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"Skinny people irritate me! Especially when they say things like "You know, sometimes I forget to eat!" Now, I've forgotten my address, my mother's maiden name, and my keys, but I have never forgotten to eat. You have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat."—Roseanne Barr, in one of her early stand-up routines
This trope describes a character who's notorious for ignoring their body's need for nutrition and has to be reminded to eat. They'll go out into the wilderness without food supplies, and will forget dinnertime at home because what they're doing is so much more interesting. Sort of the opposite of Big Eater, especially if the character doesn't quite suffer all the ill effects of poor nutrition.
This is in fact Truth in Television, as workaholics and others will become so engaged in something that they do in fact, forget to eat. Isaac Newton was famous for being so obsessive-compulsive about his work, that he would work hours and hours while neglecting to bathe or eat. Because this is common among obsessed gamers, Anti Poop Socking had to be put in place in many games. There is actually science behind this, as the nervous system has the digestive system slow and close up if a person is under stress. Nobody wants to stop for a bathroom break or snack when being chased by a bear.
Anime and Manga
- In the earlier chapters, Naruto begins training from early morning way into the night so he usually doesn't have time to eat. Sasuke has to keep reminding him to eat.
- In Slayers Try, Lina and the group decide to immediately set sail for adventure... only to remember later, after they're stranded at sea, that they forgot to bring food. Cue them pretending to be dead so they can catch seagulls.
- Van in Gun X Sword regularly passes out from hunger because he's so preoccupied with catching the Claw.
- Fanon says this about Subaru Sumeragi of X 1999, only adding to his Woobie quotient.
- This was definitely true when he was younger, at least according to his sister.
- Dr. Tenma from Monster has a tendency to do this often enough that even complete strangers start worrying about it. At one point, a restaurant owner gave him free soup and refused to let him leave unless he finished it. Not too much later, his stomach decides that it doesn't like this strange and scary concept known as "food", and he throws up.
- Given he's had to be reminded to speak out loud, blink his eyes, and breathe, this almost certainly has happened to One Piece's Gedatz.
- Inverted hard when it comes to Luffy. He's able to both eat in his sleep, and instantly calculate how many meals he's missed as a result of sleeping for more than a day.
- Ren from Skip Beat tends to do this. Justified Trope since he was often forcefed as a child by his Beloved Smother to the point that he was unable to breathe, and has since slid into this because he's a workaholic.
- Damaramu, of Dragon Half, was so eager to follow the King's orders to hunt down Mink that he hadn't fed his mighty stomach for three days! He still has the strength to lift a boulder over his head and engage in a swordfight.
- Before Misaki moved in to his apartment, Usami of Junjou Romantica used to spend days at a time not eating or sleeping whenever he was up against a deadline, sometimes to the point of collapsing on his living room floor.
- Nodame of Nodame Cantabile sometimes compulsively needs to play the piano and neglects everything (taking a shower, sleeping, eating) in order to do it, despite being a Big Eater.
- Episode 16 of Gankutsuou reveals that Franz has been going a few days without eating or sleeping much while researching stuff on Gankutsuou and the Count.
- Albert does this from time to time.
- Shuusei Usui from Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru.
- Both Spanner and Shuuichi Irie from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. They're so focused on their work that they tune out everything.
- In Hidamari Sketch, Sae is like this when she gets into the groove of writing one of her novels. She eats a lot to make up for it afterward, which doesn't sound healthy to Yuno, and Hiro agrees.
- Roux from The Good Witch of the West forgets to do this to the point of collapsing so Firiel brings him food.
- In The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, Human Yuki forgets to eat, and her neighbor Asakura Ryouko has to feed her.
- Amuro Ray of Mobile Suit Gundam is first seen tinkering in his bedroom, having forgotten to eat for a couple days and ignoring evacuation sirens. This is not the last time it happens.
- Batman, much to Alfred's despair.
- Iron Man: Tony Stark, whenever he's in his lab. Occasionally, people have had to argue with him in order to get him to come out and eat something -- not, actually, because he's being a jerk, but because he is in the middle of working on something, and seriously, just give him a bit longer, he just wants to get this part finished and then he'll come right up, he swears.
- After being brought back to life in Blackest Night, Boston Brand, the former Deadman, has to be reminded by his power ring to "eat a cheeseburger" in Brightest Day. Being dead for so long has made Brand forget that he actually needs to eat again.
- The fictionalized version of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. After some Character Development, he asks a student how long it's been since he's eaten.
Live Action TV
- Jack Bauer in Twenty Four.
- So he goes without food for one day in each year? Big deal.
- Possibly justified in that if he had to eat he'd probably have to poop at some point too. And Jack Bauer does not poop.
- Stargate SG-1 fanon has Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson often needing to be reminded to eat, though there is some basis for this in canon.
- Many people in Stargate Atlantis fandom seem to think the same of Rodney McKay, but looking at how much he loves food, and the fact that his (apparent) hypoglycemia would have made him extremely careful about such thing, this troper finds it hard to believe.
- Spock from Star Trek the Original Series, occasionally. While never shown, in "Amok Time", McCoy uses the fact that Spock hasn't eaten for three days in an attempt to convince Kirk that something is wrong, and Kirk dismisses it as simply being Spock in one of his contemplative phases.
- Another example is "The Paradise Syndrome", where Spock hardly eats for weeks while studying the obelisk.
- This happened to Gil Grissom of CSI once. He spent so much time at a crime scene that one of his co-workers had to rummage something from the fridge at the scene just to get him to eat.
- Criminal Minds
- Averted with Reid, the most likely candidate for "absent-minded professor," never seems to stop eating, especially when he's thinking. If there's junk food to be had anywhere in an unfamiliar police station, abandoned house, or crime scene, he will find it. Although where he puts it all is anybody's guess.
- Discussed by Reid about his schizophrenic mom.
Reid: My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic who'd forget to eat if she wasn't properly medicated and supervised.
- As per his literary counterpart, the BBC version of Sherlock often goes without eating while on cases. On one occasion, he refuses a meal because "digestion slows me down". It's a sign of John's positive influence that during the second series, Sherlock can be seen eating proper meals and snacking between the action.
- Harry Potter tends to do this during meal time at Hogwarts as a result of anxiety and chaotic thoughts.
- It could also be the fact that he was malnourished by the Durlseys and doesn't really think about eating out of habit or, once again, due to malnutrition isn't usually hungry
- Jame in Chronicles of the Kencyrath never remembers to eat, and is skinny as a rail with ribs showing. Justified in that the mutant vegetables she had to eat growing up would put anyone off food.
- Sherlock Holmes occasionally gets so wrapped up in a case that he doesn't bother to stop for food, and in one, he deliberately starves himself for several days in order for a plan to work properly.
- Astrophysicist Jacob Buckman in The Mote in God's Eye. He meets Horace Bury in a ship's corridor. Horace wonders privately what an autopsy at that moment on Buckman would show as cause of death... exhaustion or malnutrition?
- In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor has a bit of a habit of this. Mostly when he's angsting, but also when he's doing science. His companion Fitz once brought three meals a day to his door when he was locked away angsting. For four days. They all went uneaten. Somewhat justified by the fact that as a Time Lord he apparently needs to eat less than a normal human being. Also, judging by the descriptions of him in the books, he's lost weight since his sole TV appearance. In one book, while he's already under the weather for several other reasons, his companion Anji has to remind him to eat:
‘Do you want some food? You haven’t eaten in days.’
‘That’s right,’ he said wonderingly, as if she’d made a point that hadn’t occurred to him. ‘You know, I bet that’s one reason I feel so bad.’
- A Mad Scientist with Asperger's Syndrome in a Robert Ludlum novel The Sigma Protocol, who has only two modes: on his meds, he remembers to eat and sleep. Off his meds, he concocts insanely brilliant schemes and invents wacky contraptions. (There are currently no medications for Asperger's with that sort of side effect, but just roll with it. Sounds closer to the side effects of medication to treat bipolar disorder.)
- Happens to Vanyel Ashkevron in the Last Herald Mage trilogy when he's on the front lines. His friends and family are stricken by how thin he looks when he returns, and clothes don't fit him well; his replies to questions about it lampshade this trope.
- In Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure series, Adam Reith at one point realizes that the reason everybody else is so cranky and tired is that they haven't eaten in two days, and by extension, neither has he.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Melisandre often forgets to eat. Because she doesn't need to. But that freaks people out, so she tries to remember.
- Colin from An Abundance of Katherines doesn't think much of eating.
- Planet of the Apes, a young man suffers this after the apes did a partial ablation of the frontal brain. It left left him unable to recognize his favorite food. He sits propped up against a wall with a trough of food below his chin, and only is confused by it. He only eats when a apes shoves his head into the trough.
- Both Erk and his mentor Lord Pent in Fire Emblem 7 have done this, the former actually passing out from both this and a lack of sleep at one point in the past (which really displeases his adoptive mother and Pent's wife, Lady Louise). Lord Athos does this as well, though his case is justified in that he's over a thousand years old and "surpassed the needs of flesh".
- Shapers in Geneforge have been known to focus on their research so much they forget to eat, sleep, and bathe.
- Selphie in Harvest Moon: Rune Factory Frontier. She's an avid book-lover who often Forgets to Eat, and one way to reliably increase her Affection Points is to give her foods she can eat on the go with a single hand, like sandwiches and rice balls.
- Gaius in Rune Factory 3 forgets to eat or sleep when he's working at the forge. Raven mentions at one point that when she went to him for a job, he'd been working for six days straight and was close to collapsing.
- Metal Gear Solid: While he doesn't exactly forget to, way too many people feel the need to remind Big Boss of eating through the course of the game.
- And in MGS fanon, this is a popular explanation of how Otacon stays as skinny as he is when he spends most of his time in front of a computer.
- Baldurs Gate 2 lampshades this in one of its loading screen tips (quoted from memory): "While your character doesn't have to eat, please remember that you do. We don't want to lose any players."
- Dr. Asmodeus of Subeta attributes his svelteness to this.
- This doesn't exactly fit, but Sora from Kingdom Hearts seems to have a forbidden-from-eating curse in the first game. He gets to sort of take a bite of a piece of fruit. When dinner's ready, his home is destroyed. When presented with a cake or a covered platter, it promptly explodes. No usable items are solid food. He's given a piece of fruit, which he throws aside. The beginning of the game consists of gathering food, for crying out loud, which is destroyed along with the rest of the island. The result of all cooking is either a liquid or gas. He is cursed.
- Not so much in the manga adaptation, the pace of which allows time for Sora to get some food. Granted it's not all that much, but it's at least something.
- Pokémon Gold and Silver's Professor Elm. His wife mentions that he is so busy with Pokémon research all the time that he forgets to eat.
- In Tales of the Abyss, there's a skit indicating that Guy is victim to this - he knows how to cook because he misses mealtimes when he's working on fontech, so he has to make his own food.
- Due to Jade's canonical tendency to hyperfocus when he's working on a project, many fanworks apply this trope to him, as well.
- Fujiwara no Mokou of Touhou frequently neglects to eat. She's incapable of dying so theoretically she could go forever without food, but eventually the hunger becomes enough of a pain that she eats something.
- Weird Ed, in Maniac Mansion, at one point mentions that he hasn't seen Dr. Fred eat in 5 years. Word of God says it was to invoke this trope, but since Ed immediately mentions that Fred has been dragging bodies into the basement, many players (and Nintendo of America, in their infamous censorship process) thought that Ed was accusing Fred of cannibalism. The NES version was thus changed to Ed saying Fred hadn't slept in 5 years, instead.
- Which amusingly is made canon in Day of the Tentacle where it is revealed that Doctor Fred has gone without sleep for years by means of imbibing massive quantities of coffee. One puzzle requires you to get him to fall asleep.
- Roast Beef of Achewood does this sometimes. In one strip he mentions that he "didn't remember to eat for like nine days" after he had a fight with his girlfriend and she was no longer around to remind him.
- The page picture and its caption come from this strip of Real Life.
Sam: My mate Ed has been working on a new project for the last week or so. He hasn't done the classic "never comes out for food or sleep" routine, because, unlike all those other scientists in the movies, he isn't an idiot.
"There are two types of games: games that I've stopped playing because I'm bored or frustrated into a state approaching rigor mortis, and games that I've stopped playing because I've just noticed I should've had dinner two hours ago."
- Orion's Arm: This was a problem with early concentration enhancements for Homo Superiors.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: Patrick once actually forgot how to eat. When he asks Spongebob for help regarding his parents visiting, Spongebob assumes he forgot how to eat again and is about to go get a funnel. When Patrick says that it's something worse, Spongebob laments, "Darn, I liked the funnel."
- In the Metalocalypse Episode "Tributeklok", the guys forget to eat because they don't have the Klokateers around to ring bells for them.
- Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas seem to be this (note that Sally brings him a food basket, so this is probably an usual occurrence). What is quite unusual is the fact that he needs to eat since he's Dem Bones.
- Professor Isaac Sumdac in Transformers Animated tends to lose track of time whenever he holes himself up in his lab.
- Definitely a Truth in Television, just ask any long-time gamer.
- In some places, mostly South Korea and China, there's been an epidemic of gamers dropping dead at their computers from heart failure induced by malnutrition and overuse of energy drinks. Because of this, there has been legislation proposed to limit the amount of time Internet cafés are accessible, and to force online game hosting services to restrict the amount of time players can connect.
- Albert Einstein had stomach aches that no doctor could cure until they found the reason: sometimes he was so preoccupied with scientific work that he simply forgot to eat.
- Allegedly historical anecdote: Isaac Newton's servant came into his rooms to find him engrossed in an experiment, the lunch tray covered on the table.
Servant: Have you had lunch?
Newton: I don't know, have I?
- Another anecdote tells of one of his friends coming over for dinner, to find Newton seated at the table deep in thought. Newton's servants, being used to this, proceeded to serve the dinner and Newton didn't snap out of it until the brandy and cigars, whereupon he declared he was sure he hadn't eaten yet, but since the evidence was right in front of him...
- Bill Gates, when Microsoft was young, anyway.
- This probably applies to computer programmers just as much as gamers, if not more.
- Sometimes, when asked if they're hungry, people who rely on very rigid schedules will respond by asking what time it is rather than considering how hungry they are.
- In a more extreme version, you'll be hungry at school at whatever period you normally have lunch, even if it's a minimum day and lunchtime isn't for hours.
- Monty Python member Eric Idle claims to do this. His "Greedy Bastard Diary", a daily blog in book form of a tour he did, records one instance where he only remembered when his vision started getting dark blurry around the edges.
- A good amount of ADHD/ADD medications suppress a person's appetite, so much so that they used to be used as diet pills. When you plain don't get hungry, and happen to lose track of time, this tends to happen.
- This example is actually an invocation of this trope, as the neurotransmitter that mediates alertness and concentration also suppresses appetite. Yes, by invoking hyperfocus, one Forgets to Eat.
- Marie Curie reportedly once collapsed from starvation as a student.
- Unfortunately, this can be one of the symptoms of depression. When your world seems to be falling apart around you, details like sustenance become unimportant.
- Equally unfortunately, individuals who suffer from Social Anxiety or other anxiety disorders tend to shy away from going near the lunch room or cafeteria, let alone ordering something. Thankfully there are alternatives (study classes during lunch at school, your office at work) but in some cases this can be a case of Too Scared to Eat instead of Forgets to Eat.
- It can also be a symptom of schizophrenia, as those with severe negative symptoms will begin to lose their ability to take care of themselves.
- And those with paranoia, either as a result of schizophrenia or other disorders, may refuse food on the grounds that someone has poisoned it.
- College or graduate students under stress (during finals, for example) fall victim to this trope. Sometimes that "A" in English eclipses whatever the cafeteria is serving. Goes double if what the cafeteria is serving is unrecognizable or unappetizing.
- Writers fall victim to this. Frequently they get hyperfocused on what they're writing so they don't lose their train of thought, and when they finish that particular article, page, chapter, etc., they'll come back to reality and suddenly notice, "Huh, I'm starving."
- Oftentimes victims of child abuse will fall into this trope, whether they were malnourished as punishment, had unnecessary medications slipped into their meals, or because they've had such extensive mental and emotional abuse that they lack interest in eating due to feeling they aren't worthy of food.
- It is notable that fierce hunger pangs can be confused for extreme nausea, especially under times of stress or sickness. This makes the idea of eating quite unappealing, even if you've gone for days without a real meal.