Tropaholics Anonymous

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

"My name is Unknown Troper... and I'm a Tropaholic."
"Hi, Unknown!"

Support groups: The most common form in the popular consciousness supports addicts, but in both reality and fiction, all varieties of personal problems have groups dedicated to group therapy for them. Either way, it's cheaper than paying for a psychiatrist.

Typically portrayed as Epiphany Therapy in productions like the Lifetime Movie of the Week. If an addiction is involved, Off the Wagon is a natural accompanying trope for the character. And like a Weird Trade Union, there can be patently ridiculous parodies of support groups. There are several typical formulas:

  • Introducing yourself, and identifying as the particular class of person the group supports. A Truth in Television formula, with a good psychological reason for its use. Usually the others will respond in a very bored voice, "Hello, (name)."
  • A main character will be reticent to share with the group, become prodded by a kindly-voiced group leader, and subsequently let fly a torrent of suppressed disdain for the group at large, while in the same breath revealing a great deal of bitter personal information.
  • Important characters tend to meet each other in these groups.

Monsters Anonymous is a Sub-Trope.

Unfortunately, no, it's not an actual support group for breaking your All The Tropes addiction. Mwahaha. (And if it was real, it would be for addition to tropeahol anyway.)

Examples of Tropaholics Anonymous include:


Comic Books[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Incredible Hulk, Betty and the Grey Hulk once imagined a support group for gamma-irradiated superhumans. "Sitting in tiny little chairs... which keep breaking under us..."
  • Runaways introduced Excelsior, the support group for teenage ex-superheroes.
  • In All Fall Down, Paradigm admits to Portia that since everyone lost their powers, he's been attending meetings at "Remaining Heroes".


Comic Strips[edit | hide]

  • Get Fuzzy: "Hi, my name is Rob... and I'm a Red Sox fan."


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]

  • Finding Nemo has a group for sharks who want to give up eating fish.
  • Wreck-It Ralph features "Bad-Anon", a group for videogame villains who feel depressed / shoehorned / etc because of their roles. Besides the title character, there's Bowser, Robotnik, a zombie, Zangief, M. Bison, a Pac-Man ghost...


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • Parodied by the group family-therapy session in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Scott Evil wants to be a veterinarian.

"An Evil vet?"

  • In Half Baked, Thurgood Jenkins goes to a drug addiction meeting to help him quit marijuana. After this line:

Cocaine Addict: Marijuana is not a drug. I used to suck dick for coke. Now that's an addiction. You ever suck some dick for marijuana?

  • Henchmen Anonymous also appeared at the very end of The Movie of Inspector Gadget.
  • Like Dexter, the eponymous serial killer of Mr. Brooks attends an addiction support group to deal with his compulsion to kill. (Brooks did this before that season of Dexter happened, too.)
  • In Two for the Money, Al Pacino's character is a a reformed gambling addict, but one who stills runs a business advising sports gambling to people willing to bet millions of dollars on it. At one point he visit a Gambler's Anonymous support group, seemingly as part of staying off his gambling kick... only to make his protegee gasp in horror as he begins tempting the guys there into gambling again and passes out his card.
  • Rachel Getting Married has Kym attending local Narcotics Anonymous meetings for a few days before her sister's wedding; this is how she meets Kieran, who she ends up sleeping with, although it's not clear whether they'll actually keep in touch once Kym leaves town.
  • Fred Claus has Siblings Anonymous, frequented by siblings of celebrities such as Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, Steven Baldwin and of course, the title character who is the brother of Santa.
  • The vast majority of Twenty Eight Days (the one with Sandra Bullock, not the one with the infection) takes place at a rehab center, playing the trope deadly straight (most of the time).
  • In a fairly serious vein, AA played a significant role in the plot of Days of Wine and Roses, including two characters (male lead and his buddy/sponsor) standing up at a meeting and introducing themselves as alcoholics.
  • Hackers has one. "My name is _____ and I'm not an addict, really!" [shouts of derision] The kid, who is smoking rapidly between sips of coffee explains that he got in trouble for hacking and his lawyer made him out an addict so he wouldn't get so big a punishment. At the end of his diatribe, he asks if there's more coffee.
  • About a Boy: Hugh Grant attends a single parents' (i.e. single mothers, plus Hugh Grant) support group to "pick up chicks". Plot follows when he begins dating one of the women, having "bared his soul" about being a single parent: now all he needs is an actual schoolboy to play the part....
  • In You Kill Me, the main character is sent to AA in San Francisco after he falls asleep and misses an assassination.
  • Will Ferrell's character in Blades of Glory is a sex addict in recovery.
  • In the thriller Changing Lanes, Samuel L. Jackson plays a recovering alcoholic who is on the verge of turning his life around, as evidenced by his cheery speech at an AA meeting near the beginning of the film. Unfortunately for him, the situation is about to change drastically for the worse.
  • Amy goes to Alcoholics' Anonymous meetings in Men with Brooms. Where she is hit on by, and brutally (and hilariously) shoots down a creepy biker guy, complete with an interpreter translating her rather crude choice of words into sign language.
  • Anger Management has a support group. Guess what for.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Discworld
    • From The Fifth Elephant—that's where the meeting is, though the group is mentioned in later books—there is the Black Ribboners, for vampires who wanted to quit drinking blood.
    • Also, mentioned in Thud, is Detritus' "One Step Programme" to get trolls off drugs. Step one, stop using drugs, or Detritus will beat the crap out of you.
    • Conversational Troping in Feet of Clay, when Vimes claims to be addicted to policing, and says that while he goes to meetings for his drinking problem, there's nowhere for people to say things like "My name is Sam, and I'm a suspicious bastard."
  • The narrator of Fight Club visited all sorts of support groups for problems he didn't have, as did Marla. He reacted to other's trauma by finally relaxing enough to sleep. When Marla ultimately forces him to leave the groups out of humiliation, he and Tyler found Fight Club.
  • The protagonist of Choke is a sex addict who routinely picks up women at his Sexaholics Anonymous meetings.
  • The protagonist of Wrath James White's Succulent Prey attends a support group for sex addicts. While he is indeed a sex addict, his biggest problem is his growing cannibalistic urges.
  • Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes has this in spades, not unexpected since it deals with the titular character's recovery from drug addiction. Mostly it's mentioned in passing, but at least one meeting is described in detail.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Lost
    • Locke goes into a bitter diatribe about his biological father conning him out of a kidney with feigned love and affection. And meets his love interest, who comes up to him after the session to tell him she shares his disdain for the sad sacks filling the group.
    • Another episode features a confrontation between Jack and Christian at Christian's AA meeting; the fight pushes him off the wagon.
  • One literal Lifetime Movie of the Week has one of these for a son who'd been beating his mother, engaging in a few Freudian slips in his near-Motive Rant at which the guy he's talking to nods in an irritatingly smug, see-what-you-said-there way.
  • Heroes
    • Niki is an alcoholic who was approached by her also alcoholic father, after years of estrangement, at a meeting.
    • And in Volume 5, Matt Parkman attends AA meetings to fight the temptation to use his powers. He used a claim of alcoholism to cover for his previous years of erratic behavior.
  • Roseanne criticized AA in the same vein as South Park. Roseanne's mother Bev joins AA, but rather than actually stopping her wine guzzling, she simply rationalizes her weakness as a disease (which alcoholism is, medically; Knowledge plus Bev=Danger!), and blaming her lapses on her family's failure to support and understand her—or as Roseanne would say, calling her on her crap.
  • Seinfeld no doubt has more examples, but George, stalking a guy to AA for some reason only Costanza could understand, ended up in the wrong one, Rageaholics Anonymous. Oh yeah, there was Germaphobes Anonymous in that episode too.
  • Dexter has the title character go into Narcotics Anonymous after he covered up his strange behavior (related to his serial killing) by telling his girlfriend he was a addict (she assumes it's heroin). The therapy ended up reaching over into his desire to kill, but also set him up with an enabler. And causes him to meet a hot Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette whose supportive sexual relationship actually keeps him clean for much of the season.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond parodied it with an almost cult-like group of hippie wannabes. Robert's cousin persuades him to join this "feel good about yourself" support group; Robert gets to feeling good and convinces Raymond to visit the group. It all turns out to be a big scam on the part of the group who just wanted to meet famous sportswriter Raymond.
  • In the Life episode "Powerless", Charlie Crews attends Dani Reese's AA meeting to help her catch a suspected rapist. Charlie spoke at the meeting, describing his own feelings of powerlessness as if being in a prison. Dani was the only one at the meeting who knew Charlie had been in prison, framed for murder. (Charlie's obsession with finding out who framed him for murder and why can be seen as similar to an addiction.)
  • Dr. Sara Tancredi went to Narcotics Anonymous in the Backstory of Prison Break, and she originally met Bellick in one of those groups.
  • In an episode of Mad About You, Paul goes to an AA meeting to show his support to a guy he met on the highway and made a Dead Baby Comedy joke about his alcoholism.
  • On Alias, after the second Retool and Time Skip in which Sydney lost her memory of two years, she briefly attends a support group for CIA agent amnesiacs. She decides that she doesn't heal through talking, but through making entertaining episodes of investigation and Wig, Dress, Accent.
  • In Nip Tuck, Christian Troy seduces someone at his first Sexaholics Anonymous meeting, and she goes on to become a recurring love interest.
  • The protagonist of the The X-Files episode "Hunger" is a man-eating monster who just wants to be normal and so at one point attends an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
  • Starved, FX's short-lived comedy about people with eating disorders, featured the unconventional Belt Tighteners: "Belt Tighteners is not affiliated with any 12 step group or dieting program. We believe we need a more radical solution to arrest our eating problems. By creating a community of accountability and shame, we don't act out."
  • Both the UK and US versions of Dear John have as their setting a support group for divorced, widowed, and lonely single people.
  • Dr. Bob Hartley's therapy group on The Bob Newhart Show.
  • Parodied in Scrubs, where J.D. imagines what the acerbic Doctor Cox would be like in Group therapy. After the imaginary Cox beans a fellow person with a chair he decides, "I don't think he'd do well in group."
  • On an episode of the Norm MacDonald sitcom Norm, the title character is shamed into attending a support group for his gambling problem. At the first meeting, he stands up and gives a heartfelt speech about how he finally realizes he has a problem, and that he's no better than the other people at the meeting. Twenty seconds later, when he realizes he's accidentally shown up at Necrophiliacs Anonymous, he quickly recants.
  • On Reaper, the Devil takes over an AA meeting in order to get people to relapse.
  • One of the recurring skits on Little Britain is Fat Fighters.
  • The Red Green Show (maybe this wasn't until The New Red Green Show?) had a support group for... men. Includes the "Introducing Yourself" thing. It also has the "Man's Prayer": "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess."
  • Don from No Heroics goes to superhero therapy sessions. He has no choice. The booze, the heroin, the hardcore pornography, the violence—none of it is helping him anymore.
  • Being Human (UK)

George: Hi. My name's George, and I'm a werewolf.
Mitchell: Hi, George.

    • Later, Mitchell sets up a vampire version of AA for those trying to give up the blood.
  • The West Wing has a secret AA group, for politicians who aren't willing to admit to the world that they're alcoholics. They tell everyone it's a poker game, and it's run by the vice-president.
  • In In Plain Sight, Alcoholic Parent Jinx has Brandi pretend to be her and attend AA in her place, which is how Brandi ends up meeting her current boyfriend.
  • Zack and Moseby of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody attend a 12-step program for video game addicts after getting hooked on an MMORPG seriously disrupts their lives.
  • Rescue Me showcases Tommy Gavin's... ambiguous relationship with AA; presumably, his attitudes reflect those of Denis Leary, who plays him.
  • Breaking Bad features a methamphetamine support group starting Season 3. Jesse and some of his friends try at first to subvert it to sell meth, but Jesse—whose conscience and sense of justice have always lurked beneath the surface—eventually comes to have much more mixed feelings about the project (particularly after he hears that a lot of the other people's troubles began with the ultra-pure "blue stuff" that he is in part responsible for).
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a sketch about an AA meeting where it's not entirely clear whether AA stands for "Alcoholics Anonymous" or "Automobile Association".
  • On Party of Five, this becomes a major aspect of Bailey's struggle with alcohol.
  • Bubbles' time in and out of support groups is a recurring theme of his arc on The Wire. His ultimate redemption and acceptance by his estranged sister is a serious Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • On Thirty Rock, Liz gets worried when she sees Floyd entering a church in the middle of the week, only to discover that he's a recovering alcoholic.
  • Brenda on Six Feet Under struggles with sex addiction and is shown attending meetings. There is also discussion of some of her "steps" (making amends, undergoing periods of sobriety/abstinence, etc.).
  • Nick Knight infiltrates AA at one point and decides to try applying their advice to his craving for blood. Unfortunately, being a vampire isn't the same as being an addict, and stopping blood turns out to be a pretty bad idea for him.
  • In Smallville, Lex Luthor meets a Love Interest of his at an Anger Management class, after he destroys a meterman's car.
  • In My Name Is Earl, Earl explains that a lack of funding means the town can only have one support group for all problems. So the single support group will have, among others: alcoholics, a kleptomaniac who steals only pens, a sex addict, a woman with an anger problem, and more.


Stand-up Comedy[edit | hide]

  • French comedian Manu Payet has a sketch about going to "Nutella Anonymous" meetings.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Warcraft 3's expansion has the Blood Mage, who gives us this response if clicked on sufficiently:

Blood Mage: Uh, hi, my name's Roy and, uh, I'm a magic addict.
All: (chorus) Hello, Roy.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

"Hello, my name is Sonic and I am addicted to gambling."
"Hi Sonic."


Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • South Park criticized AA's 12 steps as completely disregarding responsibility and self-restraint in favor of invoking a higher power as seen in the season nine finale "Bloody Mary". Apparently, Parker and Stone didn't even seem to consider quitting cold-turkey as a good idea in the first place.
  • The Simpsons
    • Parodied, of course, with Marge's alcoholism and recovery (and with Homer going to Alc-Anon after getting busted on a DWI, with Otto the bus driver revealing that he loves to get blotto and the allegedly elderly Hans Moleman revealing that drinking has ruined his life and that he's actually 31 years old).
    • There was also the film festival episode (a.k.a that Crossover episode with Jay Sherman from The Critic that Matt Groening hated so much that he didn't bother to put his name in the credits). In Barny's film, he is shown standing up and saying "My name is Barny and I am an alcoholic". Soon after, the camera pans out and Lisa points out he's in a girl scouts meeting, which Barny disregards as them "afraid to admit they have a problem!"
  • Several Rocko's Modern Life episodes make fun of the twelve steps or include a support group.
    • One has Rocko develop an addiction to nail-biting that critters called "the Twelve Steps" tried to help him overcome. One of them actually threatened to hurt him if he didn't admit what was wrong, and said that nail-biting would only take six steps instead of the full twelve (the other half-dozen decided to go to Vegas instead).
  • The Looney Tunes short Birds Anonymous has Sylvester trying to rid himself of his bird addiction.
  • In The Venture Brothers, the two Mauve Shirt henchmen go to a henchmen anonymous meeting. They end up suggesting that the members go become their own supervillains. Over the mediator's objections, the idea becomes popular.
  • Megalomaniacs Anonymous from Pinky and The Brain.
  • Pepper Ann goes to a support group after she becomes obsessed with Beanie Baby like dolls.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.