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Compressed Abstinence

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People aren't perfect. It's an understandable fact. When a character recognizes this, they might try to improve or eliminate a stock vice (alcohol, masturbation, swearing, eating sweets), which in any other episode would be portrayed as completely normal. But for this episode, the problem must be completely eradicated. Beyond clean living, this is a sterilization of a minor imperfection.

Of course, Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere, Status Quo Is God, and perfect characters aren't relatable for the audience. So, one end of episode Snap Back later, they're back at square one. And the simple problem is never exaggerated this much again.

This is common in episodes revolving around New Year's Resolutions, dieting, abstinence, re-finding religion, etc. Expect a family character to force others to participate alongside them.

Compare Compressed Vice, where a new fault is expanded and eliminated. Consider also "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome and Mr. Vice Guy.


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    Comic Books 
  • Shelton and Mavrides' The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (the Frisco hippies with attitude) once try going cold turkey from all recreational chemicals. After three miserable, horrible, tedious, dragging, hours, they give up and are seen snorting and ingesting every drug to hand as if their lives depended on it.

    Fan Works 
  • Diaries of a Madman: Nav being forced to temporarily give up on sex. Somewhat Justified due to his current health issues, and he does improve slightly on this after he recovers from his injuries.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Phil attempts to lose weight, and he and Vivian force the entire family to be more health conscious as well.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Contest", the characters try to "be the master of their domain" by spending the longest without... mastering their domain. It doesn't last long. It was called back to, however, even in the series finale.
  • The Friends episode "The One With All The Resolutions", where among other things, Chandler tries and fails to give up sarcasm.
  • Modern Family: The Dunphys have a contest to see who can go the longest without using a computer. Haley wins by making a fake cell phone out of soap to trick the others into thinking she caved in first.
  • All in the Family: Archie and Mike have a bet over who can last longer (of a 48 hour limit): Archie without a cigar or Mike without eating. (Mike's a Big Eater.) They start taunting each other: Mike starts smoking in front of Archie and Archie eats in front of Mike. They decide to call it a draw, with Archie lighting up & Mike eating on the count of three; but Archie pulls the lighter away from his cigar just as Mike starts eating, therefore he wins the bet. But then while gloating he accidentally puts the lit end of the cigar in his mouth and burns his tongue
  • In an episode of Drake & Josh, the titular characters made a bet that they could each quit junk food or videogames respectively longer than the other.
  • In M*A*S*H, Hawkeye once took a bet from BJ that he could go a whole 24 hours without making a joke. He barely made it, and celebrated his victory by snarking about everything that had happened that day over the PA system at 12:01 AM.
    • Hawkeye also pledged to give up drinking for a week after seeing just how much he was drinking in response to the war. After a rough session in the OR on the seventh day (that involved grappling with a North Korean patient holding a live grenade), he joined the rest of the staff in the Officers Club and ordered a double scotch.
    Hawkeye: Yes! I admit it! I need this drink! [Beat] [sets the drink down] I'll be back when I want one, not when I need one.
  • In Father Ted for Lent Ted decides to give up cigarettes, Dougal rollerblading, and on Jack's behalf, Ted makes a vow that Jack will give up drinking. After they can't go one day without succumbing they call in a specialist, who turns out to be quite insane, and eventually they do a turnaround and indulge these things to a greater degree than they did before.
  • One episode of Corner Gas followed the characters for a year as they tried to follow their New Year's resolutions. Only Lacy managed it.
  • Victorious: After getting tired of his students using their phones in class, Sikowitz bets them that they can't go without using their phones for a period of time. When it becomes clear that his students are struggling with this challenge, it turns into a Girls vs. Boys Plot, with the respective genders trying to go longer without using their phones than the other.

  • The song 15 Minutes by Rodney Atkins. The chorus speaks for itself:
    'Cause I gave up smoking, women, and drinking last night
    And it was the worst 15 minutes of my life!

    Video Games 
  • Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary: In his story segment, Lemres tried to train without his candy for a few days, due to it contributing to his magic power, possibly trying to wean himself from relying on it. The end result? Candy withdrawal.

    Web Comics 
  • PvP's Brent Sienna once resolved to give up sarcasm. He made a crack about his boss' weight-loss resolution a mere five seconds later, which was considered a new personal record for him.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons prohibition episode, brought on by one exceptionally rowdy St. Patrick's Day. This is enforced, as the 200 year old prohibition law is revealed early in the episode, and the 199 year old anti-prohibition law is revealed near the end.
    Narrator: And so, one town's brief flirtation with prohibition ended in a joyous remarriage to Lady Liquor. Congratulations, Springfield! We wish you the very best!
  • Futurama: In "Hell Is Other Robots", Bender turns to Robotology after a drug habit forces him to take a good, hard look at how he leads his life. Unlike other examples of this trope, he is perfectly content with his new lifestyle - the only reason he springs back is because Fry and Leela decide They Want Their Jerk Back and they forcibly throw him Off the Wagon.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: One episode centers on Spongebob (and Patrick) rejecting all their normal activities and acting as adults (which boils down to becoming "Stop Having Fun" Guys). Patrick snaps first, basically declaring that Growing Up Sucks.
  • In Family Guy, when Peter almost dies (Death pays him a visit) while driving when drunk, he promises to stop drinking beer. Death shows Peter that his teetotaler self is very intelligent and wealthy but pretentious, so Peter decides to drink in moderation in a Status Quo Is God decision.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Luanne Virgin 2.0" Hank becomes concerned about Luanne's sex life and gets her and Bobby involved in a purity program at their church. Luanne's answer to this is to get engaged to the first guy she meets at the program. The wedding is called off and later in the series, she gets pregnant by Lucky before they are married.
  • On Rugrats, after bingeing on cookies gives her a bellyache, Angelica decides to stop eating cookies, enlisting the help of the babies to keep her from eating cookies. She spends the episode Angsting, and recalls the role cookies have played in her entire short life. Eventually, she ends up going after cookies that have fallen into a pail of soapy water.
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode "Willpower Smurfs", Jokey challenges several of his fellow Smurfs to give up their favorite things to do if he is willing to give up playing his pranks on his fellow Smurfs. Several of the Smurfs take Jokey up on the challenge. However, when one of them, Harmony, is captured by Gargamel, he ends up failing his part of the challenge on purpose by blowing his trumpet, which then signals the end of the challenge for all the other Smurfs, although Papa Smurf understands this as Harmony signaling for help.
  • An episode of South Park has Randy Marsh giving up alcohol by joining Alcoholics Anonymous. However, the rest of the Marsh family finds Randy's new attitude insufferable; he becomes The Fundamentalist thanks to AA meetings saying that religion is the way to cure his "disease" of alcoholism.note  By the end of the episode, Stan has convinced Randy that both being an alcoholic and abstaining from it are bad; if Randy likes drinking, says Stan, he should just do it in moderation. This lets the status quo remain intact.