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Misplaced Sorrow

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Leela: Fry? He's... he's dead!
Bender: Oh, who will make Bender waffles just the way he likes them now?

A form of Black Comedy where a character misses another character for shallow, selfish reasons, such as money. Let's say Alice has died. Or, she has gone away for a long time, perhaps never to return; point is, you're never going to see her again. This trope is when another character, say Bob, expresses sadness over Alice's passing...but not because Bob actually misses Alice. Rather, he's sad that Alice will never be able to pay back the $5 she owes him.

Doesn't necessarily have to be about owing a debt. This would be any example where someone misses a dead character for unconventional and/or inappropriate reasons. A common variant is Alice's family members bawling their hearts out, eliciting sympathy from a passerby... only to be informed that they didn't get anything in the will.

Compare Bait-and-Switch Sentiment and If You Die, I Call Your Stuff. Subtrope of Skewed Priorities. See also Worrying for the Wrong Reason.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • After Vegeta kills Guldo in Dragon Ball Z, the rest of the Ginyu Force (minus Captain Ginyu himself, who wasn't there to witness it) are upset that their "Super Sentai" Stance they spent so much time to prefect is off-balance without a fifth member.
  • In Durarara!!, Kadota's gang are devastated when they find out their friend Kaztano has been kidnapped, but none so much as Togusa, who even claimed he couldn't go on without the man. No one can be there for Togusa like Kaztano. Why? Because Kaztano was his source for sold-out, front row tickets to see Idol Singer Ruri Hijiribe.
  • Funny Pets: Who cares about your brother becoming a ghost? A dropped plate of cake is where it's at!
  • Done by America in Hetalia: Axis Powers. When England 'dies' in the hospital after an accident involving the panjandrum, America gets teary eyed and tells him he can't go because he owes him a 'crap-ton of money'.
  • According to the DVD commentary for Pokémon: The First Movie, when Ash had turned to stone, Misty was originally going to say "My bike..." in the English dub.

    Comic Books 
  • In Mort the Dead Teenager, Mort's funeral has his mother mourning that her son died without clean underwear, while Mort's father is only upset that his Studebaker was wrecked in the same incident that killed his son.

    Comic Strips 
  • The September 26, 1997 strip of Garfield had a spider introducing Garfield to his friend Petey the Tick. After Garfield casually smashes Petey, the spider says, "Hey! He owed me money!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Other Side of Heaven has professional mourners who wail at funerals... only to pop up and ask if the pudding is ready.
  • In Scary Movie, one girl is outraged to find a fellow student has been murdered... because she planned to cheat off said student's test that day.

  • Discworld:
    • In Pyramids, one of the surviving student assassins mourns the one who didn't make it, noting that "He still owed me money".
    • In A Hat Full of Sky, a shopkeeper is horrified to see his wizard assistant turned into a frog and a big, pink, gloopy blob:
      Shopkeeper: Please, please turn him back! I could never get a real wizard for what I pay him!

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where They're Going to Party", Rachel just about manages to hide that the main reason she's upset about her boss's death is that she was about to be recommended for a promotion, but to the viewer it clearly is.
    Co-worker: I didn't realise you were so close.
    Rachel: So close.
  • In an episode of Happy Endings, Max comes in after just leaving his hairdresser's funeral. He quickly says, "The real tragedy is I need a haircut and I have no one to go to!"
  • In the first episode of Red Dwarf, Dave Lister's first reaction when he finally gets that Everybody's Dead, Dave and is told that he's three million years in the future is "Three million years?! I've still got that library book!"

  • "Superman" by Atmosphere. In the song, Slug one day discovers he has superpowers. While walking down the street he runs into two friends of his. He goes to give one of them a fist-bump but ends up killing him accidentally with his super strength. The other friend, heard in the background, is heartbroken and laments, "Why you gotta squish my friend, dude?... That dude owed me, like, five dollars. Why you gotta kill him?"
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Why Does This Always Happen to Me" is all about this, complete with $5 reference. A news flash comes on to tell about a devastating earthquake, and he mourns the fact that he was recording The Simpsons and will have to do it again. His friend dies in a traffic accident, and he mourns the $5 the friend owed him, and that he'll be late to work now. He stabs his boss, and mourns the knife, which broke and will never be as sharp again.

  • Westeros: An American Musical: If a person essential to her current plan to become Queen dies, Margaery tends to mourn the plan rather than the person who died.

    Video Games 


    Web Original 
  • In Alternate Reality Dragon Ball Z, Krillin gets in tears whenever Vegeta dies. Because he was carrying his borrowed iPod.
  • Homestar Runner plays this straight in the Strong Bad Email "army", when "Col-o-nel" Homestar laments his fallen soldier Frank Bennedetto (a popcorn popper):
    Homestar: Don't you die on me, Bennedetto! Not on my watch! Don't you give up! You never gave me the five bucks...
  • After Sparadrap's pets were killed in Noob, deeply saddening her Manchild guildmate in the process, Gaea's apparent sympathy reaction turned out to be along the lines of "Darn, one of my potential revenue sources just got destroyed".
  • In Pokémon Rusty, when Blaine's Growlithe uses Flamethrower to melt Rusty's Vanilite.
    Rusty: No! That Pokémon cost me like ten dollars! It was gelato.
  • In this parody of the live action opening of the original Resident Evil, Jill is upset that Joseph got mauled to death by zombie dogs because he owes her money.
  • This piece of Transformers: Prime fanart - Knock Out is upset when he hears about Breakdown's death, not because he cared about Breakdown, but because he now has to do actual work instead of sneaking off to race.
  • Parodied in the ProZD sketch "When Your Party Member Dies Permanently." Video game protagonist Dennis is distraught by Archibald dying... because Archibald is wearing and carrying all the best equipment and Dennis's player spent hours level-grinding the character. Archibald, who isn't dead yet, spends his final moments being pissed about this.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: At the end of "Princess Monster Wife", the titular character sacrifices herself by returning the stolen body parts to their owners. At the end, Ice King appears to be sad... but he's actually upset that she gave away "all [his] stuff".
  • In an episode of Archer, Archer's fiancée has just performed a Heroic Sacrifice by tackling evil cyborg Barry off a building. She dies, Barry is just fine, and Archer is in tears over this senseless tragedy. So is Doctor Krieger; they landed on and crushed his beloved van.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Numbuh Three is about to be married to King Sandy, a kid pretending to be a king. Numbuh Four claims that the only reason he wanted to rescue her isn't because he's jealous, but because she owes him a quarter.
  • The Futurama episode, The Sting, has Fry sacrifice himself to save Leela, causing Bender to be devastated over his friend's death:
    Leela: Fry? He's... he's dead!
    Bender: Oh, who will make Bender waffles just the way he likes them now?
  • Gravity Falls: In "The Stanchurian Candidate", the (incredibly old) mayor dies, and Shandra Jimenez breaks down and cries over the rush of emotion caused by having actual news to report on for the first time in ages.
  • In one episode of Kaeloo, Kaeloo, Pretty, Stumpy and Quack Quack are walking through a desert. Stumpy starts drowning in quicksand, so everybody panics and pulls him out... because all their supplies were in his backpack.
  • In South Park, after Kenny is Killed Off for Real, the boys discover that he has the winning ticket to a candy store shopping spree, so they decide to build a ladder to heaven in order for him to give it to them. But when adults ask what they're doing they don't mention the candy part, they just say they want to see Kenny again.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Neptune's Spatula", SpongeBob is about to be taken to Atlantis to be King Neptune's top fry cook after beating him in a contest. This would mean separating SpongeBob from his friends. Mr. Krabs is saddened not because he lost his best fry cook, but because he lost his bet on King Neptune.
    • Also, in the movie, when Mr. Krabs is frozen in place by King Neptune, Squidward freaks out, not because Mr. Krabs is in trouble, but because now he can't sign his paycheck.
  • In season 5 of Steven Universe, Lars is abducted by aliens. When Ronaldo finds out in "Letters to Lars", he's horribly upset... because he's envious that he wasn't the one abducted.
  • Wander over Yonder: In The Stinger for "The Little Guy", Peepers comforts a crying Lord Hater after Westley's funeral, believing he's sad over Westley (supposedly) dying. Hater says he's crying because Wander and Sylvia got away, and he doesn't even remember Westley.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Bear Squad", when Grizz reports back to Ranger Tabes that they still don't have any leads to the location of the thieving fox, Tabes lets out a frustrated Big "NO!"... because she just lost at the Minesweeper-like game she was playing.