Pinkie Pie voicing a bucket of turnips: Could I have some more punch?
Pinkie Pie: Well, of course you can have some more punch, Mr. Turnip. (twitches)
Pinkie Pie voicing a pile of rocks: This is one great pahty! You really outdone yourself!
You've spent hours hanging balloons, decorations, and banners on the wall. You've cooked the food to perfection. The cake is ready, and the candles have already been lit. The presents are waiting to be opened. You even have the music all sorted out. It's a perfect birthday party.
There's just one problem: nobody else is coming.
Birthdays are supposed to be a great occasion to get together with friends, when everything is about you. So when someone has only themselves with whom to celebrate their birthday, it's a sign that they really are alone.
Writers tend to use this trope to establish that the character in question is The Woobie (if Played for Drama) or The Chew Toy (if Played for Laughs). This character may also be a Cloud Cuckoo Lander since these will often misunderstand the point of rituals, and may make a Literal-Minded interpretation of the "everything is about you" idea. (If a friend is there, then not everything is, technically, about you.)
Compare Not-So-Forgotten Birthday and A Birthday, Not a Break. Could be the result of a Perennially Overshadowed Birthday or Birthday Buddies situation, with everyone choosing to celebrate the holiday or the other person's birthday instead.
At least this character is making an effort. Contrast Never Had a Birthday Party, where a character does not bother with the pretense of a celebration, maybe because they do not even understand the idea.
Has absolutely nothing to do with Two-Person Pool Party.
- In Konosuba (Season 2, Episode 2 for the anime), a Pensieve Flashback to Megumin and Yunyun's memories of their time in the academy depicts Yunyun throwing a birthday party all to herself, presumably due to her Friendless Background.
- Mazinger Z: In episode 19, the Small Name, Big Ego Butt-Monkey Boss tries to get people to purchase tickets to attend his birthday party. However everyone runs away from him, and he can not figure out why. Kouji tries to explain to him that people don't like getting bullied into paying for a party they do not want to go to start with. Finally, Kouji agrees to attend Boss' party out of pity and even performs a couple of tricks with his bike so that more people come. However, during the party, Kouji gets summoned to the Institute, and he leaves. As a result, everybody else leaves too, leaving Boss alone.
- Paranoia Agent: In the second ep character, Yuuichi "Icchi" Taira, had this happen to him as his classmates think he was the one who struck a fellow classmate, Shougo, as Lil Slugger due to wearing gold colored roller blades. Despite trying to state otherwise, only his tutor, Harumi, shows up.
- Though not a birthday but used in a similar context, in Twin Princess of Wonder Planet, Bright spends an entire episode preparing for a lavish party to celebrate becoming the king after taking over the Wonder Planet. While decorating, he imagines his Love Interest Fine showing up. Fine does show up to talk some sense into him but is repulsed by his Brainwashed and Crazy nature. She's later saved by her friends, including Rein, a Fangirl of Bright, and Bright's sister, Altezza, both who are shocked at his behavior as well. They leave him all alone while he celebrates sadly to himself.
- In Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside - The Return of the Oni King, Touma Tsukinami spent many birthdays alone in his youth. He could have avoided this if he opened the door of his home to reveal that Natsume and her friends were waiting at the entrance of his home to visit him, but Touma tragically mistook their hard insistent knocks for the mailman and pretended to not be at home, thus missing his chance to not being alone.
- In the Adventure Time Graphic Novels, Jake and BMO are the only people who turn up to Ice King's failed party.
- In Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, Supergirl celebrates her twenty-first birthday alone by going to an alien bar alone and drinking her sorrows.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: The Departure", the Smurfs are all busy preparing for Empath's 155th birthday party when they all get sucked into the prehistoric past when Papa Smurf opens a time portal to bring the baby dinosaur they found back home. By the time Empath arrives, only Polaris Psyche is left in the village, and the party is pretty much abandoned as Empath heartbreakingly celebrates his birthday by toasting marshmallows instead.
- In May I have this dance?, since everyone forgot that it was her birthday — her quinceañera no less— Mirabel ends up celebrating by herself in the nursery. That is until Antonio shows up with a gift, this being the only light in an otherwise dark day for her.
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has this with Max before he becomes Electro. Since nobody remembers his birthday, Max celebrates it all by himself by buying a small birthday cake, putting up some meager decorations, and even making a invite card all for him.
- The lonely hero of The Best Offer is seen all by himself on his birthday at the restaurant.
- In The Game (1997), Nicholas Van Orten is an extremely wealthy, attractive man who is so Married to the Job that he spends his birthday working even though he's the boss, and the only thing he has to mark the occasion is a surprise birthday cupcake left by his housekeeper to go with his solitary supper. If you didn't catch how this relates to subsequent events, take some time to think about it.
- This is the killer's motivation in Happy Birthday to Me. At least that's what the person who framed Ginny wanted people to think.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has Harry lying on the ground of the cabin and drawing a birthday cake with candles in the dirt. At midnight, making it his birthday, he blows out the candles on the drawing. Then Hagrid knocks the door right off its hinges.
- Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport: A documentary about German and Austrian Jewish children being rescued from Nazi Germany. One woman recalls that the truth about her situation as a little girl in 1938 Vienna after the Nazis rolled in was brought home to her when nobody came to her birthday party.
- In Little Man Tate, the main character hands out invitations to his party at school, only to see them blowing around on the ground when they rush in from recess. Cut to the party, where it's just him and his mom (and she doesn't count).
- Prom Wars: A variant occurs when a flashback shows Tess's roommates throwing her a birthday party that they attend, but they spend three hours vainly waiting for the boys they invited to show up. Tess eventually starts crying.
- In The Shape of Water, there's a brief scene of a depressed-looking man at a bus stop, holding a balloon and a birthday cake. One slice is taken out of the cake, suggesting he was expecting his friends to show up but they didn't.
- Stella Dallas - well, not quite, since Stella and the maid are there. But Laurel is crushed when neither her teacher nor any of her friends will come to her birthday party, because they don't approve of Stella.
- In Dorothy Must Die, Amy remembers the day before her sixth birthday party. She invited her class, but the school bully Madison told everyone not to go to Amy's party because Amy was poor and her clothes were dirty, and they would be dirty too if they went. Nobody came to the party.
- Harry Potter makes it clear that the Dursleys tend to ignore or forget his birthday. In Chamber of Secrets, Harry sings Happy Birthday to himself. His birthdays improve from the third book onward because of his friends and Mrs Weasley.
- InCryptid: Not even his own sister came to Artie's twelfth birthday party. Fortunately, his best friend and cousin Sarah did, and they had fun until he said he liked her.note
- The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel): Mrs. Carillon's parents forget about her twelfth birthday because of their work, leaving her to sing "Happy Birthday to Me" alone in the house. Her party is interrupted by the sound of the factory explosion that kills her parents.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens with the line "No-one came to my seventh birthday party."
- Wings of Fire: Prince Fathom mentions that nobody came to his sixth birthday party, and no dragons (except maybe his crush Indigo and his sister Pearl) talked to him about it.
- In the Arrested Development episode "My Mother the Car", Michael Bluth organizes a surprise birthday party for his family's matriarch, Lucille, which no one else shows up to, because Lucille is a Rich Bitch. After lecturing the rest of his family, he organizes a do-over... which no one shows up to, again.
- On The Big Bang Theory, in a hypothetical Alternate Universe where Sheldon and Leonard are not living together, Amy is tearfully singing the Happy Birthday song to herself since she would have never met the gang.
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
There are tears in the frosting
Happy birthday to me.
- On the first season of A Different World, Whitley's birthday is coming up and she planned on spending it with her best friend, Millie - who backs out because she and her boyfriend, Ron, are celebrating their 3-month anniversary. Near the end of the episode, Whitley sadly sings "Happy Birthday To Me" to herself with a cupcake and a single candle in it. Averted as everyone comes in right after she finishes singing.
- In an episode of Family Matters, Steve Urkel ends up celebrating his 20th birthday by himself since no one else remembered. When Carl finds out what's going on, he tries to make it up to him.
- The Golden Girls: Rose flashes back to a time when she celebrated her birthday alone, after the death of her husband.
- During a flashback in an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney's mom gives him a letter from the U.S. Postmaster General, apologizing that all the invitations mailed out for his birthday party were lost in the mail, leaving him alone on his birthday. Strangely, the handwriting looked very similar to his mom's.
- In one episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Goren and Eames are investigating a murder which seems to have been committed by one of a pair of constantly sniping married psychologists. Each is convinced the other is guilty, while their daughter is caught in the middle. Goren catches sight of a photo in which the daughter, aged around eight, is having one of these, celebrating with only household staff in attendance because her parents aren't around. The insight this gives him into the family dynamic helps him realize the truth - the daughter committed the murder, and is framing both parents, as revenge for her miserable childhood.
- The short-lived 1990 sitcom Molloy has the title character convinced her father, stepmother and siblings are playing a Not-So-Forgotten Birthday prank, going into each room and practicing a shocked face only to find it empty. When they come home, she realizes they all took a ride in a new sports car and honestly did forget her birthday and don't grasp why she's eating a small cake by herself. To their credit, when they realize it the next day, they're horrified by their idiocy and try to throw a lavish party...only for Molloy, assuming they're still ignorant, to hit a theme park with a friend.
- The Chew Toy Misty of the Show Within a Show Moody's Point from The Amanda Show throws a birthday party but no one comes. She ends up singing karaoke with the janitor.
- In an episode of Mr. Bean, Mr Bean goes to a restaurant on his own for his birthday, and gives himself a birthday card. Unlike many examples of this trope, he seems quite content with the situation.
- Once Upon a Time begins this way. When it turns out that her date was just a sham to get a bounty, Emma goes home to have a cupcake with a single candle on it by herself. She blows out the candle, presumably wishing she wasn't alone, and there's a knock at the door, which turns out to be the son she gave up for adoption ten years ago.
- Paralleled in a Season 7 flashback with Alice, though considering she was magically trapped at the time and the only person who knew her whereabouts had been cursed to keep away from her, it's obvious she wasn't alone by choice.
- On Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson celebrates one of his birthdays alone in a small office with a steak and a bottle of scotch. The twist is that this is the party that his friend Leslie has thrown for him, knowing what he likes.
- Louis C.K.'s appearance on Saturday Night Live featured this when he hires a birthday clown as entertainment. The clown is decidedly creeped out before warming up to the lonely guy - only for Ernest to reveal that he plans on chopping the clown into pieces to put in his fridge.
Ernest: That was pretty funny. (Pulls out some money to give Dodo)
Dodo: Are you giving me a tip?
Ernest: Yeah, you want me to wait 'til after?
Dodo: Yeah, no, there's no protocol for whatever-this-is.
- A flashback in Smallville shows that as a kid, Lex Luthor had a birthday all alone. It gave context to his miserable childhood and how he developed into the adult he eventually became.
- "Pity Party" by Melanie Martinez about her tragic character, Cry Baby. In this case, she throws a birthday party, inviting her boyfriend and a few others, but no one shows up. She tries to stay positive, saying she'll have more cake, but she quickly spirals into depressed psychosis, trashing her party without enjoyment, and feeling acute loneliness.
It's my party and I'll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to
Cry, cry, cry
I'll cry until the candles burn down this place
I'll cry until my pity party's in flames
- Not a birthday, but when A.J. Lee threw a party to celebrate her becoming the longest-reigning Divas Champion ever, she was the only one in attendance.
- Crimes of the Heart begins with the main character trying to have one of these, attempting to stick a birthday candle into a cookie.
- In the opening prologue of Batman: Arkham Knight, as you walk around in Pauli's diner, there is a lone man at a booth with a small cupcake with his name, 'Noel', on it with a single lit candle. Noel is downtrodden and will give you a dirty look if you approach him. He will then return to looking downtrodden as his cupcake. Unfortunately, this is only the start of his troubles, as the booth next to him is a Scarecrow henchmen about to deploy fear gas in the diner.
- The "Claptrap's Birthday Bash" sidequest from Borderlands 2, where you send invitations to Claptrap's birthday party for him. None of the guests accept the invitation, so you end up alone with Claptrap. You could make it a little less sad by having four players go, but that's four out of six playable characters — under the best circumstances, not even all the Vault Hunters go to Claptrap's party, which only ends up lasting a few minutes. Word of God states that the mission was based off of an actual One Man Birthday Party that the creative designer once witnessed.
- An unusual variation in Freebird Games' standalone title Do You Remember My Lullaby?. The game focuses on an impoverished, divorced single mother caring for her young son, who asks if she can make her special cake for his birthday. She decides to surprise him with it and surreptitiously begins skipping meals in order to save up enough money for the ingredients. However, on the day of her son's birthday, he goes on a scheduled visit to his (much richer) father's home, who invites him to stay overnight. The mother sets up some meagre decorations and gets the cake ready, waiting for her son to come home... but as night falls, he never does and the last scene of the game is her blowing out the candles lighting the room.
- Blue, one of the Brothers Bear in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, is depressed that no one remembered his birthday when you first meet him. As it turns out, one of his brothers - Blizzard - DID remember, but was too far away to attend the party. As such, it falls to the Kongs to relay his gift (and when they do, Blue cheers up considerably).
- Farpoint has a two-person birthday, between Dr. Eva Tyson and Dr. Grant Moon, two astronauts stranded on an alien world where they discover earth is 3 billion years away. Resigning to their fate, Eva decides to cheer up Grant by reminding him it's his birthday and she remembers it, even having a small cake with her.
- In NieR Re[in]carnation, the "Garden of Benediction" event is about the Girl having one of these. Since she's grown up in absolute poverty, she has no idea what a birthday cake looks smells, or tastes like, so she makes one out of dirt. In the background of the story, Mama is watching from afar until she decides to give her a real birthday cake, even though it violates whatever Alien Non-Interference Clause she's supposed to keep up.
- The titular party in Pity Party starts out with just the protagonist celebrating alone, before two guests do show up. At the end, she ends up alone again.
- In the first Simon the Sorcerer game, when Simon visits the swampling's house, Swampy mistakes him for a guest that's come to celebrate Swampy's birthday. Swampy's actual birthday was three weeks earlier, but Swampy doesn't mind Simon being late because he's still the first guest to show up.
- A disturbingly large amount of fanwork depicts Alice Margatroid of Touhou Project this way, perhaps due to her (fanon) isolationist, tsundere persona. Yuuka Kazami occasionally gets this treatment◊ too, though in her case it's because of her (sometimes supposed) Ax-Crazy personality.
- Variants in Episode 39 of The Most Popular Girls in School: Brittnay, Mackenzie, and Trisha throw a New Year Eve's party, but nobody (except Deandra, eventually) shows up; kind of Justified, as they're Alpha Bitches. OTOH, this is deliberately Invoked with Rachel's & Judith's party.
- Sonic wishes himself a happy birthday has that blue hedgehog celebrating his birthday, all alone.
- The Taco-Man Paint short "Today is My Birthday" has the title character throw one for himself, because all his friends died beforehand.
- In the Ultra Fast Pony episode "Purple Party Pooper", Twilight sends invitations for her birthday party, then finds out that no one is planning to attend. She becomes increasingly unhinged as she tries to figure out why her friends won't come. The end of the episode implies that Princess Celestia had the same problem (the day was coincidentally her birthday as well)—since Twi was the only one to show up, and she only came because Celestia commanded her.
- In Brawl in the Family, one of the Waluigi-themed comics depicts Waluigi as the only attendee of his own birthday party. This comes as a big Mood Whiplash for people familiar with the Waluigi strips. As mentioned in the newspost, one forum member rewrote the Downer Ending of the strip to portray Waluigi as someone who prefers to celebrate alone and another wrote an alternate version where Luigi came by.
- In the achingly beautiful Counting Stars, the main character comes home on her 16th birthday to find a cupcake and a note of apology from her mother. She has no friends and no one with whom to share the special day, and is clearly despondent.
- Narrowly averted in the Birthday Episode of Cobweb and Stripes, when Lydia turns 19. Her apologetic father must be out of town for a business meeting, and her oblivious stepmother has a gallery showing of her hideous art. Fortunately for the birthday girl, Betelgeuse is eavesdropping on the conversation and arranges for a much better celebration.
- In The Handbook of Heroes comic "Throw Anything", Thief celebrates her birthday alone after discovering that her Throw Anything feat does not apply to throwing parties.
- In Happy Birthday to Me from Loading Artist.
- Played with in one The Owl House comic by Moring Mark, where Eda actually has a large group of people band together to throw her a birthday party despite the fact that they're all trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Luz on the other hand is shown sitting in the dark with a cupcake on Earth, quietly wishing Eda a happy birthday while not even knowing if she's alive much less that she has others with her.
- Nedroid has a lonely bear sitting beneath a banner reading "Happy Birthday", which currently provides the image for Forgotten Birthday.
- In this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic, a man uses induction to prove that any number of people constitutes a party.
- In Sinfest it's revealed that this was one of many Break the Cutie moments for Lil' Evil throughout his life.
- xkcd has this child whose birthday is December 25th, whose family is busy celebrating Christmas and forget about his birthday.
- During the Exile-arc of the Dream SMP, Tommy held a beach party in Logstedshire, and invited practically everyone. However, only Dream showed up, and when he did, it was twenty minutes late. Not even Ghostbur, the one in charge of delivering the invitations, showed up. Later, this turns out to be invoked, Dream took the invitations from Ghostbur, sent him off to go for a walk in the snow (Ghostbur melts when he touches water, though he thankfully survived that ordeal), and played dumb when Tommy asked if anything happened to the invitations.
Dream: I made sure nobody would show up to your party, so that you'd have no friends except me.
- In the LoadingReadyRun Crapshot "The Cooking", The Decadent Man (Ian Horner's eccentric upper-class aristocrat character) tells the viewer about the decadence of sous vide cooking. Cut to him pulling a fully-baked, iced cupcake out of his cooking rig, singing "Happy Birthday" to himself and digging in with a spoon.
- StacheBros: In "Episode 2-4 - The Creature From The Egg" of "Mario & Luigi! Stache Bros", Waluigi is introduced alone at his birthday party. Depressed that no one seems to care about his birthday, Waluigi just sits and listens to his mood music...that is, until the boombox explodes.
- A good number of childhood flashbacks in Archer involve Sterling sitting by himself crying. One related to his birthday had him in a run-down apartment all by himself, his butler/nanny locked in a bathroom getting high and his mother out of the country on a secret agent job ("Guatemala's democratically-elected government wasn't gonna overthrow itself!"). Then Sterling's anonymous father entered to give him a stuffed alligator. Given the adult Sterling has an intense and uncharacteristic fear and hatred of alligators, it's not clear quite what that means on a psychological level.
- The Cow and Chicken episode "Factory Follies", in which Red Guy plays the foreman of a factory who treats his employees like worthless slaves. At the end of the workday, he reminds everyone that his surprise birthday party will be held in the conference room later that night. Of course, nobody shows up, so he throws the party for himself and sings, "Oh birthday boy, add one more year/oh birthday boy with a big fat rear!"
- Happens to Ling Ling in Drawn Together, just as someone was mentioning "Now everyone is happy".
- A Cutaway Gag in the Futurama episode "Time Keeps on Slippin" shows that nobody came to Zoidberg's birthday party, in the episode where time keeps skipping.
- Exaggerated for comedy in Megas XLR. Jamie, trying to get a favour, insists that he's always been there for Coop. Cue to Coop recalling all the times Jamie has left him hanging, including Coop waiting alone in front of a movie theater, at the amusement park, this trope as Coop sits alone at a table for his birthday party, and then Coop sitting alone at a table for Jamie's birthday party.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Party of One" plays with this one. Pinkie celebrates a party with a bunch of inanimate objects because her friends were busy, and she thinks that they don't want to be her friends anymore — but the party in question is for (the day after) her pet alligator's birthday, not her own. At the end, it's revealed that the real reason her friends can't attend this party is because they're organizing a surprise party for Pinkie's birthday. Pinkie had somehow completely forgotten her own birthday. Since she only attends this party after Rainbow Dash drags her there, the cast almost winds up with a party where everyone except the birthday girl shows up.
- Exaggerated and parodied in the backstory of Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb. He states that neither of his parents bothered to show up to his birth, and that he had to throw surprise birthday parties for himself. Also, at age eight, he was abandoned at a Suck E. Cheese's to the point that the employees working there let him lock up the shop at closing.
- The Simpsons:
- In "The Haw-Hawed Couple", Nelson throws a birthday party and invites all of his classmates. Bart is the only one to turn up because Marge forces him to go.
Nelson: Ha-ha! Wait a minute... that hurt. So that's why nobody came to my birthday party.
- Brought up in "Radioactive Man", when Nelson laughs at himself for screwing up the audition for Radioactive Man's sidekick, Fallout Boy.
- In "Stark Raving Dad", it's Lisa's 8th birthday. She begs Bart not to forget, but of course he does. She sits with only the baby Maggie for company, singing:
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday, overlooked middle child,
Happy birthday to me.
- In "The Haw-Hawed Couple", Nelson throws a birthday party and invites all of his classmates. Bart is the only one to turn up because Marge forces him to go.
- The South Park episode "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo" ends with Jesus singing "Happy Birthday" all by himself.
- Summer Camp Island. In the episode "It's My Party," Susie tries to invite all the campers to her birthday party, but no one shows up. Oscar and Hedgehog then see Susie inside her cabin, singing a sad birthday song to herself, and using her magic to conjure up a cupcake with a single birthday candle on it, which is then stolen by a bat.
- In the same episode, Oscar reveals that nobody showed up to his fifth birthday party, not even Hedgehog, his best friend. She claims she was busy that day.
- Twelve Forever: In "Secrets Forever", Reggie, Todd and Esther stumble across a supposedly deserted grocery store which forms products that reveal embarrassing secrets about themselves when opened. They go through three of Reggie's with the third one revealing she had tried to invite her classmates to her 11th birthday party. But since her classmates found her too childish and weird, only her mother's friend showed up.
- For its one year anniversary on the planet Mars, the Curiosity Mars rover used one of its on-board instruments to hum "Happy Birthday" to itself all by its lonesome.
- Invoked by Stephen Hawking. He once threw a champagne party with invites being sent only after the party was over, in order to either prove or disprove the existence of time travelers. Nobody but Hawking showed up.