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Inappropriate Hunger

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"Everybody, gather 'round. Let's pray. Dear Lord, see us safely through our time of trial in this mall. And please Lord... let the food court be okay."
Coach, Left 4 Dead 2, while inside a mall filled with zombies

The characters are in a disgusting situation. Maybe they're looking at dead bodies, maybe they're Covered in Gunge. Everyone will be disgusted... except the one guy who suddenly wants a burger.

A surprisingly common Real Life trope. Who hasn't watched a movie about cannibals and felt a sudden urge to get some McDonald's? (A particularly disturbing example is the oft-cited fact that burning human flesh smells like cooking pork.) Also probably owing to the fact that the work desensitizes you, it's not uncommon for doctors in minor surgeries to eat while they work, same with examiners in morgues.

Compare Obsessed with Food, One-Track-Minded Hunger, and The Snack Is More Interesting. Contrast Lost My Appetite, Vomiting Cop, and Horror Hunger. May overlap with Impromptu Campfire Cookout. See also Autopsy Snack Time. The Fat Comic Relief is prone to this sort of moment.


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  • There's a commercial for a mobile phone carrier where a morgue worker's breakfast burrito falls into the cadaver he's working on, and he blithely picks it up and continues eating it. "What, you think this is wrong? What's wrong is paying too much for cell phone service."

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, just before the Final Battle Miaka and Tamahome decide they might not get a chance to do it later, so they might as well have sex (completely disregarding the rules Miaka is held to). Before they get too far into the act, however, Miaka's stomach growls and totally kills the mood, so they stop.
  • The first time Inuyasha eats ramen, it's in the middle of an old battlefield littered with the decaying remains of fallen soldiers. Kagome questions how he can eat in such a place.
  • In the first season of Slayers, Dilgear's eulogy for a fallen fishman is marred by the rest of his men eating the body. When he finishes the eulogy he gets upset because they didn't leave any for him.
  • In Toriko, Midora's undying literal and figurative hunger only stopped after Frohze fed him with her cooking and love. Then she died saving him from the mortal injuries he sustained while trying to help her. As he kneels at her grave, Midora is disgusted with himself when he realizes he's starving again. He punches his own stomach telling it to shut up, but it won't stop growling. For the past four hundred years, he's been futilely trying to eat away his pain.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Koema is often scolded for chowing down whilst Yusuke fights for his life.

    Asian Animation 
  • In episode 15 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons, Paddi asks his toy robot if it could get him something to eat... during a solemn funeral for the Living Toys that saved Tibbie from Wolffy.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Dusk to Dawn series, given her appreciation of food in general, Selina responds to even the wildest situations with eating. Just in a 2-on-10 brawl in a bar? Steal a pop and drink from the broken beer tap. Kidnapped by terrorist organization and imprisoned with husband's ex? Raid the nearby breakfast buffet. Granted, she was eating for two the second time.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the opening of Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again, Larry the Cable Guy is hungry after coming out of a restroom someone had recently sat down and gone in, while the others had all reacted with disgust to the smell.
  • In Den of Thieves, O'Brien is introduced stealing a doughnut from a blood-spattered box at a crime scene.
  • Ghostbusters (2016): As the team sees a ghost manifest in front of them for the first time, there is a loud crunch, and Erin turns to see Holtzmann nonchalantly eating Pringles.
    Holtzmann: "You try saying no to these salty parabolas."
  • In Masters of the Universe, the Big Eater Man-at-Arms mentions that he's feeling a little hungry while ducking behind cover before a firefight.
  • In RoboCop 2, the doctor that removes Cain's brain to become RoboCop 2 remarks that he's hungry immediately afterward.
  • in Some Guy Who Kills People, Sheriff Fuller surveys the crime scene where Wade Hutchinson's body has been hacked into pieces with a machete while eating a box of popcorn he takes off his deputy.
  • In Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, Carmen and Juni reach the titular island's volcano, apparently bubbling with lava a long way down. They slip and fall into the volcano and fall for an extremely long time, long enough for Juni to pull out a candy bar and start eating it while still falling.
    Carmen: "How could you be eating at a time like this?!"
  • In Thor, after Thor has been banished and Loki is put on the throne, the Warriors Three's discussion on what to do starts with Fandral calling Volstagg out for chowing down. Volstagg shouts back that Fandral should not "mistake [his] appetite for apathy."
  • Deliberately inverted and averted in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. The car designer makes a point of serving ultra-rare red meat at a conference during which he shows grisly photos of accident victims. Gradually, the men at the table stop eating and start looking sick.
  • In Zombieland, looking at a zombie chowing down on a corpse makes Columbus sick and sad. But it makes Tallahassee hungry.

  • One Animorphs book involves a horrific visit to a slaughterhouse for the main characters. Once they save the day they end up in the mall food court...and all decide to order burgers.
  • As in the TV series (below), the main character of the Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay is rarely ever put off his food, due to his hobby of slicing up murderers and his job analyzing blood spatters. His lack of most normal emotions also helps. He usually mopes about any missed meal, noting that his high metabolism requires regular fueling.
  • During Galaxy of Fear some of the Children slog out of the swamp to grab at Zak. His companion shoots one, and the other talks them out of shooting him too, but he keeps looking at his dead comrade and once licks his lips. It looks like a nervous gesture. Actually, the Children are cannibals.
  • Mops, during Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, is aggravated when dealing with a deceased Krakau officer whose body has been exposed to a heat-based sterilization procedure. Her mind feels grief for this long-term superior officer who she was fond of, while her body smells roast squid and drools. It's especially annoying for her because she hasn't eaten anything by mouth in twelve years, this reflex is just built in.
  • In Making Money, Vetinari has called Moist to his office in the early morning, is eating a hard-boiled egg, and keeps offering food to Moist. He makes an offhand comment that a hanging always makes one hungry. Moist is not inclined to agree, as he's only been hanged once, and he didn't feel like eating anything.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sam Tarly was attending the cremation of one of his brothers in the Night's Watch when he realized to his horror that the burning body smelled delicious.
  • Turns up in Broken Homes as one of Peter's anecdotes. One of the horrors policemen have to face in discovering a burn victim in an otherwise empty house is the smell, and how your mouth starts to water because it smells like someone is cooking a nice roast and then your brain kicks in with just exactly what it is that has made you feel hungry.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an early episode of Babylon 5, Lieutenant Commander Ivanova finds Micheal Garibaldi at a restaurant "eating like a man starved" after he had found a missing passenger transport that had been destroyed by Raiders. He explains that seeing death makes him hungry, he figures that it is his way of reminding himself that he is still alive. Given other details we know of Garibaldi, it's also possible that he gorges himself on food as an alternative to falling back into the bottle.
  • Bones: Temperance Brennan is so used to dealing with gruesome dead bodies that her appetite isn't put off by it. Of course, Agent Booth does not have the same (lack of) reaction.
  • Provenza of The Closer, is usually seen snacking even in the presence of rotting corpses.
  • In a flashback in Dark Matter (2015), Three is shown eating dinner, completely unfazed by Two fighting (and killing) their crewmates Shrike and Jasper right in front of him. Even when Shrike tries to strangle Two on the mess table, and Two shoots Jasper who is lying on the floor right behind Three.
  • One episode of Dexter has Dexter explaining his forensic analysis of a bloody crime scene, with details on exactly how the victims were killed, then gleefully announcing that he's going to lunch.
    Uniform on scene: What now?
    Dexter: Now I eat!
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Sea Devils", the Doctor steals the Master's sandwich... in the middle of a sword fight with the guy.
    • In one episode, the Doctor feels he wants a hotdog while running from Cybermen.
    • In "The Return of Dr. Mysterio", a Lois Lane expy is hiding in the bad guy's office when she notices The Doctor, standing next to her eating sushi because he is now "bringing snacks to these sort of things".
  • Eureka: While watching an autopsy on a mystery body found burned and fused into a metal door, Allison comments that she's "craving rib meat...beef jerky". Even though her weird cravings might be justified by her pregnancy, it's still enough to make Jack want to throw up.
  • In Firefly, Jayne mentions to Shepard Book that seeing dead people gives him an urge to just do something, whether it work out, or get into a fight, or try to get laid. Not that seeing dead people makes him flush... Book reasons that it's natural to want to feel alive after witnessing death.
  • Fringe: Walter Bishop is well known for this, to the point of it being a Running Gag. Somewhat justified, in that he'd been in a mental institution with terrible food for 17 years straight.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • A brutal torturer called the Tickler snacks on a pear while torturing his victims.
    • Played for Black Comedy when the Hound kills several Frey soldiers after threatening them by drinking their ale and demanding their chicken, then helps himself to their meal.
    • Oberyn casually drinks and snacks before his duel with Gregor. Tyrion is quite alarmed by the drinking, but Oberyn states that he always drinks before he fights.
  • One episode of House had him ordering his team to get a stool sample (with unnecessarily graphic detail), then muttering "That reminds me, I want a bagel..."
  • Happens once on House of Anubis.
    Amber: Alfie, how could you possibly be eating at a time like this?
    Alfie: I always eat when I'm scared. Or nervous. Or... happy, come to think of it.
    Amber: Or any day with a 'y' in it...
  • The Invisible Man: In order to save themselves from dying horrifically of a bacterial infection, The Official, Claire, and Darien have to give themselves food poisoning. This results in the three of them in various bathrooms vomiting out their guts while Hobbes and Monroe stand outside and casually discuss Alex's recent flight. The two then decide to go eat a meal.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Stoic surgeon Hiiro often eats sweets or drinks coffee between operations. Early into the story, newbie doctor Emu is greatly upset by this and it adds to his perception of Hiiro as callous and cynical. Even though this is a matching description, it applies because Hiiro has a lot of stuff to work out and no healthy coping mechanisms whatsoever instead of simply being a jerk.
  • In the Married... with Children episode "Christmas," a Mall Santa was supposed to parachute into the new mall and drop gift certificates, but a strong wind blew him off course, and he landed on the Bundys' roof and fell on the backyard, dead. As the coroners are investigating the scene and packing up the body, the Bundys are calmly eating pizza, and ask Steve to calm Marcy down who's hysterical thanks to the cadaver.
  • On Misfits, after a mild breakdown during the season finale, Simon relaxes in a deserted backroom, eating pizza while gazing at the frozen corpse of Sally the probation worker.
  • On Passions, heart-recipient Charity is in a coma fighting for her life. While her doctors, loving family and boyfriend Miguel are holding a vigil over her, her disinterested cousin and rival for Miguel's affections, Kay, eats some doughnuts in the lobby just outside of her room in the intensive care unit, which her best friend Simone calls her out on.
  • In Person of Interest, a young Sameen Shaw once reacted to learning that her father had just died in the car accident they were both in by asking the rescue workers for a sandwich. Some years later, her habit of snacking while discussing the prognosis of terminal patients with their families destroyed her medical career. This behavior of hers seems to be based in her limited capacity for emotion and logic: The fact that someone is dead/dying means that there's nothing more that can be done there. But the fact that she's hungry can still be remedied. So she eats something.
  • Psych:
    • An ad for the show shows Shawn snacking on a donut that he took from the corpse at the crime scene he's investigating. It ends with him licking something red off his finger and nonchalantly saying "That wasn't a jelly donut."
    • In one episode, Gus goes really far beyond the line of common decency when he starts talking about how he could use some waffles with strawberries and syrup while at a crime scene of a near-mythical serial killer. Of course, he's doing it to help keep Shawn from freaking out, but even Shawn says that it's getting really weird.
  • The Terror: In a rare example that's not Played for Laughs, in episode 7, Henry Collins describes being at the burning Carnivale, watching his friends roasting around, and beginning to salivate due to hunger.
    Collins: My nose and my stomach, they don't know horrible from supper. But I do! (bursts into tears)
  • The X-Files: In the episode "Bad Blood", Scully's autopsy of a victim reveals his last meal was pizza. Scully thinks that sounds pretty good, and orders one when she goes back to the hotel.

    Video Games 
  • Adopting one of the Little Sisters in BioShock 2 usually results in some interesting battle commentary; for example, if you use the Incinerate Plasmid to set an enemy on fire, the Little Sister will start asking for marshmallows.
  • Unaccountably Peckish is one of the menaces of Fallen London. Among other situations, it can potentially increase from visiting a butcher's shop full of disorganized meat and gory bits that came from... we don't really get to know what sort of creature, but probably something eldritch.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, when the party is trying to stop the Phantom Train from taking them to The Other Side, Sabin stops for a full course meal of ghost food.
    Sabin: Food! Food! Bring me everything ya got!
    Cyan: A... are you going to be okay if you eat THIS?
    Sabin: Worried? Can't wage war on an empty stomach!
    Cyan: Hmmm... Sir! I won't hear any more of this kind of talk!
    Sabin: Well! I've stuffed down all I can... Let's go!
  • In one of the early missions of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Big Smoke quietly eats his and his friends' takeout meals in the backseat while the rest are caught in a drive-by shootout with a Balla gangcar. This is actually a hint that Smoke is now working for the Ballas.
    "If you can eat your food, while everybody's losing theirs and blaming you, you straight, homie!"
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend Holiday Star the fantail pigeon Yuuya Takes The Tank Shell / Diving Saves the protagonist and is burned bad enough that he can't stand in the process. In the first game, there was the possibility that another character would kill him and serve him to the protagonist as food, which is probably where this line comes from. "Yuuya, wait! Your tail! Your tail is burnt! It smells delicious!"
  • Jagged Alliance has a few examples:
    • When your mercenaries come across a decaying corpse with ravens pecking at it, they'll comment on it. Most will react with revulsion or disgust, but the Axe-Crazy Meltdown will say
      Meltdown: Would you look at that! Hey, when do we eat?
    • Making an enemy's head explode also results in a comment from the responsible mercenary. Many tend to be quite impressed, though Stogie's is a bit odd.
      Stogie: Reminds me of soup. I like soup.
  • Coach from Left 4 Dead 2 is this trope.
    "Man, if I find a Burger Tank in this place, Im'a be a one-man cheeseburger apocalypse!"
    "I could roll up a whole pizza right now and eat it sub style!"
    "Elephant ears... corn dogs... this is bringing back some memories!"
    "Ah, cotton candy. The wise pharaoh of food, sittin' atop the food pyramid, passing judgment on all the lesser foods."
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • During the Omega Quarantine Zone mission, you come across a pile of diseased bodies being burned in the street. If you brought Grunt along, he'll comment "Anyone else hungry?" Depending on who you have in your party, he'll be called out on this.
    • Becomes a Running Gag for him, lampshaded by Zaeed at least once.
      Zaeed: Is there any smell that doesn't make you hungry?
      Grunt: I don't know yet.
    • It's well-established that krogan will eat just about anything (the better to survive when hungry on a battlefield)... except, apparently, ramen noodles.
      Grunt: Looks like worms. Dead worms. This is a human thing?
  • Eddie Dombrowski in Silent Hill 2. In the middle of the infamous deserted town, he inexplicably had conjured a fresh, hot pizza out of nowhere when James meets him in the abandoned bowling alley, and sits and eats it rather than help him find Laura.
    James Sunderland: This town is FULL of monsters! How can you sit there and eat pizza?!
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: After the player has escaped Grout's burning mansion and gone back to the Venture Tower to report to the Prince, Officer Chunk will notice the smell of burnt flesh and starts rambling on about delicious hamburgers.
  • In Viscera Cleanup Detail: Shadow Warrior, chucking body parts in an incinerator will occasionally make the janitor think "Is it weird how that smell makes me hungry?"

    Web Animation 
  • McBusters: The second video McBusters 2 has Mayor McCheese address this when he comments that witnessing the carnage caused by the pink sludge Grimace puked into the sewers is making him hungry for McDonald's food while also acknowledging that something might be wrong with him to think that way.

  • Fifteen Minds: In Blue Moon Blossom, a few villagers were still stuffing their faces as they turned to stone, surrounded by their fellow villagers taking up swords against the snake-demons, crying, running in terror, praying in desperation, or clutching their terrified children.
  • One of the Jaegermonsters in Girl Genius gets hungry while traipsing through a sewer.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Emily Grasile of The Brain Scoop frequently talks about being hungry or what she wants for lunch while dissecting and preparing specimens in the lab, despite complaining of the horrific stench.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer:
    • Pam, as the show's Big Eater, had a moment like this.
      Pam: (standing over two burning bodies) Is it weird that I'm kind of hungry now?
      Malory: It would be weirder if you weren't.
    • In Lo Scandalo, the characters are called over to Mallory's apartment to find that the Prime Minister of Italy has been killed in rather suspicious circumstances, and they need to get rid of the body and cover it up. But all the talk of Italian makes Archer hungry, and he goes into the kitchen to make spaghetti. This actually comes in handy later on, when the police show up and the characters eat the spaghetti while pretending to be throwing a diner party.
      Lana: So, we've got a dead Italian prime minister in the living room which—-
      Archer: [while cooking] Sucks, because I bet he knew how to make sauce.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: After jamming a man in a coffin and dumping him into bubbling acid, The Joker has one thought on his mind:
    The Joker: (To his henchmen) Well, that was fun! Who's for Chinese?
  • In Kim Possible episode "Tick-Tick-Tick", while trying to escape Dr. Drakken and Shego who want the nano-tick bomb that's stuck on Kim's nose, Ron drives him and Kim to Bueno Nacho.
    Kim: What makes you think we're safe in here?
    Ron: I don't think we're safe anywhere, but chases make me hungry. Chimiritos?
    Kim: No thanks. I'm trying to focus on the thing on my nose that's gonna blow me up!
  • In a first season episode of Metalocalypse, the band gets hungry while watching a pack of wolves eat their evil therapist's arms.
  • An episode of The Simpsons has Homer and Bart, and later Lisa, watching a show called "When Surgeries Go Wrong". After the show is over, Homer says that watching the stomach surgery made him hungry.
  • South Park: When the boys visit a farm and see all the baby cows in constrictive pens because they're destined to become veal, everyone is Squicked except Cartman, who says they all look delicious.
  • Steven Universe: Downplayed example in "Watermelon Steven"; when holding Baby Melon's watermelon slice (not mashed pulp) remains just like a fruit bowl, Steven takes a bite out his juicy flesh. The Crystal Gems are understandably disgusted.
  • One of the Twelve Tiny Christmas Tales is described as "too scary" by the grandmother reading to her grandchildren. The children ask for it anyway, and it turns out to be a version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that ends with the true love and his lady killing and eating all the birds. This ending makes two of the children burst into tears, but the third licks his lips and declares, "I'm hungry!"

    Real Life 
  • "Formaldehyde hunger" is an effect widely reported by medical students whereby exposure to formaldehyde fumes starts to cause a powerful appetite. The effect notably does not reduce the revulsion of being around a corpse, resulting in some unpleasant mixed feelings. So far, the effect is only anecdotal and its mechanism has not been proven.
  • A handful of people find that instead of becoming seasick, they are possessed by hunger, which completely squicks out those unfortunate souls that suffer from seasickness. Occasionally, the lucky hungry person may have a craving for a particular food - chicken and chips, for example. The action of this food craving is relatively unknown.