Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl

"Keep your faith, raise your lively face
Just get rid of your broken wings—you're strong enough by now
I'll be your spark when you're lost in the dark
And let me be your song, be your match to
Light your heart up."
Mako Mankanshoku's theme, "Light Your Heart Up", Kill la Kill

The tendency for the brooding, angsty, loner boy to end up with a sweet, gentle girl who will patiently coax him out of his moods.

While the appeal of the brooding boy probably has something to do with All Girls Want Bad Boys, the brooding boy isn't necessarily bad, he's just… moody, troubled. At worst, he'll be an Anti-Hero who's put his bad boy past behind him or at least is trying to. Maybe he has a Dark and Troubled Past. Maybe he's a Hurting Hero. Maybe he made terrible mistakes. Maybe he simply takes his responsibilities far more seriously than the rest of his teammates. Whatever the case, he's just waiting for someone to draw him out of his shell, and that person is the gentle girl.

For her part and unlike her kookier sister, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the gentle girl doesn't try to actively shake the brooding boy out of his moodiness. Instead, she patiently and persistently offers kind words, either shy or gentle smiles, hugs, companionship, and hope. Usually The Power of Love will eventually heal the brooding boy, and she might learn some things about herself as well, especially if she ends up facing her own demons too.

This dynamic can also show up in a lot of Yaoi and Yuri work. If one of the partners is really cheerful and sweet, the other partner is probably an angst-fest waiting to be unleashed.

This relationship tends to be the focus of a Hurt/Comfort Fic. For a related couples trope based on personality dynamics, see Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl, Beast and Beauty, Ugly Guy, Hot Wife, Hot Guy, Ugly Wife.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Fic 

    Film - Animated 
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast, though only started resembling the trope after Beast did something else than brooding and yelling at Belle (read: saved her from a pack of wild wolves.) From then on Belle realized that there was more to Beast than cruelty, tended to his wounds, and started helping him to become a better man… well, man-beast.
  • Hercules has a gender-flipped version with Megara (Brooding Girl) and Hercules (Gentle Boy). Megara was hurting badly after she made a Deal with the Devil with Hades and that backfired badly on her, so she was set as a Honey Trap of sorts for the super-strong Kind Hearted Simpleton Hercules… but Herc's cheerful approach to life and genuine care for people made Megara actually fall In Love with the Mark.
  • Zootopia: Judy's emotional support and faith in him help Nick acknowledge his hardships from discrimination against foxes and she inspires him to believe in himself again and become the first fox police officer. This soon gets deconstructed pretty hard; while Judy is sweet-natured and supportive to Nick, she isn't perfect and her flaws bring trouble to their relationship. Her subconscious bigotry flaring up during a public interview almost ruins their friendship and the eponymous city itself for good.

    Film - Live action 

  • Twilight: Edward "This is the skin of a KILLER!" Cullen and Bella. In New Moon, however, gender-flipping this is what kicks off the Jacob/Bella relationship, with him being the gentle guy to Bella's "My boyfriend dumped me so my life is over" brooding.
  • Mara, Daughter of the Nile: Thutmose and Inanni would be this if Thutmose was the least bit interested in going through with their Arranged Marriage. Inanni even has an Internal Monologue about how she "would be a good wife to him and comfort him when he headached" (She has been led to believe that severe headaches are the reason he is a Mood-Swinger.)
  • Leafpool and Crowfeather of Warrior Cats are this; as is Crowfeather's first relationship with Feathertail.
    • Jayfeather and Half Moon are worth a mention, even though they have limited interaction in the books, since they don't even live in the same time.
  • Ashley and Melanie in Gone with the Wind. Ashley, although respected by his community, is not quite one of them—he's more bookish and intellectual and less inclined towards the hunting and carousing his friends and neighbors enjoy. Then, after the horrors of the Civil War, he becomes even more withdrawn and brooding. He describes the sweet, kind Melanie as the "gentlest of dreams".
  • Rafael and Skylar in Gives Light, but they're both boys.
  • Gender inversion in The Hunger Games with Katniss as the more troubled hero and Peeta as the gentle, compassionate one.
  • The backstory of Michael and Julia in Vikram Seth's novel An Equal Music ended with a tragic version of this.
  • Eventually it seems to be Rolf Carlé and Eva's dynamics in Eva Luna. Not that she has not lived her woes, but he's the one most traumatized after going through Hell in World War II. One of their most iconic scenes has Rolf explaining said WWII woes as well as how his mentally-handicapped sister died in a psych ward, and Eva turns the sad story into a more hopeful one to re-write the circumstances and offer him solace.
  • The Tairen Soul protagonists are this before Character Development kicks in. Rain is a centuries-old warrior who scorched the world, and Elysetta is the young, seemingly human woman who gives him catharsis and finds it difficult to adjust to Fey politics. One of the ways Rain courts her is by playing with her little sisters.
  • Rodion and Sonya from "Crime and Punishment", with Rodion as the broody protagonist and Sonya as the downtrodden but nonetheless gentle prostitute.
  • Forbidden: Maya and Lochan have this dynamic. They share the burden of taking care of their family (which is the same family) and so they're both somewhat brooding, but Lochan has the additional burden of social anxiety, and Maya help ease that.
  • Finding Snowflakes: Subverted. The guy, who is usually stoic and reserved, has a relatively positive outlook towards life whereas the resident Genki Girl, is actually really a closet cynic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow has Adorkable I.T girl Felicity and broody vigilante Oliver. An ongoing theme throughout the series is Felicity helping him to open up about his tragic past and trust people again. Given the Trauma Conga Line he's gone through, it's not surprising he needs a little help in learning to be happy again.
  • In Smallville, Clark's female companions/love interests tend to play this role to his brooding boy on his bad days: Lana Lang, Chloe Sullivan, and Lois Lane have all played this role at various times, and Lois ends up being the one who helps him move out of his formerly brooding ways completely by the end.
  • Clare and Eli from Degrassi are like this. Clare is a sweet, mostly innocent Christian girl, and Eli drives a hearse.
  • Not explicitly romantic, but there's plenty of Ship Tease between Daryl Dixon and his Morality Pet Beth Greene in The Walking Dead.
  • Angel occasionally moved in this direction. Fred played "Gentle Girl" to both Gunn and Wesley. In Season 5, Angel's "Gentle Girl" was a werewolf. No, it never worked out happily.
    • Well, when Gunn and Fred began expressing interest in each other, neither were particularly broody. Wesley on the other hand...
    • Connor and Not-Cordelia. With a twist in that the Gentle Girl is evil, is only gentle while he's watching, and is manipulating him into serving as her Dragon.
    • For that matter, Buffy would play this role to Angel, and later Faith would step up after the events in the comic series.
  • Arthur and Guinevere can be this at times on Merlin.
  • Dillon and Summer on Power Rangers RPM.
  • John Sheridan and Delenn on Babylon 5—he doesn't want to burden her with his problems and thinks he has to do it all himself. She disabuses him of that notion rather quickly.
  • Stefan and Elena from The Vampire Diaries. Stefan is the mysterious, brooding vampire who falls in love with Elena, the sweet, cheerful girl next door, who often makes Stefan crack a smile.
    • When Damon takes a break from being the Deadpan Snarker to rival his brother for the brooding championship, Elena plays this to him as well.
    • Anna and Jeremy definitely fit here. While she is more of an Abhorrent Admirer a first, their eventual dynamic, especially after her death fits this trope down to a t.
  • Joe and Ahim early on in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
  • Veronica Mars had Logan and Hannah during season 2.
  • Gilmore Girls's season has Jess and Rory. Jess is the cynical brooding boy who falls for the town princess Rory, after he discovers she has a passion for books and music similar to his own. Bonus points that both teens were a product of Teen Pregnancy but with two wildly different upbringings. note  A recurring theme is Rory believing that Jess can do more than everyone - including him - expects and that it doesn't have to be him against the world. Although they eventually break up due to Jess's issues, he later returns having got his life together, lost the brooding aspect and acknowledged he couldn't have done so without Rory believing in him.
  • Rose and the Doctor from Doctor Who are a pretty archetypical example.

  • In Country Music, songs about this trope could practically form a subgenre. If the male narrator in a song refers to himself melancholically as a "cowboy" and applies spiritually charged language to the object of his affection, it's probably this Trope. Bonus points are awarded for implying that the woman's love saved him from a dangerous path in life. These songs can either apply a lot of emotional weight in a short time by relating to concepts already present in the fandom's psyche, or degenerate into a bad Strictly Formula piece.
  • Tsukiko Amano's song Bodaiju can be seen very easily as being written from the POV of a Gentle Girl and directed to a Brooding Boy.
    You come closer and then move away again, and the temperature of your body drops
    How much strength do I need?
    When the tips of your dreams pierce your chest even deeper, I’ll be here, I’ll always be by your side
    Don’t hesitate anymore, I’ll pull the blunt thorn out of you and cover the wound until the day you smile
  • In Franz Liszt's "A Faust Symphony," this well describes the relation between the first two movements, "Faust" and "Gretchen." The former has all the brooding and passion of a Byronic Hero, while the latter is gently melodious and intimately scored.

  • Hamlet and Ophelia from Hamlet could be seen as deconstruction of the pairing. It is suggested that they were quite close and affectionate before Hamlet's father died. Then, when Hamlet's stress of seeing the ghost of his father gets to him, poor Ophelia is stunned and has no idea how to help him. From then on he's acting mad, and his next scene with her has him denying their relationship ever happened. Then she goes crazy for other reasons…
  • Sam and Rose in Street Scene.
    Sam: What's the good of having brains, if nobody ever looks at you—if nobody knows you exist?
    Rose (gently): I know you exist, Sam.

    Video Games 
  • Gabriel Belmont and his wife Marie were heavily hinted to be this in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Her death is what starts Gabriel's downward spiral.
  • Kyosuke Nanbu and Excellen Browning from Super Robot Wars Compact 2. Note, however, that Excellen is not gentle per se (she's a certified Manic Pixie Dream Girl, more genki and teasing), which should be a subversion of this trope, but she's genuinely sweet, patiently loves him and provides the emotional support and companionship he needs.
  • While in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow Prince Alexander just comes off as at most maybe slightly too serious and reserved, the Fan Sequel The Silver Lining seems to portray his and Cassima's relationship as being more heavily this trope.
  • Any relationship with Fenris in Dragon Age II will have tones of this. Even at his most charming, he's still rather dry and bleak. A relationship with Anders has tones of this as well. In both cases, the dynamic is reversed temporarily after "All That Remains", when it's Hawke going through some serious trauma and consequent soul-searching. Still, even Fenris does his best to gently ease Hawke's brooding, despite how far out of his comfort zone he must stray.
    • The twins, Bethany and Carver, had a brother-sister version of this dynamic, at least, before one of them dies.
  • In Mass Effect 3, a Shepard of either gender will become very brooding after experiencing the Heroic B.S.O.D. with the dream sequence. A Male!Shepard relationship with either Tali or Liara takes on this trope.
  • To an extent, Girl Next Door Tifa Lockheart is this towards brooding main protagonist Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. The biggest example is Tifa's Journey To The Centerof The Mind in Cloud's psyche, where after he goes through a massive Trauma Conga Line, she's the one who gently helps him pick up the pieces of his shattered psyche and helps him recover.
    • Subverted by Cloud and Aerith Gainsborough, who looked very much like the trope—but since Aerith was sassier, more cheerful and more outspoken than the average Gentle Girl, they fell more in Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl. They do play it straighter in Advent Children, however.
  • Though it's never been confirmed, if Laharl and Flonne got together after the canon end of Hour of Darkness, this trope would largely sum up what that relationship would be like.
  • Persona 3 Portable's Moon Arcana S.Link, between the Female Main Character and Shinjiro Aragaki. They're the very definition of this.
  • While it was more of a brother and sister relationship, Shadow from Sonic the Hedgehog had this kind of dynamic with Maria Robotnik—he's a brooding Anti-Hero, while she was the Littlest Cancer Patient and The Pollyanna. It got worse for them, however, as she died and Shadow almost became a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • As Shadow watches the space station Ark fall to Earth, Amy Rose begs him to help the others to stop it. She mirrors his long-deceased friend so well to Shadow that she is able to make him regain his true memories, which leads to him making a Heel–Face Turn.
    Shadow the Hedgehog: I've got to go now! I have to keep my promise to Maria… and you.
  • In Halo:
    • The Didact and his wife, the Librarian. The Didact is a stern, dedicated warrior who won't hesitate to call down the full strength of 3 million worlds upon your kind if you're asking for it. The Librarian is a Friend to All Living Things whose favorite charges are the species the Didact nearly wiped out: humans (the two even met while he was fighting them). The contradiction is lampshaded by most everyone, but if there's one thing that can soften the Didact, it's the Librarian. Unfortunately, the differences between them only widen after the Didact is driven to insanity, with the Librarian forced to turn against him in order to save her beloved humans from extinction.
    • The franchise's main duo, the stoic professional Master Chief and the cheery and friendly Cortana (though the latter is somewhat more snarky and ruthless than most examples). Chief actually finally breaks down and shows emotion in his voice and expression when Cortana "dies" at the end of Halo 4.
  • In The King of Fighters CD drama The Sun and The Moon, Iori Yagami and a girl named Kikuri Tanima (the little sister of his bandmate Konoe) fit this to a T. It doesn't end well: Iori leaves the Tanima sisters as he goes to the USA to not have them caught in his deals with Orochi, and since Kikuri is a frail Ill Girl, she dies a few days later.
    • It's not hard to see Kyo and Yuki's relationship as a milder version of this in the "King of Fighters: KYO" semi-canon continuity. At the same time Yuki receives some development and spotlight, Kyo is revealed to have more insecurities than one would believe…
  • Fire Emblem, as a long runner, has many of these.
  • Geron and Nuri of Chains Of Satinav fit this trope. For extra Foil points, Geron's basic magical power is the ability to break things, whereas Nuri has the power to mend them.
  • Shadow Hearts has a great example of this when you look at Yuri and Alice's relationship.
  • Genderflipped in Guilty Gear. Baiken is a Broken Bird, one-armed and one-eyed Action Girl who's always serious and goes Walking the Earth, Anji Mito is a Walkingshirtless Scene man who fights with two big fans and tries to help and cheer her up when they meet. And while Anji's well-intentioned but often misguided attempts to aid her don't always work, Baiken doesn't kick him out of her surroundings either.
    • Testament and Dizzy play this trope to the very letter, too, since it's only after meeting her that Testament begins to actually recover from the terrible life he led util then.
  • In Bioshock Infinite its the team of gentle Elizabeth and Booker as the brooder (who keeps it mostly to himself).
  • Harvest Moon:
  • The Mega Man Zero series has a textbook example in Zero and Ciel.
  • From Azure Striker Gunvolt, Gunvolt and Joule qualify... when Lumen isn't out to play, at least.

    Visual Novels 
  • CLANNAD: Tomoya and Nagisa.
    • His father Naoyuki and Asuko in Clannad: The past path.
  • Almost all the Katawa Shoujo routes have elements of this and will bring up three big-ass deconstructions of the concept:
    • Hisao/Lilly: He broods because he has just found out that he has a severe heart condition and has just arrived to a totally different world, she's gentle and an Onee-sama despite her blindness. Their relationship helps Hisao open up and become happier, but doesn't do the same for Lilly. This, and Hisao's overdependence on her, nearly destroys their relationship—he will be reluctant to voice his objections to her leaving for Scotland despite how it will make both of them unhappy and she really doesn't want to leave, and "trusting Lilly's judgement" on it will tear them apart.
    • Hisao/Hanako: A genderflipped example, where Hisao tries to support Hanako since she not only is a Shrinking Violet, but has very serious self-image issues due to being Covered in Scars. If Hisao goes overboard, he'll go from Gentle Guy to "white knight", and since Hanako also has issues with being pitied she will end up screaming at him in their Bad Ending, calling him out on what she views as Hisao "using" her to make himself look good.
    • Hisao/Rin: Another genderflipped example, with Hisao playing the part of the Cloud Cuckoo Landers Minder to Rin's Cloudcuckoolander/Mad Artist. Taking care of a person with serious emotional and mental issues, and one who's under heavy pressure as well, can be incredibly draining; one small mistake can either make the "caretaker" give up after the first fight or not be able to stop the other person from destroying themself.
  • Inverted in the Kaori Route of Tokimeki Memorial 2: the main protagonist there is the Gentle Boy who patiently loves and supports Kaori, the Brooding Girl. The same can be said in the Novelization of that Route, Anata o Shinjiteru, although Shunta Torigoe (who takes the place of the main protagonist there), while having the same dynamic with her, is more energetic.
  • Makoto Naegi and Kyouko Kirigiri in Danganronpa are a Genderflipped version. After Kirigiri spends the majority of the game unable to trust anyone and feeling she has to take on the mystery alone, Naegi tells her You Are Not Alone and she just slightly begins to open up to him by the end of the third chapter. After he goes so far as to take the fall for her in the fifth chapter, she's decided to trust him completely as True Companions. Finally, when she seemed closest to the edge of a Despair Event Horizon in the final trial, he saves her from that despair, leading to the remaining students finally escaping.
  • Surprisingly, the Player Character from True Love Junai Monogatari can become the Gentle Guy to more than one of his love interests, nevermind his stupidly high libido. The more striking examples are Mayumi Kamijou (who hides huge self-esteem probems under her Goodbad Girl facade and later goes through a very traumatic Attempted Rape) and Ryouko Shimazaki (an Idol Singer who hates the turn her career is taking but feels she cannot do anything to change it since her manager is her brother AND caretaker).

  • Spoofed in this Penny Arcade strip.
    "I should warn you. My shit is way tormented."
    "I still love you. Even though you're so cool and rad."
  • Eiji and Reika of Red String.
  • Gender-Inverted in Sin Fest, with Fuchsia and Criminy.
  • Reversed in Lackadaisy with Bobby and Elsa of the Arbogast funeral home.
  • Homestuck's Feferi is the Gentle Girl to Brooding Boys Eridan and Sollux.
  • Subverted in Crepuscule with Setz and Carne. They certainly look the part, but as time goes on, it becomes evident that though Setz has his issues, he's at least trying to cope; once Carne's problems come to light, she's far more unstable. It doesn't take too long before their positions are swapped: Setz is the one who has to reassure the mentally ill Carne and ultimately try to save her when she goes insane. It doesn't end well.

    Web Original 
  • Downplayed in Off the Page and into Life. Most of the time, Gail is willing to gently talk Henry out of one of his moods… but if that doesn't work, she's just as happy to use shouting and snarkiness, too.
  • Julia and Syrius from The War Comms are a (mostly) platonic version of this trope. That's not to say she doesn't try to make him smile, but she has enough experience to know that all he usually needs is a shoulder to cry on, or someone to bandage his wounds. And she's more than happy to give that.
    • Come to think of it, Ralph and either Molly or Syrius fit rather well. Both Syrius and Molly are prone to lots of self-deprecation, and as said above he is very prone to self-harm and heavy depression, but whenever either of them is seen depressed the usually energetic Ralph comes up with surprisingly gentle behavior to make them smile.
  • Gender flipped in RWBY with Blake Belladonna and Sun Wukong. Blake has a very Dark and Troubled Past, and feels she alone has to fight against the world's problems, and frequently suffers from Heroic BSODs over her various issues. Whenever Sun sees Blake in distress, he often tries to cheer her up, usually to be ignored or coldly dismissed by Blake.

    Western Animation