- Harry Potter:
- Voldemort complains that his Death Eaters lack loyalty to him, but he has none to them, making Draco try to assassinate Dumbledore
despitebecause of the pain his danger causes his parents, and murdering Snape for power. He's a narcissistic, sociopathic dictator and doesn't care about any of his Death Eaters.
- There's also a little character named Lockhart who had ... a big ego. His idea of a Defense Against the Dark Arts test contained only questions like "What is Gilderoy Lockhart's favorite color?" and "When is Gilderoy Lockhart's birthday, and what would his ideal gift be?"
- Barty Crouch, Jr. boasts that he and he alone was faithful to Voldemort. Apparently Bellatrix, who was proclaiming her loyalty to Voldemort while Crouch, Jr. was begging innocence, doesn't exist in his little world. Crouch, Jr. also seems to take for granted his mother and Winky's pity for him.
- There's also Cormac McLaggen, the self-absorbed Jerk Jock whom Hermione briefly dates in Book 6.
- Also, Dudley, Petunia, Marge, and Vernon Dursley. Of the four, Dudley is the only one who becomes less self-centered by the series' end.
- Petunia would have too, at least in the movie, except the important moment ended up being a deleted scene.
- Voldemort complains that his Death Eaters lack loyalty to him, but he has none to them, making Draco try to assassinate Dumbledore
- In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Malleus, Cherubael sets up an elaborate plan to get Eisenhorn to free him. It involves the death of several innocents, including some that Eisenhorn has to kill in self-defense. When Eisenhorn reimprisons him, Cherubael laments the gross injustice of it.
- In The Shahnameh Goshtasp is willing to send his son Esfandiar to his death to stay king. Unfortunately the prince takes after his father in this regard. Esfandiar is willing to dishonor Rostam to become king, even after all Rostam has done for Iran. Esfandiar is decidedly the more honorable of the two though.
- A Tale of Two Cities: Marquis St. Evrémonde runs over a peasant girl with his carriage, and his only concern is that the incident may have "damaged" his horses (not injured, but damaged).
- In C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, a damned soul manages to convince himself that he has made great sacrifices for his wife, because he once let her use the last stamp to mail a letter when he wanted to mail a letter, too.
Jadis: I was the queen. They were all my people. What else were they there for but to do my will? ... You must learn, child, that what would be wrong for you or for any of the common people is not wrong in a great queen such as I. The weight of the world is on our shoulders. We must be freed from all rules. Ours is a high and lonely destiny."
- And The Magician's Nephew, Empress Jadis, the Big Bad, relates how, when she lost the planet-wide civil war to her sister, she refused to accept defeat and spoke The Deplorable Word to wipe out all life on her planet. She justifies her actions thus:
- Uncle Andrew most certainly would count as well. He makes his first appearance by tricking Polly into being teleported to another world which, by his own admittance, he knows absolutely nothing about, and then starts guilting Diggory into going there as well. At one point, he launches into an explanation of his experiments and is annoyed when Diggory shows concern first that Andrew didn't obey his godmother's wishes and destroy the magic powder and then over the guinea pigs used for the initial experiments (which Uncle Andrew said exploded like "little bombs"). In fact, he even says that it was fine that he killed a number of helpless animals, because "that was what they were for!" When Diggory continues to ask about where Polly went, Uncle Andrew replies "How you go on about that! As if it mattered!" When Diggory asks why Andrew didn't just send himself to this other world to see what it was like, he outright states that he doesn't want to put himself in danger. And when Diggory is afraid to send himself to an unknown place, Uncle Andrew reminds him that Polly could be starving or drowning or being killed by wild animals. By this point, Diggory wishes he were tall enough to punch his uncle. Later, an explicate parallel is drawn between Andrew and Jadis. Oh, and when they're all in Narnia, all Uncle Andrew thinks about is his own safety (willing to abandon his own nephew, Polly and a cabbie to get home) and how he can profit from the place. When Diggory asks if Narnia might hold something that would cure his mother, Andrew rudely replies that it's not a pharmacy.
- The father of the Moomin family is one of these. It is most evident in the two books where he's a reasonably main character (The Exploits of Moominpappa and Moominpappa at Sea), but it turns up in the other books as well.
- In Skulduggery Pleasant, there's Fletcher Renn, albeit one of the more pleasant and likeable examples once Character Development takes hold. The fact that he's the last living Teleporter means that the plot of the third book is more or less dependent on him, and also that every major power in the magical world desperately wants him to work for them. This feeds his ego pretty strongly, but it's toned down in his later appearances.
- It's implied most Teleporters are like this, probably because the advanced techniques of Teleporting are only possible if a Teleporter accepts the premise that their powers don't move them through space, but they stand still and their powers allow them to move the world, in essence, the Universe revolves around them. Fletcher has no problem with this concept.
- Skulduggery and Valkyrie definitely have shades of this, usually in a warmly arrogant fashion that's Played for Laughs. However, it's treated more seriously as time goes by, such as when Valkyrie dumps her boyfriend partially because she didn't think he was as important as her, and this narcissism is one of Darquesse's defining traits. Meanwhile, it's suggested that Skulduggery is actually subverting this trope, using it as a shield to hide from the fact that he utterly loathes himself and the things he's done.
- In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel The Traitor's Hand, a daemon kills a trooper in front of Cain and talks of how she will transform the planet into a warp gate to allow daemons to run wild. When, with the help of Jurgen's "blank" abilities, Cain goes to kill her, she objects: "It's not fair!"
- The villain of Duty Calls turns out to be like this. He actually complains that, in the face of a tyranid attack, when he shot some civilians for trying to get their children onto his escape vessel, the others "got quite abusive". Cain observes that this must have been distressing for him, and he appreciates the sympathy.
- In Terry Pratchett's Making Money, Pucci Lavish. It would be inaccurate to say that she confesses that her family sold all the gold in the vaults of the Royal Bank — "confessing" implies admitting to doing wrong. She's considerably closer to bragging.
- Tiffany Aching of The Wee Free Men is a heroic example. The Fair Folk kidnapped her obnoxious baby brother and are invading her country, and now It's Personal. It's hinted that "turning selfishness into a weapon" like this is a major source of power for witches: whatever they claim as theirs, do not mess with it.
- Christine, Agnes's Foil in Maskerade is this combined with Brainless Beauty; she literally pays no attention to things that aren't about her. Agnes tests this by saying "And my father is the Emperor of Klatch and my mother is a small tray of raspberry puddings!"
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First Only, Flense attacks Gaunt for killing his father, but his complaints are that he, personally, lost his estate and family name, and had to rise up in the world like any common trooper.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, Taloun complains to the Space Marine Uriel that he has lost thousands of man-hours of production owing to bombs. Uriel wonders how many men he had lost, and whether he cared.
- This is 40k. Those men only mattered to the Imperium inasmuch as they work for its defense; the loss of a million men is considered a good trade if it will keep a manufacturing planet for one more day. The loss of 20 men at one factory is irrelevant next to the loss of the thousands of man-hours of munitions they would have built.
- Objectivist hero Richard Rahl becomes like this about mid-way through the series, all while apparently wearing a massive set of irony blinders.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim, Braxton is enraged that the primarch keeps him waiting, because keeping people waiting is what he does to other people, to demonstrate his superior status. Keep in mind he's thinking this about a Primarch, one of the gene-sons of the Emperor Himself, who is essentially a Physical God.
- The Big Bad of Mercedes Lackey's Jinx High understands the magical law of karma ... specifically she understands that when others do wrong, it leaves them open for her to harm them. The idea that she might be subject to this same law doesn't even occur to her. In her defense, she's actually not entirely subject to it: her body-switching magic has allowed her to let the karmic consequences land on someone else's head while she escapes scot-free, several times. One of the saddest things about the series coming to an unplanned and abrupt halt after Jinx High is that her ultimate escape at the end and its consequences (notably, that Diana Tregarde has entirely unknown to her actually killed an innocent person in the villainess's stead) are never, ever addressed.
- Warrior Cats: Hawkfrost, since it seems his main motivation in trying to rule the forest, is the fact that he believes that he, and only he, is capable of leading the Clans properly, also how he constantly addresses the crowd at Gatherings, even though he has no right to.
- In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood is deeply self-absorbed, considering her feelings (whether positive or negative) absolutely irrepressible and in the process disregarding common politeness and the feelings of others; when circumstances force Elinor to confess that she too has been unhappy, Marianne breaks down in Tears of Remorse, forcing Elinor to comfort her again, and continues to wallow in her own unhappiness - with added guilt, now - rather than provide emotional support for Elinor. It takes near-death to smarten her up. Granted, she's a teenager, but it's a major contrast with Elinor, who's 19 and displays more responsibility and consideration for others than many people much older than her.
- Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. King Haggard, in a unnerving variation of this trope.
- Unicorns as well, although not to quite such a disturbing degree as Haggard. They're explicitly stated to be sort of vain, because they're incredibly beautiful, extremely magical, and fully aware of both those facts. However, they don't actually do anything to anyone on this ground.
- The gentleman with the thistle-down hair in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. He is convinced he is a great friend of Stephen Black, a man he loves deeply... completely oblivious to the fact that Black is terrified of him. As a Fisher King, he has turned his land into a sad and dismal place, a derelict manor on a windswept moor surrounded by a dark leafless wood, with the remains of ancient battles rotting outside. The fairy inhabitants spend their time in endless balls, they have "idled away their days in pointless pleasures and in celebrations of past cruelties." Fittingly enough, he ends up dying at Stephen Black's hands, for what he thought was a favor.
The gentleman looked doubtful. Any reasoning that did not contain a reference to himself was always difficult for him to follow.
- In Honor Harrington, a subordinate muses on Aristocrats Are Evil poster-boy Pavel Young as she betrays him:
No one else was quite real to Pavel Young. That was especially true for women, but it applied to everyone else around him, as well. He lived in a universe of cardboard cutouts, of human-shaped things provided solely for his use. He had no sense of them as people who might resent him — or, indeed, who had any right to resent him — and he was too busy doing things to them to even consider what they might do to him if they got the chance.
- Betelgeusians can be a bit like this in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In Mostly Harmless, Ford refers to making a "great personal sacrifice" - he lost a pair of shoes. And they were really nice shoes, and they were his.
Arthur: I think we have different value systems.
Ford: Mine's better.
Trillian: Can we leave your ego out of this? This is important.Zaphod: Hey, if there's anything more important than my ego around here, I want it caught and shot now.
- To put a finer point on it: One book introduces a torture device called the Total Perspective Vortex, which drives the victim insane by showing them just how tiny and insignificant they are compared to the rest of existence. Zaphod walks away from it just fine because, as he sees it, what it showed him was that the universe really does revolve around him. On the other hand, at the moment he was in a miniature Universe designed to completely envelop him, so the fully-functional Vortex did work perfectly—in the worst way imaginable.
- The eponymous character in Oscar Wilde's short story "The Remarkable Rocket."
"What right have you to be happy? You should be thinking about others. In fact, you should be thinking about me. I am always thinking about myself, and I expect everybody else to do the same. That is what is called sympathy. It is a beautiful virtue, and I possess it in a high degree."
- Emperor Ublaz Mad Eyes from Redwall is under the impression that it's perfectly reasonable to slaughter dozens of innocents and even as a last resort threatening to tear an Abbey to the ground. Just to get himself a pink pearl to finish decorating his crown.
- The Hunger Games: Katniss's prep team, who comment on what they were doing when they saw someone die in the games.
- In Catching Fire, they wail over her. Though when Cinna deals with them, they at least pull out when they start crying again.
- In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Kevin. Out to ruin Donna and Roger's lives out of envy. Laughs at the way his first discovery of Art Initiates Life killed a bunch of painted men. Taunts his Mook Red with the possibility of letting his beloved Penny die and makes him beg, repeatedly, before he saves her. Instead of just killing his opponents, locks them up somewhere with monsters that will kill them if they close their eyes — preventing Roger from using his powers but ensuring they will die of sleep deprivation. Takes advantage of a truce flag to try to kill Roger. Sees a random piece of good art, checks the name so that he knows who to ruin. And when the heroes have attacked him all out, he demands that Roger explain something he did — Roger owes him it, for this attack.
- In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet and Lydia Bennet suffer from this; while Mrs. Bennet is perceptive enough to note that without husbands her daughters face a lifetime of ruin upon the death of their father, her primary concern seems mainly to be self-involved whining about how this will affect her. Similarly, her favourite daughter Lydia (who takes after her mother in many ways), on running away with Wickham, writes a giggly letter expressing how much fun she's having and what a laugh it'll be to be married to Wickham without any concern for the fact that she might be putting her family's fortunes at risk through her actions. Mr Bennet suffers from this too: his failure to keep his wife and younger daughters' behaviour in check puts Lizzy and Jane's romantic prospects in jeopardy, and creates a bit of a monster in Lydia. Also, he fails to even try to marry Mary off to Mr Collins, even though she is plainly suited to him (lampshaded in the 90s BBC adaptation and recent film), and would secure his wife's future.
- Daisy, Tom, and Jordan from The Great Gatsby, to the point where Daisy accidentally kills Tom's mistress and Tom's solution is to let Daisy's Love Martyr Gatsby take the fall, manipulate his mistress' husband into killing Gatsby, and leave all this unpleasantness behind them. Jordan would have viewed the spoilered bits as light entertainment.
- This trope is the theme of the book. During Gatsby's funeral, Nick is disgusted to see that only one person shows up. Gatsby spent a lot of money throwing lavish parties, which a lot of people attended and enjoyed, yet only one cared enough to show up. A particularly nasty bit had one of Gatsby's regular guests call up the mansion. Upon hearing about the funeral and being asked if he would attend, the guest casually states that he might, but he wasn't even aware that Gatsby had died and just wanted to ask if he could get a pair of shoes that he'd left over there.
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith:
- The novelization gives Count Dooku this characterization. He views all beings in two categories: assets and threats. Everyone who is not of use to him falls into the latter category.
- In the same novelization, part of the reason Anakin Skywalker killed Padmé Amidala, his wife, was because he refused to see her actions, and Obi-Wan Kenobi stowing away in her ship, as anything but an attack on him. Waking up in the suit, he realizes that he was thinking with this trope. But it's far too late to turn back; even he knows he's jumped off and down the slippery slope.
You killed her because, finally, when you could have saved her, when you could have gone away with her, when you could have been thinking about her, you were thinking about yourself...
It is in this blazing moment that you finally understand the trap of The Dark Side, the final cruelty of the Sith —
Because now your self is all you will ever have.
- Heather Babcock from Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd is a non-villainous example of this. She isn't mean, and actually goes out of her way to do nice things for other people, like rescuing Miss Marple after a nasty fall or taking in a homeless family. However, she is incapable of recognizing that her actions affect other people or that what something means to her might not be the same for other people involved. The primary example of this was that when she got sick, she didn't recognize that the doctor's instructions to "Stay in bed and don't go out to meet people" might not have been just for her benefit...
- In And Then There Were None, Anthony Marston embodies this trope, seeing a hit-and-run accident which caused the death of two young children merely in the light of losing his driver's license.
- Torak from The Belgariad. It's pointed out at least once that his brutal, almost sadistic actions make perfect sense if one accepts his premise that he's the sole reason the universe exists. He originally stole the Orb of Aldur because it was inconceivable that such a powerful magical gemstone could belong to anyone but him. Then he killed half of mankind in a catastrophic seismic upheaval with said Orb when the forces of everyone else came to take it back. A lot of bad things can happen when the one espousing this viewpoint is a God of Evil.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: A number of villains have shades of this. In particular, Rosemary Hershey from the book Sweet Revenge is all about this trope! She doesn't want to share with anyone, she hires ugly people just to make herself look beautiful, and when things go wrong (and they do) she blames Isabelle Flanders and everyone except herself. She caused the deaths of three people to ruin Isabelle and take everything Isabelle held dear, including her fiance Bobby Harcourt. She displayed no remorse for those deaths. However, it turns out later that she blocked out a number of details related to the deaths, and once she remembers them, they stay in her mind, causing her to lose sleep and wreck up her precious ego and sanity. When Bobby makes moves to divorce her (another blow to her), at one point she calls him demanding to know why he didn't turn on her security system on his way out of her house. Bobby points out "Why is it always about you and what you want?"
- The Phantom of the Opera: Arguably, everyone in the original book by Gaston Leroux, except Christine, the Persian and Madam Valerious:
At first, he thought he must be mistaken. To begin with, he was persuaded that, if any one was to be pitied, it was he, Raoul. It would have been quite natural if she had said, "Poor Raoul," after what had happened between them. But, shaking her head, she repeated: "Poor Erik!" What had this Erik to do with Christine's sighs and why was she pitying Erik when Raoul was so unhappy?
- Raoul: After Christine murmurs: “Poor Erik!”
"Daroga, don't talk to me ... about Count Philippe ... " … "I have not come here ... to talk about Count Philippe ... but to tell you that ... I am going ... to die..."
- Erik, After his Love Redeems scene, meets the Daroga, who asks him (repeatedly) about the murder of Count Philippe:
"Mme. Giry. You know me well enough, sir; I'm the mother of little Giry, little Meg, what!"This was said in so rough and solemn a tone that, for a moment, M. Richard was impressed. He looked at Mme. Giry, in her faded shawl, her worn shoes, her old taffeta dress and dingy bonnet. It was quite evident from the manager's attitude, that he either did not know or could not remember having met Mme. Giry, nor even little Giry, nor even "little Meg!" But Mme. Giry's pride was so great that the celebrated box-keeper imagined that everybody knew her
- Mme. Giry:
"A grievous accident spoiled the little party which MM. Debienne and Poligny gave to celebrate their retirement. I was in the manager's office, when Mercier, the acting-manager, suddenly came darting in. He seemed half mad and told me that the body of a scene-shifter had been found hanging in the third cellar under the stage, between a farm-house and a scene from the Roi de Lahore. I shouted: " 'Come and cut him down!'
- Moncharmin: Excerpt from the (exceptionally long) "Memories of a Manager":
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Catarina interprets everything Lucian does as a slight to her, regarding it as treachery for him to escape after she had tortured him and had him crippled for life.
- In John Hemry's Paul Sinclair novel A Just Determination, Sinclair's first impression of Garcia is this, but while the ship is underway, Garcia is furious while investigating a death, and Sinclair deduces that it could not reflect on Garcia personally so he must be care about something besides himself.
- Patrick Hockstetter in Stephen King's IT. Despite being the minion to the sadistic bully, Henry Bowers, Patrick Hockstetter is so profoundly psychopathic that he murders his own baby brother by suffocating him with a pillow because he suspected that maybe... JUST MAYBE... he could be as real as him. In his solipsistic world view, only his mind exists and everything else around him are just realistic facsimiles, and thus are merely tools to amuse him at will, however he is just SANE enough to know that bringing too much attention on himself will get him locked up in the Mental Institution (one of his few real fears) and contents himself with horrifically torturing pets and animals by locking them up in a broken refrigerator in the junkyard to watch them slowly die, among them an adorable puppy he kidnapped from a nearby family. Ironically, the chapter devoted to him is merely a dozen or so pages long before his utterly gruesome yet well deserved Karmic Death at the hands of the titular Monster Clown. It's even called "The Death of Patrick Hockstetter".
- The Point in Flatland sits content in the 0th dimension thinking about himself. Indeed, he is unable to comprehend there may be something besides himself because zero-dimensional space consists of only a point.
- In Sarah A. Hoyt's Darkship Thieves, Thena's father. At one point, Thena makes a plan to escape him that centers on the key fact that he will regard losing control of her as no different from her death.
- Griffin in The Invisible Man thinks only about what he can get from others using his invisibility — up to wanting to establish a reign of terror just because (he thinks) he can — and gets enraged at anyone making things difficult for him, even though they usually have some reasonable cause for questioning or trying to stop him. Dr. Kemp, the hero of the story, explicitly says that "he is mad, he is pure selfishness" after hearing him tell his story from his own point of view.
- Crell Moset in the Star Trek Novel Verse. A doctor who performs unethical medical experiments throughout his career with the Cardassian military, he consistently places his own emotional desires above any and all other concerns. He refuses to recognise the pain of others if it serves his intellectual curiosity or contributes to the advance of his scientific reputation. He even seems to believe that the inhabitants of a planet his people were occupying were selfish for taking back their world before he could finish his work there.
- Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades of Grey books comes across as this. He's a very selfish lover, particularly to his subs, and only cares about his own pleasure, often ignoring discomfort about certain aspects during 'scenes'. Even things that he seems to do for the sake of other people, like sending food supplies to Darfur, is all done because he used to go hungry as a toddler. He is the one in control of his life, and of those closely associated with him, including his subs and eventual wife, Anastasia Steele. His pleasure, his job, his personal life, is what he focuses on first and foremost.
- A staple of many characters in P. G. Wodehouse novels, particularly the friends and family of Bertie Wooster. Even the more sympathetic characters can fall into it from time to time — the distinction, generally speaking, is that the sympathetic characters can occasionally be made to see reason (before or after the disaster is complete), while the unsympathetic ones never bother to listen to anything that isn't 100% to their liking.
- Also criticized by British statesman Lord Chesterfield in Letters to His Son: "People of an ordinary, low education, when they happen to fail into good company, imagine themselves the only object of its attention; if the company whispers, it is, to be sure, concerning them; if they laugh, it is at them; and if anything ambiguous, that by the most forced interpretation can be applied to them, happens to be said, they are convinced that it was meant at them; upon which they grow out of countenance first, and then angry." (letter 186)
- In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess novel Unlocking the Curse, teh main characters are on a quest to find a dwarf who wanders the name and curses anyone who thwarts him, often quite reasonably, into a Baleful Polymorph.
- The title character of Madame Bovary embodies this trope.
- Word of God states that this is the one unifying characteristic of the Dark One and all his followers in The Wheel of Time.
- Padan Fain, the more aloof of the not-quite-evil individual Aes Sedai and Wise Ones, and many of the nobility, native or Seanchan, whether or not they're actually Darkfriends, also qualify, in varying ways. It's a pretty big theme in the books that when a character has power, they generally think either that they deserve to be treated like a god, or at least that their solution to the world's problems is certainly the best/only reasonable one.
- The heroic characters' creed in Atlas Shrugged is "I swear — by my life and my love of it — that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine" — meaning, while they exempt themselves from the responsibility of caring about or helping others (which they frequently do anyway), they assert no one has the right to exploit others for personal gain, or obtain anything for themselves by force, fraud, or coercion. This is their definition of "selfishness" (independence + honesty).
- The Fountainhead likewise condemns "second-handers," which includes people who put concern for others before themselves and Manipulative Bastards and Corrupt Corporate Executives who exploit others or use force, fraud, or coercion for personal benefit; the protagonist claims the latter aren't "selfish" by his definition of the word.
- In C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the king. Curses even the gods when he does not get his way, punishes at whim, attacks slaves randomly — ignores Psyche until she is to be sacrificed, and then jeers at the very notion that this is a loss to Orual, her Parental Substitute, when it's obviously a loss only to him..
- In Andre Norton's Forerunner Foray, Yasa, from a feline-evolved race, is totally self-absorbed albeit very practical about it.
- Although movie adaptations have portrayed Lolita this way, it's actually Humbert Humbert. Sometimes this is Played for Laughs; when a potential landlord's house burns down, Humbert is only annoyed that he won't have a chance with the man's pretty daughters. And other times it's not — Humbert thinks that he loves Lolita and waxes lyrical about her beauty, yet has barely a thought about how he's destroying her childhood until the end of the book. It never occurs to Humbert that he might forget his sexual desires out of love, and her reaction to him molesting her every night and controlling all aspects of her life is regarded as bratty teenage behaviour instead of an abuse victim lashing out in the only way she can.
- In Jack Vance's works, the villains do this more often than not, often in eloquent, even florid, language. They tend to be extremely self-righteous. (When they aren't this trope, they tend to display Moral Myopia.)
- In the Rainbow Magic series, Jack Frost only cares about himself making it big, not his goblins.
- Several in the Tortall Universe.
- Song of the Lioness: Duke Roger has no real affection for anyone else, resents his young cousin Jon for getting born and thus making Roger not the heir to the throne anymore, and hates the gods for not acknowledging him. Never any indication that he thinks he would be a better king; he just wants it because he deserves it.
- Ozorne of The Immortals just thinks that his people should worship him and not any silly gods which actually exist and get rather tetchy about blasphemy.
- The antagonists of all three Provost's Dog books. In the first you have Crookshank, a fence and slumlord who is not satisfied with his considerable wealth and has whole crews of miners murdered (repeatedly) to keep his precious fire opals secret; he thinks nothing of exploiting poor unemployed folk and cares more about the opals and slight to his pride than his own grandson. The Shadow Snake's motivation boils down to "my neighbors have nice things and I deserve them more." Pearl in Bloodhound almost ruins the whole nation's economy by dumping tons of counterfeits into the moneystream so she can hoard all the silver for herself, will murder anyone who becomes slightly a liability even if they were friends, and has no empathy for anyone (except dogs). And in Mastiff, a massive conspiracy to usurp the King and Queen by kidnapping and abusing the child prince is launched by a bunch of mages who object to a sales tax.
- In a Character Development instance, Aly has shades of this at the beginning of Daughter of the Lioness—she wants to spy because she'd be so good at it, and it would be fun and exciting. When Kyprioth kidnaps her for her talents, she sobers up about what the job really requires and the impact it has on La Résistance.
- Very prevalent in the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series.
- The most prominent example is the Lannister family. Cersei is one of the self-absorbed characters in the books, as she blithely destroys nearly everyone else's lives to keep her position as queen. Her spawn Joffrey isn't far behind, when he becomes king he feels he can do anything he wants, and everyone is him to torture. Jaime subverts this in later books, though he used to only care about fighting and being with his sister. While nowhere near as bad as Cersei, Tyrion indulges in this from time to time. Tywin very much practice this, he believes in upholding his legacy over what his children think, and that they should do everything as he commands.
- Renly, though charming, is also self-centered. He tries to take the crown from his older brother because he thinks he would make the best king, even it means dividing the Baratheon forces that could be used in the war against the Lannisters and very likely killing his brother.
- In a broader sense, most of the nobles of Westeros don't spare a thought to the millions of smallfolk whose lives are in their hands, so long as they and their legacies come out on top.
- Viserys Targaryen, despite being in no position of power, still treats everyone like dirt and thinks everything should go his way.
- Though generally kind-hearted, Meg Cabot's Princess Mia slips into this from time to time. A notable example is in Princess on the Brink, in which Mia tries to keep her boyfriend Michael from building a robot that could save thousands, if not millions, of lives just because she couldn't stand the idea of being parted from him for a year. Multiple characters call her out.
- Evie O'Neill's Fatal Flaw in Libba Bray's Diviners series. Evie is a self-absorbed glory hound who frequently puts fame above the feelings and desires of her friends.
- In Children of the Black Sun, Brekan is completely self-centred, but thinks that he's self-sacrificing, long-suffering, and unappreciated. He goes on about his efforts on behalf of other people, but his motivation is never just "it would make them happy" — it's about how they'll be grateful and he'll seem important. If anyone points out that his efforts have had negative, stupid repercussions for the group, his only response is bitterness that he didn't get the outcome he wanted and that people are "as usual" all against him for no reason.
- Apollo from The Trials of Apollo is the very definition of this, as well as at least two of his children. Their reaction to finding out their father is now mortal and will have to complete several dangerous tasks to return to godly status is to ask if this will affect their existence or special abilities. And Apollo is proud of them for it.
Apollo: It warmed my heart that my children had the right priorities: their skills, their images, their views on YouTube.
- Henry VIII in Wolf Hall, mixed with a big dollop of Never My Fault. Although he can show affection, statesmanship, and piety, at the core he's a selfish and capricious being who only cares about how his own feelings. After he orders Thomas Cromwell to get Anne Boleyn executed, Henry brings out a play he's written and shows it around to people at every opportunity.
"A tragedy... my own story."
- This sort of thinking is possibly the Pigeon's most defining characteristic and generally what drives his behavior, especially things such as complaining about not appearing in the title of The Duckling Gets a Cookie? and slipping himself into the Elephant & Piggie titles.
- In The Witchlands, this is Merik's Fatal Flaw. He's convinced that the navy, the country and the people of Nubrevna are doomed without him and only him sitting on the throne will save the nation from utter destruction wrought by his sister. The reality is... less dramatic.
- Earlier books in the Llama Llama series in particular are about Llama Llama causing drama because he wants his Mama's attention. As he gets older, he starts to grow out of it.