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They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich

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At least give it to someone else!
"You know what? He forgot his latte."
Droopy, "Thanks a Latte"

The characters order something arbitrary like salad or coffee, have a conversation, and then leave before ever touching their order. You will likely not notice this unless you happen to be very hungry when it happens; then it will drive you up the wall.

This also applies when a character gets a snack or something to drink, but you barely see them touch/eat it.

This is due to The Law of Conservation of Detail, as diners and restaurants are great places to stage a conversation between characters, but their eating isn't relevant to the plot. Of course, depending on the scene, it's possible all the eating simply takes place off-camera. If there's a cut, and the food has been eaten afterwards, then that doesn't count for this trope. It's particularly infuriating in works that also employ Food Porn.

Live-action shows also have another problem to contend with: food spoils easier in studio lighting. Therefore, most of the food used is a prop, unless characters are specifically meant to eat it. Equally obviously, if a scene requires multiple takes (which includes shooting from more than one angle), you don't want the actors to be forced to continually stuff their faces, only to have to make them a brand-new sandwich for the next take. Requiring the actors to eat the food can also create continuity problems in the event of retakes or editing (Skins in particular has been mocked for a scene where a sandwich changes state every time the camera angle does). And if the actor were to have a big enough portion of food in their mouth, it might make dialogue harder to hear.

A variant of this trope is in a cop drama where two officers are drinking coffee while parked and see a car speeding past; as hot coffee is not something you want flying about during a chase, said coffee goes out the windows.

See also Forgets to Eat, Late for School.

Contrast Enemy Eats Your Lunch and The Snack Is More Interesting, where one party pointedly ignores the other in favor of eating, in order to aggravate them. Also see Lost Food Grievance, for when wasting food is acknowledged in-universe. Not related to They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot or They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character.


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  • This is actually enforced in alcoholic adverts; one of the many limitations in many countries is that no alcohol must be consumed during the advert. Once you notice this you'll never stop. Subverted in one such commercial where Neil Patrick Harris steps just off-camera so he can (audibly) enjoy his beer.
  • Played straight in Liberty Mutual Insurance's pie eating contest advert. The very moment the contest starts, a flock of seagulls arrive and terrorize the three participants, and they are too panicked to take the pies with them as they run away.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Earth Maiden Arjuna: Juna's difficulty with fast food (particularly burgers) is a frequent subject, played for drama.
  • In the Lupin III franchise, Zenigata is so obsessed with chasing Lupin, while eating at a cafe, if he notices Lupin and the gang, he leaves his food behind to chase after them.
  • Played with in Monster, in which the characters do comment on Tenma's tendency to leave his food untouched.
  • Subverted in Naruto. When Sasuke goes out to look for Naruto one morning in the Land of Waves arc, Sakura calls after him, saying that he hasn't touched his breakfast, but then looks and sees that he's already eaten without her noticing it.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: The characters tend to take their meals at the Chao Bao Zi or Starbooks. We rarely see them actually eat there (in vol. 3, the group has just ordered a round of coffees they left at the table).
  • One Piece:
    • A major part of Sanji's backstory in was this. On the ship he served on, his fellow cooks would always eat the leftovers the customers didn't bother to finish, complaining of this very trope. Sanji just found it unsanitary and would throw them away instead. However when Zeff and he were later stranded on a rock formation with no way down and only limited food, Sanji realized why they did it; when you're out at sea, food is scarce and you gotta make every crumb count. Needless to say, he took the lesson to heart, with wasting food becoming a massive Berserk Button for him.
    • Defied by Luffy during the Alabaster arc. While he was in the midst of chowing down in the restaurant, he's accosted by Smoker, a Marine who'd pursued him all the way from the East Blue, who gets annoyed when Luffy keeps on eating and, just as he's about to go on the attack, Luffy authoritatively orders him to stop... before using the pause to stuff the rest of his food into his mouth and then runs away.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Kakizaki is ordered to sortie right before he was about to eat his steak. It's Foreshadowing he is going to die in the upcoming battle.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: During the Mythyrian Numbers Arc, Yuma, Shark, and Kaito find a temple on top of a mountain where the Number they seek should be; while there, Yuma is quickly drawn to a pot of delicious-smelling soup cooking, only for an angry old man — Jinlon — to storm out and hit him with a cane, accusing him of trying to steal his lunch. However, when Jinlon realizes that Kaito is a Dragon user and Kaito realizes that Jinlon is the guardian of the Number, Jinlon quickly decides to duel him, disregarding his lunch completely. (Of course, Jinlon likely doesn't need to eat at all; when defeated, he is revealed to be the spirit of the Number itself, and vanishes as Kaito claims the card.)

    Comic Books 
  • There's a comic where Wolverine and Captain America meet in a little diner to exchange information, and Wolverine mentions that the place has great pie. The waitress shows up, and since Cap isn't bothering with the secret identity stuff — his hood/mask is down, but he's got his scalemail under an open jacket — she recognizes him, is impressed, and they talk a bit, then she gets their orders and bustles off. Wolverine scornfully says that Cap probably hasn't paid for a meal since he revealed his secret identity to the world. Before the food arrives there's some kind of alarm and both heroes run out of the diner, Cap throwing down several dollar bills as he does so. Then, as Wolverine's about to flag down a car, he scolds Cap about taking the time to pay for food they never got to eat. Cap, being Cap, ignores this.
  • X-Men:
    • Mercury regularly visits a local cafe and orders coffee even though she doesn't (and can't) drink it since her mutation transformed her into a piece of sapient living metal. She explains to X-23 that she likes the warmth of the coffee and more importantly, doing something normal like going out for coffee helps her feel normal.
    • Wolverine ends up doing this once. After spending weeks in the Canadian wilderness while being pursued by the vampire Bloodscream and the cyborg Cylla, he manages to reach a small town and immediately heads for the diner and orders a pile of burgers. He eats several before finding out that his motorcycle, which he had left at some gas station, has been delivered there. Then he runs out of the diner, throwing down enough money to cover the bill as he does so.
  • In Life With Archie: The Married Life Issue #36, Archie orders a chocolate soda for himself, Betty and Veronica at Jughead's Chocklit Shoppe in the after-party, and he, Jughead and Reggie have a conversation while they wait. But as soon as the girls arrive with Kevin Keller and his husband, Clay Walker, something unexpected happens: It is discovered that Wendell, the man doing the dishes, is the gunman whom Agent Mitchell and his team have been pursuing, who now drops the dishes and points his gun at Kevin to Archie's surprise. With a Big "NO!", Archie jumps into the fray while knocking his chocolate soda on the table... right before he takes the bullet for Kevin and dies after Wendell is apprehended. The bitter irony is that while everyone mourns his death, the scene makes a final cut to the spilled chocolate soda on the table... the soda he never even got to drink with Betty or Veronica while he was still alive, with only one straw in the ice cream and the other two separated from the cup. They Wasted a Perfectly Good Soda, indeed.
  • In The Sandman (1989), when Dream and Delirium finally reunite with their estranged brother Destruction, he has prepared a lavish dinner for them to enjoy. However, during their conversation they end up not even tasting it which Destruction wryly notes. Destruction's attempts to create things such as the meal always go to waste in a similar manner. Not that it stops him from trying.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Pearls Before Swine strip, Pig tells Rat about a "prank" he just pulled: going to a fast food restaurant's drive-thru, paying more than his meal was worth, then driving off without the food.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, a young bard singing "Norwegian Wood" passes the four while they're dispiritedly walking and munching on fast food. The four have a delayed reaction a few seconds later; their food goes flying as they turn and race after him. John throws away a whole bag of sandwiches, which he regrets a few hours later.
  • At the start of In This World and the Next, Harry Potter and Hermione meet with the latter's parents, who are rather upset with her for erasing their memories of her. The Grangers serve dinner, but the meal is instantly forgotten about as a tense discussion about Hermione's decision begins. At the end, Hermione's father suggests that they talk about this tomorrow, "and we might actually get to eat some food."

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie movies:
    • Happened a couple of times in Barbie & The Diamond Castle. The heroines sing for their supper at a restaurant, supposedly starving, yet leave when mildly harassed by a pair of Lounge Lizard twins, without even touching their food.
    • Same in Barbie: Princess Charm School. When Blair, Isla and Hadley leave their table after lunch at the cafeteria, their plates are still completely full and untouched.
  • In Beavis And Butthead Do The Universe after the duo learn they have “white privilege” they go around stealing people’s lunches, they only take a few bites out of the burgers before throwing them away, and Beavis takes a whole cake and throws it in the garbage after eating a few handfuls, and earlier they waste a lot of the dozens of nachos they order at the hotel.
  • Downplayed with Beauty and the Beast as the castle staff performs a humongous production number about serving Belle dinner; unless she was eating it every time the camera cut away, she only gets to taste a couple dishes with her finger and eat the cherry off the top of a pie. It's sort of an unspoken rule in many musicals that you should just pretend the songs aren't part of the actual story. So either we're seeing the staff trot out all these dishes in front of Belle as they sing a grandiloquent, choreographed number about hospitality while in reality she's enjoying a quiet, satisfying meal as the staff wait in attendance, or Belle tried some samples during the performance, then had a proper meal afterwards.
  • Coraline:
    • The Other Mother prepares a feast for Coraline, but she only takes one bite out of a chicken leg before it's replaced with a cake, of which she doesn't eat any, either. May be intentional, though, as the food in the other world is probably all fake.
    • A later scene shows a big meal left on the table for Coraline. We don't see how much of it she ate, but she ate at least some of it and burped.
    • There's another meal Coraline doesn't eat any of, and some popcorn, and a disgusting meal in the real world. However, the fact that Other Father is the only one to eat any of this is Foreshadowing to his true nature.
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, a Running Gag has Theodore ordering food, only to be pulled away for some reason before he can eat it.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch franchise, the fat tourist never gets to eat his ice cream.
  • In Pinocchio, while at Pleasure Island Pinocchio and Lampwick are seen eating an ice cream cone and a pie and a whole turkey respectively, once they discover the tent for "The Rough House" (where boys go to fight) they toss the food away after only a few bites each, probably thinking they would get more later since everything was free.
  • Remy of Ratatouille cooked at least three different dishes in the first half hour of the movie yet always got interrupted trying to eat them. Indeed, it's only well after then that he gets to eat anything at all, when Linguini notices he looks dazed and gives him a piece of cheese.
  • The Emperor's New Groove:
    • After turning Kuzco into a llama, Yzma orders Kronk to take him out of the city and kill him. Kronk complains that they haven't eaten anything yet and manages to convinces Yzma to take dessert and a cup of coffee.
    • Played straight when Kuzco and Pacha go to the restaurant: Kuzco and Yzma simultaneously order meals but Pacha forces Kuzco to leave when he notices Yzma, telling the restaurant staff that it's her birthday so that they'll distract her by singing a birthday song to her. At least Yzma leaves the restaurant with a slice of cake.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie at the pizzaria when Foreman Spike mocks the brothers for entering the plumbing business and for their new commercial. He leaves the table leaving behind his pizza with only a quarter of it eaten.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In the first few minutes of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Petra demands orange juice from her servant as she is "dying of thirst", takes one absurdly small sip of it, and it is not seen again.
  • In Grosse Pointe Blank, this occurs when Martin Blank and Grocer meet at a diner. After being a complete jackass to the waitress about wanting a plain eggwhite omelette, he drops the plate on the floor when it arrives to distract Grocer (they both have guns on each other under the table) and leaves.
  • Played straight in The 51st State, when Felix gives the traditional dish of fish and chips to Elmo, who looks at it with disgust, promptly throwing it out the car.
  • The Wraith: the Sheriff has probably a couple bites into the standard fast food meal when the local troublemakers start kicking off, and he has to ditch it on the road to follow them.
  • Subverted in The Delinquent when John, after losing his job, goes to his father's garage with a box of his father's favourite roast duck. John's father assumes his son took a day off only to learn the truth, the subsequent arguement leading to John's father throwing the box - untouched roast duck and all - to the floor. John then leaves, but after that the father picks up the duck, blows off dirt, and takes a bite.
  • Defied in the movie Dirty Harry: Harry's too badass to give up his hot dog just because some guys are robbing a bank, and noshes on it while engaging them in a gunfight, not even dropping it after casually taking some stray birdshot to the leg.
  • In Run Fatboy Run, Dennis is given a gigantic plate of spaghetti and bolognese to carbo-load to train a marathon. He flatly refuses to eat it, and ends up regretting this after training is over.
  • In Home Alone, Kevin makes a nice big bowl of hot macaroni and cheese as a Christmas meal. He has just enough time to pick up his knife and fork before the robbers show up. He leaves the meal on the table and never touches it.
  • In I, Robot, Del Spooner accepts a cup of coffee, which he even prepares by liberally spooning sugar into. At the end of his visit, he thanks his host for the coffee, and leaves without having taken a sip. What's odd is that an earlier scene clearly shows him eating a whole pie, which foreshadows the fact that he has a robot arm which needs extra power. Presumably, he just forgot about the coffee.
  • The actor for Pansy Parkinson from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince once said in a magazine article that every new take they did of the Slug Club scene, she got a new piece of chocolate cake on her plate she could eat.
  • The classic kung-fu film One-Armed Swordsman features a lavish dinner at the end, which no-one touched because a group of vengeful, ruthless martial artists are coming to kill everyone.
  • Used comically in Our Man Flint, who goes to Marseilles and a series of restaurants, ordering bouillabaise to find a specific mix of ingredients he found as a clue — he repeatedly takes one spoon's worth, sometimes just smelling it, and asks for the check.
  • In the first Jurassic Park, no one eats the meal Hammond provides as they're too busy arguing over the ethics of cloning dinosaurs for fun and profit. (The scene also comes immediately after they were all shown a cow being devoured alive by velociraptors, so they might not have been hungry for other reasons.) Later, the kids also don't get to eat very much before the raptors enter the visitor's center and force them to run and hide. Hammond and Ellie do get to eat some of the ice cream before it melts, though.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, there is a whole scene about Sam cooking a rabbit stew for Frodo and himself (that really disgusts Gollum). However, we never see if they get to eat it or not before Faramir's men attack them.note 
  • In Signs, the characters go all out setting up a big feast with all their favourite foods, thinking it will be their last meal. However, they don't end up eating it because they spend dinner arguing and then the aliens show up to attack. Luckily, they all survive the invasion, so they live to eat again.
  • In Grease, in the second sequence at the Frosty Palace, Danny and Sandy each order a double Polar burger with everything on it and a cherry soda with ice cream. The rest of the group then shows up and settles at their table. But since Danny wanted to be alone with his date all along, the two of them just up and left without touching their food. To make matters worse, it's implied that they didn't even pay for their order; Frenchy was somehow stuck with a common check for the whole group (the others also ordered food, but at least they seemed to eat a little of it).
  • Martin Weir in Get Shorty goes to an extreme with this trope, making a big show of ordering an off-menu omelette and taking off before it arrives.
  • Dan in Mulholland Dr. is so preoccupied with telling his dream to his friend that he doesn't even touch his breakfast at the diner.
  • In Twister, Melissa orders some lemonades to go at a diner Jo's group stops at. In the midst of the commotion while everyone leaves to track the latest tornado, Melissa places the lemonades on the top of her car and promptly forgets them when she gets in the car; the drinks falling off when she begins driving.
    • Later on at the drive-thru, Jo orders some coffee for everyone, but never gets them because of the approaching tornado that bears down on the place.
  • In The Room (2003), Johnny makes sandwiches for his friends, but they never eat them. In The Room: The Game, the next day after making the sandwiches, they are rotten.
  • Conquest of Space (1955). The candidates for the Mars mission are pissed because they have to eat Food Pills in the same mess hall that everyone else is tucking into roast beef and fresh vegetables. In a Kick the Dog moment, a crewman is informed that he's washed out of the program when a steak dinner is served to him. Everyone watches in envy as he takes a bite...then he rushes from the room to be sick. Then all the other food gets wasted when meteors strike the Space Station, breaking the strings on one side and causing it to tilt, sending everyone sliding across the room.
  • In Pee-wee's Big Adventure, after the famous Breakfast Machine scene, Pee-wee pours some cereal on top of his breakfast, takes one bite of it and then leaves the table.
  • Back to the Future:
    • After arriving in 1955, Marty gets a cup of coffee at Lou's Cafe because it's the only thing they have without sugar, but as soon as he's about to drink it, he realizes George just left, so he runs off after him. Granted, Marty was only in the diner to look up Doc's whereabouts, and ordered a drink because the owner insisted he make a purchase.
    • Also in Lou's Cafe, George orders a chocolate milk and only takes a sip out of it before approaching Lorraine.
    • In Part II, Marty never gets to drink the Pepsi Perfect in Cafe 80s.
  • Zig-zagged in Avengers: Endgame. In one scene, Natasha prepares and starts to eat a peanut butter sandwich, but abandons it when Scott shows up at the door. Scott, mid-explanation as to where he went for five years, suddenly interrupts himself, asks whose sandwich that is and if he can have it, then takes it and starts eating it.
  • Birds of Prey (2020) has a literal wasted case, as Harley Quinn's favorite egg sandwich, described with mouth-watering detail, is splattered on the street when pursued by a cop and multiple crooks.
    Harley: (To Montoya) YOU KILLED MY SANDWICH!
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day has a running gag where the down-on-her-luck title character is continually trying to get something to eat, but is interrupted every time.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), after the bar fight, the food Tom had bought for himself and Sonic earlier falls off the front of his truck as they run from angry truckers. Sonic also never gets the buffalo wings he ordered.
  • Sudden Death have the terrorist takeover of an entire stadium, which includes the kitchen area. When the protagonist (played by Van Damme) fights a terrorist henchwoman in the kitchen, there's a still-active deep fryer full of French fries.
  • Greyhound. The Mess Mate keeps preparing a meal for Captain Krause, which he has to abandon as the convoy he's protecting is under constant U-boat attack and he's called to the Bridge to handle one crisis after another, fueled only by coffee.
  • Tenet uses this when the Protagonist meets Sir Michael Crosby. The Protagonist orders something, but their meeting finishes and he leaves right as the food is brought to the table. The food ordering and other parts of the scene show that the Protagonist is out of place in the super rich world of many of the other characters.
  • In the end of Men in Black 3 when J joins in with K at the diner. They leave the diner with uneaten and unfinished plates of pies on the counter before K almost forgot to leave a tip.
  • Vengeance (2010 Johnnie To-directed Heroic Bloodshed movie) opens with the massacre of Irene Costello's family, right when she's prepping lunch, with spaghetti and soup on the table while her children and husband gets blown away by assassins as Iren gets pumped full of lead. Irene's father, the Retired Badass ex-hitman Frank, investigates her death with three hired hitman roughly a week later and the food still untouched, with Frank actually stopping to help himself to some spaghetti (cockroaches on the food be damned).
  • Two examples in Bruce Almighty. Bruce orders some soup, which he proceeds to magically part. He then leaves with God, presumably without having any soup. Later on Grace makes him grilled cheese, and Bruce has one bite before leaving to avoid an awkward discussion.
  • In Speed, Jack abandons his coffee and muffin when the bus explodes as he approaches his vehicle.
  • In Mrs. Doubtfire, Miranda gets very angry and upset and leaves the restaurant with the kids in fury leaving behind their barely touched dinners when Daniel's Latex Perfection disguise was revealed after performing a Heimlich Maneuver as Mrs. Doutbtfire on Stu.
  • In Identity one of the motel guests makes a big deal getting snacks out of the machine as she is hungry. There is no further scene of her eating them. This is later explained when we learn the snacks, the machine, the motel and all the guests were never actually *real*.
  • In The Batman (2022), when the cops storm the diner to arrest the Riddler, he mutters "I just ordered a slice of pumpkin pie" before they grab him and haul him off. He also leaves his drink behind with question mark drawn in the foam.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    • During the Mad Tea Party, Alice is always offered some tea, but something always prevents her from drinking any.
    • Despite attending a banquet in her honor in the sequel, Alice still doesn't get to eat - as soon as a dish is placed before her she's formally introduced to it, at which point it would be rude to eat it (and the food's quickly taken away after the introduction in any event).
  • Deliberately played straight with Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat. The title character states that he does this deliberately with tea and coffee because he likes the way the warm beverage feels. Naturally, being a vampire, he can't actually drink it anyway, so it's always wasted.
  • Same thing happens in Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends. Jody, a newly-turned vampire, has realized her body will automatically reject food and drink. So when she has dinner with Tommy, she only orders a coffee and just spends the meal "contemplating" it.
  • In Flowers for Algernon, Charlie pays for a meal without eating it after seeing how the restaurant treats a slow busboy.
  • All-American Girl (Meg Cabot) has Sam, who is such a picky eater that she only really enjoys eating hamburgers, the dark meat from turkey or PB&J sandwiches. When she gets invited to dinner at the White House with the president's family, she avoids eating majority of the food by arranging it into neat, artistic piles to create the illusion of having eaten and throwing several pieces into her napkin.
  • This happens all the time in American Psycho. A lot of the action takes place in high-class restaurants, where course after course is brought and usually left untouched. This is used to emphasize the extremely materialistic and wasteful natures of the characters.
  • In Twilight, Bella learns that the Cullens buy lunch every day to put up appearances of being human, and then toss them out. She even watches Alice dump her entire lunch uneaten. Why the vampires bother is a mystery, since it's a lot more conspicuous to throw away completely uneaten lunches every day than to simply not eat one and let onlookers assume you've already eaten or plan to eat later.
  • Near the end of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, we see Silas — whose exact nature is strongly hinted at, but never specified — and Bod in a restaurant together. Bod has pizza; Silas orders a green salad which he pushes around with his fork, and a glass of water with which he moistens his lips.
  • In "Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington" there's a scene where several of Honor's senior officers look on in wonder as she builds a rather impressive sandwich to fuel her overclocked Heavyworlder metabolism — that she gets to take one bite from before the general quarters alarm sounds, sending them all rushing off to their action stations, and leaving the sandwich dumped on the floor.
  • In the Saki story "The Chaplet", a gourmet chef watches in horror as this happens to his entire meal because of a violinist playing a popular tune. He loses it when the violinist starts an encore, dragging him offstage and drowning him in a soup tureen.
  • The Robotech novelization milked this for all it was worth, giving a nearly Food Porn-ish description of the steak dinner Ben Dixon leaves behind as he heads out on his final sortie. He even tells it "I'll be right back!"
  • The emergency worker version of this is discussed in one book of The Bobbsey Twins where Freddie and Flossie are Playing House and, right after Flossie puts "dinner" on he table, Freddie declares that there's a fire and, as a fireman, he needs to toss the dinner out the window so he can go to the fire.
  • In the first Gaunt's Ghosts novel, the General in overall command of the theater had a samovar of recaff large enough that he could have given a cup to every single soldier under his command. In his first scene, he takes a sip from one cup, declares that it's gone stale, and orders the entire samovar dumped out and refilled with a fresh batch. The soldier that goes off to fulfill this order actually spits in disgust at the General as soon as he's out of sight.
  • One 90s children's photo book, by Scholastic, was about a fire station. The firefighters make a delicious-looking meal of spaghetti and meatballs. They sit down, and then they get an alert. But it's okay, they leave the dog to guard it.
  • In the Dean Koontz novel Darkfall, Jack Dawson and Rebecca Chandler spend a good amount of time in the latter's kitchen making roast beef sandwiches and soup, but then stop halfway through to go have sex. Even after sex, they never get a chance to return to the food because first Rebecca tells Jack about her Dark and Troubled Past, and then they have sex again, and then bad guy Baba Lavelle sends a poltergeist to trash the room For the Evulz. By the time they're rushing off to save Jack's kids Penny and Davey, who Lavelle had threatened, the sandwiches and soup are forgotten about.
    • A couple of more literal examples occur earlier in the book. Mafia thug Ross Morant is making sandwiches for himself and his boss when he gets attacked by demonic little goblin things sent by Lavelle. Although his death isn't explicitly described, the condition of the corpse is described later on as being "in a mess of blood, mayonnaise and salami." Penny Dawson also packs her little brother Davey a big lunch, includng oatmeal cookies, but the critters get into Davey's lunchbox at school and tear everything apart, rendering it (at least in Davey's opinion) inedible.
  • Justified in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The mother, son, and daughter in the desperately poor Nolan family allow themselves one cup of coffee per day as a treat. Daughter Francie loves the warmth and smell of her coffee, but not the taste. Rather than someone else drinking the coffee or telling her she can no longer waste good coffee and money, the family understands Francie's daily coffee as a rare small pleasure they can afford and let her pour it down the sink when it grows cold.
  • In the historical novel Rise to Rebellion, while King George III is discussing the Boston Tea Party with General Gage, the king asks for some tea, which a servant promptly brings him. Then the king continues his discussion without touching the teacup, until he notices that it has gone cold, so he asks for some tea, and the servant brings him a fresh cup while taking the untouched cup away. As General Gage leaves, the king asks for a third cup of tea to replace the second cup, which he had not once tasted. Gage only notes this in terms of how diligent and efficient the servants are to be able to fulfill the king's wishes literally at a moment's notice, rather than the waste of always having a kettle on in case the king gets thirsty, and the king not bothering to actually drink what they serve him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in one episode of 7 Days (1998). A victim of the week must be prevented from eating his poisoned sandwich (several times, thanks to the "Groundhog Day" Loop). This requires far more elaborate schemes than what most of this page would imply. A later iteration of the loop has a now-deranged Parker simply taking his gun out and demanding that the victim put down his sandwich. He doesn't want to. Several death threats to multiple people later, the victim finally agrees to abandon his meal.
  • Played with in Adam-12 on occasion. Played straightest — and painfully hilarious — in the episode where Reed's wife has him on a diet.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Simmons makes a sandwich for Fitz as he's going on a field mission with Ward. When Fitz is about to eat it, Ward throws it away thinking the fancy, aromatic sandwich is unsafe in a place filled with Angry Guard Dogs sniffing around. Fitz spends the rest of the episode visibly (and sometimes audibly) angry about this.
  • There is a color episode of The Andy Griffith Show in which Gomer and Barney are at the bar of a diner. No sooner has Gomer's (very substantial) sandwich been placed in front of him does Barney get some wild hunch about some sort of emergency that the two of them need to address. As Barney drags Gomer off his barstool and out of the restaurant, the latter pleads "But, Barn', mah sandwich!" as he takes his first and last bite from it.
  • Happens about every episode of Baantjer. Detective De Cock almost always gets his "Eureka!" Moment in a local bar, causing him to promptly leave his drink behind and go arrest somebody.
  • In Big Bad Beetleborgs the three kids frequently order a pizza at a local restaurant. They rarely, if ever, managed to take even a single bite of the pizza. Something always came up. Monsters appeared, Flabber paid them a visit through the pizza, etc.
  • The Big Bang Theory averts this trope most of the time, while they are shown having a conversation while eating, they actually do eat at least some of their food. In the background, however, you can usually see the extras poking around with their food but never taking a bite.
  • Both subverted and played straight in Bones, as the characters often seem to eat the food they order, whether coffee or hot dogs (in fact, John Francis Dailey sometimes has trouble with eating berries and getting them in his teeth), but occasionally seem to run in and out of the Royal Diner at random without eating what they order, ordering anything, or waiting for their order to arrive, often ending with a completely different person sitting at the table than the ones who originally sat down to order.
  • The second-season Boy Meets World DVD set included some commentary about the scenes where characters had to eat something. They point out how the actors would stir their breakfast cereal to create the appearance of eating without actually putting anything in their mouths.
  • Zig-zagged in a sketch by Abbott and Costello in The Colgate Comedy Hour. The joke is that Costello is supposed to eat a hamburger on which a thief has secretly stashed a stolen diamond necklace. The only problem is, he finds it too hard to scarf down an entire burger for real and, being on live TV, suffers a total fit of corpsing. (At one point toward the end of the sketch, you can see him turn to Abbott, gesture helplessly at the burger, and between giggles clearly mouth the words, "I can't do it!")
  • This happens so frequently on Criminal Minds that it's a Running Gag. As soon as the order arrives, they've got a case. Justified when the untouched order is alcohol because they have to work. Occasionally lampshaded, especially by wine connoisseur Rossi.
  • CSI: NY:
    • When Mac has his first get-to-know-you meeting with his stepson, Reed has a soda in front of him. Halfway through their conversation, he pulls the paper off the straw and takes one sip. As he thanks Mac for it upon leaving, the full glass is in plain view.
    • Justified in season six. Mac has introduced Dr. Aubrey Hunter to his idea of the "perfect slice" of pizza. As they're walking down the street discussing its merits (she doesn't exactly agree with him), a young boy across the way is shot. They take off running to help and she tosses the slice, with only one bite missing, into the nearest trash can.
    • After Ellie skips school to find her birth mother in season 7, Jo takes her for a walk to talk about it and buys her a milkshake. Ellie takes one sip, declares it to be terrible and hands it back to Jo who throws it away.
  • In an episode of the Doctor Who serial "The Sea Devils", the Third Doctor eats a sandwich that was set out for the Master while sword-fighting with him, thus averting this trope.
    The Doctor: I always find [grabs the sandwich] that violent exercise makes me hungry. Don't you agree? [takes a bite]
  • Justified in Emergency!, as calls coming in during a meal isn't uncommon. While they hypothetically could have wrapped burgers or sandwiches for later, it's possible that regulations prevent it, and they definitely can't eat while answering calls, so the stuff often gets left behind.
  • In the Father Ted episode, "The Mainland," Ted and Dougal are taking a break at a restaurant after a frustrating outing at a Cave tour, Dougal especially is starving. Just as their orders are brought in. Ted gets a phone call that Ms. Doyle has been arrested and needs to be bailed out. He pulls Dougal away just as he's bringing the food to his lips.
  • Appears a number of times in Get Smart, usually when Max is eating lunch with a KAOS/double agent, or the target of an assassination. Often subverted in the latter case.
  • Happens many times on the Gilmore Girls, the prime offenders usually being the titular girls at Luke's diner no less!
  • In one scene of the Grey's Anatomy episode "(Don’t Fear) the Reaper", Ben is buying hot dogs on the street when he gets a call from Webber about Miranda Bailey's situation. There's actually an entire scene that shows him throwing the hot dogs before running off.
  • In one episode of the Spanish police soap Los Hombres de Paco, after Curtis interrupts lunch between Pepa and Silvia by deciding to sit down with them subsequently ordering salad, takes one forkful of it, eats it then dabs his mouth with the paper towel and leaves after saying his piece to the two women. Bonus points for having the nerve to recommend it and presumably leaving them with the bill!
  • The first Home and Away DVD showed us why this happened: The food was all props to make the fridges appear stocked. It is, however, especially noticeable thanks to the fact that the modern Summer Bay includes a diner and a restaurant (that used to be a bar).
  • On House, a non-food service example tends to occur, the characters are constantly having lunch at work. And by "having lunch at work," mostly meaning "getting out food and sitting in front of it while it gets cold, at work."
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Best Burger in New York City," the characters abandon several burger meals because they realize that they're not "the best burger in New York City" that Marshall discovered years ago. Everybody but Robin (who hasn't eaten for a day and whose food always arrives just before they rush out) at least takes a few bites of the burgers before Marshall declares it the wrong one.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider 555 has the main characters do this a lot in the beginning. Partially justified for the main character, who is "cat-tongued" and has to blow on his food for a while before he deems it cool enough to eat. They usually pay, though.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard has sugar donuts as a Trademark Favorite Food and has to snack regularly to fuel his magic. That doesn't mean he can finish such snacks on-screen, though.
  • Subverted in a The Kids in the Hall sketch: two policemen are eating in a diner when they recognize three other customers as wanted criminals, who realize that they've been spotted. They immediately start racing to finish their meals before beginning the chase.
  • An inversion on Lost: one of Kate's flashbacks involves her enlisting the help of a con woman in order to see her mother, who works at a diner. The con woman is sitting at the diner and orders a bowl of chili, which she intentionally spills all over Kate's mother when she brings it to her so that she would have to go into the back to clean up, where Kate was waiting for her.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye gets called into surgery just before he even has a chance to eat the wondefully-prepared meal he spent an entire episode trying to get served.
  • Hilariously subverted in the first episode of Murderville. Terry takes Conan O'Brien to a Mexican restaurant that a witness works at as a server, raving about how good the food is. Terry loads up Conan's food with a ridiculous amount of hot sauce and won't let the scene proceed until he eats some. Even the server, who's literally sobbing over her recent breakup, gets in on pressuring Conan into eating as much of the hot sauce drowned food as she can before she answers all his questions while he struggles to concentrate on the interview.
  • Invoked on one episode of NCIS where Gibbs throws DiNozzo's food out of the window of a moving car while he's eating it as "punishment" for not thinking hard enough about the case.
  • Odd Squad: A rather interesting example occurs in "The Confalones" when Otto uses about 20 pounds of spaghetti, in the shape of a mountain, in order to deliver the episode's mathematical Aesop of rounding numbers to the cooks at the titular restaurant, which he refers to as "Meatball Mountain". Despite eating numerous plates of food that the chefs of the restaurant cook up for him and eating the meatball of Meatball Mountain once he's done with his lesson, he never so much as touches the 20 pounds of spaghetti.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Happens often on Miss Brooks. Many episodes begin with Miss Brooks having breakfast with Mrs. Davis. Often enough Walter Denton joins them, proclaiming himself willing to eat another breakfast. However, you rarely see anybody eat more than a few bites or Miss Brooks take a few sips of coffee. The trope is carried over to scenes in the Madison High School cafeteria, where teachers and students talk far more than they ever eat.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Happens fairly often, particularly in the Zordon-era: one or more members of the team is about to have lunch, usually in the Juice Bar, when the call to action comes in, and they have to leave, leaving the food unfinished.
    • Parodied in one episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers where Rocky shows reluctance at having to leave his Dagwood Sandwich at the last second for a Ranger battle, and then when he and Adam race to get back to it afterwards.
    • Emphasized in one episode of Power Rangers Turbo where Bulk and Skull (who are currently monkeys, due to the curse inflicted upon them in an earlier episode) notice the left-behind sandwiches and rush over to eat them.
    • A running gag on Power Rangers RPM is that Flynn will prepare a smoothie, but never get to finish/drink without being called into duty.
    • And again in Power Rangers Megaforce where Jake orders a smoothie for Gia (and pays for it) and is about to give it to her before he gets called away for duty.
    • The Trope is not played for laughs in one episode of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Mike befriends a young woman and invites her to a restaurant, but has to leave quickly to help his allies deal with the Monster of the Week before he can eat his hamburger - lucky thing too, because she's actually Trakeena in disguise, and poisoned it. She tries to do the same thing later with a glass of juice, but by then, he's onto her.
  • The Professionals has the version where Bodie and Doyle have to throw away food or drink because they're called into action. Being a Big Eater, Bodie shown to be the one most annoyed at this.
  • Six Feet Under: In one storyline, David and Keith were taking care of Keith's niece Taylor, considering getting a custody of her. One morning, they all have breakfast together. Taylor's plate is full and she barely touches anything. Keith gets angry for some reason and promptly sends her to brush her teeth and get ready for school. Perhaps she suffered from a weak stomach or was too nervous to swallow anything, but what if she wanted to eat it?
  • Skins have a scene where the resident anorexic teenager shows how she manages to go through a family-meal without taking a single bite. It was as impressive as it was scary. This scene starts at 2:03 of this collection of clips about her.
  • Subverted in one Sledge Hammer! episode where the protagonist is buying a "sushi dog" from a vendor when an alarm rings. Although he complains that he "can never enjoy a sushi dog in peace", he hangs onto it and eats it after dealing with the perp.
  • Southland sees four officers order fast food...then have to leave it behind when they're called to an incident.
  • In the "Groundhog Day" Loop episode of Stargate SG-1, "Window of Opportunity", O'Neill keeps finding himself in the middle of breakfast with Daniel Jackson asking him some question he can't remember. The scene always begins with O'Neill about to put a spoon full of Froot Loops in his mouth. The props department later said how they had to glue the Froot Loops to the spoon because they just knew the fans would notice if they differed from loop to loop.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, there are too many occurrences to count of characters ordering a drink or a meal in Ten Forward or in their quarters, only to leave it untouched because they get called elsewhere or decide to leave the table because of an argument.
    • Before a meeting with Admiral Nechayev in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Journey's End", Picard lays out tea with her favorite snack, Bularian canapés. Although she appreciates the gesture, neither of them consumes anything apart from a sip of tea. However, in the later episode "Preemptive Strike", it's implied that the canapés were eaten after all.
      Nechayev: No Bularian canapés this time, Captain?
      Picard: I thought twice was pushing it a little.
      Nechayev: It's just as well. They're extremely fattening.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Throughout the episode "Accession", Bashir and O'Brien order several beers from Quarks — and never finish any of them.
      • In "You Are Cordially Invited", O'Brien and Bashir are participating in Worf's bachelor party, the Path to Kal'Hyah, which to the average human is less a bachelor party and more a series of tortures chased with a days-long fast in the middle of an underground sauna. When Worf and Jadzia have a spat and it seems the wedding is off, they make a break for Quark's and have a Food Porn ordering montage and are seconds from digging in before Sisko finds them, tells them the wedding is back on, and tells Quark to take the food away (with no refunds).
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Cloud", Janeway's replicator flubs, and she can't have her daily coffee. Neelix offers her a "better-than-coffee substitute" (which has the viscosity of honey), but a communicator call pulls her away before she can have a sip. Subverted as she is relieved that she was called away.
      Chakotay: [over the comm] Bridge to Captain Janeway.
      Janeway: I'm on my way!
      Chakotay: [once Janeway arrives on the bridge] There was no need for you to come to the bridge.
      Janeway: Yes, there was.
    • One episode of Star Trek: Enterprise features Trip as acting captain, who takes advantage of the generosity that he is able to dole out by inviting two crew members to dinner in the captain's dining room. All three of them are presented with their favorite dishes, which remain untouched when an unexpected incident requires Trip's attention. As a starship captain, you are never off duty...
  • The Story of Tracy Beaker, where every meal turns into a food fight. Except one incredibly satisfying scene in S4 E4, where all the kids eat burgers with mayonnaise and cheese and ketchup.
  • Stranger Things: In "The Monster and the Superhero", Dr. Owens redirects Eleven into a highway diner so he can explain the situation back in Hawkins. By the time the waitress gets there with their food, they've both left.
  • Supernatural has the boys almost never taking a bite of the diner food they so often order. Dean in particular never gets to eat his pie. Subverted once as a plot point when Castiel, who as an angel never eats or drinks anything, immediately starts noshing on the burger Dean's decided not to eat. Subverted in Season 8, when the boys have to ditch some burgers that Dean made to get to work, and Sam comes back for his.
  • Twin Peaks:
    • Maddy joins Donna and James at the RR Diner and requests a Vanilla Coke, which James fetches for her. After engaging in some dialogue, they all depart with Maddy's full soda glass left untouched, the wrapper not even taken off the straw beside it. This has gained some notoriety in the fandom.
    • Cooper and the local law enforcement visit the Log Lady, who insists that they all sit down for tea and cookies. She then insists that they wait for the tea to steep and not have any cookies until the tea is ready. Once they start asking her questions, the whole tea arrangement is forgotten.
  • Happens often in the earlier episodes of Two and a Half Men, "Big Eater" Jake nearly always leaves most of his food, once even leaving an entire hamburger.
  • In an episode of Upstairs Downstairs Richard Bellamy accepts a glass of beer from the chauffeur while visiting in his domain. He never touches it— destroying the intended effect of accepting hospitality.
  • In the third episode of The Way of the Househusband's Live-Action Adaptation, Tatsu orders a coffee and Halloween pancakes, and spends several minutes taking pictures of it. He then leaves the cafe with Masa and the waitress, without taking a bite.
  • The West Wing has this trope in spades, usually because they have "lunch meetings" that only last, for plot purposes, about four minutes. One particularly egregious example had Toby ordering, the people he was talking to ordering, the people he was talking to telling him important information, and Toby leaving immediately and completely forgetting his steak.
  • An episode of Whitest Kids U Know ends in a troperiffic sketch taking place on the back of a moving school bus where one character gives half of his sandwich to the other, who throws it out of the window. The driver ignores this, but gets angry when the two start calmly discussing democratic socialism in philosophical terms, with calamitous effect.
  • The Wire:
    • In the second-to-last episode of season 3, Jimmy McNulty is so disgusted on realizing that Theresa D'Agostino is trying to pump him for information on Major Colvin's Hamsterdam project that he abandons their dinner/hook-up without even tasting the wine in front of him, in spite of being a borderline alcoholic. In this case it's half this trope, half O.O.C. Is Serious Business.
    • In a similar vein, while participating as part of the educational reform program, Colvin takes a group of his most-improved students to a fancy restaurant. They are so nervous and out of place that they won't touch any of their food, and immediately grab some fried lake trout after they leave.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "I Do, I Do", Christian Harrison is eating a hamburger when some thugs show up across the street. He rushes to aid Wonder Woman, but neglects to put down his burger first. The show usually doesn't pay attention to details like this, but much to their credit they do show his burger getting thrown to the ground in the ensuing fight.

  • Dragnet had this happen, occasionally. In "The Big Dance," Ben Romero, Firday's partner, managed to cook the best Spanish omelet that he had ever made, but duty calls.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is common for vampires in both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem. Vampiric digestive systems can only process blood, so they can't eat at formal events. Part of the Masquerade is learning the slight-of-hand needed to keep people from noticing you never eat — and a suggestion for botching a social roll in Vampire: The Masquerade was for the other guests to realize exactly that.
    • At least in Vampire: The Masquerade, some vampires have the ability to keep human food down for a couple hours, though they would eventually have to vomit it back up. Some Nosferatu with this ability even managed to weaponize it by projectile vomiting on their enemies.
    • One story has the vampire narrator mentioning a disgusting alcoholic beverage called a Rusty Nail that the mayor's ghoul servant favors. Later on the ghoul becomes a vampire himself. The narrator still pours him a Rusty Nail when he arrives, as a sentimental gesture, so he can hold it and still feel human.
    • At least one Bloodline is based entirely on having the power to eat and drink.

  • In the British comedy sketch Dinner for One, the butler James serves her mistress Miss Sophie a plate of Mulligatawny soup, chicken, North Sea haddock, and finally some fruit, all of which comes with an appropriate wine. All this goes so fast on stage, however, that Miss Sophie barely gets to eat anything, and James carries most of it away again (and sends some of it flying when he trips over the tiger hat). Also, Miss Sophie doesn't drink nearly as much as James, but then again, drinking half as much as James may already be hazardous, for a 90-year-old lady no less.
  • Street Scene has a tragic variation. Mrs. Maurrant tells Mr. Buchanan she'll make some chicken soup for his wife, who just gave birth the previous night. A while after this, she lets Sankey come up to her apartment, and when her husband arrives home unexpectedly early he shoots them both. A policeman investigating the murders smells the chicken still cooking and turns the stove off.

    Video Games 
  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: The opening cinematic has Komaru Naegi sitting down to breakfast in her Gilded Cage when she hears someone at the door and thinks it's a rescue party. It turns out to be a killer Monokuma robot, and in all the excitement she completely forgets about her meal.
  • In Dragon Quest XI, if you do a Party Talk with Serena immediately after sailing from Gondolia, you'll hear about how she was about to eat the last of the Gondolian cakes she had bought when it was suddenly snatched away by a seagull.
  • Eternal Evil: One of the abandoned houses still have plenty of food lying around, from loaves of bread to pizza to a nearby pan still cooking with oil, but since everyone in the area's a zombie the food's untouched.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Subverted in one mission, which has you go to a drive-thru restaurant, only to be attacked by Ballas after you've got your food. This doesn't stop Big Smoke from enjoying his food instead of shooting at them since he's also working with them.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: When you first meet Zaalbar, he's waiting for his food to get in. Mission orders him to come stand up for her when she gets bullied by a couple of Black Vulkars. Zaalbar complains about how his food just showed up, but does it anyway. Then, after a brief conversation with the main character, Mission tells Zaalbar they're leaving. When Zaalbar complains that he still hasn't gotten to eat his food yet, Mission just brushes him off and says they'll get something to eat at the Hidden Bek base.
  • Paper Dolls have the Yin Mansion's Master Bedroom with a lavish feast spread out, including a whole roast suckling pig, plates of assorted snacks, and several kinds of pastries, but entirely untouched. The food is meant for appeasing the spirits (based on Far Eastern Asian ancestral worship) after all.
  • In Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, after Bob's murder, Tom Ravell buys his coworkers drinks at the Dreaming Tree. Except everybody else besides Curtis Craig leaves before he comes back with four glasses of beer.
  • In Resident Evil 6, during both the opening and ending cutscenes of Chris' campaign, the same dish (steak with potatoes and veggies) ends up being partially eaten before the one eating it gets up and leaves.
  • In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, you quite often end up interrupting nazis (especially officers) while they've got piping hot meals on their tables. This is to your advantage, for both In-Universe and gameplay reasons.
  • In The Sims series, serving a group meal will always result in 8 or so servings, no matter how many people actually live in the house. Leftover food WILL need to be thrown away before it goes bad. Fortunately, one of the later expansions for The Sims 2 allows you to put the leftover food in the fridge and eat it later. In The Sims 3, if food gets thrown out before it spoils, the Sim responsible will end up feeling bad about wasting food.
  • Slaps and Beans: The first stage opens with the two main characters, Bud and Terence, cooking beans in a pan on an outdoor fire before they're interrupted by some mooks. Trying to simply enjoy their meal, one of the mooks kicks the pan over, leading to a fight (using the pan as a Frying Pan of Doom) but after the first stage Bud then complains their meal is ruined.
  • In the manual comic for Syd of Valis, Yuko is the middle of eating pudding for lunch when she hears the urgent voice of her late friend Reiko, and has to set out on her new adventure without finishing her pudding.
  • Troublemaker: One stage sees you on a dinner date with your girlfriend, Sophia, after defeating one of the bosses, Gian, but your meal is interrupted when Gian's underlings challenges you. Ever the gentleman, you tell the thugs to take it outside, and halfway through the battle Gian arrives, and turns out to be a Graceful Loser who's oblivious that his minions are after you, ordering them to leave. You then part with Gian on good terms, but there's no indication you or Sophia finished your meals.
  • Undertale: At one point, Sans takes you to Grillby's for a burger which you never get to eat. If you talk to Grillby after the conversation, he remarks "your food is probably cold by now".

  • Dead Winter: Monday and Liz meet while Liz is still a waitress, but Monday spots some of his adversaries outside and disappears without eating...or paying. Liz eventually gets payback.
  • Drowtales: During a peace negotiation, Zala'ess offers Quain'tana a bottle of high-quality liquor, which Quain proceeds to pour on the ground to make a point, something Zala immediately lampshades by lamenting that with everything going on they probably won't see such quality hooch again for quite a while.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Sarah orders an ice cream sundae, Elliot joins her, they talk about their relationship, and she leaves without eating it (it's strongly implied that Elliot leaves without eating it either).
  • Megatokyo: This is done repeatedly with Miho Tohya's food, which fueled speculation about what exactly she is. It was practically a reveal when she was first shown to actually take a bite of something, six years into the comic's run.
    • It's equally strange that Ping — who is a robot with a literally photographic memory — doesn't notice Miho's untouched cake, but Piro (the notoriously oblivious) does.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-2076, a phenomenon where posters appear across Illinois, appearing to be some publicity campaign preaching Meaningless Meaningful Words or just Blatant Lies that readers take at face value. One example said that "feeding" cardboard boxes with baked potatoes helped endangered Golden Lion Tamarins, but when people filled those boxes, all the potatoes ever did was rot, with no effect on any tamarins' survival rates.
  • In the Caillou The Grownup episode "Caillou Goes On A Date" after he scares off his date by acting like a bratty manchild, he goes home and picks up a pizza because she left because he threw a fit about not wanting to eat anything on the menu at the restaurant, when he tells his parents that she left, his dad tells him she left because he's a whiny, petulant, brat who throws temper tantrums, he throws the pizza on the floor without eating any of it and retreats to his room.
  • Three episodes of DEATH BATTLE! are caused by this trope. In Leonardo vs. Red Ranger Jason, Jason accidentally bumps into Leo when the latter is eating a pizza, causing him to drop it. In Genos vs War Machine, Rhodey is trying to enjoy a cup of coffee while flying when a shockwave from one of Genos' attacks blowing up a mountain causes him to spill it. In Beerus vs. Sailor Galaxia Beerus confronts Galaxia because when she blew up Earth she also inadvertantly vaporised the God of Destruction's ice cream along with it.
    • A fourth episode features this trope; Agumon's sitting there peacefully roasting a marshmallow over a campfire when Red's attempt at capturing him makes him drop it. Agumon's not happy about this, but the actual fight doesn't start until Tai shows up, at which point Red seems to treat it as a battle between Pokemon trainers.
    • A similar instance of this also happens in a DBX matchup between Ben Tennyson and Danny Phantom where in both endings, a slice of pizza that Danny and Ben were fighting over ends up ruined anyway.
  • Fat TV's video "Joker Kitchen - Crazy Hamburger" has The Joker assemble a gigantic hamburger using ingredients from around the world. When he's finished, he says he's going to eat the hamburger, only to throw it into a nearby river.

    Western Animation 
  • In Bob's Burgers, Bob talks a bank robber down to giving himself up on the condition that he goes to Bob's restaurant across the street and tries one of his burgers. After awkwardly maneuvering a huddle of hostages across the road, the guy has about one small bite of a burger, does a lot of talking, and then makes a run for it.
  • Occasionally happens in Code Lyoko. Most notably, the heroes sometimes order coffee from the machine and end up throwing it away due to an emergency. Odd doesn't like this, though, and once spends a whole episode complaining that he didn't have time to eat.
  • Daria: Happens occasionally in the later seasons at the local pizza place, due to Daria stealing Tom from Jane. This leads to arguing and untouched pizza. On one occasion, Daria is left sitting there alone and depressed. She takes her drink and pours it on top of her pizza, having clearly lost her appetite.
  • Once per Episode in Detective Bogey, the Mexican restaurant owner will cook a tortilla on the house for his pal police commissioner, only for the latter to leave in an emergency, prompting the former to eat the tortilla himself.
  • Droopy has an odd case of this in a Cartoon Network original short "Thanks a Latte". The Wolf refuses to give brewster Droopy a tip, so Droopy starts doing his usual "The Cat Came Back" shtick, suddenly appearing every time the Wolf tries to stay far, far away from him. Eventually, Droopy annoys the Wolf into submission and he pays Droopy with lots of money before jumping out through an airplane toilet. Droopy interprets the Wolf's action as this trope, as he left his latte behind while retreating.
  • In The Flintstones episode "The Swimming Pool", Wilma serves Fred a sandwich and a drink while he's relaxing at the pool. Barney then shows up to practice spear fishing, but accidentally spears Fred's innertube instead. Barney grabs Fred's food and drink just as Fred falls into the water, comments, "No use wasting the lunch," and eats the sandwich.
  • In the Futurama episode "Roswell That Ends Well", Fry and his suppose-to-be-Grandfather order a coffee and meal respectively from Fry's will-be-Grandma, but after panicking over the potential hazards inherent in the diner Fry and co. run out before ever receiving their order. Notable for showing the will-be-Grandma's upset reaction to this.
  • Done in Garfield and Friends of all places. In the episode "Nighty Nightmare", as Garfield eats the lasagna, the national guard says the Grand Canyon was being filled with chicken gumbo in case Garfield wanted soup. That's never mentioned again.
    • Its successor show, The Garfield Show, also did this sometimes. For example, in "Garfception", Garfield's dream starts with Jon making Garfield infinite lasagna. He eats some lasagna, but most of it isn't eaten as he gets interrupted by everything being fine for him, which is especially weird because Garfield loves lasagna. His nightmare starts with Jon having made lots of food that had raisins (in this case, it's justified). Also, in "Furry Tales Part 2", the ending song shows Garfield and Odie getting some food, and then it shows everybody dancing, with the food on the table completely full and untouched(or maybe it's just a time skip).
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Love God", two characters order some chili fries at a local diner. The food gets spiked with a Love Potion; they each eat one fry, fall hopelessly in love, and leave without eating the rest. Admittedly, magical interference is a better justification than in most cases, but it's still a little sad.
  • Justice League: Two rather harsh examples of wasting food occur in the episode "The Brave and the Bold". At the beginning of the episode, Flash is flirting with two girls, with enough food for ten people (given how high his metabolism is, he always eats like that). However, duty calls, and he has to leave it unfinished to stop a runaway truck. Later, he orders about twenty hamburgers from a vendor, but again is called to heroics when Solovar steals a car, leaving them uneaten.
  • King of the Hill: In the episode "Raise the Steaks", Hank has made a submarine sandwich from the meat he got from the organic market, but before he has a chance to enjoy it he is interrupted by a phone call from the hippies who run the store and leaves it behind.
  • Looney Tunes: Tex Avery's 1936 cartoon Page Miss Glory has a scene of an obese man demanding service, followed by three waiters rushing and piling food on the man's table. The man takes just a bite out of an olive and leaves.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Plagg is often about to eat some cheese when Adrien forces him to transform. Of course, Plagg is either about to eat cheese or eating cheese in just about every scene he shows up in.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic provides a literal sandwich case in "The Ticket Master"; Twilight Sparkle, who never gets to eat anything throughout the episode, is given a sandwich at the cafe, yet it starts raining but Rainbow Dash keeps the clouds over open in favor of getting the only extra ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala. Twilight strictly asks Rainbow to close up the cloud immediately. She does so, and Twilight gets rained on...just when she is about to eat her sandwich. To top it all off, throughout Twilight's entire conversation with Rainbow, she never takes one bite of the sandwich as she talks to her.
  • The Real Ghostbusters has a subversion in the opening credits. Winston is shown about to enjoy a burger when the alarm rings, and he drops it to get to work. However, the burger doesn't go completely to waste: Slimer gobbles it up.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the Thanksgiving Episode, it is both played straight out loud and averted in a home-based example. Mr. Burns is seated in front of a spread for easily a dozen people or more, yet only has a few slices of turkey since he's saving room for Smithers' pumpkin pie.
    • In "Lisa's Pony", after letting Lisa down, Homer orders her a "Mount Bellyache" at the ice cream parlor, a sundae so enormous that the clerk has to bring it to their table with a wheelbarrow. But Lisa is so upset, she only eats one bite of it and says she's done.
    Homer: Ohhhh, that cost 88 dollars!
    • From the "Mr. and Mrs. Simpson" segment of "Treehouse of Horror XVIII", while Homer and Marge are aiming weapons at each other (with Marge having pulled hers out of a pie):
      Marge: How could you be an assassin and never tell me?
      Homer: How could you ruin that pie?
  • South Park: Often in cafeteria scenes, the boys are interrupted by something before they can finish their lunch. One occasion has Cartman quickly eat his food before he leaves, and another occasion has Kyle throw away his untouched food after an argument with Cartman.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In the episode "Together Breakfast", Steven went through a series of complicated events to get the rest of the Crystal Gems to eat his stack of waffles together, culminating in said food turning into a monster. At the end of the episode, after defeating the waffle monster, the gang makes an identical stack of waffles, and when they finally sit down to eat it... they change their minds and decide to order pizza instead because the new waffle stack reminded them too much of their fight with the previous one. As they put it, "it did try to kill us."
    • The episode "Catch and Release" averts this, as Amethyst just eats her entire pizza (including the box) in one bite before jumping into action.
    • "Storm in the Room" gives a lot of screen time to a bowl of mac & cheese that Steven prepares while home alone. Due to his discomfort with a painting of his mother on the wall, Steven decides to eat his food outside, only for a storm to immediately hit, with his macaroni getting rained on and acquiring some leaves. He then winds up disregarding his now-ruined meal and entering his room in the Crystal Temple to search for answers about his mother. After he returns, he is too distraught to eat, and the episode ends with Greg and the gems returning home with a pizza that Greg goes so far as to place on top of the macaroni bowl.
    • "What's Your Problem" has a scene in which Steven and Amethyst sit down to share a pizza heaped with "literally all the toppings", while talking about various important things. They only eat a small amount of their pizza before leaving the restaurant.
  • Teen Titans (2003) has a rather cruel example in the episode "Titans East". Cyborg rewards his new team, the titular Titans East, by making spaghetti with his delicious looking sauce made with beef, pork, and chicken. Unfortunately, Brother Blood chooses this exact moment to activate the latent Manchurian Agent programming he planted in the Titans East, forcing Cyborg to throw the spaghetti aside in his attempt to restrain them.
  • Tom and Jerry: In "Jerry's Diary", Tom is prompted by the kindly radio host Uncle Dudley to be kind to Jerry. Tom does so by planning to give Jerry a box of candy and a pie. His attitude changes after reading Jerry's diary; he angrily kicks away the candy, presumably ruining it, and hits Jerry with the pie when the mouse finally arrives.
  • Young Justice (2010): Subverted in an early episode where Batman and Superman are having a talk about Superboy after ordering some dessert. After Bats tells Supes that the kid needs his father, Superman angrily storms out... but then tells the waitress that he'll take the pie to go.

    Real Life 
  • Incidentally, can easily be Truth in Television for business meetings and interviews held during a meal. You never want to get caught with your mouth full of food when asked a question, you can't eat hurriedly (not proper), and you can't hold up everyone else while you finish the current course. Very painful if you were brought up believing that throwing away food was one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
    • Fortunately, today's increasingly casual business world means it's no longer uncommon for bosses or clients to say "Alright, now let's eat" once the important stuff is finished.
    • Office lunch presentations often include meals provided by the person presenting (who usually works for a different company and is trying to sell something). The presenter invariably brings too much food and some of it usually gets thrown out (or sometimes gets left in the break room, where people who didn't attend the presentation eat it). There's also a second problem for the presenter: often The Snack Is More Interesting and most people present aren't paying all that much attention to the presentation.
  • This happens all the time. It's called breakfast and a clock.
  • If you're in a job that requires you to be 'on duty' your entire shift, such as police officer, security guards, firefighters, etc., you're gonna be this trope. That said, the police do have radio codes that indicate "Out of Service - Meal (Give Location)", such as a 10-63 in the NYPD, or 10-7M in many California police agencies.
    • Firehouse Dog is a children's photo book about the workings of a fire station. It showed the firefighters preparing a delicious-looking meal of spaghetti and meatballs, and sitting down to it, only to be interrupted by a callout. Their dog guards it while they're out.
    • A famous Murphy's Law corollary for emergency workers:
      1: No matter what time it is, the next call will come in right when you're ordering food.
      2: Always order everything "to go."
  • A common trick among Basic Training instructors in the US military is to declare "You're done eating when I'm done eating" while their recruit trainees file into the mess hall. The instructor will then pick up something small, like an apple, and start to eat it. This causes the recruits to rush through their meal and very often leave half of it on their trays.
    • Similarly, requiring trainees to finish eating at the same time. If one guy finishes eating first, everybody else has to grab their trays and leave. If the table that sat down before yours finishes, you are finished as well. This forces trainees to be aware of each other's actions and work as a team. Or it causes the one out-of-touch member of the team to be hated and singled out by the others.
  • You have about 20 minutes from the minute something gets into your stomach to when your brain tells you you're full. If you're a slow eater or just pile on at an all-you-can-eat place, this may happen. Fortunately, some buffets allow you to take some food to-go at an additional cost, subverting the trope.
  • According to folklore, Gavrilo Princip, the man whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand helped spark World War I, retreated to a Sarajevo cafe after his group's first attempt to kill the archduke resulted in them blowing up the wrong car, and was in the middle of eating a sandwich when the car containing the archduke and his wife suddenly happened to drive past, having taken a wrong turn on a trip to a local hospital to visit the victims of the earlier bombing. Princip quickly abandoned his sandwich, went outside and fatally shot the archduke and his wife — and considering he was arrested within moments, it's a fairly good bet that he did not have the chance to go back and finish his sandwich.

Alternative Title(s): Ordering Wastage, Dining Without Eating


Kirito's Sandwich...

...It was innocent!

How well does it match the trope?

4.79 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / LostFoodGrievance

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