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Missing Your Own Party

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A party is being thrown for a character. They're running late to the party, so their friends decide to just start celebrating while they wait for the party person.

Then, through some ironic turn of events, that character ends up missing their own party. Pretty unfortunate, considering that person is normally the most important person at the party and the one you would certainly expect to not miss it. It's normal for certain guests not to show up, or at least for certain people who were invited to the party to not come. Maybe they're busy or sick or just couldn't make it... or maybe they just didn't want to come. But the person who the party is being given for should be there. So having them miss their own party in a sense makes it seem like everyone else went through the trouble of throwing a party for nothing.

Examples could include celebrations like birthdays, weddings, meaningful funerals for one's loved ones, the characters' family members' birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, important holiday parties, etc.

Compare A Birthday, Not a Break, where something tragic happens on a character's birthday. See also Birthday Party Goes Wrong and Worst Wedding Ever for other types of party disasters.

Compare Uninvited to the Party. Contrast Attending Your Own Funeral.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Spider-Woman sees Jessica Drew forced to leave her own housewarming party after her superpowered hearing cause her to detect Siryn breaking into a mint.

    Fan Works 
  • Unhinged: In the chapter, Blatant Mailpony Diplomat, Zecora almost doesn't get a birthday celebration, until the titular character arrives with a package about it, and it seems they would've let the day pass without celebrating it otherwise.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In one of the Treehouse books, Jill doesn't show up for her birthday party because she's been put into a Deep Sleep by eating a cursed carrot. Also examples of Forced Sleep/Curse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Big Bang Theory Penny attempts to throw a surprise birthday party for Leonard Hofstadter, who's never had even a normal one. Unfortunately, in setting it up, she uses Howard to get Leonard out of the apartment. Howard fakes an allergy attack to get Leonard to take him to the hospital, but when that begins to fall through, he's forced to stage a real one, causing himself and Leonard to be detained at the hospital until well after the party has ended.
  • The Community episode "Critical Film Studies" has the study group throw a birthday party for Abed. Jeff goes to meet him at a restaurant to take him to the party, but Abed insists on having a meal with him. It's because Abed thought they were drifting apart and wanted to spend more time with him. Eventually subverted when they make the party anyway.
  • In Death in Paradise, when JP is nervous about his impending stag party, Humphrey tries to comfort him by talking about his own stag night, before being forced to admit it was one of the worst nights of his life. Later, Florence asks Humphrey why his stag night was so terrible. He tells her the party was excellent... apparently... not that he'd know because he accidentally got the train to Southhampton instead of Southend, and by the time he got there it was long over.
  • A wedding party example: In the Doctor Who episode "The Runaway Bride", Donna is teleported away from her wedding by an accident involving alien technology, and when the Doctor gets her home they find that the wedding reception is in full swing even though the wedding itself didn't happen because everybody had decided it would be a pity to waste the party preparation.
  • An episode of Empty Nest had Harry take Charlie to a surprise birthday party. On the way, they get to talking and Charlie starts to talk about "the one who got away", then Charlie takes Harry on a quest to find her. He just misses her as she leaves the country and they go to the party. By the time they get there, everyone has left except for Carol who's trapped in a magician's box.
  • In the Full House episode "The Greatest Birthday On Earth", Michelle has a circus-themed birthday party at home but she, Jesse, and Stephanie accidentally get locked in a gas station for three hours, so they are unable to make it, while Danny and Joey throw a party with her friends. Jesse makes up for it by giving Michelle a makeshift birthday party at the gas station. When they finally get home, all Michelle's friends have left, but Michelle still gets to ride the elephant left over from the party.
  • In the Frasier episode "The 1000th Show," the city of Seattle holds a large "Frasier Crane Day" rally at the Space Needle to celebrate his accomplishment. Unluckily, a series of disasters keeps getting in Frasier's way as he tries to get there, and when he finally does catch a cab, the cabbie turns out to be a fan who is eager to unload all his personal struggles. In the end, Frasier realizes it's better to be unselfish and help the cabbie than make it to the rally just to stroke his own ego.
  • In The Good Doctor episode "Risk and Reward", the hospital board arranges a welcome brunch for new Chief of Surgery, Dr. Jackson Han, but he skips it so he can go right into performing surgery. Chairwoman Allegra Aoki believes he's being paid so much money that he doesn't feel he's obligated to attend.
  • In the Mighty Med episode "Lockdown", Kaz is planning a surprise birthday party for Oliver at The Domain, but a lockdown in Mighty Med traps them and the party is forced to wait. Kaz tries to keep the party a secret from Oliver as much as possible, which threatens to ruin their friendship. By the time he tells the truth and the lockdown ends, they arrive at the store to find that everyone left, because they got sick of waiting so long and Kaz couldn't call anyone because of losing reception during the lockdown.

    Music 

    Video Games 
  • Cute Knight Kingdom: The protagonist's parents hold a birthday celebration for her birthday, every year, but the player can choose to skip it. The game gives a notification for when the birthday comes up, so it's a deliberate choice to miss it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Defied by the protagonist of Double Homework (with Morgan’s help). Dennis provides his father’s yacht to use for the protagonist’s “appreciation party,” and then tries to arrange for the boat to go out to sea without him. However, Morgan, whom Dennis also tried to exclude from the party, arrives at the pier at the same time, and they both ride out to the yacht on a stolen jet ski.

    Western Animation 
  • In Arthur, Buster is Put on a Bus for the second half of season 2. In the second half of the season 3 premiere, "The Ballad of Buster Baxter", Arthur and friends throw a party to welcome him back. While everyone enjoys the party, they quickly realize that they forgot to invite Buster, as each was instructed by another to invite him, leading to nobody doing it. They quickly fix their mistake and Buster joins in on the fun.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The episode "Waiting" has SpongeBob spend so much time waiting beside his mailbox for his new toy that he misses his surprise birthday party at the Krusty Krab. Patrick arrives to break the news to him but can still give him a slice of cake and a present. Unfortunately, Patrick ends up eating the cake slice by mistake while searching for the fork (he stored the slice in his mouth to free up a hand to look for the fork), and the present turns out to be the fork.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In "Human Flesh", Linda and Bob are discussing how Bob has forgotten multiple important dates due to constantly working all the time, including his own birthday.
    • In "Mazel-Tina", Tammy ends up missing most of her own self-themed bat mitzvah when she and Louise get trapped in a giant replica of Tammy's head that gets lifted above the dance floor where nobody can see or hear them call for help. She's devastated to see that the party's events move forward without her, with Tina in her place (including for the Torah reading), and none of her guests (not even her own parents) seem to care that she's missing, mainly because of her bad attitude with everyone earlier. Tammy manages to get noticed and rescued in time for the hora, but she's too busy being angry at Tina for taking over her party to care.

 
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SpongeBob Misses His Birthday

SpongeBob spends so much time at the mailbox waiting for the Kelpo toy that he misses his surprise birthday party.

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