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 Boys Love Genre
works. If one of the partners is really cheerful and sweet, the other partner
is probably an angst-fest waiting to be unleashed. It's also not unheard of in yuri
works, even if less common.
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
- Pictured above: Kiritsugu Emiya and Irisviel "Iri" von Eizenbern in Fate/Zero. It does not end well.
- This a common main pairing type in Shoujo manga. Despite what you'd believe it doesn't only show up on het-based lead/beta pairings, it's also very common in male/male and female/female-based shoujo works.
- Fruits Basket gives us three examples:
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has several:
- Priest Seto, the preincarnation of Seto Kaiba whose life pretty much sucked just as much the first time around, and the white-haired Mystical Waif Kisara.
- "Yami Yugi" and Anzu/Tea. Their "date" consisted of large amounts of Yami brooding over his mysterious past/ mysterious destiny and Tea trying to cheer him up via talking to him or taking him to arcades before going to the museum.
- Jack Atlas and Carly Nagisa of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds.
- The manga Hana No Namae, "The Name Of The Flower", lives off this trope. The 'brooding boy' is Kei Mizushima, a famous writer of depressing, nihilistic works, who himself has a tragic past and struggles with mental illness. The 'gentle girl' is Chouko Mizushima, the distant relative he takes in after her parents die in a car accident, who grows flowers in his yard, is quiet, soft spoken, and kind, and in love with him. The story revolves around Chouko's desire to love and save him from his depression and Kei's feeling that he doesn't deserve it, or can never bring himself out of it enough to do anything but drag her down with him.
- Kaya and Kyouhei from Midnight Secretary. Kyouhei is the brooding, jerkass, prideful vampire who always wears black suits. Kaya is his good-hearted secretary, who is kind, gentle and takes care of all his needs without complaint. After some Character Development on Kyouhei's part, her maturity and kindness reforms him (mostly).
- Revolutionary Girl Utena subverts this (like everything else) with Wakaba's crush on Saionji. It ends in massive tears.
- What the main couples in the mangas authored by Mayu Shinjo are supposed to come up as. Unfortunately, the "Brooding Boy" ends up as a Bastard Boyfriend and the "Gentle Girl" is almost always a Love Martyr.
- Gender inverted in Freezing with Satellizer and Kazuya.
- Ranma ½: Akari is the Gentle Girl (and for some, Relationship Sue) to Ryoga's angster.
- Mary Magdalene is the Gentle Girl to Chrono's Brooding Boy in the backstory of Chrono Crusade, in contrast to Rosette's later Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl approach to helping Chrono out of his moods.
- It's hinted in the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga that Gendo and Yui Ikari's relationship was this before she got absorbed into Unit-01.
- Rei Kiriyama and Hinata Kawamoto from Sangatsu No Lion form this kind of pair whenever they're together and have meaningful one-to-one interaction. Rei has a morose disposition most of the time due to many of the issues he deals with. Hina is cheerful and, while excitable at times, is assertive but gentle and non-forceful in her attempts to get Rei to open up and spend more time with her and her family. However, unlike most examples there are no blatantly obvious romantic overtones in their relationship.
- Kamisama Kiss features Tomoe (boy despite having a girl's name), who is a introverted Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and Nanami, an extroverted Tsundere.
- The lead characters Nishigami and Akira are this in Shindere Shoujo To Kodoku Na Shinigami.
- Gender-inverted version: Shiki Ryougi and Mikiya Kokutou from Kara no Kyoukai. Shiki is, to say the least, highly brooding and unstable, but Mikiya is incredibly kind and patient with her and doesn't stop hanging out with her even after she makes it clear she doesn't want to get close to anyone.
- Baccano! had Huey Laforet and Monica Campanella back at the beginning of the 18th century. It then subverts it hard by revealing that not only is Monica just as much of a bitter misanthrope as Huey, but she's also the Serial Killer that's been lurking around lately. They bond and fall in love over their mutual desire to screw the world over.
- In After War Gundam X, Sala Tyrrell wants to become the Gentle Girl to Jamil Neate's Brooding Older Man. Badly. It takes her almost the whole series to succeed.
- Bleach: Flashblacks reveal that Ryuuken Ishida and his future wife, Kanae Katagiri, were this trope to the very letter. The flashback is ostensibly about Isshin and Masaki's Meet Cute story but includes Ryuuken and Kanae as the Beta Couple. It reveals he was torn between his personal desires and his family duty, and she was hiding feelings for a boy she believes is unattainable.
- Homura Akemi and Madoka Kaname from Puella Magi Madoka Magica are both girls, but otherwise fit this trope to a T. Homura is a stoic, highly troubled Byronic Hero Broken Bird, while Madoka is a kind-hearted and innocent All-Loving Hero. Madoka is the only one able to get close to Homura and get her to express her deeply buried emotions. Madoka's kindness is actually the source of Homura's devotion to her.
- Souma Saiki and Masataka Tagami from Sakura Gari are a male/male version. Souma may not look like a brooder, but in truth he's got MASSIVE issues due to his horrifying Dark and Troubled Past, and one of the biggest reasons why he's attracted to Masataka is his gentle, frank approach to him, offering a contrast with how everyone else is obsessively possessive of Souma himself. And then, shit starts going down for both of them
- This is how the Heero x Relena shippers interpret their relationship. Since Relena helped Heero re-discover the humanity he thought of as lost, it's not that unbelievable.
- Also a popular view of Trowa and Quatre, with Quatre as a mix of both Brooding and Gentle and Trowa as a tight-lipped but very warm-hearted Gentle Guy.
- Puppy Love version: Masaru Yada and Hazuki Fujiwara from Ojamajo Doremi. Ever since the start of the series, Hazuki refused to see Masaru as the delinquent that others thought he was...
- Oniisama e... gives us a girl/girl version, with Rei "Saint Juste" Asaka as the Brooding Bifauxnen and Nanako Misonoo as the Gentle Yamato Nadeshiko Girl. However, Rei either kills herself or dies in an accident depending on which version you're reading/watching.
- Mariko Shinobu and Nanako fit in fairly well too, given that Mariko is a Hot-Blooded Broken Bird with severe issues and clings desperately to Nanako, whom she sees as the first real friend she's made in her whole life.
- Kill la Kill: This trope pretty much sums up Ryuko Matoi and Mako Mankanshoku's relationship. Ryuko is an aloof loner with a vengeful streak and a VERY Dark and Troubled Past that not even she is aware of, while Mako is a bubbly Pollyanna who supports her patiently and unconditionally. Lyrics from Mako's theme "Light Your Heart Up" even provide the page quote.
- Ash and Eiji in Banana Fish fit this to a T, except for the "girl" part.
- The second season of Gundam 00 gender flips this with poat-Break the Cutie!Louise Halevy and Saji Crossroads.
- The Secret Life Of The Backyard Kids: Jorge and Angela. The former is a rich kid with a lot of issues, the latter is a Naïve Everygirl who thinks he's cute. Their conversation in Chapter 7 really drives it home.
- Anime versions of Flippy and Flaky from the Happy Tree Friends are definitely this.
- There's a couple of Attack on Titan fanfics with Eren presented as sweeter, shyer and much more innocent than canon and in love with Levi.
- More than one Hetalia angsty fanfiction applies these dynamics to either: Austria/Hungary, Eastern Bloc!Prussia/Hungary, Japan/Taiwan, Romano/Belgium, Switzerland/Liechtenstein, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia/Ukraine, Germany/Italy, Sweden/Finland, Russia/Lithuania or China, Romano/Spain, Japan/Greece or England/America.
- Harry Potter Fanon likes to portray Draco Malfoy's and Astoria Greengrass's relationship as this, if not going the Arranged Marriage route (or combining the two into a Perfectly Arranged Marriage).
- In The King of Fighters fandom, almost any het pairing involving Iori Yagami involves the preferred partner note invoking the trope via becoming the ~only girl~ able to offer him solace, tenderness and rest, "fixing" his massive issues coming from his centuries-long family baggage. Among the canon girls subjected to this, the most common ones are Athena Asamiya and Chizuru Kagura. And it's Hilarious in Hindsight when you consider the Drama CD's...
- Wu Luan and Qing in Legend Of The Black Scorpion, who deconstruct this as the original play Hamlet does.
- Usually subverted, or at least zigzagged in the Death Note fanfiction Story Of The Century. Original Character Erin is not the most patient of people and most of the time she is a Tsundere towards L, who in turn is a (seemingly) unrepentant Anti-Hero who says next to nothing about his problems (Erin does a lot of speculation on her part based on what little is given), but in a few peaceful moments their dynamic dips into this; L seems to act slightly more "human" since they start hanging out and Erin does learn a few life lessons through their relationship. There could also be deconstruction going on too; unfortunately there's only so much "brooding" from him that Erin can take before she loses her gentleness...and in the end she still can't save him.
- The Bleach fanfiction Chasing the Moon (and to a certain extent, it's prequel Phases of the Moon) sets this up with Yuzu and Byakuya.
- This dynamic occurs in the Death Note Slash Fic Fever Dreams in which L is the brooding one and Light is the gentle one. While he's still very much a Manipulative Bastard he is very careful with how he treats L and of the detective's feelings. It's not just because treating L badly would be suspicious either but out of genuine concern for his well-being. As it turns out Light himself was on the receiving end of a very abusive relationship in the past and he doesn't want to treat L the way he was treated. This dynamic between him and L is turned up to eleven when Light allows his Kira memories to expire and reverts to the Nice Guy he used to be.
- The Homestuck fic armor portrays Karkat and Nepeta as this.
She is compassion in its purest form. She never backs down at the chance to help someone in need, opening her own heart in hopes that they will open theirs. Its what he adores about her the most.
He was stubborn at first. Shying from her love, swatting away her benevolent hands. But she persisted: slowly, patiently, and lovingly. Always lovingly.
Film - Animated
- 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 his 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Joe and Ahim early on in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
- 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 Mass Effect 3, a Shepard of either gender will become very brooding after experiencing the Heroic BSOD with the dream sequence. A Male!Shepard relationship with either Tali or Liara takes on this trope.
- To an extent, Tifa Lockheart is this towards brooding main protagonist Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII.
- Subverted by Cloud and Aerith Gainsborough, who looked very much like the trope — but since Aerith was sassier and more outspoken than the average Gentle Girl, they fell more in Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl.
- 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 - 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.
- In Halo, the Didact to 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 ask for it. The Librarian is a Friend to All Living Things whose favorite charges are the species the Didact nearly wiped out: humans (they 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.
- Also in Halo, Master Chief and Cortana. 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 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 on of the Long Runners, has MANY of these.
- If you pair them, Erk and Priscilla in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword. Ellen and Chad are kind of like this in the sequel game Sword of Seals, too.
- It's a rather popular "reading" of Kent/Lyndis as well... but in the hands of many fans, it ends up with Lyndis being subjected to Chickification rather than her and Kent handling themselves like this.
- If you prefer your Ho Yay, Raven and Lucius are the very incarnation of this.
- Raquesis and Finn become a genderflipped version in Mitsuki Oosawa's Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu manga. To the point that Finn deliberately stabs himself with Raqesis's Earth Sword to stop her from harming herself after the death of her older brother/first love Eldigan.
- Micaiah and King Pelleas in Radiant Dawn, though you can't actually pair them. (Sadly, for some.)
- This is a popular interpretation of Henry and Olivia in the Fire Emblem Awakening fandom. Nevermind that Henry is much less brooding (at least on the outside) than the standard and that Olivia, despite her good heart, can be slightly insensitive and self-righteous while trying to help him. — if anything, they fit more in a genderflipped version of Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl.
- 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.
- In Bioshock Infinite its the team of gentle Elizabeth and Booker as the brooder (who keeps it mostly to himself).
- 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 "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 serioust 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 Cloud Cuckoo Lander/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, and 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.
- 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.