Follow TV Tropes


Allergic to Routine

Go To

"Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead."
Aldous Huxley, Do What You Will (1929)

This person gets bored extremely easily and needs to be entertained at all times. Unpredictability isn't just a preference, it's a necessity for this guy's sanity — if too many days pass quietly, they start to lose their mind. They're the roommate who always "forgot" that it was their turn to clean up, but who dragged you along on their (mis)adventures and kept life so interesting that you ended up not minding. They're also the parent who uprooted their kids every time they felt life was getting "boring" and the spouse who signed themselves and their unknowing partner up for a mission to Jupiter — anything, anything to avoid life becoming "normal".

Your sympathy for this character may vary. On one hand, they're funny, unpredictable and keep life interesting...but on second thought, you'd probably think twice about marrying this character or having them as a parent. They often have a crippling case of No Sympathy, and assume what they want is what's best for everyone. The fact that their significant other is keen to take over the family business in his hometown, or their kid is sick and tired of having to make new friends every four months, will simply not compute with them — life's getting same-y, so let's get out of here!

However, they may not get as far as having a steady partner, much less kids, to worry about — that means commitment, and very possibly the dreaded prospect of domesticity. Many Allergic To Routine characters would rather remain free agents, never hanging around for breakfast after a passionate night or forming lasting friendships. If they do, it will be a major plot point.

They may use dubious means to make things "interesting", or disrupt the lives of those around them just to see what happens. They will enjoy being a Weirdness Magnet, would never dream of declaring "I Just Want to Be Normal" and, if faced with normality, will be spotted running into the horizon screaming "I Just Want to Be Special"...except it's not the "specialness" or Chosen One status they want, it's the ability to make life interesting.

Calvinball is essentially this trope in game form, so if the Calvinball-like game in a work is presented as one specific character's brainchild, then you can guess that character will probably exhibit this trope (as Calvin himself definitely does).

Contrast with Creature of Habit. Compare and contrast Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Bumbling Dad, Commitment Issues and In Harm's Way. The Hedonist is this character but even darker.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Both Light Yagami and L of Death Note become depressed when faced with monotony. The same goes for Ryuk.
  • From Eroica with Love: Eroica/Dorian is a less manic version, but still gets pretty low when life fails to live up to his romantic ideals, and sets off to cause trouble in order to keep life exciting.

    Comic Books 
  • In After Eden'' Jon and Celine do the same things with their respective friends over and over every week, to the point that they get bored with the activities. The routines break when Jon and Celine met.
  • Zatanna: Everyday Magic: Zatanna spends most of the story exhausted, and can't wait to have peacetime to relax from her duties as a Stage Magician and as a superhero... but she quickly gets bored of the normal everyday civilian life and goes back to work on her show quicker than her agent expected.

  • The Grasshopper: The fatal flaw of protagonist Christine, who at one point admits that even when she's having fun, she's bothered by the idea that someone else somewhere may be having more fun. She cannot abide routine and boredom and as a consequence makes bad decisions. She loses a job as a bank teller after she gets the bright idea to slip a stick-up note to a customer. She leaves her perfectly nice, handsome boyfriend because he's obviously too dull for her. Later, she says she'll be a loving Housewife to Tommy, but a shot of her looking bored as she fries bacon at home cuts to her looking even more bored as she goes grocery shopping, and she winds up abandoning her groceries. She deliberately picks a fight with Tommy to, as she says, "liven things up around here!"
  • A limited form of this appears in Jumper. David Rice has no problem keeping himself entertained normally, but the one time he travels from the US to Italy without using his instant-teleportation powers (because his girlfriend is a Muggle who has no idea he could have moved them to Italy literally faster than she could blink), he's almost crawling in his seat with boredom.
    Millie: You okay? What's the matter?
    David: Um... yeah, I'm fine... does it always take this long?
    Millie: (confused) I thought you said you'd been to Italy before?
    David: Well, yeah, I have... lots of times... Its just... does it always take this long?
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Because Quicksilver experiences time much more slowly than everyone else, he gets bored very easily, so he treats life like it's one big game. He gets his thrills by stealing whatever catches his fancy, and Xavier observes that Peter Maximoff is a kleptomaniac.

  • In the Cormoran Strike Novels, this is possibly the most defining characteristic of Charlotte Campbell-Ross, Cormoran Strike's former fiancee (they split up permanently at the very beginning of the first book in the series, The Cuckoo's Calling). In Lethal White, it is stated that Strike knows that she has practiced a "career of disruption" and that she has "an almost pathological hatred of routine, responsibility or obligation" and has therefore sabotaged every possibility of permanence before having to deal with the threats of boredom or compromise.
  • The obligatory Discworld example would be Moist Von Lipwig of Going Postal and Making Money. After he outwits the Corrupt Corporate Executive and gets the post office running again, he resorts to climbing walls and breaking into his own building to kill the monotony. Vetinari promptly shifts him to the bank, and already has plans for his next job after that. One wonders what will happen when the city runs out of businesses for him to renovate, although Vetinari also notes that he doesn't seem to get bored like this when his fiancée is around.
    "I wonder if it's like this for mountain climbers," he thought. "You climb bigger and bigger mountains, and you know that one day one of them is going to be just that bit too steep. But you go on doing it, because it's so-o good when you breath the air up there. And you know you'll die falling."
  • Ryugamine Mikado from Durarara!! seems like an unassuming high school protagonist, but later comes to embody this trope. Made most apparent when he essentially starts a gang war for the sake of simply making his life more exciting.
  • In The Genesis of Jenny Everywhere, we have Jenny's friend Leah "Leelee" Jones, a ditzy, borderline Cloudcuckoolander teenage girl who spends half her time playing truant from school and the next day randomly turns up half an hour early because history class in first period "sounded interesting". Possibly justified given there is no law forcing her to turn up and her guardian is her neglectful uncle who couldn't care less when it comes to instilling a sense of routine in his niece. She gets bored easily and is friends with Jenny as her quirky style and tales of adventure in alternate worlds make her seem "cool".
  • The titular Haruhi Suzumiya is a person who loathes routine, and the thing she wants most is an extraordinary life. She constantly seeks out interesting things from mysterious transfer students, murder mysteries, and aliens, time travelers, and espers.
  • Aikawa Kagiyama in the Honor Harrington novels is this. So, one day, he's sitting watch, totally bored, and decides to run a detailed analysis on a freighter that recently entered the system, just to have something to do. He discovers that they previously encountered the same freighter in another system a few weeks ago... only it was operating under a different name, which is sufficient cause to board her. What they find blows the lid off a Mesan plot to sabotage the Talbott annexation, and ultimately provokes the biggest war in human history.
  • One of Horatio Hornblower's traits. He comes up with so many daring plans partly because he considers himself a coward every time he's not risking his neck, but mostly because he has an extremely active mind. It's also a fact that navy life consists mainly of boredom interspersed with wild activity, and he really hates boredom. It also leads him to do lots of less-dangerous things to break up the monotony of blockade service, like force all the midshipmen and petty officers to calculate and recalculate the longitude of a particular point or play whist.
    "I'd rather be in trouble for having done something than for not having done anything."
  • Translator Dlique in Imperial Radch was grown to be a liason between humans and Starfish Aliens and is, as a result, extremely weird. And very easily bored by routine, to the point where she complains about having to breathe regularly.
  • The Last Days of Krypton: Councilor Cera-Si frequently requests breaks during ponderous Council meetings and has declined multiple offers to join the priesthood because he dislikes the idea of standing around for hours and staring at the sun (with protective eyewear).
  • Perry Mason frequently talks about how he hates routine. He's often forced to endure several hours of answering correspondence by his secretary, Della Street. It's noted he is a trial lawyer because he enjoys a fight rather than practicing routine law.
  • Sherlock Holmes: "My mind rebels at stagnation." Becomes clinically depressed when things get too quiet. For the record, the book version of Watson has a foot in both camps (domestic bliss with wife + running after Holmes on adventures = happy life), while the film version wants to be a Creature of Habit... But Holmes, in most adaptations, consistently functions on the assumption that his best friend is also naturally Allergic To Routine.
  • Myra from The Story of Valentine and His Brother was born to vagabond parents and has spent her whole life wandering Britain, never sleeping in the same place two nights in a row. When she falls in love with the aristocrat Richard Ross, she tries hard to be a good wife to him, but after a while she can't take living in a palace anymore, and she vanishes with their twin sons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Delenn said this of Sheridan on Babylon 5, after he complained about never catching a break.
    Delenn: I have tried picturing you on a beach with nothing to do.
    Delenn: And the picture always ends your head imploding.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor is terrified of domesticity and monotony — after all, this is someone who regularly switches bodies, never mind routines. This has caused some heartaches for their companions, who occasionally and understandably feel as if they're just replaceable amusements who get discarded when the Doctor gets bored.
    • The Eleventh Doctor, in particular, has problems with simply sitting still and waiting whilst nothing happens.
      • In "Amy's Choice", he considers a peaceful village and family life to be a nightmare, accuses it of slowing him down and blunting his mind, and asks Amy and Rory how they stave the "self-harm".
      • We see hints of his distaste in "Vincent and the Doctor", when he is forced to follow Vincent van Gogh on a painting expedition in the hopes that a certain rampaging monster will turn up.
        The Doctor: Is this how time usually passes? Slowly... and in the right order?
      • In "The Power of Three", while he's waiting for one of the mysterious cubes to do something, he decides do odd chores around Amy and Rory's house, plays keepie-uppie with a football to 5 million, cooks dinner and paints the fence. After all that, he discovers to his horror that the time it takes before he runs out of things to do and goes crazy with boredom... is one hour.
      • He does a similar thing in "The Bells of Saint John", while waiting for Clara to wake up. He tinkers with the spoonhead robot, alphabetises the kitchen cupboards, fixes the rattling noise in the washing machine, optimizes the shrubbery's photosynthesis, and reassembles (or invents) the disassembled quadricycle in the garage.
      • Ironically, he ends up spending centuries trapped on a single planet, defending it from all his worst enemies to prevent them from restarting the Time War, ultimately dying of old age.
    • The Twelfth Doctor, at the beginning of Series 10, has been stuck at the University of Bristol guarding a mysterious vault in the basement for at least 50 years. He's starting to go stir-crazy. In "Oxygen", he's so desperate to go back to space that he deliberately answers a distress call, dragging his two companions along for the ride — and it ends up biting him in the ass.
  • The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin: Reggie is being driven mad by his routine. Especially the season-spanning routine of destroying everything he's ever created.
  • The Good Life: Apart from finding his desk job to be hopelessly silly (he was a draftsman who designed plastic toys to put in cereal boxes), Tom Good found it to be dull and pointless. Thus he and Barbara turned to self-sufficiency; Tom takes to all the challenges with gusto and enjoys devising solutions to a lack of vehicle or clothes wearing out (usually).
  • House: Whether as a doctor, a friend, a roommate, Gregory House always winds up rewriting the rules to his own advantage — and sometimes breaking them even then.
  • Sherlock: This version of Sherlock Holmes has a need for intellectual stimulation that strongly brings to mind a drug addict's desire for the stimulant of their choice, and repeatedly goes to dangerous lengths in order to avoid becoming bored - a trait he shares with his arch-nemesis, Moriarty. However, possibly as a means to complement Sherlock, this particular version of John Watson is heavily hinted to be an adrenaline addict and a thrill-seeker.
  • This trope is Played for Drama in the Tales from the Crypt episode "Split Second". Liz gets bored with her marriage to Steve Dixon soon after tying the knot and, upon seeing Ted, the new employee who is hired in the lumber company headed by Dixon, seduces Ted solely for new excitement. Given that Dixon is already unhinged before marrying Liz and is violently possessive towards her after that, things take a horribly worse turn when Dixon finds Ted and Liz in bedhe attacks Ted with an axe in sheer rage, blinding Ted as the result (Liz falsely accusing Ted of raping her doesn't help), and some of the fellow lumberjacks, who are True Companions with Ted and, therefore, not happy about what has happened to Ted, prove that they've had enough by exacting payback on the Dixon couple, with deadly results on said couple.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • This trope is what drove Calvin to codify Calvinball. And also what drove him to drop all his clothes and walk to school for no actual reason.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Tzeentch, the Chaos god of magic, sorcery, and traitors in Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 is constantly scheming to increase his power and also to upset his own final victory: as the embodiment of hope, to achieve victory would mean its own end (its opposite god is Nurgle, a god of decay, death and stillness).

  • Auntie Mame, who declared that "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

    Video Games 
  • Link: The Faces of Evil starts with Link being bored out of his mind and hoping that Ganon is up to no good again so that he could venture out to stop him. When word arrives literally seconds later that Ganon has indeed seized the island of Koredai and that only Link can defeat him according to prophecy, his reaction is a resounding "Great!" He doesn't seem to be concerned at all at the dire situation at hand, he's just glad he has the opportunity to do some adventuring.
  • The Big Bad of Danganronpa, Junko Enoshima, has this as her entire motivation for everything she does in the series: her talent in analysis allows her to forecast almost every outcome to a situation, which causes her to constantly be agonizingly bored, so much so that she's become fixated with despair, since its chaotic and unpredictable nature is the only thing that makes her feel alive.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Consular companion Felix Iresso has been bounced from back end outpost to back end outpost, despite a stellar service record, and his career has stalled because he had a Sith holocron forcibly downloaded into his head when a prisoner of war on Althir. It doesn't seem to bother him much, and when the Consular shows up, he's delighted to sign on for an insanely dangerous diplomatic mission. The best way to get affection points with him is by volunteering to do the dangerous, dirty, and outright crazy missions no one else is willing to do.
  • In Undertale: Flowey explains his history in full towards the end of a No Mercy run: with the ability to SAVE, he was able to experience all possible outcomes of every scenario. He helped everyone, he killed everyone, he won every contest and lost every contest... until, after untold resets, he just ran out of things to do. It wasn't until the Player Character fell into the Underground and overrode his SAVE power with their own that he became truly interested in the outcome of events. The same urge is part of what likely drives you, the player, to start a Genocide Run of your own...
  • In Tyranny, Bleden Mark the Archon of Shadow, official headsman and executioner of Kyros' court and unofficial assassin for Kyros, is a very old and jaded being who does what he does because it's not boring. The reason he aids you in the Anarchist path, betraying his masters Tunon and Kyros after serving them loyally for so long, is because he was impressed and entertained by your insane rebelling. He's also apparently bored with serving Kyros. If you convince him to serve you, the epilogue mentions that you are very careful to keep him busy lest he grow bored and betray you as well.
  • Fallout 3 has Dr. Stanislaus Braun. A shining, textbook example of a high-functioning sociopath, every single action he takes is to amuse himself somehow, and he gets bored quickly. He's extremely friendly to the player when they arrive in Tranquility Lane, because it's something to shake up the routine. It's even one of the assignments he gives you: kill one of the inhabitants, but in a novel way (no simply beating her to death - he's already done that).
  • Mega Man 10 has Sheep Man, who is mentioned in his profile to be so easily bored that not only did he quit his initial sheep-herding job, he also considered quitting his circuit board static resistance tester job shortly before was afflicted with Roboenza.

  • 8-Bit Theater: Black Mage goes stir crazy very, very quickly.
    Red Mage: What kind of dark wizard in league with nameless forces of primordial evil are you that you can't even make a successful sanity check versus boredom?
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: King Radical's goal is this trope. He will make Earth more radical, or rather, more like his homeland, Radical Land, by both getting rid of bores and non-radical people, and switching them with people and creatures from Radical Land.
  • Dragon Sanctuary: Dean is going stir crazy in his village from always doing the same thing, which leads him to shirk his duties and get into trouble. Meale points out to him that everyone is bored of their lives there, but they work in order to eat and he's the only one who causes so many problems complaining.

    Western Animation 
  • Clover of Totally Spies! can usually be seen moping around whenever not out saving the world or flirting with the latest guy of the week.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Eddy gets bored easily, which may be another reason why he likes scamming so much.
  • A therapist in the Rick and Morty episode "Pickle Rick" astutely points out that the entire The Smith-Sanchez Family is an example of this trope, explaining that while some people are okay with doing “boring” work that isn't adventurous at all, others would rather die, and Rick Sanchez and Beth Smith's conversation on the ride home afterward implies that she was completely right in her assessment. Heck, Rick's shenanigans in this episode alone are proof: he would rather turn himself into a pickle and fight roaches, rats, and the government than go to family therapy.
    • Jerry Smith, being Rick's Foil, completely and totally inverts this. Jerry thrives on structure and routine. When Aliens took over the earth at the end of Season 2, Jerry quickly becomes a model citizen because all he has to do is keep his head down and follow whatever routine he's given. And in a Season 4 episode, Jerry consumes some of a substance that allows whoever drinks it to experience their own idea of a "perfect existence." In this existence, Jerry is a water bottle delivery man, traveling from house to house and installing large water bottles into water coolers. An impossibly monotonous and totally uncomplicated job.
  • Chaos, the Anthropomorphic Personification of disorder and random chance in Aladdin: The Series, lives by Blue-and-Orange Morality. Anything interesting is good, while anything stagnant and mundane has to go. Learning that the kingdom of Agrabah had a heroic champion Aladdin who always triumphed over evil and ensured peace and prosperity for Agrabah instantly set Chaos on a collision course to break the status quo.

    Real Life 
  • In Myers–Briggs, Intuitives and Perceivers are usually more routine-phobic. In Big Five Personality Traits, this is ascribed to people scoring high in Openness to Experience and low in Conscientiousness.
  • This is a common trait in people with ADHD. The dysregulation of neurotransmitters involved causes them to gravitate towards activities/habits that release more neurotransmitters.
  • Some 'therapies' for autistic people (who are often inclined towards rigidity, sometimes to inflexible extremes) can cause a minor version of this. For instance, one who insisted on the same meal every day might find himself thinking that he can't do that and have something different every day with no patterns or anything.
  • Astrology books normally assign this trait to Sagittarius and Aries. Aquarius is an odd case - most descriptions will paint them as apparently Allergic to Routine, but actually a Creature of Habit - it's just that those habits will be very strange.