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Picky Eater

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"As a child, I was what is known as a 'fussy eater'. 'He's a fussy eater!' 'Fussy eater' is a euphemism for 'big pain in the ass'."
George Carlin, A Place for My Stuff

A character, usually quite young, dislikes a certain type of food, most frequently a vegetable. In Western culture, it's usually peas, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or essentially any vegetable you care to name. In Japanese works, it's carrots or, more commonly, green bell peppers. Oftentimes; it's the vegetables that the creator disliked in their own youth. And if it's not a vegetable, it's usually some type of seafood.

This is often used to label this character as "immature," and sometimes the character gets over their distaste (a mark of growing up) as part of their Character Development. More often, though, it's simply a character quirk to make him or her not seem so flat.

Truth in Television, as many a troper will tell you of memories of being told not leave the table "until you've cleaned your plate." Never mind the esteemed Alton Brown suggests (in his pea episode) that the real reason kids don't eat their veggies is that the parents overcook them into inedible mush. Or, maybe they could just try to find some veggies they do like.


It also doesn't help that kids have keener tastebuds than adults — so if something tastes slightly bitter or sour to a grown-up, it'll taste much worse to them. Some assume that adults' trying stuff they wouldn't touch as kids is a sign of growing up but actually, their taste buds' sensitivity has toned down so that something they hated as a kid is now tolerable. (There is also the question of preparation.)

Furthermore, scientists have discovered that people are born with a genetic aversion to specific foods, specifically green vegetables. Our evolution have left us knowing that bitter-tasting things in nature can often be poisonous to the body. Your instincts are telling you to avoid eating your Brussels sprouts because you know it's not good for you to eat. Especially if you're a child: small body size makes even tiny doses of toxins dangerous, hence little kids' greater selectivity.


The genetic aversion is likely due to the fact that many edible, nourishing, healthy, and safe vegetables often do contain small amounts of toxins. Spinach leaves, for example, have about twice as much Oxalic Acid (which is even more toxic than Ethylene Glycol, a major cause of kidney stones, and which can kill someone by way of acute kidney failure) as Rhubarb leaves (which are poisonous).

Sometimes it seems that adults are less picky eaters than kids merely because adults have more control over what they eat. A lot of people carry some of their culinary dislikes into adulthood, but they never have any fights with others merely because adults can't be told they aren't allowed to leave the table until they eat their carrots. If an adult doesn't like carrots, green peppers, or broccoli? They just don't buy it, prepare it or order it, and pick out the stuff they don't like if it comes with it. If a kid does it? Then they're a picky eater. A birthday card even makes fun of this, showing a woman scraping broccoli into the trash saying nobody can make you eat your broccoli.

Picky Eaters also have a root in primal instincts — typically, adventurous eaters were a subtype of Too Dumb to Live, since they didn't know what would poison them in some way. Picky eaters were also safe eaters since they would stick to stuff they knew would not kill them.

Certain vampires may fall under this trope as well, based on the idea that some people's blood tastes better and/or is better for you than others.

See also Does Not Like Spam, Stock "Yuck!" (things almost any kid can be expected to hate to eat), and overlaps with If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You, a common reaction/joke about this. Compare City People Eat Sushi, which has the pickiness showing class, and Picky People Eater, a far more horrifying related trope, the execution of which is also less about immaturity and more about delicacies or nutritional requirements. If they try to miss an entire meal due to their pickiness, it often leads to a Missed Meal Aesop.


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  • Many food commercials aimed for kids and parents try to use this angle, claiming their product is something even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy. One of the more famous examples is Mikey, the kid who hated everything... that is until he tried Life cereal.
  • The Morris the Cat campaign revolves around a finicky cat that won't eat anything but 9Lives cat food.
  • A commercial deal plays with this by presenting a roomful of kindergarteners with boxes of pizza like Philly Cheesesteak and Hawaiian. They react poorly. (The whole thing is advertising a 'Buy a specialty pizza, get a single-topping for a great price' deal.)
  • A local hospital specializing in children has been putting up billboards with some of their success stories. One of them is some variety of playing with this trope: "We turned a boy who couldn't eat broccoli into one who wouldn't".

    Anime & Manga 
  • L from Death Note exclusively eats sweet things. The most prominent example is picking off ham slices and only eating the melon underneath them.
  • Delicious in Dungeon has Izutsumi. When Senshi first offered to cook something for her, she immediately insisted she would kill him if it included any monster, which limited him to cooking with mushroom, rice, garlic, cheese, and butter. She quickly goes out of her way to pick out the mushrooms and dump them on the ground.
    • When Maizuru organizes Shuro's party to cook for him, she specifically leaves Asebi out of it because she "wouldn't want anything strange getting mixed into the food." Combined with her initial refusal to eat what Senshi was cooking (until the smell of it reached her) and her unfamiliarity with regular table manners suggests some really odd eating habits.
  • FLCL's Naota hates sour drinks but comes to enjoy them at the series' end.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon's little sis doesn't like green bell peppers.
  • Ed Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist hates milk unless it's in a stew. It's probably why he's so short. It's also probably a joke from the artist's end, given that she's from Hokkaido (an island in Japan where a lot of cows are raised for beef and milk sales).
  • Kou Uraki in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory hates carrots.
  • Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura doesn't like green bell peppers.
  • Vivio of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS hates green bell peppers and bitter things in general. However, according to Sound Stage M3, which takes place after StrikerS, she overcame her dislike of green peppers in the months between Scaglietti's defeat and the disbanding of Riot Force 6.
  • Onpu of Ojamajo Doremi forced herself to eat a green bell pepper twice in the same episode. Heck, the goal of the second half of Motto~! was to get Hana-chan to eat vegetables to overcome a curse put on her.
  • In the third episode of Pokémon, Misty says the three things she absolutely hates are bugs (a plot point), carrots, and bell peppers. And Ash likes all three.
  • Madou King Granzort: Our young hero has won a vacation on the moon (one person only!) and is served his least favorite food, carrots, on the flight. Shortly after landing, he discovers that the mythical rabbit people of the moon actually exist, and one of them is a little girl with the power to summon carrots. She drives Daichi absolutely nuts.
  • Kyo in Fruits Basket hates leeks, to the extent of having to wear a gas mask when he's forced to cook with them, as well as onion and misonote . This appears to be for a reason; all of those are foods that are potentially lethal to cats, which Kyo is cursed into becoming when weak or hugged by women. One bit of extra information included at the end of one of the volumes explains what it is about the textures, tastes, and smells of those foods that Kyo hates.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Usagi, a.k.a. Sailor Moon has her least favorite food listed as carrots, despite her name being a homophone for "rabbit".
    • In one episode of the original anime, Usagi chastises Chibiusa and Mamoru for not eating the bell peppers she's prepared.
  • One Piece:
    • Usopp hates mushrooms, much to Sanji (the resident cook)'s annoyance. However, it's actually justified — he'd gotten food poisoning from eating them in the past.
    • Big Bad Blackbeard has never been seen eating anything except his favorite food — cherry pies.
  • A running gag in Chrono Crusade is that Rosette's brother Joshua Christopher hates carrots — partially to show how child-like he is because of the demon horns stunting his mental growth.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Italy is a gourmet, so he refuses to eat and/or openly insults any cooking that isn't absolutely delicious. He doesn't try to hide his dislike of Germany's sausages, complains about the food every time some tries to take him captive, and once was extremely depressed about the lack of pasta at Austria's place but still wouldn't eat the pasta the Holy Roman Empire left for him to find because it didn't look good.
  • In Eyeshield 21, there's a bit subversion and played straight: Shin won't eat junk food (and actually has a very strict diet that involves close monitoring of his calorie and nutrient intake), while Gaou has an all-meat diet and hates vegetables.
  • Shizuka Doumeki of ×××HOLiC is a rare picky Big Eater. As his grandfather puts it "He won't put anything in his mouth if he's not properly satisfied with it." Unfortunately for Watanuki, this means Doumeki will only ever eat his cooking or food he trusts.
  • Goemon Ishikawa of Lupin III will sometimes only eat Japanese food, thanks to him being a traditional Samurai. This especially tends to happen when the Lupin gang is overseas, often for comedy at the sake of Goemon's rumbling stomach.
  • In Kochikame, Remon Giboshi, a 4-year-old girl with a gift of tasting and judging food, refuse to eat toast in one manga chapter and anime episode until she grew to like it at the end.
  • Tanuki-oni from Anpanman hates umeboshi (a sour pickled and dried plum commonly found as an onigiri filling) because of how sour it is. Conversely, Battotto, his minion, loves it. Omusubiman and Komusubiman were able to weaponize his dislike of it by throwing one into his mouth when he transformed into a giant demon to defeat the two of them, but he became overwhelmed by the sourness and ended up losing control of his transformation. This dislike was only shown in the Omusubiman theatrical short, never in the actual show.
  • Several of the kids in Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku have a dislike of certain foods. Akane doesn't like carrots, Namida doesn't like peas, and Noriko doesn't like natto beans.
  • Zigzagged regarding Kirin in Gourmet Girl Graffiti. She appears to be quite a carnivore and resents her mother's stir-fried produce, but she will eat whatever her Supreme Chef cousin Ryou cooks.
  • Kaoruko of Comic Girls seems to be unused to eating food outside of her hometown. The eighth chapter (animated in the third episode) shows in addition to Stock "Yuck!" such as natto and broccoli, she has a problem handling some more or less normal Japanese foods, such as tomatoes, cold tofu or tofu dengaku (tofu grilled with miso).
  • Erina from Food Wars! was naturally born with such a sensitive palate that the first words she ever spoke as a baby were to criticize the flavor of her mother's breast milk. She became known as the God Tongue for her extreme sense of taste that lets her determine with incredible precision what is wrong with a meal. During her childhood, her abusive father brainwashed her into being even more picky by making her throw away any food that wasn't absolutely perfect. Getting her to admit that she likes his food, which she really does, but is too prideful to say it because she doesn't like him, is one of Soma's goals.
  • In one episode of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K., the extremely rich Saiko Metori is forced to survive for one day on what is still a large amount of money but isn't enough to buy the ridiculously expensive meals he normally lives on. He fears he wills starve because he refuses to eat any cheaper food and so when he is taken to a ramen restaurant he thinks he will hate it. He apparently did like it after all because he later is shown ordering his servants to make him ramen. In another story arc where he and several others get stranded on an island he ends up starving for several days because he won't eat any of the available food, although part of the latter is guilt over thinking that he got them shipwrecked since it was his boat.
  • Saki from The Kindaichi Case Files turns out to be this, as the following dialogue taking place when the cook working in the inn where Kindaichi, Miyuki, and Saki stay in The Bloodthirsty Cherry Blossom Murder Case arc shows.
    Cook: Is there any food that you don't like in today's dinner?
    Kindaichi: No, I could eat anything!
    Miyuki: Me, too. There's no food I dislike!
    Saki: For me, it's pork, animal fat, pepper, tomato, and...

    Comic Books 
  • As the opening line of Chew states, "Chu is almost always hungry, and almost never eats." This can be blamed on his unusual ability to get psychic impressions of the history of whatever he eatsnote . Thus, when he's not being forced by his boss to eat bits of a murder victim to find their killers, he usually sticks to a very limited vegan menu that usually involves a disproportionate amount of beets.
  • In Raymond Briggs' The Man, the title character is a very fussy eater and contemptuous of healthy food, which he dismisses as "health muck". He has very selective tastes and dispatches the boy to buy particular brands of food that he likes, such as PG tips, Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade, Jersey cream milk, and Mother's Pride bread.
  • Very, very heavily averted with Tenzil Kem ("Matter-Eater Lad") of the Legion Of Superheroes, who can (and does) eat literally anything, including things not normally regarded as food, like metals, rocks...

    Comic Strips 
  • Even for a kid his age, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes is a ridiculously picky eater — pretty much the only foods he's never shown complaining about are Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs (his favorite breakfast cereal), pizza and sweets of any kind (except for jelly donuts). He dislikes vegetables of any kind (he got upset when his mom made a vegetarian meal for dinner) and was also once turned off by burgers after discovering they were technically made from cows (he initially thought they were made of people from Hamburg, Germany). It's implied in some comics that a lot of Calvin's "hatred" for his mom's cooking is that he's just being fussy purely for the sake of being fussy:
  • Petey of Cul de Sac will not eat foods that touch other foods on the plate, and zealously monitors his standing on the 'picky eaters' website.
  • Garfield will eat anything but the following: raisins, spinach, snails, mice, fruitcake, grapefruit, and certain brands of cat food. (The raisins are justified since, in real life, they're poisonous to cats.)
  • In Curtis, Curtis often argues with the cafeteria ladies, asking for foods like hamburgers or pizza, only for the ladies to tell him that the school no longer sells junk food and instead provides healthy meals. This leads to Curtis trying to guess what the piles of goop they serve him are.
  • Peanuts.
    • Snoopy is often like this. In one early strip, he's upset because his dog food needs salt; in another, he's just as upset because his bowl of water has no ice cubes. In a much later strip, Charlie Brown gives him cinnamon toast, and he gets upset because there's too much cinnamon on it. Still, other times, Snoopy is known to dance around with joy when Charlie Brown feeds him, which at one point causes Charlie Brown to say, "I must admit, he's a very satisfying person to cook for..."
    • In another strip, Charlie Brown mixes a raw egg into his dog food to make his fur shiny. (Which does actually work for dogs in Real Life.) Snoopy looks very reluctant to eat it.
    • Woodstock is picky too. Unlike most birds, he won't eat breadcrumbs, because it's "demeaning". Also, in one strip, Linus throws his burned toast out for the birds after Lucy says they can't tell the difference. Woodstock can, and he's upset that it's burnt.
  • Mafalda of Mafalda hates soup.
  • Mooch from Mutts reserves the right to reject any food his owners try to feed him, either because he doesn't like it or just because he feels like being difficult.
  • German cartoonist Uli Stein drew a cartoon with an owl having caught a mouse. The kid complains: "But I want a burger with fries!" The mouse thinks: "That's the first time I like Spoiled Brats."
  • A 1928 New Yorker cartoon shows a mother trying to get her little girl to eat the veggie on her plate:
    Mother: It's broccoli, dear.
    Daughter: I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.

    Fan Works 
  • Sherman of Calvin and Hobbes: The Series takes this Up to Eleven:
    (asking Hobbes to make him a sandwich) "Now cut the turkey thin, but not too thin. Now put the mustard on the turkey in a clockwise motion, and then place a slab of cheese on top. Pour the mayonnaise on top of that, but in a counterclockwise motion. Add an extra slice of turkey on top, and then place the second slice of bread on top, and make sure the two slices of bread are even."
  • Fate Unown has a flashback where Spencer asks Delia for advice on how to get his daughter Molly to eat vegetables. Delia's son Ash has never had an issue eating, but Delia does know of a few tricks involving mixing foods together.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Princess Luna is supposedly a picky eater, though it doesn't tend to come up much.
  • This human AU of Steven Universe has Pink fit this trope to a T.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, apparently Kuzco doesn't like cheese on his potatoes.
  • In Ratatouille, our hero, Rémy the rat, has been blessed with remarkably acute senses of smell and taste, and as such would rather feast on the exquisite, top-notch French cuisine rather than the putrid, rotten pieces of assorted trash and rancid food his more simple-minded family enjoys.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Played for laughs in The Hobbit. The dwarves aren't exactly thrilled to eat Elvish vegetables and seem downright confused by the lack of meat. Ori openly states that he doesn't like green food.
  • In American History X, a fat Neo-Nazi grabs a big bowl of jelly beans and proceeds to pick every black one out before raising the bowl and pouring all of the rest into his mouth at once.
  • In Last Holiday, the Chef at the Hotel has become annoyed at the fact that all of the guests are picky eaters, always wanting him to change his recipes in some way. So when Georgia orders everything of his, as is with no changes, he is so happy that he personally comes out to greet her at her table.
  • Randy in A Christmas Story as described by Adult Ralphie. It took some creativity from his mother (and a huge mess) to get him to eat.
    Ralphie (narrating): Every family has a kid who won't eat. My kid brother had not eaten voluntarily in over three years!
  • In White Frog, Nick eats nothing but bread whenever the family eats out.
  • John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch: Orson's solo, "Plain Plate of Noodles", is about how he's so picky that he only ever wants to eat plain noodles with a little butter. He's also worried about whether it will carry on into his adulthood and how it will affect his life.

  • I Will Never, Not Ever, Eat a Tomato! in the Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child.
  • "I do not like Green Eggs and Ham! I do not like them, Sam-I-Am!"
  • In The Chocolate Touch, John only likes to eat chocolate, which his parents don't like. After gaining the ability to turn everything he touches with his lips to chocolate, though, he gets over this.
  • The stereotype of kids hating vegetables is inverted in Making Money, in which protagonist Moist von Lipwig recalls how, as a boy, he used to hide his meat under the vegetables rather than eat the former. Justified, as Moist's grandfather ran a dog kennel and, apparently, had saved all the tastier bits of pigs or chickens for his dogs.
  • In Winnie-the-Pooh Tigger claims that Tiggers like everything but then when he actually tastes everybody else's Trademark Favorite Food (Pooh: honey, Eeyore: thistles, etc.), he says Tiggers like everything except that. He finally comes across the one thing he likes to eat: extract of Malt, Roo's strengthening medicine. He moves in with Kanga & Roo so he can eat it (and a spoonful of Roo's dinner, for strengthening medicine of his own).
  • The trolls in the Trylle Trilogy are all really picky, refusing to eat meat or any processed foods.
  • The old nursery rhyme about Jack Sprat (who could eat no fat) and his wife (who could eat no lean) dates back to the 17th Century.
  • The three villains in Fantastic Mr. Fox are Villainous Gluttons, but each is a Picky Eater who eats the same thing three times a day, and each is bizarre: Farmer Boggis eats three chickens smothered in dumplings for each meal (and three for dessert at dinner), Farmer Bunce eats homemade donuts stuffed with mashed goose livers, and the beanpole-thin Farmer Bean doesn't eat any solid food at all, drinking gallons of fiery, home-brewed, alcoholic apple cider.
  • Played with in Michael Rosen's poems "Tomato One" and "Tomato Two". In the former, he recalls sulking as a kid when being asked to eat a tomato, as he hates their taste and texture, which results in him not getting dessert. In the second, he points out that he grew to love them by eating them on bread with some black pepper.
  • One of the stories in Struwwelpeter is "The Story of Kaspar, Who Would Not Have Any Soup". The kid would rather starve to death than eat his soup.
  • In the Mr. Men books, Mr. Strong's diet is eggs, eggs, and more eggs, the source of his incredible strength. (With the occasional ice cream for dessert, as the final line of his book states.)
  • In The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape approves of people being picky with their food as a subtle but often effective form of the sin of gluttony, what he calls "gluttony of delicacy".
  • Fudge:
    • Fudge himself proves a very picky eater in book 1, to the point where, for a while, he refuses anything he's served, even if he'd specifically asked for it.
    • Daniel (Fudge's friend in Superfudge) is one who refuses to eat peas, lima beans or onions, insists on having the crust cut off his bread, and only drinks chocolate milk. He's also extremely annoying, and at one point the only way the Hatchers can get him to go home is by taking advantage of this habit, telling him that their dinner includes peas and onions.
  • You Have to Fucking Eat, the sequel to Go the Fuck to Sleep, revolves around this, as a parent tries to get their child to eat, but the child refuses, even after being served what the parent thought was their favorite food, pancakes. The parent later finds the kid didn't touch their lunch, and won't eat anything when they're out at a restaurant... except for a dinner roll that fell on the floor, leaving the parent wondering how this kid is even growing.
  • The classic children's book, Bread And Jam For Frances, is about Frances' refusal to eat anything other than bread and jam. Her parents' solution is to feed her that and only that until she gets sick of it and finally wants to try other foods. It ends up working.
  • Don't Be Picky, Clover! is a short children's story about a picky rabbit named Clover who won't eat anything but celery soup. After visiting her grandmother and helping her pick vegetables in her garden to make vegetable soup, Clover learns it's okay to try new foods.
  • Ramona Quimby:
    • The Quimbys' family cat is named Picky-Picky and he lives up to it. When Mr. Quimby loses his job in Ramona and Her Father, they can't afford the cat's preferred brand of food anymore, and he refuses to eat the new, cheaper brand they buy, to the point that he eats the family's Halloween jack-o-lantern instead.
    • In Ramona Quimby, Age 8, both Ramona and Beezus refuse to eat cow's tongue, even though they liked it before they knew what it was. Ramona also lampshades this trope early on, when she thinks to herself that healthy food is "usually food she did not like".
  • In The Warrior Cats Series, each Clan hunts certain prey and dislikes the other Clans prey. For example, RiverClan cats love fish but can't stand voles.
  • Newspaper columnist D. L. Stewart recounts, via his book Fathers Are People Too, that his kids are not fussy eaters because they'll turn their noses up at anything. There's a particular mention of when he tried to use leftover turkey from Christmas to make soup and, while considering what to add, briefly thought of vegetables but decided against it because it was too hard finding one they'd all like (the five-year-old hates carrots, the eight-year-old hates onions, the twelve-year-old hates celery, the fifteen-year-old hates corn, and they all hate peas). When they leave the table, the dumplings and broth are gone, but not a speck of turkey meat is missing from their bowls.
  • The One Who Eats Monsters: Ryn despises the taste of processed foods, animals raised in slaughterhouses, and plantation-grown fruits and vegetables. She prefers fresh fruits and meat she's hunted herself, and during the summer camp section cannot understand why the humans stick to canned food when there is perfectly good fresh game nearby.
  • Being autistic, Xandri Corelel is easily overwhelmed by strong tastes and rough textures, leaving her unable to eat most of the food at parties.
  • The Kane Chronicles: Khufu the baboon is one, only eating foods that end in the letter o, such as Doritos, burritos, and flamingos. (The last one squicks out the Kane siblings when they find out.)
  • The Place Inside the Storm: Judith, one of the inhabitants of the mostly-autistic separatist commune, eats exclusively peanut butter and jam sandwiches. She has to take vitamins to stay healthy.
  • Asperger Adventures:
    • Ben only eats plain food. He hates food with different ingredients mushed together, like pizza.
    • Lisa likes very few foods. Most things are too lumpy or grainy or slippery or salty.
  • Drea from Harmonic Feedback has this problem to some extent, but her mother had it even worse as a child. She used to hide pork chops and broccoli so she wouldn't have to eat them. She had to vomit on her plate before anyone believed that pork chops actually made her sick.
  • Monster of the Month Club: The monsters all have their own unique appetites. According to their individual cards:
    • Icicle likes popsicles, frozen yogurt and iced lemonade.
    • Sweetie Pie likes pink bubblegum, pink flowers (and as Rilla finds out, they have to be fresh, since she won't touch one that looks as if it's even thinking of wilting — she also spits out the stems, since they're green and not pink) and pink fruit punch.
    • Shamrock likes clover, raw potatoes and green ginger beer. Rilla notes that feeding this one would have been tough, since clover is seasonal and she's not sure if the local convenience mart even stocks his drink preference.
    • Chelsea (a mermaid-like monster) likes kelp, salt water and tuna. Luckily, feeding her isn't an issue, since canned tuna is easily found, salt water can be mixed up, and Sparrow keeps kelp supplements on hand.
    • Burly likes baseball cards (snacking on Rilla's old card collection with her permission), cracker jacks and golf tees.
    • Summer (a bird-like monster) likes sunflower seeds, cola and worms. Rilla doesn't have a problem getting the sunflower seeds, but is grossed out at having to dig the worms out of their yard for her (until she realizes Josh would gladly do it for her).
    • Sparkler likes hot dogs, chips and apple pie. Josh, luckily, is able to provide his food, since these things aren't kept on hand at Harmony House
    • Butterscotch likes honey, granola and tofu, all of which are easily kept on hand at Harmony House, as Rilla notes.
    • Owl likes poetry, numbers and literature. Rilla soon finds out this means he eats paper with these things printed on it, including her school books.
    • Goblin likes candy corn, hot cocoa and spiders. As with Summer and worms, Rilla doesn't like the thought of having to get spiders for her.
    • Cranberry likes acorns, pumpkin seeds and apple cider.
    • Bow likes eggnog, pine needles and ribbons.
  • Sam from A Boy Made of Blocks is only willing to eat four meals, which have to be prepared in just the right way. He's also willing to eat fruit, but it has to be cut into cubes of exactly one centimeter.
  • Cory from Language Arts has eaten the same thing for dinner every night since he was thirteen: partially thawed peas, mashed potatoes, room temperature fried chicken, and a vitamin smoothie.
  • Eye Contact:
    • Adam eats the same five things for dinner — rice, peanut butter, chicken, ham, and carrots — despite his mother's efforts to get him to eat more things.
    • Morgan is picky about food and even water — he can't stand unfiltered tap. When he runs away to live with Cara and Adam, he brings his own food supply because he doesn't think he'll be able to eat any of theirs.
  • Charlie from The Someday Birds hates most food served outside his home. He orders chicken nuggets whenever possible, since those are usually edible, but even then he rejects nuggets that look bad.
  • The Cat Who... Series: The cats. Due to Koko's original owner being a gourmand who fed him only the best, the cat has acquired a taste for fancier food, to the point where he outright refuses anything less (such as regular cat food when Qwill tries to switch him to it in book 4), while Yum Yum insists on equality and won't accept any less than what Koko gets. Qwill swears more than once that the cats can read price labels and go out of their way to eat expensive.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Electric Company (1971) has a sketch on hating broccoli.
  • All That had the cafeteria sketches with pea-obsessed Ms. Piddlin, who would foist mounds of the green orbs on the children, whether they wanted them or not. She would get rather red-faced if they said they didn't want them.
  • While most sitcoms will relegate this to a secondary plot, Leave It to Beaver once did an entire episode around the title character not eating his Brussels sprouts.
  • In the old Batman (1966) series, the villain Egghead is very picky. Not only does he only eat eggs, but he also insists on "Grade-AAA" white eggs. (He won't eat brown eggs.) Unfortunately for the villain, this helps Batman catch him at the end of one two-parter; the hero assumes Egghead is going to stock up on supplies before fleeing town, and only one chicken farm has eggs that meet the criteria.
  • As noted above, Alton Brown poses the (woefully ignored) suggestion of, instead of breeding resentment by forcing your child to eat vile-tasting slop, finding a vegetable (or a way of preparing the one you're making) that your child will eat.
  • Raj Koothrappali from The Big Bang Theory hates Indian food. In spite of being from India. Possibly because of being from India.
  • Lorelei Gilmore from Gilmore Girls dislikes most healthy food.
  • Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern: Andrew Zimmern would try anything on the menu and always give a second chance even if he didn't like it, but he won't even touch spam or walnuts. And damn, is he infamous by how much he hates "his enemy"... the durian.
  • One episode of Babylon 5 has Doctor Franklin putting the rest of the senior staff on diets. Every one of them ends up with something they hate, but one of the others loves. This culminated in one scene where they traded plates; the Captain took the Chief of Security's steak, the Chief of Security took the XO's pasta, and the XO took the Captain's salad...only for the doctor to show up and force them to return the plates to their rightful owners.
  • Larry Fleinhardt from NUMB3RS spends a couple of years eating only white food as an experiment.
  • Richard Hammond from Top Gear; his dislike of seafood caused issues on trips to Japan and Vietnam. In addition, his Extreme Omnivore co-presenters often take advantage of this on the overseas specials to torment him with local fare such as snake soup and lamb testicles.
  • An episode of Tremors had a critter having become this as a complicating factor — ass-blasters, if they over-gorge on food, enter a food coma, so when one comes to Perfection a trap is rigged using Burt's MREs (the ass-blaster was owned, so they couldn't just kill it). Unfortunately, this particular ass-blaster had been in captivity for the last few years and had been fed with gourmet foods, developing a taste for it, so when it came on the MREs it took a few bites and then decided it didn't want any more.
  • There was a special on Food Network about adult picky eaters. Rather than just being averse to certain foods, these people raise picky eating to a disorder that's not unlike OCD. Limited to a diet of perhaps three different dishes at best and finding anything else abhorrent, these people make what one usually thinks of as "picky eating" look normal (which they are, usually; even the most adventurous eaters have at least one or two things they just can't stomach).
    • See this link for more info.
    • There was a study done by a college that was trying to identify if picky eating really was a form of OCD. It wasn't asking what kinds of stuff that people liked/disliked to find what was the most disliked food (other studies were done on that since even adventurous eaters have their own dislikes), but more about whether or not unfamiliar food being served at a social event caused people to feel uncomfortable.
  • There's a British reality TV series called "Freaky Eaters" which focuses on real people who have extremely limited diets. One person could only eat cheese and crisps ("chips" to Americans), another person could only eat meat, a third person could only eat tinned ("canned") spaghetti hoops and toast, etc. A chef — as in someone one would expect to have a wider palate — could only eat sweets, chocolate bars, and biscuits ("cookies"). The whole point of the program[me] is to get the person to widen their diets, or at least attempt to do so, by showing the damage their eating habits are doing to their bodies. Harry Hill has, in the past, had a fantastic time poking fun at these people and the program itself on Harry Hill's TV Burp. It later got an American remake on The Learning Channel.

  • Steve Bent's infamous "I'm Going To Spain" features the line "She packed me up some sandwiches — I hate the cheese and pickle". This was not included in the cover by The Fall.
  • Bryan Adams' "I Think About You" includes the line "Oughta be drinking, but I can't stand the stuff".
  • The Smiths' "Meat Is Murder".
  • In Citizen Ship, Patti Smith makes the point that poverty practically kills this trope
    If you're hungry you're none too particular about what you'll taste!
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's Eat It is sung from the perspective of a picky eater complaining about the stock phrases used to try and persuade him to eat more.
  • The subject of the Lancashire Hotpots song "Fussy Eater" has multiple foodstuffs he refuses to eat:
    Won't eat a peach, cuz it's furry of course
    Can't touch a steak if it comes with a sauce
    If there's coleslaw on his plate he sends it back
    Every single meal is a panic attack!

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss episode, "The Feed You Need", Terrence McBird refused to eat birdseed brickle in any color other than red. He eventually tried both pink and blue birdseed brickle near the end of the episode and found out it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be.

  • Sarah Kennedy got much mileage on her early morning show out of brussels sprouts and her listenership's responses to them. The general opinion was that the great British accompaniment to Christmas dinner, for maximum effect, should be stewed non-stop from around October for service on December 25th.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • George Carlin admits to having been one of these as a child. And says the word is a euphemism for "big pain in the ass".

    Video Games 
  • Colette from Tales of Symphonia dislikes green bell peppers. When she eats food containing them in a skit, the others think she's developing "an adult sense of taste". She's actually losing her sense of taste entirely.
    • Don't forget Kratos and Lloyd's mutual hatred of tomatoes.
  • Luke fon Fabre of Tales of the Abyss is very much this not liking all kinds of sketchy meat, carrots, mushrooms, milk, rappig meat, and all kinds of fish. This in retrospect makes sense; aside from his noble and spoiled upbringing, Luke is actually seven. Trying to get a kid of that age to eat things they get into their head to dislike is a chore and a half.
    • All party members except Anise have something they dislike to eat and will avoid: Tear doesn't like carrots, Jade doesn't like pork and rappig meat, Guy doesn't like lemon and tofu, Natalia doesn't like octopus, and Asch doesn't like carrots and octopus.
  • Locke from Final Fantasy VI hates mushrooms. Not that we ever find out in the game.
  • Ryo from Shenmue didn't like carrots as a kid. Until his father gave him a stern talking to, involving hard-working farmers and such...
  • Skies of Arcadia's Vyse hated bittermelon as a kid; apparently, his parents used to yell at him for flicking it off his plate. Judging by his reaction when he relates this bit of information, he still doesn't like it.
    • That said, they probably would have done less yelling if he hadn't been, you know, flicking his bittermelon all over the place.
  • In Evolution Worlds, one of the characters in your party hates bell peppers.
  • The titular heroine of Yggdra Union hates mushrooms so much that she still refuses point-blank to eat them at seventeen years of age.
    • The cast of Blaze Union is a lot pickier than that of Yggdra Union, between the mushroom-haters, the milk-haters, the people unable to tolerate extremely sweet things (nearly half of the party!), and Nessiah—who just seems disinterested in (most) food as a whole, actually.
  • Poo in EarthBound dislikes western foods which barely recovers his health. He only prefers eastern foods, and water happens to recover more of his PP.
  • In Po Po Lo Crois, Jilva says "I don't like them! This tastes icky!" when Gami Gami's robots try to feed her Carrots and Green Peppers.
  • Referenced in Return to Ravenhearst, where one of the rules their abusive stepfather imposed upon the two little girls is "No broccoli until you finish your cauliflower".
  • Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2 hates vegetables so much that they actually make an effective weapon against him (his minions don't fare much better, but in their case, it seems to be related more to size).
  • in Rune Factory Frontier when you ship fruits Rosetta likes she'll applaud you when she comes to pick them up, but if it's Danny's turn to collect shipments and you've got just about any vegetable in your bin he'll whine, expressing a desire to not even touch them.
  • Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina usually eats only crumpets, a horribly unhealthy diet that has left her Nothing but Skin and Bones with Exhausted Eye Bags. Lilith has to force-feed her something healthier during the fourth DLC.
    Tiny Tina: I hate salad! It's what adults eat!
    Lilith: [laughing] Tina, three adults are playing your game where we just collected imaginary crumpets because we thought it'd be fun. There is no such thing as adulthood.
  • Gami Gami Devil in the Po Po Lo Crois game kidnaps Jilva and tries to make her eat vegetables that she doesn't like because they're healthy. And these vegetables are Green Peppers and Carrots.
  • In Bookworm, we have Lex. Being a bookworm, he eats paper but will only eat scraps of paper with a single word on them. Of course if he didn't adhere to this, the game would be ridiculously easy.
  • The Avatar of Jarlsberg challenge path in Kingdom of Loathing is such a germaphobe that he won't eat or drink anything he didn't make himself. No, this doesn't mean you can get away with not buying outside food or booze — he won't touch anything not made with his special Cosmic Foods in his Cosmic Kitchen.
    • The main feature of the Cosmic Kitchen is a portal to deep space: Jarlsberg doesn't just prepare his food personally, he only uses ingredients whose base atoms have never been part of any organic compound.
  • Used as a plot device in The Secret of Monkey Island. Otis, the prisoner on Melée Island, really hates carrot cake. He was sent one by his aunt as a gift. He trades it to the player character, Guybrush, who later finds that there is a file inside it. This file was intended to be used to help Otis escape from prison, but Guybrush instead uses it in a bizarre, off-camera scene in the Governor's Mansion.
    • Guybrush really hates mushrooms. When he's in the hellish labyrinth below the Giant Monkey Head on Monkey Island, there are some wild mushrooms, and when you 'look at' them he remarks "I always knew in hell there would be mushrooms".
  • Disgaea 4 has a small bit of dialogue where Emizel brings up a dislike of fish, which puts him at odds with the sardine-praising Valvatorez.
  • In Disgaea 5, a visit to Toto Bunny's garden brings up the fact that Zeroken hates carrots and Usalia doesn't like them. This leads to a scene where Zeroken is force-fed a carrot by Red Magnus later on. This takes a particularly dark turn as Usalia reveals that while eating curry, which she hated when she was cursed, stalls the curse's effects, eating carrots accelerates them.
  • Neko Atsume has Tubbs, the Big Eater who eats entire food bowls at once. The catch is, they only eat food that the player had to pay for; they won't eat the free Thrifty Bitz.
  • Demitri Maximoff in Darkstalkers only drinks blood from beautiful, young women. So much so he has a special spell that turns males into females so he can feed on them.
  • Moshi Monsters has a weasel-like character named Shrewman who only likes blue berries mixed with yellow berries. Give him one or the other and he's not interested, and give him red berries, even if they're mixed with a different colour berry, and he'll reject the whole lot.
  • Logical Journey of the Zoombinis has the Pizza Trolls Arno, Willomaen, and Shyler, who will only let you pass if you make each of them a pizza (and an ice-cream sundae, on higher difficulty levels) that they like. The trick is, each troll has toppings that only they like and which the other ones will refuse, so you have to figure out who likes what in as few moves as possible. Otherwise, the trolls get testy and start knocking your Zoombinis back to the start. On higher difficulties, you have more ingredients to choose from, and more trolls to satisfy.
  • In The Sims 4:
    • Sims with the Foodie trait get uncomfortable moodlets from food or drink that is of normal or lower quality.
    • If Parenthood is installed, Picky Eater is a potential childhood phase. During this phase, Sims will prefer their favorite quick meal as opposed to any other food.
    • And as of Get Famous, your famous Sims will have a chance of gaining the Refined Palate fame quirk when eating excellent quality meals. Similarly to Sims with the Foodie trait, these Sims will also become uncomfortable when eating food of normal or lesser quality.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • It doesn't get pointed out much, but Felix is quite picky about what he eats — he doesn't like sweets of any kind (much to Lysithea's horror) and dislikes three out of the four vegetable-based dishes and is merely neutral on the fourth one (which also has a heavy cheese and fish component). It seems meat is the only food he actually likes.
    • Not to Felix's extent, but Lysithea mentions disliking vegetables a number of times and complains that she wishes she could just eat nothing but sweets.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the first scene Natalya has in Missing Stars, she's trying to avoid eating lunch and giving it to Erik instead. Though, considering the theme of the novel, it might not be picky eating.

    Web Animation 
  • Alastor the Radio Demon in Hazbin Hotel is described by Word of God as a food snob. He's very particular about how his food is prepared and loathes all processed foods like canned cheese, colored ketchup, Easy Mac, and other such fare. When getting venison from a butcher shop in the comic "A Day in the After Life", he insists that the butcher skin the meat very carefully.

    Web Original 

  • Kimchi Cuddles: Marco discovers this when they try to cook dinner for three different people.
    Marco: Surprise! I made everyone dinner!
    Crystal: Is there MEAT in this? I'm vegan, remember?
    Marco: Opps
    Baxter: And I'm doing the super paleo thing, so I only eat RAW meat
    Marco: Oh
    Soliloquy: That stew looks gross. I only eat white bread with gummi bears on it
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: According to Tuuri, Lalli "doesn't really like anything". This is confirmed on-panel by Lalli being quite thin and when stealing food from someone else, only taking the meat out of a sandwich in which it's the only garnish.
  • Joyce in Dumbing of Age has very strong feelings about what she's prepared to eat. She won't eat food that's touching, her hamburgers have nothing but ketchup (she freaked out when she learned the white things on McDonalds burgers were onions), bacon is only for breakfast, and she orders sausage pizza, but with the sausage picked off and put in a bowl.

    Western Animation 
  • Tiny Toon Adventures had "Real Kids Don't Eat Broccoli", a Whole Plot Reference to Blade Runner where Buster (as the protagonist) figured out which characters were really robots because they ate broccoli.
  • Arthur on PBS played with this: Arthur's little sister DW refused to eat anything with spinach, only to be served a pot pie that, unbeknownst to her, has spinach in it, and to then discover that she loved it. The opening of the episode shows she really just hates trying anything new. This was based on one of the Arthur books, which had the same plot but ended with DW looking horrified when she learned that she ate something with spinach in it.
  • The Powerpuff Girls and all the other kids in town refused to eat broccoli. Thus only the kids of Townsville were unbrainwashed unlike their parents when the evil alien Broccoloids invaded, though they were helpless against them... 'till the girls realized they could eat the Broccoloids. In the end, all the kids started eating their greens to ensure that they weren't aliens.
  • Angela Anaconda:
    • An episode centers on the fact that Angela hates broccoli despite the fact that it's her town's main export and thus they have a "broccoli day" every year. When Angela wins a broccoli-based art contest and must talk about her "love of broccoli" she faces a dilemma, should she lie about this or come clean and probably lose the contest. In the end, she decides to fib and is made to eat some broccoli while on a podium in front of the entire town... and then blurts out that it was better than she thought. She'd never actually tried it before.
    • Angela also dislikes Tuna Noodle Casserole. The dish actually looks somewhat unpleasant the way it's presented on the show.
  • The Rugrats episode "Pickles vs. Pickles" uses this. When Drew and Charlotte send Angelica to her room without dessert for refusing to eat her broccoli Angelica sues them, the surrounding media circus warps things and blows them out of proportion and the judge is taken in by Angelica's cuteness and sides with her. Drew goes crazy and is dragged off to prison screaming "I'm a good father!". Of course, it was All Just a Dream, but the episode ends with Angelica being apologized to and it is implied that Drew has a very weak will which Angelica can manipulate this way for every vegetable.
  • Lampshaded and averted in an episode of Muppet Babies. Gonzo threatens Kermit that he'll make Kermit eat all of his green vegetables. Kermit just points out that he likes green vegetables because they put color in his cheeks.
  • The Earl of Lemongrab of Adventure Time will ONLY eat foods that are bland and tasteless. "Whatever you made, I hope it's as mild as kitten milk!"
  • Histeria!!:
    • An episode poked fun at George Bush Sr.'s dislike of broccoli by doing a version of Green Eggs and Ham with Loud Kiddington in place of Sam-I-Am and broccoli instead of the green eggs and ham.
    • Additionally, a sketch about Florence Nightingale included a part where she advises all the troops be put on a vegetable diet, during which she takes away the burger Froggo was about to eat. His response to what she gave him in its place:
      Froggo: A turnip?!? Yeeugh!! Now I'm really sick!
  • Codename: Kids Next Door centered many of its plots around foods that children hate to eat. These include various vegetables, tapioca pudding, etc. Ironically, Numbuh 2's probably the least picky when it comes to his eating habits, as he will eat pretty much anything—one of the few things that he doesn't seem to like is anchovies on pizza.
  • In the Aladdin: The Series episode "Mission: Imp Possible", Nefir the imp's scheme to make Aladdin's friends help him steal the golden silk cocoon of a giant silkworm backfires horribly because the silkworm had metamorphosed into Mothias, one of the legendary giant moths of yore that ravaged cities, spread plague and pestilence, and ate imps — and only imps. When Mothias accidentally ate Iago, it immediately spat him out in disgust.
  • The Simpsons
    • As it turns out, despite being a Big Eater Homer proves to also be fairly picky. He loves porkchops, donuts and all sorts of junk food, but avoids fruits and vegetables whenever he can. Marge ended up doing a food blog with the kids after finding some excitement trying out more exotic foreign foods while Homer struggled seeing them having fun doing something he doesn't like.
    • Homer burned his tongue and when his taste buds grew back, he'd become super-sensitive to flavor. He had to resort to really bland school lunches which led to another plot... And just a few minutes in the next plot, he ate a jar of mayonnaise (Popeye fashion) without any problems besides his stomach.
  • Kuzco on The Emperor's New School seem to only eat Meat Mugs...and generally nothing that contains cauliflower.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • "Putting Your Hoof Down" had Fluttershy's pet bunny, Angel, refusing to eat anything other than a fancy gourmet salad — the exact gourmet salad, actually. He went ballistic after realizing Fluttershy had missed the cherry on top.
    • Zesty Gourmand from "Spice Up Your Life!" is a stern, snooty critic with very particular tastes for not only food (bland, tiny portions) but decor and presentation. She ultimately refuses to even try the food at the Tasty Treat, despite seeing how popular it is even without her approval and instead leaves in a huff.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Pearl is a Gem and doesn't actually need to eat. Consequently, she finds the whole concept of eating and drinking revolting and refuses to entirely.
    • Onion seems to refuse to eat at all, preferring to waste any food he's given by either throwing it away or spitting it out. Unlike Pearl, Onion is human (though Steven isn't so sure sometimes), so one has to wonder how he can get by while eating next to nothing. The only food item he's been seeing actually consuming and liking is a repulsive guacamole-flavored soda that everyone else in town hated.
      Steven: Why do you hate food?
  • Zack from Carmen Sandiego loves food in general, but he doesn't want to go anywhere near fish, and for God's sakes, don't even mention the topic of caviar!
  • The T.O.T.S. episode "Koala Kuisine" has KC dealing with Henry the baby hippo, who won't eat anything she gives him unless it's Hippo Ohs. She eventually gets him to at least try to eat new foods until he finds something he likes.
  • Played with the Peppa Pig episode "Lunch" in which the title character and her family visit her grandparents' house for Exactly What It Says on the Tin where George refuses to eat some vegetables. So Grandpa Pig then rearranges the vegetables to look like a dinosaur, and because of that George eats them and loves it.

    Real Life 
  • A koala's diet consists almost entirely of eucalyptus leaves. They therefore fill an important ecological niche, because very few other animals can digest the leaves of the plant. They are such picky eaters that they'll refuse to eat eucalyptus from a tree that isn't the one they've already learned to subsist on. They're such specialized eaters that they'll only eat it off the branch, if a leaf is laid flat on a table for them they won't even acknowledge it as food anymore. Some joke that this is because the leaves are poisonous and eating nothing but them literally rotted their brains.
  • Stacy Irvine of Britain ate practically nothing but Chicken McNuggets since she was 2 and suffered a variety of health problems including anemia and shortness of breath. However, as seen in the photos, she still looks as thin and youthful as ever despite her ailing health. It just goes to show you that picky eating can be dangerous no matter what foods you eat, and that being "fat" and "unhealthy" aren't always the same thing.
  • Done to the extreme with Kurt Gödel, who only ate food cooked by his wife. Justified, since he was paranoid that he would be poisoned. But when his wife was hospitalized, he refused to eat and thus starved to death.
  • Anderson Cooper appears to be the supertaster-type of a picky eater, he does not eat hot food or drinks, alcohol, or anything strong tasting. He also has a habit of taking a liking to a single dish and eating only that dish for weeks on end before moving onto something else. Producers on his talk show (Anderson Live, not to be confused with his nightly news broadcast Anderson Cooper 360°) seem to take perverse pleasure in feeding him everything he hates.
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a type of eating disorder in which the sufferer has an extremely selective palate and avoid the overwhelming majority of foods. This avoidance may be based on appearance, smell, taste, texture, brand, presentation, or a past negative experience with the food in question. Many of those who suffer from the disorder stay away from anything spicy, tangy, or acidic, and tend to favor generally blander foods laden with carbohydrates.
  • Accoring to Roger Moore, former James Bond producer Harry Saltzman was incredibly fussy in restaurants, often sending food back, along with everyone else's portion, prompting Moore to hold on to his plate for dear life. Albert R. Broccoli said that if Harry had been at the Last Supper, he would have sent it back.
  • Rex Harrison was very picky about wine. He would arrange the wine list for lunch, the butler would serve it, then would come the cry of, "How dare you serve me corked wine!?"
    Roger Moore: Rex always sent the wine back in restaurants. And he's the only person I know of who did it in his own home, too.


Video Example(s):


Reader Rabbit Math Ages 6-9

The monkeys want (and ONLY want) the ingredients listed to be put on their pizza. (Video by LY203 Productions)

How well does it match the trope?

4.25 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PickyEater

Media sources:

Main / PickyEater