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Attention Whore / Literature

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  • Discworld played with this in the book Maskerade, where two performers at the opera were competing for attention in the middle of a crisis. One is a major side character, who's looking to replace the other, older performer. At the first sign of trouble, she emits a little sigh, does that movie-swoon that ensures a pain free landing. Upon revival, she looks around baffled and asks, "Where am I?". The other also fainted, but because everyone was paying attention to the other singer was forced to revive herself and faint again several times before eventually resorting to hysterics.
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  • The titular murder victim at center of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia is characterized as the epitome of this trope (and pays the price for it).
  • Carmelita Spats from A Series of Unfortunate Events. As well as Esmé Squalor and to some extent, Count Olaf. Naturally, Carmelita is adopted by Esme and Count Olaf in book eleven and thought of as "the daughter she never had".
  • Harry Potter:
    • Inverted with Harry Potter himself. He became famous because of circumstances out of his control and actually loathes the attention it gets him. According to him, he only became famous because Voldemort killed his parents and failed to kill him. All he wants is to live a normal life. Unfortunately, him being Harry Potter is the reason why a normal life is not exactly within reach. Also, many of his detractors, most notably Snape, think he actually enjoys all the attention he gets.
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    • Ron Weasley. Justified because Ron felt that he wouldn't be as distinguishable like the rest of his siblings were. Also because his best friends were known as "The Chosen One" and "The Brightest Witch of her Age", while he himself is seen as "another Weasley".
    • Gilderoy Lockhart is probably the biggest example of the series. During his short tenure as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, all of his lessons are about himself and not about any defending against dark arts at all. Even after he accidentally erased his own memory with Ron's broken wand he still thinks people want his autograph. Why? "I suspect it is simply my good looks!" The staff of the hospital seem to think Lockhart's penchant for autographs means he's recovering. That said, he's vaguely aware that some people think he's a big deal, he just has no idea why that might be. But he likes the attention (another good sign, according to the healers), so he doesn't really let it cost him any sleep.
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    • During Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry's father James Potter has been revealed to have been this in his school years. This was exactly the reason why he allowed Peter Pettigrew to be his "friend" as Pettigrew admired James to the point of worshiping the ground he walked on.
    • The Ministry of Magic also forces the newspapers to portray Harry and Dumbledore as this after the events of Goblet of Fire. The reason behind this, is because the Minister refuses to believe Voldemort is back and by portraying Harry and Dumbledore as attention seeking troublemakers, he removed all of their credibility.
  • Joyce Reynolds from the Hercule Poirot novel Hallowe'en Party.
  • Lydia from Pride and Prejudice.
    • Mary as well, though she has more of an excuse. She's the least beautiful of the sisters, tries to be "accomplished" to make up for it, and thus never passes up an opportunity to show of her "accomplishments."
  • The Idiot: Ippolit Terentyev seems to be constantly seeking attention. Other characters think his main motivation is bitterness over the fact that other people can be happy while he's dying of tuberculosis. At one point, he interrupts a party in order to read aloud a letter he wrote—which turns out to be a suicide note. Upon finishing, he grabs a gun, points it as his head, and pulls the trigger. The gun doesn't fire and Ippolit is unhurt, which just leads more people to assume that he deliberately loaded the gun incorrectly, and that the entire incident was just a cry for attention.
  • Misty Carpenter from The Identity Matrix is a literal attention whore: She's a prostitute who becomes a stripper to get more attention, better tips and an upgrade in her johns. She was programmed to be this way by a Government Conspiracy, who "thoughtfully" threw in nymphomania as well on the theory that it's not really a punishment if she enjoys it.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Mike and Psmith, Psmith makes a false confession to save his friend Mike, who is under suspicion. When it's proved that neither of them did it, one of the housemasters asks Psmith why he confessed, and Psmith claims that he was out for "notoriety." The housemaster proceeds to grill Psmith on whether this is a problem for anyone else in his family.
  • The culture of the city that's the focus of Extras emphasizes this. Resource allocation is based on reputation, so being a non-famous person, or "Extra", means that one can't requisition much more than necessities. Doing community service or actual jobs will get you "merits", which can also be used for requesitioning, but unlike reputation, merits can be used up.
  • Discussed by British secretary of state Lord Chesterfield in the Letters to His Son: "They are always the heroes of their own fables; and think that they gain consideration, or at least present attention, by it. Whereas, in truth, all that they get is ridicule and contempt, not without a good degree of distrust; for one must naturally conclude, that he who will tell any lie from idle vanity, will not scruple telling a greater for interest."
  • In The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, Hard Drinking Party Frood Zaphod Beeblebrox managed to become President of the Galaxy because of how extreme and outrageous his constant attention-seeking is, a position that involves almost no actual politics (although he is eventually revealed to have been the one to have ordered the destruction of the Earth) and a great deal of Gargle Blaster-drinking and socialising, and serves only to distract the population of the Galaxy from asking who really is in charge. He reveals some Hidden Depths, though, not least a Neuro-Vault.
  • In Rachel Griffin, Sigfried Smith understandably has shades of this, having gone from being in an Orphanage of Fear to an international celebrity. In the second book, after both Rachel and Siggy save Roanoke Campus from a fatal threat, Rachel slips away to hide and Sigfried struts out to bask in the praise.
  • Old Shapoklyak from Cheburashka has only one goal - becoming famous. Unfortunately she also holds the belief that the easiest way of becoming famous is being a massive douche to everybody to become infamous.
  • The Red Knight of The Traitor Son Cycle has an almost compulsive need for adoration, and feels anxious when he's not the smartest and most important person in the room, to the point of almost endangering a vital mission because he was unwilling to let a more skilled warrior take the central stage.
  • The Spirit Thief:
    • Eli can be very pushy for attention at times, as Josef notes in one conversation with Nico.
    "If you want to do this, Nico, I'm behind you, but only if you really want to. Don't let Eli make this about him."
    • Benehime wants to be worshipped by everyone around her, and reacts brutally when this doesn't happen.
  • Renly Baratheon in A Song of Ice and Fire. He has loved being in the spotlight since he was a child, and one of the reasons he wants to be king is because being the king means people will have to pay attention to him.