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Literature / Who Moved My Cheese?

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Who Moved My Cheese? is a late 1990s self-help novella by Dr. Spencer Johnson about noticing and adapting to change. Its easy reading level, fable delivery, and short length led to several parodies.

Who Moved My Cheese? contains examples of these tropes:

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: After the littlepeople discover Cheese Station C, they change their habits to rely on its cheese to an unhealthy extent.
  • Affectionate Parody: I Moved Your Cheese by Deepak Malhotra refers to WMMC as "the good book".
  • An Aesop: Watch for signs of change, and be ready to change your actions when change happens around you.
  • Animated Adaptation: There have been two versions, the old VHS version in 4:3 and the new DVD version in 16:9.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: "Cheese" and "New Cheese" are written with initial caps when referring to the littlepeople because "Cheese" represents what people desire in life.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The Animated Adaptations give the four characters specific colors:
    • In the VHS version, Sniff is blue, Scurry is purple, Hem is red, and Haw is orange.
    • In the DVD version, Scurry and Hem switch colors.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Several parodies explore what would happen if the mice were replaced with rats.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Hem and Haw chisel holes in the wall of Cheese Station C to see if more cheese is behind the wall.
  • Extreme Doormat: Deconstructed. Haw had a feeling that the Cheese at Cheese Station C was not coming back and that they had to find New Cheese, but Hem's stubborness led him into following along, leading both of them into worse conditions. Of course, one day, Haw finally leaves to find the New Cheese on his own.
  • Fauxtivational Poster: Haw has a habit of drawing (straight) motivational graffiti on the walls, both to motivate Hem and to act as a landmark when searching the maze for New Cheese.
  • Framing Device: Someone tells the story of "Who Moved My Cheese?" at a high school reunion.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hem's outbursts when he realizes the cheese is gone.
  • Humans Are Morons: Both Hem and Haw act like five-year-olds. Hem throws a temper tantrum when the cheese is missing, and Haw is under the delusion that it will magically come back, and is too afraid to travel through a maze with no real danger even though the alternative is starvation. The only smart characters are the mice.
  • Lilliputians: The littlepeople Hem and Haw.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: The mice Sniff and Scurry still act on mouse instinct and can't talk to Lilliputians other than through gestures, but they wear (and can tie) shoes.
  • Rags to Riches: The discovery of Cheese Station C.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Cheese and mice. Downplayed as the cheese is metaphorical.
  • Title Drop: Hem shouts "Who moved my cheese?" after there is no cheese left in Cheese Station C.