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Too Desperate to Be Picky

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"Beggars can't be choosers."

Sometimes, people just can't be fussy when it comes to getting what they need. Everyone Has Standards, but some standards just aren't worth suffering for. That goes double when said standards are about things like food and clothing; when it comes down to survival or being choosy, most people would choose survival.

As such, there come times when a character would do anything to satisfy a physical or emotional need. Hungry characters will be willing to Eat Dirt, Cheap if it means they can get something in their stomach. A person desperate for a friend will be willing to win over the first person they see on the street, personality and common interests tossed out the window. Someone who needs medical attention will be more likely to trust the Snake Oil Salesman with a supposed "universal cure" than someone in better shape.

In general, this trope happens when a character is in serious need of something related to their own well-being, or occasionally someone else's, to the point that they'd willingly do something that would otherwise be highly unpleasant, or even risky. When the choice is something moral, you have I Did What I Had to Do. The trope is most often used when a character is desperate for food or water, but it's not the only scenario.

Often Played for Drama, but can be Played for Laughs.

In certain situations, this trope might overlap with a few others, including: Closest Thing We Got, in cases where, for example, a wounded character has to get help from a dentist because it's all they have; O.O.C. Is Serious Business, if a character violates their own set standards in an act of desperation; No Party Like a Donner Party, if they're resorting to cannibalism to stave off starvation; and One-Track-Minded Hunger.

Compare Too Hungry to Be Polite, Moment of Weakness, and Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Might result from Would Rather Suffer, Anything but That!, or Exhaustion-Induced Idiocy, and may occur to people living After the End. Supertrope of Dog Food Diet and Reduced to Ratburgers. When not even the fact that they are desperately needy will make someone accept a certain kind of donation, see this trope's inversion: Even Beggars Won't Choose It. See Choosy Beggar for the opposite.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Fruit of Evolution:
    • Hiiragi Seiichi is forced to consume a number of potentially deadly mushrooms, herbs, and grasses in the early chapters, because he's stranded in the middle of the wilderness with nothing but his wits to survive on. It luckily pays off for him when it leads to him stumbling across the titular Power-Up Food.
    • In a later chapter, whilst riding the talking donkey Rurune, the two end up being chased by monsters... unfortunately, Rurune's massive appetite leads to her running out of energy right at that moment, forcing Seiichi to feed her the ten fruits of evolution he has in his possession so she can be revived to get them out of trouble. This ends up causing her to evolve into a human girl.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: Downplayed with male lead Fuutarou Uesugi, whose rather precarious economical situation has led him to like anything so long as it is edible. This has led to several comical situations, like when Miku gets into a Cooking Duel with Nino, and he compliments both dishes equally, and in a later chapter, he eats some croquettes that Yotsuba thinks look more like stones and doesn't find tasty at all.
  • Rebuild World: Comes up a lot, there’s even a name for it, paying "The Wasteland Price".
    • It's mentioned that hunters can't be picky about their Nanomachine Healing Potion because of how much they need it to patch wounds and stave off exhaustion while fighting. So they're often forced to buy whatever medicine they can find because of how difficult it is to verify its effectiveness.
    • When Sheryl starts a food truck business with Katsuragi's help, she's able to overcharge for the hot sandwiches she sells due to bringing the trucks all the way out to a construction site in the wasteland. The construction workers and hunters present have no options besides her food and whatever they brought with them, allowing her to reap a handsome profit.
    • The Mad Scientist Yatsubiyashi offers discounts in exchange for being subject to his experiments, specifically setting up a clinic in the slums knowing he'd get a lot of experiments done. In his field clinics, he over-charges and demands hunters do missions for him in exchange for a discount on their treatment, too. While those that don’t accept are stuck in debt or are left to brave the journey back to the nearest base while injured.
  • Inverted in Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. Shizuka steals Akira's bike as part of her attempts to "hedge her risks" while making a supply run. Although he's initially worried by his lack of transportation, he manages to find a moped nearby to make his escape, calling it an upgrade to his old bike. Then he manages to get his hands on an even more expensive abandoned Harvey-Davidson motorcycle, which has him screaming with joy as he roars down the road.

    Comic Books 
  • The Transformers Megaseries by IDW Publishing: True Energon is/was a finite resource and all but completely used up by the time the Transformers bring their war to Earth, and mention is made of "foul local brews" i.e. versions of Energon made using locally available fuels. They taste awful, but the Transformers don't have much of a choice. Later in The Transformers (IDW), several human factions somehow learn how to refine actual Energon which is much more pleasing to their palette.
    • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye later introduces "pink alchemy": a process that turns the lifeblood of organics into a reasonable facsimile of Energon. It's such an inefficient process that it apparently needs the blood of thousands of organics to make enough Energon to fuel a small group of Transformers. Unsurprisingly, it is a Decepticon innovation.

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter is dropped into Izuku's universe with nothing but the clothes on his back and his web-shooters. He has nothing to subsist off of other than a portion of Izuku's allowance, forcing him to get creative to carve out a living. He hacks into a local radio tower for cellular service, lives out of an abandoned amusement park, and tells Izuku to mix up web fluid in class since neither of them has the cash or equipment to make it otherwise.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: The title character in "The Coyote" says he'll happily leave Bolt's yard if the dog can spare him anything to eat, even if it's leftover spaghetti tossed into the garbage.
    Charlie: Look — I’ll make it easy for you. If there’s any way — any way at all you can spare me a mouthful of food and a sip of water, I’ll be on my merry way. Anything will do. Honest.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Grand Order: For a period of time, C.C. is the closest thing the Chaldean staff has to an actual cook, but only ever makes pizza, often with... "interesting" ingredients. When Lelouch asks Genghis Khan how he can eat C.C.'s attempt at a "breakfast pizza", Genghis responds that spending so much of his life campaigning taught him not to be a picky eater. He'll take whatever he can get.
  • Down And Out: When she realizes that she doesn't have the medical knowledge needed to treat Simon's injuries, Grace is forced to hunt down Amelia.
  • From Bajor to the Black: Lieutenant (JG) Kanril Eleya is stuck putting together an acting flight crew for her light cruiser Kagoshima after most of the senior officers are killed or incapacitated during a Borg surprise attack. She ends up with a torpedo officer from another ship handling weapons, one of the lower-level engineering officers as chief engineer, and an ensign who likes to play holodeck sims of Operation Return at the helm.
    Eleya: (facepalm) Fine, we don't have time to be picky. Ahead full.
  • In the Turning Red fanfic The Great Red Panda Rescue, Mei is kidnapped and given to eat what is only described as "mush" but she eats it anyway as she couldn't recall the last time she had eaten anything.
  • Help Wanted: After a group known as the Tolsarans offer help against Thanos in exchange for deciding what to do with the Infinity Stones afterwards, Steve questions whether it's a good idea to trust a group they know nothing about with the Infinity Stones. Nick Fury tells him and the other Avengers point-blank that Earth has literally no hope of winning without the Tolsarans and they are to do whatever the aliens ask of them without question.
    Fury: Let's make this clear, all of you. We need this. We’re all going to die if these people don't help us. So yes, we're going to trust them. We're going to do whatever we need to to get them to help us. I expect all of you to kiss their asses as much as necessary. I don't give a damn if Thor walks out of that ship buck naked and asks you to tap dance for him, you will do it. If he wants you to sit on the front of his ship like a hood ornament through the invasion, you will do it. If the Queen says she wants you to marry her, you will damn well do it, because that's what the world needs from you, you understand? This is not the time to start doubting. You will wipe that uncertainty off your face and you will bow down if they want, you will be polite and respectful, you will address the Tolsarans however the hell they want to be addressed, and you will do anything they ask of you. Are we clear?
  • In Karma in Retrograde, Touya Todoroki isn't picky about what he wears or eats. He buys and wears casual clothes that make him a Rummage Sale Reject were cheap and comfortable because his Quirk would destroy them rather quickly. He prefers quantity over quality when it comes to food because his Quirk is constantly burning through his energy reserves, forcing him to keep eating to avoid starving. He also has no issues with getting things from a Dumpster Dive because of how thrifty he is, shocking his younger brother Shouto.
  • Moonshadow: After being betrayed several times in rapid succession — first by Eda and King, then Kikimora, Odalia, and the various coven heads — the Collector finds themselves forced to trust Eda again. They really don't want to, but have no other choice... not if they want to have any chance of avoiding being captured.
  • Early in My Abominable Monster Classmates Can't Be This Cute!, Jaune eats Zwei's dog food as he hasn't eaten in a few days and currently has no way to get any food that's safe to eat (Grimm hybrids eat raw meat).
  • My False Love Academia: When setting up an Arranged Marriage with the Green Valley Yakuza clan, All for One needed to find a teenaged girl whom he could adopt with a villainous temperament, who was in the right age range to be set up with Izuku. The only one Giran found for him that met all his criteria was Himiko, leaving him no choice but to pick the "blood-obsessed lunatic" to become his adoptive daughter.
  • Panem Reborn: Rill declares right before finishing off Sorrel that winning the Hunger Games will no longer have to eat rotten shellfish just to keep herself alive.
  • In Risk It All, Ren knows that entering the shady VIP room in an illegal casino is a bad idea, especially when he knows he's Born Unlucky. But the hope of coming home with a sack of cash large enough to solve all of his family's money problems is too much for him to pass up, so he agrees to go in in violation of his own common sense.
    Ren: I knew, deep down, that I was making a mistake as stepped through the doors, but it was a mistake I couldn't afford to pass up. If there was even the slightest possibility that it was real... In one afternoon, I could make every penny that I needed. I just needed the chance and this could be it.
  • This Bites!: Even though Devil Fruits taste horrible, Soundbite ate the entire Noise-Noise coconut regardless.
    Soundbite: I was a lone snail IN A DAMN JUNGLE! I ATE MY food whenever it came TO ME, NO MATTER THE TASTE! Sue me!
  • A less urgent but slightly comical example of this occurs in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fic Understanding Unknowns; after Kira and Odo have a child, they select Vic Fontaine as the godfather on the grounds that he's the only person in their close social circle who doesn't regularly receive death threats, while they cite the example set by the Doctor (Star Trek: Voyager) as proof that a hologram can be a godfather.
  • Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse: When Ukyo attempts to serve up a Masochist's Meal, she fails to gross out either Ranma or Ryoga. Ranma casually notes that as he spent his life wandering the wilderness with Genma, who is a) a firm believer in Training from Hell, b) a cheapskate, and c) of somewhat middling competence, he's lived his whole life eating whatever he could get his hands on, from scraps out of the garbage to offal and vermin. Ryoga begrudgingly admits to having had to endure eating similar food, due to his propensity for getting lost away from civilization for weeks at a time, but he's far less blithe about it than Ranma.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deadtime Stories: Volume 2: In "The Gorge", three spelunkers are trapped in a cave. More than a week into their ordeal, they find Gary's backpack which had been buried in the rockfall, and wolf down the bananas and sandwiches from inside; even though they are going mouldy. Later, they are reduced to eating hibernating bats to survive.
  • The Force Awakens:
    • After crash-landing on a desert planet and making the trek to a remote outpost, Finn is thirsty enough to choke down water from an animal trough, gagging all the while. The trough is even being used by some hideous, runny-nosed pack creature at the time.
    • When Finn and Rey have to escape Jakku, they first run to a perfectly good ship... which gets destroyed seconds later. They're forced to go with the "junk" ship nearby, that "hasn't flown in years," just to escape their enemies. Luckily for them, it turns out to be the Millennium Falcon.
  • Jungle: Yossi is lost in the jungle and starving and willing to eat anything he can get his hands on in order to survive. Best demonstrated when he cracks open two eggs he found and eats the unhatched baby birds he finds inside. He forces them down, bones and all. He is visibly disgusted by his actions but does it anyway.
  • A Knight's Tale: After his breastplate is cracked in a joust during his first tournament, William goes to several smiths hoping to find one who'll fix it on credit. With no money and no guarantee that he'll win any, he's directed to the (female) farrier, who, admittedly, turns out to be a pretty darn good smith after William picks at her professional pride to get her to help him.
    Male smith: Beggars cannot be choosers, milord.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): Billy Batson becomes the inheritor of the wizard Shazam's powers not because he was proven worthy, but because Shazam is about five minutes away from dying and Dr. Sivana had just gotten the power of the Seven Deadly Sins, so he needs a new holder that his spell deems potentially worthy right away, regardless of whether Billy is truly fit for the position.
  • Spawn (1997): The homeless boy Zack and his father have little recourse but to eat out of the garbage they find. Zack himself draws a line at eating rotten, maggot-infested food, but his father does not.
  • Venom (2018): When he's newly infected by the Venom symbiote and doesn't know how to manage its appetite, Eddie gets so desperate for food that he eats raw chicken scraps out of the garbage and live lobsters out of a tank in the middle of a restaurant.

  • Beast Tamer: Due to bad blood between humans and fairies, Sora is suspicious of Rein Shroud when they first meet. However, her sister Runa is also in danger by a minion of the Demon Lord, is being held hostage with the condition of her release being the removal of the barrier protecting the barrier, citing The Needs of the Many her fellow fairies have refused to help, and the minion was highly resistant, if not outright immune, to their magic. Because of this, despite her distrust of humans, she asks Rein for help to rescue Runa because there was nobody else to call.
  • Churchmouse Stories: Church mouse Peter tells the parson's new kitten Gabriel that he ate an entire hymnbook at one point because of his hunger, despite disliking it. Luckily, before much longer, the problem is solved.
  • Life of Pi: Pi describes this happening to him as he tries to survive adrift at sea. Though a pacifist and vegetarian, he soon is slaughtering fish and turtles for food and getting moisture by drinking the animals' blood or sucking out their eyeballs. He notes that in a true life-and-death situation, humans find themselves capable of doing just about anything to survive. In both versions of the story he tells, he eventually resorts to cannibalism out of extreme need.
  • Played straight and discussed in The Most Beautiful Moment In Life: The Notes. Namjoon's family settled with living in any place as long as it 1. had a hospital for his ill father, and 2. gave a job to Namjoon (who, being a minor, had to drop out of high school to work). Namjoon himself and an unnamed coworker were the most desperate employees in an already highly competitive environment (a delivery service in a small village), going for the most difficult and dangerous jobs under minimal-to-nonexistent security measures to earn just a little more money, which ends up leading to the coworker's death, to which the town reacts with little more than apathy. Namjoon hates that poverty reduces people to this, making them give up things that should be precious.
  • Reincarnated as a Sword: This is how Fran and Teacher met. Fran was forced by slavery magic to fight a two-headed bear and needed a weapon, any weapon, damn the consequences, or she'd die and he's just happy that someone pulled him out of the ground after being stuck in it for a month.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero, Naofumi initially buys the sickly and weak Raphtalia from a slave trader because he needs a way to damage enemies to grow stronger, and she's all he can afford.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • During Brokenstar's time as leader of ShadowClan, his warriors spent all their energy battling rather than hunting, so cats resorted to eating the rotting crowfood left in the Carrionplace.
    • Clan cats prefer freshly-killed prey and find pet food disgusting and degrading to eat, but there are times when some of them are on journeys and don't have time to hunt, or else are being held captive by Twolegs, so they end up eating it anyway to keep their strength up.
    • Similar to the pet food example, Clan cats will only shelter in abandoned buildings when absolutely necessary, such as in the second book when a storm kicks up as WindClan travel home.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fawlty Towers: Played for Laughs in "The Kipper and the Corpse". Dr Price orders Basil to have the kitchen scrubbed before any more food is prepared there, as a dead body has been in the kitchen. However, as he is desperate for his own breakfast, he adds "sausages excepted, you may cook them immediately, I'll take the risk".
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command, Part II", Gul Madred has captured Captain Picard and is torturing him for information. One method is by starvation. One morning, Madred comes into Picard's prison with a "taspar" egg for himself and one for Picard. Famished, he opens the top of the egg, only to find it does not contain a cooked yolk and white, but a dead, unpleasant, slimy, cooked-spinach-looking creature. With no other real choice, Picard downs the contents.

  • The Bible: "A person who is full tramples on a honeycomb, but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet." (Proverbs 27:7)
  • Famously, Islam forbids the consumption of pork, dog meat, or alcohol (the word "haram" means "forbidden"). However, in desperate situations (e.g. no other source of nourishment is available), then a Muslim is permitted to consume any of the aforementioned in order to survive. Refusing to do so to the point of dying is viewed as a Senseless Sacrifice since a dead Muslim can no longer pray or do good works (but crucially is not viewed as suicide).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech: This trope came to define Inner Sphere militaries during the later Succession Wars. After the First and Second Succession Wars lead to all-out warfare with Warships, massive planetary invasions and strategic bombing of infrastructure, often using Orbital Bombardment or use of nuclear weaponry, a lot of the Inner Sphere was devastated economically, militarily and population-wise, with all of the Successor States reduced to shadows of their former selves. Desperate to fill their frontline units with battlemechs, any battlemechs, led to the unboxing and massive deployment of 'mech designs that had long since been mothballed or relegated to police or militia duties, like the Urbanmech, Charger and Rifleman, to frontline units.
    • The chaos in the Jihad had lead to supply shortages, and the lost of many equipment and mechs. This resulted in the rise of Retrotech, where manufacturers build mechs that are low tech, or are based on a Flawed Prototype. But were easier to build with the parts locally available, and didn't rely on exported weapons to be assembled. With the war raging almost everywhere, armies and MechWarrior's are desperate enough to take any mech they can get into the battlefield.
  • This trope rears its ugly head in the Traveller adventure "High and Dry", where the player party is given the ultimate prize: a free starship (usually, any ship the players acquire either in creation or during play comes with a mountain of debt, is on long-term loan, or has been gained in a manner that raises legal complications). This adventure counts on the players being both gullible and Too Desperate to Be Picky. The ship is free, but the players have to go to the caldera of a dormant-but-still-active volcano to fetch it. And the previous crew pretty much trashed the ship. And if that's not bad enough, just as the party gets the ship into working order, the volcano is ready to erupt. Finally, the referee is encouraged to remember that the ship's previous crew were ne'er-do-wells who burned a lot of bridges in the subsector... For all that, they'd have to be damn desperate to go through with the ordeal.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: This very trope leads to Litchi making one of her hardest decisions in the game's story. His friend, Arakune, was mutated from the effects of the Boundary and becomes an Eldritch Abomination, and as a doctor, she tried everything she can to find a way to cure him, including giving herself some Boundary corruption in order to understand his condition more. But that gets her mind slowly being deteriorated, with the risk of becoming just like her friend; she tried finding help from her old colleague Kokonoe, but the latter refuses, saying that Arakune's condition is basically irreversible and Litchi shouldn't corrupt herself in the first place. This gets Hazama's attention, who tempts her with a potential cure within the NOL's technology, in exchange for joining his side. As she's out of options, she reluctantly takes his offer, even with her knowing that Hazama is hardly trustworthy. This makes her part of the antagonist side, which continues to the third game; she does, at least, seem to be better off condition-wise, but Arakune's problems remain even then.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The initial job questline (Level 30-50) for Machinist revolves around Ishgardian society frowning on firearms for being untraditional. The first step in Ishgard's acceptance of machinists comes when a Dravanian brute descends on the Skyfire Locks in central Coerthas; the man in charge of assembling their forces (who happens to be your job tutor's father) allows the Skysteel machinists to participate in the defensive effort by simple dint of having far too few knights to put up a decent fight.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: Some of the jobs Sol can take are explicitly offered by people so desperate for extra hands that they will take any applicant who isn't horribly underqualified. The job for tutoring the younger children can be allegedly taken on by "anyone who isn't a complete idiot."
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, after the brothers defeat Cackletta, she needs a new body for her soul to stay alive, desperately telling Fawful that anyone will do when he finds one. Unfortunately for Mario and Luigi, the body Fawful found was Bowser, which gives her a huge boost in resources and power.
  • Some of the Pokémon Munchlax's Pokedex entries mention that because it's so desperate to consume its entire weight in food every day, it is completely indifferent to flavor.
  • Road 96: The player is a hitchhiker with limited resources and will usually end up doing disgusting things to survive, such as digging through trash cans and eating rotten food.
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty: The Protoss arrive to sterilize a colony of Zerg virus-infested humans, but are willing to let Raynor purge them himself (opposed by Dr. Hanson, who's desperately looking for a cure). Going with the Protoss results in Hanson sealing herself in the lab and injecting herself with the Zerg virus to try and find the cure, transforming herself into a Half-Human Hybrid before getting put down by Raynor. The canon choice is fighting the Protoss (in which case the infestation is limited to a few people, rather than several settlements in the non-canon branch).
  • Wolfenstein 3-D: Eating food restores your health. The character's not too proud to eat dog food to get health back. If you're under 10% health, you can even drink a pool of blood to get 1% of your health back. There's a particularly gruesome slurping sound effect when this happens.
  • Yummy Breakfast: The more Susan eats, the more desperate she gets. It starts out normal, with pancakes. She soon resorts to having soup for breakfast. When that doesn't work, she realizes she needs meat, and eats, in order: A dried fish, a raw, live chicken, and a person. She can also eat a rabbit if the player interacts with it, admitting that she's hungry enough to justify it.

    Visual Novels 
  • The protagonist of Melody doesn’t initially want to take a job tutoring a college student, but the location does give him some things to be happy about - and he really wants to get away from Bethany.

    Web Novel 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: Jamie eats food discarded in dumpsters and tells Graham that he'll eat anything. Graham infers that this is because the street boy has no dependable food source.

    Web Videos 
  • Alantutorial: During his time lost in the wilderness, Alan posts videos of himself eating from dumpster bags and getting his water from eating snow; of course, they're framed as tutorials teaching his audience how to survive being homeless in the woods. Later, Alan becomes desperate for the money given to him by his captors and willingly gives up his own free will to make tutorials for them in return, even though he was initially insistent on defying them.
  • Game Grumps: In the "10 Minute Power-Hour" episode "Making TIE DYE!", Ryan gets sent out to find tie-dye materials. He ends up wandering for a while, becoming confused, hungry, and thirsty. He digs out of trash cans, spends some time looking for extremely cheap food including a mention of a homeless shelter, and manages to end up lost in the desert, where he resorts to drinking from a waterfall and eating leaves off of a tree.
  • The Human Pet: Eric gets so hungry and thirsty while he's trapped that he scarfs down cat food and drinks bleached pond water, despite the humiliation and risk. It's especially dangerous because the "menu" was chosen by the viewers; if he was given the wrong thing, it'd kill him anyway.
  • Jacksfilms: The joke of "All I Want for Christmas is a Girlfriend" is that Jack is so desperate, he'll take literally any girl, so long as she's single.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Invoked in "Just the Two of Us!" When Timmy continuously gets passed over by Trixie, he ends up wishing he was the only other person besides her and his fairies on the entire planet. After avoiding him the rest of the episode, she's forced to spend time with him, but the sudden isolation has seriously taken its toll on her sanity, forcing Timmy to revert his wish.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: In "The Grundel", after unplugging Egon's machine to keep it from making noise, Peter returns to the bedroom to find Slimer asleep on his bed. He declares that he's not that tired and walks away...before admitting that, yes, he is, and returning to stretch out next to the ghost, regardless of the slime.


Video Example(s):


Tea Party

S'mores tries to hide in a girl's room, and finds himself disgusted by the girly decor. However, he gets the idea to use it to disguise himself as "Miss Tibbles, Queen of the Tables". Unfortunately for him, the girl who finds him sees right through his disguise and gets ready to eat him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisguisedInDrag

Media sources: