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I'm Not Hungry

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Stanton: You should eat something, John. You may not get another chance.
Reese: I don't have that much of an appetite.
Stanton: Mark was like you at first. So was I, when I woke up half-dead in a hospital in Dongsheng. You can't control anything around you, so you fight back in whatever little ways you can. Like refusing to eat. But, in time, you accept your fate, like Mark here, and have a hamburger.

Some people are just plain stubborn. Here you are, trying to feed them, and, even though you can hear their stomachs growling, they claim they're not hungry! Rejecting the sociability of a meal!

Just because they're prisoners!

They might even suggest that you, Affably Evil in its purest form, poisoned or drugged the food. Other forms of rejection of comforts in captivity are possible: a nicer cell (or The Presidential Suite), a clean set of clothing, etc. The villain may enforce the comforts by force or threats.

May be a reaction to Food Interrogation or No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine. Often times results in Polite Villains, Rude Heroes. Sometimes a character who claims I'm Not Hungry may be subjected to Force Feeding.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Castle in the Sky, Sheeta is offered a plate of food while on the airship. She continues to look out the window. Later, she rejects a nice dress.
  • In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, Azmaria is kidnapped by the Big Bad Aion and taken to his hideout. While there, she's taken to their dining room and served a meal, but she refuses to eat it—citing her reasons that her hosts are "bad people" and hurt her friends. The response of Shader, one of Aion's followers, is to tell her that she's "a good kid, and honest" but "food isn't evil or good". She then eats it and discovers that it's delicious.
  • Sorta invoked by Mariko Shinobu in Dear Brother, after the disastrous birthday party where she goes Yandere on Nanako. She says she won't eat until she gets Nanako's forgiveness, but both Kaoru and Nanako give her a What the Hell, Hero? instead. (Previously, her mom Hisako tried to appeal to her unsuccessfully, and had decided to give her a dose of Force Feeding but doesn't get the chance since Mariko passes out and has to be hospitalised.
  • In the Ranma ½ movie Big Trouble In Nekonron, China, Akane refuses the hospitality of her kidnappers, first on dignity, and then on the basis that a bowl of rice and a few slices of pickled vegetables is not a real meal. Annoyed at being told to conform, she storms off. Her stomach objects loudly afterwards.
    • In one manga story, Ranma tries to use this excuse to get out of having to eat Akane's cooking. It might have worked better if he hadn't ordered and eaten a meal of real food seconds beforehand... while Akane was right there.
  • In the 3-part pilot for Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, newbie trainer Dawn offered Piplup some Pokémon food, but due to the Penguin Pokémon proud nature, he refused. However, his stomach growled, much to his embarrassment and he decided to accept Dawn's offer.
  • Bleach's Inoue Orihime. She even manages to combine this with a slap. Of course, Ulquiorra isn't actually hurt by it and leaves after informing her that he'll force-feed her if she hasn't eaten within an hour.
  • In Monster, Tenma is a bit unreliable about that whole "food" issue anyway, but when he was being held in jail he actively refused to eat for so long that they had to put him on an IV. Which, to be fair, made sense, since he was trying to get in touch with Milch (who he knew would be in the infirmary).
  • Rosa Ushiromiya tries to do this in Umineko: When They Cry, after the second arc. Beato is really just amused, though, and has the goats just keep shoving the food down her throat. She has a very good reason for not being hungry, though. The entire meal is just an excuse for Beato to implement some Cold-Blooded Torture by forcing her to eat food made from the remains of her siblings and daughter.
  • Nodame Cantabile: Chiaki gets frustrated with Nodame and tries to force-feed her mushroom and cheese risotto after she lies and tells him that she has no appetite, even though she is actually very hungry.
  • In the second episode of Gankutsuou Albert is captured by bandits and refuses to eat the food they offer him.
  • One Piece:
    • Gin refused to eat the food Sanji had given him after he was kicked out of the Baratie. Sanji then told him that it would be stupid to die from hunger because of foolish pride.
    • Later, we have the Kid Samurai Momonosuke. He initially refuses to eat the very same Sanji's food, but in this case, it isn't because Sanji and the other Straw Hats are his enemies, but because his samurai pride requires him to take care of himself by preparing his own food.
    • In the Dressrosa arc, Rebecca vehemently denies ever being hungry, due to the fact that her mother died trying to get food for her when she was a child.
    • During the Totland arc, Luffy goes on a hunger strike, declaring that he won't eat any food unless it's made by Sanji after the latter had to leave the crew.
  • In Future Diary Yuno has Yukiteru chained up and he is utterly depressed and broken in spirit so he refuses the food she gives him. She then puts it in his mouth and manually moves his mouth to chew with her hand.
  • In Honey Honey, the female protagonist (and her cat) did this at least once while held in captivity.
  • Jeremy from A Cruel God Reigns. As a result of his stepfather's physical and sexual abuse, Jeremy hardly eats anything, even when he is at boarding school during the week. Every time the family is eating a meal or he is seen eating with his roommates at school they comment that he needs to eat more, or asks if he's sick because he's picking at what little food he has on his plate. When not brought up directly, the reader is reminded by how sickly skinny Jeremy appears as the story goes on.

    Comic Books 
  • Robin (1993): After his mother's murder Tim stays in his room and turns down offers of food.
  • One Spider-Man annual starts with Betty telling the Faux Affably Evil Deathknight exactly where he can stick his "hospitality", calling him a madman as she does so. (Helsing plans to execute her publically to scare the American government in part of his plan to take over Latveria while Dr. Doom is missing, due to the events of Onslaught).

    Fan Works 

  • As Marian tells Robin in The Adventures of Robin Hood after she has been captured with the Norman treasure caravan, "I'm afraid the company has spoiled my appetite." (She tries to sneak a bite while he's not looking, though... unsuccessfully.)
  • Belle refuses to go to dinner with the Beast in Beauty and the Beast because she's "not hungry".
  • Sort of a non-villain example. Near the end of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Helsing and Mina are camped out in the mountains by themselves near Dracula's castle. Helsing tries to feed her, but as Mina is currently under Dracula's spell and a half-vampire, she slaps it away growling the line in the process. Then becomes more seductive (thanks to Dracula's three brides nearby manipulating her) before nearly biting into Helsing. Luckily he snaps out of it and manages to take control of the situation.
  • The Hanoi Hilton. One of the POWs refuses to eat from the well-laden table in front of him, put there for propaganda purposes, despite admitting that he's starving.
  • Used in Hellboy. HB isn't a prisoner, but he gets passive-aggressive upon discovering that Agent Myers is taking his Love Interest out for coffee:
    Myers: Hey, your chili's getting cold.
    Hellboy: I'm not hungry.
    Myers: Anything else you need?
    Hellboy: Not from you.
  • In Iron Jawed Angels the female suffragists claim this and as a result had metal instruments shoved in their mouths and were force-fed raw eggs through a tube shoved down their throat.
  • James Bond has refused to eat with Fransisco Scarmanga in The Man with the Golden Gun and also not eaten a single bite of a sheep's head offered to him by Kamal Khan in Octopussy. He did tuck in at the dinner Dr. No provided, though.
  • A non-prisoner example in Love Actually, when Sam is frantically beefing up his drum skills in anticipation of the Christmas play.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • A variant in Captain America: The First Avenger. The captured Dr. Zola of HYDRA turns down the offer for a steak dinner, saying he's a vegetarian. Really it's because he suspects the meat is poisoned. Colonel Phillips proceeds to start eating it instead.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: When Thanos offers Gamora a bowl of food after taking her to his base, she angrily throws the bowl across the room.
  • In Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, prisoner Kitana spits Shao Kahn's hospitality right in his face. One can't blame her, considering that her cage didn't have a bathroom...
  • Played with in The Mother. The title character is hiding out in Alaska from the men wanting to kill her and refuses to let her daughter Zoe return to her foster parents until she learns some basic survival skills, like hunting. Zoe is shocked when her mother points out a stag and then, while Zoe is gushing over the sight, shoots it dead on the spot. That night Zoe refuses to eat.
    The Mother: Eat.
    Zoe: I can't.
    The Mother: Yes, you can.
    Zoe: [eyes filled with tears, she shakes her head] Not eating Bambi's mom.
    The Mother: That isn't venison. The deer has to hang for the meat to tenderize. Besides, that was a stag, so... it would be Bambi's dad.
    Zoe: What is this, then?
    The Mother: Rabbit. Thumper.
    Zoe: I'm not eating a rabbit either.
    The Mother: [sighs] Listen to me. That rabbit had a better life than any cheeseburger you ever ate.
    Zoe: It had a beautiful life until you shot him.
    The Mother: I trapped him.
    Zoe: Much better.
    The Mother: Let me tell you something, kid. There's nothing you ever ate your whole life that didn't come from violence.
    Zoe: Tofu.
    The Mother: Half of Paraguay was burned and deforested for soy plantations.
    Zoe: Cheese.
    The Mother: Those cows are impregnated just so they can be pulled on all day.
    Zoe: Gross.
    The Mother: Mmm.
    Zoe: Cashew cheese.
    The Mother: I knew a mercenary in the Ivory Coast. He said they fought a civil war over cashews.
  • The captured American general in The Mouse That Roared insists on being given treatment of a specific minimum standard, a point to which he stubbornly clings as the rest of his men are treated to the best hospitality that the Duchy of Grand Fenwick has to offer.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • The Curse of the Black Pearl: Elizabeth Swann tries to reject Captain Barbossa's dinner invitation and gown.
      Pintel: If that be da case, den you be dinin' wiv de crew. An' yewll be nekkid. [She changes her mind]
    • Elizabeth again in the third film, refusing Norrington's offer of his quarters to remain with her crew in the brig.
  • In Shanghai Noon, Lo Fong tries to give food to Princess Pei Pei. She immediately knocks the tray over.
  • In Suffragette, the imprisoned suffragettes go on hunger strike to enforce being treated as the political prisoners they are. Instead of granting them this little bit of dignity, the government decides to have them force-fed instead.

  • Bink and Fanchon of the first Xanth novel turn down Magician Trent's offers for accommodations in general. Then he gives them cake and wine anyway, just to screw with their heads.
  • Ella Enchanted: When she is at the finishing school, she does this once.
  • C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy:
    Rabadash was brought before them in chains. To look at him anyone would have supposed that he had spent the night in a noisome dungeon without food or water; but in reality he had been shut up in quite a comfortable room and provided with an excellent supper. But as he was sulking far too furiously to touch the supper and had spent the whole night stamping and roaring and cursing, he naturally did not now look his best.
  • The Arabian Nights tale "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" involves a variant: a visitor informs the host that he can't eat anything with salt in it. Because "sharing salt" is a culture-specific form of Tastes Like Friendship, this is a clue that he's secretly a villain.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Chessman of Mars, when O-Tar declares that Tara shall dine as a princess, Tara declares she sits as a prisoner, not a guest.
  • In "The Fall of the Shell", Brudoer goes on a hunger strike until his family smuggles a note to his cell begging him to keep his strength up.
  • Redwall's The Legend of Luke: Vilu Daskar takes Luke into his cabin for questioning and offers him fruit, which Luke refuses.
  • In Dark Ones Mistress, Clara initially refuses all offered food for several days because she's "not hungry".
  • Dr. No. Having never encountered the No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine trope before James Bond is rather freaked out by it, but mainly to reassure Honeychile Rider he says they should eat the hot breakfast that's been left for them and take a shower as it's the most practical thing to do at the moment.
  • Averted in the Quiller novels. Quiller always eats what's offered, because he knows he'll need the energy to escape or resist torture. However in The Striker Portfolio it's turned back on him; Quiller is surprised to be given caviar and beer but calculates that Tampering with Food and Drink would do no good as they could just drug or poison him by force, and so eats it for the sustenance. Then he goes to get a drink of water and the tap doesn't work. The alcohol and salty caviar were meant to dehydrate him for the water deprivation torture.

     Live Action TV  
  • Arrow. After becoming Ra's Al Ghul of the League of Assassins, Malcolm Merlyn has Nyssa, the daughter of the previous Ra's, thrown into a cell. When her friend Natifah brings her a pepper Nyssa refuses to eat it...until Natifah indicates there's a small knife inside.
  • In the Doctor Who serial The Time Meddler, the imprisoned Doctor angrily flings the offered breakfast back in the Monk's face.
  • In the "R. Tam Sessions," a tie-in to the Firefly movie Serenity, River destroys her mattress in her room at the Academy because she "doesn't trust it" and is "trying to protect her spine." This is probably a mixture of this trope and a symptom of her growing madness. Or she overheard some stray thought about what they were putting in the mattresses...
  • Averted Trope in Farscape. D'Argo and Zhaan take John Crichton and Officer Aeryn Sun to eat with them because, as Aeryn points out, they need them alive at the moment for information, given that they've just escaped from prison. Aeryn eats and advises John to do the same (not knowing he's only reluctant because the food cubes look rather unappetising) as they might not have another chance.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Allison from Palmdale," one of Cameron's "memories" of Allison Young involves her refusing to eat a meal that Skynet's machines brought her, instead slamming it against a wall.
  • In season three of Lost, Both Jack and Kate initially refuse food offered to them while being held captive by the Others. Sawyer does eat the "fish biscuits" deposited into his cage, but when offered water he takes the canteen and pours it out onto the ground.
  • After The Reveal in the The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "To Serve Man", the protagonist is seen on the ship bound for the aliens' homeworld to become someone's dinner. An in-flight meal is offered and an alien telepathically tells him to eat heartily. He responds by angrily flinging the food at the wall. The alien enters the room and scoops the food back onto its tray and asks him to eat again since the aliens don't want him to lose any weight. Realizing the utter hopelessness of his situation, the man gives in and tears into the meal since it's going to be one of his last.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Francis led his classmates in the military school into a hunger strike when their TV is confiscated. At the end of the episode, Commandant Spangler was ready to give in to their demands, but when he went to accede he realized that hunger had driven Francis to near-delirium, and he could not even remember what it was they were asking for. Taking advantage of such a state, he gets Francis to surrender by offering him his "magic hat".
  • In Brazilian show "A Grande Família", there was one episode where Agostinho Carrara took a test for a Government job. When his family refused to believe he didn't buy an answer sheet, he went on a hunger strike that lasted until the results came and revealed he failed, thus proving his innocence. Arguably, he could have solved it earlier if he told them he only didn't buy because he and the man selling answer sheets didn't agree on a price.
    • In a later episode, his mother-in-law went on a hunger strike for unrelated reasons and it seemed people forgot Agostinho's previous one.
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Brook Soso leads a small group of inmates on a hunger strike to protest the excessive and indiscriminate use of the SHU, the state of bathrooms, and lack of real maple syrup at breakfast. Their hunger strike is deflated when Caputo informs them that the issues they had (that he could take seriously) were being addressed already... only for Sister Ingalls to go on hunger strike demanding better treatment of elderly inmates.
  • Person of Interest
    • A Discussed Trope in "Dead Reckoning". John Reese refuses to eat with his captor, who has him strapped into a bomb vest. She says that it's his way of keeping a sense of control by refusing to cooperate in small ways. She points out that Reese's fellow captor is eating (he's been Strapped to a Bomb for quite some time now), so Reese will also come to accept the hopelessness of his situation.
    • When Root kidnaps Harold Finch in "The Contingency", Finch refuses to eat or do much talking, unwilling to give her any information about himself whatsoever.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "Hide and Q", Q takes Riker, Data, Tasha, Geordi, and Worf with him into his realm, where he offers everybody drinks, but Worf silently pours his out while glaring at him.
    • In "When the Bough Breaks", several children from the Enterprise are kidnapped by a race who wants to raise them. Wesley instructs the other children to go on a hunger strike to show they don't want to stay.
  • In the pilot episode of The Commish, the inmates in the local prison go on hunger strike, so Commissioner Scali stops eating at the same time so he'll know just the right moment when they're really hungry. He then proceeds to negotiate with them while tucking into a large sandwich. The drooling convicts soon fold.

  • The Jimmy Dean recitation "I.O.U." (a sentimental ode to mothers that became an unexpected hit in 1976) has such an example. Here, the young man recalls a time when there were two pieces of pie but three hungry people, and the mother decides she's not that hungry after all, never really liking pie in the first place.

  • In Oscar Wilde's Salome, the title character says not only "I'm not hungry," but "I'm not thirsty" and "I'm not tired" when her stepfather Herod invites her to share a cup of wine and piece of fruit with him and to sit next to him on her mother's throne. She's not a prisoner, but Herod's offers contain none-too-subtle overtones of Parental Incest, so the sentiment is the same.

    Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are renowned eaters (Shaggy once gave the Freudian Excuse that his first toy was a garbage disposal), but whenever they say they're not hungry, it's usually for a good reason. The earliest example is when the ghost of the pirate Redbeard forced them to eat the "ghost pirate stew" they made. Then a hermit invited them to join him in a squirrel stew repast. However, in the movie Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy, their reason for not being hungry (with shots of pigs flying and Hell freezing over) was due to being under the influence of a hypnotic injection.

     Real Life  
  • A favored tactic of pacifist protesters. Mahatma Gandhi would be the most successful practitioner.
    • Bhagat Singh, Technical Pacifist and all-round badass, took this further than Gandhi ever did, going hungry for an unbelievable one hundred and sixteen days to protest the treatment of prisoners in Lahore jail.
  • A number of Irish Republicans engaged in hunger strikes while in prison.
  • Saint Catherine of Sienna did this to refuse an Arranged Marriage.