->''"And if there is any hope for any of us in that giant explosion in which we inhabit, surely that's it: intellect and romance triumphs over brute force and cynicism."''
-->-- '''Creator/CraigFerguson'''

Here comes TheCynic, sporting a nice pair of JadeColoredGlasses, and when the WideEyedIdealist calls them out on it, they are quick to say IDidWhatIHadToDo, or SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids They are convinced their attitude is more [[StrawVulcan logical]] and realistic, and that anyone without it is too childish to accomplish anything.

They are wrong. It turns out that their cynical attitude made them turn lazy and waste their philosophical intellect in their lamentations, and missed golden opportunities to make the world a better place due to thinking about themselves in the DespairEventHorizon [[YouCantFightFate for all eternity]], thus proving themselves to be just as blinded and dogmatic as they '''think''' the more idealistic characters are. He or she is summarily questioned out for his {{wangst}}, often by the very people that he/she had regarded as fools. It can also happen when a character tries too hard to be what they think an adult is, like a PerpetualFrowner.

This trope is the {{Inver|tedTrope}}sion of SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids, showing that being more cynical is not necessarily better. Yes, extreme idealism results in stupidity and is bad, but extreme cynicism results in laziness and is just as bad. This is to show that The SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism does not always stick to one end, but tends to lie somewhere in the middle, and that you need a bit of both to really see the world for what it is. Can be a trait of TheAntiNihilist or the KnightInSourArmor, and used to deconstruct the StrawNihilist mentality.

See also GrumpyBear, or SourSupporter for character types that can fall into this. May invoke GoodIsNotDumb. Compare TheComplainerIsAlwaysWrong if the implication is that the character isn't allowed to be cynical.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/SailorMoon'': Uranus and Neptune can't seem to get through their heads that choosing the more cynical options will only make the end results worse.
** This is especially clear after Usagi became one of the targets of the Death Busters halfway through the third season, which meant Uranus and Neptune may have had to kill her if her pure heart held one of the talismans. After learning of her real identity, Haruka and Michiru haven't yet grasped that they were willing to ''kill'' the very girl whom they are trying to ensure will live long enough to become queen.
* The Anti-Spirals of ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' function on the belief that progress will always end in cosmic destruction. The heroes end up proving them wrong and destroy them instead.
* ''Manga/GreatTeacherOnizuka'': Often a particularly jaded character (such like Urumi, Miyabi, Ms. Daimon...) will go in a rant about the rotting of the society, AdultsAreUseless or abusive/perverted creeps, kids are delinquents, you can trust nobody or they shall abuse you or take advantage of you... Only for being told they are just blind cynics and that mindset is one of the roots of those troubles.
** [[TheHero Onizuka]] went so far to tell Urumi her outlook is not logical. It is cowardly.
* This appears to be a major theme in ''{{Naruto}}''; the younger generation of ninja that Naruto belongs to, who move a great deal of the plot, are idealists, while the older ninja who lived through dark and violent times are cynics. However, the narrative frequently depicts the cynical views that peace is impossible and people can't understand each other as completely wrong, and the people who buy into this cynicism most are villains, some of whom are fallen idealists that turn around and help the heroes when Naruto or another challenges their cynical outlook. [[spoiler: Nobody embodies this trope better than the BigBadDuumvirate Madara and Obito Uchiha; both have completely given up on the world and plan to use [[LotusEaterMachine Infinite Tsukuyomi]] to trap everyone in a "perfect" dream-world with them. Obito is clearly shown doing this because his life experiences have turned him into a nihilist that doesn't care about anything but leaving behind the reality he's come to hate so much, while Madara, the biggest cynic in the series, is also depicted as the biggest loser of all, talking about how much life sucks and how people are always destined to be losers as long as winners exist anywhere. Yahiko, Zetsu, and many of the readers see right through this to observe that Madara's spiel is mostly self-pitying {{Wangst}} about the misfortune Madara himself experienced in life, but is too proud to admit was almost entirely self-inflicted.]]
** Danzo also embodied this mindset. Ultimately, he leaves behind a huge mess for everyone else to clean up while he utterly fails to accomplish anything.
* [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] in the final episode of ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'', by the main character, after Homura had espoused the opposite for much of the series. [[spoiler: "If someone says it's wrong to hope, I will tell them that they're wrong every time. I could tell them that countless times."]]
* ''Manga/BlackLagoon'': Revy gets this from "the little maid" Fabiola at the end of the "El Baile de la Muerte" arc, but it's doubtful it had any effect.

* In the German film ''Film/{{Sterne}}'', [[StrawNihilist Walter]], who is disillusioned both by his service on the Eastern front and by the treatment of prisoners in a nearby concentration camp, gets this response from Ruth, a Jewish woman, who eventually convinces him that even if he's powerless to put a stop to the evils around him, he can still make a difference - no matter how small.
* The film-era [[StarWars Luke Skywalker]] pretty much walks away with this one. Han Solo disbelieves he can do much of anything on a galactic scale, only wanting enough cash to get Jabba off his tail. Obi-Wan and Yoda have written his dad off as a total, irredeemable loss. Luke matures over the course of the films, but doesn't ditch the idealism. He brings Han around first, and then proves his masters and the Emperor ''[[HeelFaceTurn dead wrong]]'' about Anakin.
* Bruce Wayne in ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'' isn't exactly a sunny optimist himself, but he never loses faith that cynical, hardbitten thief Selina Kyle can be a better person than she is, even after she betrays him, much to her incredulity. He's eventually proven right. In the previous film ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', Bruce is also confident that the Joker's scheme to prove that deep down everyone is as ugly as him will fail. The people of Gotham prove him right in the end. And in the film before that ''Film/BatmanBegins'', he totally rejects Ra's Al Ghul's belief that Gotham is beyond saving. By the end of the trilogy, Bruce is vindicated.
* Hornbeck, having spouted off cynical one-liners at everyone for most of InheritTheWind, gets a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech from Drummond at the very end.

* In ''PrideAndPrejudice'', Elizabeth's cynical outlook on life allows Wickham to completely dupe her about Darcy's true nature. The irony is that she acted this way in order to avoid being played for a fool, but it just happened in a different way.
* In the ''GreenSkyTrilogy'', the cynical Neric tells Raamo that Genaa cannot be trusted and is too steeped in Ol-Zhaan privilege to be sympathetic to their plans. Not only does Neric turn out to be wrong, but Genaa turns out to be [[TheSmartGuy the one with the tactical savvy]] to pull off their scheme.
* This is what happens to the dwarves at the end of ''[[{{Narnia}}The Last Battle]]'' -- they end up in [[{{Heaven}} Aslan's country]] with everybody else, but they're too cynical to believe it, and manage to delude themselves into believing they're still locked in a dark stable eating rotten food.
* Somewhat common in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', especially with Rincewind. The guy would be so obviously right in his cynicism...but Twoflower would come out fine anyway, leaving Rincewind looking like an idiot.
* This is part of the entire point of Jean-Paul Sartre's ''NoExit''. At the end of the story, it's implied that the main characters could leave at any time they wished to, but their own character flaws and lack of empathy with each other prevent them from doing so.
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', the team cynic Marco notes this to Rachel while Jake is out of commission. They need a fast, straightforward {{plan}} for a high-risk rescue, and he explains that that's not his territory -- his cynicism makes him too cautious to address that situation, [[TheLeader so she needs to lead.]]
* OscarWilde called a cynic 'a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing'.
* Literature/HarounAndTheSeaOfStories: Haroun's problem is that he has become so cynical he can't accept the reality of the sea of stories despite being beaten over the head with it. Pointed out by Blabbermouth.
-->"That's the problem with you sad city types. You think a place has to be boring and dull as ditch water before you accept it as real."
* ''[[Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo 1632]]'': In the [[WordOfGod Author's Notes]] of the first novel, this trope is all but named as the driving source for the tone of the series, as a response to the cynicism that had flooded the Sci-Fi genre at the time. Eric Flint specifically calls Cynicism weak and narrow-minded as a philosophy.
* In ''[[Literature/{{Asunder}} Dragon Age: Asunder]]'', the Divine Justinia V gives a retort to the [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids cynicism]] of [[KnightTemplar Lord Seeker Lambert]]:
-->'''Justinia''': Idealism is our stock in trade, Lambert. A religion without ideals is tyranny.
* One of the main themes of ''TheLordOfTheRings'' and Tolkien's Legendarium in general is the evils of cynicism and despair. Evil triumphs because people believe it can't be fought and give up (Denethor and initially Théoden) or join it (Saruman). The only way for good to triumph is fight for it, even if things look hopeless. And it's the acts of good by the smallest that end up saving Middle-Earth.
* The fifth book in the ''Literature/WingsOfFire'' series focuses on Sunny, and spends a good deal of time showing why idealism is so important to her. Her friends have a tendency to [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids dismiss her idealism]]... which has naturally been less than psychologically helpful to her. However, she makes it a ''very'' clear point that she believes in making the world better, because that ''is'' how the world gets better--and if nobody tries to improve things, nothing will improve. Her actions make her friends start to see her in a new light.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' episode "A Taste of Armageddon", the Eminian leader insists that peace is impossible and that their 500-year-old simulated war with declared casualties [[WeWillHaveEuthanasiaInTheFuture reporting in to be neatly and cleanly killed]] is the lesser of two evils. [[KirkSummation Kirk insists]] that they can make peace if they just try harder. Kirk helpfully provides them with motivation to do so by shutting down the war computer and [[MortonsFork forcing them to choose]] between real-world messy warfare and swallowing enough pride to find a peaceful solution.
** Unsurprisingly the other Star Trek shows are very big on this trope, even ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' the darkest show has a number of episodes showing cynics as "do nothing but whine" while Idealist do something to fix the problem.
* The ''[[BabylonFive Babylon 5]]'' episode ''Intersections in Real Time'' focuses on a StateSec interrogator attempting to break Sheridan's will and join the xenophobic, totalitarian Clark regime. The interrogator consistently displays a very cynical outlook, stating that the preeminent truth of the time is that you can't fight City Hall, and tries to paint Sheridan's idealism as futile. Sheridan disagrees at every turn, remaining true to his ideals even in the face of grueling torture. At one point, he sums up his attitude by stating that all he has to do to win is to say "No, I won't," one more time than the people trying to oppress him can say "Yes, you will."
* Learning this is essentially Jeff Winger's whole character arc on ''Series/{{Community}}''. He's a jaded ex-lawyer who, initially at least, honestly believes that everyone is selfish and out for themselves, the world is corrupt and other people only exist to be used to benefit you before being cast aside when you're done with them before they do the same to you. It's pretty clear, though, that his cynicism has left him lonely, miserable, and objectively speaking just as big a failure as everyone else at Greendale no matter how much he may disdain them.
--> '''Jeff''': ''The truth is- the patheticly, stupidly, inconveniently obvious truth is- helping only ourselves is bad, and helping each other is good....Its that easy. You just stop thinking about what's best for you, and start thinking what's good for someone else. And you can change the whole game, with just one move.''
* In an episode of ''BringingUpDaddy,'' Danny Thomas's oldest daughter has fallen for a {{Beatnik}}, and he and Danny end up having a fairly well-written argument about the beatnik's relentless cynicism just being an excuse to avoid ''doing'' anything about the social problems he's endlessly complaining about.
* The CraigFerguson quote at the top of the page is actually a summary of the main theme of ''Series/DoctorWho''. Indeed, the arc of the very first Doctor was that of a bitter old man realizing the importance of kindness and empathy. Since then, the main theme of the show is the triumph of these ideals, no matter how dark the world gets.

* In ''Literature/TheBible'', Jesus was pleading by His disciples to save them from the tempest in the sea. Jesus responded by rebuking them for being fearful and lacking faith in Him. He soon calm down the storm, leaving His disciples amazed of this miracle.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/FearEffect'': Royce Glas is the cynical one. Hana Tzu-Vachel is the idealistic one. Glas is treated as the ButtMonkey and TheLancer. Hana is treated as the IronWoobie and TheHero. It probably won't surprise you that the best ending in the first game essentially has Hana winning out without having to shoot Glas.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'': Squall is a pretty great example of this. In fact, he seems aware that his dark attitude denies him opportunities for (what he thinks would be) brief moments of happiness, but he does it to avoid feeling further pain as a result of the loss of those moments.
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', the more cynical Renegade decisions the PC can make tend to go badly. Most notably, choosing to let the Council die in the first game ends with humanity being generally hated by the other races, while the human Council isn't even willing to meet with Shepard.
* In ''VideoGame/OracleOfTao'', Ambrosia at the end of the First Disc (so to speak) heads off for the second world. Unless she bothered to do the romance sidequest (or can get past the Beef Gate of skipping a key romantic scene and heading directly through the entrance without stopping at the vacation town first), the plot requires you to visit Nevras at his castle. If you decide not to, or if you didn't get the memo, the story suddenly gets much darker, most notably in the endings. Basically, the point is, because Ambrosia decided her love life with Nevras was doomed, things got a [[{{Anvilicious}} whole lot worse for her]].
* ''TalesOfSymphonia'': It doesn't matter if the current system of how the world works has been used for 5,000 years or if prejudice and hatred prevents things from getting better. Lloyd will ''absolutely never stop'' believing that there's always a better way that can save everyone without somebody or an entire world needing to be sacrificed.
* This is one of the recurring themes of the VideoGame/{{Lunar}} series: in the (remakes of the) [[VideoGame/LunarTheSilverStar first game]], the villain is convinced that humanity needs the Goddess Althena to rule because people aren't capable of solving their own problems by themselves. Obviously, he's wrong. In the second game, it's mostly people on the hero's side (and a few EasilyForgiven villains for whom DefeatMeansFriendship) that need to be convinced that HumansAreSpecial and they actually can go [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu beat the crap out of]] the local GodOfEvil even though this should be impossible.
* Every [[ShutUpHannibal rebuttal]] by the heroes to the villains' YouCantFightFate talk in ''TheHouseOfTheDead'' carries such an element - a "Fuck you" to SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids.

* ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' in Chapter 29 has Paz, [[TheChewToy of all people]], setting straight Kat (who is at that moment quite disenchanted with the Court after stumbling upon some of its old secrets).
* Ian Starshine (and to a lesser extent, Haley as well -- she veered off from this just in time) from ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''. Choosing to remain in prison because you think your little girl is being hoodwinked by a calculating, nefarious, deeply undercover mole linked to an EvilOverlord [[spoiler:(Elan?!? The ChaoticGood CloudCuckoolander?!? You're serious, right?)]] is this. In spades. Even having met the guy.
** By repute, this was also the case for ProperlyParanoid Girard Draketooth. Possibly. Rogue-like types are subject to this, it seems.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Roommates}}'' [[TheCynic Javert]] of all people called out [[AnthropomorphicPersonification Disbelief]] on being too cynical by stating that even he wishes sometimes to believe.
* ''[[WalkyVerse It's Walky]]'': AntiHero KnightTemplar Sal, who is attempting to destroy every alien abductee in the United States (and, by extension, the entire continent itself) tells Joyce, the quirky, innocent goofy girl trying to stop her, that [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids she's just a naive, deluded little girl]]. Joyce [[ShutUpHannibal shoots back]] that ''Sal'' is the 'little girl'; Joyce has been through as many difficult and painful moments in her life as Sal has, but has matured enough to be able to cope with them without letting them poison her essential [[RousseauWasRight goodness and optimism]], whereas Sal has been weak enough to let them corrupt her, and her reaction is the world-destroying equivalent of a childish attention-seeking temper tantrum. Sal has no comeback to that, and later events in the strip prove Joyce to be correct.
* ''TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' - Bob tends to combine this with TalkingTheMonsterToDeath.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* In his (otherwise negative) review of {{Disney}}'s ''Disney/TheFoxAndTheHound'', Irish playwright Neil Sharpson defends Disney's use of this trope in its [[Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon other animated films]].
--> Part of the problem might be the source material. ''Literature/TheFoxAndTheHound'', a 1967 novel by Daniel Mannix, doesn’t exactly scream “Disney”. It screams “MISERY!” in case you were wondering. I don’t mean that it’s dark. Disney can do “dark”. But “dark” isn’t the same as “bleak”. Disney does not do bleak. Disney does not do sad endings. A Disney movie will never leave an audience feeling worse about the world and their place in it than when they came into the cinema. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with hope. There’s nothing wrong with optimism. Depressing people is easy. People are naturally pessimistic (we’d scarcely have survived this long if we always expected everything to be fine) and we’re uniquely receptive to anyone who’ll tell us that everything is fucked. One of the hardest things in art is to create something beautiful and uplifting.

[[folder: Real Life]]
* Basically the point of UsefulNotes/{{Existentialism}}.
** Creator/FriedrichNietzsche, [[StrawNihilist despite the association]] with fatalism, nihilism, anti-idealism and the darkest and edgiest of cynical philosophy, [[TheAntiNihilist actually wrote against]] being an extremely skeptical and life-hating nihilist, while suggesting that it's better to just love life to the fullest while living up to your own ideals no matter how [[BlueAndOrangeMorality blue or orange]] they are.
** Jean-Paul Sartre, the key thinker of the movement, wrote that "Existence precedes essence." Basically, you are born, and then you are defined. You are what you make of yourself. If you are a villain, you were not doomed to villainy, your choices made you so. If you are a hero, you were not destined for greatness, it was the combination of your choices that made you that way. Under this philosophy, great heroism and great villainy are both possible by choice.
* Conan O'Brien ended his run on ''The Tonight Show'' by asking people to please not be cynical, saying "It doesn't accomplish anything". Doubles as a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming.
* StephenColbert gives us this gem:
-->''"Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes'.”''
* Music/JohnLennon [[WordOfGod mentioned in an interview]] that the reason he was first attracted to Music/YokoOno was because he had been used to and indifferent to avant-garde art exhibits in TheSixties that veered towards cynical, negative, destructive messages, but Yoko's simple, direct exhibit, where one climbed a ladder, peered into a hole in the ceiling, and saw the word "Yes", was in John's opinion more valid in its positivity, hopefulness and affirmative message than the TrueArtIsAngsty approach other Sixties avant-garde artists took. It inspired the often naturally cynical Lennon (at the time suffering through a drug- and fame-aggravated CreatorBreakdown) to see the other exhibits, and later to meet and befriend Yoko.
** For all that Lennon himself tends to be viewed as the dark, cynical and 'deep' member of the Beatles -- which, in the first two elements at least, is not an entirely unreasonable viewpoint to take -- part of him clearly subscribed to this trope (or at least wasn't very ''happy'' being dark and cynical and wanted this trope to be true). For all his {{Creator Breakdown}}s and darker sides, anyone who describes the man who wrote "All You Need Is Love", "Imagine" and "Give Peace A Chance" as an irredeemable cynic is clearly overlooking something.