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Mess of Woe

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"I remember you dressed in pale blue silk at Mass one Easter morning, yes, like a lady wearing a—piece of the—weather! Oh, how proudly you walked, too proudly!—But now you crouch and shuffle about barefooted; you live like a convict, dressed in the rags of a convict."
Father de Leo, The Rose Tattoo

A character is growing the Beard of Sorrow and indulging Drowning My Sorrows in his woe — both so seriously he Forgets to Eat (unless it involves pizza and/or ice cream, sometimes). Naturally, he's not going to be picking up after himself.

May overlap Men Can't Keep House, because this trope is more male than female. Can also involve Rage Against the Reflection.

Compare Trash of the Titans, Seriously Scruffy, Room Full of Crazy, and Bad Bedroom, Bad Life. See also Skewed Priorities. For the inverted version, see Soulless Bedroom, where someone's bedroom looks off-putting because it's too clean instead of too dirty.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Bokura no Hentai, Ryousuke's home is filled with neatly tied, full garbage bags, a function of his mother's deluded insanity and grief (she still thinks Ryousuke's dead sister is alive).
  • Spy X Family: Rare Female Example - when we finally get to see what Handler AKA Sylvia Sherwood's apartment looks like, its an absolute mess, with it also being revealed that she wears smelly clothes and apparently gets into fights with her superior over how dirty her workstation is. Her own thoughts imply this is due to the loss of her husband and daughter years before, as in the present day her only companion is a recently adopted dog.
  • Utaite no Ballad: After he is publicly exposed as a pedophilic Serial Rapist, Seiji Kotani's apartment is shown to be absolutely trashed by the end, with upturned furniture, broken musical equipment, and half-eaten ramen cups scattered around as he, his face noticeably more gaunt than usual, bitterly attempts to convince himself that his career hasn't gone down in flames. Seconds later, the police burst in and arrest him.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry shows signs of descending into this in chapter 72, and not without excellent reason. He saw the still warm corpse of Luna, who he'd been trying to protect — and consequently blamed himself for not instantly shutting off the HYDRA troops as soon as they came into range — went into a full-on firefight, was killed by being stabbed through the heart before being violently resurrected by the Phoenix, which then went on a rampage, barely eating, barely leaving his room and apparently not bathing. Carol snaps him out of it — and makes him take a shower.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: As revealed in chapter 24, Moondancer's home is a disaster area because she was in a bad place mentally when she moved in, and couldn't bring herself to care enough to worry about keeping it clean.
  • Guys Being Dudes: In his angsty state at the start of the fanfic, Arlo has neglected to shower, change clothes, or clean his room in weeks.
  • Gender-inverted in The Night Unfurls. Celestine's quarters are a mess, her belongings scattered all over the floor, a reflection of her frenzied attempts to dampen the maddening whispers in her ears due to reading Kyril's journal.
  • In Your Servant Mistress, Maleficent shows mild signs of this. A wilted potted plant and the fact that she seems to eat only noodles with tomato sauce are the most prominent indicators. It seems to have been the normal state of things ever since Stefan raped her. She gets better.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, after getting depressed from finding out The Tallest wouldn't come to Earth to help him invade it, Zim's base becomes littered with his inventions and Zim cocoons himself in nacho cheese.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The second A Better Tomorrow film have Ken allowing his friend and mentor, Lung Sei - deep into his Heroic BSoD after the death of his best friend, daughter and witnessing a dozen innocents dying in a shootout meant to kill him - to bunk in his apartment. When the delirious Lung Sei refuses to eat, Ken responds with a "if you're not eating, then I'm not eating either!" before smashing the contents of his fridge, larder, kitchen drawer and supply shelves all over the place, thrashing his entire apartment with food in a rage.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: In 1973, Charles' neglect of his mansion is a reflection of how utterly forlorn he is. His bedroom and study are extremely cluttered, plus the grass on his estate is overgrown. Hank does his best to clean up some of the mess that Xavier carelessly leaves behind (at one point we see McCoy picking up empty liquor bottles).
  • A rare female example occurs in P.S. I Love You after the protagonist's husband dies. She stops leaving the house, eschews bathing or cleaning up the piling trash and dishes in favor of slumping around in her dead husband's shirts, reenacting old movies line-by-line. (Luckily he knew she'd react this way and has set a plan in motion to snap her out of it.)
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: The Dark World: After Frigga dies, Loki's normally immaculate veneer crumbles; his hair is shaggy, his shirt is tattered, the walls of his prison cell are smeared with dirty hand prints, and all of the furniture are scattered across the floor in pieces.
    • Avengers: Endgame: After having lost his entire family, more than half of his people, and feeling guilt for having failed to stop Thanos, Thor's house in New Asgard is a mess, with empty beer bottles and pizza cartons lying around.
      Rocket: Whew, something died in here.

  • Happens to Harry Dresden in the space between the books Grave Peril and Summer Knight in The Dresden Files due to traumatic events in Grave Peril. Not that it was especially tidy to begin with, Harry being a perennial bachelor who doesn't receive many guests.
  • In Stephen King's Misery, Paul escapes from his room again after Annie has gone to her "Laughing Place." The house is a complete mess, due to Annie's having entered the depressive state of her manic-depressive disorder.
  • In Gottes Bodenpersonal: Eine Unwahrscheinliche Liebesgeschichte, both main characters enter this state of mind. While the psychologically healthy one merely loses his appetite and forgets to eat because he's worried, the other one, who has lots of issues, becomes a complete mess, unshaved, looking like a skeleton, and his flat is a mess, too. The other protagonist quickly remedies this when he comes for a visit.
  • In Bored of the Rings, this is why Sorhed's ex-wife Mazola became known as Schlob.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Veil of Shadows, the impostor possessing Bramblestar, who's shown an obsession with Squirrelflight, seems to become depressed and stops cleaning his den or allowing others to do so once Squirrelflight leaves the Clan.
  • My Dark Vanessa: After Vanessa's dad dies, her mom stops doing any household chores. Now a pile of dirty laundry blocks the door to the bathroom. She also stops mowing the lawn, which she says is good for bees.
  • The Light Jar: After Nate's dad left, his mum got really thin and stopped doing anything around the house. Her parents used to come over to make sure Nate's uniform was clean and there was food in the cupboards.
  • Orange Clouds, Blue Sky: After Skye's parents separate and Skye moves in with Pete and Nell, Skye's mom, who is normally a neat freak, starts letting dishes pile up in her sink, while her room becomes a horrible mess. When Skye starts staying with her again, she makes an effort to keep it together so people won't know about her problems.
  • The Roosevelt: In Carry the Ocean, Jeremey's room at his parents' house is a disaster zone, and his untreated depression makes it hard for him to even try to clean it. Like Emmet, Jeremey feels that objects have feelings, so seeing his room in such bad shape only makes his depression worse. Emmet helps him clean it, which takes two weeks.
  • Song of the Dolphin Boy: After Finn's mother disappeared, his dad stopped fishing, cleaning house, or tending the garden. The inside of their cottage is very dark because weeds and filth have almost covered the windows.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bernard Black of Black Books is both unhealthily untidy and unhealthily attached to his assistant. When Manny resigns, the shop descends into biohazard territory, while Bernard himself nearly dies from a diet of slug pellets, oven cleaner, and raw coffee.
    "Go round the green binbags. Then right till you get to the moldy George Elliot. Then right, forward, forward, and then it's left at the dead badger."
  • Forever: After Abigail leaves Henry, Abe finds him in an apartment filled with old newspapers and other debris, simple necessities like cleaning and picking up after himself clearly having gone by the wayside while Henry has been trying to track down Abigail.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "A Vile Hunger for Your Hammering Heart", after Claudia runs away from home, the townhouse becomes a pigsty with various objects strewn all over the place, and there are raccoons and rats running free. It's implied that Louis does the tidying, but he's so crestfallen from Claudia's absence that he spends all day reading, and Lestat is too much a male chauvinist to do any cleaning.
    Louis: As the depression set in on the nation, I barricaded myself within the dilapidating walls of 1132 Rue Royale, educating myself from Lestat's library, ignoring all other duties of the role Claudia once mocked me for — the unhappy housewife.
  • In the Lost Season 3 finale flashforwards which take place after Jack and a few others escape the island, Jack becomes a depressed wreck, and his apartment is seen trashed and littered with liquor and pill bottles, dirty dishes, newspapers and maps.
  • In The BBC's The Musketeers, Athos's room is full of many, many empty wine bottles, which are, aside from the bed (and a Mythology Gag to the book), the only decoration.
  • Red Dwarf: By the time of the Promised Land TV Special, Lister's depression over being the last human alive is shown to have manifested as him hoarding the old crew's stuff in his room, with the bunker covered in useless junk and used alcoholic containers. It is even implied that Rimmer had stopped living there because of how bad it had gotten.
  • A Without a Trace storyline had a character developing a painkiller addiction after being shot. His ex-girlfriend stops by his apartment to check up on him and notices how sloppy it is, in contrast to how it usually looks and realizes something is seriously wrong.
  • In You're the Worst, Gretchen's apartment is revealed to be a Trash of the Titans situation, in sharp contrast and to the horror of her Neat Freak boyfriend Jimmy. The mess foreshadows the revelation that she suffers from clinical depression.

  • In The Rose Tattoo, Serafina dresses herself very properly while her husband is alive. However, after he dies, she doesn't leave her house for years and wears only a dirty pink slip, having grown too fat to fit into her former clothes.

    Video Games 
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen's apartment is a complete mess. Although the game implies he's also depressed about his unwilling augmentation as well as finding out his dog got euthanized, not just about Megan's death.
  • The sequel to the above, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, has a sidequest where the body of a journalist is discovered mutilated on an alley. Her husband is the main suspect, as he apparently has been acting unusually for a while. His apartment is even worse than Jensen's, and is covered with alcohol bottles. As it turns out, his mental state and thus the mess is mainly caused by his recent augmentations, and learning of her murder as he's being accused of doing it didn't exactly help. Fortunately, his augmented hands prove him innocent (They have no fingerprints, yet some were found from the body) and Adam can sympathize with the guy, having been through the (almost) same thing himself.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens to Takayuki in Rumbling Hearts after Haruka falls into coma. If it weren't for Mitsuki, his place would have been even worse off.
  • Downplayed in Psycholonials. Z. leaves a pot of macaroni and cheese on the stove for 3 days straight, causing it to go bad, and later throws up in the same pot and leaves it on the floor. This highlights her severe depression. Other than that, her apartment isn't particularly messy.

    Web Comics 
  • In Monsieur Charlatan, the condition of Isidore's office horrifies Magda.
  • Shot and Chaser: Tre notes that Olly's house was getting to be such a mess that he was becoming quite worried about him in the wake of Olly losing his job and being badly injured. Olly's place is still not perfect, but he's been working on cleaning up what he can with only one functional arm after two months of falling into depression and trying to fight for his workers comp.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (2017): In "The Shadow War Part I: The Night of De Spell!", bitter and depressed over the fight with his family in the preceeding episode, Scrooge wallows around in his underwear with his mansion littered with junk food and hundreds of pizza boxes. Enough that even Magica is disappointed as she was expecting to find Scrooge - "the greatest adventurer", not the sorry mess she sees before her.
  • Steven Universe: After Lapis leaves the Earth and takes the entire barn with her into space, Peridot moves into Steven's bathroom. The place ends up with puddles of tears on the floor.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In "Growing Pains", Steven's bedroom becomes littered with clothes, ice cream, and junk food following his failed proposal to Connie.

    Real Life 
  • Depression saps your will and makes doing simple things feel much harder than they are, seem pointless, or both. Cleaning can go the way of grooming.


Video Example(s):


DuckTales 2017

Scrooge's mansion goes to pot after a fight with his family.

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Main / MessOfWoe

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