of eating in a more diginified manner, most specifically cutting the meat with her knife in her right hand and fork in left and then laying the knife down while transferring the fork to her right hand, then slowly and deliberately chewing and swallowing the mouthful of meal before cutting another slice. Schultz gets the gist of her demonstration and encourages his fellow gangsters to follow suit.
  • In A Little Princess, Sarah gives her buns to a starving beggar girl who tears ravenously into them, exclaiming only, "Oh my! Oh my!" She is starving, as Sarah notes. Fortunately, she winds up Happily Adopted later.
  • A thirst version is invoked via Batman Gambit in Red Seas Under Red Skies. The ruler of a city state knows that Locke and Jean are con artists pretending to be nobles and wants to rope them into working for him. So, he has them seized and locked for several hours in a dark room kept extremely hot. Then, he has then released and appears to scold his guards for making a terrible mistake. He then "apologetically" offers them a delicious cordial which contains a slow acting but deadly poison, knowing they'd be too parched to give a thought before drinking it.
  • In Space Cadet, Cadet Tex Jarman picks up a piece of pie with his hands and starts eating it, and the older cadet superior orders him to use a fork instead. Jarman is from a rural background and wasn't taught proper table manners.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell has a servant named Christophe who grew up poor and starving and as a result, is an always hungry Big Eater when he finally has access to regular meals as part of Cromwell's household (especially when it comes to sweets, which he previously had no access to). In particular, there's a scene where Cromwell is serving pastries to a noblewoman who mostly just picks nuts and fruits off the top. The moment she leaves, Christophe starts snarfing down her leftover food.
  • In the Maximum Ride series, the Flock all tend to eat like pigs, because they've been so isolated from the rest of the world that they've never had a reason to learn proper etiquette.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Copper, the first time we see Annie, she's been living on the streets for a while. When Corcoran comes across her and offers her an egg, she wolfs it down.
  • In Turn, Abe is imprisoned for spying. One of the signs of his mental deterioration is that he starts just shoving his scraps of food into his mouth as quickly as possible.
  • One episode of Wishbone had Joe and his friends befriend a kid from a foster home. When they bring him home for lunch, he rapidly gobbles down his sandwich, which serves as their first hint that things might not be alright for him at home.
  • In Incorporated, after Theo, a climate refugee, is offered a real steak, he picks it up with both hands and tears it apart with his teeth.
  • In the first episode of Stranger Things, Eleven escapes from a lab. After finding her way into a restaurant, she steals some fries and stuffs them into her mouth. When the owner takes pity on her and offers her some food on the house, she continues to gobble it down.

    Theater 
  • In The Miracle Worker, Helen Keller, who was left blind and deaf after contracting a severe illness as an infant, is portrayed as having had no table manners to speak of prior to the arrival of her teacher, Annie Sullivan.

    Western Animation 
  • On Archer, Pam regularly stuffs her face with food, to the disgust of her co-workers. This is likely due her profound lack of social competence.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph usually eats with a complete disregard for etiquette, as a form of rebellion against her stiflingly proper upper-class upbringing. When dealing with refined characters she genuinely respects, her manners become perfect.
    • Played with in an episode where Iroh is imprisoned. When his guards are watching him eat, he makes a point of shoveling his food into his mouth with his hands like a madman, so that they think that he's losing his mind and thus don't suspect that he's planning to escape. When not being observed, on the other hand, he eats like a civilized human.
  • The episode "A Wolf in Cheap Clothing" from Disney Television's Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers has Harry wolfing down drumsticks in a restaurant to the horror of other patrons. Justified, because up until Mad Scientist Nimnul's device changed him into a human, Harry had been a grey wolf in a zoo. Harry is ecstatic about the quantity and variety of food humans can access.
  • In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Kilowog's usual method of eating is to shove his face directly into his plate and snuffle the food into his mouth. Whether this is common dining etiquette for his species, or he's just a slob, is unknown.
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy usually isn't very polite, but he'll be even less polite if you set a plate of food in front of him, especially when he's hungry.
  • Grateful to the Loonatics Unleashed for saving Chinatown from Mad Scientist Thaddeus Dare, the folks lay out a splendid buffet for 12. Big Eater Slam Tasmanian gets one eyeful, and devours the entire setting in one pass. Fighting rock monsters works up an appetite, y'know?
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Ghost in the Machine", Lex Luthor is held hostage inside his own office by Brainiac, who forces him to build him a new robot body. When Brainiac finally allows Lex to take a dinner break, Lex gorges himself on a handful of candy bars from a nearby snack machine.

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