Condescending Compassion
aka: Pitying Perversion

"The sympathy extended to a victim is deceptive. People love the victim only when they can feel superior to him or her. [...] It is a human reflex that makes you feel better about yourself when you can help someone weaker, a victim. That works as long as the roles are clearly defined."
Natascha Kampusch, in the epilogue of 3,096 Days

Condescending Compassion is when a person feels themselves magnanimous enough not to hold someone's 'faults' against them openly. They can't help being a commoner, idiot, a mutant or simply wrong so it would simply be rude to treat them badly because of it. Instead, they resort to the much better idea that they should be sympathetic or even friendly to that lesser being, but of course they won't really take them seriously. In a way, the condescension or even pity is likely well intentioned, but if the target of this attitude realizes it (and they probably will) then they're naturally likely to be quite insulted or hurt.

May factor into Black and White Insanity or Windmill Political. Can be a rare trait for the Anti-Hero. Compare and contrast Heteronormative Crusader. Often runs in the background of White Man's Burden or Save Our Students plots, which explains why some viewers find those stories offensive and others find them inspiring or heartwarming. The phrase "You Are a Credit to Your Race" frequently ties into this worldview.

This trope is also Truth in Television, as many people belonging to minority groups frequently encounter this, but that's everything needed to be said about it, so No Real Life Examples, Please!

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Haruhi Fujioka of Ouran High School Host Club is often subject to this from her well-meaning but painfully sheltered school friends, as a result of her scholarship admittance to Ouran High School for the ridiculously wealthy. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Kaze to Ki no Uta, Gilbert sees this in regards to Serge due to his initial kindness and compassion, which absolutely annoys him to no end.
  • An variant appears in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, with the Masters of the Ryonzampaku Dojo treating everybody that tries to fight YOMI / YAMI this way. As a high percentage of the people that try to fight the organisation (Muggles, the occasional Badass Normal and more "normal" martial artists) are pretty much raising the ire of a bunch of Sociopath Kung-Fu People who are walking Human Beings of Mass Destruction via Supernatural Martial Arts and they are the only ones who can give a fair fight, there is an odd In-Universe justification for said condescension.
  • A large part of the humor in Kaguya Wants To Be Confessed To comes from the protagonists being social Darwinists who equate love with vulnerability. They know any confession will be reciprocated, but neither person is actually willing to take the first step and confess, because they're too proud to admit that they love/'need' each other. Noblesse Oblige is specifically mentioned at one point.
  • In Kishuku Gakkou No Juliet, the Dogs (as in the social group, not the species) and Cats fight. That's all they do together, all they've done for generations, and it's the only way any of them know how to interact with someone from the opposing side. Cats can only be important to Dogs as rivals, and vice versa. So Percia interprets Inudzuka's going easy on her as a 'rejection' of her, a statement that she doesn't matter to him in any way. She wants to retain her antagonistic role in his life because that's better than having no role at all.

    Comic Books 
  • Common in the works of the German cartoonist Ralf König. A good example is a show-within-a-show-within-the-comic. The protagonist is a film critic with a Condescending Compassion bias. He show the audience a movie where this is built into the narrative. The comic start with the film critic ranting about how movies these days are naive and shallow when it comes to homosexuality, making horrible mistakes such as portraying gays as capable of happiness and meaningful lives. Then he shows his own favorite movie. It's about gays getting beaten to death and falling in love with each other as they lie dying in the hospital. After the movie, he feels so sorry for the poor, poor little homos that he pretty much has a nervous breakdown.
  • In one strip of The Feeling Prince Charles Had, a heterosexual character talks to a homosexual and holds a little well-meaning rant about how he thinks it's okay to be gay, ending with his wondering when we will ever get rid of homophobia and start treating homosexuals as equals. The reply: "Maybe when you no longer feel you need to give me permission."
  • Morning Glories: Jade accuses Casey of doing this with Hunter, telling him not to pine for someone who thinks she's doing the geeky kid a favor by being nice to him.
  • Love and Rockets: In the story "An American in Palomar'', the titular American is a photographer taking pictures of the townspeople in order to show others "the beauty of their lives." Luba correctly points out that what he's really doing is making them look like sub-human savages in order to get rich.

    Comic Strips 
  • This comic Strip from Joaquin Lavado (Quino) is titled "They are Just Like Us." Here comes a translation:
    This "globalization" issue allows us to realize that the people of other races and cultures fall in love, Just Like Us.
    And, like us, make love, and children are born of that love. Children that they love and care about, just like us.
    And they need music to express themselves, dance and have fun, just like us.
    And they weep in sorrow with tears like our own, and laugh with joy with loud guffaws, just like us.
    They even rent the same movies that we see and eat the same fast food with the same soda we drink here.
    What does all of this demonstrate? That they, though seeming so different, are just like us!
    [beat]
    It's so easy to say, "They are just like us!" How long will it take for us to even begin to say "We are just like them"?
  • In one of Spaceman Spiff's adventures, he decided to Mercy Kill a blob which he felt was so stupid that it could only stare blankly ahead. In reality, it was Calvin shooting spitballs at Susie.

    Films — Animation 
  • Antz: Buffy, the snobby WASP who takes incredible pity on the "poor, dirty, smelly" Z and Bala when they ask a simple question of how to get to the food wrapped in plastic at a picnic. She couldn't be more condescending if she tried.
    Buffy: Darling [husband], they're poor, they're dirty, they're smelly. We have to help them...
    Chip: Ugh, please, Buffy, not another Crusade.
    Buffy: Chip, we have social obligations to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
    Chip: (rolls eyes)
    Buffy: I know you laugh at my hobbies, but this is important to me. (nearly stomps on the ants she claims to want to help)
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: Kyle and Cartman are facing certain death.
    Cartman: All those times I said you were a big dumb Jew, I didn't mean it... you're not a Jew.
    Kyle: [irritably] Yes I am! I am a Jew, Cartman!
    Cartman: No, no, Kyle, don't be so hard on yourself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Bitter Tea of General Yen includes scenes of missionaries in China. They are all extremely condescending towards the Chinese people, and they all think they're savages who should be pitied and shown the Christian way of life.
  • The Breakfast Club: This is Claire's attitude towards the unpopular kids in school, particularly Bender. Her popularity and friends influence her to be mean to those "beneath her," and much of her conflict stems from hating the fact that this is so.
  • In But I'm a Cheerleader, this idea underlies the film's setup, starting with the intervention confrontation at the start of the film. Megan comes home from school to be confronted by her parents, her boyfriend, some of her female friends and Mike, a self-described ex-gay staffer from a residential therapy program called True Directions. On her arrival at True Directions, Megan is put through an intense session led by camp director Mary, who strives to break down Megan's insistence that she isn't actually a lesbian and her presence there is a mistake. Megan is actually reduced to tears by the end of the session. It becomes clear that Mary thinks True Directions' program is attempting "therapeutic" intervention.
  • In a film called Hate Crime, the mother of a young man convicted of murdering a gay man decides that the Christian thing to do is to offer condolences to the mother of the gay man. She says something to the tune of "Well, after all, your son's bad choices weren't your fault." Bitch gets slapped.
  • The gentile teacher at the beginning of The Hebrew Hammer implores her all-Christian students to be respectful of Mordechai's different faith and practices, although that doesn't stop her from throwing a few jabs at Jews into her speech.
  • Played with by the protagonists of Inception as they write the story of the Dream Within a Dream. Their target is a young heir who they intend to manipulate to make a certain business decision. There is some resentment between him and his dead father, with the father's last word to him being "disappointed". The protagonists resolve this by giving him a fake epiphany....
    Son: I know, you were disappointed because I couldn't be you.
    Father: No... I was disappointed... because you tried
    .
  • In the movie The Ledge, the Christian antagonist openly feels sorry for the atheist protagonist's "empty life without God" as well as for his gay roommate (he mistakes them for lovers). This doesn't sit well with the protagonist, who then decides to seduce the antagonist's wife in retaliation.
  • In Mammoth, believing prostitution to be horrible, Leo keeps feeling sorry for Cookie. He does this in a way that's actually shaming her and would emotionally damage her if she internalized it.
  • The main conflict in The SM Judge is about how the prosecutor and others are trying to cast Magda in the role of the poor little victim who everyone should feel sorry for -never mind that the prosecutor himself is the only one having a real harmful influence on her life. Ironically, she didn't get any help when she hated herself for being a masochist or when she got abused for real by her previous husband. Nope, the pity comes only after she has turned her life around so that everything is going great.
  • The War: A new teacher comes to town and she's not prejudiced in the slightest bit. She thinks it's wonderful that dumb black children have to sit in the back of her classroom while the bright white children get all her attention. That's what makes life "a bowl full of cherries" for her.
  • X-Men:
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: The quest by Angel's father to help his son is a classic example, only fueling the son's self-hatred. As he caught his young Angel trying to cut off his own wings, he reacted with revulsion to the fact that his son was a mutant. He then dedicated his life to trying to "cure" his son from being a mutant.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Played with when a nurse tells Mystique that she feels sorry for the blue-skinned woman she saw on TV, because it must have been such a shame to be born looking like that, but she's unaware that she's talking to the woman in question.
  • An attempted — and failed — aversion resulted from the making of the 1932 black comedy/horror film Freaks. Director Todd Browning wanted to show sideshow performers to be, if not exactly ordinary, then at least well-adjusted and confident, and not in need of the other circus people to feel sorry for them or protect them from persecution. But he was forced to cut large portions of the screenplay by the film's producers (partly for censorship reasons and partly because the studio just wanted a shorter film), with the result that the freaks are pictured more as Noble Savages (they are even — sympathetically — referred to as children) and then as near-villains when they take their revenge in the climax.
  • RENT includes a scene (not in the play) where Mark intervenes when two cops try to bully an old homeless woman away from the street by filming their encounter. When the cops give up and leave, the homeless woman then lays into Mark for using her and her struggles as a mere prop for his art and to make himself feel like a progressive radical resisting the system rather than doing anything practical to help her — tellingly, when she asks him if he has a quarter he can give her, the result is merely awkward silence.

    Literature 
  • In 3096 Days, the autobiography of Natascha Kampusch, Natascha discusses this trope. She was kidnapped as a child, and after she got free, she experienced that people tried to reduce her to a victimhood-role that was basically there for these people to feel better about themselves at the victim's expense.
  • I Choose Life, the autobiography of Sabine Dardenne. She spends the last part of her book talking about this trope. Kidnapped as kid, later saved, but experienced that people tried reducing her to a victim.
  • Don Quixote in the first part of the novel give us The Barber and the Curate, two Moral Guardians, and in the second part Loony Fan Sanson Carrásco, whose sincere desire to help that poor fool, Don Quixote and cure his madness is sabotaged by this attitude, rendering all of them into Threshold Guardians. Also, all three do things to help him that could be easily described as "crazy."
  • In Pride and Prejudice, when he receives news that Lydia has eloped with Wickham, the rector Mr. Collins decides that it would be a good idea to write to Mr. Bennet and "console" him and his cousins on their misfortune. These condolences primarily come in the form of a self-righteous lecture about what a wicked and shameful girl Lydia is and how she's brought ruin on them all through her wicked conduct. The 1995 TV adaptation has him come and deliver this lecture in person... which, needless to say, just endears him to the Bennett sisters even more.
    • This is also a big part of why Elizabeth rejects Mr Darcy's first proposal. While his feelings are genuine, he spends most of the proposal repeatedly pointing out her family's poor status and how sorry he feels for her, and she brutally tears into him for it. This helps Darcy realize his main character flaw, which is right there in the book's title.
  • Emma: Mrs Elton, newly married to a local clergyman, immediately fancies herself the best, most respectable woman of the neighbourhood, even among the long-settled families of country gentry. She is quite rich and a new bride, so people in Highbury respect her and tolerate her to a certain degree, but she is insufferable. She forces her friendship and tries to mentor Jane Fairfax, who is an accomplished young lady, and because she is poor and of less consequence, she can't escape Mrs Elton's condescending good will as well as other characters.
  • In David Weber's The War God's Own, this is the attitude of spoiled young Sir Vaijon of Almerhas when first introduced. Things go to hell when he meets the protagonist, who is of a race that Vaijon considers the lowest of the low and has been personally chosen as champion by the patron god of Vaijon's military order.
  • Lampshaded in The Tamuli. Throughout The Elenium the protagonists have been Elenes who are very pro-Styric despite the wide-spread anti-Styric attitudes that exist among Elenes, and stand up against Elene racism on the matter. However, in The Tamuli they finally get to see the great city of the Styrics and the shock of seeing Styrics living ordinary, normal lives like Elenes, as equals to Elenes, instead of the downtrodden, victimised people they're used to seeing, makes them realise that they'd been courting condescending compassion all along. Being good people at heart, they're able to confront this ugly side of themselves and overcome it, but it's a shock to the system when they're first exposed to the reality of the type of compassion they'd previously been feeling.
  • Harry Potter:
    • This is how the non-Death Eater members of the wizarding world tend to treat Muggles. Even though the Muggle Prime Minister is supposed to be Fudge and Scrimgeour's equal in authority, they treat him like a child which understandably frustrates him. Even Arthur Weasley looks upon the non-magical population like animals at the zoo who entertain him with their behavior rather than people. This could be the result of a mild culture-wide Inferiority Superiority Complex, however, since it's at times suggested that despite their lack of magical powers or prowess, Muggles as a whole are actually more of a threat to the wizarding world than vice versa.
    • Hermione's treatment of House Elves. Their Blue and Orange Morality makes them eager to serve humans, and they're offended by such notions as "freedom" and "payment". They like working for kind, understanding humans better than mistreatment, but they still (with only one exception that we see) prefer mistreatment to freedom, to the point where they literally consider it a Fate Worse Than Death. Hermione, believing that she knows what's best for them and that they'll like freedom "once they've got a taste of it," attempts to trick them into freeing themselves. They do not take it well. Dumbledore, by contrast, treats them kindly and respectfully and gladly agrees to pay the one House Elf who asks for it, but does not suggest freeing the majority who don't desire it.
    • Actively used as an intentional insult by Harry toward Voldemort in the fifth book, as he points out that for all of Voldemort's supposed superiority, he's an utterly pathetic individual. Considering what kind of person Voldy is, hinting that he's pitiable at all is probably the most virulent insult someone could sling his way.
    "You're the one who is weak. You will never know love or friendship. And I feel sorry for you."
  • The universe of A Series of Unfortunate Events is filled with well-meaning but condescending adults who pity and attempt to help the Baudelaire orphans in various ill-thought out ways, and usually end up making their situation a lot worse.
  • In David Weber's Honor Harrington series, this is one of the attitudes that (nicer) civilians of the Solarian League have towards non-league "neobarbs".
  • In Warbreaker, Vivenna tries to be understanding towards the prickly Jewels after learning that she lost her Breath to one of the Returned. Jewels responds that being chosen to give your Breath to a god is an honor for her people, and that her sacrifice helped save her family from starvation, and thus she really isn't interested in Vivenna's pity.
  • The "Smug Marrieds" in both the novel and films in the Bridget Jones series either passive aggressively shame/pity single peers (mostly women) when they aren't asking "How's Your Love Life?" or making "tick tock tick tock" sounds when reminding Bridget about her biological clock.
  • Discworld: Trolls and dwarfs have almost always been at war (one's big, stupid, and made of minerals, the other's small, aggressive, and always on the lookout for precious ores to mine...), but Thud! puts a new spin by quoting an excerpt from The Fundamentalist's explanation, citing that trolls should be pitied for being misshapen and crude, being made from the leftovers used to fashion dwarves and humans. Which turns out to have been a direct contradiction of the real holy text, in which trolls created themselves. The dwarf grags nearly got into a civil war over their greatest tenet being overruled and destroying a holy text (a just-as-big taboo), eventually settling for trying to blame the murder on the trolls.
    • In Hogfather, Death calls out an Expy of Good King Wenceslas for engaging in this trope, when the fellow brought leftovers from his own holiday feast to a peasant's hut and insisted that the peasant (who'd actually been looking forward to his own homemade bean supper) express effusive gratitude, to make the king feel good about himself. Back in the city, a woman leading carolers is said to be kind to the poor ... so long as they're polite, not too smelly, and deferentially thankful.
  • The Yithians suffer from this when dealing with humanity in The Tower Of Zhaal. They have plans to trap humanity's survivors in a Lotus-Eater Machine in the Dream Land as a way of "saving" us from extinction. This is actually noteworthy as most advanced species are Blue and Orange Morality at best.
  • In Goodbye To Berlin, the short story "The Landauers" involves Christopher befriending a rich Jewish family whose members all try to get his opinions on various topics, but then get unreasonably angry when he actually gives his opinion. This is perhaps best epitomized by Natalia Landauer's Catch-Phrase, "Then I cannot help you" - always delivered when Christoper declines to perform some favor for her.
  • Taken to a terrifying extreme in Old Man's War: The Consu are not xenophobic monsters like everyone assumed. Quite the contrary, they love everybody and want to help all the other races of the galaxy achieve peace and enlightenment. Problem is, they see themselves as the pinnacle of civilization and their idea of helping people advance is to force them to be more like the Consu through war and suffering.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Occurs on Community in the episode "Early 21st Century Romanticism". Britta makes friends with a lesbian pretty much for the sole purpose of having an excuse to smugly brag to everybody about what a progressive and tolerant person she is. At one point, the rather naïve and sheltered Annie curiously asks her some questions about her friend, and Britta uses this opportunity to condescendingly lecture her on her "homophobia" and how it makes her a lesser person. It turned out that Britta's "lesbian" friend was straight, thought Britta was a lesbian, and befriended her for exactly the same reason. Neither girl was very happy to find out the truth.
    • In two episodes, the main characters run a Dungeons & Dragons game to help an outsider who is a passionate fan of the game resolve some personal issues in their life (in the first case, to help a potentially suicidal young man feel a connection; in the second, to bridge a divide between an estranged father and son). However, while in both cases they mean well, it's pretty clear that almost all the main characters consider Dungeons and Dragons stupid and beneath them, resulting in them coming off as unintentionally patronising, condescending and dismissive to the person they're trying to help.
  • In an episode of Fringe, a doctor with a paraplegic son was killing other paraplegics in an attempt to find a cure for his son's condition. When the son found out, he was not only horrified by the murders his father was committing, but incredibly hurt both that his father didn't accept him the way he was and that he tried to justify the deaths as acceptable mercy killings.
  • An episode of Saved by the Bell had Zack dating a paraplegic girl. He was very considerate to her, but to such an extent that he slid into this trope. She called him out on it and broke up with him, but by the end of the episode he'd learned the error of his ways and they'd reunited (at least temporarily).
  • In season 9 of How I Met Your Mother, the front desk clerk Curtis constantly and repeatedly pities Ted for being single at a romantic location and during a wedding.
  • In Red Dwarf, Lister indignantly refutes Kochanski's insinuation that he is homophobic by citing his drinking-buddies status with a gay crewman who he describes as being just one of the boys. The fact the crewman's nickname is Bent Bob doesn't seem at all incongruous to him.
  • In Highway To Heaven, a bar patron is highly offended when his efforts to buy a drink for a man in a wheelchair, just because he is in a wheelchair, are met with "No, thank you." He thought he deserved brownie points for "being nice to a cripple."
  • House addresses this a few times in the mentality of doctors and their patients. Cameron previously was married to a man who she knew was dying of terminal cancer, and their marriage naturally only lasted six months. She finds herself likely attracted to the miserable, depressed, crippled House, and makes several advances on him. Eventually House spells it out that what she feels for him isn't love, it's pity, and that he's not going to go into a relationship based on something like that. Likewise, Wilson's repeated failed marriages are attributed by House that he's only attracted to women who are "broken," and then loses interest when they get back on their feet. Again, it's implied this is a major reason why Wilson and House are friends, since House is so damaged that Wilson just can't fix him no matter how long they're together.
  • In a The Daily Show bit just after Obama's election, Larry Wilmore got all excited about finally getting the chance to exercise his "black liberal guilt" by condescendingly praising other races for basic accomplishments like being hardworking and having cute children.
  • The first episode of Adam Ruins Everything points this out as a contributing factor to why various charitable giving operations don't help like we think they do. Adam asks his student-for-the-day Emily what she visualizes when thinking about a citizen of an African country. What she comes up with is a string of stereotypes of rural African communities before stopping and realizing how condescending she sounds. Later in the episode it is implied that this contributes to the attitude that poor people can't just be given money directly because they might spend it on things they don't need.
  • The High Sparrow from Game of Thrones talks a lot about the poor people he helps, and seems to have a very romanticized image of himself as somebody who will give up his last pair of sandals. You don't usually see him engage with individual poor people as unique human beings, though, and it doesn't seem like he's asked their permission before openly discussing their poverty and medical issues with complete strangers. He and his followers also present themselves as being very magnanimous and compassionate towards people who have openly been caught sinning (although this compassion involves using torture to educate people), but the High Sparrow openly admits how disgusted he is by the sexual licentiousness he witnessed before he renounced his highborn status, and this attitude seems to be reflected by his followers.
    • The compassion is less genuine than usual, but Ramsay Bolton uses a combination of compassion and thinly veiled condescension to mess with his victim's heads. He is prone to giving speeches to Sansa and Theon about what a kind and forgiving husband/master he is and how everything he does (including torture) is because he loves them and wants to instruct them. He also repeatedly pets and strokes Theon in the same way that a loving master would pet and stroke a dog. Truth in Television in so far that real-world abusers use strategies like this to make abuse victims psychologically dependent on them (since it makes victim question their basic sense of reality, teaches them that they won't be able to survive on their own if they decide to leave, and makes them feel guilty for questioning the abuser's authority).
  • Deconstructed in the All in the Family episode "The Games Bunkers Play". Throughout the series, Mike is a staunch liberal who supports civil rights for black people and acts friendly towards the Bunkers' black neighbor Lionel, whom he always wants to discuss racial issues with. During the game in the episode, Lionel reveals to Mike that he finds Mike's attitude towards him patronizing and he feels like Mike just sees him as a representative of all black people he can talk to. Mike tries to defend himself and point out how much of a bigot Archie is with his attitude. Lionel then points out that Archie's attitude is a result of him being an ignorant boob who doesn't know any better. Mike on the other hand is smart enough to know but treats Lionel less like an individual person than Archie does.

    Music 
  • Nanne Grönvall's song "Fördomar" (Prejudice) plays this for laughs. The whole song is about the protagonist bragging about how she's a perfect Mary Sue who does not have any prejudice whatsoever. The first verse is simply about how great and open-minded she is in general. The second verse is the Alice of this trope, expecting gratitude from gays for not despising them. The rest of the song goes downhill from there with blatant racism (against blacks and whites), sexism (against men and women), ageism (against young people and old people) and so on.
  • The narrator of "I Thought I'd Lost You" is annoyed by various well-intentioned people acting like her loss wasn't important.
    Nobody listens to me
    Don't hear a single thing I've said
    Say anything to soothe me
    Anything to get you from my head...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Defining characteristic of the Tau attitude toward other races. Depending on the Writer this may be presented as a marginally better alternative to the Absolute Xenophobe Imperium of Man, or much, much worse because at least the humans are honest about how much they hate you.
  • Brettonian society in Warhammer is so ridiculously stratified that commoners are literally seen as a different (and inferior) species than the nobles. This view leads this trope being common amongst the more "compassionate" of lords and knights. For example, a lord who mistreats his peasants may see several of his neighbors band together to depose him. This isn't because they actually care about the welfare of the peasants, but because abusing poor defenseless peasants is conduct unbecoming of a Brettonian noble that makes the noble class look bad.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: The Chantry's attitude about elves when they aren't outright racist toward them (which many city elves doubly resent because the Chantry put them in poverty and second-class citizenry in the first place). Although, the Chantry has this reputation in general.
    • In Dragon Age II, Sebastian tries to sell Merrill on the Chantry by talking about its work caring for orphans and widows. Merrill questions why orphans and widows need to be cared for — in her own clan, they are treated just like everyone else.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Vivienne often gives this impression when she isn't acting like a Rich Bitch. While she claims to care about "the people of Thedas" and lists protecting them from the dangers of magic (despite being a mage herself) as her main motivation, she won't descend from her opulent balls and high ivory towers to actually slum with them, and disapproves of an Inquisitor whom she feels does so too much.
  • This is the primary motivation of Fate/Grand Order's Big Bad as Goetia genuinely sympathizes with humanity's suffering but takes the most condescending way to go about fixing it, choosing to incinerate the Earth, eliminate them all, and start anew since he, an immortal being, believes that humans have absurdly short and miserable lives and thinks they would be much happier with his improvements. As the story progresses, he becomes increasingly frustrated with how people keep resisting him since he doesn't understand why they wouldn't want to become bettered by someone like him.
  • Red Dead Redemption plays this trope, along with White Man's Burden, throughout its narrative, as the backdrop of the story is "civilization" being brought to the "savage" lands of the west. The game even opens with John Marston listening in on a pair of women talking about how the natives "may have lost their land, but gained access to heaven", and a second talk involving a young woman who is told by a priest that the natives may resist, but it's only because they don't know better, and it would be wrong to hate them for it. The priest also scores bonus points for telling the girl it's okay for her to be confused by this, as she is "only a young woman."
  • This trope is why, in King of Dragon Pass, refusing a gift is considered a strong insult- either a statement of 'My clan is so wealthy that anything you offer is just peanuts to us' or 'We don't trust you to manage your own resources properly'. The Orlanthi people, being technologically primitive, don't have much to be generous with, but that just makes generosity all the more meaningful in their culture.

    Visual Novels 
  • Katawa Shoujo plays with this trope in a few ways. Being a game about disabled love interests, it's easy to fall into this, and is the cause for some bad endings. Especially Hanako's. Ironic in one way, but this is basically the real-life playing out of the "sympathetic bigot" part of the trope. Not knowing led to ignorant pitying, but once the creators actually began researching and talking to people they developed a more nuanced portrayal of the people involved (for example, the main obstacles in the characters lives are rarely their disabilities but their emotional/psychological problems — which can stem from their disabilities but don't necessarily have to.)

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck:
    • Cronus believes that one of his best qualities is how he doesn't nearly make as big a deal about the fact that he's a seadweller as he could and that the others should be thankful he's such a progressive guy. After all, he could lord it over them, but he actually stoops to their level to see them as equals (and reminds them of it constantly)! What more could they possibly ask for?
    • Kankri also has a tendency to fall into condescension, even though he expressly argues against that kind of thing.
    • This in general is Beforus's hat. It's a culture that is based around babying those with "lower" blood colors like they're helpless.
  • In Something*Positive, Dahlia (who is wheelchair-bound due to spinal damage) often has to suffer the well-meaning 'sympathy' of people who constantly pity her for her lack of legs, especially people who seem to think that just because her legs do not work she must also be mentally retarded.

    Web Original 
  • This Cracked article, "5 old timey prejudices that still show up in every movie", argues that this attitude from white people is why there are so few non-white protagonists of blockbuster movies. And especially not in a relationship with a white female character.
    Again, we can blame the studios all we want. But they've learned from hard experience that for the most part, if they don't play to our prejudices, we simply won't go see their movie. (However, this experience may be out of date, as films with non-European protagonists generally do fine if they can get into theaters in majority-ethnic-European societies.)
  • Discussed in The Tuesday Zone's review of Call Girl of Cthulhu, specifically as it relates to the protagonist's Nice Guy Syndrome.
    First of all, the main character — who we are 100% meant to sympathize with and support — just referred to women as things. Second, note that the main character desperately wants sex and only interacts with two women before this conversation: his roommate, whom he condescends to because he could only have sex with someone he loves, unlike her, and the titular call girl, whose line of work he disrespects but attempts to tolerate. He paints prostitutes, apparently reflecting on how he respects their bodies more than most clients or some hogwash like that, but doesn't realize that he's judging them and their line of work in a snobbish way as a result. He thinks he knows what their bodies are good for better than they do.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Keystone Motel", Sapphire treats Ruby's anger as insignificant because she knows it will eventually fade. This trivialization of her emotions only makes Ruby angrier — especially because her hurt feelings are entirely justified given the circumstances. Sapphire later admits that by doing this, she was only escalating their fight.
    Steven: But [Ruby] seems really upset.
    Sapphire: That doesn't matter. She can't stay mad at Pearl forever and she can't stay mad at me forever, and then she'll come back and see that I'm right.
  • Quinn and other members of the Fashion Club on Daria would use the fact that they felt sorry for "ugly" girls as a sign of their basic moral goodness, and would hand out makeovers as a form of charity.
  • Parodied on Bojack Horseman, with the Richard Branson expy Sebastian St Claire. Sebastian St Claire, a billionaire who has given up the business world to help out in a fictional war-torn Eastern European country, is very condescending towards the local people, never actually bothering to engage with or learn from them while simultaneously spending a lot of time talking about how poor and needy they are. He is also continually using the Cordovians as photo-opportunities and never bothers to consider what they might actually want (for example, building a monument to himself and a shiny library in the middle of a delapidated refugee camp). At one point, he tells Dianne that a little boy named Kinko's name means "orphan who will probably die soon".
  • The Simpsons' tendency to treat Homer's elderly father Abe and other senior citizens in this way has been a source of comedy throughout the show's run.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Jelly Goodwell, the "foremost" monster expert on Mewni, supports affording monsters less hostility and helps Star try to change the way that the Mewmans perceive them, but doesn't actually believe that monsters are any more intelligent or deserve any more rights than, say, a wild pack of wolves.

Alternative Title(s): Pitying Perversion, Condescending Pity

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CondescendingCompassion?from=Main.PityingPerversion