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Frozen Dinner of Loneliness

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Frozen dinners, despite their absurd sodium content, are actually decent meals. Quick, efficient, and for some people, quite tasty. However, if a character in fiction eats one alone, then it's a sign that they're utterly alone. For one thing, it shows that there's no one in their life to cook for them (or for them to cook for). It's also a quintessential sign of a bachelor. See also Empty Fridge, Empty Life.
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Note that this isn't simply someone eating a frozen dinner, it's someone eating a frozen, instant meal-for-one as shorthand for indicating their isolation. It's also not about Elsa's dining preferences.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Zig-Zagged in a series of commercials for On-Cor frozen entrees, all of which have the same plot: a customer complains to a grocery store clerk that the two pound "family size" entree is too big for them because they don't have a family with whom to eat it. The clerk volunteers his own family to come by that night for dinner.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mezzo DSA: A Japanese meteorologist goes home to her small apartment and cries tears into her instant dinner. The purpose of the scene was to show how sad and alone she was, and the plot involved her meeting some guy and falling in love.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, the aforementioned character is an Office Lady that lives alone. She ate prepared frozen food and had a boring life until Tohru appears. This trait repeats when Tohru leaves her and Kanna, so Kobayashi has again to prepare frozen food until Tohru comes back.
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    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Bloom County. In one strip, a man tells his wife that he's in charge of their household. In the last panel, he's shown reading the instructions on a frozen dinner, presumably because his wife has refused to cook dinner for him (if she hasn't left him outright).

    Films — Animation 
  • In The LEGO Batman Movie, Batman is a friendless loner whose favorite dinner is reheated lobster.
  • In Zootopia, Judy's dinner after her terrible first day on the job is one microwaved carrot.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the first Home Alone movie, Kevin's meal before he enacts his plan to defend his house against the robbers is a plate of frozen macaroni and cheese. He treats it as a fancy meal, to show that he's, well, home alone and doesn't know anything more complex.
  • In Miss Congeniality, Gracie prepares herself a frozen dinner after arriving back at her flat, in which she lives alone. Her rough behavior pushing people away is a major theme and plot point of the film.
  • In Save the Last Dance, Sara is coming to live with her estranged father after her mother's death. When she arrives, he shows her his freezer which is full of frozen Hungry Man dinners, indicating that he's unused to cooking for other people.

    Literature 
  • In O. Henry's tale The Pendulum, John Perkins' unrequitedly loving wife receives a message regarding her mother having anemia and must leave in a hurry. She leaves frozen pork in the fridge. When he comes back, he's so struck by her absence and the realization of her unrequited love, that he cries a bit, meditates a bit, then eats the pork without bothering to cook it.
  • In Memory, Miles Vorkosigan finds himself unexpectedly at home while the people who manage the family estate are all with his parents on Sergyar. He eats a lot of "Reddi-Meals" until he is able to get his feet under him and hire a cook.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 30 Rock episode "Blind Date", Liz Lemon is shown eating a frozen dinner on her own, choking on it, and giving herself the Heimlich maneuver.
  • After Wesley is kicked out of the group in Angel, he's shown eating a frozen dinner. This is especially poignant as his table is still immaculately made and candlelit, but he's still completely alone.
  • In one episode of Breaking Bad, Walt is shown eating a TV dinner at the table with Skylar after he has been estranged from her.
  • Accidentally invoked by David Mitchell (during the "perpetual hopeless bachelor" period of his career) in an episode of Have I Got News for You:
    David: To be honest, it doesn't bother me that prices aren't included in bar codes, because, over the years, I've come to know the prices of every single Ready Meal for One.
    Audience: Awwww.
    David: The pity's worse!
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Ted has an Imagine Spot where he winds up eating frozen dinners alone, calling the number on the side of the box just for some basic companionship.
  • In the Night Court two-parter "Dan's Operation", Dan goes into the hospital to have surgery for an ulcer, and winds up slipping into a coma after trying to have sex in his hospital bed. After Harry upbraids Dan for his reckless lifestyle, Dan reveals his inner hurt, talking about how he had a frozen dinner alone on Thanksgiving.
  • True Detective: While Rust and Marty catch up, Marty talks about how he's doing fine, but the video shows him eating a frozen dinner alone. The audience is well aware that his wife has left him and he's not doing so great.

    Music 
  • Mentioned in Foster the People's song Pumped Up Kicks
    'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice.
    I've waited for a long time.

    Video Games 
  • Shane from Stardew Valley is quite lonely, because of his depression, and only eats frozen dinners. However, when he gets better he still enjoys eating frozen dinner and actually shares them with you.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: Coach Z is often seen as gross to everybody to the point where he spends his Decemberween alone in his locker room having a Salisbury steak tv dinner, as shown in "Homestar Presents: Presents". He even pretends to get calls from his parents on a broken phone during this meal.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 

  • King of the Hill: In one early Thanksgiving episode, Bill is seen fixing up a frozen turkey dinner for himself after dropping off the Hills at the airport, and lied about having an "Uncle Stan" over earlier.
  • Moral Orel: Reverend Putty eats a tv dinner while speaking with Orel about breaking the ten commandments on Halloween. He offers Orel some of his food, but Orel declines as he already ate his mother's home cooked meal. Putty becomes depressed at the comment, and eats in awkward silence with Orel watching, and as kids pelt the church's windows with eggs outside.
  • Jerry from Rick and Morty gets evicted from his family home by his wife Beth. In episode "The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy", we see Jerry alone in a motel room, warming up microwave food.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In episode "A Milhouse Divided", Kirk sums up his divorce to Homer with this line, implying he's not only alone but also destitute:
      Kirk: One minute, your wife is cooking you your favorite meal; the next, you're thawing hot dogs in a gas station sink.
    • Later in the episode, as Homer becomes increasingly insecure about the state of his own marriage, Marge goes out to an event (to which Homer didn't want to go), and leaves him hot dogs for dinner, which are thawing in the sink. Homer is horrified, and realizes that he needs to work harder to maintain their relationship.
  • Played with in Steven Universe episode "Storm In The Room". After Connie leaves, Steven microwaves himself a bowl of mac and cheese. This is deliberately to underline his solitary state, since we've seen that Steven is capable of cooking more elaborate meals when he wants.
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