Created By: Ardiente on April 18, 2011 Last Edited By: JohnDiFool on January 5, 2015
Troped

Loners Will Stay Alone

Loneliness is that obnoxious friend you can't quite manage to shake off. Sometimes you stop trying.

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This person is trapped in a vicious cycle of loneliness and asociality. Being alone makes it hard for them to hone their social skills, it also makes them either desperate for friendship, love, and sex, or completely jaded and bitter about the entire matter. Either way, this will be noticed by those who interact with them, who will instinctively deem it too much trouble to help them out and will stay the hell away from them. So the cycle feeds on itself, and the person may feel like they are trapped in that situation for the rest of their lives. Those who haven't entirely given up will be very glad for any opportunity to make new friends, and will probably go to extreme lengths of loyalty for those who accepted them. Those who have given up and perhaps even given in to the Dark Side, might have to be beaten into it, but they'll come to enjoy friendship as soon as they taste it, usually.

The reasons they were alone in the first place may vary. Geekiness, being handicapped, racial or cultural isolation, being non-heteronormal... They might end up so freaking lonely they make themselves imaginary friends out of puppets, and act out their fantasies of happiness through them. They might also engulf themselves in online social lives, or, failing that, Video Games such as The Sims. The principle is the same: they are alone, and they are stuck there for the time being, whether they accept it or not.

Their storylines will usually include a lucky escape from the cycle into a stable circle of friends or more, since that's a prime source of Heartwarming Moments.

May overlap with Intelligence Equals Isolation, at least until the character figures out how to use their intelligence for social manipulation. Even then, despite achieving shallow popularity, the lack of equals to share meaningful interactions with, even antagonistic ones, might doom them to Broken Ace status.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Several characters in Bleach had rather bad cases of this. One of them (Kon) is simply The Chew Toy, and it's Played for Laughs. Another (AIZEN) becomes a Magnificent Bastard Young Conqueror[[hottip:*:by [[Psychopomp Shinigami]] standards because of this. And another (Starrk) becomes an underling of the latter guy because anyone else simply died because of his mere presence, so powerful he was.
  • In Code Geass, the Tyke Bomb (Rolo) is all too happy to be rescued from that state by his supposed target, whom he becomes an underling of.
  • Angel Densetsu: Kitano-kun starts off like this because of his fearsome appearance, but then someone found out his true nature, and things sort of snowballed from there.
  • In Naruto, there is a sort of theme about overcoming this sort of situation with The Power of Friendship... there's also a theme about those unable to do this becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • The Jinchuuriki tend to suffer from this from their earliest childhoods.
      • Gaara of the Sand is a prime example. None of the kids would play with him at first because he was the host of the Ichibi and they were scared. He got more and more desperate, and eventually started using his sand powers to try to stop them from getting away, scaring them even more. Then his dad decided he was more trouble than he was worth and had his trusted aunt try to assassinate him, at which point he broke completely and became an Omnicidal Maniac.
      • This example is directly pitted against that of Naruto in-story: the Fourth Hokage, who was beloved by all, had died sealing the Nine Tails Demon Fox, who had gone in a murderous, destructive rampage, into Naruto. Despite the express wishes of the Kage, the villagers decided to blame the kid for it, and despite the extreme law-enforced taboo on talking about the subject, their children picked up on their attitudes and nonverbal cues, and Naruto grew up hated and isolated, and coped with it by making lots of pranks and stupid stuff to attract much needed attention. The entire point of the manga could be said to be to explain is how he slowly overcomes this situation. By the time he meets Gaara, Naruto knows about the redeeming power of friendship, and ends up befriending Gaara and getting him out of his funk.
    • Haku was born from an infamous bloodline, inheriting their special powers. They had been genocided, and he was hated and persecuted throughout his childhood. When he found a man who would accept him for what he was, even if it was apparently only to use him as a disposable tool and weapon, he was so glad he swore undying loyalty to the man, making his value to him as a tool his sole source of self-esteem as a person, and lived up to his promise.
    • Zabuza had this enforced on him when, during the final exam of his village's ninja school, which involved killing your comrades, he single-handedly killed all the other candidates. Since then he was treated as a freak and an outcast by damn near everyone. Except Haku.
    • Kisame Hoshigaki is revealed to have had this enforced on him as part of a black-ops section of the military, charged with murdering the intelligence members of a team were the team to be captured.
  • The manga Hana No Namae, "The Name Of The Flower", has Mizushima Kei, who is a famous writer of depressing, nihilistic works and won two very prestigious awards for them. He himself has a tragic past and struggles with deep depression, and before the start of the story pretty much has one, singular, friend who he 'claims' to hate. The story resolves around him and the distant relative he took in, Chouko, and her desire to love and save him from his depression and his feeling that he doesn't deserve it, or can never bring himself out of it enough to do anything but drag her down with him.
  • Chaos;Head is about a guy who is the stereotype for this, complete with an obsession for online gaming, and imaginary wives. He is forced out of it, in circumstances he really really won't enjoy at all.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, loneliness is a serious problem for magical girls, one of which, Mami, is implied to specifically wish to avoid Dying Alone. Homura was this before Madoka became her first friend, but because of certain circumstances by the start of the series she is alone again. Kyouko has lost her family and lives alone in the ruins of her father's church. Estrangement from loved ones and the inability to reach out to them is a common theme in the series.

Comics
  • The Forever Alone themed Raeg Comics are the Trope Namer: they're Black Comedy jokes that usually follow the pattern "Lonely person tries to stop being lonely, and, for reasons completely outside of their control, fails miserably." There is also "We are shown a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming that turns out to have been a delusion or roleplay or fiction of some sort, enacted by the lonely person to feign escape their loneliness, highlighting it even more." They also name the facial expression itself, which is a representation of a person with a disproportionate, ugly chin, small, beady eyes from each of which a single, thin stream of tears flows, only to stumble on their fissured, thin lips which are curved in a painful rictus that seems to be a sincere, heartfelt, but heartwrenchingly/hilariously failed attempt at a smile. There are traces of self-derision among the writers. Some can be fairly touching.
  • Batman is trapped in one of these due to his own inability to maintain a relationship with anyone.

Film

Live-Action TV
  • The Big Bang Theory: subverted by Sheldon Cooper: he has no interest whatsoever in making friends and no redeeming personal qualities whatsoever, yet for some reason people keep talking to him.
  • Glee: Like Naruto, Glee has sort of a theme about freaks and geeks and outcasts drawing strength from their situations and overcoming them.
    • Kurt is the only openly homosexual kid in his entire high-school. He appears to only have one friend, Mercedes, but he doesn't have much in common with her, and their friendship is true, but definitely not deep. Even his step-brother basically ignores him most of the time. At least until Wild Dapper Love Interest appears[[hottip:*:It's SUPER EFFECTIVE on both Kurt and the Public]], but as the boy in question is Oblivious to Love, the battle is not won. Or is it? (DAMN THAT [[MemeticMutation COCKBLOCKING PIANO) But this is just the beginning...]]
    • Rachel is by far the best singer and performer at her school, but thinks that entitles her to be liked by everyone, when, in fact, everyone constantly and insistently reminds her of how much they dislike her, even the nicest people on the show can't stand her. A remarkable case of this trope since the problem isn't her comrades' prejudice or anything, but her own attitude. Couple this with Aesop Amnesia and you can see why it'll take her a while before leaving the trope behind, if she ever does.
    • Santana alienates herself from everyone else by being a complete jerkass. Even with her many, many male lovers, she never shares any meaningful interaction with them, and doesn't even look them in the eye while having sex. Her one female lover, Brittany, is also her one friend. Turns out Santana's a closeted gay and is head-over-heels in love with Brittany.
    • Artie had this trope, among many other disadvantages, inflicted to him by his wheelchair, which tends to scare people away on one hand and make them push him around in a literal as well as figurative sense on the other.
    • Tina inflicted this trope on herself, [[hottip:by faking a stutter]], out of sheer shyness and sociophobia. Falling in love with Artie makes her grow out of it[[hottip:, but when Artie finds out, he is not amused.]]
    • Mercedes suffers a little for being one of the very few blacks in her school. She overcompensates for it by playing to the Sassy Black Woman Stereotype, in her own words "pouring tasty chocolate" into all songs she writes.
    • Quinn suffers a temporary version of this for getting pregnant. Her isolation is further intensified because she rejects the biological father of the kid and wants to have the kid be raised by her actual boyfriend, whom she thinks will make a much better father.
    • Will Shuester, their teacher and coach, is heavily implied to have been sort of a geeky, lonely kid at school, and is emotionally stunted at that stage because he married his high-school sweetheart... who does her best to bring him down. He appears to have very few friends outside of the teacher staff and the students.
    • Sue Sylvester, complete and utterly self-inflicted due to being a universe-grade Jerk Ass on par with the Prince from Level E. Once she thought she could escape this, but she was just being led on in revenge for her constant, over-the-top evilness.
    • Coach Tanaka: The Ugly, Boring and Overweight sort.
    • Emma: suffers from obsessive–compulsive disorder and many phobias. She's basically a neurotic freak, as well as The Ingenue. But she's genuinely nice and rather cute, so maybe there's still some hope for her.
    • Coach Bieste: In her case it's due to her large, manly frame, her deep voice, and her talent at sports. At age forty, she has still never been kissed. By a romantic partner at any rate.
Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • April 18, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • The manga Hana No Namae, "The Name Of The Flower", has Mizushima Kei, who is a famous writer of depressing, nihilistic works and won two very prestigious awards for them. He himself has a tragic past and struggles with deep depression, and before the start of the story pretty much has one, singluar, friend who he 'claims' to hate. The story resolves around him and the distant relative he took in, Chouko, and her desire to love and save him from his depression and his feeling that he doesn't deserve it, or can never bring himself out of it enough to do anything but drag her down with him.
  • April 18, 2011
    dalek955
  • April 19, 2011
    Tidal_Wave_17
    I like this, though it does need a bit of cleaning up before you launch it.
  • April 20, 2011
    Ardiente
    Yeah, definitely, but the lack of response is kind of depressing me...
  • April 20, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I think is might need a new name, Forever Alone can have a lot of other implications that the intended one. Maybe like Brooding Loner or Brooding Isolationist.
  • April 21, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Just realized no one is named in the bleach example. Please name them because otherwise it's not an effective example.
  • April 23, 2011
    Ardiente
    ^Thank you. Naming them is a spoiler, but that's what spoiler tags are for...

    ^^No, no, I'm not trying to imply they are brooding at all. They might be, but that'd be a correlary of the trope, not the definition. The definition is that they're alone, and they're stuck that way.
  • April 25, 2011
    Ardiente
    Bump
  • April 25, 2011
    captainbrass2
    Related to Loners Are Freaks, if only because that trope is based on the assumption all loners are like the ones in this trope.
  • April 25, 2011
    MorganWick
    Laconic makes me think of someone forced to spend eternity in an empty room, or something.

    (Are comments on laconics in any way helpful, since they are more of a device for the purpose of YKTTW itself than related to the actual article laconic?)
  • April 25, 2011
    peccantis
  • April 25, 2011
    Ardiente
    Definitely one of the most common reasons for Driven To Suicide.
  • April 26, 2011
    LordAaronus
    The Movie of The Phantom Of The Opera just about lampshaded this outright with a new song titled "Learn to be Lonely".
  • April 28, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump. Is this ready to launch?
  • April 28, 2011
    Aminatep
    Related to Alone At The Top.
  • April 28, 2011
    Ardiente
  • April 28, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I again, suggest a rename or at least replacing forever with something less eternity-suggesting, and more like 'Always Alone' or something. Forever Alone brings to mind all those Immortality/Vampire tropes and that isn't what this is about.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ardiente
    Here, now Loneliness is that obnoxios friend you can't quite manage to shake off. Perhaps you should get used to its quiet company?
  • April 30, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Hmm, it's not very snappy though. Maybe Loneliness Rut or Isolation Rut
  • May 1, 2011
    Ardiente
    I thought rut was some sort of sexual proclivity?
  • May 1, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Um, I've never heard of that. By rut, I was referencing the phrase 'stuck in a rut', meaning stuck in a situation, problem or cycle.
  • May 1, 2011
    Ardiente
    Oh. It's an idiom. Nevertheless, I feel it might lead to confusion for non-native speakers. Can we use something more witty, and pretty, and bright?

  • May 1, 2011
    bluepenguin
    Whoa, my reply got mixed up with someone else's from a different YKTTW -- haven't had that happen in a while. I was saying:

    I vaguely recall a manga called Mint na Bokura where a girl crossdresses so that she can follow her twin brother to his all-boys school and look after him.
  • May 1, 2011
    captainbrass2
    I don't think that as it stands the language is unacceptable, as long as it's clear that this is a fictional trope and these are examples of it. Often loners are portrayed in a negative way in media which may or may not reflect real life - for that reason I would add a request for no Real Life examples. Those really will attract a negative response. Hopefully, most people with online social lives can deal with negative media portrayals in the same way that minorities/women handle racist/sexist tropes, but direct comments may offend.
  • May 1, 2011
    Ardiente
    upup There was discriminatory and sneering language? I swear I didn't notice when I wrote it. Of course if you think the article should be toned down then maybe it should. I myself am rather close to the stereotype. I am getting better, but not nearly as fast as I thought I would. Of course, the stereotype is exagerated to the point of being comical, but the truth stands, that being alone makes you a "freak", i.e. socially clumsy and Innocently Insensitive, through sheer lack of practice. It's the same as looking for a job and not getting hired because of a lack of experience: where are you supposed to get that goddamn experience in the first place? It's a self-perpetuating problem, though with a bit of luck and a lot of time it tends to dissolve.

    up Make a Troper Tales page?

  • May 1, 2011
    captainbrass2
    ^A Troper Tales page would have its risks. On the positive side, you'd probably get plenty of entries, but there might be a lot of "ME SO RONERY"-type whining amongst the genuine cases of loneliness. I could also see it being a bit of a troll magnet. Your call, though.
  • May 1, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    How about Lonliness Loop?
  • May 2, 2011
    Ardiente
    Whining is part of being in the internets. Why the Troper Tales for Incest had to be cut? Because Why Fandom Cant Have Nice Things that's why.
  • May 6, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump
  • May 10, 2011
    Ardiente
    Bump

    ^^^That's a cool title, but perhaps it's too peppy,,, How about Persistent Solipsism?
  • May 13, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump
  • May 19, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump
  • June 23, 2011
    Ardiente
    bump
  • January 5, 2015
    DAN004
    I believe Neon Genesis Evangelion is a great example; they explained it with the name "porcupine's dilemma".
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