%% MODERATOR NOTICE: This article was cut down from its former atrocious Wall Of Text length. DO NOT put all that stuff back. Analysis goes in the UsefulNotes article linked below.

%% This list of examples has been alphabetized. Please add your example in the proper place. Thanks!

->''"I see no difference between things and people."''
-->-- '''Seishiro Sakurazuka''', ''Manga/TokyoBabylon''

The Sociopath is far from your ordinary criminal or villain. Combine a willingness to cross the MoralEventHorizon without a shred of guilt, a keen sense of other people's mental and emotional fault lines, and a LackOfEmpathy, and you have the consummate evildoer.

The Sociopath displays these following qualities:

# '''LackOfEmpathy and Devoid of Conscience''': Their defining feature. Utterly ruthless doesn't begin to describe them: except for when trying to appear normal, they [[TheUnfettered will disregard any social norms and semblance of morality in pursuit of their own selfish desires]]. The Sociopath will do whatever it takes: lie, cheat, steal, extort, manipulate, or use [[BloodKnight outright violence]] without the slightest hesitation, disgust or remorse, and for as little as [[EvilFeelsGood Pleasure]] or [[ForTheEvulz The Evulz]]. Murder and violence have no more emotional weight than eating Chinese takeout or some other mundane activity, and they have no concern for the direct or collateral damage they do to other people, [[EvilCannotComprehendGood being unable to understand why anyone should]]. Likewise, they never truly [[EvilCannotComprehendGood understand the feelings of others on anything more than an intellectual level]], and may even believe that [[NotSoDifferent everybody else is faking it too]]. As many RealLife criminal psychologists put it: "They know the words but not the music." Techniques for learning moral behaviour, such as reason, therapy, rehabilitation and behavioral reward/punishment, will not work on them or tend to only make their behavior even worse by making it easier for them to fake it.
# '''ConsummateLiar and {{Manipulat|iveBastard}}or''': In the event they are ever targets of suspicion in crime dramas and thrillers, sociopaths are able to fool any [[LivingLieDetector Living Lie Detectors]] in the cast, pass polygraphs effortlessly, and [[BitchInSheepsClothing fool even you, the audience, into believing they are genuinely kind and caring people]] who are victims of a "big misunderstanding" (assuming they are not [[SmugSnake so smugly confident of their own invincibility]] that they feel no need to hide their unsavory personality). Moreover, despite their lack of empathy, sociopaths are capable of using their knowledge of others' desires, emotions and insecurities to manipulate them for their own personal gain. Because of this, many of them are FauxAffablyEvil. This is related to their lack of empathy and shame - they don't feel the slightest discomfort about lying or exploiting others, so they do so with the same ease in which normal people perform mundane activities.
#''' [[TheHedonist Pathological Need for Stimulation]]''': The Sociopath's ''raison d'etre'' (i.e.: [[MotivationIndex an overriding goal which serves as one's "reason for existence"]]). Due to their [[LackOfEmpathy inability to empathize]] or even care for those around them, sociopaths largely view their existence as [[StrawNihilist boring or meaningless]] and therefore feel compelled to [[ItAmusedMe engage in "thrill-seeking" activities to alleviate their restlessness]]. How this manifests depends largely on the sociopath's personality. It can be as ''relatively'' benign as binging on video games, compulsively gambling, or leading [[TheCasanova highly promiscuous lifestyles]]. Far more dangerous examples are prone to satiate their lust for thrills by partaking in criminal enterprises, becoming {{serial rapist}}s and [[SerialKiller killers]], or (if they are [[BunnyEarsLawyer unusually high-functioning]]) accumulating vast wealth and/or influence for the sole purpose of [[DespotismJustifiesTheMeans dominating as many people as they can for their own amusement]]. Due to their obsession with indulging their insatiable appetites ''however'' they want ''whenever'' they want, sociopaths have a '''very''' low tolerance for inconvenience or irritation which in turn leads them to have a pronounced lack of impulse control. Because of this, many of them are AxCrazy, have a HairTriggerTemper, and/or are {{Mood Swinger}}s.
# '''[[ItsAllAboutMe Shallow Affect]] and [[AllTakeAndNoGive Complete Lack of Emotional Reciprocity]]''': A Sociopath is physiologically incapable of experiencing a deep emotional attachment towards others but - being a ConsummateLiar - learns early in life how to fake them. This shallow emotional life means that the Sociopath is unable to form sincere long-term relationships with anything or anyone, but will feign feelings of love and affection if they feel it serves their purposes. Most of the true feelings a sociopath harbors towards others, positive or negative, are rooted in an insatiable desire [[ControlFreak to dominate or control them]]. While [[{{Narcissist}} narcissists]] would prefer to be [[LoveHungry loved]] or [[GlorySeeker at least respected]], sociopaths don't care whether others view them positively as long as they don't stand in the way of their own [[ItsAllAboutMe self-centered gratification]]. In the rare event that a Sociopath actually ''does'' form an "attachment" to another person, it [[AllTakeAndNoGive rises no further than that between an owner and a possession and/or a valuable resource for advancing their goals]]. Thus, once such "friends" cease to be useful or entertaining, they will [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness abandon them or, in some cases, even kill them]] without any hesitation or regret.
# '''[[{{Pride}} Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth]]''': If there's a skill that exists, you can bet they believe they can master it in no time at all. Much like the {{Narcissist}}, they are supremely confident in their own resourcefulness, consider themselves vastly superior to all those around them and feel entitled to special treatment exclusive of everyone else. However, while [[{{Narcissist}} narcissists]] are self-conscious of how they measure up to others' standards (and therefore will experience shame or guilt for any form of wrongdoing they've done to society), a sociopath's [[AboveGoodAndEvil grandiosity is all-encompassing to the point they have no concern how their actions reflect upon them]] ''UNLESS'' it threatens their ability to indulge their appetite for further stimulation. Under such circumstances, high-functioning examples will [[PragmaticVillainy obey social norms to the extent necessary to sustain their hedonistic lifestyle]] while more low-functioning examples will react with unrestrained hostility towards anything resembling a challenge to their "freedom". Likewise, sociopaths are [[NeverMyFault incapable of acknowledging personal responsibility for]] ''[[NeverMyFault any]]'' [[NeverMyFault failures or disappointments they encounter]] (i.e: events which they automatically attribute to [[TheManIsKeepingUsDown those out to "keep them down"]] or [[YouCantFightFate unfortunate twists of fate entirely beyond their control]]).

Many of these traits are shared with other disorders, but it's the ''combination'' of them all that creates the true Sociopath. And, like many other disorders, sociopathy falls on a spectrum. Some sociopaths are just unusually self-absorbed. On the other end of the scale are the [[AlwaysChaoticEvil ruthless]], remorseless and totally insane monsters. Sociopaths also have varying personalities, levels of intelligence, and interests, which influences how their disorder manifests in everyday life.

The high-functioning Sociopath will usually have better-than-average impulse control for someone with their condition, and may actually appear perfectly normal for years. They know murder is bad because they're ''told'' it's bad -- and know murderers who are caught will get in trouble -- but the action has no more emotional weight to them than brushing their teeth. They emulate the moral behaviour of society only because a failure to do so has negative consequences, and ''not'' because GoodFeelsGood. WhatYouAreInTheDark exposes them for who they are, and they do not consider something wrong if they do not get caught. If killing advances their goals and they can get away with it, they will often do so. And they will often seek positions of respectability within their communities in order to maintain the façade of being just like everybody else.

Alternatively, they may simply possess goals that do not require murder or other criminal activities to achieve; this does not mean they won't strive to achieve those goals at the expense of the happiness of other people. And even if their goals would be more easily achieved with murder, they might still refrain - but that's because they fear getting caught, not because of others' feelings. They might go their whole lives appearing almost normal... [[UncannyValley but there will always be something a little "off" about them]]; something cold and distant and fake. And they won't even care. This type can make a terrifying KnightTemplar, liable to believe that UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans -- some sociopathic serial killers claim they are simply a NecessaryEvil removing undesirable elements from society or making a political statement. They may understand intellectually that their actions are undesirable in society at large, [[BlueAndOrangeMorality but feel that they should be rewarded, not punished, for acting to solve a perceived problem]].

The low-functioning version is defined mostly by their impulse control being particularly shoddy, or having a personality type that predisposes them to violent behavior. For them, maintaining the façade of "fitting in" is simply impossible, as their violent outbursts make them highly visible. But even a low-functioning Sociopath can be glib and charming, the perfect liar, allowing them to accrue loyal followers who perceive their behavior as revolutionary and secretly having a higher purpose. The sociopath will see these followers as useful pawns at best, however, and will not return any of their loyalty in kind, though they may ''pretend'' to when it suits them.

If the Sociopath happens to be a ruler, and considers themselves above the law, then expect them to be TheCaligula.

If the Sociopath has [[EvenEvilHasStandards standards]], there's a good chance those standards are either carefully calculated to manipulate others, or incidental to the sociopath's personality type. Often, their lack of ''emotional investment'' in any kind of moral code or ideology can strike a person with more typical psychological makeup as BlueAndOrangeMorality.

The canonical alignment for many Sociopaths is ChaoticEvil of the Type 4 variety, though some NeutralEvil examples exist under the Type 3 variety. LawfulEvil Sociopaths are possible.

The trope is named following an old edition of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders DSM]] which used the term to refer to what is now classed as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-social_personality_disorder Antisocial personality disorder]]. Though the terms sociopathy and psychopathy are still recognized in some circles, they have no official standing. See [[Analysis/TheSociopath Analysis]] and UsefulNotes.LackOfEmpathy for more detailed information.

The Sociopath has become a very popular villain-type in recent years; crime dramas and thrillers, for example, will inevitably feature one as a particularly merciless and evil antagonist. Some tropes that are frequently associated with TheSociopath include SerialKiller, FauxAffablyEvil, LackOfEmpathy, {{The Unfettered}}, ManipulativeBastard, TheChessmaster and TheUbermensch. Many [[PsychoForHire Psychos For Hire]], [[TheSoulless Soullesses]], and believers in ForTheEvulz are this as well. If a character qualifies as a CompleteMonster, there's a good chance that this trope applies to them. Compare SociopathicHero, ComedicSociopathy, MoralSociopathy. Contrast the {{Narcissist}}, who has the grandiose ego and LackOfEmpathy, but experiences the full range and intensity of human emotion, and is capable of love -- even if it's a very one-sided, selfish kind of love.

Note: Very few fictional sociopaths -- even the ones identified as such by the work itself -- would be considered as such by a real-life psychiatrist. This is because, as Robert Hare points out in his book ''Without Conscience'', sociopaths by definition are [[FlatCharacter two-dimensional characters]], lacking an ability to have anything resembling CharacterDevelopment. (Not to mention that people who have the full range of human emotions may find it near impossible to conceive of a human being that truly lives without them.) The biggest indication that a fictional character may score high on the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hare_Psychopathy_Checklist psychopath checklist]] is antisocial behavior (whether violent or nonviolent) coupled with their loyalty or affection to other characters being dubious at best. So if a character has a MoralityPet, MoralityChain, or [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas a deep attachment to a family member]] or [[UndyingLoyalty leader]] that goes beyond simple practicality, it's a good bet this trope doesn't apply to the character.
* TheSociopath/AnimeAndManga
* TheSociopath/ComicBooks
* TheSociopath/FanWorks
* [[TheSociopath/AnimatedFilms Films Animation]]
* [[TheSociopath/LiveActionFilms Films Live-Action]]
* TheSociopath/{{Literature}}
* TheSociopath/LiveActionTV
* TheSociopath/VideoGames
* TheSociopath/WebAnimation
* TheSociopath/WebComics
* TheSociopath/WebOriginal
* TheSociopath/WesternAnimation
* TheSociopath/RealLife


* Several songs from the HipHop group ''Music/{{Gravediggaz}}'' are known for their lyrics describing people mentally unstable, or completely sociopathic murderers.
* Cracked has [[http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_1544_17-famous-love-songs-clearly-written-by-sociopaths/ 17 Famous Love Songs Clearly Written by Sociopaths]]. As usual however, few of the examples are displaying actual clinical symptoms of sociopathy. In fact, many of the songs go in the complete ''opposite'' direction, detailing people with borderline-like symptoms such as feeling deep connections or falling in love with people they barely know. Relationships involving sociopaths, on the other hand, are defined by their ''lack'' of (real) emotional connections even with their spouses and family, and instead using a so-called "[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mask_of_Sanity Mask of Sanity]]" to feign, among other things, caring and love in order to use people or maintain a facade as a well-adjusted person.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Trinity}}'', this is the dirty secret of the main branch of the vitakinetic order. Their powers make them intimately aware of the physical and mental health of people in close proximity to them. Quite a few of these healers find being surrounded by so much pain and decay so overwhelming that they voluntarily undergo a process that turns them into sociopaths, just so they can get on with their jobs without being constantly crippled by empathy with their patients.
* Among the Night Lords in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', Captain Jago Sevatarion (best known for being the first to utter the Chaos Marine catchphrase "Death to the False Emperor") pretty clearly suffers from genuine antisocial personality disorder. As an illustration of how screwed-up the Night Lords are, Sevatar approaches being ''the OnlySaneMan''; he might suffer from a LackOfEmpathy and believe strongly in the power of FlayingAlive, but the rest of the Night Lords are ''worse''.