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Teetotalism refers to either the practice of or the promotion of complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages. A person who practices (and possibly advocates) teetotalism is called a teetotaler.

Often a Badass character with a Dark and Troubled Past will curiously abstain from drinking with the rest of the characters, usually indicating that

  • he wants to keep his wits about him;
  • is a recovering alcoholic, or
  • his bastard father (and it's always his father) was a drunk.

A common prank is to trick this guy into drinking a "Long Island Iced Tea" (which is an alcoholic drink).

See also Straight Edge, Smug Straight Edge, Straight Edge Evil, and the Dry Crusader who is the more militant and self-righteous version of The Teetotaler. Contrast with I Do Not Drink... Wine. Direct opposite of The Alcoholic. These guys often prefer a Spot of Tea—though that's not where the "tee" in teetotaler comes from, common myth to the contrary. It's from "T-Total Abstinence," which is a form of Trope With a Capital T.

Examples of The Teetotaler include:

Comics — Books

  • Bruce Wayne is a teetotaler in the comics. Though his public persona is a borderline alcoholic.
  • Scott Pilgrim claims to be one of these, though he does drink on occasion and has gotten drunk once. This may have something to do with how Scott purposely changes things in his mind to idealize himself.
  • Joshua Carver of No Hero never drinks, smokes, and is a vegan.
  • Billy Butcher from The Boys.
  • Matthew from The Sandman, and he stopped drinking the hard way—as in, he died while drunk-driving in his previous life.
  • Jay Garrick, the original Flash. Mostly as a result of him being an old-fashioned elderly man.
  • Jackie Estacado, a.k.a. The Darkness, doesn't drink alcohol. And honestly, are you gonna rag on him for it?
  • When we are first introduced to Dwight in Sin City, he abstains from alcohol. He soon Takes a Level In Badass but seemingly continues not to drink, as evident when he is shown visiting bars but doesn't drink. Granted, he's typically working in those scenes but that doesn't stop other characters.
  • After recovering from his drunken fall from grace, Tony Stark was this. However, it remains if it stays after he sacrificed it to get Odin's attention.
  • Tintin, who holds himself up to Boy Scout-like standards—making him the perfect foil for his companion Captain Haddock. (Tintin was shown drunk once or twice, but never by his own fault—one time, he and Haddock got locked in a room full of wine and were affected by the fumes, for instance.)
  • The Phantom is teetotal, which appears to go in the family. He is at one point revealed to have a bar filled with 300+ years' worth of various vines and other spirits that have been gifted to the Phantoms over the years, that are still unopened because neither he nor any of his forefathers have ever touched any of it. His trademark Drink Order is milk—which, no matter how seedy the bar he walks into is, they always have a bottle of somewhere.


Films — Live-Action


Colonel Ehrhardt: You know, I never quite trust a man who doesn't drink or smoke.
Jozef Tura: (as Professor Siletski) You mean, like our Führer?
Colonel Ehrhardt: Yes... NO!

  • While it wasn't directly referenced in L.A. Confidential, Russell Crowe asked the writer and director whether his character, Bud White, ever drank alcohol. They told him no. Because he likes dyeing for his art, Crowe did the same during the entire shoot. As an Australian, he was miserable.
  • Nicholas Angel from Hot Fuzz was this in the beginning, drinking only Cranberry Juice. However he decided to drink beer later.
  • Léon, the eponymous character of Léon: The Professional, usually opting for milk instead. However, he does have one glass of champagne to celebrate his apprentice's first hit.
  • Aldous Snow of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. However, he does revert back to alcholism in Get Him to The Greek. Russell Brand, who plays Snow, is actually teetotal.


  • Sir Lancelot became one during The Once and Future King, and Sir Galahad, of course.
  • In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace's parents were teetotalers.
  • There are numerous teetotallers in the works of G. K. Chesterton, who almost always turn out either to be fools or thoroughly bad lots (one example is the Rev. David East in "The Man Who Shot the Fox").
  • Ibram Gaunt of Gaunt's Ghosts became an alcoholic at one point. He gets clean and becomes this trope.
  • Discworld
    • Commander Vimes stopped drinking entirely around Men At Arms, because he's a recovering alcoholic and doesn't want to get back onto that slippery slope at all. Although his body doesn't make enough natural alcohol, leading to him being in a constant state of knurd. Being knurd means you can't block out all the imperfections and failings of the world around you and constantly see everything at its worst. One time, he listed forcing him to tip away an entire bottle of single malt whiskey to be worse than murder.
    • Captain Carrot (surprisingly, given he was raised by dwarfs): In Guards Guards he was "persuaded to try a small shandy, and didn't like it much", and in Men At Arms he drowns his sorrows in milk.
    • Magrat Garlick, although she's been a victim of Intoxication Ensues once or twice.

Nanny Ogg: I said to the man, "What kind of fruit drinks do people drink around here?" and this is what he gave me. Made from bananas. A banana drink. You'll like it. It's what everyone drinks here. It's got bananas in it.
Magrat: It's certianly very ... strongly flavoured. Has it got sugar in it too?
Nanny Ogg: Very likely.

  • Charlie Chan is a teetotaler, but in a bit of double irony he is no fan of a Spot of Tea; he prefers sarsaparilla (a nonalcoholic root beer-like drink).
  • The residents of Ennett House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (sic) in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, being required to join AA or NA, are of course therefore required (theoretically) to be Type Bs, but Don Gately eventually comes to be an honest one (it's important).
  • Sir Raoul in the Tortall Universe is the "recovering alchoholic" type.

Live-Action TV

  • Seth Bullock on Deadwood. In contrast to the frequent use of alcohol by other characters (Doc Cochran, Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickock, Al Swearengen and his men), Bullock rarely drinks at all. IIRC, he only does so once during the first season, and its done with Swearengen as toast at the end of their conversation.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Detective William Murdoch is a Type C version, though as a devout Catholic one presumes that he makes an exception when his takes communion. This is specifically raised when he goes missing in the Season 3 premiere.
  • Mr. Garibaldi on Babylon 5 starts off as a Type B. He slips into drinking for an episode when he's framed in Season 1. In Season 5, his alcoholism became Off the Wagon.
  • In Rumpole of the Bailey, Sam Ballard seems to be one at first, being a goody-two-shoes who only ever drinks mineral water...but then we learn that he isn't, but really ought to be.
  • Neil Burnside of The Sandbaggers is Type A — shortly after being promoted to section chief, he had to resolve a crisis while extremely drunk, and resolved that he was never going to be in that situation again.
  • Sam on Cheers, who interestingly owns the bar.
  • Captain Jack Harkness in the first season of Torchwood only has one drink: to raise his glass to a fallen soldier. Otherwise he's always drinking plain water while whoever he's drinking with has something alcoholic. This becomes even more conspicious if one considers his original Doctor Who characterisation which included a habit of heavy drinking. The reasons for this change are probably a combination of keeping his wits and being a recovering alcoholic - he has spent a century working for an organisation that habitually slips Laser-Guided Amnesia drugs into people's drinks (or at least Jack does...), and we later see him drowning his sorrows in Victorian era flashbacks and alien space bars post-Children of Earth, so it's likely that he has at least a psychological addiction, even if he can't actually be physically hurt by too much alcohol. (He can get drunk, but he can't drink himself to his grave, as much as he wants to, sometimes.) Add to this that he really can't afford a case of In Vino Veritas at that point, and you have all the reasons a character might ever need to become temporarily teetotal. He much prefers good coffee over a Spot of Tea, though.

Pro Wrestling

  • CM Punk is Straight Edge. Which also makes him this trope.
  • Jerry Lawler, in real life, is also Straight Edge.
  • Triple H, as part of a short mini-feud between D-Generation X and CM Punk's "Straight Edge Society" unit, once claimed humorously that he also lived a clean lifestyle but without the need for any of the cult-like theatrics involved in SES.
    • Speaking of D-X, Shawn Michaels says he pretty much abandoned all his vices overnight the day he immersed himself in Christianity. Some would debate this, but not on the drinking front.
  • John Cena seems to be an embodiment of clean living and good morals in his character. Considering how much time and dedication he puts into representing the WWE in real life, especially for the kids, there may be some truth to it.
    • Averted actually - Cena is a pretty hard drinker, but never in front of the kids.

Video Games

  • A lifestyle choice in Kingdom of Loathing. Choosing to be incarnated as a teetotaler will block your ability to drink alcoholic beverages for the entire run in favor of a greater ability to consume food (which is unlocked about halfway in). There's also the "boozetafarian" path, which is this reversed, meaning that you may not consume food, while alcohol is completely fine, and finally the oxygenarian run, in which you may consume neither, although you can consume things that don't count as food. Needless to say, the oxygenarian run is the one that yields the most rewards.
  • Blaise in Rune Factory 3 openly hates alcohol. Apparently something happened when he had "a glass of wine at a party", but he doesn't remember and no one will tell you what!

Web Comics

  • Gabe from Penny Arcade doesn't even take aspirin or those vitamin boosts at Jamba Juice, and was too nervous to take his prescribed anxiety medication. Compare to the often-drunken Tycho.
  • Kittan of Double K was one of these. But a few panels of hanging out with Kamina, and a certain word starting with a p and rhyming with fussy changed that real quick.

Real Life

  • The pirate Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts was a Teetotaler.
  • Adolf Hitler was at one time a very dedicated smoker, and grew to find the habit disgusting.
  • 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt was a Teetotaler. His drink of choice was coffee which he was rumored to have drunk at least a gallon of a day.
  • Richard E. Grant. Cue Irony when he was cast as the alcoholic Withnail in Withnail and I. The director got him to go on a drinking binge once to better understand the character. Grant reportedly found it "deeply unpleasant".
  • Possible Trope Codifier: Wyatt Earp was known for drinking tea instead of alcohol. This obviously gave him a useful advantage in reaction time when breaking up (the perpetrators of) barfights.
  • Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Stuka bomber pilot and quite possibly the most destructive man ever abstained from both drinking and smoking.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche saw alcoholism as a method of escaping from reality, which was also the basis on which he rejected religion and mysticism.
  • Gene Simmons states that the reason that he's such a successful rock star was that he never drinks and never does drugs.
  • Russell Brand
  • Natalie Portman
  • Theoretically, Muslims, Mormons, and certain others are supposed to be teetotal. In practice, this varies widely, generally corresponding to the individual's general level of piety.[1] This can come as a shock to some, who are so used to the stereotype of Muslims and/or Mormons being Dry Crusader teetotal fanatics that the sight of an otherwise perfectly sincere and decent Muslim/Mormon casually tippling has been noted to set their minds on end.
  • Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench abstains from alcohol, due to his "dark and troubled past."
  1. Piety defined as following the official rules of the religion. It is not to be confused with faith, or sincerely believing in the tenets of the religion; people who have faith but are not pious often have justification for it, and even for those who don't...well, there's the old saying that hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, or in a phrase some might understand better, Catholic Guilt.