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"When Rick told me he was having trouble with his wife, I had to laugh. Not because of what he said, but because of a joke I thought of. I told him the joke, but he didn't laugh very much. Some friend he is."
Jack Handey

Common sense dictates that it never pays to judge someone too quickly, jump to conclusions, or condemn someone without hearing the whole story. In the world of fiction, however, many characters are not only guilty of all of the above, but feel no remorse for it whatsoever, even when it results in serious emotional damage.

For example, here's a quick quiz: It's your birthday, and you have told your boyfriend/girlfriend/other Loved One exactly what you would like as a present to mark the occasion. You walk into the living room and find your gift...which has been broken/ripped into a million little pieces, although someone has clearly been making a valiant effort to repair it. Moreover, it's the wrong colour. As you're staring at it, your Loved One stumbles in from the kitchen. They have their arm in a sling, their jeans have been ripped by something that clearly has sharp teeth, and they don't seem to have noticed that their hair is on fire. Seeing you, they offer a lopsided smile, and a tired if hopeful "Happy birthday."

Do you:

  • a) Ask "what the heck happened to you?" as you reach for the fire extinguisher or fire blanket?
  • b) Tearfully hug them in an attempt to soothe their distress (trying to avoid being set alight yourself)?
  • c) Throw a hissy fit at their failure to secure the correct colour of gift, rant and rave at their clumsiness in breaking it, then toss them out of the house before they set off the sprinklers?

Most of us of (relatively) sound mind would choose (a) -- the softer hearted (or fireproof) among us would choose (b). For some reason, though, an awful lot of characters in fiction prefer (c), throwing a tantrum or launching into a lecture when there really weren't any grounds for one.

It's as if they've suffered a complete empathy failure. Anyone can tell that The Hero has had a hard time. They've got the scars to prove it. At the very least, any onlooker's sense of curiosity should wake up for long enough to ask "Why is there a piranha attached to your thigh?" Moreover, basic human decency would dictate that we cut them some slack when they're clearly in pain, at least for long enough to figure out the whole story.

More bewildering is when the friend/onlooker knows exactly what the hero's been through, because they were there too. They know that Diabolus Ex Machina has been rather busy in the hero's social circle, and that his buddy Deus Angst Machina covered a couple of Diabolus' shifts for him when he had the cold. Yet still they show absolutely no mercy, demanding that the hero "pull himself together" or "get over it!" So much for friendship.

A variant of this trope is a character type who is blind to the suffering of others. Not in the active, thoughtlessly cruel way of Comedic Sociopathy, but just completely unable to appreciate the pain or distress of other people. If anyone "fails" them, there will be hell to pay, no matter how much effort went into fulfilling their orders. Generally, this is a personality trait of more cynical characters, such as The Stoic. Some Tsundere types sport it as well, although in this case they'll probably be called on it. In both cases, the writer usually makes it clear that the "problem" is on the side of the character with No Sympathy, not on the side of whoever is unfortunate enough to cross them.

This is an odd trope; although often seen in comedies, it's not always comedic as far as the audience is concerned, and can be a real sucker punch if the protagonist undergoes tremendous hardship only to have his friends berate him.

A Kafka Komedy often invokes this trope. Comedic Sociopathy is its demented sibling. Sometimes No Sympathy can be justified if the characters are young, since younger people are expected to be more self-centered and less empathic than adults...although, having said that, this may be extremely unfair to young people.

Supertrope of Badly-Battered Babysitter. Contrast Ungrateful Bastard. If a character is deliberately stated to be incapable of sympathising with the feelings or viewpoints of others, that's Lack of Empathy. For when nobody seems to find women enacting random violence towards men for non-existent reasons at all unusual see Unprovoked Pervert Payback. Rashomon Style shows frequently have contrasting examples of this: someone who got hurt will usually report callousness and lack of sympathy from the other characters, while each one describes him or herself as the one who acted most effectively and compassionately to the injury.


Examples of plot-related No Sympathy


Anime and Manga

  • Deconstructed in Fruits Basket, where failure to acknowledge the distress of others is a major character flaw, especially in brothers Yuki and Ayame.
  • In Eureka Seven, 14-year-old Renton's undying loyalty to the crew of the Gecko State is rewarded with a humiliating fake mission staged for their amusement. Told that it was of 'paramount importance', Renton doesn't even realize he's being mocked. As the 'mission' starts to fall apart, so does he. In tears, berating himself for his uselessness, the crew watches via secret camera as he delivers a lengthy speech about his admiration for them all, his happiness at being given this critical mission, and above all, his trust in them. They stare, wide eyed, at the screen... and burst into laughter at how idiotic he is. Then they make the mission objectives more ridiculous, photograph him at the most humiliating point of his life, and publicize it on the cover of a globally read magazine. The entire mission is recorded. And shown to his girlfriend. It's actually meant to be amusing. It's not.
    • And, for the record, Holland himself watches the video. The last words of the episode are him muttering to himself "I am so uncool."
  • Tends to happen in Slayers, usually to anyone who isn't named Lina - she's generally the instigator. The most extreme cases range from Comedic Sociopathy (using the chimeric Zelgadis as a boat anchor to catch a dragon in a lake, where he nearly drowns, gets hurt, and nearly eaten) to Kafka Komedy (using Princess Amelia as a bride for fish bait in order to survive on an island in a radio drama; before that she nearly died in the ocean, and in another drama Lina shows no concern for Amelia when she shoves her in a barrel to hide and forgets that she is drowning in a sewer) to genuinely sad moments (neither Lina or Zelgadis show care when Sylphiel's father is killed or when Amelia's father is thought to have been assassinated). And there is plenty of abuse towards Gourry to go around. It's a wonder that Lina's three companions aren't horribly broken after dealing with her across five TV series.
    • Other adaptations, however, tone all of this down.
  • Hoo, man, Shitsurakuen. The ENTIRE manga is based around insanely abusive boys with equally insane superiority complexes. It's actually a bit difficult to read, simply because everyone is a Complete Monster, and a good amount are Karma Houdinis.
    • Hey they're learning the meaning of feelings....well at least some of them...sort of
  • Played for Drama in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Fate Testarossa, only 9 years old, is told to collect magical artifacts of untold power by her mother, Precia. She throws herself at the task with reckless abandon, exhausting and injuring herself to dangerous levels. Her mother responds by whipping her until she collapses, furious at how slowly Fate's progress has been. It gets worse. When it's found out that Fate is just a clone, Precia says something to the effect of "That's right. You're nothing but a fake. I never loved you once. I despise you." Fate STILL forgives her, and says that even if she's hated, she'll still protect her mother. Her mother smiles, and replies "How stupid."
    • Then again, some think that Fate's last speech actually did get through to Precia, and that Precia drove Fate away so that Fate wouldn't throw her life away in a futile attempt to save her from the TSAB and the collapsing Garden. Essentially, this means that Precia wanted Fate to be happy, but knew she couldn't be the mom Fate wanted.
  • Anime boyfriends seem prone to this, accusing their girlfriends of being "stupid" or "reckless" when it's clear that said girlfriend was trying to help them out. Bikky does this to Carol in FAKE, Rei does it to Kira in Mars, and the whole Host Club do it to Haruhi when she tries to rescue someone from bullies. Often, this ties in with the advice to Stay in the Kitchen, and can result in Values Dissonance.
    • It's somewhat justified in the Host Club's case. They weren't scolding Haruhi because she tried to rescue someone, they were scolding her because she tried to rescue someone by herself, with no regard for her own safety and no-one to help her if she got in trouble.
    • And it also happens the other way around, with girlfriends accusing the guys of "perverts" and "the worst" and never letting that go regardless of how many kind moments they have and how much they prove to be nice persons after all. See Unprovoked Pervert Payback.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin gets wounded in battle, and Kaoru yells at him for getting blood on her favorite scarf, which he happened to be wearing (never mind that the reason he was fighting in the first place was to keep his opponent from killing her, and she forced him to take it even though he didn't want to).
    • For further clarification, during battles she worries very much about Kenshin, even at the risk of her own life. It's only after the battles are over and the dust has begun to settle that she fulfills this trope.
  • In Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo, Nami's depressed state of mind is not helped by her family's complete lack of love and sympathy. Her sisters practically kick her around as some scurvy dog and don't even once wonder why she acts the way she does.
    • Turned by her brainwashed older sister Takane, no less, who actually does care about her--somewhat, anyway. Takane recovers, beats the crap out of Nami and leaves her to die. None of Nami's relatives seem particularly concerned about what happens to her afterward. That's rough treatment for anyone.
  • Wolfram in Kyo Kara Maoh is always on Yuri's case, accusing Yuri of cheating on him in situations where Yuri was just being polite/trying to avoid death. However, a case could be made that Yuri (among others) is equally insensitive to Wolfram's feelings; Wolfram is often accused of being a brat in scenarios where he was genuinely trying to do something positive.
  • Ash occasionally gets this in Pokémon, especially when Misty was traveling with him. Most egregious example: "Ignorance Is Blissey", in which he is the victim of a very clumsy Blissey multiple times, to the point where he needs to be treated by Nurse Joy, and when he comments that he never did get supper, both Misty and Brock jump down his throat.
  • Hot Gimmick: Hatsumi gets this a lot from her boyfriend Ryoki. In one scene shortly after she had her heart broken and was almost raped he berates her for crying about it, comes on to her too strong and forcibly kisses her despite her protests.
  • In Kitchen Princess, the main character, Najika, gets no sympathy from anyone except the two lead males and a cafe owner when she arrives at her new school, the entire student body apparently having their ability to empathise surgically removed. Of course, this is to establish her as a Plucky Girl, but the students' levels of empathy continue to seesaw throughout the series.
  • In Tail of the Moon, Usagi is feeling rather depressed, as she's just learned Hanzo used to be engaged to Sara. Not only that, Sara and Hanzou have just split up over Hanzou's flirtatiousness, and Usagi feels responsible as Hanzou was helping her when he argued with Sara. Hanzo sees that she isn't training, and even though he can see she's got something on her mind, he proceeds to throw her put of the village and lock her out, refusing to let her in even though Sara and several others protest. When he finally does go to let Usagi in, it's started raining and she's heading back to her village. She's still upset when he catches up with her, but he never apologises even when she does return to his village.
  • Highschool of the Dead: At the start of the series, Takashi Komuro has just broken up with his girlfriend Rei, whom he's known since kindergarten and promised to marry him when they were younger, with her leaving him for his best friend after she got held back a grade for some unknown reason. Then, Saya Takagi, who's known him around as long as Rei has, comes along and what advice does she have for him? Only that we all have to face things we don't like and that he needs to grow up, and she says this while calling him 'stupid' and rubbing her superior intellect in his face. She doesn't even try to feel sorry for him. Likely, this is out of envy that Takashi chose Rei over her but with an attitude like that, it's no wonder he did.

Comics

  • Poor Donald Duck. This trope is a big factor in making him The Chew Toy. Girlfriend Daisy is particularly prone to empathy failure. No matter what catastrophe befalls her beau, Daisy won't bother to staunch the bleeding before she sets in with a vicious rant-a-thon.
    • It must run in the family: After Scrooge was accidentally pulled through a clothes shop by a hoverbike-thing gone mad, screaming in fear, he was arrested by the police because he got a few pieces of clothes stuck to him and people assumed he stole them.
  • Peter Parker is often the recipient of this kind of attitude. Of course, from the perspective of the characters who usually demonstrate this attitude towards him, Peter is flaky, unreliable and possesses almost no sense of responsibility; the audience, of course, are more than aware of the real reasons why Peter acts this way, thus making it particularly painful and unfair for him to be condemned for his behavior when he can't actually reveal the real reasons for it in his own defense.
    • To make matters worse, he also gets it as Spider-Man as well; his motivations and actions are often genuinely noble, but the prevailing All of the Other Reindeer mood of the Marvel Universe (helped, of course, by J. Jonah Jameson's obsessive vendetta against him - and since Jonah owns and publishes a newspaper, it's not exactly difficult for him to get his viewpoint wide distribution) means that he's constantly subject to widespread public criticism, condemnation and fear, and even blatant acts of heroism on his part will usually trigger a loud public outcry accusing him of being a public menace. They get him coming and going.


Fan Fic

  • Over the course of My Immortal, Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way feels little sympathy towards her own boyfriend Draco, often making completely absurd explanations for situations in which he suffers.
  • In Decks Fall Everyone Dies, most anyone who is not a main character gets this treatment (at one point, Yami is throwing bottle glass at a down-and-out Rex Raptor for attempted deck theft). Kaiba also falls victim to this trope. Not to mention the fact that everyone's situation (mass economic depression due to the fall of card games) is played for laughs.
  • The story described in this fanficrant.
  • Naruto in some NaruHina fanfictions his friends and the adults know that his childhood was hell but they're constantly mocking him and calling him dense for not noticing Hinata's feeling when she stutters and faints.


Film

  • in the lifetime Movie Home By Christmas, the main character is evicted from her apartment immediately after being mugged, robbed of her savings and hospitalized.
  • Stories about the in-laws-from-hell usually feature the bride's parents (and many of her other associates, and in some cases the bride herself) having No Sympathy for her husband. The Overprotective Dad in particular is ill-inclined to give his son-in-law an inch. Meet the Parents and The Worst Week of My Life are two examples.
  • Any villain who says "You Have Failed Me" likely has this... and any villain who suffers those failures to live can be argued to have a bit of empathy (or at least pragmatism at the effects of killing off his own troops, or perhaps standards). Darth Vader has done this at least once and nearly twice on-screen.
  • In the Disney movie, Go Figure, the heroine is chewed out as a failure by her skating coach for not showing up to practice. The coach never gave her a chance to explain that the Alpha Bitch locked her in a supply closet, despite the fact that she was covered in purple paint and had apparently been through something.
  • In Because I Said So, the girl accidentally broke a glass that the Romantic False Lead owned (and was his grandmother's he related after the fact), who immediately insulted her, and gave her a cold shoulder despite her extremely sincere and distressed apologies, including offers to buy a replacement.
  • The biggest part of Mary Jane's scrappydom in the Spider-Man movies is her performance in the second film. Even not knowing that Peter is a superhero, you'd think most people would understand that a full-time college student struggling to keep his studio apartment might not have as much free time as a retiree (Aunt May), a jobless loser (MJ's dad) or a wealthy heir (Harry) would to go and see her play, and yet she treats him very cruelly based on this fact alone and refuses to hear his legitimate reason for missing it (the usher refused to admit him, to say nothing of the fact that his motorscooter was destroyed in an accident.) Yeah, yeah, he promised her he'd see it, but you know what? Sometimes circumstances prevent people from keeping their promises; grown-ups understand that.
  • In The Time Travelers Wife movie, Clare chews Henry out for disappearing for about two weeks. Which he cannot control how long he disappears or when he can come back. And he has to go apologize for her afterwards.
  • Wonderfully subverted in The Princess and the Frog. Charlotte plans on wooing Prince Naveen using Tiana's delicious food, but while she goes to find him, Tiana is informed that a better offer has been made on the mill she wanted to buy to make a restaurant. Her attempts to get the sellers to stay and hear her out end up with her knocking over the food table, which is right when Charlotte returns. And contrary to all expectations, her only reaction is to worry about whether Tiana's okay, and get her a new dress to wear.

Literature

  • Jacqueline Wilson's heroines usually have friends prone to this (and occasionally do it themselves). A blatant example is the Girls series heroine, Ellie. Throughout the series, Ellie has to bail out best friends Nadine and Magda when they pick up the Idiot Ball and run with it...and in gratitude, they're quick to abandon Ellie in favour of whichever boy they're pursuing at the time. However, when Ellie tells them she's thinking about going to her boyfriend's dance rather than to a concert with Nadine and Magda, they get very catty and accuse her of abandoning them, despite the fact that Ellie shows far more regard for their feelings when they do for hers. Occasionally, this can verge on (non-)Comedic Sociopathy, as when they accuse Ellie of overreacting when she finds a drunken Magda lip-locked with Russell, Ellie's boyfriend, at a party.
  • Bernard Mac Laverty's Father and Son has a pretty breathtaking example of this. A recently bereaved father struggles to care for his son after the mother of the family dies. Said son repays him by running away for two years until he gets ill and has to be rescued by the father, who nurses him back to health. Rather than being grateful for the rescue, and the subsequent sacrifices his father had to make for him, the stupid little twit cuts him no slack, whining constantly about his father's lack of masculinity (since it's now dad who does the housework), drawing violence and illegal activities into his dad's house, and throwing a fit whenever his dad asks him where he's going when he leaves the house. All right, the son was going throw his own mucked-up grieving process, and the theme of the short story was the isolation of grief and Poor Communication Kills, but you may be left feeling that the son deserved everything he got, especially when you consider that the father constantly tries to bridge the gap between them.

Live Action TV

  • House seems to go out of his way to invoke this in other people, just so he can protect his ego. For example, take the Tritter thing; being tripped was humiliating, sure, but the other characters might have had more sympathy for him if he had actually told them about that instead of keeping it to himself. (Of course, he also tends not to show sympathy for others; sometimes it's a Jerkass Facade, and sometimes it's, well, the premise.)
    • subverted in 97 Seconds when House asks for sympathy after electrocuting himself and being hospitalized....even though he electrocuted himself deliberately as part of a self-indulgent experiment involving near death experiences.
    • This does happen a lot to him. He's addicted to vicodin BECAUSE he's in chronic pain, but it was established in the first season that House was an addict with a history of drug-seeking behavior already when he had his infarction. Cuddy and Wilson already knew him then. But nobody else seems to think of the pain when they criticise his addiction and tell him what a jerk he is, either.
    • In season four finale, he had been in an accident and had a head injury, but still Wilson asked him to do a potentially fatal test on himself to save Amber's life, since Wilson was dating her. When House did it anyway, and Amber died anyway, Wilson stopped being friends with him for a while (although this is suggested to be just Wilson dealing with the grief).
  • JD and Turk both seem to be frequent victims of this on Scrubs. Carla, and most of the girls JD dates, seem ready to pounce on any perceived failure or flaw, regardless of the circumstances.
    • There was another rather bizarre instance of this in season six, where J.D's friends were getting frustrated at his apparent whininess (although they didn't say this to his face). This felt a little odd given that what they viewed as Wangst was caused by the apparent death of his unborn child, his losing his girlfriend, his lack of an apartment and having to sleep on a deck, his developing an odd medical condition which caused fainting spells, and his getting a DUI (admittedly, the last two took place a bit later). Granted, a lot of his complaints took place offscreen, so it's hard to judge how annoying it would be in real life, and it's possible that a lot of time had passed within the show since what happened with Kim, but considering that Elliot never provoked any hostile reactions from her friends when she was going through similar problems in the earlier seasons, it still seems a tad unfair.
      • No one seemed to care, either, that when J.D. got the DUI, it was for pushing his scooter down the road (having recognized that he had too much to drink), with the keys in the ignition so he could listen to music as he did it. He was treated by his co-workers the same way he would have been treated if he'd driven an SUV after drinking half of a bottle of vodka.
  • In the X Files episode "Bad Blood," Mulder comes in late at night, exhausted and covered in dust. Scully shows a reasonable amount of curiosity and sympathy in her version of events, but in Mulder's version she whines about being hungry and tells him not to sit on her bed.
  • Bernard Black, the bookshop owner in Black Books, has a deep contempt for Manny Bianco, his assistant, and responds to almost anything he does with anger.
  • Kate from Robin Hood spends a lot of time whining about her dead brother, who was killed by Guy of Gisborne after her botched rescue attempt. She doesn't seem to care that she is surrounded by fellow outlaws who have also suffered at the hands of Gisborne: Little John had his wife and son tortured, Much lost the woman he loved, Allan had to watch his brother get executed, and Robin's own wife was murdered. But, nooo, all Kate can moan is: "E keeled mah bruvvah!"
  • The use of this trope is often detrimental to the characters of NCIS (making them occasionally come off as unlikeable sociopaths) because of the way the show shifts between comedy and drama, the tone determining whether there will be sympathy or not and the audience disagreeing with the writers' sense of humor.
  • On The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura gets called out for this in the Whole-Episode Flashback "The Attempted Marriage." Rob is waylaid on the way to their wedding and goes through hell to get there. When he finally arrives late, all Laura can do is bawl him out his supposed utter insensitivity. Rob takes a surprisingly large amount of abuse before announcing that he's decided not to marry a woman who -- when her fiancee arrives disheveled, covered in mud, and hopping around on one foot from a sprained ankle -- can't be bothered to even ask what happened before piling on.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard is reunited with a former teammate-- and for some, a former love interest-- after being recently dead. Said former teammate proceeds to chew out Shepard for betraying them and the Alliance by working with Cerberus, an organization seen as terrorists by majority of the galaxy. Shepard tries to explain that they didn't call or send a text because they were dead, but their explanations are ignored. The former teammate storms off in a huff, and plenty of players proceed to find sympathy in the arms of the nearest turian or quarian.
    • At the very least, if you romanced them in the previous game, said party member will E-Mail Shepherd after the event, and apologise for acting like they did, saying they really did miss Shephard, are happy that he/she is alive, and wish them luck in his/her mission. They will re-join in Mass Effect 3 anyway.
  • In Fate Stay Night's Heaven's Feel route, Sakura is accusing Rin of living happily while Sakura herself.. um, was not. At all. Rin acknowledges that Sakura had it rough, but still shows her No Sympathy. Because Sakura has essentially turned into a Super Powered Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, this bites Rin in the ass in a certain bad ending. Very. Hard.
  • If there was any empathy in Dragon Age 2, the plot wouldn't happen. Born with magic? Off to the Circle of Magi with you, never to see your family or friends never again. No, we don't care that you're only five. Lost your homeland and part of your family in The Blight? Damn immigrant Fereldans, stealing our jobs and taking over our town! Your dad was a conman? Bye-bye, you get exiled as well. Yeah, you had nothing to do with it, but tough luck. You're a permanently scarred amnesiac traumatised by magic with slavers set on recapturing you in hot pursuit? Why are you so grumpy all the time? Even the player character, Hawke, has the option of no sympathy (through the aggressive option, or the even snarky/humorous option at certain points). Admittedly, some players feel that their party members' constant whining is inclined to bring out no sympathy in the player.
  • Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance and Radiant Dawn have Soren displaying this attitude towards most people. He's not as bad about it in the latter, though.
  • Super Smash Bros Brawl has Ike, of all people, using this as his battle quote.[1]

Webcomics

  Everyone pretty much thinks you're a jerk.

    • This is, of course, the point. After that page was posted, the writer received an e-mail from his mother claiming the page wasn't sad enough, and Warbot should have gotten a bill for repairing the damage he did to the street by landing on it headfirst.
  • Boxbot only wants to help, but is hampered by the fact that he's a badly programed box with arms. He is consequently terrible, a fact that the characters and author are extremely willing to share.

Western Animation

  • King of the Hill: In the Grand Finale, Bobby joins a meat grading team. He is initially regarded as a prodigy. At the team's state qualifying tournament, he answers almost every question and single-handedly pulls his school into second place, thus qualifying for the state championship. He answers the last question of the tournament incorrectly, thus dropping his team into fourth place, which is still high enough to qualify for state. His teammates and coach immediately turn on him, declaring him an incompetent choke artist who will drag the school into the gutter. When a rival team hijacks their bus, Bobby is the only member of the team at the finals and performs flawlessly, but when the rest of the team shows up they shove Bobby aside and tell him to sit out before he ruins their chances. It isn't until Bobby asserts himself and keeps the rest of the team from making a tourney-losing mistake that they accept him again.
  • Timmy Turner in "Bad Heir Day". In this episode, he is babysitting Poof for Cosmo and Wanda who have gone off dancing. Poof bounces out of the stroller and Timmy spends the entire episode looking for Poof who is with Crocker. Timmy risks his life trying to find his godbrother including nearly getting blown up in a dynamite factory and being attacked by rabid alligators. Poof finally appears in Timmy's home (Crocker had voluntarily given him up) without a scratch. Timmy appears scratched, burned, dirty, and clothes ripped, clearly being a Badly-Battered Babysitter. Timmy apologizes to Cosmo and Wanda and describes all he went through trying to find his baby godbrother. Wanda, uncharacteristically, gives him no sympathy and then poofs back him into the same alligator pit that he was at earlier. Keep in mind that Timmy is a human being, a mortal, while Poof is a fairy, essentially immortal. This means Timmy was in much more danger than Poof ever was, so... yeah.
  • In the Futurama episode "I Second That Emotion", the crew became so annoyed with Bender's lack of sympathy for anyone, that they installed an emotion chip to his head, which made him feel everything Leela (whose pet, Nibbler he flushed down the toilet) felt.
  • Lucien from The Cramp Twins suffers an allergic reaction from the vest he's wearing while in class, and takes it off to reveal a huge red rash covering his torso. Miss Hissy, Lucien's teacher, responds by giving him a detention for removing his top.
  • In one episode, Doug was goaded into throwing a rock at a house scheduled for demolition and this small rock ends up collapsing the entire house. Patti comes by and when Doug brags to her about the good shot she tells him he's "terrible" and walks off angry. For most of the episode Patti avoids Doug like the plague without giving an explanation and Doug is left wondering why she would be angry at him for wrecking a house that was going to be torn down soon anyway, even Bebe won't answer him when he asked her to find out why Patty is mad at him. He doesn't find out why until Skeeter off-handedly mentions that it was the house Patti lived in when her mother was alive, something which Doug would not have known since everybody knows he'd just moved to Bluffington. Subverted in that Patti actually apologises after Doug gives his side of the story.

Other

  • Donald Knuth discusses a TeX error in The TeXbook:

 Interwoven alignment preambles are not allowed.

If you have been so devious as to get this message, you will understand it, and you will deserve no sympathy.

  • The F*ck My Life website is part catharsis, part concrete proof of No Sympathy. There are two buttons beneath each post - "I agree, your life sucks" and "You deserved it." Sometimes even the softest hearted reader has to admit they kind of did it to themselves, but even if the original poster was mugged, attacked, humiliated, heartbroken or injured, there will always be a few hundred people who click the "You Deserved It" button. Especially if the poster has let slip that they are an Acceptable Target in some way.
  • In Real Life, telling someone suffering from depression to "buck up" or "get over it already" are examples of this trope. In practice it's just as absurd as telling them to "just get over" a broken arm, although provided you've taken the right steps early on the broken arm will usually sort itself out in time, while the depression will probably be something they have to deal with their entire lives.

Examples of No Sympathy as a character trait

Anime and Manga

  • Klaus of From Eroica with Love has no mercy for his alphabets...not even with regard to basic human needs like eating and sleeping. He can stay awake for two days straight, so he expects his team to do the same. Because Klaus' life is entirely based around his job, he's equally ruthless with their private lives, thinking nothing of exiling them to Alaska without taking into account the small matter that many of them have families...
  • It's hard to tell if Kalos of Kaleido Star is a fairly cruel example of No Sympathy as a character trait or if he just exemplifies the ethos of Kaleido Stage. Sora gets injured and becomes nervous about performing stunts? Tough luck - he'll fire her if she doesn't get over it, fast. Her confidence and self-belief are knocked after deeing the devious nature of the International Circus Festival? He terminates her contract. Harsh.
  • Count D of Pet Shop of Horrors probably had a certain amount of Blue and Orange Morality as an excuse, but in certain stories he comes across as having the No Sympathy trait instead. T-chan is a straighter example, having no time for weakness.

Literature

  • Most women in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time are afflicted with this. Main hero Rand al'Thor is their typical Butt Monkey: He has a never-healing wound that causes him pain every waking moment, he is in danger of going mad from the tainted magic he uses(and in fact may have already done so), and, oh yeah, he has the responsibility of Saving the World. But most women around him for some reason feel that the most sensible way to help him save the world is by making his life as miserable as possible, and doing such things as criticizing him for being rude while trying to stop everyone else from being idiots and prepare for the last battle already. Being a total pussy, Rand just accepts it. Possibly because practically all his male friends and allies give him shit if he does something like, for example, not kowtowing immediately to Aes Sedai demands for the very good reason that they are a bunch of manipulative Jerkasses in the midst of their own civil war, so it isn't as if he should know which ones advice to follow even were he so inclined.
    • In short, the guy deserves a break even if he can be an idiot.

Video Games

  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, there is a side quest in which the player character, who is pretending to be a Sith student, is captured by an insane former Sith teacher who puts them through a sadistic test of Sith philosophy with pain and eventually death as the price for wrong answers. This being Sith philosophy, the right answer can always be found by choosing the most evil and cruel option, which the teacher will then rationalise as somehow being the most rational one in terms of maintaining your power. Hence, when one question is something like "You have a loyal and capable subordinate who hasn't failed you once before, but now does due to bad luck, what do you do?" the right answer is in the lines of "Kill them right away, because we mustn't allow any weakness." In general, the Sith philosophy works like this elsewhere in the game and at least some parts of the Expanded Universe as well.
    • Paradoxically and by contrast, Darth Bane in his own novels that tie in with the game and whose writer was involved in writing them bears no grudge over a failed attempt to assassinate him, since that's what Sith are supposed to do.
  • Medoute of Blaze Union is usually a nice enough person... until she gets into pushy mentor mode. She believes very firmly that there is only one Right Way to handle life--and that is to be detached and to deal with things rationally, stifling any emotional or knee-jerk reactions in order to be objective. This stems from her own coping mechanism of avoidance. Sometimes her input is helpful to the other characters, but other times it's markedly less so. Oh, so your subconscious is trying to block out the fact that your best friend since toddlerhood needs a Mercy Kill, since you might not be able to handle the idea just yet? Stop crying and man up to the truth! What are you, a baby?! In the A route, where Medoute's own objectivity is compromised by Fantastic Racism, this devolves into puppy soccer against Gulcasa--who is grieving, sick, and can only lean on someone who's taking advantage of his inability to think straight. Medoute, unwilling to empathize with or condone his emotional distress, chooses to interpret his behavioral changes as Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and tries to kill him. Poor Communication Kills applies heavily.

Webcomics

  • Collin Sri'Vastra and Fox Maharassa of Friendly Hostility are an odd case of both sides of No Sympathy. Fox was the sweeter natured partner, but was empathically useless, needing to have a person's problems spelled out for him before he realised there was a problem. After being made aware of a situation, he was quick to offer support - but if no-one bothered to explain things to him, he was cheerfully oblivious and steamrolllered their feelings. Collin, on the other hand, was more sensitive, but also crueller - appealing to his emotions was a lost cause if you weren't his nearest and dearest, and occasionally he actively targeted someone's weak spot to demoralise them, as he did to Kitty in the "Pirates!" storyline. The endgame of the story is brought about when these two sides of the same problem clash - Collin becomes unhappy, and Fox moves from being the one person he opens up to, to just about the only person he refuses to voice his problems to, preferring to bitch to his friend, Arath, and flirt with newcomer Leon rather than do something sensible like talk to Fox. Fox carries on oblivious, until even he can't deny something has gone badly wrong.

Western Animation

  • Every Animaniacs "Buttons and Mindy" short ends this way. After practically killing himself to save the life of the world's most annoying little girl, Buttons' reward was a verbal dressing-down for some minor fault incurred along the way. It didn't work as comedy and it was often the only thing resembling a comedy beat in the short. Shortly thereafter, Mindy would usually lavish a bit of toddlerish affection on Buttons, which seemed to comfort him at least a little. The earliest shorts didn't even have that silver lining but luckily, in the movie he was rewarded handsomely with a big 'ol plate of steak.

Notes

  1. Which is completely out of character for the man who would even show sympathy to his father's killer
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