Basically, you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
A character has agreed to give up a certain thing, like drugs, smoking, certain foods, a particular hobby, masturbation/pornography viewing, or sex. Unfortunately, everywhere he looks, he's reminded of the item he's given up, sometimes via Meat-O-Vision. As the episode goes on, his resolve is severely tested as his Jerkass note friends and (clueless) bystanders will do their best to tempt him. You can expect karma to be a bitch and offer dozens of free "once in a lifetime, sent from heaven" opportunities to indulge in the vice.
If he sticks to his guns but later gives in, the opportunity is gone for good and he's made a laughing stock. If he pretends to abstain, he will get busted, big time, by everybody. If he's particularly strong-willed and goes through the whole episode without giving in, he might even get a particularly awesome reward for his good behavior, which can be something obvious (a promised reward like concert tickets) or something he'll never even notice he got. Like, say, the chocolate he refused to eat was laced with cyanide (or laxatives). If it's a Sadist Show, expect this abstinent behavior to leave him worse off than before. Only rarely will the abstinence be its own reward.
Sometimes he isn't abstaining from a certain thing but is trying not to think of something unpleasant or something he knows he can't get. If it's bathroom-related, it's a Potty Emergency. If it's an entirely new vice to the character, it's a Compressed Vice. If they seemed to be coping perfectly well before they tried to quit, they're a Functional Addict.
A case of Truth in Television: the forsaken item/activity isn't any more common, but the person who gave it up is more prone to notice its absence and to be tempted by the Delicious Distraction when it presents itself, and in the case of substance abuse, friends and acquaintances of the people in recovery may offer them said drugs to discourage them from kicking the habit, as addicts feel better with themselves when they are around other people with the same addiction.note
Easily invoked both intentionally and unintentionally: "diet sabotage" is a serious issue for people trying to lose weight around food-generous friends, and drug dealers' jobs mostly depend on undermining recovering drug addicts' recoveries.
See also Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere for the horror version. See also Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow for general promises rather than abstinence, and The World Mocks Your Loss when it's something the character loses rather than willingly gives up. Often seen with We Want Our Jerk Back. Compare Going Cold Turkey, when the addiction is broken by a single self-imposed withdrawal phase. Can lead to Radish Cure where the character learns his lesson as a result of consuming too many "cold turkeys".
- Basically the entire plot of Dragons Rioting, as protagonist Rintaro has a medical condition which means he can die if he gets sexually aroused. Naturally, he ends up attending a school with a vastly majority-female student body, most of whom are a Ms. Fanservice of one type or another. A decade of intensive martial arts training and meditation to focus his mind on whenever he's presented with something sexy is the only thing keeping him alive.
- In the Full Metal Panic! Overload manga, Sousuke is prohibited by Kaname to bring guns to school for one day. He actually starts getting withdrawal symptoms from not firing a gun. Everything starts looking like moving targets, he hears gunfire, and everyone starts looking like thug-ish terrorists. He eventually breaks and starts attacking Kaname's classmates, thinking they're trying to kill her. In the end, Kaname takes him outside and lets him have target practice with an empty can. It ends with her seeing the importance of allowing him to shoot guns (lest he start going crazy).
- Galaxy Angel has an episode where Mint is told that if she continues her obsession with wearing mascot-type animal costumes, she'll die. This diagnosis conveniently coincides with the Angel Brigade's trip to a planet that is celebrating "wear an animal costume day". While on the planet, she is the millionth customer of a local supermarket and is awarded several animal costumes. Then she attends an award ceremony where the mayor of the town awards her another one. Then she throws the animal costume people are trying to make her wear into a lake, and gets offered silver and gold animal costumes by the water spirit in the lake.
- Played for Laughs in Heaven's Lost Property, where Sakurai Tomoki is a major pervert, with exceptional love for panties, and he got a hold of a HUGE amount of panties after a certain event. It made his Childhood Friend mad, and... It didn't end pretty. It appears she turned the panties to BOMBS that explode each time he looks at them. He had to try and resist looking at his adored panties until he's out of his home... They were quite literally everywhere. In the end, he gave up and embraced EVERYTHING. He lost his house as a result. Seriously, the sheer hilarity of that cannot be described.
- The very premise of My Balls. Due to a series of unusual circumstances, protagonist Kohta has the Queen of Hell sealed in his cojones. He must not ejaculate for a month or it will be The End of the World as We Know It. Naturally, Hell itself and everything else in the universe starts tempting him like mad.
- Richard Braun from Monster has this trouble with drinking.
- In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Panty is required to give up sex in order to be let back into Heaven, which forced her hymen to grow back, and thus making her lose her powers. After the Humiliation Conga, everywhere she looks, there is fuck.
- Happened twice in Squid Girl. First in season 1, when Sanae tries to quit her obsession with Ika — quickly descending into full-on Squid-O-Vision as everything suddenly looks like Ika... including a scene straight out of AKIRA as tiny Chibi-Ikas dance around her at night. Later in season 2, Ika tries to get over her obsession with shrimps and ends up with a classic case of this — including a whole heap of "today only" offers at the supermarket. Then, somewhat atypically, when she GIVES UP, she gets an INVERSE case — now, suddenly, it's impossible to find shrimps ANYWHERE...
- In episode 46 of Happy Heroes, Big M. and Little M. are hungry but don't have any food to eat. Little M. suggests that if they don't think about food, their hunger will go away, and the two try to find something to watch on TV to get their minds off the matter. Every show they see on the TV is related to food in some way.
- In the Lamput episode "Diet Doc", Fat Doc takes a drive through town and tries not to let some nearby fast food restaurants tempt him into ruining his new diet. Lamput, who is in the car with him, abuses this to his advantage by morphing into a chicken drumstick, which is just enough to make Fat Doc go to one of the restaurants to gorge down on some fried chicken anyway.
- In one Donald Duck comic, Daisy bets Donald that he couldn't go a day without eating anything. Cue a guy handing him a fresh hot dog (he can't take it with him on the bus), Grandma Duck nominating him as a judge in the local bake-off, and a college roommate dragging him into a restaurant as a celebration of their reunion and ordering everything on the menu. In the end, Donald is undone when Daisy catches him eating a chocolate bar, but he cheats by re-adjusting his wristwatch to trick her into thinking that it's already past midnight. The next week, they go on a date at a luxurious mountain hotel known for its all-you-can-eat buffet, but Donald gets into an accident which injures his mouth, rendering him incapable of eating anything besides soup.
- Donald's not in it, but a later story had Daisy writing in her diary about being determined to stick to her diet, naturally everything she then sees or hears (or smells) is solely about delicious food. In desperation, she finally locks herself in her room to avoid temptation... then gives up and bites a chunk out of her notebook in frustration.
- The old kids' comic L'il Jinx had Jinx, after listening to her Shoulder Angels, decide to not filch cookies from the cookie jar. Cue being offered cookies, being tempted by things that just look like cookies... The inevitable punchline comes when she tells her mother how good she was and her mom notes the jar was empty anyway (she was just baking a fresh batch to fill it). Jinx proceeds to stuff the morality imps in the jar and enjoy some cookies (with permission).
- In "The New Lois Lane" (Showcase #9), the infamously obsessed Lois gives up her obsession with unearthing Superman's secret identity on the advice of a fortune-telling card. This being The Silver Age of Comic Books, Superman has of course gotten himself into a situation where he needs Lois to discover his ID.note Hilarity Ensues as Superman deliberately drops hint after hint about his secret ID, only for Lois to force herself to destroy each one.
- Done rather disturbingly in the Cocoa Puffs commercials. The cuckoo will try to give up chocolate, only to see it everywhere until he breaks down and exclaims "I'M CUCKOO FOR COCOA PUFFS!", going on a rampage until he gets his cocoa fix. If one didn't know better, one might think that they're comparing a cereal to a highly addictive drug...
- A Weight Watchers commercial has a woman on a diet seeing various pieces of work equipment (a computer keyboard, a telephone, a water cooler) appearing in the form of food. This also applies to furniture, as a booth seat and table at a restaurant appears in the form of pizza and a living room couch appears in the form of potato chips.
- Basically the whole point of 40 Days and 40 Nights Matt Sullivan gives up sex for Lent in an effort to move past a pattern of self-destructive relationships. Of course, every person with two X chromosomes sees this as incredibly sexy, others feel it may hamper the power of their favorite man-control means, and others just want him to lose. This leads to girls flooding him with offers he can barely refuse, until one of the girls out-and-out forces herself on him. See Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male. Expect this result only if you are Josh Hartnett.
- Not to mention the sequence where he tries to go about his day as usual, only to see every woman he encounters as topless.
- At the very beginning of 102 Dalmatians, a reformed Cruella DeVil is freed from prison, only to start imagining the entire London skyline completely covered with spots like a Dalmatian's fur coat, and as a result, she reverts back to the psychotic villain she once was.
- Played with mercilessly in Airplane!! - "Looks like I chose the wrong week to give up drinking/smoking/amphetamines/sniffin' glue..."
- In Cold Turkey a smalltown agrees to give up smoking for a month to win $25mil from a tobacco company. The company tries to get weak-willed townsfolk to fold, and on the last day, they airdrop cigarettes from helicopters in an attempt to Break The Townies.
- Sir Galahad from Monty Python and the Holy Grail has committed himself to lifelong celibacy...but then he winds up at Castle Anthrax, full of gorgeous girls bent on getting him into bed with them. He ends up giving in, but Sir Lancelot barges in at the last minute and drags him away.
- In Oh, God!, God wants Jerry Landers to build an Ark for an impending flood. Jerry is resistant, and at one point he sits in his car and all that's on the radio are songs that involve the word "rain."
- In the original The Wicker Man (1973), Sgt. Howie is engaged and waiting until marriage to have sex. Once he gets to Summerisle, sex is everywhere he looks.
- Bruce Almighty: After Grace leaves Bruce, she sees signs everywhere reminding her of how much Bruce loved her. However, with Bruce being God, the signs were created by him as a means of trying to win her back.
- In Bedtime Stories, a man named Skeeter (the main character) finds out that the bedtime stories that he and two kids he's babysitting tell at night keep coming true. In one story, the six-year-old Patrick makes the main character of the story catch on fire. Skeeter worries that the incinerated character represents him (probably because his name, Skeeto, was similar to his own name) and becomes paranoid that he's going to catch fire. When listening to the car radio, all the songs have fire-related lyrics (Burn Baby Burn, I'm on Fire, etc).
- Bubble Boy has Chloe, the Love Interest, about to marry her high school boyfriend while still pining for Jimmy, the eponymous Bubble Boy. Trying to take her mind off of him, she starts watching TV, seeing ads for "Mr. Bubble", Bubblicious Bubble Gum, and Don Ho performance of "Tiny Bubbles".
- Ned Robbins in Jelly Belly is on a strict diet and has to put up with his family chowing down on delicious, high-calorie foods while he's stuck eating nothing but lean, broiled meats and vegetables. Even when he becomes more serious about losing weight and eating healthier, staying away from junk food is still an effort in and of itself.
- In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, at one point everything Laura says reminds the grief-stricken Sophia of her imprisoned husband, and staying silent only leaves her to her thoughts of him.
- A "wanting something you know you can't have" example is in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Charlie Bucket loves chocolate more than anything, but his family is so poor that he only gets one chocolate bar a year, on his birthday. This makes it painful for him to constantly walk by shop windows full of chocolate bars, and see other kids enjoying chocolate bars...and worst of all, to live near the world's largest chocolate factory.
- From A Song of Ice and Fire we have the "relationship" between the Iron Isles, the Reach, the Riverlands, and the North. Before House Hoare took it upon themselves to try their hand at colonial expansion, conquering and ruling other lands was anathema to the Ironborn ethos (it technically still is). And, doing so wasn't at all popular at the time they ruled the Ironborn and their colonies, for all it has definitely gained the rosy glow of nostalgia by the start of the series. The Ironborn just can't get over their lost holdings and have constantly tried to relive those Glory Days through repeated raids, rebellions and invasion attempts against the Seven Kingdoms since then. They usually don't work at all well (the reprisals often take decades to recover from), but they still keep trying every time they think they spot even a half-chance.
- Danny Wallace's Yes Man tells the story of what happened when he decided to say "Yes" to absolutely everything. Turns out that you give up a lot of freedom when you remove the ability to refuse an offer, and just like the trope, there are friends of his that either take advantage of this or outright plot to make him fail. He fails when he refuses to sleep with someone because he was in love with another woman. However, unlike most British comedy stories, this one has a happy ending: he flies to Australia to be with the woman he loves, something that the friend who he made the bet with in the first place was going to make him do as a "forfeit".
- In Night of the Assholes, Barbara has suffered from a Hair-Trigger Temper that has caused much grief in her life and uses various calming methods - smoking, pills, a life-sized dammit-doll and her favorite smoothie - to keep her from acting out her aggression on other people. Barbara surviving an apocalypse where people are literally trying to provoke her and being low on cigarettes, pills and witnessing your little brother being painfully transformed into one of them makes it harder and harder to keep her from becoming an asshole too.
- In Shadow Of The Conqueror, Daylen is endlessly frustrated by the attentions of the girls he saves from slavery, especially Sharra, as a bunch of vulnerable teenaged girls throwing themselves at him is practically his ultimate temptation.
- In All in the Family Archie & Mike ("Meathead") have a bet as to who can hold out longer: Archie without a cigar or Mike without food. Archie starts to tempt Mike by eating in front of him; Mike counters by smoking cigars in front of Archie. They finally decide to end in a draw, with Mike eating and Archie lighting up on the count of three. On "3" Mike puts food in his mouth but Archie draws the match away from his cigar, with a "Ha!"
Gloria: Daddy, you're supposed to play fair! Michael is, and this is no picnic for him, you know!Mike: Don't say "picnic", Gloria.Gloria: I'm sorry, honey.Mike: Don't say "honey", Gloria.
- Also, when Mike finds several cigars Archie stashed:
- Drake & Josh: Drake bets that he can go a set amount of time without any junk food, and Josh bets the same, but with video games. Megan throws together a contract. Later, Drake gets a bad skin condition caused by a lack of junk food. Josh is also tempted when his grandmother sends him a brand new "game sphere". Later, Megan decides to screw them both over by tricking each brother to tempt the other. Josh covers the boy's bedroom with candy and Drake starts playing the game sphere with a fancy wireless controller; in the end, both brothers succumb but are unable to tell who did so first. This winds up being a Gambit Roulette when Megan reveals that the contract didn't say that the person who caved in first would lose, but simply that whoever caved would lose.
- Nice sendup in Dream On. Martin has to give up coffee. Suddenly every one of the little film clips in his head is about...
- Father Ted had a whole episode dedicated to this, called ''Cigarettes, Alcohol and Rollerblading'', in which the cast must give up the titular vices for Lent. In one hallucination the smoke from a guest resolves itself into the words 'lovely fags' to Ted's nicotine-starved eyes.
- There is honestly nothing funnier than a giant anthropomorphic pint of Guinness going 'Blah blah blah blah blah'...
- Except for maybe a giant rollerblade going "Blah blah blah blah blah..."
- An episode of Frasier in which Frasier and his boss, Kate, have resolved they can't have a relationship and declared that they are two adults who can resist their mutual attraction. At the same time, a romance author who lives in Frasier's building is moving out. When Frasier and Kate get in the service elevator, to avoid the press outside the main door, it stalls and the lights go out. Frasier lights some candles then knocks a double mattress propped against a wall, dropping it on the center of the floor. The heat forces them to take off their jackets. Then Frasier accidentally sets off a music box that plays romantic music, knocks over a bottle of musk oil trying to turn it off, and when Kate grabs a sheet to soak up the oil, it turns out to be covering a huge blow-up of a bodice-ripper cover. They resist, but only just.
- Deliberately invoked by Daphne in "Hungry Heart." Jane Leeves, who played Daphne, became pregnant during the run, and the producers' attempts to conceal her baby bump failed when the naturally-svelte Leeves gained a good deal of weight. To compensate, the writers added a subplot involving Daphne stress-eating to deal with the frustrations in her life. When she vows to give up the junk food and lose weight, she sets this trope on herself by secretly hiding various sweets and desserts all around Frasier's apartment, allowing her to sneak snacks whenever she likes. Given that the main characters were psychiatrists, though, the show took the trope more seriously than others, noticing that Daphne's inability to stop was serious and prompting a trip to a spa to help her deal with the root of her problem (which in turn allowed Leeves time off to have her baby).
- One episode dealt with Phoebe craving meat during her pregnancy, despite being a firmly convicted vegetarian. Joey helped her deal with it by offering to go vegetarian himself so that she would be free to eat meat without upsetting the balance of carnivores vs. vegetarians. Naturally, he then has to battle with his own meat cravings.
- In another episode, Joey (again) is having to abstain from sex for a period of time for a well-paid scientific study, but then has a date with a gorgeous girl and ends up in bed. He manages to subvert the problem by following Monica's advice to "be there for her" without giving in himself.
- In yet another episode, Joey and Ross bet Chandler 50 bucks he can't keep his New Year's Resolution to not make fun of his friends. Shortly afterward, Ross starts wearing leather pants and dating a girl named Elizabeth Hornswoggle. At the end of the episode he gives them the 50 bucks and lets it all out.
- From the same episode with the pants and Miss Hornswoggle, Rachel vows to give up gossip. She immediately finds out that Chandler and Monica are having sex.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
- In the episode "Be My Baby Tonight", Ashley asks Will about sex. Will tries not to think about it, but then he suddenly hears double entendres everywhere. When Ashley's boyfriend comes in for their date, he asks if she's ready ("NO MAN SHE'S ONLY 13!"). Then, on the TV, the game announcer asks "Where is the most unusual place you've made whoopee?" Then, when Will turns on the radio, all that comes on is the song "I Wanna Sex You Up" (which is a real song). Carlton comes in and says he's late for his date with his girlfriend who can "tie a knot with her tongue". Then Hilary walks in asking where all the whipped cream went. Will finally yells "What is it with your preoccupation with sex!"
- In "Home is Where the Heart Attack Is", Uncle Phil has to go on a diet and does not particularly like the idea of giving up his favorite foods cold turkey. He even uses that exact phrasing... only to start thinking about actual turkey ("with pillowy mounds of mashed potatoes... Butter-drenched dressing... Tiny onions swimming in a sea of cream sauce...") He eventually can't stay away from unhealthy foods and has a heart attack.
- In "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", a first season episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, Detective Howard has just quit smoking (though we don't know it yet), and naturally, everyone around her is smoking, which eventually causes her to go ballistic. Detective Bayliss also tries to quit, and they eventually have to work together because their respective partners (Felton and Pembleton) refuse to quit.
- iCarly has an episode where Sam bets that she can go an entire week without insulting Freddie, or else she has to pay five dollars for each insult (which she would gladly do, but was broke). Freddie tries all sorts of things to make her crack. The end has her receive a large sum of money, then give it up because she just had to insult him.
- In The IT Crowd, Jen takes up smoking again after a day of cigarette cravings, ending with Denholm extolling the pleasures of the "delicious bastards" on the first video played at his funeral. Her craving is so overpowering that she runs outside to smoke a cigarette from the gutter, and soon afterwards she is shown "making up for lost time".
- Done in a very terrifying fashion in Kamen Rider Fourze, where the Monsters of the Week become addicted to the Zodiarts Switches. So far, we've only seen one of the Switchers, Miura, who hallucinates seeing Zodiarts Switches everywhere and is too afraid to go back to school, as he can't control himself. It's done in such a way to be pure horror.
- Lost: Charlie throws the last of his heroin stash into a fire in early season 1. Being stranded on an island might seem an excellent opportunity to kick the habit. Then in the season finale, he comes across a crashed plane... full of heroin.
- And then there's Hurley, who loses the perfect opportunity to get rid of some of that pork on the island when he runs into the Dharma junk food stash in the hatch. And then later more food literally drops from the sky.
- In the Married... with Children episode "A Little off the Top" Al was accidentally circumcised and had to abstain from sex for a full month. For most of their marriage, Al had very little interest in sex with his wife. But now that it was forbidden, she suddenly became some sort of irresistible sex goddess whose every casual action seemed to turn him on.
- In the M*A*S*H episode "No Laughing Matter", Hawkeye makes a bet with B.J. that he can go a full day without joking about anything. Naturally, the episode has him being presented with an unusually large number of openings for wisecracks, all of which he lets loose on the PA system at 12:01 AM the next day.
- In My Hero, George attempts to go "cold porky" from pork scratchings (Which gives his alien brain super-intelligence, but turns him into a jerk).
- The Office (US): Invoked by Jim when corporate announces that all Double Entendres in the office are to stop including Michael's favorite joke "That's what she said."
Jim: Wow, that is really hard. You really think you can go all day long? Well, you always left me satisfied and smiling.Michael: (blurts out) That's what she said!
- In an episode of Parks and Recreation, Jerry, the office Butt-Monkey, is mugged. When Jerry comes back to work, Leslie decides, to the annoyance of everyone else, that it's Too Soon to make fun of Jerry like normal. Cue Jerry doing a million snark-worthy things.
Tom: You went on a vacation and you chose Muncie, Indiana?
Jerry: My wife and I have a timeshare.
Tom: In Muncie?!
Leslie: Tom, Muncie is a lovely city.
- The Partridge Family: In "Each Dawn I Diet," Reuben is trying to kick his cigarette addiction. He tells the family, "I was doing okay until I saw that movie on television last night." Keith asks, "How could watching Heidi remind you of a cigarette?" Reuben replies, "Everything reminds me of a cigarette."
- The wife of Reba's ex-husband goes on a diet in one episode of Reba. The fact that she was tempted by a basket of potpourri enough to ask if it was real fruit or if it was "fresh" is proof of her struggle.
- A starving Lister in the Red Dwarf episode Marooned suffers from this - Rimmer's library consists of the likes of Charles Lamb, Herman Wok, Francis Bacon and Eric Van Lustbader.
Rimmer: Eric Van Lustbader? What's he got to do with food?Lister: Van. Bread van. Meat van. FOOD!
- In Reaper, Alan Townsend escapes from his deal with the devil by winning a poker game. The condition of his release is that he is forbidden to sin again or he goes directly back to Hell. The problem with this is that he's a gambling addict and gambling is a sin. He eventually ends up back in Hell when the devil arranges for his plane to be grounded in Las Vegas.
- Happens to J.D. in Scrubs after a break-up - he even points it out himself as he sits in a bar where a girl first offers to buy him a drink and then strikes a rather flexible pose to further entice him. To no avail though.
- On Sesame Street when Cookie Monster had to stop himself from eating Big Bird's birthday cake, he ate literally everything but the cake.
- Done in Strangers with Candy when Jerri tries to give up sex to join a clique of virgin girls. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
- In Supernatural Sam becomes addicted to drinking demon blood and tries to give it up. Well, they hunt demons and have a magical knife to kill them with. This happens about every other fight. In several episodes, demons know that their blood tempts him, and are all but forcing themselves down his throat.
- In the Torchwood episode "Day One", an alien who feeds off orgasmic energy has taken over the body of a young woman. The girl knows that if she doesn't feed the alien, it will kill her, but if she gives in she'll kill anyone she has sex with. As she walks down the street all she can see are suggestive advertisements and people making out.
- In Three's Company, Janet talks Chrissy and Jack into a bet that Chrissy could go longer without food than Jack could go without girls. What Jack didn't know (because he wouldn't let Janet tell him) was that one of his (many) old flames had just arrived in town, who Janet and Chrissy happily invite over to meet Jack. Chrissy doesn't have it any easier with her own fast Jack keeps bringing home delicious food to tempt her and Janet keeps using food-related metaphors in their conversations.
- An episode of 2point4 Children featured Ben agreeing to give up a videogame called Ninja Badger. At the end of the episode, for perfectly logical reasons, a man dressed as a badger comes to the door and he breaks down.
- In the first The Vicar of Dibley Easter Special, the Vicar reluctantly agrees to give up chocolate for Lent. She is then secretly appointed the new Dibley Easter Bunny, with the result that the Vicarage is filled with chocolate eggs.
- Invoked in-universe during an episode of First And Ten. During training camp, hefty defensive lineman Bubba has to lose weight, or be cut from the team; he returns to his room and finds it filled with cakes, cookies, pastries, and other snacks — courtesy of the rookies and second-stringers wanting to take his job. In the end, he manages to hold out long enough to cut the weight.
- One episode of The Nanny sees Big Eater Sylvia go on a diet. As she sits in the kitchen with Fran, Val, and Yetta, the other women start gushing about the various sweets they're eating, like "double-chocolate brownies with cheesecake centers" and cannoli. Poor Sylvia does manage to hold out and even offers to put away a cake that none of the others are eating...only to fake-close the fridge door and rush upstairs with the dessert.
- In "Shopaholic," Fran discovers that her ex-fiancee Danny is getting married before her, and goes on an uncontrollable buying spree to deal with her feelings. After realizing she has a problem and going to "Shoppers' Anonymous," Maxwell tells everyone that they must avoid anything that might remind her of purchases and sales. Niles then enters with his dinner, and Max promptly tells him it's too much—"take half off." Later, just when it seems things will be OK, Val shows up to host a Tupperware party at the mansion.
- Niles, as a master Troll, once invoked this when C.C. tried to quit smoking. He bakes her a cake, ostensibly to congratulate her, but C.C. tells him that she's trying to be careful about overeating, as gaining weight happens frequently when people give up cigarettes. Niles (who is clearly aware of this) promptly produces even more sweets, like fresh eclairs and ice cream, just to get on her nerves.
- In "I'm Hungry," a Diet Episode of Roseanne, Roseanne tries to get her mind off eating by joining the family for some TV. Unfortunately, every single channel she watches is advertising some kind of delicious food, like an overstuffed candy bar or flame-broiled cheeseburger restaurant.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "Connie Tries To Forget Mr. Boynton", when Connie tries to forget Mr. Boynton, every stranger she meets looks and sounds like Mr. Boynton. The "Misters Boynton" Miss Brooks meet include — but aren't limited to — the American Ambassador to India, an elderly postman, a matron, a fourteen-year-old boy, and a newborn baby. Fortunately, it's All Just a Dream.
- Used in Fallout 4 as one of the many social experiments conducted by Vault-Tec. Vault 95 was populated by drug addicts on a five-year-long rehabilitation program. After this, a massive stash of every kind of drug was revealed to the population. The Vault broke out into utter insanity as the addicts promptly either grabbed part of the stash and ran off to fatally overdose somewhere, started fighting with the other addicts, or resisting the overwhelming temptation to go and hide as long as they could until despair and loneliness finally drove them out of their minds. Everyone died.
- Enter the Gungeon takes this to ridiculous levels with Spice (yes, like in Dune). It's a single-use active item that, once used, also dramatically increases the chances of more of them spawning. Which is bad because the benefits have diminishing returns and come with increasingly serious downsides. After just two hits, there is no good reason to use any more, but you also can hardly round a corner without tripping over one.
- Dr. Havoc's Diary: In Episode 10, the Havocs go on vacation so Dr. Havoc can finally spend some quality time with his family. Cue things like a valuable diamond, the G8 meeting at the hotel, and Nighthook suddenly showing up to tempt him into more evildoings.
- Bobwhite. Cleo is infatuated with Ben and doesn't know whether or not to act on it. She starts seeing Ben everywhere... because his picture is on all the college's promotional material.
- In El Goonish Shive, Tedd has been obsessing over finding the scientific basis of magic so much that he spends all day talking Technobabble and ignoring Grace's advances. So she forces him on a double date. Too bad they're playing the soundtrack to Portal 2 in the car.
Look at me still talking when there's science to do...
- In Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life, Ben attempts to quit drinking, using the mantra of "(turning over a) new leaf" to deny each booze advertisement he sees. He soon encounters an ad for a drink that's actually called "New Leaf" and is unable to resist. Then he decides to only drink on Tuesdays, and it turns out Tuesday lasts an awfully long time on Jupiter.
- Jacob from Shortpacked! is a recovering sex addict...and unwilling Chick Magnet. This being Shortpacked, it's turned Up to Eleven: during the "Ultra Car meets her creator" arc, Jacob stumbles into an eccentric millionaire's Hot Librarian collection and has to fend off their advances. The arc after that, he ends up being propositioned for a threesome by two beautiful women without saying a word himself. And after all that, he ends up sleeping with Amber's mom, causing him to briefly retreat into his apartment out of shame.
"TWO CHICKS WANT TO DO ME AT THE SAME TIME MUST FLEE!"
- In Sinfest Squigley had combined porn/pot/alcohol withdrawal. Going outside doesn't help. Though one might have a few doubt when he starts to say there's no escape.
- In this Today Nothing Happened strip, we see it happen in Real Life.
- Adventure Time: In "His Hero", Finn and Jake are persuaded by Billy that violence is not the answer and they swear to find non-violent ways to help people. They immediately run into situations where violence would be the perfect solution. They also discover that they suck at non-violent solutions.
- Animaniacs: In the episode that's the Trope Namer for Potty Emergency, Wakko Warner has to pee and when none of the shops offer him a bathroom, he decides not to think about it. As soon as he starts his attempts not to think about it, however, he enters a park, upon which he sees several sprinklers, a man watering the grass, a lemonade stand and a kid with a drinking fountain.
- In one episode the young aardvark decides he doesn't wish to take any more piano lessons. Naturally, the TV that day features nothing but programs about playing the piano.
- In another episode, Jenna watches some television in an attempt to not wet the bed during a sleepover. Not the best idea, as the only things she sees are along the lines of a Scotsman patching a wee leak in his bagpipes and a Sesame Street ersatz doing a segment on the letter P.
- A third instance has Francine trying to make it through her first fast on Yom Kippur. When she gets hungry, she turns to TV to get her mind off it, only for all the shows on to be about food. Dissatisfied, she turns to reading, only for all the books she picks out to have titles relating to food.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold: In "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!", Aquaman promises his wife, Mera, that he will stop crime-fighting and take a family vacation. Cue a montage of him travelling and continually encountering supervillains who are foiled by other heroes.
- Beavis and Butt-Head have a 'no laughing' vow forced on them (on the threat of being transferred to the school on the tough side of town), just in time for Buzzcut to start up Sex Ed class.
Buzzcut: We're gonna be talking about the PENIS! [Beavis & Butt-head laugh] We're gonna be talking about the VAGINA! [Beavis and Butt-Head laugh] Do you think that's funny Butt-Head? [Butt-Head laugh] Do you find it amusing we're gonna be talking about the TESTICLES! [Butt-Head covers his mouth laughing] We're also gonna be talking about venereal disease! [Butt-Head laugh] Sexual intercourse! The SCROTUM! THE CLITORIS! And... [Buzzcut removes Butt-Head's hand from his mouth, tears are coming out of his eyes] we're also definitely gonna be spending a lot of time... talking about MASTURBATION!
- When Monty of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers tries to give up cheese due to the trouble his cheese attacks cause, it becomes more a case of Cold Turkeys Are The Focus Of The Investigation, as a pseudo-mob-boss of a rat has rerouted cheese supply in order to increase demand and get rich off of desperate rodentia. In the end, his addiction alternately saves him and very nearly keeps him from rescuing fellow Ranger Gadget from a Death Trap.
- The Crumpets: In "Marilyn Blues", Caprice and Pfff attempt to forget their friend Marylin, whom they suspect had departed to become a blonde disco singer that has forgotten his Goth rock aesthetic and friends. They keep hearing his apparent disco song on the radio in their house and their neighbor's.
- One episode of Dennis the Menace (UK) featured an Eccentric Millionaire who challenged Dennis' town not to watch the telly for a whole month and promised to give the town one million if they win. At the last day, Dennis and his friends convinced him to watch TV (which he claimed he never did before during his whole life). The millionaire decided to give the money anyway.
- Dexter's Laboratory. There's the episode where Dexter's Mom bakes some muffins and Dexter has to prevent his dad from eating them (apparently, he's a "muffomaniac" and Mom even says that he only married her because of her muffins). Dad starts to hallucinate that's he's in a land of muffins and is crowned king. All in all, it was a very bizarre episode.
- Used in an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy. The Ed's, Kevin, Rolf, and Johnny all make a cold turkey bet, each ponying up 25 cents as the bet. Ed can't have gravy, Double D can't use any big words, Eddy can't be loud, Rolf must give up meat, Johnny can't talk to Plank, and Kevin (the first to lose) can't call the Eds dorks. After Eddy spends most of the episode Invoking the trope towards everyone else, the eventual winner is Ed. After falling into a barrel of gravy, Eddy LOUDLY declares his victory... until he finds out Ed fell into a barrel of butterscotch pudding, which he's allergic to. Ed gets the money and spends it on gravy.
- Family Guy: Quagmire is forced to keep his perversion under control. After his friends take him to the mall to see how well he can contain himself in public, he sees a handful of attractive teenagers, turns away to see a woman breastfeeding, turns away from that to see a trio of cheerleaders who walk past a fountain, accidentally drop a pom-pom inside, decide to retrieve it, together, while shirtless, engage in a splash fight and start making out with each other. When he attempts to escape, he accidentally crashes into a pile of naked mannequins, then ducks into a surveillance room with full view of the women's dressing rooms. Fortunately, he ends up seeing that one of the women in the dressing rooms is having a heart attack, and rushes over to save her by performing something resembling C.P.R ("What the hell's C.P.R?").
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Eduardo has fleas, and he's trying not to scratch. But everywhere he looks, there are people using scratch-and-sniff cards, monkeys scratching themselves in an inappropriate manner, etc.
- Parody: After Bender gives up drinking (to his detriment, because robots run on alcohol), he is peppered with flashing neon signs for things like "Boring Geology Lecture" and "Church Revival".
- Also, in "Hell is Other Robots" when Bender joins Robotology, Fry and Leela tempt him away because his attitude has become so upbeat it's annoying.
- In Garfield and Friends, "Five Minute Warning", Jon bets Garfield that he can't go without eating for five minutes. Garfield being Garfield, he's wondering if the five minutes is up within seconds. He leaves the house, but everywhere he goes, he's offered food: a pair of picnickers who brought too much food; the Buddy Bears, who give him "a light snack" as a token of friendship, which he nearly does eat; even restaurant owners, who normally fear his approach lest they be eaten out of business. In the end, he is almost mistaken for having eaten, and indeed, very nearly bites down on a banana when the time runs out.
- Classic Goofy shorts:
- In "No Smoking," Goofy tries to give up smoking but sees tobacco products everywhere, and people tempt him and offer him cigarettes until he actually wants one.
- In "Tomorrow we Diet", a rather plump Goofy decides to go on a diet. Naturally, he starts to go through a neon hell of restaurant signs (and even freaks out sitting in a chair with a fruit pattern on the upholstery).
- Hey Arnold!
- In episode 3, Arnold is depressed that he lost his hat. To take his mind off it, he turns on the TV and sees that it's Hat Day at the local ballpark and everyone in the stadium is wearing one. It doesn't help.
- Helga tries to get over her obsession of Arnold that she tries not thinking about him, naturally she sees images of him everywhere across town. She was able to remedy this when she buys an out-of-love potion, and she stops seeing images of him, but it left her bored and empty.
- The Mickey MouseWorks short "Donald's Dinner Date" had Daisy getting fed up with Donald's anger issues, and betting that he couldn't go through their date without flying into a rage. Goofy ends up being their waiter. You can see where this is going... but it's a subversion. Daisy's the one who gets mad. Donald remains perfectly fine during the date. That is, until he gets the bill.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, as part of a Springtime for Hitler, Beezy can't eat for a minute. Jimmy tells him it's a piece of cake, to which he responds "Cake?" Jimmy quickly amends his statement, saying it's easy as pie, to which he responds "Pie?" Finally, Jimmy tells him he's tough as nails...to which he responds "Nails?"
- Looney Tunes:
- A few shorts featured Sylvester going through this while trying to give up eating Tweety, most memorably in "Birds Anonymous". For bonus points, the first thing he sees after he gets back from the BA meeting is a cooking show talking about how to prepare a turkey.
- In another Sylvester and Tweety cartoon, after various failed attempts to catch Tweety, Sylvester decides to swear off birds. Right after that happens, a flock of birds perches themselves on Sylvester's shoulders. Sylvester merely mutters, "Sufferin' succotash! I picked a fine time to go on a diet!"
- In Metalocalypse, this is the reason Leonard Rockstein/Dr. Rockso couldn't stay clean from cocaine. He technically manages to stay clean for about half a year before finding confiscated cocaine behind the stage of a drug-free concert. He eventually gives in once the security guarding the drugs disappear to handle the concert which had gone haywire. Also note that this happened after a whole episode dedicated to his struggle to get clean early on in the same season. This was done mostly because Dr. Rockso happened to be the show's resident Ensemble Dark Horse, and part of his charm was his insufferable cocaine addiction.
- In an episode of Mike, Lu & Og, Mike has Og make hot dogs for everyone, but Og goes nuts from the sloppiness of the food and soon refuses to make any more. This causes Mike to see everyone and everything around her as hot dogs.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack had one ep where K'nuckles eats too much candy and suffers from "Candy Rot" where he chows down on any candy he can find. It gets so bad, that the Doctor Barber recommends a rather painful surgery to cure him but agrees to let Flapjack try to help the captain quit cold turkey as an alternative. Also, when K'nuckles wanted to stop hearing stories with happy endings, everybody was telling stories with various different kinds of happy endings.
- On an episode of Moral Orel, Orel was grounded from church for a month. He started seeing churches everywhere, thought everyone was saying the word "church", had very weird dreams and even dressed like a church.
- Nina Needs to Go!, a cartoon about a girl who has a Potty Emergency every episode, this is used in two episodes.
- In "Water Park", Nina is reminded of peeing because of the water.
Nina: "So much water. And no bathrooms anywhere."
- In "D.I.Y.", Nina is at a hardware store and at one point is going through a bathroom display."
Nina: "Toilets, toilets and more toilets and I can't use any of them!"
- In "Water Park", Nina is reminded of peeing because of the water.
- In an episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Freddy accepts a bet from the other characters that he can't go one whole case without accusing Red Herring (that's the character's actual name) of anything. So the person who gives them the next case is Red Herring's aunt, and the characters constantly meet with Red Herring. And it turns out Red Herring really did commit the crime that time.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, Homer orders a gun. He has to wait an entire week before getting his gun, but all he can see during the week are targets (a truck bearing the Target logo, a row of ducks, his sisters-in-law, Ned Flanders... Ned Flanders again...).
- When Lisa turns vegetarian, everyone seems to force her to eat meat, and events culminate during Homer's barbecue party.
- When Homer gives up beer, he cannot escape Duff advertising and cans of beer appear to be everywhere (including literally bombarding him with beer cans).
Surrender to Duff
- Lisa was addicted to the "Cory Hotline" and is forced to never call it from home. She cheats and uses the school's phone. With Marge's help, she resolves to spend a whole day without calling, made incredibly difficult because of withdrawal-like symptoms and Maggie playing with a toy phone. Although it seems that she fell asleep dialing the hotline, Marge finds out she succeeded after all, and only dialed information to know the time and prove she went the whole day.
- In "The City of New York versus Homer Simpson", town drunk Barney Gumble is declared the evening's designated driver. Of course, that's the night that Duff Beer spokesman "Duffman" shows up to put on the party that Barney won (but obviously can't take part in).
- In a comic book, Marge makes Homer agree to eat only one doughnut a day. As he drives to work, he sees a doughnut-shaped cloud. Then more such clouds. And then a cloud shaped like an open box full of doughnuts, with the words "EAT US, HOMER" written on it. Naturally, he does not stick to the plan for long. That was the first issue. He does sort of stick to the plan, but cheats.
Homer: Hmm, now which will be my one doughnut of the day * eats one* no * eats another* not that one (You can see where this is going).
- In the episode "The Last Temptation of Homer", Homer is attracted to his co-worker, Mindy, and tries to watch television to take his mind off her:
Kent Brockman: Tonight, "Eye On Springfield" takes a look at the secret affairs of Kennedy, Eisenhower, Bush, and Clinton. Did fooling around on their wives make them great? We'll find out next when we play "Hail to the Cheat."(Homer changes channels to a nature documentary)Narrator: The Burmese Melon Fly has over a thousand sex partners, and suffers virtually no guilt-(Homer changes channels to a bunch of scantily clad women working out on weight machines)Woman: Just do it! (Homer runs away) Examine your scalp for ringworm.
- Bart decides to quit the Junior Campers because they don't let you have a knife until you pass an exam and read a book on knife safety. Then he walks past Moe's Tavern, and Moe chases out a customer with a knife. Then the customer draws a massive Sword Cane knife. Then Martin asks Bart to help him with the ribbon on his box of candies and says he'd be glad to share, at which Jimbo easily cuts off the ribbon with a knife and steals the box. Then he walks past Doctor Hibbert performing surgery with a pocket knife, successfully removing an about-to-burst appendix and saving a man's life. He then announces "Don't thank me, thank the knife!" as the crowd starts cheering.
- SpongeBob SquarePants used this trope on more than one occasion.
- "Idiot Box" and "The Paper" both have Squidward cave in to desiring something he saw as childish after observing SpongeBob having fun with it, playing pretend inside a cardboard box for the former and using a gum wrapper to do all sorts of improbable things in the latter.
- In "Snooze You Lose", an insomniac Squidward goes for a walk and sees a billboard advertising beds, a homeless man sleeping on a bench, worm puppies sleeping in the window display of a pet shop, and a television showing sheep jumping over a fence.
- Sitting Ducks takes place in a universe where ducks and alligators live in segregated districts, where there's constant tension between the hungry alligators of Swampwood and duck denizens of Ducktown. The show focuses on a duck named Bill and his relationship with Aldo, an alligator who swears off eating ducks. This often proves hard to resist for poor Aldo, who constantly must fight ostracization from his species and his own predatory instincts, especially in the episode where he hallucinates Bill and his friends as skinned floating ducks.
- One Taz-Mania episode has Taz trying not to eat a sea bird that his mother cooking for dinner. Taz turns to TV to keep his mind off - only to find that every channel is showing something that's somehow connected to sea birds.
- An episode of The Venture Bros. has Sergeant Hatred, a recovering pedophile who takes medication to control his urges, running out of his supply on the same day that he attends a screening of the children's fantasy film Realm of the Rings with Hank and Dean. Naturally, the entire theater is filled with young boys, and the film itself features a race of beautiful immortal elves who stop aging when they turn thirteen. Fortunately, he manages to lock himself in a panic room.
- The Wander over Yonder episode "The Fugitives" has Wander and Sylvia trying to escape a planet ruled by Lord Hater, but Wander keeps blowing her plans by helping people. Finally, she gets fed up and she tells him "no helping". Hater's watchdogs use this to their advantage and cause various accidents that Wander is desperate to solve, but he's also desperate to hold his word to Sylvia. The scene gets more intense and the lighting gets more dramatic as Wander begins going practically insane with resistance... until he finally caves in.
- In the 2011 Winnie-the-Pooh film, Pooh runs out of honey and every attempt to get more gets pulled away from him in coincidentally different ways all through the day. In the middle of the film, he gets so hungry that his friends (and the Narrator) start substituting every word with "honey", and he starts seeing things around him transformed into honey pots until it climaxes into a Disney Acid Sequence musical number.
- In the We Bare Bears episode "Bear Cleanse", the bears go on a diet when they have to give up "human food" and stick to their natural diets. Grizzly is initially gung-ho, but quickly tires of eating nothing but fish and berries, and tries to take his mind off things by watching viral videos. Sure enough, the first thing he sees is pop-up ads for food. Then he hallucinates that the food is talking to him.
- What's with Andy?: In "Busting", Andy has to pee, and, while it's not dragged out through the whole episode, there is one scene like this, where two passersby inadvertently remind him of his Potty Emergency.
Random Man Walking By: "I'm tellin' ya, water just kept coming and coming, so much rushing water!"Boy: "A,B,C,D,E,F,G. H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P. Hmm..."P", what's after "P"? P, P...."
- The Penguins of Madagascar: In "Herring Impaired", the penguins eat aged brined herring that results in them contracting a rare brain disease that turns them all into fish-obsessed psychopaths. Rico, being the only one who didn't actually eat any herring, has to keep them from eating anymore fish for a whole day to keep the effects from becoming permanent. Unfortunately for Rico, there seems to be fish almost everywhere they go. Fortunately, he's able to trick the infected penguins into eating a large wooden sign shaped like a fish until they return to normal.