Forgot to Feed the Monster

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(Yes, that is a Bee-Bee Gun.)

Mr. Burns: My league! My beautiful league! All dead.

Smithers: Even monsters need air, sir.

Overmind: I starved those zerglings for a week so they'd be extra vicious!

Grant: Biggs, why are there so many dead zerglings? I'm scared...
The Adventures of BAG

In comedy works, it sometimes happens that a character will attempt to summon their minions, reveal a surprise character/animal/pet, or use a creature-based attack, only to have said minions/mooks/critters show up dead or incapacitated. Why? Because the character forgot to feed them or otherwise pay for their upkeep.

This trope is frequently a parody, is almost always Lampshaded, and is often used as a form of Deconstruction applied to other tropes, such as Zerg Rush, We Have Reserves, Summon Magic, and Bee-Bee Gun. When it happens, it's usually to the Miser Advisor, Jerkass, Cloudcuckoolander, or The Ditz characters, as they're presumably the kinds of people who would be too flaky or too cheap to feed the minions. The Butt Monkey or Cosmic Plaything may also suffer this fate as a natural consequence of the universe screwing with them. When it happens to an Evil Overlord, it can be a result of incompetence on the part of the Minion with an F In Evil.

Compare It Works Better with Bullets, For Want of a Nail. Contrast Infinite Supplies, Offscreen Villain Dark Matter, Perpetual Motion Monster. A subtrope and subversion of Crazy Prepared.

Examples of Forgot to Feed the Monster include:


Advertising

  • A bafflingly dark M&Ms ad had a man realizing that his girlfriend never opened the gift that he had gotten for her, and after rushing to the closet and tearing it open he watches the anthropomorphic M&M inside chokes on its last breath.


Comics

  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, this serves as the basis for the classic "Bag Wars" arc. Brian, while checking the list of what his character is keeping in his bag of holding, discovers a complement of hirelings he had placed in there and forgotten about. When he investigates, he discovers that the hirelings have used the resources of the bag to build a keep and declare themeselves an independent nation. Writer Jolly Blackburn claims this storyline was inspired by an actual incident in one of his games where a player hid hirelings in a bag of holding in order to smuggle them into an enemy stronghold and then forgot about them.
  • In Wormy, the "Seige of the Iron Keep" wargaming set that Wormy had ordered took four months to be delivered. Unfortunately, the enclosed playing pieces had only been provided with six weeks of rations.
  • There was an incompetent Mad Scientist dr Fishtein in Gorsky and Butch. All his death traps involved some kind of predatory fish, always dead because he kept forgetting about water...

Literature

  • In the Discworld book Wintersmith, Roland and the Nac Mac Feegle travel to a disused Underworld to rescue the Summer Lady, and find the skeleton of a three-headed dog that had apparently starved to death.
    • In Sourcery, there's a sequence where the Grand Vizier attempts to find a way of killing/torturing Rincewind, but keeps being told there's something wrong with the device. For example, when he suggests throwing Rincewind in a cage with a tiger, he's told the tiger is ill.
  • Overlaps with Buried Alive in Poe's short story "The Premature Burial"
  • Subverted in the H.P. Lovecraft story The Dunwich Horror, where the monster escapes from its prison when its master, Wilbur Whateley, fails to return to feed it after being mauled to death by a guard dog.
  • In a variant, one of the Magic: The Gathering tie-in novels had an ancient (and slightly senile) wizard summon up a vicious unnatural horror he remembered from his youth - only to get a heap of dusty bones. This prompted him to think something along the lines of "Has it really been so long?"

Live Action TV

  • Played straight in the fifth season of Angel, when Illyria returns to Vahla'hanesh to get her demonic army. She's been dead so long they have all crumbled to dust.
  • Any time GOB does a magic trick illusion involving animals in Arrested Development
  • One episode of Horrible Histories covered Tudor medical treatments. One of them involved covering live spiders in butter and feeding them to the sick victim. They were about to try it, but couldn't, because they forgot to feed the spiders.

Video Games

  • One of the bosses of that long-forgotten NES game Monster Party apologizes when you enter its room: "Sorry, I'm dead." Lets Player Deceased Crab takes his name from this boss.
  • Keeping your pet(s) fed in Nethack is important (and fortunately quite easy). Feeding them treats will train them to fetch. Also, being separated from your pet(s) (on a different level) for too long will lead to them going feral. A possible YASD is being killed by a former pet.
  • Averted in Nintendogs: If you neglect to feed your dog, eventually it will simply "run away." But it returns no worse for wear (if a little dirtier) soon afterwards.
  • In The Sims and its sequels, it is possible, albeit difficult, to starve your Sims to death by neglect. The difficult part is because the poor things will try anything to feed themselves until the fridge runs out of food and they're too broke to order pizza, unless you intentionally trap them in a room with no doors. Attempt this on a child, however, and a Social Services worker will come to take them away.


Webcomics

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: In Beeman's interlude, here. "Wait, how long ago did I load this?"
  • Subverted in Order of the Stick, as Evil Overlord Xykon responds to his minions' complaints of not being paid/fed/whatever by killing them and raising them as zombies. Because they're just as strong, and cheaper to feed.
  • Also used dramatically in The Dementia Of Magic: When the hero sees all sorts of dying monsters in the dungeon, he correctly guesses the evil sorceress that has been harassing and taunting him is not that competent.
  • O tries to invoke this in a Commissioned strip, to deal with a player who keeps his familiar in a sack and never makes any reference to it except when it's currently useful. He's talked down to the familiar having just run away due to neglect.
  • Inverted in Sluggy Freelance, where failure to give Satan's feline offspring milk on a daily basis results in them becoming extremely dangerous, and they're otherwise docile. The entire plot of the first K I T T E N all started because one of their caretakers switched from the real deal to a soy-based substitute; the sequel involved a government conspiracy depriving the town of milk so they could reproduce the conditions of two years ago.
    • Then Torg feels he forgot to do something before the visit to Japan, when on the way back they had some Yakuza following them... ah - to feed Aylee! [1]
  • Penny Arcade once demonstrated the trope with a Pokémon.
  • The Dreadful does this in #059.

Liz: Wow, I forgot I had this fairy in a bottle thing.

Web Original


Western Animation

  • The Simpsons has done this at least twice, most notably with Mr. Burns' League of Evil.

"Uh, your fish are dead."
"Yeah, I... can't get them out of there."

    • Once he actually killed his minions by leaving them behind a secret door for too long.
  • Family Guy loves this trope. In one episode, Peter set up a celebration for the time when Lois said "You were right." It finally happened and he activated it. He wondered what happened to the clown; then a skeleton wearing a rainbow afro plummets to the floor. In another, Peter reveals he'd been saving a pony for an easy way to cheer up Meg when needed. Opens the closet, sees its skeleton.

Peter: "Uh that's right, ponies...ponies like food, don't they

  • The Monarch in The Venture Brothers had a trap in his lair which consisted of releasing a horde of "man eating butterflies"... except he forgot to feed them, so Brock just had several hundred dead butterflies dumped on his head. The Monarch then berates his henchmen for the mistake.
    • On a related note, at one point Dr. Venture is going through his mail, and opens a package containing a coiled cobra, poised to strike, and the words "Die, Dr. Venture!" written in blood. After a moment, the snake crumbles into dust, at which point he checks the postmark, realizing a) the package has been on his desk for years, and b) "I really have to get my shit together."
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon digs a top hat out of a trunk while mentioning that he hasn't practiced the trick in 20 years. He then reaches into the hat and pulls out a rabbit skeleton, to which Garfield remarks, "Maybe you should've fed the rabbit."

Real Life

  • Neglect has led to the death of many a beloved pet (or even child) in Real Life, for reasons ranging from forgetfulness to addiction to malice. Since this is neither funny nor relevant, please refrain from adding examples.
  • There's a classic riddle about a man who is given the choice of taking his chances with cannibals, or being thrown into a pit full of lions who haven't eaten in a year. He chooses the lions and escapes, because the lions have obviously died at this point.
  • Admit it; you've had a virtual pet that you left alone for ages and came back only to find it was dead, diseased, and surrounded by its own crap.