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Analysis / Sick Episode

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     Different Types of Sick Episodes 
Sick Episodes will likely be played differently dependent on the type of work. The most common ways of Playing With the Sick Episode is For Laughs, For Drama, and Straight. The characters all getting sick, or several getting sick one by one can be in either version.


When Sick Episode is played straight, which is common in children's entertainment and Sitcoms, it will usually be one of these types of diseases:When the Sick Episode is played straight, it will often have one or some of these consequences.
  • The sick character gets put into bed and told to rest.
  • The sick character gets given a hot drink and/or some soup.
  • The sick character gets given medicine that they hate.
  • The sick character has an important job/responsibility and Chaos Ensues because either they attempt at Working Through the Cold and mess up, or someone else has to fill in for them and they mess up.
  • Another character (or more than one) catches the illness, often at the end, possibly resulting in Caretaker Reversal.
  • If it's a cold expect them to be talking funny and wrapped in a blanket.
  • A fun event is cancelled or the sick character has to miss out because they are sick.

Played for Laughs

When the Sick Episode is played for laughs, it will generally have either a Malfunction Malady or people messing up in an attempt to fill in for the sick character's responsibilities. Also, if sneezing is a symptom, expect lots of sneezes of doom. Sometimes the sickness is just a subplot which may be about trying to Find the Cure!, and sometimes the sickness comes in at the end when a character who was Playing Sick actually gets sick due to Laser-Guided Karma.

Played for Drama

When the Sick Episode is played for drama, the character is usually in danger of either dying or paying a very serious price like going blind. They might have to go to a hospital and it might be some sort of sci-fi or fantasy disease. Expect a Fetch Quest to Find the Cure!.Common tropes that apply when sick episodes are played for drama include Ill Girl, Soap Opera Disease, and Incurable Cough of Death.
     How Not to Fall Victim to a Sick Episode 
  • Don't stand out in cold or rainy weather without appropriate clothes on, or you'll Catch Your Death of Cold. Note: This rule only applies if the people you regularly interact with think that the weather can make you sick. If your main social circle consists of people who are out in all sorts of weather and claim it's good for the soul, and if they're regular characters who we get to see and who are not known for being wrong all the time, go ahead and take a walk in a downpour. Just don't be surprised if you have to wring your clothes out.
    • Don't be wrapped up in a blanket while eating or drinking something hot after getting cold and/or wet, as that's a surefire way to have someone diagnose you with a cold.
    • Related: don't fall into water, especially not in the winter!
  • Don't eat too much, especially if someone has told you not to.
  • If someone else is sick and the sick person needs to be "cared for", have the whole household care for them equally. If you are the sole carer or the main carer for the sick person, you'll likely get sick too.
  • Don't cough or sneeze! If an explanation (like dust), isn't given, it'll likely lead to illness, however, there are exceptions.
    • If you do cough or sneeze, don't say you're not sick because you'd be Tempting Fate.
  • Never, under any circumstances, say you or a group of people you belong to don't, won't or can't get sick!
  • Unless you're a kid on a routine checkup, never have someone take your temperature.
  • Never have someone look at you and say something along the lines of "oh dear" and/or shake their head, particularly if they've just taken your temperature and/or someone else was sick.
  • If it's a pro-vaccine work (or Real Life), get vaccinated against any disease that has a vaccine and is mentioned.
  • Don't groan, speak with a low throaty voice, speak in sentences of only one or two words, or a combination. Unless of course, you're Lurch, then go right ahead.
    • Especially no groaning when you first wake up! If you're Not a Morning Person, this might be an exception, but again, don't say we didn't warn you.
      • More especially not if someone wakes you up.
  • Unless you've just eaten or someone has offered you food you don't like, don't refuse food.
  • If you're on Star Trek and there's apparently a disease about, don't fall down and have one of the doctors scan you.
  • If you fall down and someone asks if you're okay, don't groan, say "Where am I?" and close your eyes.
  • Don't stand up or sit down abruptly and say "Ouch", then when someone asks what's wrong, reply with anything along the lines of "I just had a sudden sharp pain"
  • Don't suddenly make a pain noise and grab a part of your body. You're probably safe if you do this after being hit in that part, but do not do it suddenly for seemingly no reason.
  • Don't say, "I don't feel well" very slowly.
  • If someone tells you not to do X or you'll get sick, don't do X!
  • Don't fake being sick or you'll get sick out of karma. Unless, of course, it's part of a plan against the villain.
  • If someone is already sick, don't say you won't catch it.
  • Watch out if someone says that a disease is going around and it "mainly affects/is especially bad for X", and you're an X.
  • If a disease is going around, don't start showing symptoms. If, however, you do, and someone says, "Oh, [person], not you too", you're probably doomed already, but to be less doomed, don't outright state that you're not sick.
    • Don't exhibit a mundane symptom (like a mild itch) that's said to be the first symptom.
  • Don't put your hand on your forehead or have someone else put their hand on your forehead.
  • If you must have plans or responsibilities at a time when disease is mentioned (although it's a risky business), don't say, "I can't get sick, I have [insert responsibility or plan here]!"
  • Don't wake up complaining of a symptom on the morning of an event you plan to participate in.
  • If an illness is spreading, don't be the main character's Love Interest. Especially not if you don't love them back and the main character is trying to impress you and/or said character describes you in poetic terms.
  • Don't be a baby in a novel that takes place in the olden days.
  • If you are in a setting where diseases that alter a person's personality exist, don't act wildly Out of Character. A special mention goes to acting goofy (for example, singing, doing dance-like movements even though music isn't playing, saying nonsense words or sentences that don't make sense, or being very jokey). Some writers use this behaviour as symptoms of a mind-altering disease even if doing this is not specifically out of character for them. (for example, someone who's never seen acting goofy but is not serious and has a slight jokester side). Avoid acting goofy in these settings unless you usually do, in which case, don't stop!
  • In a science-fiction or fantasy setting, you normally don't have to worry if you're a robot, an android, a hologram, or some sort of creature with Bizarre Alien Biology, superpowers or magic that makes you immune. However, try to avoid being the only one not infected with a disease besides one of those immune people.
    • Related to the above, don't be the only person not infected unless you are one of those immune people.
  • Both being very competent (whether because you're smart or just talented) and being very incompetent (whether because you're stupid, clumsy, Book Dumb, or just not very good at what you're doing) both have their perks and their downsides. Sometimes, they have a plot where the incompetent person gets sick and is jealous because the competent person didn't. On the other hand, sometimes the competent people get sick first, leaving the incompetent people in charge. The latter plots sometimes have the incompetent person get sick at the end to enforce Here We Go Again!, but other times, the incompetent person is Born Lucky (even if it's dumb luck) and doesn't get sick.
  • If you're in a comical work and you live among a bunch of humans but you yourself are not a human but are humanoid (alien, witch, fairy, etc), stay away from sick humans!!
  • If your partner or roommate gets sick and they're the only person you live with, this is a tricky situation. Keep as great a distance from them as you can and, if applicable, let actual doctors do the doctoring. You could also have friends over to help take care of the partner or roommate if they need taking care of but avoid taking care of your own or someone else's sick partner or roommate on your own (see the rule about sole and main carers) so it's best to have a whole lot of people over. Optimally, if you live with a partner or a roommate and nobody else (pets notwithstanding) teach them these steps too. Sick partners and roommates when they're the only person who lives with you are a dangerous situation.


Example of: