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Morning Routine

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Wake up. Take shower. Comb hair. Brush teeth. Trim nosehair. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Miss bus.

Look familiar? It should. Sequences that show a character following their average Morning Routine are incredibly common. It's a standard story opener, for several reasons: it's a way to introduce a character immediately, it shows the normal routine (to better contrast when wackiness ensues), and it's something we're all pretty familiar with—even those of us who rue mornings.


This can also be used as an Establishing Character Moment— we know someone is Super OCD if he follows a strict schedule and a slob if he sniffs his armpit and decides he can skip the shower.

Like the White Void Room, it's something of a cliche and is commonly perceived as an opening that serves until the plot takes hold. Then again, like all tropes, it can be used to great effect— for instance, the opening sequence of Dexter. Surprisingly, Slice of Life works can avoid this for quite some time — mainly because there's a choice of other routines.

Synchronized Morning Routine is a subtrope. Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World isn't. See also A Day in the Life. Compare Easing into the Adventure, Good Morning, Crono. Often ends with the character Late for School or work.



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  • In the beginning of Fruits Basket Tohru Honda is shown waking up, admiring the beauty of the day, and then saying good bye to the photo of her mother and taking a walk before she goes to school.
  • Some Sailor Moon episodes tend to start this way, usually as a set up to a "Usagi is late" joke.
  • Azumanga Daioh had this with Chiyo-chan in the episode that was focused on her, showing how she gets up early so she can prepare her lunch and then goes to wake up her parents.
  • Episode one of Puella Magi Madoka Magica shows Madoka's morning routine, starting with her waking up from a strange dream, waking up her family members, getting dressed, eating breakfast; all sorts of everyday normal activities. Used to show Madoka's roots in normality, and provide contrast for the changes the come.
  • In From Up on Poppy Hill Umi is introduced by her morning routine of making food for the family and hissing the flags. This routine is shown or varied several times again.
  • In the first episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Nanoha is shown waking up and getting ready for school. The same scene plays out in her first scene of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, but with indications that Nanoha is eagerly awaiting the day she can see Fate in person again.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. In "A Human Work" this is done to compare Misato's slobbish ways with Shinji. Then the same sequence happens again, but with Musicalis Interruptus and a mutual Jaw Drop from Shinji and Pen Pen as Misato exits her room done up neatly in her uniform because she's attending a conference.
  • In Girls und Panzer, after the Action Prologue that takes place a few episodes after the start of the show, the first scene is of Miho, the main character, waking up in the morning, and hastily going through her daily routine before realizing that she's not at home anymore.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Strips 
  • Zits: One strip alternates between Jeremy and his girlfriend, showing the her putting on makeup, combing her hair, etc. while Jeremy takes several panels to emerge from sleep. The final panel has Sara, now a living exhibition of cosmetic technology, asking Jeremy how he gets his hair to look as if he got out of bed, to which he confusedly replies that he gets out of bed.

  • In Dirty Sympathy the morning of the Vera Misham trial opens with both Klavier and Apollo getting ready for the trial in their homes. They style their hair, pick out their clothes and go over their plan to have Kristoff lose the jury's sympathy to cover up that they framed him.
  • In Beautiful Fiction's Babylon begins with Ed and Al getting ready for the day while Edward struggles and hides his chronic pain and terminal illness. He shaves, he dries his hair using alchemy and has breakfast with Al.

  • Legally Blonde opens with two stories during the opening credits: Elle's friends delivering a letter to her, and Elle getting ready in the morning.
  • The Devil Wears Prada offers not just Andy's morning routine but the routine of about a dozen other women as well, to contrast the way she gets ready to the way the other women do.
  • The beginning of Tangled.
  • Stranger than Fiction begins this way.
  • The film Zodiac has this, complete with the child of the cartoonist confessing to swallowing his toothpaste. The sense of panic among the populace over the school bus threat is reflected in the cartoonist taking his kid away from the bus at the last minute and driving him to school.
  • The opening scene of Turner & Hooch shows Turner's morning routine which establishes his character as an absolute neat freak.
  • Up had one of these with Carl after the death of Ellie.
  • The film version of Grease begins with an animated montage of all of the main characters going through their morning routine to get ready for school.
  • Hairspray opens with Tracy waking up, coiffing her hair with copious amounts of hairspray, and preparing for school, all while singing and dancing.
  • "A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep..."
  • Shaun of the Dead had one of these at the beginning, showing the protagonist going to the store across the street to get a Coke. Later on, when the Zombie Apocalypse comes, the exact same routine is repeated... except now there are zombies and bloody traces around, which Shaun fails to notice and just grabs a Coke as usual.
  • Shrek starts out with what presumably is how every ogre spends their morning.
  • Mishima A Life In Four Chapters starts when it's protagonist wakes up for the last time. The prolouge is over by the time he's dressed and out the door.
  • In All That Jazz, Joe Gideon's morning routine includes Vivaldi's "Concerto Alla Rustica" on cassette tape, eyedrops, smoking in the shower, taking pills with Alka-Seltzer, and finally declaring into a mirror: "It's showtime, folks!"
  • Oblivion interweaves Jack's morning routine with his voice-over about the end of civilization. He takes off for work in his Bubble Ship, and then the movie's title card is shown.
  • The film American Psycho opens with Patrick Bateman's everyday morning routine, showing the materialistic and sociopathic nature of our Villain Protagonist, who is putting on his Mask of Sanity.
  • The Seventh Continent has lots of repetitive shots of the main family doing mundane morning activities in part one and two, emphasizing the emptiness and loneliness that they are going through.
  • The Ipcress File opens with Palmer calmly getting out of bed and going through his morning rituals of getting dressed and having breakfast - all to the tune of John Barry's insanely cool theme music.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy starts this way, with Arthur Dent getting out of bed and starting his routine before being interrupted by a bulldozer trying to tear his house down.
  • The first Harry Potter book starts off by showing the Dursleys' morning routine. ("Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work.") Although the second chapter takes place on Dudley's birthday, it's apparently a fairly typical morning for Harry as he's woken up by Aunt Petunia and forced to make breakfast.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Dexter opening sequence is Dexter's typical morning, but shot so that his normal morning routine reminds viewers at every turn of who he really is; his floss becomes a garrotte, him pulling on his shirt becomes a sheet laid over the face of a corpse, and so on. It's very effectively creepy, and won an Emmy.
  • Skins, both UK and US, have this is in the first episode.
  • Monk did this in the opening credits for the first season. Adrian Monk's morning routine serves to demonstrate his OCD tendencies: his closet is full of identical suits, he disinfects his toothbrush with boiling water before brushing his teeth, etc.
  • Given an interesting twist at the very beginning of The West Wing. We see Sam wake up in the morning. Next to a prostitute. Who is asking who POTUS is - and why he has such a funny name. It's the President of the United States.
  • Lost. In the first episode of season two, we see a stranger (later revealed to be Desmond) going about his routine until he hears an explosion. The shock reveal is that his seemingly normal living space is actually inside the hatch that the main characters just blew up
    • In Season 5 we see Pierre Chang's morning routine as a member of the Dharma Initiative.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The morning after demons steal everyone's voices in "Hush", Buffy goes through her morning routine in the fraternity dorm, noting only a distraught woman rushing past. It's only when she tries to talk to Willow that she realises something is very wrong.
  • Angel. The A Day in the Limelight episode "Harms Way" shows Harmony's morning routine with a uniquely vampire twist — she vamps out so she can brush her teeth easier (not easy to do when you can't see yourself in the mirror) and uses her Super Strength to pick up a dresser to retrieve her shoe.
  • The second season opener for Community quickly flashes through all the rooms of the various study group members as they get up. Their decor and morning routine tells us a lot about them (e.g. Jeff is exercising in an almost bare room, Shirley is cuddling with her two children, Pierce has a trippy looking water-mattress, Annie's is perfectly pretty and organised, but has bars on the window, etc.)
  • The Daredevil (2015) episode "Shadows in the Glass" highlights Wilson Fisk's morning routine.
  • The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Making Friends and Influencing People" has Simmons' morning routine now she's left SHIELD, including her getting up, exercising, choosing her outfit, going to work and saying hello to a friendly secruity guard at the HYDRA lab she now works at.
  • The Good Place episode "Don't Let The Good Life Pass You By" opens with a montage Doug Forcett going about his morning routine set to the Mama Cass song of the same name. The editing and choice of music are a reference to the Lost episode mentioned above.

  • In Rebecca Black's infamous Friday music video, she sings about getting up, getting fresh, and eating cereal. Although she does none of this.
  • The Beatles, "A Day In The Life".
    Woke up, fell out of bed
    Dragged a comb across my head
    Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
    And looking up I noticed I was late
    Found my coat and grabbed my hat
    Made the bus in seconds flat.
  • This also happens at the beginning of Kesha's "Tik Tok."
  • Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me"
    I hear the clock, it's six a.m.
    I feel so far from where I've been
    I got my eggs I got my pancakes too
    I got my maple syrup, everything but you.
    I break the yolks, make a smiley face
    I kinda like it in my brand new place
    I wipe the spots off the mirror
    Don't leave the keys in the door
  • Chop Suey! by System of a Down starts out referencing this:
    Wake up!
    Grab a brush and put on a little makeup!
  • Jill Scott, "The Way"
    Woke up this morning
    With a smile on my face
    Jumped out of bed
    Took a shower, dressed
    Cleaned up my place
    Made me some breakfast, toast, two scrambled eggs, grits
    Grabbed my keys, grabbed my purse, grabbed my jacket off to work
    Beaming all the way down 3rd

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A regular gag in Blondie is for Dagwood to oversleep then run out of the house to his carpool. Hilarity Ensues.

    Video Games 
  • Heavy Rain lets you play through such a routine as a twisted Tutorial Level of sorts.
  • The main character of the Gamecube Custom Robo gets up to go to work each morning. Getting dressed takes three seconds. But whether he gets woken up by his landlady, by cellphone, or by himself carries some amusement.

    Western Animation 
  • Many a Spongebob episode begin with him getting up to his blasting foghorn alarm clock and ready for work.
  • Ralph Wolf has his morning routine, from wake-up to clocking in for work, down to a Rube Goldberg science in one of Chuck Jones' wolf/sheepdog installments.
  • The Shaun the Sheep opening credits show a rooster crowing, and then Shaun, Blitzer and the Farmer all getting up and getting ready for the day, with the Farmer shaving, Blitzer putting on deoderant and Shaun blow drying his wool, then Blitzer standing to attention as the Farmer leaves the farmhouse, and getting hit with the door, while Shaun leads the other sheep in aerobics, and finally Blitzer grabbing a cup of tea while the Farmer unlocks the barn and the flock immediately start acting like normal sheep. Two variations on the scene also appear in The Movie.

Wait, why do they brush their teeth before they have breakfast? Food tastes better that way.

Example of: