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Celebrity Is Overrated

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"I wanted to be famous, now I want to take it back."
Five Iron Frenzy, "Superpowers"

Money makes life go around, and lots of people desire to be famous (hence, the proliferation of Reality TV shows and vlogging). It seems only a complete imbecile would throw away a shot at money or fame.

However, characters who get their fame often regret it due to the problems it brings, and in certain series can even end up rejecting whatever brings them celebrity and wealth to embrace a more private lifestyle, even if it requires them to lose money as well. See All That Glitters and Wanting Is Better Than Having.

Named for a line in Rocket Power's "Reggie's Big (Beach) Break"... which isn't quite an example of this trope, even though the button does get pushed.

A variation is when the characters don't necessarily mind being famous so much; it's what they're famous for — i.e. something they're embarrassed or ashamed of — which is the problem.

Can result in Angst Dissonance if not handled carefully; for perhaps unsurprising reasons, people who aren't rich and famous but would very much like to be tend to react poorly to seeing people who are rich and famous spend a lot of time whining about how much it sucks. That said, it can also be Truth in Television, as living a life that is near-constantly in the public gaze, surrounded by people who constantly want something from you and having your every decision and action, creative or otherwise, evaluated and judged by people who don't know you but are often rather pettily envious of you brings with it its own problems.

Not to be confused with Hype Backlash. Can lead to a Reclusive Artist. Compare Gracefully Demoted and Ambition Is Evil.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In A Place Further than the Universe, Yuzuki notably resents her celebrity status when she's not on camera. It's gotten in the way of her having a normal social life, ever since her childhood, to the point where it's pretty heartbreaking.
  • An episode of Doraemon is focused on this. To elaborate: When Doraemon and Nobita discover an Idol Singer napping in secret while she's hiding, they, after waking her up and agreeing to her request to keep her location a secret, invite her to their house so she can rest more comfortably. When she expresses her wish for someone else to trade places with her due to her sheer workload, Nobita, with the help of a gadget from Doraemon, swaps bodies with her. Soon after receiving the loving attention he craves, however, he's joined by the Idol Singer's Stage Mom, who puts such an intense amount of work on "her" that he quickly wishes to be turned back to normal. note 
  • Najimi from Doujin Work decides to delay being published commercially when she finds out that she will not be allowed to make doujinshi anymore. She'd hate to give up the friendship, competition, and the fun of doing what you really love, which is very different from the money-grubbing attitude she had at first.
  • Hannah Weber from Element Hunters doesn't herself resent her celebrity status, but she does definitely behave very differently when not on camera; her voice is considerably less cutesy, as is her general demeanor, and she's more like a spoiled brat (at least at first). Her celebrity status doesn't contribute to the team, but if anything ends up just producing friction with her new teammates.
  • Yang Wen-li from Legend of the Galactic Heroes refused to capitalize on his new-found fame as "Hero of El Facil"note  and allowed himself to lapse into (relative) obscurity. Eight years later, after he became a national hero again by successfully capturing the strategically vital Iserlohn Fortressnote , he again did nothing about his fame and even contemplated retiring because he hoped that capturing the fortress will create favorable conditions to conclude a peace treaty and end the war.
  • Love Hina, episode title "The Idol Shooting for Tokyo U is a Prep School Student: Sing!" — Naru gains sudden success as a singing idol in the wake of a talent contest but gives it up to return to Hinata House, using the threat of a trivial scandal as an excuse. Lampshaded in the X-Mas episode. Naru calls out to Keitaro for help with a reporter who recognized her.
  • The entire premise of Perfect Blue.
  • In Robotech, Minmei feels this way towards the end of the Macross Saga (aka Super Dimension Fortress Macross). A large part of it has to do with the fact that Earth just barely survived an orbital bombardment by over 4 million alien ships, people are struggling just to survive, and most importantly (to her), she never gets to spend time with her Love Interest, Rick Hunter/Hikaru Ichijo.
  • In Sailor Moon, Minako actually passes her idol singer audition at one point but chooses to remain with her friends (and continue fighting the Big Bad) rather than pursue her dream of becoming an idol singer.

    Comic Books 
  • Death: The Time of Your Life: Hazel is cynical about her girlfriend Foxglove's quick rise to fame, commenting that it changed Foxglove and deeply strained their relationship. Foxglove's bodyguard Boris even says that the rock-and-roll lifestyle is no fit life. Foxglove eventually agrees by the end and gives it up to be with Hazel.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Mary Jane, after hearing that he's Spider-Man, points out that Peter is now like a rockstar. And yes, he is... except for the money, fame, and everything good that would come from such a thing.

    Comic Strips 
  • Mandrake the Magician: Mandrake's sidekick Lothar becomes a champion wrestler in one story, surrounded by riches and glory. When he realizes that this means he cannot go on adventures with Mandrake and friends any longer, he decides to abandon it all and rejoin his old friend.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Penny and Bolt chafe under their former TV celebrity status at times, most obviously in "The Walk," where the girl discusses the issue in detail.
    Penny: Believe me, being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You're always needed somewhere. People get jealous of you, even folks who don’t know anything about you. It gets real hard to tell if someone actually likes you or is just using you. Makes it tough to have friends — real friends, I mean. You haven’t got any privacy, either. Everyone gawks at you — and the nicest ones simply leave it at that. Others come up and pester you about all kinds of dumb stuff. If you're lucky, they just ask for an autograph, say how much they liked your show, and shake your hand. Like I'm telling you anything you don't already know, huh buddy? Could you believe that one weirdo we ran into at the mall last week? She insisted on getting a souvenir swatch of hair from your tail! You were awfully cooperative with that loony tune, big guy.
  • As per canon, Harry in Child of the Storm hates being bowed to and worshipped. It gets even worse when The Reveal comes that he's the son of Thor and therefore in line for the throne of Asgard. Eventually, he becomes more assertive and less uncomfortable with it (or at least, willing to put up with it), though he still remains a Humble Hero and Nice to the Waiter (in between the PTSD, anyway) who would rather people not make a big fuss over him. Fred and George Weasley, naturally, play it for laughs by bowing, scraping, and loudly asking "What is thy bidding, my master?"
  • In Codex Equus, Blue Suede Heartstrings, the Alicorn god of Music, Humility, Performance, and Love, experienced this as a mortal during his music career. In his youth, Blue Suede's prodigious talent in music led to him being discovered by "Colonel" Hollow Note, who turned him into the biggest star in Ponyland. But then his life took a downturn thanks to various tragedies, such as his parents' deaths, fighting in a war, and years of being psychologically abused and gaslit by Hollow Note, who wanted to control him. The last straw for Blue Suede was being hospitalized for overworking himself and learning Hollow Note only saw him as a source of income. During a heated argument, Blue Suede snapped, having been pushed past his breaking point, and beating up Hollow Note in a rage. Out of guilt, Blue Suede talked the police into arresting him, and after Luminiferous bailed him out, he became a reclusive shut-in, intending to fade into anonymity. Fortunately, the efforts of his first wife, Venerable Grace, and Luminiferous motivated him to take up globe-trotting and perform music on his own terms, leading to him eventually becoming an Alicorn god through his good deeds.
  • In Cyberpunk Another Daybreak, the Night City press is all over David following his first outing as a Kamen Rider and failure to maintain his Secret Identity. He can't go home to his apartment because reporters have already turned it upside down looking for salacious headlines to write and any house he buys with his new salary will be bugged within days. This means he's forced to hole up in his new office at Hiden Intelligence as the only place secure enough for him to maintain any kind of privacy.
  • Dangerous Fan Club reveals that Marinette used to be Cheng Hua, arguably China's most famous actress who starred in many popular movies and tv shows. She eventually retired of her own free will and moved to Paris where no one would recognize her because her fame (and Loony Fan club) made it impossible for her to have a normal life.
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton: Danny Fenton becomes annoyed with his new popularity. He does like that his peers respect him and take his side over Dash and the A-Listers; however, he dislikes that people he does not know are asking for his advice on dating, the number of his previous dates, and act like they're his friends. Danny would much rather hang out with his real friends and girlfriend and deal with the situation with Vlad.
  • People Like Us: At the end of the story, Arthur talks to Murray Franklin on the phone about coming on his show. He's tempted to finally get some of the recognition he wanted, but then he realizes that Murray is probably going to bully him on the show; besides, he doesn't want to rope Travis into it.
  • In Danny Phantom fanfic Resurrected Memories: Danny Fenton has come to believe this due to his worldwide fame from having saved the world and revealing his secret identity. After several months of being subjected to having to deal with the Paparazzi and people obsessing over him, he ends up greatly missing his privacy.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Air I Breathe: Trista is a newly popular singer, but falls in the clutches of a gangster when her manager gives away her contract to pay off a gambling debt. She starts Drowning Her Sorrows before she is mobbed by a group of fans and paparazzi.
  • Country Strong revolves around the country music industry. The protagonist is an alcoholic diva who has constant mental health problems because of the pressures of fame, as well as her collapsing marriage with her manager. The film has her marking a comeback tour but she then dies of suicide at the end. There's also conflict between two supporting characters - a beauty queen launching a mainstream career, and a country singer content to just play at small bars without fame. Three guesses which one we're meant to side with.
  • In EDtv, a film that deconstructed Reality TV even before there was such a thing, Ed, who becomes the world's first Reality TV star, ends up learning that it's hard to have meaningful relationships when TV cameras are following you around everywhere.
  • I Shot Jesse James: Robert Ford finds this out after he kills Jesse James, as he's known only as "the man who killed Jesse James" and can't escape the reputation. It also doesn't help that the action brands him a coward by the public, as well as leading to gunslingers taking shots at him in the street.
  • Subverted in My Week with Marilyn, a dramatization of Marilyn Monroe starring in The Prince and the Showgirl. The protagonist - a young assistant director - wants to save Marilyn from her crazy Hollywood life. But she admits that, despite it driving her crazy, she does love the limelight.
  • In The Party, this is the ultimate decision made by the French girl seeking to enter Hollywood.
  • Anna Scott from Notting Hill is far too aware of this.
    "One day my looks will go, people will discover I can't act and I'll end as some sad middle-aged woman who used to be famous for a while".
  • In Rock Star, Chris Cole becomes the lead singer of the fictional heavy metal band Steel Dragon. At first, it's a dream come true for him, but the Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll lifestyle puts a strain on his relationship with his longtime girlfriend and eventually, they break up. When his bandmates refuse to let him participate in the writing process for their new album, Chris finally decides he's had enough of the rock star lifestyle. He quits the band and becomes an independent musician playing at bars and coffee houses in Seattle.
  • Somewhere: Johnny, a Hollywood actor, appears to have all the trappings of success, but his perks-filled life is devoid of meaning except for his young daughter.
  • Spice World: When the Spice Girls have threatened not to turn up for their first-ever live gig, their personal assistant Deborah tries to comfort their manager Clifford by saying she is glad they themselves are not famous.
    Deborah: If it makes you feel any better, I have a degree in politics, philosophy, and economics, and I spend my entire life worrying about whether Mel C is wearing the right Nike Air Max. Mind you, I'd rather be us than the girls. Fame is such a fickle thing.
  • Privilege: Steve Shorter, the biggest pop star in Great Britain, is utterly exhausted from his years of fame and the constant demands on his time and energy. Everyone sees him as either a deity or a pawn rather than a human being, and he is used for everything from selling dog food to promoting social conformity, with no interests or personality traits allowed that aren't approved by his handlers.
  • A Very Private Affair: As a movie star, Jill puts up with crowds of crazed fans, ravenous paparazzi, and the media which scrutinizes her love life and calls her a whore. It gets to the point where she won't leave her house for fear of being swarmed.

  • Audrey, Wait! is pretty much a novel about this trope. Audrey struggles with becoming famous for something she couldn't reasonably be considered responsible for and has to deal with the fallout.
  • In direct contrast to the damned sodomites of The Divine Comedy, a proud soul in Purgatory, Oderisi da Gubbio, rants that worldly fame changes with the breeze and that every person who has had fame has lost it and every person who gets it must lose it to another. Dante, who aspires to artistic greatness, is greatly affected by this advice and spends the rest of Purgatory identifying himself with the sin of Pride.
  • Knut Hamsun, as portrayed in the novel Gog, believes so, as people constantly pester him for money, critiques, good words, or even things that he cannot provide. That is why he became a recluse.
  • Good in Bed has Cannie Shapiro getting a taste of the Hollywood life after her screenplay is approved by a major studio. But, gradually, she really starts to become homesick for her (comparatively) simpler life in Philadelphia. (It also doesn't help that, as a pregnant woman, she feels self-conscious about sticking out among the thin, fit celebrities like her friend, Maxi Ryder.)
  • The Goosebumps book How I Learned to Fly is based around this, making it seem really out-of-place in a series dedicated to supernatural horrors. This is best seen in the end, when the hero pretends to lose his powers to live a happy life with his Love Interest, while his rival leads a miserable and empty life being famous.
  • Harry Potter doesn't particularly enjoy being famous for killing Voldemort. He doesn't mind being praised for his Quidditch skills, however, but that's slightly different for a couple of reasons: a) He's earning those accolades by his own merits, whereas the thing with the Dark Lord happened when he was eighteen months old and was at least partly sheer dumb luck, b) it resulted in him having an exceedingly shitty childhood on account of his sole remaining relatives being horrible people who hated him for inconveniencing them, and c) it turns out that Voldemort was Only Mostly Dead, and nursing a grudge. If anyone can claim to have a reason to angst about their fame, Harry can. And when other students started to be the target of gossip for similar reasons (their relatives being killed by Death Eaters), one of them (Susan Bones) lampshaded to Harry how horrible she finds the whole thing.
  • The Temp: A whole chapter is devoted to the realities of fame, which are not revealed until the contract has been signed and the dogs are unleashed, following the downfall of the ex-pop star Ben.
  • In the Splatoon web serial Squid Sisters Stories, many of Callie and Marie's worries about their relationship surround how their increased popularity and fame following the final Splatfest they hosted has pulled them into different life directions, to the point that they barely even see each other despite being roommates. Callie in particular gets the brunt of it, becoming a major television and film star, which causes her so much stress that she eventually skips town without telling anyone. The game itself dedicates a Sunken Scroll to this as well, showing her being incredibly uncomfortable around the paparazzi.
  • Valley of the Dolls centers around the seediness of celebrity and centers around three young starlets who either succumb to the pressures, end up in the loony bin, or give up celebrity life altogether.
  • In the kids' book, Thelma the Unicorn, a horse named Thelma dreams of being a unicorn, and after attaching a carrot on her head, and a truck full of glitter accidentally spills some on her, some passersby assume she's a unicorn, and relishes in the fame she immediately gains. However, she discovers that celebrity has its downsides as she's hounded by paparazzi and obsessed fans everywhere she goes and also has to worry about people who start and spread smear campaigns against her just for the hell of it. Eventually she washes off the glitter and decides to go back to her far and be a regular horse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hangin' with Mr. Cooper: Raven Symone's character proves to be good at chess, but when her mom Geneva finds out that training her for world championships would be a hassle, she decides against letting her train.
  • Inverted in Friends where Joey, an aspiring actor, absolutely basks in his celebrity status when he is successful.
  • Extras plays with this; Andy Millman spends the first series yearning to be famous, only to find it's not all he hoped for in the second series and the Christmas special. However, it's more what he's famous for that bothers him (a cheap comedy show riddled with detrimental - in his eyes - Executive Meddling and broad humor he doesn't appreciate) than being famous itself, which is something he continues to yearn for. It's also noted by several people that he's more than a little bit ungrateful and hypocritical about it since he clearly looks down on the general public whose acceptance he nevertheless pathetically craves, he'll spend hours whining about having to sell out to be famous only to turn around and eagerly sell out even more in order to keep up his public profile, and he's constantly looking down on other celebrities and sneering at them for being more famous for less reason when really, he's just jealous.
  • Deconstructed by The Colbert Report. Stephen (in character) considers applause to be only slightly more important to his survival than oxygen, but the only reason he loves fame so much is that he's incredibly insecure; if the public doesn't know who he is, neither does he.
  • Although overall he's quite happy being a wealthy, famous bestselling novelist, the first episode of Castle makes it quite clear that Richard Castle is getting a little bored with the repetitive monotony of fame and the shallow world he's found himself in (except for the bits where he gets to sign the breasts of attractive, flirty women. He doesn't mind those bits much), which is partly why he finds the idea of solving mysteries with down-to-earth cops quite appealing.
  • An episode of Black Books has Bernard and Manny writing the world's greatest children's book, which initially ends up being a quite good adult book and then rewritten as a somewhat average children's book. They eventually burn it while drunk due to the fact they can't handle the fame it will no doubt bring them. When they sober up, they can't remember what the book was about or why they burned it.
  • In an episode of Alien Nation, a camera crew is following the Human Alien Detective George Francisco and his human partner on a case. The journalists portray George as a super-detective, mostly to improve relations between Newcomers and humans, while completely ignoring his partner. While George is initially flattered by all the fame, he eventually ditches the camera crew to go solve the crime with his partner, after getting tired of the pressure.
  • In the episode "Second Thoughts" of Eight is Enough, Nancy's modeling career takes off. But as she explains to her father:

    Nancy: I can't go anywhere anymore without being mobbed, screamed at, sung for, or proposed to.
    Tom: In other words, fame isn't all you dreamed it would be, right?
    Nancy: Well, Dad, I think it's exactly what I dreamed it would be. I just never figured it would bother me like this.

  • Explored in CSI: Miami's episode "Cyber-lebrity" in which an average swimmer ended up becoming a web celebrity as a result of a photo of her and now she had all these cyberstalkers who update her location wherever she is. She ended up getting threatened for her life as a result of all this. She was thankful when people stopped stalking her.
  • Also shown in the NUMB3RS episode "Obsession", where singer Skyler Wyatt (Samaire Armstrong) is shown to be unhappy with paparazzi trying to get photos of her, saying she was more happy in her own hometown where they treat her like a regular person, and also has to deal with the fact that her husband is having an affair with his co-star.
  • When Weinerville got a magic lamp, Dottie wished to be the most famous person in the world. Never even learned what she was famous for.
  • Red Green talked about this, saying fame is not something to strive for, as there are a lot of people who become truly infamous; he suggests going for the money.
  • On the Baywatch episode "Talk Show," Mitch helps to rescue Jay Leno and becomes a celebrity as a result. He hates it.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch did this twice:
    • Season 2's "The Band Episode". Sabrina and her friends take 'Bottled Talent' to beat Alpha Bitch Libby in a school talent show, after which they land a TV performance. A side effect of the potion leads to their egos being inflated and their friendship dissolving. Sabrina learns that if they let the potion go flat and drink it again, it'll remove the talent (and therefore the egos). When the producer starts talking about the benefits that could come with stardom, Sabrina seems to change her mind...just as Harvey and Valerie drink the flat potion.
    • Season 7's "Ping Ping A Song" uses a similar set-up - this time Sabrina and friends are entering a TV talent show that the press are barred from (Sabrina is now an undercover journalist). She gives them Talent Lozenges to improve their nerves - which turns them into egotistical divas. Sabrina this time saves their friendship by admitting she's a journalist, therefore disqualifying them from the contest. Interestingly enough, this episode used obvious Non Singing Voices, while "The Band Episode" had Melissa Joan Hart actually singing.
  • American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson has Robert Kardashian try to teach this lesson to his kids Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Robert Jr., telling them that fame is hollow if you're not a good person. Given what the entire Kardashian family would later be famous for, this scene is laced with enough Dramatic Irony to cut with a knife. Throughout the series, the Kardashian kids' first brush with fame as a result of the O. J. Simpson trial is presented as their Start of Darkness.
    Rob Jr.: Dad, why are you famous?
    Robert: I'm not. Listen, guys, listen to me. Look, you know your grandparents, you know me and what I try to pass on to you. We are Kardashians. And in this family, being a good person and a loyal friend is more important than being famous. Fame is fleeting. It's hollow. It means nothing at all without a virtuous heart.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: Although it's not his dream job, Bambang at first takes interest in becoming a famous selebgram. When he gets to be viral on the Internet for a while, he concludes that being a celebrity is tiring, choosing something as basic as a manager is too hard for him, and the entertainment industry is full of lying to the audience.
  • Ted Lasso: In one episode, Nate, who wants to secure a specific table at a restaurant for his parents' anniversary, approaches Keeley for help. He asks her to help make him famous so he can get perks like the table, to which Keeley explains her time as fodder for vicious tabloid papers has given her a fairly dim view of fame as a whole and she outright tells him any benefits are not worth the loss of privacy and emotional damage. Sadly, this is just one of the many lessons Nate fails to learn over the season.

  • Metallica's song "Moth Into Flame" says that fame is fleeting, and that music stars will quickly get replaced. The lyrics were inspired by Amy Winehouse, a good case of a famous artist going on a self-destructive path.
    Sold your soul, built a higher wall
    Yesterday, now you’re thrown away
    Same rise and fall! Who cares at all?
    Seduced by fame, a moth into the flame
  • John Lennon's song "Watching the Wheels" is his apologia for dropping out of the rock star biz. "No longer riding on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go."
  • Lily Allen's "The Fear" is about a girl who desperately craves fame and the materialistic lifestyle it results in, only to feel ambivalent and empty when she actually achieves it.
  • Nirvana's "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" from In Utero spells out Kurt Cobain's dismissive attitude to his fame (see below) with lines like "Love you for what I am not, did not want what I have got."
  • Five Iron Frenzy had a couple of songs about this; further, Reese Roper, the band's singer and frontman, refused to indulge in some of the more egocentric trappings of celebrity, like signing autographs (this was also because he was the only one that all the fans could even name, let alone recognize, and he felt signing autographs himself took away attention from his equally talented bandmates).
  • Kanye West: "I used to want this thing forever, y'all can have it back."
  • "Limelight" by Rush touches on this theme, with lyrics about a "gilded cage" and such.
  • "Napoleon" by Ani DiFranco has the singer reconnecting with an old friend who wins fame and fortune and then promptly cuts ties with the old crowd in favor of their "new friends".
    "They told you your music, could reach millions. That the choice was up to you.
    You told me they always pay for lunch, and "They believe in what I do".
    And I wonder if you'll miss your old friends, once you've proven what you're worth.
    Yeah I wonder, when you're a big star, will you miss the Earth?"
  • "Under and Over It" By Five Finger Death Punch has shades of this with lyrics like
    You can be me and I will be you.
    You can live just like a star.
    I'll take my sanity, you take the fame.
    • The entire song is done from the perspective of someone who is fed up with the rumors commonly associated with fame, such as selling out.
  • "Celebrity" by the Barenaked Ladies uses this trope to demonstrate the old adage, "The grass is always greener on the other side." When you're nobody, you want to be famous. When you're famous, you want to be nobody.
  • Pink Floyd had entire albums dedicated to this trope: Wish You Were Here (1975) (fame brings pressure from the industry higher-ups and makes you yearn for old friends) and The Wall (fame isolates akin to a wall between artist and audience, and terrible breakdowns might ensue).
  • Can You Rock It Like This? from Run–D.M.C.'s album King of Rock describes the fantastic life the band has, but also talks about the lows.
  • Radiohead's "Life In a Glass House" is (elliptically) about how horrible Thom Yorke found people being interested in him to be. You could probably already have guessed from the steep drop in musical accessibility and lyrical openness between all the songs on OK Computer and Kid A.
  • This is the point of the David Bowie song "Fame": "What you like is in the limo/What you get is no tomorrow".
  • Taylor Swift's "The Lucky One" does this:
    It was a few years later, I showed up here
    And they still tell the legend of how you disappeared
    How you took the money and your dignity and got the hell out
    They say you bought a bunch of land somewhere
    Chose the rose garden over Madison Square
    And it took some time but I understand it now
    Cause now my name is up in lights
    But I think you got it right
  • "Super Trouper" by ABBA. The singer is a rich and successful pop star who is nevertheless Alone in a Crowd and tries to draw strength from the fact that the man she loves is in the audience of her latest gig.
  • "Gone Guru" by Lifeseeker. A famous rock star gives up his hedonistic lifestyle to become a hermit living in nature as a result of this trope. Ironically, his new lifestyle choice causes him to end up becoming even more rich and famous as a self-help guru (and/or possible cult leader), and he falls back into his former party animal lifestyle, even going as far as spending his entire fortune in his old age to get his head cut off and put on a robot body so he can keep partying for eternity.
  • Reel Big Fish: The entirety of "Don't Start A Band", but verse 2 in particular.
  • b.O.b.'s "Airplanes" is about a rap artist tired of all the posturing and politics, who wishes he could go back to the simple days when it was just about the music.
  • Marilyn Manson has never been a big fan of his fame, especially thanks to the numerous death threats, bomb threats, arrests, misblaming, and other problems it's brought him. Two albums of the Triptych, Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood (In The Shadow of The Valley of Death) are dedicated to this, and it's come up again and again in songs from other albums and interviews, as well as his Celebritarian Art Movement, a movement based around mocking the religion society has made out of celebrities. Ironically, he started out wanting to be a rock star, only to get there and hate it.
  • "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger is a slightly bitter lament about a musician's life on the road. The cover version by Metallica sounds like said musician is one bad gig away from turning a shotgun on somebody.
  • Nickelback: "Rock Star" zig-zags the trope, singing about how everyone wants to be a rock star but then focusing on the nastier parts of the Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll lifestyle.
  • The Weeknd's "Starboy" presents this in a deconstruction of the Boastful Rap. On its surface, Abel points out the fancy houses, cars, and women that fame has brought him, but the song's somber tone and lyrics imply that in spite of it all, he feels empty and lonely because of his newfound fame. Additionally, the music video portrays his "new" Starboy self is killing his "old" Beauty Behind the Madness self who brought him fame in the first place.
  • Poison's "Fallen Angel" tells the story of a small-town girl who moves to Hollywood to become an actress, only to find that the high life isn't all it's cracked up to be.
    Just like a lost soul
    caught up in the Hollywood scene
    All the parties and limousines
    Such a good actress hiding all her pain
    Trading her memories for fortune and fame
    Just a step away from the edge of a fall
    Caught between heaven and hell
    Where's the girl I knew a year ago
  • "Deep Inside" by Mary J. Blige explores this trope, namely the stress of living a life in the limelight and knowing people might only be dating or befriending her for her money.
  • Eminem:
    • The songs "The Way I Am" and "Don't Approach Me" (with Xzibit) are about the downsides to newfound wealth and fame. In fact, "Don't Approach Me" was less a song and basically the two artists ranting about their frustrations: stalkers, babymamadrama, greedy friends, etc.
    • Over time, Eminem began to reimagine Slim Shady as the personification of his fame, switching up his self-mutilating, trashy violence to megalomaniacal, rich-person violence - such as in "My Band", in which Slim is played as a self-regarding, prissy idiot hogging all the attention from the rest of D12, who hate him.
    • "Evil Deeds" from Encore ends with Slim begging God that fame wasn't supposed to be like this, and pleading for a switch that he can just turn off and on, so he can take his daughter to the theme park.
    • Relapse has this as a theme, though expressed as subtext in a series of horror raps about an Addled Addict Slim Shady murdering and lusting after celebrity women. The entire album title is a double-entendre - Eminem (in kayfabe) was relapsing on drugs, transforming back into Slim Shady, but also choosing fame again despite it having nearly killed him.
  • "Lonely" by Justin Bieber is a short, somber song about how Bieber became very famous while he was still a teenager. Jacob Tremblay plays a teenage Bieber in the music video.
  • "Tom Cruise Crazy" by Jonathan Coulton is about the titular actor, reflecting on how his rocky marriage with Katie Holmes was entirely in the public eye, his roles are going to start drying up as he ages, and even though literally everyone on the planet knows who he is, almost nobody actually knows him. The second line of the chorus sums it up: "Just be glad it's him, not you."
  • Elton John's "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" is about a star wanting to leave behind their fame and fortune for a simpler life away from the glitz and glamour.
  • "Loser of the Year" by Simple Plan is about the singer realizing that his fame and fortune aren't worth losing his girlfriend, leading to him wanting to throw all of it away if it means getting her back.
    You make me wanna shut it all down
    Throw it all away
    'Cause I'm nothing if I don't have you
    What's the point of being on top
    All the money in the world
    If I can't blow it all on you?
  • Sia is notorious for being a Reclusive Artist and even wearing a face obscuring wig so that she retains her privacy to an extent, although she is not anonymous. She addresses her feelings about fame in her duet with Paris Hilton, "Fame Won't Love You":
    Fame won't love you like a mother, like a father should
    And you may wish for Oscars, Grammys and blockbusters
    But they won't love you like a brother, like a lover should

  • Rush (2022): Zig-zagged during "Limelight." While successfully making relevant shots adds to the player's fame (implicitly a good thing, since it awards points), the ultimate goal of the mode is to escape the limelight.

    Video Games 
  • The John Cooney flash game Run Elephant Run tells the story of a world-famous elephant who gives it all up to go home and be with his beloved wife.
  • Aleksandra Zaryanova of Overwatch is the World's Strongest Woman, an accomplished weightlifter and bodybuilder who had a shot at international fame and fortune...and then Omnics invaded her Siberian village on the eve of the world championships. She immediately dropped everything and rushed to enlist with the Russian army and fight on the front lines, mainly because the whole reason she became an athlete in the first place was to get strong enough to protect her friends and family, having been born and grown up in a warzone from the FIRST time the Omnics attacked her village nearly thirty years before.
  • One of the main Aesops of NEEDY STREAMER OVERLOAD is that internet fame is not worth one's sanity. Ame, who moonlights as internet streamer OMGKawaiiAngel, spends the game trying to become the biggest and most popular streamer in the world. But it is gradually made clear that this desire is simply a way to get external validation to stave off her self-hatred and replace the love her parents never gave her, yet the more she pursues this goal, the more Stress and Mental Darkness she undergoes. Becoming famous also means she gains a lot of haters, trolls, and outright cyberbullies who do things like doxx her in one route, while many of her actual fans scrutinize every facet of her. It is all too easy to end up driving her into a live, on-stream Creator Breakdown invoked that, at minimum, permanently ruins her reputation, rendering her a subject of ridicule, and potentially even drives her to suicide or violent madness. By contrast, many of the happier endings are those where she quits streaming entirely to focus on bettering herself and her own life instead of seeking the approval of complete strangers.
  • The central moral of SIMULACRA 2. The whole mess happens because the four friends become so obsessed with keeping their social media presence, particularly on Kimera, fully positive that they fall prey to the deal offered by the Ripple Man to eliminate all criticism. Said deal led to the death of Maya, as it always includes a sacrifice. This same thing is also what happened to many other victims of the Ripple Man. Getting the good ending requires deleting the Kimera accounts of the characters, which was also what a previous near-victim, Charlie Asther, did to escape- he gave up all technology and fled to the woods. The article covering Charlie even brings up the negative effect that social media can have on mental health.

    Web Original 
  • From Cracked's "5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't)":
    "Experts say where you find kids who desperately want to be famous, you find a history of neglect at home. Parents were either absent completely or, at best, emotionally distant dicks. It turns out the whole surge in aspirations for fame came right along with the explosion of single parents and "broken" homes. Only half of today's children live with their original two parents.
    You can see how this sad mechanism works in the attention-starved mind. The kid is programmed by biology to love a parent, but the parent doesn't return the love. Fame lets them turn the tables on that arrangement. When you're famous, millions love you, but you don't even know their names. It's purely one-sided. They wait for hours in the cold for your autograph, you barely glance at them on the way to your limo. You get to take their love and wipe your ass with it, the same as your parents did to you."

    Western Animation 
  • A common theme in Hey Arnold!:
    • "Mr. Hyunh Goes Country": Hyunh becomes a famous country singer, but he announces at his Great Ol' Opry performance that his true dream is to be a chef, stating that his debut there is also his finale.
      • The song that made him famous, "The Simple Things", counts as one too, as it extols the simple pleasures of life over the glitz and glamor of stardom.
        I've got the summer breeze, got 16 cans of peas / A two-speed window fan when it's 93 degrees. / So forgive me for not grabbin' your brass ring; It's crystal clear - I'll stay right here and keep the simple things.
    • "Stinky Goes Hollywood": Stinky has been selected to do a commercial campaign for Yahoo Soda. After filming several ads, Stinky's family and friends want him to sign a $1m commercial contract, but Stinky has found out why he was picked (having overheard an executive mocking his name), and, presumably fearing that the commercials will be mocking his hayseed image (and other personal inferiorities), decides that his pride is more important… and ends up being mocked as an idiot by Helga for not signing.
    • "It Girl": Helga is against modeling for Johnny Stitches (guest star Michael McKean) from the start, only doing it for the money and the free stuff. Seeing everyone wearing her dress (even some boys are wearing it) pushes her over the edge, making her shove a model during another one of Stitches' shows, and then spitting in front of the press… and acting nice at Fashion Week. The last one is effective since Helga's nastiness is much of her image.
  • An episode of Braceface, "The Good Life", explores this when Sharon and her friends are chosen by music star Leena to be in her newest music video. Sharon sees first-hand that, contrary to her fantasies about stardom being glamorous and luxurious, Leena's star life is miserable. She can't eat whatever she wants to eat, the media always gossips about her, she's homesick for her sister, and her overprotective bodyguard treats everyone she approaches like a stalker. In the end, Sharon lampshades it herself.
    Sharon: My Mom was right, money can't buy happiness. I mean even with all those perks, Leena still seemed totally miserable. To me, it looked like all she wanted were the things that had been taken away from her, family, her freedom, and the chance to be herself, things I've already got.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "Sweet Stench of Success": Bloo gains fame as the spokesperson for Deo deodorant, but when he notices that his producer is overworking him (and won't let him have time with his pals, natch), Bloo goes on a live variety show and chews out the producer real hard, opening with a suspiciously apropos song.
  • The Simpsons did this multiple times.
    • Probably the most notable time was in "Bart Gets Famous" when Bart became the 'I-Didn't-Do-It Boy'. Bart at first loves the fame and attention it gets him but eventually gets sick of the fact that he's treated as a one-trick pony. He goes on a talk show, having actually researched current events so he could have something to talk about, but the host only wants him to say the line and nothing else. Marge tells him that even if he hates it, he at least has the ability to make people happy which makes his fame worthwhile. Bart is encouraged by this, but ironically, his fame dies out when the people lose interest in the fad.
    • Parodied towards the end of "Homerpalooza", when Homer becomes famous as a carnival freak who withstands cannonballs to his stomach but is urged to stop by a veternarian because it's damaging his body. During his final show, Homer dodges the cannonball, losing his fans.
      Homer: I'll miss you, Pumpkins, but I just can't share your bleak worldview. I've got too much to live for.
      Billy Corgan: We envy you, Homer. All we have is our music, our legion of fans, our million of dollars and our youth...
      Smashing Pumpkins: Woo-hoo!
      James Iha: Let's all go out and buy fur coats!
      Jimmy Chamberlin: I want a walk-in humidor.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror II" segment "Lisa's Nightmare", the Simpsons use a monkey's paw to wish for fame and fortune. Everybody knows who they are but are sick of them.
    • In "That '90s Show", Homer tells about the time he became famous as the leader of the grunge band Sadgasm:
      Homer: I had finally realized every rock star's dream: hating being famous.
    • Happens to Milhouse Van Houten in "Radioactive Man". He didn't really want to be Fallout Boy in the first place and simply got forced into it. As the episode goes on, Milhouse is just further and further disillusioned no matter how much Bart or anyone else tries to spin being a celebrity to him. Eventually, he quits the production and refuses to return, even after an impassioned speech by Mickey Rooney, and the film ultimately shuts down production for good.
    • In "Dude, Where's My Ranch?", Homer writes a song, "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders", which becomes such a huge hit that he gets sick of it, saying "I've come to hate my own creation. Now I know how God feels.".
  • Kim Possible never hunts for celebrity, ever. Even when she's at the X-Games competition and have enough MAD SKILLZ to own the entire competition, she just hunts for the villain. Compare this with Ron Stoppable who spent the entire episode becoming a famous jock just so he could get any ladies. She's impressed when a film producer plans to make a movie about her, but it doesn't seem to have occurred to her that her adventures would make good entertainment. Though despite all her Saving the World experience, Kim doesn't mind being featured on the cover of a random teen magazine for her cheerleading moves. It makes more sense when considering she treats saving the world and helping people as simply the right thing to do, whereas cheerleading is something she chooses to do for personal enjoyment which she takes seriously.
  • By the second half of Danny Phantom, Danny himself is a known celebrity across America. One episode proved Danny takes this trope to heart when he couldn't stand the constant fans chasing/berating him. He muses that he prefers the privacy and peacefulness as Danny Fenton whenever he doesn't have to don his alter ego. A huge upgrade from the boy who wanted popularity so badly in his earlier heydays.
  • An episode of The Fairly OddParents! had Timmy finding out he was the subject of a reality show in Fairy World. Now that he was a star, his life became the result of Executive Meddling by the show's producer, Simon, causing him to lose his mother, his friends, and nearly his godparents.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "The Two Faces Of Squidward" the titular cephalopod first enjoys the attention of everyone anxious to gaze at his new David-esque looks, but soon their excess devotion has him begging for his old face back.
  • Pepper Ann is not so sure about her mother doing a comedy act, but by story's end, she's warmed up to her act enough to be surprised to hear that mom's not pursuing a career in comedy.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes has Jimmy becoming famous by coining a new catchphrase, with Beezy becoming his manager and Heloise his bodyguard. He likes it at first but quickly realizes he's mobbed whenever he goes outside, and he can't even go to the bathroom without attracting attention to himself.
  • Total Drama plays with this trope in the TDA special, while the rest of the contestants are desperate to regain their fame after the show ends, Noah and Eva don't seem to care.
    • Ironically, Noah's lack of fame-seeking results in gossip networks trying to find out more about him, and Eva's hostility towards the paparazzi results in a "Biggest-Eva-Freakout" competition among fansites.
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "Something You Can Do With Your Finger"; after the boys form a boy band and perform one 'concert' in the mall which is mildly well received, this trope kicks in after one little girl asks for an autograph and a security guard complements them.
  • Happens to Fluttershy in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Green Isn't Your Color" when she briefly becomes a famous fashion model. The Shrinking Violet quickly grows to hate the spotlight but keeps it up because Rarity is being so supportive. (Rarity, meanwhile, is being so supportive because she's fighting back envy and feels ashamed about it.)
  • Parodied in Garfield Goes Hollywood by Garfield himself. As Jon trots out the usual justifications for this trope, such as forgetting who they are and about the little people, Garfield welcomes all that in his usual snarky manner. It's still played straight with Jon though, as really, he's afraid that his pets will forget about him.
  • Cherry Jam's reason for moving to Berry Bitty City in Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show. Stimpy wins the Gritty Kitty contest, becoming a star in Hollywood. However, he misses Ren and decides to give it all away. Ren is touched that Stimpy gave away all his fame and fortune for him… before realizing Stimpy gave away all his fame and fortune (but mostly the fortune).
  • BoJack Horseman features this as a Central Theme. The titular protagonist is an old, washed-up Hollywood actor whose fame and fortune have done nothing to prevent him from becoming a chronically depressed, self-loathing drug addict with a long history of broken relationships with nearly all of his family, friends, and lovers. Also, BoJack's younger colleague Sarah Lynn had long lost her childhood innocence and became a similarly miserable junkie.
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien has this start happening to Ben. After working in the shadows and with a secret identity, his identity in terms of being an alien shapeshifting hero becomes known to the world. While it does mean he no longer has to live a double life nor hide things from people, it does also bring a large amount of pressure and unforeseen troubles. During his fight with a remutated Kevin 11, he actually responds that he wishes he had his anonymity back.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series (several years before the live-action sitcom) has an episode where Sabrina, Hilda, Zelda, and Chloe form a Girl Group for a talent show. They cast a spell to become famous pop stars, but fame ends up driving a wedge between the best friends Sabrina and Chloe - and Harvey turns his back on them after finding them too boring and self-interested. The witches in the group then discover that as a side effect of the spell, they lost their magic in exchange for fame. Everyone of course patches things up just in time for the spell to end.
  • In The Venture Bros., patriarch Rusty Venture spent his entire life stuck in the shadow of his Fake Ultimate Hero father, and wanted nothing more than the fame and prestige he had. He gets his wish after inheriting his brother's company and skyrocketing to the big leagues, but he grows tired of having to deal with public scrutiny and in the Grand Finale rants he was happier living in the middle of nowhere. He gets his wish at the end when in order to prevent a Colony Drop they manage to move the company headquarters right where their old house used to be.


Video Example(s):


Staan's Deal

Staan tries explaining the downside of agreeing to his deal would entail.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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Main / CelebrityIsOverrated

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