This trope is the tendency for people too often, if not outright chronically, think they are coming down with diseases based on vague symptoms.
This is usually Played for Laughs in fiction, showing these people as whiny, lazy, and/or paranoid. This is especially common among Jews making fun of themselves for being like this. These are extra funny when the disease in question isn't even real (or it's extinct), even in the work of fiction.
This can be Played for Drama though, if someone is actually debilitated by this, but it's rare. And in shows with Abusive Parents or Comedic Sociopathy, a character's genuine illness may be brusquely dismissed with accusations of this. "Pneumonia, my ass. You're just lazy!"
This can lead to a "Boy who cried 'Wolf'" moment when the hypochondriac actually does get sick.
These days, using the internet for self diagnosis has become a new tool for this trope.
A Sickly Neurotic Geek is more likely to be this than actually sickly.
Compare Terrified of Germs, Playing Sick, Hysterical Woman, Munchausen Syndrome (both when characters know they aren't actually sick), You Don't Want to Catch This (which is faking an illness for other reasons), Mistaken for Dying, Jewish Complaining (which often involves something that might get them sick).
- In Liberty Meadows Leslie the frog is a hypochondriac who diagnoses himself with anything from lead poisoning (from a pencil) to "ovarian cysts" (Leslie is male), much to Frank's frustration.
- Woody Allen is more than likely to play this character.
- In Carry On:
- In The Citadel, a deeply unethical medical practice makes money bilking rich old hypochondriac ladies. The bad doctor introducing idealistic Dr. Manson to the practice has to pull him away from a patient before he tells her that there's nothing wrong with her.
- In Amélie, Georgette, a coworker of Amélie's, is shown constantly taking medications of various kinds, even inhalers and eyedrops.
- This is Zena's problem in Ethan Frome. It is one reason (along with her nagging and complaining) why Ethan wants to leave her.
- This is Colin's biggest issue, in The Secret Garden. He's actually far more healthy than he thinks, but he's heard the servants whisper for most of his life how he has a hunchback and some wasting disease and weak legs that he constantly talks about how he's so ill and can't leave his room. He starts to get over it when Mary has enough, examines his back herself, and verifies that he has no lumps that shouldn't be there.
- Often appears in the Miss Marple novels and short stories. One notable case is in the story, "The Perfect Maid." A character named Emily Skinner claims to be ill and spends all her time lying in on a couch in a dark room while her sister Lavinia waits on her hand and foot. The entire village is convinced that Emily is a hypochondriac, as evidenced by the fact that she never goes to the doctor, figuring that deep down she knows the doctor would tell her that there was nothing wrong with her. It's actually this fact that convinced Miss Marple that Emily wasn't a hypochondriac, because in her experience hypochondriacs love going to the doctor. Indeed, Emily wasn't a hypochondriac, she was a thief, and the whole point of the "spend all day on a couch in a dark room" was to prevent anyone from ever getting a good look at her.
- Fairly common in the period romances of Georgette Heyer, especially among ladies of a certain age. From Black Sheep:
"Abby, does my aunt like to be ill?"
"Yes, certainly she does. Why not? She has very little to divert her, after all! It makes her the centre of attention, too, and how unkind it would be to grudge it to her! The melancholy truth is, my love, that single females of her age are almost compelled to adopt dangerous diseases, if they wish to be objects of interest."
- Cassie Stephens, the narrator of The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger, has a genuine medical condition (asthma). However, she is also a hypochondriac who thinks that any mild physical complaint is caused by a serious disease. For example, she suspects that a stress-induced stomach ache is an ulcer or botulism, a headache is a brain tumor, and a small blotch on her hand is a "contagious, fatal rash."
- Thaddeus Sholto from The Sign of the Four rattles on and on about his health issues, and pesters Dr. Watson to check his vital signs. Watson never discerns any indications of illness in him, aside from this trope.
- In Three Men in a Boat, the narrator reads a medical textbook and concludes that he has every known disease except housemaid's knee. He rushes to his doctor, who gives him a Non Standard Prescription for a good meal, a long walk, a good night's sleep, and to stop reading medical textbooks.
- Dag in The Sharing Knife doesn't worry much about his own health (fortunately, given his status as Designated Victim), but he gets a little too solicitous in the first book after Fawn's malice injuries and miscarriage, and he gets really nervous in the fourth book when she gets pregnant.
Arkady: Almost all apprentices go through a phase where they're convinced they're coming down with every new disease they've just learned about. I thought you were going to be the notable exception. I suppose I didn't think it through quite far enough.
- In Parks and Recreation, Chris was born with a blood disease and it was predicted that he would die within days. As an adult, he's a health nut in ridiculously good shape, but becomes a hypochondriac and germaphobe when there's a chance of his becoming sick. This is played for both humor and drama.
- Michael's mom in Burn Notice, is hypochondriac for just the first episode.
- A guy was convinced he was getting diabetes because of his family history, and when he did get sick it turned out to be caused by the "special diet" he made his wife make him. House was much displeased.
- One example that is from the main case and not clinic duty is half of the Death in the Clouds episode.
- Scrubs has a minor recurring hypochondriac. Doctors dread taking his case. Naturally, one of the times he came he did have something wrong with him, and wound up suing the hospital for ferrying him between Kelso and Dr. Cox rather than actually finding out what was wrong. Doubly-subverted, as the lawsuit itself was portrayed as another instance of his craving attention.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation actually predicted something happening before it was reality: hypochondriacs diagnosing themselves over the internet! In the episode "Realm of Fear", Reg Barclay looks up symptoms for various diseases, including transporter psychosis.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- In the episode "Author, Author", the EMH wrote a holonovel called Photons be Free which featured characters that were thinly disguised expies of the Voyager crew. When Harry Kim ran the program, he encountered his character, Kymble, who was worrying about the possibility of their decompiling the fictional EMH because there were probably millions of new viruses in the Delta Quadrant and he'd probably end up catching half of them. "Great," grumbled the real Harry Kim, "my character's a hypochondriac."
- In the episode "Good Shepherd", Crewman Telfer is revealed to be a major hypochondriac who visits Sickbay about once a week complaining of illness, only for the doctor to find nothing wrong (although his fears do become reality later in the episode when an alien briefly invades his body).
Crewman Harren: (after Telfer makes a mistake that almost injures him) What's wrong with you!?Crewman Telfer: (scanning himself with a medical tricoder) Everything!
- Emergency! had a couple of patients like this. At least one turned out to really be sick on one call.
- Another is a precocious boy who is overreacting to a minor ailment by thinking he has a critical condition because he was reading too many medical books. Dr. Brackett suggests to the boy's father that since the boy has such impressive medical knowledge, he should carefully nurtured in studying medicine to keep him too busy to do such antics again.
- In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Fin Tutuola mentions that John Munch called in sick today. Olivia Benson says, "He's such a hypochondriac. How many times has he had anthrax this week?"
- Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory is Terrified of Germs and prone to occasional hypochondria. In one episode, he gets a stomach ache from eating too many brussel sprouts and thinks it's cholera.
Leonard: There's no cholera in Pasadena. Just like last summer, when there was no malaria in Pasadena.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "Escape Clause" features a hypochondriac who makes a deal with the devil for immortality and perfect health.
- The Twilight Zone (2002): The episode "The Placebo Effect", where a hospital patient becomes convinced he has a fictional alien disease from a novel he read. The patient's belief soon manifests in reality, causing the illness to spread around the hospital. The doctors eventually give the man a placebo cure, allegedly created from a fallen meteor-only for the patient's paranoia about the meteor strike to create a new ice age...
- Sookie in Gilmore Girls has a strain of hypochondria that makes her think she has whatever anyone else has. She's cured of Michel's ennui by Lorelai's "off-ui," and Lorelai once had to explain to her she didn't have a prostate.
- Better Call Saul: Chuck suffers from Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, a psychosomatic illness where being near any electromagnetic fields causes someone pain. In season 1, a doctor turns on an electric medical device without Chuck's knowledge to determine that the illness is just in his head. In season 3, Jimmy proves it again in his disbarment hearing by slipping a battery into Chuck's pocket without Chuck suffering any ill effects. After this, Chuck begins to consider whether he's ruined his life for nothing. He finally admits he's mentally ill and begins treatment for it.
- One of the —many— flaws of George in Seinfeld: he is such a hypochondriac that he can't even read about symptoms or watching documentaries about a disease without thinking he has it.
- Played for Laughs in an off-the-cuff joke on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2011. Jon had had a glass shatter during a faked press conference, slicing his wrist so badly he wound up requiring multiple stitches. John Oliver made the scheduled takeover at the faux conference, but made this quip.
- Later on, Jon asks whether he should be Catholic and turn his blood into wine.
- The Who song "Doctor, Doctor" (by John Entwistle) takes this to ludicrous extremes:
Doctor, thanks for seeing me today, I'm glad
I've got every sickness there is to be had
I had whooping cough last month
And today I've got the mumps
And tomorrow I'll catch chicken pox as well
- This song from the musical revue Out Of My Head.
- Jeff Foxworthy describes his wife as a hypochondriac. He blames on watching too much 20/20 and Dateline-type shows. At one point, Jeff had to convince his wife that she did not have testicular cancer.
- Mike Birbiglia admitted to being a hypochondriac, and at one point a malignant tumor was found inside of him. He says the best thing that can possibly happen to a hypochondriac is that they actually get cancer, because it confirms every fear they've ever had and makes them feel vindicated.
"See? I told you! Remember last week when I was feeling overtired and thought I had rickets? I was probably right about that too!"
- Argan, the title character in Molière's The Hypochondriac (Le Malade Imaginaire). According to his brother, Argan is actually a very healthy person, since he survived all the needless and harmful medical treatment he got.
- Ironically, Molière (who also plays the main role in most of his works, including this one) was very ill at this time. He collapsed on the scene at the end of a representation, then died at his home a few hours later.
- In Guys and Dolls, Nathan Detroit's fiancee Adelaide is a hypochondriac, as shown in the song "Adelaide's Lament."
- In The Odd Couple, on top of being a neat freak, Felix is also a hypochondriac. He frequently keeps treating himself of ailments that he may or may not have. It was also noted that on New Years, he chugged a bottle of Pepto Bismol. It's just another trait that adds to his neurosis.
- In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Wonderella once thought she'd come down with bird flu.
- In Questionable Content, Hannelore becomes convinced she has cancer after discovering a bleeding mole. This happens in a comic called "It's Not A Tumor"; The Rant for the comic is "This is not a storyline about cancer."
- Implied with Saku Hotakainen in the Stand Still, Stay Silent prologue. His introduction blurb describes him as "usually 'dying' from something" and he is true to that desciption when he seems to think his current bout of seasickness is going to kill him. He appears in the prologue segment confirming the Rash to be deadly and not just the fast-spreading but non-lethal sickness that it was presented as in the previous segments. This reveal is made via a newscast watched (alone) by Saku's young nephew, whose first reflex is to tell Saku about it. Saku's reponse to the information is hoping he actually has the Rash. He's shown to be fine two weeks later, which is the incubation time of the disease.
- SCP-1025, a medical book that was thought to induce diseases upon anyone who reads it, when in reality it induces extreme hypochondria by proxy. A rare case of the trope not being played entirely for laughs, because the book ends up causing a panic in the site which caused the death of one agent.
- SuperMarioLogan: Each time Bowser watches a Charleyyy and Friends skit where Charleyyy catches a disease of any sort, he winds up believing that he has the aforementioned disease.
- Teri in The Amazing World of Gumball is a hypochondriac with serious germophobia. It's implied it's the result of her mother (who is a doctor who also has a website with graphic images on various diseases and conditions, so she likely was raised with an... overtly cautious mentality.) The irony is that she is also a paper bear (as in a living paper cutout of a bear) so she probably wouldn't deal with any diseases.
- This was shown off in her Day in the Limelight episode, spending the day with Darwin and Gumball. The school nurse is severely annoyed by her due to her hypochondria and both Gumball and Darwin grow annoyed with her about this (and her somewhat smug attitude). Ironically enough. she is somewhat right in this episode as Gumball not cleaning his hand for weeks lad to the birth of a super-virus (though her forcing to wash his hand drowned all but one virus, who vengefully chases the three down to infect them and later the world)
- Camp Candy: Iggy is so convinced there's something wrong that he visits the infirmary more than anyone else. His parents are much worse.
- The Disney Junior series Doc McStuffins features a hypochondriac snowman character who worries about such things as getting broken bones (he's a stuffed toy), being wet (he's a snowman) and catching various illnesses that aren't contagious.
- Kyle's east coast cousin (also named Kyle) in South Park is like this.
- What A Cartoon! Show: In "Snoot's New Squat", Snoot is a tiny alien who settles on the body of a neurotic, hypochondriac dog named Al, who worries about things like his nose being too wet or his tail wagging abnormally. When Al tries to call his doctor about "alien fleas" infesting him, the doc thinks Al has finally cracked up and prepares to have him committed and lobotomized.