Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life

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Some people receive the Call to Adventure, but others are left waiting by the phone.

Some will be lucky enough to quickly find a thing they can do. There are others who have to search a little bit more. The fellow who is Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life is searching for what he could be good at or what would spiritually satisfy him, and will try every possibility, even the most outlandish and odd. Obviously, with little or no success. If, for some reason, he succeeds in his new field, he will still feel empty, and will quickly abandon the effort at the first chance, going back to the pursuit of his "destiny."

Alternatively, the character indeed had found that satisfactory goal of life in the past, but life circumstances had irrevocably separated him from it. Broken-hearted, he tries with other things, often without success. In this case, he will abandon whatever he's doing if there is even a minimal chance of going back to the way it was.

If it's a musical, expect this to be expressed with an "I Want" Song or a Wanderlust Song.

As the first tab below may suggest, there seems to be a specific Japanese variant of this trope, the '(Male) Ordinary High School Student burdened heavily by ennui at the lack of individual freedom and excitement offered by the modern Japanese lifestyle,' who usually gets swept up into wacky hijinks and this frames a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the audience to relate to, but occasionally he has to cope with that dull world in some way. This variant of the trope is particularly likely to display overt symptoms of clinical depression without them being considered in that light.

This is what happens when those that Just Wanted To Be Special and would have Jumped At the Call never get the opportunity. They just never found their Goal in Life.

Examples of Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Hisashi Mitsui from Slam Dunk, who was a talented basketball player until a knee injury got him out of the courts. He eventually becomes a delinquent and gang leader out of pure grief; but when circumstances (and the messianic intervention of a certain professor) give him a second chance to came back, he willingly and gleefully abandons the thug lifestyle. Perhaps too willingly.
  • Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho is a bit of darker example in that ultimately only fighting ever seems to bring happiness, but even that feels empty. He finally dies saving a kid and becomes a "Spirit Detective" but even then he still does not know.
    • Eventually he builds up a network of allies, revolutionizes demon politics for at least a while, opens a ramen stand, and gets married. Somewhere in 'having loads of buddies,' 'being a major political presence due to being able to punch mountains to death,' 'starting a family,' and 'not needing to worry about spending his time wisely because he's probably immortal,' he seems to find a happy place. And yes, there is a very bad case of Power Seep,Power Creep going on here. In the first volume, he got blasted into outer space by the ghost of a little girl.
    • Note that this is a guy who began the series with only one friend (the girl he ends up married to) and she spent most of their interactions yelling at him. The moments when he started treating Kuwabara as an ally, saved Kurama's life, and trusted Hiei for no good reason respectively set him up to completely change everything at least as much as dying and getting superpowers ever did. And he'd never have survived long enough to recover from his second death without his team.
  • BlackWarGreymon spends most of his time in Digimon Adventure 02 running around and destroying things for this reason, though this is mostly stemmed from his agonising over What Measure is a Non-Digimon?. Eventually he does find a purpose... if a very short-lived one.
  • Nozomi, from Yes! Precure 5, is like this at the start of the series, though she finds something to do by the end of the first episode. She's mentioned to have joined a series of different clubs, always ending in disaster.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruhi's titular melancholy comes from the fact that she's desperate for something so fun and exciting that it'll shake up her life. She's joined every club, dated every boy who asked her out (however briefly), and never lasted more than a week with anything but the SOS-dan, which she started herself. The irony here is that the things she's searching for are right there, and trying to keep her from finding out.
    • Subverted by Kyon. The novel opens with him claiming he wanted espers, aliens and time travelers to exist, but he just wants to be a sidekick.
  • The heroine of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was somewhat like this when we first met her (and very much like this in the manga supplement of the cinematic adaptation), despite the fact that she was nine years old. When a boy ferret from another world asked her for help, she rushed to help him. Hers isn't so much a case of Jumped At the Call as it is already at the springboard looking for it, but by the end, she's found her place in life and we know now her as the most Badass Magical Girl in history.
  • The ecchi anime series Golden Boy has this with the hero's lust for women. Every episode he meets some new ridiculously attractive woman, and goes on an epic-level mission to win her favor. It inevitably ends with him having somehow managed to win her heart, leaving her ready and wanting... and watching him as he heads off into the sunset, off to win his next prize without even having claimed the last. (Oh, Japan.)
    • In the manga one of the girls of the week shows the dark side of this trope. During her arc she gradual falls out of love with with her master, and in love with Kintaro because he will not break no matter what she does to him. So after he leaves because he has learned what he wanted to that arc she decides to chase after him to find a new purpose. In her efforts to track him down she runs across some of the people he helped in the past. She systematically broke them to find out if the purpose they gained from meeting him could be one she could use.
  • Autor from Princess Tutu starts to do this when it turns out he's not "chosen" to be Drosselmeyer's heir. He even lampshades it in one scene, when he marches through the streets of his town grumbling to himself "What was I born into this world for?!"
  • Lelouch Lamperouge was shown to have elements of this in the first episode, before he got his Evil Eye. He even threatened suicide early on when the prospect of becoming an Ordinary High School Student again was almost forced upon him by the person who gave him the initial opportunity to change his fate. When his memories were rewritten by the Emperor in the beginning of R2, he was shown to have reverted to this feeling of crushing boredom, tired of high school but convinced the adult world wouldn't afford him any opportunities to live up to his potential, since important jobs were generally reserved for nobility. In both cases, he resorted to high-stakes gambling in order to make things interesting. Luckily, encounters with C.C. changed all that.
    • Actually, this is more of an inversion, as he already had his purpose to rebel against Britannia, it's just that at the time he didn't feel capable of doing so until C.C. handed him his Geass. He wasn't looking for a purpose in life, he was looking for a way to fulfill that purpose.
      • Rather a subversion - he really was looking like having no purpose in first episode, only to reveal he does have one later. He's just deep under cover.
  • The titular character of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica has this as her fundamental character problem. Though it gets eclipsed by later events, she was quite willing to become a Magical Girl just to have a purpose.
  • Hachiken Yugo from Silver Spoon has this as one of his major problems.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji gets assigned to save the world from aliens starting in the first episode, but he still feels like he doesn't know what his purpose in life is. Pretty much the entire show becomes about this. Midway through the show, he discovers that piloting the Eva gives him purpose, and the last two episodes are all about him now trying to find meaning without it. Other characters have arcs likes this too.
  • A darker example happens in Zombie Loan, where Reiichirou Chiba becomes so jaded with his boring life and how predictable his future will be that he kills himself. At which point he comes back to life as a superpowered zombie and becomes a serial killer. So... he did kind of get his wish.
    • He is an extremely happy character. So, yeah. Cruel, psychotic bastard, but quite happy.
  • In To Aru Majutsu no Index, the main character Touma bemoaned his lack of ability, with his power not able to fight thugs, help his test scores, or get him a girlfriend. That is until Index falls onto his balcony and he is suddenly thrust into a world were his ability is the only thing keeping him alive as he desperately tries to save people.
  • Maon from Tamayura has this, making her hop from one hobby to the next.
  • Kurosaki Ichigo spent three timeskip years like this, after being utterly sidelined at the end of the Winter War by his decision to use the move Mugetsu and sacrifice all his powers rather than experiment with destroying Aizen into tinier and tinier pieces in more and more virulent ways and risking him getting away. Or at least, that must have been his reasoning, since he had a vast advantage in power at the time.
    • He was quite depressed, and worked through it quite well, but his lack of real interest in anything still showed. After being that powerful, you can't really go back.
    • Luckily, all his friends in the Gotei 13 got together to restore him, and his dad stabbed him helpfully In the Back in an utterly literal sense!
  • This is Yagami Light's state of being as Death Note opens. He despises most people, especially his school friends, finds no challenge or meaning in anything, has no hobbies, views his highest ambitions as a matter of the course of time, and yet always does everything perfectly, like laughing at jokes that aren't funny told by people he loathes because good, clean-cut students socialize, and studying for exams he could pass in his sleep. He's probably a clinically depressed clinical psychopath, with reputation-defense and control issues to beat the band. It's no wonder really he wound up finding his purpose in conquering the world by fear and murder once he got his hands on an Artifact of Doom that removed the consequences from hurting people.
  • This trope is what at least Niikura Shou was experiencing when he discovered his origins and Akumetsu the clone army was born. Most other Shous are only shown after a lot of brainsharing, body-replacement, and Akumetsu's launch, so they aren't really individuals anymore, but him at least, and probably Hazama too.
  • In Kyou Kara Maou, Shibuya Yuuri (Harajuku Fuuri) of all people, was like this before stepping into his role as king of Shin Makoku. Typified by his not actually playing any baseball even though he likes it and trying to walk away and let Muraken get bullied, but not being able to go through with it once he realizes he's been recognized. Then he gets himself swirlied into another dimension while Murata apparently cravenly abandons him, presumably runs straight for the cops, and in reality must have stood right beside the toilets facilitating the dimensional leap from his side to make it possible.
    • But he doesn't take the kingship because they're offering him power and meaning; the whole deal freaks him out, until he can only influence whether there's war by accepting. It takes him a while after that to adapt, and even then it's largely less him 'growing up' than him forgetting to whne or worry about himself because he MUST SAVE THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD AS SOON AS HE NOTICES EVERY PROBLEM IT HAS. If he weren't such an unobservant moron, he'd work himself to the bone. As it is, he almost-dies way too often for his retainers' comfort.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Destruction, the prodigal of The Endless in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, decides he wants to try creation for a change, but despite enthusiastic dabbling in painting, poetry, sculpting, flamenco guitar, sidewalk chalk art, gourmet cooking, etc. the results are invariably mediocre: he can't seem to find his calling.
    • That's because those comics were written in the 80's, before Destruction shaved his beard and raised explosions to a high art as Jamie Hyneman.
    • The fact he cut off all ties with the other Endless, including Dream - who's in charge of imagination & artistic inspiration - might have been a factor.
  • Parodied in one Far Side strip, where a man pulls a bizarre object, complete with springs and brooms, from between the couch cushions. The comic's caption reads: "Edgar finds his purpose." In the collected edition, Larson said this was based on someone he knew whose girlfriend's father accused him of not knowing what his purpose was.
  • Donald Duck has "found and mastered his true purpose in life" about a billion times now. No matter if it means facing danger or going against common sense, he will keep trying again, and again, and again, convinced the next time will be it. What if that doesn't work? Next time surely will!


Film[edit | hide]

  • This seems to be part of the plot of Lost in Translation. Japan's a funny place to look, though, unless your spiritual satisfaction involves Katamari Damacy, Hello Kitty or hot man-on-man action with Junichiro Koizumi.
  • Hellboy II the Golden Army by Guillermo del Toro: A sadly overlooked segment claims that all humans were made hollow and this trope is used to fill that hollow unsuccessfully.
  • ... And of course, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars a New Hope! Constantly complaining about being shut in the door of Uncle Owen's house, he wants to seek to do something significant to change the crapsack reality of the galaxy produced by the Evil Empire. Fortunately, the return of Obiwan Kenobi grants him the wish at last (along with the death of his uncle and aunt), and he has consequently been kicking the empire's sorry ass for the rest of the Star Wars saga.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in Vorkosigan Saga. Mark states that his only purpose in life was to kill Miles and Aral, and now that Ser Galen was dead, he had no purpose in life anymore. Cordelia reassures him that almost no one has any purpose in the first place.
  • Mr. Toad of The Wind in the Willows has constantly shifting obsessions that always seem to get him in trouble. First it's boating, then a road trip in a gypsy-style caravan, but his most famous (and infamously disastrous) craze is motor-cars.
  • The chief preoccupation of Pierre Bezukhov and Andrei Bolkonsky, two of the main characters of War and Peace.
  • Arthur Dent of Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy fame. From his initial vague unease and doubt about working in BBC radio, to the end of the universe, and beyond.
  • Little Bran thought his future was essentially set in A Song of Ice and Fire; grow up, become an honorable knight, and everything else expected of a younger son to a great families with ties to the nobility. Then he was crippled for seeing too much. His storyline for the next few books focuses heavily on finding his purpose in life.
  • The antagonist of Dean Koontz's From The Corner Of His Eye is a man named Enoch Cain who spends the entire book searching for a purpose in his life through the various decadent social movements of the 1970s. Since Cain is also a sociopath with no qualms about killing, Hilarity Ensues. He ultimately fixates on finding and killing the main character, Bartholomew, after a series of genuine coincidences lead Cain to believe that Bartholomew is his great enemy.
  • Shada D'ukal after leaving the Mistryl in the Hand of Thrawn series.
  • The protagonist of Biting the Sun is bored out of her mind with the endless-sex-drugs-and-partying lifestyle of her society.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Flight of the Old Dog, Patrick McLanahan is bored by the repetitive running of exercises and is thinking of leaving the service for the outside world where he believes he can make an actual difference. If you started Brown's books from anywhere else, you'll know that he eventually finds his purpose.
  • The Protectors in Larry Niven's Known Space universe are biologically hard-wired to give up and die if they have no living descendants... unless they can find some project that gives them a sense of purpose by advancing the interests of the Pak race as a whole.
  • At the start of Cate Tiernan's Immortal Beloved, the immortal main character has been going from party to party with her immortal friends because she had absolutely nothing better to do, and is kind of getting sick of the whole thing.
  • I'm amazed no one has mentioned Tennyson's Ulysses. I'd quote a relevant snipit, but I'd have to quote the whole poem. (Yes, he called Odysseus Ulysses - deal with it.)
  • The book of Qohelet (a.k.a. Ecclesiastes) involves Solomon trying all sorts of things, but finding them vanity. He eventually comes to this conclusion:

Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

  • Kirei Kotomine from Fate/Zero expands his motivations and backstory behind his actions in Fate/stay night and is ultimately revealed to be this trope. In his entire life, he has excelled in several fields, climbing up one field then quickly dropping it for something else. He says that he has no desire for the Holy Grail, and questions why the Grail would choose him, since he has no desires whatsoever. Then Gilgamesh comes along and tells him to "seek pleasure" in watching the actions of other people. By the end of the prequel novel, he has realized that what he likes the most is watching people suffer, but he's still not happy specifically because it makes him happy.
  • In Michael Stackpole's Age of Discovery, Nirati Anturasi spends much of the first book desperately looking for her special talent, which she theoretically could become a mystic at. She later decides that the only thing she ever accomplished was "dying really well", and fortunately for her, there a vacancy in the God of Death position.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Series arch-villain Sylar goes through this in his storyline in Volume 4 of Heroes, including a road trip to find his biological father and an identity crisis where he starts having conversations with his dead adoptive mother. With some prodding from dead mommy, he ultimately decides to Take Over the World and attempts to become President of the United States (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Lost: John Locke is so blinded by his need to be special and needed that he ends up getting duped both off-island and on by anyone who tells him that he is important, eventually leading to his demise.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Both Xander and Giles in season 4. Xander goes through a series of McJobs before finding something he's good at and enjoys, and Giles is totally at loose ends, even going as far as watching daytime TV to entertain himself.
  • This is a recurring theme for Commander Sinclair on Babylon 5 during the first season. It doesn't get resolved until his third season reappearance where it turns out his true purpose is to go back in time and become Valen.
    • Garibaldi points out in an early episode that Sinclair goes about looking for his purpose by putting himself into suicidal situations. Garibaldi's theory is that Sinclair is doing this because "it's easier to find something worth dying for than something worth living for." In another episode, Delenn implies that this trope is the reason she didn't tell Sinclair about her decision to go down to Epsilon 3 to try and get the Great Machine working. She feared that if Sinclair had gone with, he would have plugged himself into the Machine, and she felt his destiny lay elsewhere.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Christian rock artist Michael W. Smith's first hit in the early 1990s was "Place In This World", whose chorus is thus:

looking for a reason
roaming through this night to find
my place in this world
my place in this world
nothing left to lean on
I need your light to help me find
my place in this world
my place in this world.

  • Uruguayan rock band El Cuarteto de Nos satirizes the trend in their song "Ya no sé qué hacer conmigo" ("I don't know what to do with me"). The song carries the trope to the logical extreme: when one tries too many (often contradictory) things, one tends to end as a Stepford Smiler of the mask-only type.

I hear a voice who says, with good reason
"Yo, always changing; don't change anymore"
And I am still becoming more the same
I don't know what to do with me

  • The Beatles once got bored with the void life of a superstar, so they went to India (or somewhere) looking for a spiritual guide to give them the purpose of life. It failed. The result was the song Across the Universe:

Jai Guru Deava Ommm (Which means "Thanks spiritual master" in Sanskrit)
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • The archetypal example here is Willy Loman, the salesman who dies looking for success and the American Dream in the business world, when his true talent lies in mechanics and carpentry and he's long since turned down the opportunity to go work in the outdoors. Also his son, Biff, who ends up rejecting the dream his father had worked for and decided to make his own way in life, no matter how humble and small it might have been.
  • Avenue Q: Princeton, a 22-year-old English major, spends the entire musical looking for his "purpose". He finally thinks he's discovered it when another 22-year-old English major turns up on Avenue Q. His purpose? To write a musical to help people like this kid find their purpose and learn about life, except the idea's shot down by everyone living on Avenue Q. As his neighbor Brian asks, "Are you HIGH?".
  • This seems to be part of Nina's problem in In the Heights. Nina is incredibly smart and talented and is the first person in her neighborhood to go to college. But college was a major struggle and after she loses her scholarship she finds herself wondering how exactly she's going to fulfill her goals in life.
  • The entire plot of Pippin is the main character's struggle to find his "Corner of the Sky". This being a Stephen Schwartz musical, it's a massive subversion: the players explain to him the end that his search for purpose was "doomed from the start", and try to get him to kill himself in a blaze of glory. Pippin declines, but does he find his purpose? Nope - he gives up, deciding that love is purpose enough.
  • Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Over the course of Telltale Game's Sam and Max: Season One, Sybil Pandemik, the pair's neighbor, has a different business in her former tattoo parlor every episode. She's been a psychotherapist, a tabloid publisher, a professional witness, operator of two different dating services (romantic and radiocarbon), a beta tester, and Queen of Canada. In that order.
  • Dreamfall is basically all about this, with both Zoe and April being obvious examples though their respective endings differ.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, the character Clasko says "I've got to find my place in this world". If you do a sidequest for him, he eventually finds his knack for chocobo ranching. There is some exploration of this theme in the case of the Youth League, New Yevon and the Ronso as well.
    • In fact, it's a theme for the main characters too. Yuna having completed her supposed suicide mission is left with a lifetime of summoner training and no ability to use it. Paine is looking for a purpose, any purpose to distract her from what happened on the Crimson Squad, and Rikku (unbelievably, but accurately the most well adjusted of the three) just wants to have fun.
    • All of Spira seems to be have fallen into this after Sin's downfall. It's still an improvement since the only "purpose" they had when Sin was around was simple survival.
  • Vaan from Final Fantasy XII is like this in the middle of the game, where he admits to Ashe that even with his hatred of 'The Empire he had no purpose in life, making up stories like "I want to be a Sky Pirate" simply to stave off the feeling of being hollow and alone. He sticks with the party because he's hoping he will find his purpose in life with Ashe.
  • The Persona series:
    • Somewhat grimly done with Mitsuo is Persona 4 who becomes a copycat serial killer in a vain attempt to feel like he's doing something important or satisfying. When the party enters his section of the TV world, it turns out to be a NES style RPG dungeon, aptly titled "Void Quest." Along the way, we get some delightful narration along the lines of "Mitsuo slays Television Anchor (referring to a real murder in the outside world). Mitsuo gains a level. Mitsuo gains 2 Emptiness points." His shadow (the repressed part of himself) tells him that he has no purpose in life and that he'll never feel satisfied with anything. Unlike everyone else thrown in the TV world up to that point, he doesn't conquer his shadow and merely gets arrested while still in denial.
    • Persona 3 has Junpei Iori, who struggles with the knowledge that defeating the Shadows will mean having to face this trope head-on. It also has Yuko Nishiwaki facing the same problem, with her Social Link revolving around her discovering that purpose. It is also treated negatively; Jin Shirato turned evil because Takaya gave him a purpose in life.
  • In Heavy Rain one of Norman's endings is this He fails to help catch the origami killer and leaves drugs, ARI and the FBI behind to look for purpose and 'see what the real world's like'.
  • Grunt in Mass Effect 2 is simply trying to figure out what he wants out of his own life, since he is supposed to be a strong Krogan but feels nothing for the information imprinted in him by Okeer. Shepard helps Grunt find a purpose by helping him get accepted into clan Urdnot.
  • Carver in Dragon Age II, who feels inferior to his Mage sister Bethany and more capable older sibling Hawke, and desperately wants to prove himself to be a skilled fighter. Assuming he survives Act I, this can lead to one of two things happening: Either he contracts the Darkspawn taint and is forced to become a Gray Warden to survive, or he chooses to join the Mage-hunting Templars. Ironically, despite having it forced upon him, he finds work as a Gray Warden fulfilling. Templar, on the other hand, he turns out to not quite have the stomach for...
  • Canderous Ordo of Knights of the Old Republic was once a respected Mandalorian soldier. His people's defeat led to him being desperate enough to take a job cracking heads for a petty crime boss. When he finds the Player Character, he teams up with them to find better prospects. At the end of the game, he admits that he needs more in his life than fighting for fighting's sake. And he certainly finds it by the second game by becoming Mandalore the Preserver, and rebuilding his people.
  • In Xolga and Mr. Toko, part of Xolga's backstory is that his father abandoned his alcoholic wife and his son in order to "pursue [his] dreams", essentially leaving his child at the mercy of an alternatively abusive and neglectful mother. Needless to say, Xolga has issues with both his Parental Abandonment and people who takes this trope attitude in life. At the end of the first series, the man returns with his wife after she attempted suicide due to grief over their son disappearance. Talking with a plushified Xolga, the man confess that he still hasn't reached his dream, but hopes that rebuilding his marriage will give him some purpose at last.

Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • Larry Butz in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has two reasons for jumping from job to job: one is to chase after women, and the other is because he has no idea what to do with his life. He seems to finally settle on painting at the end of the third game.
    • Or not. He winds up playing the Steel Samurai in Investigations after giving up on art, apparently. However, his cameo in Apollo Justice may indicate that he eventually goes back to painting. Hard to tell from a few pixels, but he is wearing his Laurice Deauxnim colors and standing in front of easel.
      • Even if it's not painting, he at least seems to have settled on some form of artistic lifestyle.
    • Then comes Investigations 2 where he goes right back to being an artist, and his art surprisingly improves. It's a good theory that Larry will probably be an artist for the longest time. After all, in the third game, he wasn't lying when he said that Elise motivated him.
  • This trope is why Fate/stay night's Shiro Emiya and Kirei Kotomine are Not So Different. Neither of them has any sense of self-worth and can only find purpose in other people. The difference is that Shirou's is helping people, while Kotomine's (as noted above) is causing people suffering. And even then, Kotomine still isn't happy, because while the suffering of others is the only thing that makes him happy, that in and of itself makes him unhappy because he knows it's wrong.


Webcomics[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Mister Bickles in The Fairly OddParents, who seems to have a new lifelong dream every time we see him.
  • Homer Simpson has tried every job possible, often because he feels like he wants to try. A recurring gag on the show is Homer protesting to Marge that this new job is his lifelong dream, only for Marge to bring up another "lifelong dream" Homer had which he'd already accomplished. Inevitably, he either gets fired for his incompetence, or abandons it for the sake of his family.
  • In The Angry Beavers episode "Fancy Prance," it's revealed Dagget has had several thousand "lifelong dreams," and he adopts a new one ("crusty-but-lovable manager") in the pursuit of helping Norb with his lifelong dream.
  • Audrey in Little Shop (the Little Shop of Horrors cartoon) had a new life's ambition in each episode.
    • In the musical Seymour sings 'I keep asking God what I'm for/ But he tells me "Gee, I'm not sure."'
  • Bob Parr in The Incredibles, mainly because his true calling—superheroism—is illegal.
  • Skull Boy, from Ruby Gloom. Each episode, he discovers a talent he didn't know he had, and believes he is part of that heretic. In a musical special, he temporarily runs away to find his place in the world.
  • Peri from Spliced.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Call of the Cutie" reveals that ponies gain their cutie marks after discovering their purpose. This tends to occur around a certain age, leading to Apple Bloom desperately trying to discover her purpose because she doesn't want to be the last young pony in her class left 'blank-flanked'.
    • The episode ends with Apple Bloom and two classmates forming a Power Trio called the Cutie Mark Crusaders, specifically devoted to carrying out this trope. They spend various episodes trying to get their marks. Hilariously, they finally get their own marks when they realize that they (both individually and as a trio) are specially good at making others ponies understand theirs
    • This trope is also used to a lesser extent in "Winter Wrap-up", with Twilight spending most of the episode singing and attempting to find a way to help in the titular event.
  • Depressingly played with in the animated short "The Monk's Purpose," which aired on Liquid Television. A pilgrim comes to a stone idol in the desert, and asks it, "What is my purpose?" the idol comes to life and eats him, then spits out his staff onto a nearby pile of similar staffs.
  • An episode of Little Bill played this lite, with Bill going around trying to "find my thing", the thing he's good at.
  • Betty Staines from Staines Down Drains, who is shown starting a new job at the beginning of every episode.


Real Life[edit | hide]