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Attention Whore / Live-Action TV

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In General:

  • Pretty much the prime motivation of people on Reality TV shows.


  • This type of character makes up the vast, vast majority of Rik Mayall's body of work. This live appearance at Comic Relief in the mid-'80s says it all.
  • Van Kooten En De Bie:
    • Tjolk Hekking, the deputy of major Hans Van der Vaart, who always tries to get attention by placing himself in front of the major and Spiking the Camera.
    • Arie Temmes, who brags about his act of resistance during World War Two, while he actually did nothing else besides telling a German officer the wrong direction to the station. Despite this, Arie still fantasizes how this deed might have changed the outcome of the war.
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    • Prof. dr. ir. Akkermans, who invites the press to his home because he claims his "name was mentioned" for about every important business position.


  • Jenna Maroney of 30 Rock, due especially to her fear of becoming a White-Dwarf Starlet. That Freudian Excuse makes her more sympathetic than most examples of this trope... but she still had this exchange:
    Liz: You're so insecure you get jealous of babies for their soft skin!
    Jenna: And how much attention they get.
    • Jenna's response to finding a positive pregnancy test in the trash?
      Jenna: Oh, no. Someone's going to get more attention than me.
    • There's more:
      Jenna: Oh, don't be so dramatic. That's my thing and if you take it away from me, I will kill myself and then you.
    • While out shopping with Liz:
      Jenna: We need to get out of here BEFORE SOMEONE RECOGNIZES ME!
    • And also:
      Jenna: Last night was a disaster and not the good kind where I get to sing at a benefit.
  • The host of The Apprentice is an inveterate attention whore on and off the show, constantly bragging about and embellishing his business reputation and outdoing the contestants on the celebrity version in hunger for fame.
  • Amy Farrah Fowler of The Big Bang Theory tends to fall into this, like when she became Bernadette's Maid of Honor.
    "Today is not about you! Today is about Howard and Bernadette and me!"

    Bernadette: We're just trying on dresses, do we really need to record this?
    Amy: I’m sorry, are you the maid of honor?
    Bernadette: I am the bride.
    Amy: So no.
  • Stephen Colbert's character, Stephen Colbert, from The Colbert Report.
  • Jane on Coupling. When viewed through "subtext vision", all her speech registers as "Let's all talk about me!" Oliver even reasons that Jane says weird things just to seem provocative, and probably isn't even really bisexual, if she were to be completely honest with herself.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor can drift into this at times. He rather likes to be admired and adored, and that's part of both his hero complex and the reason he has companions (besides the many, many other things they do for him.) On the other hand, he does always leave before he can get credit for all the life and universe saving he does.
      The Doctor: I'm being extremely clever up here, and if there's no one to stand around and look impressed, what's the point of having you all?!
      • The First Doctor is naturally reclusive and secretive out of concern for his own safety, but has his moments of attention-seeking. In the first part of "The Time Meddler", he very blatantly fishes for attention from Vicki in order to make himself feel less lonely after Ian and Barbara's departures, monopolising her time and Compliment Fishing. In "The Savages", which is the first time the First Doctor lands on a planet which not only knows about his travels but considers him a great hero, he smarms and mugs his way around the planet, ordering his fans about, letting them dress him up in fine clothes, and mentioning to his companions that it's about time someone gave him this sort of treatment.
      • The Third Doctor got Jo Grant as a companion because his previous one decided that he didn't actually want qualified help, he just wanted "someone to hand him test tubes and tell him how brilliant he is."
      • The Fourth Doctor was by far the most unsubtle one about it. This is noticeable, especially when entering rooms, which he would accompany with striking a pose, or a huge amount of googly-eyed flailing, or usually some mixture of both. If he didn't get a good enough reaction he would sometimes leave the room and do it again. Sometimes, if another character was talking and everyone else was paying attention to them, he'd fidget about and gurn in the background until everyone got distracted, or just blatantly interrupt the other person just so that people would look at him. Like many performers who come out of repertory theatre, Tom "I Don't Need a Companion" Baker was drilled to shamelessly steal scenes and stand front centre at every opportunity.

        In one episode, he has a Funny Background Event where two characters are having a conversation between themselves which happens not to involve him. He stands between and behind them, looking between them with his mouth open ready to interrupt, slowly becoming increasingly distraught that neither of them is paying attention to him, and then shoots them a look of contempt and wanders off.
      • In his later episodes at least, the Seventh Doctor tends to eschew attention and prefers to be a more-or-less unnoticed presence in the background quietly manipulating events to go the way he wants them before quietly slipping away. While he's not entirely averse to making his presence known, it's usually because his plans happen to call for it or as a distraction to throw people off his trail rather than out of egotism.
      • Notably averted by the Ninth Doctor, so far the only Doctor to actively eschew attention — unlike many of his predecessors he tends not to charge in headfirst and start demanding everyone listen to him, instead preferring to hang around in the background using a combination of Obfuscating Stupidity and general invisibility to blend in, observe what problems everyone else is dealing with, and then sneakily sort them out while no-one is looking. Of course, the least attention-seeking Doctor is the one who ends up forced to appear on a sadistic reality television show, which would have caused much egotistical mugging from any of his other incarnations (especially the Third, Fourth, Sixth and Tenth) but is an excruciatingly embarrassing experience for him.
      • The Fifth and Second Doctors also prefer to fade into the background, although they don't avoid attention to the extent of Nine.
      • Six may not have been as blatant about it as Four, but between the bombastic personality, the exciting voyages round the English language, and That Coat, his entire persona seems designed to ensure that nobody can possibly pay attention to things that aren't him.
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    • In "Spyfall", The Master admits that his endless murderous schemes are all to get the Doctor's attention.
  • Damian in Drop the Dead Donkey has elements of this, because his mother never gave him any. (She appears in one episode along with home videos from Damian's childhood, and her Catchphrase is "Ignore him, he's just doing it to get attention.")
  • Game of Thrones: Euron really enjoys asserting himself on everything every time there's a large gathering just to show-off. Notable instances are the Kingsmoot, savoring the crowds' cheers when delivering Yara, Elaria, and Tyene to Cersei, and mocking Tyrion during a parley, possibly to impress Cersei and not to be "outdone" by the Clegane brothers who made a scene (well, Sandor did) just a few minutes prior. He even enters the Throne Room on horseback as a sign of authority (similar to Tywin).
  • Rachel from Glee. She sent a prospective club member with a really good voice to a crack house so that she wouldn't upstage her, then tried to pass it off as protecting the roles of the others. Finn calls her out on this, but it's too late by the time he does because the prospective member's already been taken up by Vocal Adrenaline thanks to Sue.
  • Both Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska are this on Gotham, unsurprisingly, as they are the show's two main takes on the Joker. Jerome has to be the center of attention all the time, while Jeremiah is actually pretty introverted at first, but is this when it comes to his truly disturbing obsession with Bruce Wayne/Batman. Even in season 5, when he becomes the leader of a cult that he actually names "The Church of Jeremiah Valeska", it turns out that he isn't actually as interested in having ordinary people worshipping him as it seems, because he only wants devoted followers so he can use them to build something that will further his plans to connect he and Bruce forever as enemies.
  • Tim becomes one in one episode of Home Improvement when Al temporarily takes over for a cooking show with Tim as his assistant. Despite the role reversal, Tim continues to try to be the center of attention like he does on Tool Time and eventually has to learn to back off and let Al have the spotlight (at which point they suddenly switch roles again, with Al becoming the clumsy lead and Tim being the Straight Man sidekick.)
  • House of Anubis- Joy seems to be like this in the second season. When her tricks weren't for Fabian, they were for the spotlight. She couldn't handle the negative attention she received as a result, however.
  • The IT Crowd: Jen doesn't always act like this, but her behavior includes singing loudly (and badly) to announce her newest relationship, complaining constantly about problems to her (usually uncaring) co-workers, and pretending to speak Italian when she can't because no one was paying attention to her and because another woman's performance at work was outshining her own.
  • Both Nathan and Alisha from Misfits pretty much fit the bill, which is probably why they don't like each other much. Although Alisha at least seems to prefer positive attention, and she shamelessly flaunts her body, flirts and simulates sex on inanimate objectsnote  to get men to notice her and do what she wants (it usually works like a charm... but whenever it doesn't she assumes the man in question is "gay"). Nathan, on the other hand, seems unable to discriminate between positive and negative attention and just desperately needs everyone to be noticing him all the time regardless of the circumstances. He occasionally goes to jaw-dropping lengths to make himself impossible to ignore. And usually ends up getting hit by someone.
    • Alisha grows up a lot in season 2, and probably doesn't qualify as an Attention Whore any more (although she definitely did in the beginning). Nathan, on the other hand, is shameless as ever - he thinks nothing of taking a dump on someone's bed just to prove a point.
  • NCIS features this in spades. One notable instance is in the episode "Murder 2.0", where a serial killer broadcasts his murders on a YouTube expy, all for becoming famous.
  • Ricky of Noah's Arc, whose promiscuity is at least in part due to this. In fact, when his employee doesn't actively pursue him, he relentlessly tries to understand why by actually confronting the employee about it.
  • The Office:
    • Michael Scott has a veritable laundry list of attention whore moments.
      • At Christmas, he insists on being Santa, even though there's already a Santa. He even goes as far as to dress as Jesus Christ at one point, insult everyone via karaoke machine, and complain about it to David Wallace.
      • Another Christmas party has him buy Ryan an iPod for a Secret Santa gift exchange with a twenty dollar limit, which he deliberately set so that everyone else's gifts would pale in comparison.
      • At Phyllis and Bob's wedding, he tries to get into all the pictures and feels he needs to keep talking, even though he only has a minor role in the wedding.
      • At the Dunder Mifflin shareholders' conference, he was only supposed to wave when he was introduced, but he insisted on giving his own version of a pep rally.
      • When Dwight goes to the hospital for a possible concussion, Michael insists on talking about the burn on his foot and even goes so far as to try to stick his foot into the MRI machine when they're scanning Dwight's head.
      • In every meeting he attends, he tries to be the center of attention.
      • He comes up with "Scott's Tots" as a way to get attention by claiming he will pay for college for a bunch of kids, but then doesn't follow through. He did it all for the attention he got.
      • He creates his own presentation to compete with the sensitivity training.
      • The Dundies.
      • When he is aboard a ship and no one is paying attention to him, he goes so far as to claim the ship is sinking!
    • Kelly constantly lies to her boyfriends that she's pregnant to get them to pay more attention to her, one of her New Years Resolutions was to focus more on being the center of attention, and at one point mentioned that she's taken it so far that she can't get people to do anything for her unless she threatens to kill herself, which she evidently has no trouble doing.
  • During his guest appearance on Saturday Night Live, Jim Carrey did a skit wherein he impersonated an elderly Jimmy Stewart, who ruthlessly tore into Carrey's need to be the center of attention.
  • Dr Cox in Scrubs has elements of this; his self-image as a maverick who bends the rules relies on everyone else seeing him that way as well. In the episode where J.D. gives the entire cast an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech, one of his points about Dr. Cox is "Oh, no! Jordan's paying attention to the baby! That must be so hard for Dr. Look At Me!"
  • The main character of Selfie, Eliza Dooley, is a little like this. In her everyday life, she doesn't need to be at the center of attention and often ignores her co-workers, who don't really like her. She is, however, all over social media, constantly tweeting, taking pics for Instagram, and so on. It seems to be due to being ugly and alone when she was young, and know she craves affirmation from others, based on shallow things like her looks.
  • Sherlock
    • The title character likes lots of attention, and in the first episode he clearly enjoys it when Watson tells him how fantastic his deductions are. Later he says of Moriarty that 'genius needs an audience', to which Watson gives a non-committal answer because Sherlock likes an audience too.
    • This is the weakness of the murderer in "The Lying Detective". He's meticulously careful to ensure that his crimes cannot possibly be traced back to him, but at the same time, he really wants to tell people about them, and have them realise what he's capable of and how clever he is about it.
  • Trina from Victorious. This actually goes to the point where she sells the song that Tori wrote for her "birthweek" and passes it off as her singing, despite not being a good singer at all.
  • Vida: Lyn is the kind of girl who actively goes looking for drama yet complains that drama always finds her no matter where she goes. Case in point, Lyn was delighted when Johnny's fiancee finds out she was sleeping with him and goes to confront her.
  • The Whitest Kids U' Know has a sketch about Zach having this problem. He calls it attention deficit disorder.


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