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Mundane Luxury

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"Heaven is a one room, second-floor apartment on Earth."

To someone who has had a rough, impoverished life, even the simple pleasures of everyday life are a big deal. The Woobie, the Butt-Monkey, The Chew Toy, the refugee from The Dictatorship, and other downtrodden characters tend to know better than to take them for granted.

In fact, when presented with simple kindnesses and conveniences, these characters will be completely overjoyed. The things that are utterly mundane to most people will feel like the most extravagant of luxuries to them. Our potato chips are their caviar. They react to burger from the local Burger Fool as if it were a steak from a five-star restaurant. And a hot shower will feel like a day at a fancy spa to them.

This trope is different from a Sense Freak, but there is some overlap. A Sense Freak gets their appreciation for mundane sensations from Bizarre Alien Biology, or the loss thereof upon assuming human form. Mundane Luxury comes not from a character experiencing such things differently than normal humans do, but from not having had a chance to experience them at allnote , and it's not just physical sensations either. But the most important distinction is what the character's love of the mundane says about them. Sense Freak is used to establish characters as otherworldly and supernatural, while Mundane Luxury portrays them as downtrodden, illustrating the poor living conditions a character has suffered under, serving as an object lesson in appreciating what you have.

The Inverted Trope occurs when someone loses a Mundane Luxury. This might happen when one enters poverty, gets stranded on a Deserted Island, or becomes Trapped in the Past. One might miss toilet paper, coffee or chocolate. Bamboo Technology might avert this problem. Someone who Desires Prison Life may be motivated by this.

Compare with Humble Goal (where gaining a Mundane Luxury is a major motivation for a character), Simple, yet Opulent (when a simple-looking object or luxury is actually very expensive), Black Market Produce (when certain foodstuffs, common to the audience, like strawberries or coffee, are rare and valuable in the setting) and Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap (when the natural equivalent is costlier).

Contrast with the Spoiled Brat, who is so used to luxury that normal living standards of a middle-class person are like poverty to them. When this happens to the player in a video game, it may be a case of Commonplace Rare. Can often inspire a Disproportionate Celebration. Often the motivation for a Comically Small Demand.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, after Wall Maria falls, food supplies become strained and commodities like meat and milk are only rationed to people once in a while and are seen as very scarce and luxurious (unless you live in the interior wall).
    • In chapter 72, the Survey Corps hold a celebratory dinner the night before the push to retake Shiganshina. To mark the occasion, the mess staff decided to use up 2 months of food rations to give the troops a rare treat: fresh, cooked meat. The entire hall goes nuts.
    Hange: Whose idea was it to give them meat?
  • In Black Clover, Asta grew up as an orphan raised in a church situated in one of the poorest regions of the kingdom. He's so used to squalid conditions that even the shabby quarters he receives when he joins the kingdom's lowest ranked magic knight order seem luxurious to him. He also considers his first small salary payment to be a bounty.
  • Desert Punk:
    • Having a pet dog in the manga is treated as a weird thing only rich people do. The anime changes the dog to a less mundane dog-sized giant beetle (as a way to censor Kosuna eating it).
    • The anime has people fantasizing about fancy glasses of clean water.
  • Dorohedoro: The extremely poor Cross-Eyes Gang has taken over the Big Bad's mansion, but they don't seem terribly impressed by the baddie's riches until they come to his well-stocked pantries and supply closets.
  • In Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Broly basically subsisted, for decades, on food that would make the contents of a dumpster seem palatable in comparison. Thus, a canteen of plain water was absolutely delicious to him.
  • In Dr. STONE, Gen is revived in a stone-age world, and asks Senku to make him the one thing he really misses: a cola. He's overjoyed when he gets it. Senku also uses his 21st-century knowledge to impress the stone-age villagers with a delicious new food: ramen.
  • Nana from Elfen Lied. She refers to Kurama, the only one of the scientists experimenting on her to treat her with even basic kindness, as "Papa", and when she moves in with Kouta and the others, she finds great joy in a simple hot bath (compared to the cold hosedowns the scientists gave her), and gets extremely excited about the chance to eat somen noodles.
  • Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler deals with having found a job as the Sanzenin's butler as living in luxury in the beginning, having had to work extremely hard to barely survive on a meager living up to this point.
    • When Hayate was a child, he was so poor that he imagined the greatest luxury to be to own a small apartment (and not in the centre of Tokyo or anything — just anywhere would do), and thus made it his life's ambition to get rich enough to buy one. When he turned it into a presentation for his school, it drove his classmates and teacher to despair.
    • When he's given a million yen so that he can live outside the mansion for three days, he's told to spend all of it and spends the next few panels explaining that he could live in luxury for the next year with that kind of money. Of course, he's spent it all before he even finds a place to stay for the night.
    • This trope could also be used to explain why he doesn't realize that he has at least a half-dozen attractive women throwing themselves at him.
  • In Isekai de Kojiin wo Hiraita kedo, Naze ka Darehitori Sudatou to Shinai Ken, the first child Shinji meets in the orphanage he was forced to manage, Lucia, has had a life so rough, a simple pancake, as an afternoon snack, is the lap of luxury, and soap is a luxury item she's never heard of.
  • Late in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, the Shirogane family moves into a more upscale apartment in one of Japan's most luxurious wards thanks to Papa Shirogane's improved finances from his work as a YouTube streamer. The thing that most exictes Kei when informed of this is that she'll get to have her own bedroom instead of sharing one with her older brother.
  • The Wolkenritter in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's have spent centuries killing and fighting for their lives pretty much non-stop, so the idea that they can wear casual clothes, eat home-made food, and go to sleep at the same place every night is both revolutionary and extremely intriguing to them. So much so that they are prepared to sacrifice pretty much anything for it to continue just a little bit longer.
  • In the anime for Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tohru and Kanna get excited by the idea of having their own room when they move to a new apartment since they were never able to stay in a single place for too long in the other world (for fear of being hunted down by human warriors). The same thing happens with Ilulu later on when she moves in and Kobayashi buys her a personal set of dishes.
  • Naruto is overjoyed when he can afford ramen or when someone else treats him to ramen. Not only because ramen is his favorite food, but because he's so used to barely scraping by as, you know, a 12-year-old on his own with no parents or legal guardian.
  • Spoofed in Ouran High School Host Club, in which most of the cast is ultra-rich, and treats lower-middle-class Haruhi's love of fancy tuna like this, although it really would be difficult for someone in her financial position to justify finding the money to spare for expensive sushi.
    • Hilariously, it's also works the other way in the anime: the host club is positively fascinated by "commoner things" like instant coffee and public transportation.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Sasuke lives such a miserable life as the servant of the Kunou family that a full bowl of rice is cause for Tears of Joy.
    • For Konatsu the Kunoichi, sleeping in a futon is pure heaven, and, while trying to poison Ranma's rice, realized that it was so clean and tasty-looking (what with Konatsu being forced to forage for food in trash cans and fight off stray dogs for scraps) that he abandoned his mission to eat the rice himself. Heck, when Ukyou hired him, he considered his 10-yen salary a fortune and a dry fish with rice "a luxurious meal".
  • Rebuild World: Having scraped by on the streets for as long as he can remember, Akira happily soaks in a bathtub once he's able to use his earnings to check into a hotel rather than sleeping in a back alley. Even when Alpha shows up naked to tease him, he's too busy enjoying the bath to be bothered by her and has to be reminded to go to bed lest he drown in the tub. When he wakes up the following morning, he's briefly confused by his surroundings because of how alien the thought of sleeping in a clean, comfortable bed is to him.
  • In Sailor Moon, Green Esmeraude - your typical Vain Sorceress - strolls into a fancy shin-dig, causing heads to turn at her hot elegance - until she discovers the food table, in which she immediately matches Usagi dessert for dessert in stuffing her face. This causes her extreme embarrassment once she snaps out of it. This can actually be rather tragic, if you assume she is so wild about the food because there is nothing like it on the barren planet she comes from.
  • Sayuri of Silver Plan to Redo From JK enjoys even the most normal of things thanks to knowing what it's like to be homeless. When she reincarnates into her younger self, one of the first things she does is buy takoyaki and wolf it down, crying from being able to eat food that wasn't scavenged from a bin.
  • 'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess has the Hellhorde "torturing" the Princess with such things as tempura cake and a trip to an amusement park. No, not taking these away from her, offering them to her in exchange for secrets. The Princess had such a rough upbringing that merely being treated like a person is enough to sway her.
  • Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon: Moroha is from Feudal Japan. When she gets sent to the present, she takes a shower and says it is amazing because she never bathed with hot water before.

    Comic Books 
  • In Avengers Forever (2021), Horus is a miner on a Crapsack World ruled by the Ghost Goblin, who is found worthy to wield Mjolnir, and is brought to tears by the sensation of sun on his face when he flies. Previously, he noted that there were rumours the skyscraper dwellers had so much water they sometimes sat in it, and he uses the power of Thor to bring clean rains down to the mining community.
  • When Black Canary took Sin away from her Training from Hell to be her generation's Lady Shiva, one of the first things they did when they got to the States was to go out for breakfast with the other Birds of Prey. Sin is driven to Tears of Joy after trying a pancake. This just makes Dinah even more determined to adopt her.
  • Exiles: In the first issue, Blink — who comes from a Crapsack World — is slightly baffled by the sort of thing the other prospective recruits (who in their own universes each live in a converted mansion) take for granted. As she explains to Nocturne, she hasn't had proper toilet paper since her childhood, when she was imprisoned in a concentration camp.
  • Maus: In Auschwitz, a friend of Vladek named Mandelbaum is literally brought to tears when Vladek brings him stuff like shoes that actually fit and a belt so he doesn't have to hold up his trousers with one arm all the time, simple things which the Nazis had denied them. Basic confectionaries like cake and chocolate are also treated as worth their weight in gold in Nazi-occupied regions for Jews.
  • During a scene in Negation when the captives are describing things they miss from their homeworlds, right as Evinlea gets through describing the literally divine orgies of the First, Badass Normal Kaine just says: "Toilet paper." Two Beat Panels later, everyone including Evinlea agrees with him.
  • Having been brought to the present from the Crapsack World of 1907 New York City, Klara Prast of the Runaways is often delighted by such 21st-century things as videogames and television. But for real mundane luxury, she never looks so happy as she does on the few occasions when she's able to just lie on a patch of grass.

    Fan Works 
  • Better to Reign in Heaven: After spending most of his life in the dilapidated confines of Vault 101 and several months wandering the Capital Wasteland, the Lone Wanderer is utterly astonished at things that the inhabitants of Tranquility Lane consider commonplace: a middle-class suburban home seems like a palace to him, a slice of Mabel Henderson's home-made meat pie is the best meal he's eaten in his entire life, and the fact that all the houses have working indoor toilets with soft toilet paper almost makes him consider playing along with Braun's games in the hope that he might be allowed to stay.
  • In Cultstuck, Tavros is permanently crippled and lives in a society that culls its weak and injured. When the titular cult gives him a wheelchair, he's touched to the point of tears.
    You're brought back to reality by Havera awkwardly patting the top of your head. You peek at her over the towel; she's smiling at you as if you were crying over a slice of wriggling-day grubcake.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Empath has been living in a society where not only emotions are forbidden, but also having anything to eat that actually has a taste to it, with the standard Psychelian cuisine being a bland "nutrient paste". In "The Grouchiest Friendship", during his first visit to the Smurf Village, Empath tries out a smurfberry for the first time and then suddenly begins to devour the entire basket of smurfberries in Greedy's kitchen.
  • In A Familiar Change of Fate, Starfire is amazed by the wondrous feast laid out before her and asks if someone is getting married to warrant such a feast. Louise Francoise tells her that it's simply breakfast. When shortly after, Starfire wonders at the exquisite meal she's given (a loaf of bread and some water), Louise has a Jerkass Realization.
  • Fate DxD AU: Since Ritsuka Fujimaru had been fighting to save the world out of a base in Antarctica and then the Shadow Border for about five years, he is giddy just to be able to roam around a town and then go to school.
  • A Game of Cat and Cat:
    • Julius, who lived as a hobo for 35 years, believes that the greatest luxury provided by a hotel is a safe place to sleep.
    • Naoki, who spent a lot of time in the Vortex World where food was hard to find, finds great pleasure in a plain old sandwich.
    • Leon has been a ghost for almost 1000 years, so he hasn't been able to taste anything. When he and Dr. Dude find a way for him to taste something - starting with cinnamon toast - he cries from happiness (and being overwhelmed by the sensation).
  • Many Harry Potter/Star Wars crossovers will have a magical character use their ability to conjure water to allow showers and/or baths in places they normally wouldn't be possible/practical such as Tatooine (a desert planet) or a space ship (which has limited capacity).
  • In Harry's New Home, when living with the Dursleys, Harry was forced to live in a tiny cupboard, never had his own things, and was frequently beaten and Denied Food as Punishment for not doing chores correctly or accidentally expressing magic. When he enters the wizarding world and Snape takes over Harry's guardianship, Harry is excited and amazed by things like getting his own room and toys, being allowed to eat complete meals, being allowed to eat at the table during dinner with the Weasleys, and Snape taking him to Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor in Diagon Alley. Snape frequently finds himself thinking of ways to torture and punish the Dursleys for denying Harry his basic needs while spoiling his cousin.
  • Shmi Skywalker in The Havoc Side of the Force had never had a bath before due to not only having been a slave her whole life, but a slave on a desert planet. When Harry realizes he'd interrupted her first ever bath, he orders her to soak in it until her fingers prune then keep soaking a bit longer.
  • This becomes Played for Drama in Hunters of Justice. Brainiac's invasion and bottling of Vale were so bad, even the most basic goods are scarce. Even something as simple as a shower is a weekly luxury.
  • In If I Could Start Again, when Steve Rogers first visits SHIELD's mess hall, he's confused at how SHIELD agents can be so disappointed in the food when it's both higher quality and greater variety than anything he's had in years. Even before joining the army, many things such as sugar were extremely scarce due to rationing.
  • I'm HALPING: The man who used to be Ash Beast hasn't been able to eat or drink in years ever since he triggered. As such, the taste of fresh fruit makes him cry Tears of Joy.
  • Ren in In the Kingdom's Service is noted by Jaune as lying in bed with "something akin to rapturous peace and tranquility" on his face, due to the fact that Nora isn't on his team so he can finally enjoy some quiet time.
  • Since The Beheaded comes from an island ravaged by plague, he is enthused at the chance to eat real food in The Indie Heroes. He considers a simple muffin to be a blessing from above.
  • In the flashback to Princess Twilight bringing the filly Starlight Glimmer to the future and retgoning the psychopathic original in Integration, she gives the filly a bedroom in the castle and brings out the first Daring Do book to read as a bedtime story. Starlight is completely amazed by both, because at the horribly neglectful orphanage she spent the first nine years of her life in, she had to share a room with many other foals and the staff never allowed them to have any personal possessions.
  • The titular Island of Fire is such a barren rock that merely having a house able to stand to the wind, fresh food and bathing in clean water immediately make the stranded children ecstatic.
  • A Jump To The Left: Furiosa has spent most of her life in an After the End setting where life is a constant struggle for survival. She ends up being taken to 2015 by Marty McFly and sees things like clean water and hospital food as unfathomable luxuries. She marvels at seeing a clothing story big enough to need four sides.
  • Ferris of Life Ore Death originated as part of the slave caste in a medieval-era Crapsack World with mild industrialization (factories and clockwork). Fruit is a luxury to her when she arrives in 21st century Earth, as is meat, to say nothing of hot running water, modern transportation and other technology.
  • Fan stories for The Lord of the Rings may dump a modern girl into Middle-earth, a medieval setting. Most fan authors ignore this problem, but in some Deconstruction Fics, the girl misses modern things.
    • In The Awkward Adventures of Meghan Whimblesby, the one thing that Meghan mentions is chocolate. In chapter 2 "About That Silly Thing of Ultimate Doom", Meghan gripes,
      "No chocolate? Not any? No chocolate cake or brownies or cookies or hot chocolate or Snickers bars or fudge or anything? You poor, poor people!"
    • In Home with the Fairies, Maddie misses so many things. From chapter 3 "Where Many Paths and Errands Meet",
      Could I live in a place like this? Without plumbing (the outhouse was filthy), electricity, microwaveable food, the luxuries I was used to?
    • Maddie becomes homesick for 'soda, hamburgers, french fries, ketchup' in chapter 4, and a longer list of foods in chapter 6. Maddie can find one luxury in Middle-earth. In chapter 19, Maddie is happy to have butter.
    • In How to Survive in Middle Earth When You're a Teenaged Girl, Priscilla Henders wishes for potato chips and Twinkies in chapter 5, and popcorn in chapter 6. She also endures her period without Midol.
  • Lucky Number Thirteen: After being around Christian for several days, Ana is pleasantly surprised and happy when Sharon takes her to an inexpensive restaurant with good food, tells her to order whatever she wants and doesn’t pressure her to eat or drink any more or less than she wants to.
  • Due to having lived the whole of her life underground, Undyne in MagicTale absolutely loves being outside, whether she's exercising, sleeping, or just hanging around.
  • Van Hohenheim in My Master Ed, until recently a slave, is blown away by the concept of having food that isn’t porridge, sleeping past dawn, having his own room, and being allowed to fight back when he’s being beaten up.
  • A recruit in Darwin notes that even boot camp feels like paradise compared to living in the ghettos. Since Britannia conquered Japan, all Japanese were forced to live in the ghettos where even such things as disposable lighters had to be carefully rationed due to their scarcity. The aforementioned recruit thinks to himself that he didn't realize how much he missed clean clothes, real soap, hot showers, and decent beds until he got them while training to become a Black Knight.
  • At one point in Origin Story, Alex Harris is homeless and living in the re-purposed shell of a broken down school bus with her girlfriend, Louise. They're getting basic necessities like food and the occasional new piece of clothing from a convent, but otherwise are sleeping on a cardboard mat under scavenged blankets. Its so bad that a trip so the $6 Breakfast Buffet at the Sizzler is considered a treat.
  • In Privacy, Yuna (who comes from a semi-apocalyptic world where space was limited by sea demon attacks) is amazed by the concept of a large room built entirely for dancing. On Spira, all the rooms had to be functional in some way.
  • The Tok'ra who visit Erius in The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor are noted as loving being able to bathe, shower, or even swim whenever they want as among their people, water is too scarce to use for such frivolous things.
  • Remaking: After Izuku unthinkingly heals All Might, the hero learns he's able eat real food again for the first time in years and breaks down crying. Once it's confirmed he can drink alcohol, he goes on a massive bender, drinking the most ludicrous cocktails he can find. He's also shown slowly savoring a cup of coffee, another food item he hadn't been able to partake in since his battle with All For One.
  • In the final chapter of The Second Try, Aki is excited when Rei takes her to a small ramen shop and finds out that they have meat, something she'd previously only eaten during special occasions.
  • The Frozen (2013) fanfic Secret Passages shows Elsa is excited by the prospect of actually getting to eat meals with Anna as opposed to being forced to eat in her room.
  • Son of the Sannin: Karin spent her early childhood constantly moving with her mother out of fear of being captured by people who wanted to use them for being a part of the Uzumaki bloodline, so she considers "having a permanent home" to be exceptional enough to include in a list of things she likes.
  • By chance, Xander in Stand Ins and Stunt Doubles brings a box of tacos with him to Pylea while he and Angel Investigations go there to rescue Fred. Having been in hell for a few years, the girl notes that most of her wet dreams start this way.
  • Team Rocket in Team Zero are perfectly happy to sleep on the floor of Louise's room since most of the time they're forced to sleep outside on the rough ground. Meowth even notes it's the nicest place to sleep they've had in weeks.
  • In the Frozen (2013) fanfic To Her Heart's Content, Ascended Extra OC Ingrid (a farmgirl turned Lady's Maid) is brought on a picnic by Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. Ingrid is overwhelmed at trying fresh fruit, and reluctant to try pineapple as being "too good" for her. As Ingrid said, "We're not poor! I had a piece of orange once, for Christmas." Truth in Television as fresh fruit was hard to come by in 19th century Disney version of Norway.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fic Underdark Leonardo and Michelangelo are trapped in a huge underdark and have to make their way home in complete darkness getting hungrier, thirstier and dirtier along the way. All the way Mikey laments the lack of light and how he'll never take it for granted again, when they are finally make it home again Mikey is overjoyed being able to see his bedroom ceiling and thoroughly enjoys a meal of some plain toast and Gatorade.
  • The USS Crazy Horse, in "The Seeds of the Many", enters an Alternate Timeline where Earth is different. Charlotte Marek tries to buy a Mundane Luxury on Earth, but there is none. Its absence is the Point of Divergence.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition's Walking in Circles, being imprisoned from a young age has made Evelyn enjoys and fascinated by things most people won’t think much about like travelling, flowers, having your own, big private space, snow storms, etc.
  • Even though Brutha is Cenobiarch and a Prophet of Om, in We Must Tend our Garden, his quarters are on par with the head of staff's. Not because he's practicing self-denial, but because his idea of luxury is having a mattress and a table.
  • An unnamed slave in The World, My Oyster is overwhelmed by her new master's kindness at being allowed a bath and a real bed, even if it's because she's bathing with him and acting as a teddy bear in his bed.
  • After being tortured by his patrons and kept prisoner by the Watchers Council in Xendra, Ethan Rayne is overjoyed at having an inflatable air mattress and real foodnote . Upon receiving a cup of coffee and a roast beef sandwich, he treats it like a religious experience. That his patrons are no longer torturing him since he's working on fulfilling their tasks only makes it better.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Baśń O Ludziach Stąd, set on the Wrong Side of the Tracks, has the following exchange:
    One philosopher: If I had a house, a yacht, a car, a new woman ever week, would I be happy?
    The other philosopher: Leave it. You'd be happy if you had two bottles.
    One philosopher: With two, sure.
  • Done in The Blind Side: When LeAnne shows Michael his new room, he says that he's never had one of "these" before. LeAnne thinks that he means his own room. Actually, he meant the bed.
  • Tom Hanks' character in Cast Away has trouble sleeping in a bed after spending four years sleeping in a cave. He is shown staring at clean bottled water, fresh fruit and boiled crab legs, but it's not clear whether he's marveling at their easy availability or at the strange juxtaposition of seeing the things he's been eating to the exclusion of all else sitting side by side with a cornucopia of other food. He's especially happy to be able to have ice again; the first time we see him after being rescued, he's being handed a Dr. Pepper with two cups of ice. We also see him in bed at night just turning on and off the bedside lamp.
  • Dogma: Azrael, having spent eons in Fire and Brimstone Hell, kills a woman for her house after learning she has central air and says there's "no pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater... than central air."
  • Fear, Inc.: For some reason, Ben is inordinately impressed that Joe and Lindsey have a tetherball in their backyard.
  • In History of the World Part I, Spike Milligan's character is given a box of matches. "So rich!", whispers Spike.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, Vasily Borodin is amazed at how easily people in America can drive from one state to another.
    Borodin: Do they let you do that?
    Ramius: Oh, yes.
    Borodin: No papers?
    Ramius: No papers. State-to-state.
  • Kong: Skull Island: During the end credits, after having been trapped on Skull Island for 28 years, Marlow is shown relaxing on the couch, savoring a hot dog and a cold beer as he watches a baseball game on TV.
  • Audrey's song, "Somewhere That's Green" in Little Shop of Horrors is basically about this, with her dreaming of living in a tract-house away from Skid-Row with "a fence of real chain-link" and a disposal in the sink.
  • Midway (2019). The teacher who translates for Jimmy Doolitte when he encounters the Chinese guerillas complains about the impossibility of finding matches to light his cigarettes. So when they part ways, Doolitte leaves him his Zippo lighter. Unfortunately, this backfires when a Japanese soldier finds it in the teacher's house.
  • The Pianist: After surviving years of hunger, persecution, and near-death, Wladyslaw is ecstatic when the German soldier sheltering him presents him with jam.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the cursed pirates of the Black Pearl go on and on about what sensory experiences they've most missed during the curse, and therefore what they plan to glut on once they have their nerve endings back. Barbossa himself is almost obsessed with apples.
  • In Shredder Orpheus, real food is hard to come by in the Grey Zone, and Scratch is ecstatic to stumble on some boxes of Shredded Wheat since they have real carbohydrates. Razoreus is equally excited about discarded pepperoni pizza with olives and mushrooms, taking some to share with Orpheus.
  • Soylent Green has this Played for Drama. The fact that even the most basic goods are luxuries for the rich speaks volumes about how badly the environment has deteriorated. Charlton Heston's character is a detective investigating a wealthy crime, and steals a number of foodstuffs from the apartment, which he shares with his roommate played by Edward G. Robinson. At first the sight of apples and beef and wine make Robinson ecstatic, but after a few bites he breaks into tears as he realizes what they've been reduced to. In an earlier scene, Heston exhibits the same ecstatic reaction to air conditioning, a hot shower and soap.
  • Near the beginning of Terminator Genisys, Kyle Reese asks John Conner what the latter wants to do once they finally win the brutal Robot War they've been fighting for decades. John says that a cold beer would be nice.
  • Youth (2017): Xiaoping is amazed at being able to shower every day, since she couldn't afford it back home.
    Xiaoping: It cost 0.15 yuan every time. Too expensive, my mom said. So usually I'd boil water at home for a scrub down. But to shower every day — what a joy to be a soldier!

  • Emmanuel Goldstein explains in Nineteen Eighty-Four in his "Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" that this is the end outcome of Ingsoc:
    The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Myne is poor child in a Medieval European Fantasy setting with memories of reaching her early twenties in modern-day Japan. Even the things she re-creates using household items tend to fall into this trope, as nobody considered using those items in that specific way before she tried it.
  • A Brother's Price: While a guest at the palace, Jerin revels in the novelty of eating meals he didn't prepare himself.
  • Certain Dark Things: As a teenager living on the streets, Domingo stops and stares when he gets a chance to order a banana split.
    Domingo: I only see things like this in magazines.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Poor Charlie Bucket treasures his annual birthday present of a Wonka chocolate bar so much that once he starts actually eating it, he nibbles only a tiny bit each day.
    • The iconic 1971 film version might not have had the nibbling part, but everything else applies.
  • In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Hank Morgan is in England AD 528 and misses the conveniences of Connecticut AD 1879. From chapter VII "Merlin's Tower",
    There was no soap, no matches, no looking-glass—except a metal one, about as powerful as a pail of water. And not a chromo [a color picture].... There was no gas, there were no candles.... There were no books, pens, paper or ink, and no glass in the openings they believed to be windows.... But perhaps the worst of all as, that there wasn't any sugar, coffee, tea or tobacco.
  • In Cooking With Wild Game, the fantasy world the protagonist finds himself in is almost nothing like Earth, so even though he has enough food to survive (courtesy of a local Good Samaritan) he longs for familiar food. When his benefactor shows him the most expensive thing in her pantry — a tiny glass vial of salt — he is overjoyed.
  • Exploited by the traders of Harry Turtledove's Crosstime Traffic series. They travel to parallel universes and trade items that are cheap to make in the home timeline, but just slightly better than anything the locals have (for instance, they trade Swiss army knives and modern mirrors to Romans who are at a ~1500s tech level, or new jeans to the survivors of a nuclear war).
  • Tina Chen from Courtney Milan's Cyclone series was previously poor enough that she lived almost entirely on rice and ramen noodles; what she really wanted and would find really luxurious under these circumstances was... a mango.
  • Daddy-Long-Legs: Judy is an orphan who is given a scholarship to attend college. Many of the everyday aspects of her new life strike her as remarkably luxurious, such as having multiple outfits each in a different style and color, and being able to leave the grounds whenever she wants.
  • Discworld:
    • Rincewind, after long and grueling privations and lots of running away, is teleported back to Ankh-Morpork, and is so overjoyed to be back that he eats four of Dibbler's sausages (inna bun). This act of suicidal happiness is almost one-upped a moment later when he is equally delighted to be beaten up by the Thieves' Guild. Rincewind also has a deep and abiding affection for potatoes that came about when he was stranded on a desert island for ages without potatoes or female company. He got a few wires crossed there.
    • In Night Watch, the young Nobby Nobbs is overwhelmed by the prospect of owning his very own spoon.
    • In Unseen Academicals, Mr. Nutt enjoys undemanding menial labour and a bed near the kitchens at Unseen University despite being an eloquent, well-read genius. As a Token Heroic Orc, paroled by a powerful vampire, who grew up chained to an anvil in a dark forge, it is a marked improvement.
    • Guards! Guards!: After the City Watch helps to defeat a dragon and foil a conspiracy to usurp control of the city, the Patrician asks them what they'd like as a reward. They request a 20% pay raise, a new kettle, and a dartboard for the Watch — and worry that the dartboard is excessive. Vetinari, who had just finished an exceptionally bleak rant to Vimes about the evil and selfishness of the human condition, is absolutely floored, and Vimes finds his faith in humanity restored on the spot.
    • Going Postal: The 19,000 year old golem Anghammarad is perfectly happy to remain in The Desert for all eternity since for the first time in its existence, it has nothing to do.
    • The poverty of one of the kids Death visits in Hogfather is brought home when one of the hopeless wishes on his Hogswatch list is a pair of trousers he doesn't have to share.
    • Cohen the Barbarian's introduction in The Light Fantastic is a pastiche of the "What is best in life?" scene from Conan the Barbarian (1982), in which he feels that crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and hearing the lamentations of their women is fine, but nothing beats "hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper".
  • In the first Doom novel, Flynn Taggart runs himself ragged fighting against zombies and aliens and since he's not in a videogame he actually does get hungry, filthy, and tired. While it hasn't been that long since he entered the base, it feels like he has been fighting forever. He compares the shower he takes when he finds the medical ward heaven and the fresh towel the Garden of Eden. He is even able to enjoy eating the military MREs he discovers in the base.
  • In Dragonflight, Lessa has spent the last ten years of her life as a drudge at Ruatha, eating poorly and putting up with filthy hygiene (the latter of which it's implied she cultivated to discourage unwanted attention), so when F'Lar brings her to Benden Weyr, she's a bit shocked when he casually offers her what she considers to be considerable luxuries. He orders her a simple meal and even derides its quality, but it's more than she's used to in a single day, and she's thrilled at the opportunity to bathe in a large pool. Even after she Impresses Ramoth to become Weyrwoman and adjusts to life in the weyr, she still takes two baths a day just to luxuriate in the cleanliness. F'Lar notes that she's "going to scrub her skin off".
  • After months of living on the beach of a Deserted Island in Dr. Franklin's Island, Semi and Miranda luxuriate in ready access to food and hot showers, even if they are imprisoned and awaiting Body Horror.
  • The Emigrants: Karl Oskar is disappointed by the tiny amount of tools he could bring to America, but his neighbour explains that by frontier standards, Karl Oskar is rich. Karl Oskar has three axe-heads, a scythe-blade and several other tools, when many people came to the frontier with no other tools than a belt-knife and a half-share in an axe.
  • Harry Potter:
    • When Harry comes to Hogwarts, he is at first overwhelmed by the fact that he can eat food he really likes and no one is going to take it away from him. (When he was living with the Dursleys, his cousin Dudley would always eat everything Harry liked out of spite.) This leads to something of an Establishing Character Moment: Left to his own devices on the school train with a pocket full of cash, the first thing Harry does is buy loads of food off the trolley and share it with the poor kid across from him.
      Harry... had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling.
    • Dobby in his first few appearances is awed at simple kindness—he's been a maltreated slave all his life. Then Dobby joins the Hogwarts staff. Dumbledore offers Dobby a fair wage and extensive holidays, but Dobby is overwhelmed by this and barters him down, accepting only a pittance and very little time off. He appreciates the recognition for his efforts, but he's still a house-elf. He has his pride.
  • In The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, Roland of Gilead comes from a Scavenger World and is completely overwhelmed by the taste of a simple tuna fish sandwich and some soda, and reacts to someone crumpling up a half-used sheet of paper as if they were casually tossing gold bars in the trash. He also initially assumes that heroin, that one of his companions is initially addicted to, is in fact the same thing as sugar, since he gets an extreme rush just from eating some raw sugar. He even wonders why anyone would need stronger drugs when sugar is so readily available.
    • It's partly the privation, and partly that things from worlds that are running down (such as in The Langoliers, or Roland's own) are deadened and barely functional by comparison.
  • In the Ray Bradbury story The Fox and the Forest, time travelers can be easily detected because they immediately start sampling exotic foods, liquors, cigarettes and perfumes, which apparently aren't available in the future.
  • Gideon the Ninth: Gideon grew up in the Ninth House, a bleak Necromancy cult outpost on an otherwise barren planet, before traveling offworld. After a lifetime of sonic showers, she doesn't even recognize a bathtub at first, and her first proper bath feels like an impossible luxury to her.
  • Hatchet: When Brian returns to civilization after months of struggling for survival in the Canadian wilderness with only the titular hatchet and his wits, he marvels over the incredible bounty at the local grocery store that everyone (including himself before his ordeal) takes for granted.
  • In Heart of Steel, Alistair is able to make everything he could ever want for survival and world conquest, but he is so starved for human company that his primary goal throughout the book is to find a way to make Julia smile. Also, when she finally gets up the courage to touch him in a way that is not in self-defense, the sensation is uttern heaven to him.
  • Regularly this happens in Heralds of Valdemar, since much of the time there's a Changeling Fantasy aspect as someone who starts with a harsher life winds up in a more comfortable place. A major Author Appeal for Mercedes Lackey is hot baths, which feature prominently in the Herald's Collegium and, in hot spring form, in the Hawkbrother's Vales.
    • The Vales and the Collegium are both luxurious retreats for Hawkbrothers and Heralds respectively, groups of people who often leave them to do hard and dangerous work often for long periods of time and who then appreciate them on return. After years on the border with Karse eating bread that was at best stale and hard, Vanyel Ashkevron was astonished by fresh bread.
    • For Talia food, clothes, bathing, and a general lack of abuse are certainly a big deal but she revels most in easy access to a library and the expectation that she's not at all barred from it.
    • Mags starts off the Collegium Chronicles as a mine slave. Once rescued, he has this reaction to a bowl of vegetable soup, a hot bath, and warm clothing.
  • In The Horse and His Boy, Shasta is amazed by a Narnian breakfast of bacon and eggs, mushrooms, and toast with butter. It's not just that he grew up in poverty, it's that Calormene food is fundamentally different.
  • Meat in House of Stairs.
  • In the non-fiction How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, Slavenka Drakulić recalls the shortages of communism. Things like sanitary pads and tampons were rare luxuries, and people often made do without toilet paper. When Drakulić travelled with toilet rolls or tampons, friends asked her to leave those things in their homes.
  • In The Hunger Games young Katniss scrapes by with barely enough to eat; she says her favorite thing about the capital is the lamb stew she was served. Later Peeta presents to her a can of the same stew while they scavenge a meal.
  • Elli Friedmann's Real Life novelization of her experiences in I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing up in the Holocaust has the main character and her mother making it from Auschwitz to a labor camp where the operators were completely unaware of the death camps. The Jewish victims were reduced to tears when given their own soap and towels for taking showers, where they found it amazing that they could control the water.
  • Kvothe in The Kingkiller Chronicle greatly appreciates simple comforts after spending three years as a miserable, traumatized Street Urchin. He lives happily in a small room over an inn and savours snacking on whole apples because he used to have to scrounge for the cores. When he comes into a respectable amount of money, things like treating his friends to dinner and buying extra sets of clothes feel like utter luxury to him.
  • In The Last Chancers, the sole luxury granted to the criminals assigned to the 13th Penal Legion when shipboard is a daily ration of fruit juice (the rest of their food is the cheapest ration paste the guards can find, served without utensils). This is granted to them mainly for the pragmatic reason that a cup of fruit juice per man per day is cheaper than treating scurvy or any of the other various vitamin deficiency-related health problems that a ration of fruit juice could easily prevent.
  • In the story The Long Rain by Ray Bradbury, several soldiers are walking through the eternal rain of Venus desperately searching for a Sun Dome; eventually almost all of them go mad and the only one who finds the Sun Dome finds the luxuries of hot chocolate with marshmallows, freshly made sandwiches, hot coffee and fresh towels to dry himself off with.
  • In Make Room! Make Room! in an overcrowded future, a rich man's mistress is allowed to pour the juices from his steak on her oatmeal. Later, after he has been killed (by someone else) she and her detective boyfriend share the steak.
  • In The Mote in God's Eye, Motie history, culture, and society is dominated by the fact that all Moties must get pregnant and give birth every so often, or they will die from hormonal imbalance. The Motie Mediator who explains this is almost furious at how much human women take access to contrareceptives (or even the option of simple celibacy) for granted.
  • My Story: In The Trenches: Billy Stevens, The Western Front, when Billy is discharged from the medical building, he's not sent right back to the frontlines because his arms haven't fully recovered from the mustard gas. As a result, he's sent to the main office in a town. When he gets there, he's ecstatic at having to eat fresh, hot food, and to be able to sleep on an actual bed, having spent his time in the trenches subsisting on canned food and cookies hard enough to be, in his words, "dog biscuits", and sleeping in a small hole in the trench.
  • There is a classical humorous short story by Ludwig Thoma, Ein Münchener im Himmel (A Munich Citizen In Heaven), about a train station porter from Munich who dies, goes to heaven, but gets fed up with his celestial duties and runs off back to earth, preferring to spend an eternity living his meagre earthly existence in Munich, boozing beer with his regulars in the Hofbräuhaus.
  • Cordwainer Smith makes ironic use of this trope in his short story On the Gem Planet which takes place on Planet Pontoppidian, a literal gem of a planet; the narration states the people there were 'Too rich and too busy to have good food, open air or much fun. All they had were diamonds, rubies, tourmalines and emeralds'. Genevieve is amazed other planets have actual soil, when ordering drinks the Hereditary Dictator insists his niece will have real tea with lemon and Casher O'Neil is amazed they have coffee. (Casher is not native to Pontoppidian and apparently on other worlds coffee is extremely expensive.)
  • A Poison Dark and Drowning: Henrietta is in awe when Rook gives her an apple. Apparently, they're more valuable than gold in the universe of the book.
  • In Alexander Beliaev's novel Professor Dowell's Head, Mari Loran, the caretaker of the titular Brain in a Jar, spends her sleepless nights groping her arms and legs while whispering: "I'm so rich! I have so much!"
  • The Stand: At one point, Harold indulges by taking a two-bucket shower.
  • In Treasure Island, when Ben Gunn is rescued, it turns out that the thing he misses most about civilization is cheese. He swears Undying Loyalty to Squire Trelawney in exchange for a palm-sized piece of Parmesan.
    • Solomon Shafto, an Expy of Ben Gunn, in The Pyrates is obsessed with bread and dripping.
  • Tress of the Emerald Sea: After weeks at sea in a cramped pirate ship, pressganged stowaway Tress is awed to have her own room, a bed, and baths. Granted, it's because she volunteers as the ship's sprouter (someone who works with dangerous spores), and the room and water are for experiments.
    Captain Crow: You have no clue how dangerous your job will be. Do you really want to go through with this?
    Tress: Do I get to sleep in that bed?
    Crow: Yes.
    Tress: Then I'm in.
  • Worldwar: One of the great advantages of settling on Earth for the Race, Lizard Folk from a dry, hot planet, is the massive quantities of water. They adore hot showers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The 100, people who live on The Ark space station haven't set foot on Earth for nearly a hundred years. In their sterile, artificial environment, a single, small bonsai tree that they've kept alive in space is not simply a national treasure, it's the main idol of their religion.
  • Babylon 5 has several examples, most stemming from the fact that the titular station is too far away from anything to make regular imports possible.
    • Sheridan, when arriving on the titular station, raves about his quarters having " actual shower, with actual water!" which was not the case on the ship he commanded previously.
      • Later in the series, he claims that the two things that make commanding a station rather than a ship worthwhile are the water shower, and that he occasionally can get his hands on enough oranges at once to make worthwhile quantities of orange juice.
    • Michael Garibaldi spends a small fortune over the course of the series specially importing foodstuffs from Earth. Most of these are things people in the western world would consider staples, like olive oil, butter and garlic.
    • Garibaldi also gets into a bet with the doctor, and goads the doctor into betting a steak. It seems the only way to get fresh beef onto the station before it spoils is to get the doctor to fudge some paperwork to have it designated as medical supplies.
    • Susan Ivanova, at one point, receives a bacon-and-eggs breakfast as a thank-you from Marcus Cole. This drives Garibaldi, who has spent years trying to find a way to get fresh eggs onto the station before they spoil, green with envy.
  • The Barrier: In a year 2045 Madrid that has undergone the consequences of Global Warming, resource depletion and twenty years of dictatorship, there are several things that can only be easily found in the enclave for the elites. Those include running water (both hot and cold), properly watered urban vegetation and gardens, any sort of coffee product, meat, liquid soap, cell phones, tablets, individual home phones, toys that require electricity to work and cars. It also has 24/7 electricity, unlike the rest of the city where it's turned off around Fascists' Bed Time. A man interviewing for a job in the enclave is amazed merely by what he sees on the way to his future workplace.
  • Played with and lampshaded in one episode of The Big Bang Theory when the gang discusses what they would be able to do without Insufferable Genius Sheldon:
    Wolowitz: Just imagine... if he says yes, we'll have an entire summer without Sheldon.
    Raj: We could play outside.
    Wolowitz: We could sit on the left side of the couch.
    Leonard: I could use the bathroom at 8:20!
    Raj: Our dreams are very small, aren't they?
  • One episode in El Chavo del ocho involves Doña Florinda buying a strange appliance, then the other characters being in awe that it's a washing machine. For reference, until that point (and after it, as El Chavo breaks the machine) everyone had to wash their clothes in a sink that is outside of their households.
  • Cheers: In one early episode, Carla laments that since she lives in a cramped apartment with her ever-increasing number of children, she's forgotten what it's like to be able to use the bathroom uninterrupted.
    Carla: Tell me, Sam, is it everything I've heard about?
    Sam: More. Much more.
    Carla: I knew it!
  • In The Closer, a family was murdered by someone in a fit of rage. The squad finds that the father was a bigamist with two separate families, one of which was fairly affluent and the other had many fewer luxuries. The murderer was the son of the second family who found out about the first family, and was jealous of the things that the son in the first family took completely for granted. When he confronted his father, things did not go well.
  • Crash Landing on You: one of the arguments Pyo Chi-su, a North Korean soldier, uses to accuse South Korean Yoon Se-ri of lying to them was her claim she are meat twice a day.
  • Da Ali G Show: While discussing "techmology" and whether it's good or whack, one of the guests (Kent Hovind) says he's been to the third world countries and that he's grateful for having flushing toilets.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", an old member of Les Collaborateurs is given an orange as part of a reward. She tearfully observes it, admitting she hasn't seen an orange in years — a relatable sentiment, given that the episode was filmed in 1963, less than 10 years after the United Kingdom ended WWII food rationing.
    • In "Voyage of the Damned", Mr. Copper discovers thanks to a miscalculation of exchange rates he has enough Earth money (British pounds, natch) to make him a millionaire. He then cries with joy at the thought of being able to own not just his own house, but his own plates.
  • Fresh fruit, or indeed fresh food in general, for the crew of Serenity in Firefly. Kaylee practically orgasms when eating a strawberry and fights River really hard for a certain apple, and when Jayne wants to atone for selling out River and Simon, he does so by buying a crate of fresh fruit that the rest of the crew raves over. It's not that fresh fruit and vegetables are especially hard to come by in The 'Verse, mind; it's just that Casual Interplanetary Travel doesn't necessarily mean fast interplanetary travel and they don't have room for a lot of refrigerated storage, so the crew lives mostly on "protein bars" (some kind of futuristic MREs) and tinned food while in transit.
  • In the Season one finale of Frasier, Niles has a moment of introspection.
    Niles: I was watching PBS the other night in my study and they were showing this documentary on the Great Depression. Vintage Steinbeck - desperately poor people escaping the Dust Bowl, their meager possessions strapped to rickety old trucks heading to what they thought was their salvation. Then there was this scene with this scruffy boy being handed a brand-new pair of shoes by the Salvation Army. Frasier, if you saw the look on that boy's face. It was a look of pure and utter happiness. I have never experienced that kind of happiness, not in my whole life. Not even when I bought these four hundred dollar Bruno Maglies. [shows shoes off] Do you like them?
    Frasier: Do you like them?
    Niles: What about the tassels?
    Frasier: Well, I'm not much of an tassel guy.
    Niles: No, neither am I, nevertheless there they are.
  • The intro to Fringe displays pseudoscience-y things that may be possible in the future, e.g., psychokinesis, teleportation, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence... The intro changes depending on the season or sometimes the episode (for example, in a flashback episode that took place in 1985, the intro featured a retro version of the logo and listed things that would have been science fiction back then, like personal computing and in vitro fertilization). In the intro for the Bad Future episode "The Day We Died," among futuristic things the future hopes to have like cellular rejuvenation and thought extraction, it also lists water and hope. In the fifth season, which takes place entirely in a Bad Future (although a different one from the other episode; it's that kind of show), the intro lists community, joy, individuality, education, imagination, private thought, due process, ownership, free will, and freedom. More trivially, in the parallel universe of Over There, coffee is rare and expensive due to some kind of blight. Whenever someone from Over There travels to the main universe, the first thing they do is drink coffee.
  • Played straight in this scene from the Game of Thrones TV show: She's talking about a bed. He's referring to the entire room.
    Melisandre: Have you ever seen one like it?
    Gendry: I've never seen anything like any of this. Not in my life.
    Melisandre: It's shocking, isn't it, the first time you encounter real wealth?
  • Charlie Crews from Life (2007) is obsessed with fresh fruit, since he couldn't get any when he was in prison.
  • Both Played for Drama and Played for Laughs in The Orville: To establish the Bad Future timeline, we see Ed and Gordon have a blaster fight with Kaylons, racing to a shuttle and taking off with precious cargo. They unwrap it and it's a replicator. The first thing Gordon does is order a Twinkie. Ed is boggled that, after the trouble they went through just to get the replicator that he would order something so banal. Gordon just asks if Ed wants the other half.
  • At first, Hunter from Queer as Folk (US) has a hard time accepting that Michael and Ben are being nice to him (giving him a warm jacket, feeding him, paying his hospital bills, letting him use their shower and sleep in their guest room when he wants to, and things like that) because they want to and not because they have some sort of ulterior motive. Understandable, considering that he's a teenage prostitute who's been living on the streets for quite some time.
  • Used for a Deliberate Values Dissonance in Spartacus Vengeance "A Place In This World". Shortly after taking over a villa, Spartacus and Mira take over the dominus' bedroom. Spartacus is thrilled to sleep in a bed once again, as it has been a very long time since he was able to. Mira reveals that she has never slept in one. They promptly try to have sex in it.
  • In Spooks, Lucas North's first night as a free man back in Britain, he asks Harry to take him straight to a chip shop and takes a moment to enjoy the mundane action of offering Adam a chip. Also, after years in the worst Russian prison imaginable, he sleeps on the floor of his flat rather than in his bed because the bed is too comfortable.
  • In Sprung (2022), Jack spent 26 years in prison. The one thing he really wants upon his release is a pack of Fruit Stripe gum. He also really appreciates that water on the outside doesn't taste like rotten eggs.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, after Odo is turned into a humanoid solid, he becomes fascinated with food and drink, things he ignored as a changeling. In one episode, Sisko finds him in Quark's, listening to the carbonation in his beer. He also finds a bed far superior to his usual bucket, and even attempts to keep using one after regaining his powers, but he slides off when he returns to his liquid state.
  • Crossing over into a related trope, Neelix in Star Trek: Voyager is amazed and rather impressed that the Voyager crew has such efficient water recycling facilities that he can take a bath.
  • Stranger Things: After months in a Soviet prison camp, the taste of peanut butter is enough to bring Hopper to tears.
  • Seen on any given season of Survivor with the challenge rewards. The players really start getting excited about simple comforts after the first week or so of roughing it (approximately the third or fourth episode).
  • Played for drama in Three Kingdoms when the Emperor and the survivors of his court reach the ruined capital of Luoyang after escaping from the remnants of Dong Zhuo's forces. Cao Cao is the only major warlord to respond to the Emperor's call for aid, but realises as he strides into the city that he'd completely forgotten to bring an offering to the Emperor (a huge breach of protocol). His advisor Xun Yu makes a suggestion, and when Cao Cao makes his prostrations before the Emperor he offers up the gift. The Emperor wonders if it was jade or agate, but Cao reveals it was something much more precious: freshly made chicken broth. The Emperor wolfs it down, telling Cao it had been well over a year since he'd eaten meat. Bear in mind that this is the Emperor.
  • A trailer for Twisted Metal (2023) plays this for laughs when John Doe’s demand for his services is 2-ply toilet paper, and when Raven says that she can do better, John is almost awed when he believes she means 3-ply.
  • Torchwood
    • In "Out of Time", the time travellers from 1953 are amazed at the variety and amount of food available in an average supermarket; food rationing didn't end in the UK until 1954, and even then there was no comparison to what shoppers have available to them now.
    • In Torchwood: Miracle Day, Oswald Danes, a convicted kiddy rapist/murderer released from death row, is seen filling a trash bag with food from a buffet. When questioned, he makes a good point about how he'll be unable to find work, and must collect food whenever he can.
    • In the Torchwood audio drama Asylum, Freda, a girl from the future, is totally amazed that people have real tomatoes on pizza.

  • The Barenaked Ladies song "If I Had $1 000 000" is full of these:
    "...We wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner!
    (But we would eat Kraft Dinner.) Of course we would, we'd just eat more.
    And buy really expensive ketchup with it."

  • The Adventure Zone: Ethersea: The series is set After the End, where a massive storm wiped out the surface world and forced people to start a new society under the sea. As such, spices are highly coveted, as most of them were lost in the storm, and most of the available food is pretty bland on its own. Certain plants native to the ocean that have been found to be both edible and tasty can make for a very big payoff for anyone willing to risk life and limb to venture outside the city to go get them.
  • Brimstone Valley Mall: Xaphan is a demon who, up until the start of the series, has spent literally her entire existence in one room, doing the same monotonous job, seeing and speaking to no one. When she arrives on Earth, everything fills her with a sense of wonder, and she wholeheartedly enjoys every second of hanging around a crappy suburban mall. To her, there's really no greater joy than eating at the food court and perusing the aisles at various stores, listening to the mall announcements.

  • The short play Clean Up on Aisle 7 takes place in a crappy future where most organic food has been replaced by synthetic goo. The plot involves four people starting a gunfight over an orange.
  • For "the plane people" in Come from Away (thousands of airline passengers who were detoured to a tiny Canadian town after 9/11), many of whom had been on planes for over 28 hours, these include changes of clothes, places to sleep, showers, but especially phones so that they can get news to and about their loved ones.
  • Little Shop of Horrors has Audrey — who has lived her entire life in poverty down on Skid Row — singing about her life-long dream of owning a tract house off the interstate which showcases such luxuries as a toaster, a fence of real chain-link, and a television with a "big, enormous twelve-inch screen!"
    • In the play's early 1960s setting, a twelve inch screen was pathetically small (even a small new set was 15 to 18 inches), but what she's really singing about in the song is an even more depressingly low bar; her Mundane Luxury is a husband who doesn't hurt or abuse her.
  • Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady singing about "All I want is a room somewhere, Far away from the cold night air..."

    Video Games 
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals, the GLA Worker (a slave boy with a magic sledgehammer) has no shoes, and will occasionally ask for a pair. In the sequel, shoes are a researchable upgrade, and the Workers react with a humble, excited "Thank you for the new shoes!"
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Soviet soldiers have this as a confirmation to being told to garrison a building. Conscripts are excited over the prospect of getting to watch TV, and Flak Troopers want to raid the fridge.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, Nathaniel asks Sigrun if the Dwarvish ghetto Dust Town is anything like the alienages that city elves are forced to live in. Sigrun responds that she saw an alienage once. She thought it was rather nice.
    Nathaniel: I suddenly feel very fortunate.
    Sigrun: Isn't perspective wonderful? You'd think people who are so tall would have more of it.
  • Since creation is forbidden by the resident Religion of Evil, everything the Builder introduces in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is met with applause. Bathrooms that are just a chamber pot and a towel, bedrooms with no roof and straw beds, cooked cabbages, even a tiny cabbage patch.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Mash is a prototype artificial Servant who spent her whole life confined in Chaldea's laboratories. During a crossover event with the Garden of sinners she is excited to see a modern apartment building, to Shiki's confusion.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, the player can observe a little kitchen garden in New Bodhum and strike up a small scene between Noel and Serah. He's amazed that people are growing their own vegetables. Justified, since he comes from hundreds of years in the future and the soil is completely barren there.
  • Discussed in Fire Emblem: Awakening, with Lucina's supports with her mother. She points out that she's never really had the chance to do something as simple as go out and have fun clothes shopping, which is part of the reason she keeps doing it.
  • God Eater 3 starts with the AGEs living in a squalid, run-down prison cell. Once aboard the Chrysanthemum, comfortable beds and private bathrooms seem luxurious. One girl (eight years old) thinks she's hallucinating when presented with warm water and soap.
  • In The Last of Us Ellie, 14 year old girl born after the zombie outbreak, is obsessed with comic books, a rare find in the quarantine zone. She also flips out when told what an "ice cream truck" is.
    Ellie: What is this?
    Sam: Oh this is an ice cream truck. Henry told me about these. They'd sell ice cream out of the truck.
    Ellie: What? No way. Joel?
    Joel: It is true. This thing would drive around and play real loud creepy music and kids would come running out to buy ice cream.
    Ellie: You're totally fucking with me!
    • The Left Behind expansion shows Ellie and Riley exploring an abandoned mall that still has some power on. They are amazed by a Merry-Go-Round and a picture booth (though they are very confused when said booth asks them if they want to upload their pictures to Facebook).
  • Like a Dragon:
    • Downplayed in Yakuza 0: Hiroki Awano is a Yakuza boss, and has enough money and influence to get anything he wants. So what does he want? Expensive liquor? Gambling? Drugs? Fast cars? Women? The blood of his enemies? No. Awano's idea of the ultimate, most sublime pleasure is a free Sunday afternoon, when he can play 18 holes of golf, followed by a nice long sauna and a plate of good curry for dinner at the clubhouse, without being disturbed. Golf is a pretty pricey hobby, but his desires are ultimately quite modest for someone of his high position.
    • In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, because the food Ichiban was served in prison tasted like crap, it made the simple bread rolls he was given every week taste that much better. Likewise, after so much time homeless, even a small, slightly dirty brothel room as a place to live feels like heaven for Nanba.

  • In NieR: Automata, eating a mackerel will have 2B describe the taste as exquisite. Considering the fact that it leads to her death, and a Non Standard Game Over, her reaction can only be described as "Worth It".
  • Humorously used in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. If you bring rice to the Divine Heir, he's surprised to realize Wolf has been eating it raw. Wolf is just as surprised to learn rice is supposed to be cooked.
  • Tokyo in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse hasn't seen sunlight in decades, and the food is made from disgusting demon meat. Examining Flavor Text for some food-based items shows that canned fruits and vegetables are saved for special occasions, and In a tie-in piece, Hallelujah was so excited to eat a can of fruit that he kept the can as one of his treasures.
  • Sunless Skies: One of the available systems your Locomotive can equip is "Sensible Plumbing", which improves conditions enough that six more crewmembers will be willing to come aboard without any other changes. Presumably, when you're riding a train engine across hostile expanses of lawless space, having a bathroom that works is a blessing.
    Regular hot and cold running water! Pipes that don't groan (much)! Oh heaven, Lavatories that flush!
  • The video game This War of Mine is all about this trope as survivors of a Civil War are trying to live by scavenging resources that are in limited quantities. Basic food is a luxury, a roll of cigarette is a luxury, any resource is very hard to come by in this game.
  • The Touhou Project franchise has several examples.
    • In Touhou Kanjuden ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, Clownpiece and her fellow Hell fairies have been sent to the moon to lay siege to the Lunar Capital. They find even the barren lunar surface to be an improvement over their home.
    • In the supplemental manga Visionary Fairies In Shrine where Clownpiece moves to Gensokyo, the early chapters have several scenes of her in awe of things like cherry blossoms, or fruits and nuts.
    • In Wild and Horned Hermit Chapter 45, delinquent celestial Tenshi and poverty god Shion appoint themselves as planners of the Hakurei Shrine's flower viewing party. While Tenshi promises a "Heavenly Banquet", putting Shion in charge of the food results in the guests being served randomly-gathered, barely edible plants and awful sake. While the guests are at first reluctant to eat them, seeing the poverty god gushing over it convinces them to try it, if only to avoid hurting her feelings.
  • Tsukihime takes it to heart-wrenching lengths as Shiki slowly comes to realize that Arcueid treasures the simple act of speaking with another living being, having been deprived of such (and naturally, every other mundane luxury) for over a millennium.
    Zelretch: For a life like yours, to open both your eyes and catch a single glimpse of light would already be ample satisfaction.

  • In Awful Hospital, the protagonist spends so long exploring gross, contaminated, and outright infested environments — including, thanks to space-time shenanigans, a world inside her own corpse — that finding a washroom to clean up in is practically a religious experience.
  • Played With in Bardsworth—when Mike first takes a shower at Bardsworth he thinks it's incredibly cool, causing his roommate to wonder if he's from a tiny dirt farm or something. It's actually just because the shower works by magic, which Mike (who's from our world) isn't used to.
  • In Blindsprings, Tamaura gets to eat pancakes with syrup for the first time after three hundred years spent in a magical forest, and is so excited that she forgets her table manners over it.
  • Freefall is set on a planet that's still being Terraformed, so natural fabrics, parks with grass and trees, and other organic materials are rare luxuries.
    • Exaggerated with a visit to a small space station in their star-system's asteroid belt. It's a 3 week trip from the planet, so the crew stocks up on trade goods that they can sell over there. Things like hot sauce and organic spices are mentioned to be worth several times their weight in gold.note 
  • In Forward, Zoa, a Sex Bot legally classified as a "vending machine," thinks it would be awesome to be able to eat.
    "Imagine, being able to take stuff off the floor or out of the garbage and turn it into energy!"
  • The world of Ice is in a deep energy crisis. Plugs (essentially, batteries) are coveted. Heat, a Fantastic Drug that makes you feel warm, is a huge problem.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Galatea is very slow to accept that anyone might be genuinely kind to her, and she reacts to pizza as an unimaginable luxury.
  • In Irrelevator the blue stickman and green stickman give a breadcrumb and a paper to the red stickman on his birthday, this is of course something he's very happy about since they've been stuck in an elevator for so long.
  • Early on in Stand Still, Stay Silent, the expedition's organizers are sitting at a café discussing how to fund the expedition on an extremely low budget. Eventually, Torbjörn remarks that in the spirit of saving money, they maybe shouldn't have bought juice. Given that only small parts of the Nordic countries are still habitable, and most farmable soil has to be used for more important food, it makes sense for juice to be a luxury good.
    Siv: You snobs bought juice when all I got was water?!! Might as well be drinking liquid gold.
  • Bud of Wapsi Square is quite excited when someone shows her kindness without fear or ulterior motives.

    Web Original 
  • In Kickassia, the newly 3D'd Lee enjoys being feeling up everyone he can get his hands on (including himself).
  • PVT Murphy's Law once claimed soldiers had found treasure in Saddam Hussein's palaces; toilets.
    • Similarly, each time Murphy's unit rotates stateside after a deployment, their desire for beer is strong enough to cause the CEO of the Annheuser-Busch company to wake up suddenly from bed.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-7003 is set in a future where the whole world is caught in a constant drought. Due to the lack of water, things like bullets and paper have become extremely difficult to produce. Paper, in particular, is given to the Foundation as a show of goodwill by the New Occult Coalition during peace talks.
  • In Space Beasts there are many instances of this trope, but the ultimate example of this is when during Paradise 5 Mini-Arc where the Three Humanimal Gladiators are invited to have supper with the Fellowship crew. They've never eaten food that wasn't made from other sentient animals and are amazed by the sheer variety of food the Fellowship Humanimals eat, Splash Claw is amazed they have fruit on their ship "I've heard of fruit but I've never actually seen one" he says and sheds Tears of Joy after tasting of strawberry jam.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series 9-year-old Marik travels to the surface for the first time after a life living underground. He is blown away by the fact the market they visit has rags, claiming he's "always wanted a rag". He's also amazed to discover television: "Oooh, a shiny box! I must worship it!"

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Lumpy Space Princess has been living homeless in the woods for so long that in Be Sweet, she treats Tree Trunks' refrigerator, fireplace and the chance to bathe (in a kitchen sink, no less) as if they were priceless luxuries.
  • Dhandi is a Street Urchin who debuts in "Some Enchanted Genie" of Aladdin: The Series, at which time she becomes the master of the genie Eden. Eden talks about all the magnificent things Dhandi can now have and all the lone, hungry kid can think of is to ask for a sandwich. Eden has to give her step-by-step instructions to instead ask to never be hungry again.
  • Arcane: For Viktor, someone who had to walk with a cane from even a young age, just being able to just run freely as a result of transmuting his leg is an enormous moment.
  • In DuckTales (2017), Webby has been cooped up inside McDuck Manor for most of her life, and declares that one of her life goals is to eat a hamburger.
  • Futurama:
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Homer's Enemy": Frank Grimes spent his whole life struggling to get by, so he's shocked when he discovers that Too Dumb to Live Homer lives in a two-story house, which is palatial compared to his place (an apartment above a bowling alley and below another bowling alley). Grimes is also flabbergasted that he's dining on lobster, went to space, and met President Ford, but those were just odd coincidences.
    • The Simpsons themselves experience this sort of thing all the time (in one episode, Bart refers to ordinary name-brand products as things rich people buy). Marge seems especially prone to it, particularly in later seasons where she sometimes displays more ditzy tendencies.
    • Gil once crashed his car into a tree to avoid hitting a cat and was happy at the prospect of using some of the insurance money to eat people food.
    • In one episode, the two cocktail waitresses Ned and Homer accidentally married in Vegas come back looking for their husbands. Ned's Vegas wife asks for moist towelettes to clean herself off, and is ecstatic when Ned tells her that she can use a real shower, upstairs.
    • In another episode, a carnie family takes over and squats in the Simpsons' house. In one scene, the father carnie tries on one of Homer's plain white (and grossly oversized) polo shirts and his son, without irony, exclaims that he looks like James Bond.
    • Moe Syzlak thinks clear tap water is "swanky".
  • Variant from Steven Universe, where former rock star, current van-dwelling car-wash owner Greg strikes a Karmic Jackpot when a decades late royalty check worth ten million finds him. So far his splurges have consisted of: A night on the town with his son, a pledge to get said son through college, a tablet, and his dream-car (bought used). He turned down a house since he already has a van.
    Steven: We bought a boat!
    Greg: Correction: We rented a boat. I may be filthy rich, but there is such things as going overboard.
    • Greg does end up buying/paying for the boat due to it sinking by the end of the episode.
  • Apparently in Time Warp Trio, we will not have onion rings in the future as Samantha has to go into the past to get them. All fried foods in general are banned meaning pretty much all fast food would be this to Samantha. It's just the onion rings she likes best.

    Real Life 
  • When concentration camps were liberated by the US Army, many released prisoners were found to have a mysterious sickness (among many). It turned out that they had eaten great quantities of spare army rations handed out by the liberators. Doctors treating this unusual condition found that the prisoners who exercised restraint and gradually increased the amount they consumed didn’t fall ill, leading to the formal description of refeeding syndrome. In starvation, the body’s metabolism changes. When patients take in large amounts of nutrients without gradual adjustment, this causes the body to begin stripping itself of vital chemical compounds, particularly phosphates, causing numerous problems in multiple organ systems. In severe cases, this can be fatal.
  • According to an article in Reader's Digest David Milgaard, who spent years in prison before being cleared of the murder he was wrongfully convicted for, marvelled at finally seeing a sunset.
  • One award sometimes given for high performance in the US Navy is the right to take a soaking shower with the water running ("Hollywood shower") instead of the usual water-efficient "Navy shower" routine (turn water on, get wet, turn water off, lather up, turn water on, rinse, turn water off). In older times, when on-board desalination and purification was less efficient, the Hollywood shower could be given an extra layer of decadence by permitting the use of fresh water rather than sea water.
  • Many people from the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain reacted with pure bewilderment or even tears upon seeing the Western world for the first time. Full shelves in shops, for example.
    • During the Cold War, the U.S.S.R. would allow documentaries about poverty in America, thinking it would make a nice contrast to the equality of Communism. Instead, many Soviets were amazed to discover that in America, even poor people could afford luxuries like televisions in their home.
    • One North Korean defector described listening to a South Korean radio show, where the plot concerned two women fighting over a parking space. He was amazed that cars were so common in South Korea that people had to worry about where to park.
    • Russian president Boris Yeltsin became convinced that communism was doomed when he visited Texas in 1989 to see a NASA base in the city of Houston. The thing that most intimidated Yeltsin wasn't the American space program, but what he saw during an unscheduled twenty-minute visit to a grocery store in the nearby town of Clear Lake. Yeltsin was astounded at the abundance and variety of foods available to the typical American, which even members of the Politburo back in Russia didn't have access to. The trip included several now-famous photos of Yeltsin wandering through the store, looking in exasperation at the kinds of things that the average American would see as ordinary, such as multiple different flavors of ice cream and the sheer amount of produce on sale.
  • During World War II, a German commander finally realized the Axis war effort was doomed to fail when he captured an abandoned American encampment and found a chocolate cake shipped in from a bakery in New York. The cake was something the Americans were able to obtain with relative ease, while the German couldn't even get basic supplies delivered to him.
    • Similarly, a Japanese soldier being interrogated in an island base was adamant that Japan would win - until he saw the Seabees using an excavator to quickly prepare the ground for further construction, which for his army (which only used slave manual labor) would have taken weeks.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Last Meals in prison are not always elaborate and expensive dishes like lobster or steak. Many prisoners will request pizza, ice cream, candies, beer, or other Comfort Foods that they couldn't enjoy during their stay in prison. Relatedly, pre-rolled cigarettes are enough of a luxury (when not being used as currency) that there's a nickname for them, "tailor-mades".
  • In Mo Willems's You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons, a collection of sketches from the year he spent traveling around the world, he comments that the two things he missed the most while away from the U.S. were free toilet paper and people speaking English on a regular basis.
  • Top Tenz listed items that would most likely become a luxury after an End of the World event. Such items include candles, books, and shoes.
  • In economics, the lipstick effect is a theory where, during an economic crisis, consumers buy smaller, less costly luxuries. This was first observed during The Great Depression and in World War II, where despite the economic situation, the sales of lipstick and cosmetics rose, and women wore them to boost morale.
  • A clip of Larry King interviewing Danny Pudi that went viral had Larry asking Danny what a "luxury he couldn't live without" was. When Danny's answer was good coffee and nice socks, Larry clarified that he meant a real luxury, like a private plane. Danny's response was, "Larry, I'm on DuckTales."
  • During the Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022, Russian soldiers were reportedly "astonished" by the standard of living amongst the people of Ukraine. There were reports of Russian soldiers either being shocked that Ukrainians had easy access to things like chocolate and televisions, or chose to believe that this was some sort of trick as a way to try to make the Russians think that the standard of living in Ukraine was higher than their own.
    • The same happened in 1945, when Red Army soldiers were astonished at the standards of living in East Prussia (which was the poorest German province in the 1937 borders).