Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A Frenchman, a German and a Jew walk into a bar. "I'm tired and thirsty," says the Frenchman. "I must have wine." "I'm tired and thirsty," says the German. "I must have beer." "I'm tired and thirsty," says the Jew. "I must have diabetes."

I *cough* can't Describe Hypochondria Here. I, I think I have Rigelian Fever. I can tell because I blew my nose three times today!

This trope is the tendency for people to often, if not outright chronically, think they are coming down with diseases based on vague symptoms.

This is usually Played for Laughs in fiction, showing these people as whiny, lazy, and/or paranoid. This is especially common among Jews making fun of themselves for being like this. These are extra funny when the disease in question isn't even real (or it's extinct), even in the work of fiction.

This can be Played for Drama though, if someone is actually debilitated by this, but it's rare. And in shows with Abusive Parents or Comedic Sociopathy, a character's genuine illness may be brusquely dismissed with accusations of this. "Pnuemonia, my ass. You're just lazy!"

This can lead to a "Boy who cried 'Wolf'" moment when the hypochondriac actually does get sick.

These days, using the internet for self diagnosis has become a new tool for this trope.

A Sickly Neurotic Geek is more likely to be this than actually sickly.

A Super-Trope to Induced Hypochondria.

Compare Terrified of Germs, Playing Sick, Munchausen Syndrome (both when characters know they aren't actually sick), You Don't Want to Catch This (which is faking an illness for other reasons), Mistaken for Dying, Jewish Complaining (which often involves something that might get them sick).

Examples of Hypochondria include:


  • Woody Allen is more than likely to play this character.
  • In Guys and Dolls, Nathan Detroit's fiancee Adelaide is a hypochondriac, as shown in the song "Adelaide's Lament."


Live-Action TV

  • In Parks and Recreation, Chris was born with a blood disease and it was predicted that he would die within days. As an adult, he's a health nut in ridiculously good shape, but becomes a hypochondriac and germaphobe when there's a chance of his becoming sick. This is played for both humor and drama.
  • Michael's mom in Burn Notice, is hypochondriac for just the first episode.
  • House:
    • A guy was convinced he was getting diabetes because of his family history, and when he did get sick it turned out to be caused by the "special diet" he made his wife make him. House was much displeased.
    • One example that is from the main case and not clinic duty is half of the Death in the Clouds episode.
  • Scrubs has a minor recurring hypochondriac. Doctors dread taking his case.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation actually predicted something happening before it was reality: hypochondriacs diagnosing themselves over the internet! In this case, Reg Barclay looking up symptoms for various diseases, including transporter psychosis.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, the EMH wrote a holonovel called Photons be Free which featured characters that were thinly disguised expies of the Voyager crew. When Harry Kim ran the program, he encountered his character, Kymble, who was worrying about the possibility of their decompiling the fictional EMH because there were probably millions of new viruses in the Delta Quadrant and he'd probably end up catching half of them. "Great," grumbled the real Harry Kim, "my character's a hypochondriac."


  • The Who song "Doctor, Doctor" (by John Entwhistle) takes this to ludicrous extremes:

Doctor, thanks for seeing me today, I'm glad
I've got every sickness there is to be had
I had whooping cough last month
And today I've got the mumps
And tomorrow I'll catch chicken pox as well

Newspaper Comics

  • In Liberty Meadows, Leslie the frog is a hypochondriac who diagnoses himself with anything from lead poisoning (from a pencil) to "ovarian cysts", much to Frank's frustration.

Web Comics

  • Wonderella once thinks she's come down with bird flu.

Western Animation

  • Kyle's east coast cousin in South Park is like this.
  • The Disney Junior series Doc McStuffins features a hypochondriac snowman character who worries about such things as getting broken bones (he's a stuffed toy), being wet (he's a snowman) and catching various illnesses that aren't contagious.