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A Birthday, Not a Break

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"Oh man... Not on my birthday..."
Lilo Pelekai, Lilo & Stitch: The Series

Something awful happens. The lovers finally break up, the heroes get captured, a beloved character dies, The Bad Guy Wins... and after the smoke clears, one of the characters suddenly remembers that today is their birthday.

Used to heighten the dramatic irony of something so tragic happening on what is supposed to be a happy day, and symbolizing how the character(s) will never be the same.


Alternately the character is aware it is their birthday, in fact, there's a party just for them. But during the party there is an attack, a conversation between two characters, a revelation, etc. that disturbs (and often ends) the party. Basically the party is used as a reason to have all the characters be in the same place. That way they are conveniently together when the supervillain attacks instead of needing to be called, especially crucial if the characters are adults with day jobs or secret identities and wouldn't naturally be spending time together without a cause. This party is why the people who have been avoiding each other will finally have to talk. This gathering of people is how the secret comes out (someone reveals it not knowing it's a secret or someone being drunk both common causes) and the revelation has more of an impact because now everyone knows not just the few people it effects.


Compare/Contrast Ironic Birthday, which is when the bad thing in question has to be kept a secret, and the character in question doesn't remember their own birthday until the party. Related to Dangerous 16th Birthday and Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday (when the horrific events happen because it's a special day, birthdays included.) See Shoddy Shindig for boring parties.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Butler: Ciel's tenth birthday was the day his house burned down with both of his parents inside. He was also kidnapped and taken off to be a slave and, oh sure why not? A human sacrifice to a satanist cult.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods: The entire fight with Beerus takes place in the midst of Bulma's birthday party. When all is said and done, however, Beerus does have the decency to apologize to the Z Fighters for ruining the party before taking his leave.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: When Ed and Al have just gone through a traumatic experience at Laboratory 5 and are both still injured, Ed remembers that it's his birthday.
  • In Mai-HiME, a relatively light-hearted example happens when Mai has to take part in a make-up cooking exam and fight an Orphan on her birthday, and in a sound CD, Nao ends up getting everyone at Mai's room drunk. She briefly notes that this might be the worst birthday for her ever, having no idea how bad things will get for her before the end of the series.
  • InuYasha: Kagome was dragged into the whole mess with the Shikon Jewel and the Feudal Era on her fifteenth birthday.
  • Happens in the first anime adaptation of Mahou Sensei Negima!. Guess when Asuna dies.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • Tokyo Ghoul has a very subtle example, for those paying attention. December 20th is the date given for the day Kaneki broke under torture and decided to give up on his humanity, embracing his Ghoul nature and gaining several dramatic physical changes in the process. It also happened to be his 19th birthday, adding to the symbolism of his "rebirth".
    • In the sequel, Kuramoto Itou spends his birthday taking part in a high-risk combat operation, fighting a Cute But Psycho Monster Clown. He makes no mention of it in-series, leaving this fact to be noticed by readers that are paying attention.
    • The sequel strikes again, with the climatic battle between Kaneki and Arima taking place on the eve of their shared birthday. It concludes with Arima dying in Kaneki's arms, having committed suicide on his 33rd birthday.
  • Yatterman Night: Leopard's 9th birthday was absolutely normal until her mother started succumbing to her illness. Then she discovers the truth about her lineage, goes looking for help by sneaking into Yatter Kingdom, gets shot at by her heroes, and ends up watching her mother die in the end. And that's just the beginning of her troubles...
  • Star Driver seems to avert this at first, telling you relatively early in episode 6 that it's Sugata's birthday. Then the episode turns out to be a Wham Episode. And then Takuto's narration at the end of it reveals that it's his birthday too. While his friend cries over a seemingly dead Sugata.
  • The final episode of Nurse Angel Ririka SOS takes place on Ririka's eleventh birthday. Ririka undergoes a Heroic Sacrifice on her birthday.
  • The Movie for Yes! Pretty Cure 5 kicks off when Bunbee drops in on Nozomi's party, starts a fight and steals her birthday cake, leading to the Cures going to the Land of Sweets, where's Desparaiah is waiting.
    • Likewise, the climax of the story of Kirakira★PreCure a la Mode takes place upon Ichika's birthday. The girls fight Noir, who is then betrayed by Elisio, who rids the world of happiness. Eventually, the Cures break out of his brainwashing and defeat him.
  • In Youjo Senki, the Duchy of Dacia invades The Empire requiring Tanya and her newly formed Rapid Response Mage Battalion to launch a counterattack on them, it's a staggering 50.000 infantry soldiers VS 48 aerial mages. All this happens on Tanya's "on paper" birthday. Tanya herself however, consider the attack as 'surprise gift' from Dacia because she got a chance to get a 'life fire exercise' for her newly formed battalion.
  • If one keeps track of the dates in Neon Genesis Evangelion, they would find that Kaji’s death happens a day before Misato's birthday, December 8th, which is only revealed in All There in the Manual.
    • Toji's 15th birthday, December 26th, is the same day End of Evangelion starts.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Blue misses out on her 17th birthday during the Emerald arc because she happened to be Taken for Granite at the time.

    Comic Books 
  • In Ultimate Fantastic Four, Victor Van Damme, aged 11, had his father drop his entire family history on him, and then leaves him alone in the parlor. Several hours later, Victor realizes that it's his birthday.
  • In Trese, it is only after a major battle with an old war demon that the heroine, Alexandra Trese, and her companions remember that it is her birthday. By this time, a lot of damage has been done to the city, Trese herself is recovering from some battle wounds, and her two sidekicks have very nearly been murdered by their own father.
  • In Persepolis, Marjane finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, is falsely accused of stealing a brooch, and runs away from the only place she had to stay, effectively rendering herself homeless, on her eighteenth birthday.
  • This is part of the premise behind the DC classic For the Man Who Has Everything. Superman is attacked with a fake birthday present sent by Mongul, and when Batman, Robinnote  and Wonder Woman unsuspectingly come for the party, they are forced to fight him to save Superman.
  • Wolverine's nemesis Sabretooth makes it a point to track down the former on the day of his birthday, no matter where he is, and fight him.
  • Superboy (1994): Superboy learns that Cadmus' previous twelve failed attempts to clone Superman had been secretly preserved in stasis chambers, has to fight S-01 when he gets accidentally released and misunderstands the situation due to his Bizarro-like imperfect state, has to watch S-01 degenerate and die after starting to get to like him and then returns home to a surprise birthday party as it is the first anniversary of the day he escaped from his Uterine Replicator and he is therefore now one year old.

    Fan Works 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfic Pinkie Pie, and Nothing More explains her behavior in "Party of One" this way. Basically, her parents decided to send her away from the farm to pursue her dreams, without giving her any choice in the matter. When she asks why they sprung this on her birthday, she receives a blank stare and realizes they forgot.
  • In the surprisingly good Young Ones fanfic The Unforgiven, this trope gradually unfolds through Miranda Balowski's journals and memorial service: she spent her sixteenth birthday giving birth to Vyvyan, and her parents threw them both out of the house shortly afterward.
  • In How I Became Yours, Katara miscarries her unborn son Kuzon a day before her birthday. Unfortunately, her choice of emphasizing the timing makes her come off as unsympathetic.
  • Another example with Katara is The Stalking Zuko Series, in which the events of "The Southern Raiders," as well as the murder of Katara's mother, took place on Katara's birthday. Luckily, the Gaang later has a proper birthday celebration for her.
  • In A Month of Sundays, it's revealed that the day that the story takes place (April 29th) what with all the madness regarding Foundation X, Gamou, Damballa and the crazy Kamen Rider Mannequins, Jun Shigeno states that it's her birthday. It's subverted because she knew that today was her birthday—she just didn't tell anyone about it.
  • In the InuYasha fic Beyond Tomorrow, chapter 7 reveals that Arina's Start of Darkness occurred on her eleventh birthday. Her mother walked in on her father having an affair with one of the female servants, and in the ensuing argument, Arina's father attacked her mother and brutally beat her on the spot; when Arina witnessed this, she ran for her life.
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • DS and Mezzo's 20th and 16th birthdays, respectively, occur during the time they're stuck in the mindscapes.
    • PEFeDOS during the PMD-R arc is awakened and begins her sadistic testing once again on Tagg's 21st birthday.
    • It repeats with Tagg ending up in Ransei 600 years in the past due to concentrated April Fools shenanigans on his 22nd birthday. Herbert, also in the same situation, has his 16th birthday the next day.
    • Straw gets attacked by Shadow!Crewe on his 18th birthday, which was purposely invoked by Aelia For the Evulz.
    • Sarah was accidentally kidnapped, and subsequently held captive for several days, on her 17th Birthday alongside Ren's Treeko by an Illusion grunt.
  • Ashes of the Past reveals this to be the case for the events of Pokémon Heroes, as it took place on Ash's 13th Birthday. As a result of Latios' sacrifice in the original timeline, Ash didn't do anything for his later birthdays.
  • In chapter 24 of the Lucky Star fanfic I Was Kagami Hiiragi, Dr. Nagisa Kishimoto explains to Kagami how her sister, Yuka Miyakawa, became the way she is. When Yuka turned nine, she was brought on a "vacation" by her uncle to a cabin in the woods. Upon reaching their destination, said uncle proceeded to rape and torture her for two days until a pair of hikers heard her screaming, came in, and saw what was really going on. Long story short, things only went downhill from there.
  • Persona EG has Zodiac Shadows that target victims on their birthdays and pull them into Zodiac to be attacked. Anyone who will be attacked will receive a birthday horoscope on the Canterbook app that will read "You are going to die today." Then they are pulled into Zodiac to be attacked by their zodiac. Victims can only escape by being rescued or killing the zodiac with a persona. All of the main characters are attacked on their birthdays and awaken their own personas to fight back against the shadows.
  • In Common Sense, mainly due to constant attacks from the competent Rocket trio, Ash's birthday passed by without him realizing it.
  • With This Ring: September 17, OL's birthday is celebrated with the Team stopping a break-out at Belle Reve. To fair, he didn't tell anyone that it was his birthday.
  • Life Ore Death has the traditional mission on Wally's birthday, but averts this for the other two birthdays that occur on-screen. M'gann's birthday celebration in October is spread over several days, but is uninterrupted by missions. Even before either of those, Ferris turns 20 in August, and Kaldur takes her to Atlantis as a present while the others prepare a surprise, with no criminal activity occurring at any time.
  • In the Fairy Tail fanfic The Spirit Doll, when Nashi's 7th birthday comes up she has a breakdown because it's the first time it would be without her mother who is currently missing and has been for weeks.
  • Another Fairy Tail example, in Change of Fate the guild is celebrating Lucy's fifteenth birthday, everyone is being cheerful for her. That is until Mirajane and Elfman return to the guild bruised and in tears. They inform the guild that Lisanna is dead. This brings a halt to Lucy's birthday party. For her part, Lucy doesn't care about the party. She is more upset that one of her closest friends is gone.
  • Luke's birthday in Power Rangers Take Flight coincides with the Rangers taking the Project: Jetman space station back from the villains.
  • In Blind Courage, Princess Zelda hates her birthday because her mother died on her seventh birthday.
  • Marinette Dupain-Cheng's Spite Playlist sees Adrien officially emancipate himself from the Agreste family on his eighteenth birthday. He has to remind his mother of the significance of the date before leaving the manor for the last time.

    Films — Animation 
  • Parodied in The Emperor's New Groove: After discovering that the villain Yzma and her Dumb Muscle sidekick Kronk have coincidentally showed up at the same diner he and Kuzco have stopped at, Pacha buys her a surprise birthday cake and song from the wait staff so that he can use the distraction to make a break for it. When Yzma and Kronk leave the diner, this exchange happens:
    Yzma: Oh, this entire mess is all your fault!
    Kronk: What'd I do?
    Yzma: If you hadn't mixed up those poisons, Kuzco would be dead now! There'll be no more diversions until we track that llama down and kill him!
    Kronk: Said I was sorry. Can't just let it go... not even on your birthday?
    • Played Straight in Kuzco’s case, as his attempted murder takes place on the day before his 18th.
  • Storks: Nearly happens to Tulip, who thinks Junior was coming to wish her a happy birthday when he was actually coming to fire her. Junior can't bring himself to do it, so instead, she's Kicked Upstairs to the (defunct) letters department.
  • The Wallace & Gromit featurette The Wrong Trousers opens on Gromit's birthday. Not only does he get lousy gifts, it's the day Wallace advertises he's renting out the spare room and Feathers McGraw moves in, kicking off a series of events that leads to Gromit moving out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne has a party on his birthday. Before that he has to save Rachel from the baddies and demolish half the city escaping from police. Nevertheless, he makes it home in time for his celebration party... only for the League of Shadows to set Wayne Manor on fire and nearly destroy the city with Scarecrow's fear toxin.
  • In Godzilla (2014), the Janjira incident that resulted in the death of Joe Brody’s wife occurred on his birthday.
  • In The Room, Johnny finds out his fiancee Lisa cheated on him with his best friend on his birthday. He ends up killing himself over it.
  • In Big Game, most of second and entire third act take place on Oskari's thirteenth birthday. His family even made it into tradition - to become a man, you have to hunt down a "big game" the day you turn 13.
  • Tree of Happy Death Day has to relive her birthday over and over because she is being killed on that day.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione remembers that it's Harry's birthday after the Power Trio has escaped a Death Eater attack.
  • In The People Under the Stairs, on the day of Fool's 13th birthday, he and two grown-ups break into the house of two greedy landlords to get money to pay their rent and his mother's operation. They find something much more disturbing instead.

  • In book 5 of the Nintendo Adventure Books series, it's Peach's 99th birthday (in fungus years). She puts on some enchanted sneakers, which make her run off, and the Mario Bros have to track her down and rescue her.
  • Happens a couple of time in the Tortall Universe by Tamora Pierce:
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, when the Baudelaires are in jail for allegedly killing Jacques in The Vile Village, Klaus suddenly remembers that it's his 13th birthday.
    • Violet goes through the same thing in The Grim Grotto when they return to the abandoned submarine.
  • In The Great Gatsby, after Tom, Jay, and Daisy have their big confrontation, Nick Carraway recalls that he just turned thirty today.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian: Percy only realizes it's his Dangerous 16th Birthday AFTER he realizes the Great Prophecy had been fulfilled (ending the war).
  • Enola Holmes: Enola is horrified by the day her mother chose to ran off on. Slightly subverted, in that her mother had her reasons...
  • PK Pinkerton in The Western Mysteries comes home to find his parents scalped, his father dead and his mother dying. He doesn't remember it's his birthday until he sees his favorite kind of cake on the table. Red licorice strings spell out "HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY PINKY".
  • In Wintersmith, Tiffany only realizes that the day Miss Treason dies is also her birthday once it's all over and she realises Death called her Tiffany Aching, aged thirteen.
  • Mid-way through the book Holes. On Zigzag's Birthday, everyone is in on Stanley and Zero's "agreement" of digging holes in exchange for Reading Lessons. Zigzag, being the type of camper he is, doesn't take no for an answer when he offers to dig Stanley's hole for him, and when push came to shove, got rather vicious on Stanley for not taking a cookie he had offered him in exchange. Zero however would not have any of it and nearly strangles Zigzag to death for hurting Stanley.
  • The Cloak Society:
    • The game begins in protagonist Alex's twelfth birthday, as he's undergoing his first mission for the titular supervillain team. Kind of an Inversion, though, because if anything his parents probably meant this as a way to make the milestone more significant.
    • In the sequel, Villains Rising, Mallory mentions in the middle of their activity that it's her birthday. At least Alex gets some cupcakes to celebrate.
  • In Dresden Files, Dresden's birthday (Halloween) is a night of magic and the supernatural. Naturally, this means that he spends his birthdays trying to save the world. In one story, he's stopping necromancers from achieving godhood when his brother wishes him a happy birthday and Dresden's surprised anyone remembered.
  • Used to heighten the emotion of the final confrontation in The Malloreon when the characters realize that the captured prince will be turning two years old on the day of the EVENT.
  • In The Witchlands, Vaness doesn't get to kick back and relax on her birthday, since she's an Empress and it's the most important public event of the year - not to mention the ever-rising threat of assassins.
  • Yours Truly: Truly was looking forward to her birthday at the start of the book. She expected to receive a breakfast of sourdough waffles with butter and syrup, only to be informed that she'll be spending the day helping to volunteer at the Freeman Family Farm with the sap harvest.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: "Edith's Fiftieth Birthday" is marked by a visit by a rapist. Chilling words when the rapist tells her "Happy birthday!" upon learning of what that day is, seemingly more determined to give her his "present."
  • Our House: In the second-season opener of the 1986-1988 NBC domestic drama, 13-year-old David and his class go on a field trip on his birthday and stop at a rural church for a picnic; there, David makes friends with the janitor and are inside the church when a massive earthquake strikes. In the aftermath, the janitor is gravely injured after a gas line blows up inside the church and is blown outside. David goes to the hospital and holds a bedside vigil by the man's bedside, but he ultimately dies from his injuries. (Two classmates are also badly hurt when they are caught in the church's tower during the explosion, but both of them survive and recover from their injuries.)
  • Ultraman Leo: MAC gets utterly annihilated on a team member's birthday.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • "The Shelter", Dr. Bill Stockton's birthday party is interrupted by a nuclear alert, followed by all the guests desperately trying to break into his fallout shelter, which has only enough room for Stockton's family. The alert turns out to be a false alarm, but the relationships between Stockton and his friends are damaged, perhaps irreparably.
    • In "It's a Good Life", Dan Hollis receives a Perry Como record at his surprise birthday party. Although he wants to play it on the Fremonts' record player, the others talk him out of it because of Anthony's hatred of singing. Dan later gets drunk on whisky, another of his presents, and starts making noise, much to Anthony's annoyance. While Pat Reilly is playing "Moonglow" on the piano, Dan starts singing "Happy Birthday" and tries to convince Pat to play the song. However, he is too afraid to do so. Dan finally loses his cool and tells Anthony that he is a monster. He implores the others to attack Anthony from behind but none of them have the courage to do so. Anthony then turns Dan into a jack-in-the-box before sending him to the cornfield.
    • In "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby", Somerset Frisby is abducted by aliens on his 63rd birthday. They plan to bring Frisby back to their own planet as the most impressive specimen that humanity has to offer. As they have no concept of lying, the aliens believe all of his outrageous tall tales about his past accomplishments.
    • In "The Incredible World of Horace Ford", the title character is fired from the toy company by Mr. Judson on his 38th birthday after he refuses to take a leave of absence because of his increasingly erratic behavior. That night, Horace returns to Randolph Street where he turns into a 10-year-old boy. His childhood friends then beat him up for not inviting them to his birthday party.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Virtually every time Buffy's birthday is celebrated on-screen, it's followed by a supernatural tragedy or crisis she has to deal with. In season 6, Spike lampshades it and remarks that since bad things always seem to happen on Buffy's birthday, she should just stop celebrating it.
  • A minor example, in an episode of Friends, Phoebe has to break the news to Precious, the woman whom Mike was in a relationship with while he and Phoebe were separated, that not only are they getting back together (thus ending his relationship with Precious) but he also proposed to her. Precious then remarks "This is the worst birthday ever!"
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Ted is guilty of causing this twice with his ex-girlfriend Natalie, both times not even being aware that it was her birthday. The first time he breaks up with her, he does it by leaving a message on her answering machine, which is played in front of everyone at her surprise birthday party. The second time, he does it publicly in a restaurant, again not even being aware that it was her birthday. Understandably upset he did it twice and didn't even consider it was her birthday both times, Natalie uses her Krav Maga skills to beat him up. (Made funnier by the fact that the actress playing Natalie also played Precious in the Friends example above.)
    • In a less literal example, the final season (except for the last two episodes) takes place entirely over Robin and Barney's wedding weekend, so many of the plots involve all the characters being together for the wedding (or, in Marshall's case, trying to get to the wedding). However, this means that what is usually a year's worth of episode-worthy events occurs in the span of a little over 72 hours. This includes multiple sets of cold feet on behalf of both the bride and groom (with both attempting to escape at least once), Robin's reunion with her rarely mentioned, never seen mother, Marshall's journey from Minnesota to the wedding in New York by car, bus, foot, and eventually car again, Barney escaping and teaching two teenagers how to "be awesome" and subsequently getting the hangover of a lifetime, an argument that nearly ends Marshall and Lily's marriage, and - most notably - Ted finally meeting the Mother (who had already met Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney before that). Ted notes that it was the longest weekend of his life.
  • Towards the end of the second season of Rome, Cassius and Brutus offhandedly remember that it is Cassius' birthday in the immediate lead-up to a battle. They both remark that the battle will interfere with any kind of celebration that day, and promise to have a big event the next year. Both Cassius and Brutus know this is little more than a hopeful lie they are telling themselves, since they fully expect to die during the battle, and do.
  • Doctor Who: In "Death in Heaven", we learn that the evil plot of the day and all its traumatic events are, in fact, the Master's idea of a Surprise Party for her arch nemesis, the Doctor. The day ends with Osgood and the Master dead, the Doctor breaking down in tears after his hopes of finding his missing native planet were crushed once again and his parting with Clara, who has been his closest friend for years. Made worse by how he was completely unaware that it's his birthday until the Master pointed it out.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "The Assignment", Miles O'Brien finds out that an alien presence has possessed his wife's body and the alien will kill Keiko if he doesn't help them kill the aliens in the wormhole. It's O'Brien's birthday and at his party he's surrounded by friends he can't tell about his problem because the alien will kill Keiko in an instant. The alien later subtly hints that she could use Keiko's body to harm their daughter as well.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Parallels" starts with a surprise birthday party for Worf, who soon finds that he has been unknowingly traveling between alternate universes midway through the episode. Deanna Troi claiming to be his wife at one point is a big clue...
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm gets sick of being repeatedly bullied by a big kid at school and gives him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Not only does it turn out that the kid is much younger than he looks (so he claims, at least, but none of the school staff deny it), making Malcolm feel incredibly guilty for beating him up, he follows up with "THIS IS THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER!"
  • In Firefly's episode "Out of Gas", the crew is celebrating Simon's birthday when a mechanical error injures Zoe and temporarily disables Serenity.
  • The season two finale of The Good Place reveals Eleanor died on her birthday.
  • Rossi on Criminal Minds doesn't celebrate his birthday because a serial killer will give up the name and location of one of his victims to Rossi in person on his birthday.
  • In The Orville, Kelly and Bortus have their birthdays within days of one another. They receive a signal from a pre-space flight world and engage in First Contact. Unfortunately, the locals are obsessed with astrology and consider anyone to be born on the same month as Kelly and Bortus to be dangerous criminals. Kelly and Bortus spend their birthdays (and that entire month) in an internment camp for individuals like them. The crew does, however, throw them a party after they come back.
  • In the CSI episode "Appendicitement", Henry's surprise birthday dinner at Harry's Hog Hideout is disrupted by a car accident, the restaurant having been closed by the health department, and the discovery of the corpses of restaurant personnel. Those last two things turn out to be related.
  • In Victorious, in one of her stories about her brother, Cat implies this happened at her last birthday. She was expecting to get a bike as a present, but when she got home her brother had shaved his head. This resulted in her parents spending the rest of the day shouting at him.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • A running gag is to have a wrestler take an especially harsh thrashing if a show happens to fall on their birthday, bonus points if the thrashed are a baby face and even more it is also in their hometown.

  • In Julius Caesar, Cassius realizes it's his birthday right before the battle where he's killed, after having noticed a ton of bad omens about the battle.
  • "See, I'm Smiling" is one of the most depressing songs in The Last Five Years, which itself is basically Love Hurts: The Musical. It's here that Cathy has a massive fight with her husband, realizing their marriage is damaged beyond all hope of repair, and she finally voices her (correct) fears that he's cheating. The fact that this is all happening on her birthday is just the cherry on top.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat:
  • The Last of Us: The Cordyceps outbreak hits Joel's hometown and his daughter dies mere hours after his birthday.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • At the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Link's sister is kidnapped on his birthday.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, on Zelda's seventeenth birthday, she spends her birthday praying at the Spring of Wisdom to awaken her divine power to no avail. But as she comes down from Mount Lanayru, Calamity Ganon attacks, resulting in Hyrule being ravaged, her father and her friends killed and Zelda sealing herself and Ganon to stop him.
  • In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze the Snomads invade Donkey Kong Island on DK's birthday.
  • Sonic Generations opens up with Sonic and his friends celebrating Sonic's Birthday. Just as it's getting started, Sonic is attacked and all of his friends are captured by the Time Eater.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Serah and Snow broke the news that Serah had become a l'Cie to Lightning during Lightning's birthday party. Lightning, not believing their story, drove Snow and Serah from the house in disdain, openly declaring it to be the "worst birthday ever." By the time Lightning realized that Serah was telling her the truth, it was too late: the Purge of Bodhum had begun, and Serah had been taken captive by the fal'Cie that branded her.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 confirms that the Bite of '87 (where an animatronic bites the frontal lobe off someone) happened at a birthday party.
    • Two games later, it is revealed that the victim was a birthday boy whose skull is shoved into the mouth of an animatronic by his older brother. To add insult to injury, he really detests the pizzeria and never wanted to have a birthday party there. Though there are some hints that this wasn't actually the Bite of '87 but instead a separate incident, meaning Freddy Fazbear's could have been the host to at least two cases of this trope.
  • In Tales of the Abyss Guy's family was killed on his fifth birthday by Luke's father. Also the entire island they lived on was destroyed shortly after.
  • The opening cutscene of New Super Mario Bros. Wii mentions that it's Princess Peach's birthday...right before she gets kidnapped (again).
  • In Kingdom Hearts I, Sora's age is stated in the manual to be 14, and he falls into a one-year sleep at the end of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, forcing him to miss out on his 15th birthday.
  • SCP – Containment Breach: As if dealing with the titular containment breach that makes this a horror game on any day wasn't bad enough, it happened on the player character's birthday, as indicated by SCP-983 (the Birthday Monkey) activating to sing its birthday song.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in Death Battle. Deadpool and Pinkie Pie were made to fight each other on the former's birthday, much to his annoyance. After Pinkie finds out, she throws him a birthday party in Ponyville, abruptly ending the fight much to Wiz and Boomstick's confusion.
  • In GoAnimate "Grounded" videos, Caillou will have this happen to him. Sometimes he'll do something bad and wreck his chances, but most of the time, groundings are his presents.
  • RWBY: In "Alone Together," when Yang assumes that Weiss doesn't understand loneliness because she comes from a large family with a lot of closeness, Weiss tells her what the Schnee family is really like to live with by using her tenth birthday as an example. Her mother called out her father for missing Weiss's birthday dinner, leading to Jacques snapping and admitting he only married her for the family name. His wife is so devastated that she turns to drink, eventually becoming a drunkard who can never be relied on to show up or support any of her recitals or social events.

    Web Comics 
  • This Channelate strip plays this for laughs, with someone deciding that it's best to break bad news to someone in a good mood...
  • In Unsounded, Duane Adelier and his daughter were heading home on her birthday, when they were both brutally murdered by a group of muggers. One of the last things Daune saw before his eyes were gouged out was his daughter's lifeless corpse lying in front of him.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In "Stick Figure Tales of Cotton", Dr. Ironologue is squashed by a giant gorilla and then remarks that it was ironic because it's his birthday, but the others don't buy it. It's a lot less subtle than the usual example.
  • In The Young Protectors, Kyle ends up having to deal with a crisis on his birthday, because turning 18 makes him fair game for supervillains, which the Annihilator exploits to spring a Honey Trap, use Kyle's power to communicate with a Demon Lord, and open a Hellgate.
  • Although not quite in the trope's order, Grace of El Goonish Shive learns that her 18th birthday is the next Saturday while she's being held captive by Damien, from another captive. Prior to that, she didn't even know how old she was.

    Web Original 
  • Worm:
    • Taylor just can't catch a break.
      Kurt: [chuckling] I'd offer you a drink, but that'd be against the law. How old are you, anyways?
      Taylor: Fifteen.
      Danny: Sixteen.
      [Taylor turns to look at her dad]
      Danny: It's the nineteenth. Your birthday was a week ago.
      Taylor: [remembering she was fighting the Slaughterhouse Nine then] Oh.
      Kurt: That's the saddest goddamn thing I ever heard.
    • Later, Taylor is celebrating another birthday when Jack Slash begins his attack, heralding the end of the world.

    Web Videos 
  • Whenever it's a birthday for a member of Hat Films, a special video goes up of the other two planning a "special treat" for the birthday boy. Recent birthday videos have essentially been the other two members physically and psychologically torturing the third with "birthday quizzes", where wrong answers end in destroyed gifts and having to eat food with a new ingredient that makes it taste disgusting. Ironically, their previous birthday videos just involved opening fanmail.

    Western Animation 
  • Two examples in Young Justice:
    • Wally's sixteenth birthday party is interrupted when four giant flying ice fortresses start trying to freeze the entire country. He initially regards this as a good birthday, since it will give him a chance for a team-up with the Justice League, but grows disappointed when the blizzards knock out all transportation services, resulting in him having to run a transplant heart from one coast to the other in time for a little girl's surgery. He barely manages it after being tricked by the girl's Evil Uncle, and collapses in exhaustion right afterward.
    • Dick's fourteenth and nineteenth birthdays are detailed in the show's tie-in comic. The first appears to be fine: his crush kisses him on the cheek because his best friend was kind enough to inform her, and he has a huge party at his house. His nineteenth, however, quickly devolves from a couple routine missions to recruit a new member and prevent a possible assassination to all of that, plus several high-profile Leaguers and Superboy going missing, the city of Metropolis being cut off from the rest of the world, and what appears to be an alien invasion.
  • The Teen Titans Season 4 episode "Birthmark" has the rest of the Titans discovering it's Raven's birthday, only for her to want to completely avoid the day in general due to it being the day foretold that she is to become the portal for her father Trigon to arrive on Earth and turn it into his own personal domain. Due to the machinations of a Back from the Dead Slade, the first stage of this prophecy comes to pass, as she is covered with the markings that will enable her to become said portal and is given a nightmarish vision of Trigon's supposedly-inevitable victory.
  • Mighty Max's two-part series finale sees Max celebrating his birthday...which is also the day Skullmaster kicks his apocalyptic plan into action.
  • In the BoJack Horseman episode "Say Anything" the story follows Princess Carolyn for a day, during which she loses a client and a movie deal, gets excited for a relationship only to have it crumble, and ends with her staring out her office window and her phone ringing to reminder today is her birthday. And she's 40.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Marinette's grandmother Gina and Adrien's best friend Nino were akumatized on, and in fact because of, the heroes' respective birthdaysnote . Their classmates Alix and Nathaniel and teacher Miss Bustier were all akumatized on their own birthdays.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Secret of My Excess, Spike turns into a giant rampaging monster and nearly destroys Ponyville on his birthday. Justified in that it's specifically because it's his birthday that this happens: dragons in this setting grow larger and more feral if they get too greedy.
  • In the episode "Eat, Spray, Linda" on Bob's Burgers, it's Linda's birthday and she's having a rough day. While her family works hard to make a perfect spa day, she's sent out to fetch groceries so she doesn't peek and ruin the surprise. She ends up stuck behind a woman at the counter who takes forever to buy her items (and stole her place in line!), has the family car pinned between two giant vehicles in the parking lot, locks her keys and phone in the car by accident and herself out of the vehicle as a result, gets gum in her hair, no one will give her the time of day to use their phone to call home, rips her pants and ends up wearing a grocery bag as a diaper, ends up on a bus going to the wrong wharf and ends up hours away, walks home for miles on end, gets sprayed by a skunk (presumably by two separate skunks or by the same skunk twice), breaks her glasses, has to ride in the back of a horse trailer to get close to home, and runs into the same snooty woman at the grocery store, refusing to let her have passage through a street blocked off for a chalk festival all because she hadn’t been "nicer" in line, and is called a hag not two minutes later. It gets better at the end after her family, who have spent hours looking for her, come home to find her crawling through the kitchen window she just broke in through and finally is able to have her spa day. And Bob learned more about her in the hours he spent searching for her from various places and people, partially thanks to the kids Gene, Louise, and Tina.
  • This happened on the Dexter's Laboratory segment "Dial M for Monkey" in the banned episode "Barbequor", where Barbequor and his herald the Silver Spooner attacked the Earth while Monkey was having a birthday party thrown for him by the other heroes, who kept trying to stop Monkey from fighting them so he could enjoy his birthday while they try (and fail) to handle it themselves. Even after saving the day, Monkey doesn't get to enjoy his birthday because he then has to give The Infraggable Krunk a ride home and is having a hard time accomplishing the task because Krunk can't remember where he lives.
  • Happens to Michelangelo in a third-season episode of the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, appropriately titled "Michaelangelo's Birthday", when Shredder and his mutant minions Bebop and Rocksteady make several attempts to undo the mutations of him and his brothers.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Peach gets kidnapped on her birthday.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ABirthdayNotABreak

Media sources:

Main / ABirthdayNotABreak