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Fleeting Passionate Hobbies

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"Look, I'll tell you a story, all right? I once fell deeply, you know, profoundly in love with tropical fish. Had 60 goddamn fish tanks in my house. I skin dived to find just the right ones. Anisotremus virginicus, Holdacanthus ciliaris, Chaetodon capistratus. You name it. Then one day I say, 'fuck fish'. I renounce fish. I vow never to set foot in that ocean again. That's how much fuck fish."
John LaRouche, Adaptation
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A character trait mostly in sitcoms, but occasionally played straight. A character gets passionately involved in hobbies for short amounts of time, before putting them aside and starting something else. May set up a series that is essentially Hobby of the Week or something similar.

Compare Compressed Vice when this is done with character flaws, and New Job as the Plot Demands when it's done with careers.

If the character supposedly always was an enthusiast in today's hobby rather than picking up something new, see Backstory of the Day.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Part of the backstory in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is that Haruhi tried out every club on campus, excelled in every one, and quickly got bored with them.
  • Durarara!!'s Izaya Orihara is evidentially very flighty when it comes to hobbies.
    Izaya: That's why I make it my hobby to stomp on girls' cell phones. HA HA HA HA HA!...Bored now. Stomping on girls' cell phones is no longer my hobby!
  • Maon of Tamayura grew up changing dreams all the time.
  • In the Girls und Panzer prequel manga, "Little Army", Hitomi, one of the girls who is part of Miho's tank crew, has a habit of quickly switching her focus between hobbies, and her best friend Chihiro worries that tankery is just another phase. Thankfully, Hitomi manages to prove that she's more committed to tankery.
  • The manga version of Battle Royale takes this to an extreme with Kazuo Kiriyama, who, due to a brain injury he suffered in utero, was unable to display any sort of passion. Hence, after mastering a particular hobby, he'd discard any interest in it. For example, he mastered a violin in a short amount of time, then threw the violin away. Likewise with a painting he created.
    • Also true in the novel.
  • Chapter 60 of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid has Tohru trying to pick up a new hobby and asking everyone around her for advice (her previous hobby was traveling, but she can't exactly indulge her wanderlust as a live in maid). It ends with her fueling her Kobayashi obsession into creating various works of art, much to Kanna and Ilulu's annoyance.
  • Tamaki of Magic of Stella can't decide what interests her the most, thus resorting to changing her hobbies yearly.

    Comic Books 
  • The Disney Ducks Comic Universe has Fethry Duck, Donald Duck's scatterbrained cousin who was frequently dragging Donald along on his latest interest.
  • The Joker is a very twisted version of this. The exact nature of his insanity changes day-by-day to whatever he finds most amusing. A look back through his history will reveal he's been a jewel thief, a petty vandal, a Mad Scientist, a nightclub-owning gangster handling more conventional organized crime, or an unhinged butcher of a Serial Killer when he felt like it.
  • Robin Series: Tim briefly took up tennis and tried to join the school team, and was willing to go against Bruce to do so and spend less time as Robin or in training despite never showing any interest in the sport before, and then it was never mentioned again.

    Comic Strips 
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    Film 
  • Played straight in Adaptation, where the plant expert was formerly an aquarium expert. "Done with fish," as he stated. He was a real person in the non-fiction book on which the movie was based. Sort of.
  • In the dark marital comedy The Ref, Lloyd rips into his wife for this (among many, many other things).
  • Penelope in The Brothers Bloom collects hobbies as a result of her social isolation. She demonstrates for Bloom her skills in juggling, rapping, skateboarding, card tricks, breakdancing, multiple musical instruments...
  • In Hot Shots!, the hero's love interest Ramada is doing something different every time he sees her, from trick horseback riding to lounge singing to welding. She's officially a psychiatrist.

    Literature 
  • This trope is Older Than Radio; Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows (published in 1908) with his various "manias" is practically the poster boy for this trope, as he constantly throws himself at every new fad before getting tired of it and taking up something else.
    Ratty: Once, it was nothing but sailing. Then he tired of that and took to punting. Nothing would please him but to punt all day and every day, and a nice mess he made of it. Last year it was house-boating, and we all had to go and stay with him in his house-boat, and pretend we liked it. He was going to spend the rest of his life in a house-boat. It's all the same, whatever he takes up; he gets tired of it, and starts on something fresh.
  • Losing Joe's Place: Rootbeer Racinette, a secondary character and later indispensable plot coupon from Gordon Korman's book. He has a running gag where he gets a new hobby every day and later is turned into a variety act by his desperate for money "friends".
  • Keladry states that one of her brothers is like this in Protector of the Small, jumping from great-seeming idea to great-seeming idea. (She also thinks that one of three girls that ask her advice about becoming knights could also be this type.) There are some who think that Kel forming crushes on three different boys (Nealan, Cleon, and Domitan, though she only dates Cleon and it never goes very far) fits too, but keep in mind that 1. it was over a period of eight years, almost a decade and 2. she's a teenager.
  • Chet Morton of The Hardy Boys. He has one virtually one every book, which usually ends up being very important to whatever case the Hardy Boys were investigating.
    • Nancy Drew and her friends seem to have them as well, and in the books from the 80s onwards, Bess, Chet's quasi-Distaff Counterpart, becomes similarly distinguished by them— in the mystery at a health spa, she gets into being a health nut, in the one at a bookstore, she's trying to become a poet, and so forth. (Although writing romantic poetry did fit with her established trait of being a hopeless romantic.)
  • P. G. Wodehouse:
    • In Psmith in the City, Psmith's father turns out to have this trait, possibly as a result of his Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
    • In the Jeeves and Wooster novel Thank You, Jeeves, Bertie Wooster claims to be prone to these, the current one being banjolele-playing. The events of the book see him split with Jeeves and move to the country solely to pursue this hobby, only to give it all up by the end.
      Those who know Bertram Wooster best are aware that he is a man of sudden, strong enthusiasms and that, when in the grip of one of these, he becomes a remorseless machine — tense, absorbed, single-minded.
  • In the Guardians of the Flame series, Karl Kullinane was very much like this in his days as a college student, so much so that a prospective love interest wasn't comfortable dating him because she was afraid of becoming his passion of the week, and him not sticking with her.
  • In Gallows View, Peter Robinson's first Inspector Banks mystery, we learn that Banks is prone to this sort of behaviour. "That was how the house had come to be so cluttered with the novels of Charles Dickens, wine-making equipment, twenties jazz records, barely used jogging shoes, a collection of birds' eggs, and books on almost every subject under the sun — from Tudor history to how to fix your own plumbing."
  • Mad King Aerys, Posthumous Character from A Song of Ice and Fire, is revealed in The World of Ice & Fire to have suffered from a royal variant of this in his youth. He would constantly devise grand and impractical projects such as turning a desert into farmland or conquering the worthless tundra north of the realm populated by savages. He'd always grow bored with the plans and drift off to some new scheme in a few weeks.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Myne knows how to do various arts and crafts that were never taught to her by her current family because the mother she had in her previous life was really into them, but never stuck to any given activity for very long. When another character uses magic to explore her memories to make sure she's not dangerous, Myne tells them that she frequently lasted longer in the hobbies than her mother did.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hal from Malcolm in the Middle took up board games, skating, NASCAR, robot building, painting, and various others. Lampshaded in one episode that features this happening with DDR: We learn that he and Lois have an agreement that Hal can indulge in these things as long as it doesn't interfere with his job, as they both know the obsession isn't going to last. It's implied that these obsessions contribute to the family's ongoing financial difficulties.
  • The Star Trek franchise has various examples:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: Sulu had an interest in botany in one episode (ISTR) and in fencing in another. Also, antique firearms. The novel Death Count runs with this, claiming he picks up a new hobby on every shore leave. It's Word of God — the original 1960's Star Trek Writer's Guide describes Sulu as a serial hobbyist, but this personality trait was only really played up in the early episodes of the series. It's even Lampshaded in "The Naked Time," when Riley mentions that Sulu's passion for botany has switched to fencing. The botany hobby gets briefly mentioned again in the third season episode "The Way To Eden." The fencing also comes up in the rebooted movie.
      • It's also used to handwave Early Installment Weirdness, as Sulu was originally head of the Botany department, but was changed to helmsman to get him closer to the action on the Bridge. Botany then became a fleeting hobby to explain this change.
    • Benjamin Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had an ongoing interest in Bajoran history, but one episode had him spending a month building a replica of an ancient Bajoran space vessel and then personally taking it on a voyage. The vessel is never mentioned again (despite helping him to make a major historical discovery) and he doesn't show any interest in building or historical replicas thereafter. (Though one could Hand Wave this by the fact that the Bajoran Prophets are known to influence him and drive his focus from time to time, and this could possibly be an example.)
    • One episode of Star Trek: Voyager has Paris getting obsessed with repairing a starship named Alice. Justified by the revelation that the ship was sentient and telepathically influenced him to get it in working condition. Also his constantly changing interest in various holodeck simulations. And his interest in "classical" American history. And his sudden desire to become a holo-novelist. And his...
      • Paris, however, is shown as having kept these hobbies in addition to his new ones. As reviewer SF Debris notes, given all of his many skills and hobbies, Paris is incredibly overqualified... and he's the guy Starfleet doesn't want?!
      • Justified in the case of The Doctor, as he was deliberately trying out different hobbies in his quest for individuality.
  • The Brady Bunch: Greg had sudden hobbies of surfing and photography. Justified in the case of surfing, as Barry Williams was an avid surfer in Real Life; it had just never come up during a plot before.
  • Chet, from The Hardy Boys series is prone to this. Shot Put, Ventriloquism, Scrimshaw, Spelunking...
  • In each episode of The Pretender, Jarod would engage in fleeting obsessions with an episode-relevant skill and/or some childhood item previously denied him at The Centre, taking the time to learn everything he possibly can about it. This goes along with his talent of being able to become anyone he wants to, meaning he's a very very quick study.
  • Tommy Oliver from the Power Rangers metaseries suffers from this seasonally. He's had brief but intense interest in martial arts (he stays good, but he only did it purely for pleasure in the first season or two), American football, and racecar driving. Most notably, he actually got a job doing that last one immediately following high school graduation, only to show up seven years later as a high school science teacher (with a Ph.D. in Paleontology) who'd retired from being a successful mad scientist who worked with biological experiments. It is unknown how, or if, he ever finds the time to sleep.
  • Ellen of The Adventures of Pete & Pete would show up with different passions and/or different jobs. She was absolutely fixated on each one for the episode it lasted for — marching band, woodshop, and vending machine repair in one episode. Invariably, each one would disappear after it had lost its plot relevance — except for marching band, which, in a surprising bit of continuity, was mentioned a season before she developed an obsession with it.
  • Edina in Absolutely Fabulous does this, in cycles of three weeks according to daughter Saffie. Phases include Japanese decor, living through a personal organizer, colonic irrigation, modern art and adopting a Rumanian baby (the last, thankfully, a dream).
  • The eponymous Joan from Joan of Arcadia eventually developed this, as God's instructions lead her to adopt new hobbies every week, which would often be abandoned by the time the mission was over.
  • In the The Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon loses his job. He claimed that his unemployment finally gave him the time he needed to pursue his interests, but he couldn't stick to one hobby!
  • In the 30 Rock pilot, Jack Donaghy uses his market research knowledge to correctly guess that every two years Liz Lemon takes up knitting for a week.
  • In Home Improvement, Tim's neighbor Wilson is always involved in some strange new activity just before he gives Tim some advice.
    • The episode Workin' Man Blues lampshades it when Brad runs into Wilson at the mall.
    Wilson: I'm looking for a new hobby. I've narrowed it down to channeling Aztec spirits or rollerblading.
  • In Breaking Bad, Hank Schraeder starts collecting minerals while recovering from a botched hit but loses interest once he can walk again.
  • Joyce Barnaby in Midsomer Murders had a tendency to start out episodes involved with some new hobby group. To be fair, given that this usually plays into the episode by revealing other members of the group to be various murderers, other criminals and adulterers it does make sense she doesn't stick to the hobby...
  • Arthur Spooner in The King of Queens is an elderly Manchild on the outer edge of senility who drives daughter Carrie Heffernan to despair with a series of unreasonable demands. A psychologist unwisely advocates giving him what he wants as a sort of aversion therapy, in the hope that the continual demanding will burn itself out. Arthur then ploughs through a dozen or so expensive hobbies in the space of a month, beginning each in a state of high enthusiasm that inevitably burns itself out when the novelty is gone.
  • In the ITV adaptations of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot mysteries, Poirot's sidekick Arthur Hastings is often engrossed in a new hobby that requires expensive equipment: golf, photography, sports cars...
  • Frontier Circus: In "Calamity Circus", Tony is shown with an overwhelming desire to master other skills of clowning, and spends much of the episode learning how to be a clown. This is at odds with his personality in other episodes where he is happy being the advance man and shows no interest in actually performing.

    Podcasts 
  • in The Magnus Archives Tim Stoker's younger brother Danny had a habit of this, leading to his death after accidentally getting involved with one of the Stranger's performances.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Orren, otterfolk of the World Tree RPG setting, have this as one of their hats. They are stereotypically described as having many interests that they flit between and learning new skills easily, the latter of which is represented in the rules with a chance to gain extra skill levels.

    Webcomics 
  • Sally of Darths & Droids is a "young enough to make sense" example, as she keeps changing what she wants to be when she grows up.
  • According to Roy's mother in The Order of the Stick, this is his father Eugene's big problem; When he discovers a new goal, he becomes utterly fixated on it... up until he gets bored and moves on to something else. Apparently, he has such a bad case of this that when he's actually compelled to see a project through, he'll get bitter and ornery. His desperation with Xykon is not because he particularly cares about avenging the Sorcerer's victims, but because he can't cross over until the lich is destroyed for good.
  • Aki of Aki Alliance drops in and out of so many school clubs that the entirety of her class hates her for not sticking with them.
  • This is Played for Drama with Tedd of El Goonish Shive. According to Ellen, this is a tendency with him. Tedd is horrified when he realizes she's right as the results of his current work is too important to risk burning out over.
  • Played for drama with Melody Faire in The Rock Cocks. Since retiring from the music business she has bounced from project to project: film director, restaurateur, marine biologist, alpaca farmer, state senator, etc. Her former producer has a grudge against her because she announced her retirement on stage before telling him, violating her contract, and her current project - a nudist resort - is being critically neglected, leaving her employees in the lurch.
  • Played for Laughs in this one of Sarah's Scribbles.

    Western Animation 
  • A recurring plot on King of the Hill is Bobby getting passionately, almost religiously into something for a short amount of time, only to drop it off soon after. This is justified in-series by Bobby being a teenager. Indeed, Bobby usually ends up acting much like an ill-informed adolescent would; knowing only the basics of his new hobby (if that), while constantly refusing to shut up about it.
  • Family Guy: Peter Griffin, lampshaded in recent seasons where his family finds out they can distract him just by bringing up some obscure hobby. See also: the Petercopter and the Hindenpeter (exactly what they say on the tin)
  • Taken to an extreme in The Simpsons: Homer has a new 'life-long dream' every time he brings it up, usually followed by Marge reminding him what his last lifelong dream was (such as getting on The Gong Show or eating the world's largest hoagie). Also, Homer consoles Bart by saying that if he doesn't want to learn the guitar, he can just put it in the closet with his karate uniform and unicycle. Bart is 10, though.
  • Randy Marsh in South Park. As his wife laments in the episode "You're Getting Old": "You do this all the time! First you're obsessed with baseball fights! Then you need to play Warcraft! Then you gotta be a celebrity chef!" Although that episode also reveals that these fleeting obsessions are the result of a mid-life crisis.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders do this a lot. They tend to approach pretty much every new activity with endless enthusiasm and put a lot of effort into it, and then abandon it as soon as it becomes evident that it won't get them their cutie marks. Some of the things they've tried include zip-lining, journalism, musical performance, and hairstyling. They finally get their cutie marks in the season five episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark", and their special talent turns out to be helping other ponies with their cutie marks. The Crusaders realize this only after they decide to stop focusing so hard on getting their cutie marks.
    • In the episode "Flutter Brother", Fluttershy's brother Zephyr Breeze engages in several different hobbies and career paths, but always backs out at the end due to a massive fear of failure. The episode in question is centered around getting him to stick to one job and realize he's good at it. He eventually discovers he's good at mane-styling and dedicates himself to that. Apparently it doesn't stick, because in "Sparkle's Seven", he's later seen being recruited to the guard (for all of twenty minutes, just so he can fail at keeping ponies out of a restricted area).
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Gi", there's a flashback to when Gumball and Darwin quickly got tired of football, tennis, horseback riding and figure skating (in the case of the last one, only Gumball got tired of it). For each one, we get a cumulative counter of how much money they've wasted starting these things and going nowhere with them.
  • In The Angry Beavers episode "Fancy Prance", it's revealed that Dagget has had literally dozens of "life-long dreams". While helping Norbert with his life-long dream of performing with the Lipizzaner performing horses, Dagget concocts a new one of being "the crusty-but-lovable manager of the guy pursuing his life-long dream".
  • The Fairly OddParents brings us Mr. Bickles. In every episode, he has a new "dream". Examples include running a seafood restaurant, being a Vegas magician, being a playwright and being a lifeguard. These are the tip of the iceberg. With each new dream, he invests his time and money. He is usually already at work and gushing about how he finally accomplished it. A word of advice:Do not ruin Mr.Bickles' dream.
  • Martha Speaks: In "Helen's All Thumbs", Helen takes up video gaming and becomes passionate about it. However, she has to give the games up because they make her see things and she neglects feeding her dogs.
  • Bender in Futurama has been through a large number of these, though his love of cooking and folk music have persisted as part of his character.
    Hermes: Since when do you care, or even know, about fox hunting?
    Bender: Fox hunting is an ancient and noble pursuit that's fascinated me ever since I first heard of it ten minutes ago.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Something Ricked This Way Comes" Rick gets into a feud with Mr. Needful which culminates with Rick starting a "uncursing" business to directly oppose Needful's cursed item store. However, once Rick feels he's won the feud - and the very instant the business starts to feel like actual work - he announces that he's bored and torches the place.

    Real Life 
  • Constantly changing interests are actually a symptom of ADHD. Without the novelty of a new situation or task to perform, the hobby becomes less stimulating to the ADHD brain, less engaging to the person with ADHD, and therefore more likely to be discarded.


Alternative Title(s): Fleeting Passionate Hobby

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