If the characters enter the house of an elderly neighbor or relative, they will inevitably find a hundred unblinking, soulless eyes belonging to... a collection of porcelain unicorns, a room full of Sad Clown paintings, or a much stranger collection. Adding to the creepy factor will be the impeccable condition of the display, the sheer craftsmanship of the figures/displays, and the owner's utter devotion and Encyclopaedic Knowledge of every item's history.
This elderly woman (though some men and young people, Otaku in particular, are depicted as having such collections) will usually create the collection to pass the time and fight the loneliness of a life removed from the joys of family, or as a symptom of oncoming senility. This curious collector will usually see her modest collection grow from a shelf to a bookcase to a Trophy Room, or even fill her entire house with this kitsch. The collection is usually harmless, rarely ever becoming as outright creepy as the Stalker Shrine, but it can be cause for concern regardless.
The collection itself will be a big source of comfort and pride for the owner, which makes it a prime target for threats and coercion. If a character wants to persuade her to do something, he just threatens the porcelain puppy. If he wants to sweet-talk her, he'll compliment the miniature moose. And of course, if children are about or a statue gets broken, things will get much worse.
Needless to say, this trope is based on Real Life. Note that in Real Life, there may be a Values Dissonance; back in the 1930s, collecting figurines was both a status symbol and a symbol of femininity. The little old lady who has 300 figurines may not be pathetically lonely, she is following a tradition of her childhood.
Kitsch Collections that can be viewed by the general public probably fit best under Museum of the Strange and Unusual.
- In Investigation Held by Kolobki, the protagonists have a large collection of clocks and watches in their home, filling most of the walls, as well as porcelain elephants and various photographs of unknown origins. The reason why is never explained.
- Starman: While on one of his buying trips, Jack Knight buys a collection of carnival glass off a creepy old farmer. The farmer says that the collection belonged to his late and, since she died, he has taken to every so often shooting a piece of it with his shotgun. Jack leaves wondering exactly how the wife died.
- Deconstructed in Up - Carl has to learn to let go of it all in order to move on.
- In the film About Schmidt, Warren Schmidt's wife, Helen, collects little Hummel figurines, to Warren's displeasure. Later in the film Warren visits a museum full of them and has to admit they aren't all so bad. Warren and Helen are both in their late 60s, and Helen is depicted as grandmotherly, though technically not a grandmother.
- In Falling Down, William Foster's mother has such a collection. When the police were interviewing her to try and see where her rampaging son might go next, she was incredibly nervous because she felt that William might kill her and wouldn't say anything. The lead detective dramatically calmed her down just by asking which figurine was her favorite, guessing that it was a dog (it was the giraffe).
- In the film The 40 Year Old Virgin, Andy owns a collection of action figures. He sells them at end of the movie when he starts to mature.
- In Charlotte McLeod's novel Exit The Milkman, one of the characters has a huge collection of porcelain.
- Stephen King:
- Annie Wilkes from Misery has a collection like this, and she knows exactly how they're placed.
- Nettie Cobb and her carnival glass in Needful Things. She tolerated her husband's abuse for many years, but when he smashed one of her pieces she took his life.
- "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away", a short story in Everything's Eventual about a traveling salesman who collects graffiti.
- Kirstie Carver in The Regulators collects Hummel figurines. Her goal in life is to design one that looks like her Spoiled Brat son.
- Miss Flitworth in Reaper Man has a spare room in her farmhouse mostly dedicated to a collection of assorted knickknacks, ranging from fine china to cheaply-made porcelain dogs and everything in between. It's implied they're all souvenirs from her late fiancee.
- Nanny Ogg has a kitsch collection of her own, but she uses it as a means of extortion towards her numerous relatives. To clarify: if you travel off somewhere, you had best bring back a stunning gift for her, or your portrait is moved to a less favorable place. Nanny Ogg has a very extended family, extremely prone to infighting which Nanny encourages as a pastime, and they will know and will take advantage of how favorably Nanny regards you.note
- Stanley from Going Postal kept pins, and later became one of the disc's first stamp collectors. This was a frequently used method of calming him down.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Professor Dolores Umbridge has a collection of plates with kittens of them in her office. Harry doesn't like them in the least.
- In River of Dancing Gods, the wizard Throckmorton P. Ruddygore has a massive collection of kitsch that he considers underappreciated art.
- In Paper Towns, Radar's parents have the world's largest collection of black Santas. Radar (and presumably his parents) are black, but Radar is understandably hesitant to bring his girlfriend over to meet his parents and see his house.
- Sandi of Mike Nelson's Death Rat! has a living room overly decorated with porcelain clowns and kittens, needlepoint artwork and other assorted baubles. Main character Ponty is most intrigued and confused by the rock-hard loaf of preserved bread decorated with a ribbon, and antagonist Gus Bromstad finds out the hard way that Sandi's knicknacks serve as effective impromptu missiles when he makes the mistake of threatening her.
- Sylar's adoptive mother in Heroes collected snowglobes, and she definitely was more than a little cuckoo.
- In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody it is revealed that Arwin's mother collects owls.
- People with these kinds of collections (or more sinister variations) occasionally appear as characters on Scare Tactics. One notable episode had a particularly deranged doll collector.
- The League of Gentlemen -"Do not touch the precious things of the shop!"
- Sandy Ryerson from Glee has a doll collection. Sue doesn't like it:
Sue: Well, isn't this just lovely and normal. [...] Boy, the only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies, limed and rotting in shallow graves under the floorboards.
- Oddities. Kind of the point of the show.
- Pawn Stars: Played straight, as occasionally someone will bring in an assortment of things that an older relative collected. Said relative has now passed on, and the family is looking to sell the collection. The problem is that such collections are rarely actually worth anything...
- The entire Bitchin' Kitchen is decorated with porcelain and chrome baby dolls and skulls. Lampshaded when Nadia goes on about her grandmother's creepy collection of figurines while the camera zooms into the set behind her.
- A M*A*S*H episode has Klinger decking the company clerk office out in various "treasures" sent from his family in Toledo, to this effect.
Margaret: Klinger, you've outdone yourself. There's not one thing here that belongs on a military base.
Hawkeye: Well, unless you're with a unit of fighting grandmothers.
- In one episode of Castle, Ryan and Esposito interview an old lady, who has a very large, very creepy doll collection, which is made even worse by the fact that all the dolls have names and she refers to them as her "friends". Ryan, who dislikes dolls, spends the entire conversation looking hilariously freaked out.
- The massive collections of sci-fi/fantasy and comic-book tie-ins accumulated by the core cast of The Big Bang Theory would probably be a male equivalent. It is interesting that when Penny calls Leonard out on his, and he seeks to sell it all off to please her, Sheldon hits back by referring to Penny's own compulsive accumulation of Care Bears, My Little Ponies, etc. The capping instance must be Doctor Lorvis,note who compensates for being single and living with his mother by spending a private practice salary on really-high-end movie and television tie-ins, filling the whole basement with them to create his Fortress of Solitude.
- One episode of 30 Rock deals with Jack having to abandon his large secret cookie jar collection "because the guy with the weird hobby never gets the corner office". (it is explained that Giuliani only became mayor of NY after ditching his doll collection). He does insist you don't have to be weird to have a collection like that though:
Jack We never had any cookie jars in my home, because my mother never baked any cookies, 'cause she never felt we deserved any cookies, so obviously it has nothing to do with my childhood
Liz: But that cookie jar says "mom" on it.
Jack I don't think so; I always viewed it as an upside down "wow"
- Gammill the Collector is a male version from Charmed. Except he kidnapped young women, magically shrunk them, covered them in clay and baked them alive for his creepy figurine collection.
- In Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, Laura, a young, introverted woman who is shy due to a physical disfigurement, is obsessed with her collection of glass animals.
- In Christopher Durang's parody of The Glass Menagerie, For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls a character collects glass swizzle sticks.
- In the video for "Fear Garden," Rin Kagamine collects people's hands (that she has severed from her living friends/family/fellow Vocaloids) and puts them in a garden as flowers.
- "Heartbeat Clocktower," "Girl of the Miniature Garden," and "Judgement of Corruption" all feature the character Gallerian Marlon (KAITO), also known as The Collector, who... collects things. Specifically, his greatest pride was a doll that was part of his collection which he believed to be hisdeceased daughter.
- The Player Character in No More Heroes, Travis Touchdown, is a shameless otaku with a collection of Pure White Lover Bizarre Jelly merchandise and (as the game progresses) wrestling masks.
- Francis has a whole bunch of Paper Mario merchandise in his room in Super Paper Mario.
- This is common among players of Bethesda RPGs. It's not uncommon to see people with entire rooms dedicated to monster skulls, plungers, or empty/rare soda bottles.
- A stand-out example is Fallout 3's Sierra Petrovita, a woman who has the largest collection of Nuka-Cola memorabilia found anywhere post-apocalypse. She'll even give you tour of her "museum."
- Deconstructed in Fallout: New Vegas add-on Old World Blues with Muggy, a robot that was programmed to collect coffee mugs. He hates it.
- "Of course I'm obsessed! They made me this way! You think I don't know how crazy I sound? Of course I do! THEY PROGRAMMED ME TO KNOW THAT TOooo-arrr..."
- In Problem Sleuth, Nervous Broad has a collection of "fancy Santas".
- In Homestuck: Each of the four kids grows up in a household with one.
- John's dad is obsessed with
clownsharlequins. The house is covered with harlequin pictures and, yes, figurines. He was given a restraining order by the cast of Cirque du Soleil. It turns out, though, that this collection was part of a misguided attempt to connect with John who had been scribbling pictures of harlequins insulting him all over his walls in his sleep thanks to Gamzee cursing him to have nightmares about them.
- In the Alpha universe, Jane's version of Dad collects hard-boiled private-eye memorabilia in a more successful attempt to bond with her.
- Rose's mother collects wizard figurines. Rose is convinced that this is part of their Passive-Aggressive Kombat and that she doesn't even like them. Turns out that she does like wizards, or at least her post-Scratch counterpart does.
- Dave's brother is obsessed with puppets, and their apartment is filled with ventriloquist dummies, muppet-like stuffed and foam dolls, etc. He even runs a collection of puppet porn sites. However, Bro Strider is such a master of esoteric levels of Irony that it's impossible to tell whether the line between "being creepily into puppets" and satire of the them even exists. Dave pretends to be cool with this. Dirk, Bro's alpha-universe counterpart, has pretty much the same collection with some SB&HJ merchandise of Dave's tossed in.
- Jade's grandfather's... everything. From mummies, to stuffed animals (and monsters), to collections of faded blue salon posters, to globes, to suits of armor, etc., etc.
- John's dad is obsessed with
- Angel Moxie has Mrs. Merriweather, a cutesy Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher who is actually an evil demon who genuinely loves kitsch, in fact Alex beats her when her house is destroyed mid battle and she realised she no longer has her Precious Moments collection.
- In Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name, Ples really likes clocks.
- On King of the Hill, Hank's mom, Tilly, and her elderly friends are obsessed with getting to see a glass miniatures museum. It turns out Tilly is obsessed with them because they were the only thing that made her feel better during her divorce from Hank's father. Hank then realizes what a big deal it is to her, he apologizes for dismissing her interest in them by buying her a miniature of a stadium in a walnut shell by the famous artist she had been admiring. While the episode is touching, the obsession is still shown as a sign that Tilly is mentally fragile (all her friends are senile to various degrees).
- On Kim Possible, the villain DNAmy is obsessed with collecting Cuddle Buddies stuffed toys... and with creating real live Mix-and-Match Critters.
- Creepy... semi-subversion, maybe, in Transformers Animated. Lockdown has a collection of all sorts of trophies. However, he is not extremely old note , and the "trophies" are various mods (read: body parts) he's ripped off of his bounties.
- The Tick: A supervillain named Pig Leg, a man with a fully formed, sentient pig for a leg, had a collection of pig figurines — he sheepishly explained that he told a friend in passing that he liked pigs, so his friend bought him a little pig figure, then someone else saw it and bought him another; it sort of just happened.
- Linda from Bob's Burgers collects porcelain babies. She obsesses over them to the point of talking, kissing, and singing to them. The rest of her family finds it disturbing. Her collection appears to be a waste of money because Bob had to confiscate her credit card after ordering too many and she reluctantly attempts to sell the collection to a pawn shop after the family has serious financial trouble but couldn't because they were deemed valueless. Her collection was also threatened to be destroyed when her kids interrogate her.
- Moral Orel: Florence Papermouth, one of Moralton's citizens owns a zebra collection. In her loneliness as a divorced wife and single mother and hopelessly in love with Reverend Putty, Florence clings to these figurines as her prized possessions.