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Hey, video game villains need emotional support too, y'know.
Support groups: The most common form in the popular consciousness supports addicts, but in both reality and fiction, all varieties of personal problems have groups dedicated to group therapy for them. Either way, it's cheaper than paying for a psychiatrist.
Typically portrayed as Epiphany Therapy
in productions like the Lifetime Movie of the Week
. If an addiction is involved, Off The Wagon
is a natural accompanying trope for the character. And like a Weird Trade Union
, there can be patently ridiculous parodies of support groups. There are several typical formulas:
- Introducing yourself, and identifying as the particular class of person the group supports. (For example, "Hi, I'm Bob, and I'm an alcoholic"). A Truth in Television formula, with a good psychological reason for its use. Usually the others will respond in a very bored voice, "Hello, (name)."
- A main character will be reticent to share with the group, become prodded by a kindly-voiced group leader, and subsequently let fly a torrent of suppressed disdain for the group at large, while in the same breath revealing a great deal of bitter personal information.
- Important characters tend to meet each other in these groups.
is a Sub-Trope
. In comedies or children's stories, one of these might show up in conjunction with I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin
or any of the related "fictional drug equivalent" tropes.
Unfortunately, no, it's not
an actual support group for breaking your addiction to "tropahol"
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- French comedian Manu Payet has a sketch about going to "Nutella Anonymous" meetings.
- In All Fall Down, Paradigm admits to Portia that since everyone lost their powers, he's been attending meetings at "Remaining Heroes".
- In Incredible Hulk, Betty and the Grey Hulk once imagined a support group for gamma-irradiated superhumans. "Sitting in tiny little chairs... which keep breaking under us..."
- Runaways introduced Excelsior, a support group for former teenage superheroes coming to terms with how much their youthful adventures have negatively impacted their lives into adulthood. By the end of their involvement in the series they have decided to become superheroes again, reasoning that they are adults now and can responsibly handle the situation.
- Noob has Arthéon attend a support group for players that lost their previous characters after doing Real Money Trade. His story makes everyone else feel better about themselves.
- There actually is a supervillain support group in the Marvel Universe (centered in New York), as shown in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Ostensibly it serves to help people who want to get out of the supervillain business move on with their lives. In reality most of the people in it are only there because of court-mandate and still commit crimes when no-one's looking. Notable members include Boomerang, Grizzly, the Looter, and Mirage.
- Get Fuzzy: "Hi, my name is Rob... and I'm a Red Sox fan."
- One The Far Side strip features a "Carnivores Anonymous" meeting.
- The late comics artist Dick Hafer had a few of these included in his book Sometimes You Gotta Compromise: A Light-Hearted Look at Model Railroading—And Model Railroaders, one of which was set at a "Model Railroaders Anonymous" meeting and had the caption "Hi... I'm Tom... and... and... I'm a trainaholic!"
- MLP Loops: Loop 16.5 has Twilight getting King Sombra to attend a "Crystalholics Anonymous" meeting, which includes four diamond dogs, three teenage dragons, a sea serpent, Pinkie Pie and Discord. (Pinkie says she's there because she likes granulated sugar.)
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Parodied by the group family-therapy session in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Scott Evil wants to be a veterinarian.
Dr. Evil: An Evil vet?
- In Half Baked, Thurgood Jenkins goes to a drug addiction meeting to help him quit marijuana. After this line:
Marijuana is not a drug. I used to suck dick for coke. Now that's an addiction. You ever suck some dick for marijuana?
- Henchmen Anonymous also appeared at the very end of The Movie of Inspector Gadget.
- Like Dexter, the eponymous serial killer of Mr. Brooks attends an addiction support group to deal with his compulsion to kill. (Brooks did this before that season of Dexter happened, too.)
- In Two for the Money, Al Pacino's character is a a reformed gambling addict, but one who stills runs a business advising sports gambling to people willing to bet millions of dollars on it. At one point he visit a Gambler's Anonymous support group, seemingly as part of staying off his gambling kick... only to make his protegee gasp in horror as he begins tempting the guys there into gambling again and passes out his card.
- Rachel Getting Married has Kym attending local Narcotics Anonymous meetings for a few days before her sister's wedding; this is how she meets Kieran, who she ends up sleeping with, although it's not clear whether they'll actually keep in touch once Kym leaves town.
- Fred Claus has Siblings Anonymous, frequented by siblings of celebrities such as Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, Steven Baldwin and of course, the title character who is the brother of Santa.
- The vast majority of 28 Days (the one with Sandra Bullock, not the one with the infection) takes place at a rehab center, playing the trope deadly straight (most of the time).
- In a fairly serious vein, AA played a significant role in the plot of Days of Wine and Roses, including two characters (male lead and his buddy/sponsor) standing up at a meeting and introducing themselves as alcoholics.
- Hackers has one. "My name is _____ and I'm not an addict, really!" [shouts of derision] The kid, who is smoking rapidly between sips of coffee explains that he got in trouble for hacking and his lawyer made him out an addict so he wouldn't get so big a punishment. At the end of his diatribe, he asks if there's more coffee.
- About a Boy: Hugh Grant attends a single parents' (i.e. single mothers, plus Hugh Grant) support group to "pick up chicks". Plot follows when he begins dating one of the women, having "bared his soul" about being a single parent: now all he needs is an actual schoolboy to play the part....
- In You Kill Me, the main character is sent to AA in San Francisco after he falls asleep and misses an assassination.
- Will Ferrell's character in Blades of Glory is a sex addict in recovery.
- The opening narration in The World's End is in fact a story recounted to a support group.
- In the thriller Changing Lanes, Samuel L. Jackson plays a recovering alcoholic who is on the verge of turning his life around, as evidenced by his cheery speech at an AA meeting near the beginning of the film. Unfortunately for him, the situation is about to change drastically for the worse.
- Amy goes to Alcoholics' Anonymous meetings in Men with Brooms. Where she is hit on by, and brutally (and hilariously) shoots down a creepy biker guy, complete with an interpreter translating her rather crude choice of words into sign language.
- Anger Management has a support group. Guess what for.
- In order to help promote his public image, Hancock is convinced by Ray into voluntarily serving time in prison to make up for the zero Hero Insurance he had, and all the collateral damage he has often caused for just being himself day by day. He attends a support group of other prisoners who just share their problems to help explain why they committed the crimes that put them in prison, and how to cope with those problems. Repeatedly, Hancock was asked if he would like to share anything, and he always passed. He finally starts to open up and shares few brief words to the group. He progresses better and better with each group meeting after that.
- But I'm a Cheerleader presents its ex-gay program in such a manner, highlighting exactly how effective it is. (Hint: alcoholics remain alcoholics, no matter how much they avoid the drink.)
- The independent film Boiler Maker involves two bank robbers taking refuge in a building that's currently being used for a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. To say the combination is "explosive" is to understate it.
- As in the book, the movie of Fight Club has the main character going to support groups for people with terminal diseases (even though he doesn't have one), because he finds that witnessing their misery allows him to sleep. It stops working when he encounters Marla, who does the same thing.
- From The Fifth Elephant — that's where the meeting is, though the group is mentioned in later books — there is the Black Ribboners, for vampires who wanted to quit drinking blood.
- Also, mentioned in Thud!, is Detritus' "One Step Programme" to get trolls off drugs. Step one, stop using drugs, or Detritus will beat the crap out of you.
- Played straight and discussed in Feet of Clay, when Vimes claims to be addicted to policing, and says that while he goes to meetings for his drinking problem, there's nowhere for people to say things like "My name is Sam, and I'm a suspicious bastard."
- The narrator of Fight Club visited all sorts of support groups for problems he didn't have, as did Marla. He reacted to other's trauma by finally relaxing enough to sleep. When Marla ultimately forces him to leave the groups out of humiliation, he and Tyler found Fight Club.
- Chuck Palahniuk loves this trope. The protagonist of Choke is a sex addict who routinely picks up women at his Sexaholics Anonymous meetings.
- The protagonist of Wrath James White's Succulent Prey attends a support group for sex addicts. While he is indeed a sex addict, his biggest problem is his growing cannibalistic urges.
- Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes has this in spades, not unexpected since it deals with the titular character's recovery from drug addiction. Mostly it's mentioned in passing, but at least one meeting is described in detail.
- Happy Endings Max takes Brad to support groups (and tells the same his father and the ice tray story at all of them) to get free food-first AA so Max can get donuts, then an Overeaters group so Brad can have healthy food. Max then invokes Ruleof Three-"think we should do one more? We should do one more." and they go to a Sex Addiction group.
- At an anger management group, Locke goes into a bitter diatribe about his biological father conning him out of a kidney with feigned love and affection. And meets his love interest, who comes up to him after the session to tell him she shares his disdain for the sad sacks filling the group.
- Another episode features a confrontation between Jack and Christian at Christian's AA meeting; the fight pushes him off the wagon.
- One literal Lifetime Movie of the Week has one of these for a son who'd been beating his mother, engaging in a few Freudian slips in his near-Motive Rant at which the guy he's talking to nods in an irritatingly smug, see-what-you-said-there way.
- Niki is an alcoholic who was approached by her also alcoholic father, after years of estrangement, at a meeting.
- And in Volume 5, Matt Parkman attends AA meetings to fight the temptation to use his powers. He used a claim of alcoholism to cover for his previous years of erratic behavior.
- Roseanne criticized AA in the same vein as South Park. Roseanne's mother Bev joins AA, but rather than actually stopping her wine guzzling, she simply rationalizes her weakness as a disease (which alcoholism is, medically; Knowledge plus Bev=Danger!), and blaming her lapses on her family's failure to support and understand her — or as Roseanne would say, calling her on her crap.
- Malcolm in the Middle: Francis has Lois and Hal come to his meeting for his one-year anniversary sober. When they get their, everyone calls the reason they drink their "Lois" due to Francis' exagarrated stories about her. Including a vetran who say the Vietnam War was his Lois. Oh, and Francis isn't even an alchoholic, and goes there just to complain about Lois to a large group of people. Hilarity Ensues.
- Seinfeld has "The Apology" in which George doesn't get an apology he insists on from a guy going through AA. He talks to the guy's sponsor, who then takes George Rageaholics Anonymous so he can get help. George resists this and confronts the man again, driving HIM to go Rageaholics. Meanwhile, there was Germaphobes Anonymous in that episode that Puddy used to go to and eventually Puddy, Elaine and Elaine's germaphobe coworker all end up at-because Kramer made a salad for them while showering with it.
- Dexter has the title character go into Narcotics Anonymous after he covered up his strange behavior (related to his serial killing) by telling his girlfriend he was a addict (she assumes it's heroin). The therapy ended up reaching over into his desire to kill, but also set him up with an enabler. And causes him to meet a hot Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette whose supportive sexual relationship actually keeps him clean for much of the season.
- Everybody Loves Raymond parodied it with an almost cult-like group of hippie wannabes. Robert's cousin persuades him to join this "feel good about yourself" support group; Robert gets to feeling good and convinces Raymond to visit the group. It all turns out to be a big scam on the part of the group who just wanted to meet famous sportswriter Raymond.
- In the episode "Powerless", Charlie Crews attends Dani Reese's AA meeting to help her catch a suspected rapist. Charlie spoke at the meeting, describing his own feelings of powerlessness as if being in a prison. Dani was the only one at the meeting who knew Charlie had been in prison, framed for murder. (Charlie's obsession with finding out who framed him for murder and why can be seen as similar to an addiction.)
- In another episode Crews & Reese visit a support group for multimillionaires. They say "You can't sit in here unless you have at least $10 million." Crews silently pulls up a chair. (He has the money after a successful suit against the state of California for wrongful imprisonment.)
- Dr. Sara Tancredi went to Narcotics Anonymous in the Back Story of Prison Break, and she originally met Bellick in one of those groups.
- In an episode of Mad About You, Paul goes to an AA meeting to show his support to a guy he met on the highway and made a Black Comedy joke about his alcoholism.
- On Alias, after the second Re Tool and Time Skip in which Sydney lost her memory of two years, she briefly attends a support group for CIA agent amnesiacs. She decides that she doesn't heal through talking, but through making entertaining episodes of investigation and Wig, Dress, Accent.
- In Nip/Tuck, Christian Troy seduces someone at his first Sexaholics Anonymous meeting, and she goes on to become a recurring love interest.
- The protagonist of the The X-Files episode "Hunger" is a man-eating monster who just wants to be normal and so at one point attends an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
- Starved, FX's short-lived comedy about people with eating disorders, featured the unconventional Belt Tighteners: "Belt Tighteners is not affiliated with any 12 step group or dieting program. We believe we need a more radical solution to arrest our eating problems. By creating a community of accountability and shame, we don't act out."
- Both the UK and US versions of Dear John have as their setting a support group for divorced, widowed, and lonely single people.
- Dr. Bob Hartley's therapy group on The Bob Newhart Show.
- Parodied in Scrubs, where J.D. imagines what the acerbic Doctor Cox would be like in Group therapy. After the imaginary Cox beans a fellow person with a chair he decides, "I don't think he'd do well in group."
- On an episode of the Norm MacDonald sitcom Norm, the title character is shamed into attending a support group for his gambling problem. At the first meeting, he stands up and gives a heartfelt speech about how he finally realizes he has a problem, and that he's no better than the other people at the meeting. Twenty seconds later, when he realizes he's accidentally shown up at Necrophiliacs Anonymous, he quickly recants.
- On Reaper, the Devil takes over an AA meeting in order to get people to relapse.
- One of the recurring skits on Little Britain is Fat Fighters.
- The Red Green Show (maybe this wasn't until The New Red Green Show?) had a support group for... men. Includes the "Introducing Yourself" thing. It also has the "Man's Prayer": "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess."
- Don from No Heroics goes to superhero therapy sessions. He has no choice. The booze, the heroin, the hardcore pornography, the violence — none of it is helping him anymore.
- Being Human:
- The West Wing has a secret AA group, for politicians who aren't willing to admit to the world that they're alcoholics. They tell everyone it's a poker game, and it's run by the vice-president.
- In In Plain Sight, Alcoholic Parent Jinx has Brandi pretend to be her and attend AA in her place, which is how Brandi ends up meeting her current boyfriend.
- Zack and Moseby of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody attend a 12-step program for video game addicts after getting hooked on an MMORPG seriously disrupts their lives.
- Rescue Me showcases Tommy Gavin's... ambiguous relationship with AA; presumably, his attitudes reflect those of Denis Leary, who plays him.
- Breaking Bad features a methamphetamine support group starting Season 3. Jesse enlists two of his friends to join the group and covertly sell them meth, but neither of them can go through with it. "It's like shooting a baby in the face! It's not natural." Jesse himself backs off when his first "customer" turns out to be a single mother, and he quits the group entirely when his self-esteem hits rock bottom.
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a sketch about an AA meeting where it's not entirely clear whether AA stands for "Alcoholics Anonymous" or "Automobile Association".
- On Party of Five, this becomes a major aspect of Bailey's struggle with alcohol.
- Bubbles' time in and out of support groups is a recurring theme of his arc on The Wire. His ultimate redemption and acceptance by his estranged sister is a serious Earn Your Happy Ending.
- On Thirty Rock, Liz gets worried when she sees Floyd entering a church in the middle of the week, only to discover that he's a recovering alcoholic.
- Brenda on Six Feet Under struggles with sex addiction and is shown attending meetings. There is also discussion of some of her "steps" (making amends, undergoing periods of sobriety/abstinence, etc.).
- Forever Knight: Nick Knight infiltrates AA at one point and decides to try applying their advice to his craving for blood. Unfortunately, being a vampire isn't the same as being an addict, and stopping blood turns out to be a pretty bad idea for him.
- In Smallville, Lex Luthor meets a Love Interest of his at an Anger Management class, after he destroys a meterman's car.
- In My Name Is Earl, Earl explains that a lack of funding means the town can only have one support group for all problems. So the single support group will have, among others: alcoholics, a kleptomaniac who steals only pens, a sex addict, a woman with an anger problem, and more.
- Appears at the beginning of the whole-fish episode of Good Eats. There is something strange about a fisherman who doesn't like to cook, eat, or look at whole fish.
- In JAG, Bud Roberts is sent to an Anger Managment group in "Automatic for the People".
- In one episode of Community, Annie realizes that Jeff's friend/ex-coworker Alan was the one who got Jeff disbarred, because she and Alan went to the same Narcotics Anonymous meeting where he bragged about sending an e-mail that got a rival co-worker fired.
- The entire plot of Matthew Perry's Go On.
- The protagonsit of New Amsterdam has been going to AA meetings for over 60 years. Since he's Really 700 Years Old, he looks to be in his 30s while still claiming that he's been sober for over 60 years. His answer to people's obvious questions? "I look young for my age" (a Cassandra Truth if there was one). An episode actually did a flashback to when he first met his sponsor, who got him involved in AA.
- In the last season of Misfits, Rudy Two starts going to a support group for people with superpowers.
- Not in-game, but both Civilization IV and V have been advertised (or something) with "Civaholics Anonymous" (or "CivAnon") videos. There's even a Civilization Anonymous Website.
- Warcraft 3's expansion has the Blood Mage, who gives us this response if clicked on sufficiently:
Blood Mage: Uh, hi, my name's Roy and, uh, I'm a magic addict.
All: (chorus) Hello, Roy.
- One episode of Drawn Together features Ling-Ling attending an anger management group among other characters famous for this problem, such as Skeletor, Marvin the Martian, Yosemite Sam and Hulk.
- The Looney Tunes short Birds Anonymous has Sylvester trying to rid himself of his bird addiction. He actually seems to succeed at the end, when his sponsor goes Off The Wagon and tries to eat Tweety, forcing Sylvester to stop him.
- Pepper Ann goes to a support group after she becomes obsessed with Beanie Baby-like dolls.
- Pinky and the Brain:
- One episode features Megalomaniacs Anonymous.
- In the Winnie-the-Pooh parody episode "The Megalomaniacal Adventures of Brainie the Poo", the title book is written by one A.A. Meeting.
- Several Rockos Modern Life episodes make fun of the twelve steps or include a support group. One has Rocko develop an addiction to nail-biting that critters called "the Twelve Steps" tried to help him overcome. One of them actually threatened to hurt him if he didn't admit what was wrong, and said that nail-biting would only take six steps instead of the full twelve (the other half-dozen decided to go to Vegas instead where one of them proved himself to be The Gambling Addict in an act of Hypocritical Humor).
- The Simpsons:
- Parodied, of course, with Marge's alcoholism and recovery (and with Homer going to Alc-Anon after getting busted on a DWI, with Otto the bus driver revealing that he loves to get blotto and the allegedly elderly Hans Moleman revealing that drinking has ruined his life and that he's actually 31 years old).
- There was also the film festival episode (a.k.a that Crossover episode with Jay Sherman from The Critic that Matt Groening hated so much that he didn't bother to put his name in the credits). In Barney's film, he is shown standing up and saying "My name is Barney and I am an alcoholic". Soon after, the camera pans out and Lisa points out he's in a girl scouts meeting, which Barney disregards as them "afraid to admit they have a problem!"
- South Park criticized AA's 12 steps as completely disregarding responsibility and self-restraint in favor of invoking a higher power as seen in the season nine finale "Bloody Mary". Apparently, Parker and Stone didn't even seem to consider quitting cold-turkey as a good idea in the first place.
- In The Venture Bros., the two Mauve Shirt henchmen go to a henchmen anonymous meeting. They end up suggesting that the members go become their own supervillains. Over the mediator's objections, the idea becomes popular.
- In am episode of Mike, Lu & Og, Mike and the others start a support group for their hot dog addictions.
- Peter and Brian had to go to AA in the Family Guy episode "Friends of Peter G." Like with South Park, it had a message about moderation, and seemed to criticize the program.
- An episode of Beavis And Butthead started out with a former alcoholic visiting their class to warn them about the dangers of drinking. He mentions attending AA meetings, which Beavis and Butt-Head assume is a meeting to help people get alcohol. They attend as well, and get bored from listening to the other attendees. Over the objections of the group leader, they convince the people present that a tall cold one would be pretty good. The episode ends with the entire group drunk off their asses in a bar, with Beavis and Butt-head trying to get the bartender to serve them drinks.
- The Flintstones: The episode "Fred Flintstone: Before and After" had Fred joining "Food Anonymous" as part of a crash diet. His fellow members would provide support by yanking food away that Fred was trying to eat — even after the diet ended and Fred was trying to quit the group.
The first step is admitting you have a problem.
"I could stop any time I want..."