"One death has already been attributed to the Glow Cloud. But listen, it's probably nothing. If we had to shut down the town for every mysterious event that at least one death could be attributed to, we'd never have time to do anything, right?"A character who is conditioned to accept a rather horrible, disturbing fate in life does so with a smile on their face. Why must they engage in this Senseless Waste of Human Life? As it turns out, they've been conditioned for it. Literally. Their life, memories, and personal experiences have all been deliberately designed so that they genuinely enjoy, understand, and accept the macabre world they've been placed in, even as people from a different context are terrified just observing them. This is a very cerebral trope, as the ability of a person to accept such gruesomeness as commonplace and accept their fate without thinking about it raises a lot of questions about the human condition. Don't be surprised if some authors try to sidestep the issue entirely by having the heroes "educate" the conditioned target as to the right way of thinking. For specific character types, the Barrier Maiden is sometimes trained this way to get them to accept their job. The Apocalypse Maiden might be told they need to be sacrificed so that they don't, y'know, bring about the apocalypse. Sometimes overlaps with Face Death with Dignity, this person often seems to be a Martyr Without a Cause until the reasons are explained (and sometimes even after). A common component of Training from Hell and The Spartan Way. Overlaps with Let's Meet the Meat when the horror part comes from a food source being sentient. Can be part of a Crapsaccharine World. Compare with Epiphanic Prison and Safety in Indifference. See also Blank Slate, Nurture over Nature, Misery Builds Character, More Than Mind Control, Rousseau Was Right, Stockholm Syndrome and Then Let Me Be Evil. Compare and Contrast with Weirdness Censor and Perception Filter where the mental impression of horror is diminished but the emotional reaction to said horror is unchanged.
— Cecil Palmer, Welcome to Night Vale
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Code Geass, Emperor Charles invokes the trope, believing the people will accept what they are forced into when given enough time. Lelouch defies this trope, saying that time will never happen and proves it.
- Gunslinger Girl used this as an early conceit. The girls are very sweet and can pass for normal in public, but they cannot comprehend the idea that there's anything morose or negative in the fact that they must kill people on command, most of the time without knowing why. This is best summed up in an early story where Rico realizes she must kill a busboy she befriended earlier because he's a witness. At first it seems like she's hesitating for human reasons, but it turns out that she was trying to remember the words "I'm sorry". That she had to kill him was never a doubt in her mind.
- Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Her character relationship arc with Shinji is based largely on how he questions why she feels this is necessary. Mostly it's the fault of Shinji's dad.
- Hansel and Gretel of Black Lagoon end up as Creepy Twins due to this trope.
- The main character of Pandora Hearts can accept anything life throws at him — death, being thrown into an extra-dimensional hell/prison, stuff like that. Most disturbingly, he actually conditioned himself into this as opposed to the usual premise of it having been performed by morally dubious characters. Naturally, this creeps the heck out of his friends.
- Fate Testarossa in the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha seemed to genuinely believe that her mother's abuse of her was a good enough substitute for parental affection, because she has never actually experienced the latter (other than in Alicia's memories). So much, she even defended her mother's actions to her familiar Arf. It takes many years for Lindy to "decondition" her to accept real tenderness without tensing up.
- Hibiki from Bloody Monday Season 2 is perfectly understanding about the possibility of dying and being replaced because not only has she been trained to be a perfect agent since childhood, she also has seven identical clones and all of them were specifically bred for spying.
- The "normal" people from Miyu's homeworld in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA. Illya comes to this realization when she realizes both of them automatically go "people can't fly" despite the magic they've seen. "The Ainsworths have taken their wings."
- In Endride, assassins like Mischa are kidnapped as children, emotionally broken and then brainwashed in order to become more effective killers for their owners.
- In X-Men, Bella Donna Boudreaux was raised to be a professional hitwoman, from at least the time she was eight years old, and possibly younger. As a result she has no qualms about committing murder.
- Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass, has no qualms about vigilante murder and even killing mooks for money. She has been trained by her father to be a killing machine because he wanted a more exciting life.
- Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher; a dark vigilante who derives a macabre thrill from gunning down scores of criminals. During his military service in the Vietnam War, Frank came to thrive in the bloodshed and chaos surrounding him; he craved combat. While the war was a traumatic nightmare for many who fought in it, Frank actually misses his time in Vietnam, and part of the reason he kills criminals is to continue waging a war that he should've ended long ago.
- In Batman, the hitman Cain has raised his daughter Cassandra from an early age to be nothing but a killing machine. In fact, it was his intention that violence and martial arts be the only language in which she is fluent, and she is, for all intents and purposes, mute.
- While successful at making her into a nigh-unstoppable fighting machine, Cain's regimen actually backfired massively when it came to conditioning Cass psychologically. The first time she killed someone her abilities meant she could 'read' all the target's emotions as he died, making the experience even more traumatizing than it would be for a regular 6-year-old. She converted to Thou Shalt Not Kill on the spot.
- Batman's own son Damian, who was raised by the League of Assassins and conditioned to not only kill but to enjoy killing.
- The Joker apparently has a clinical version of this. In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, one of the doctors discusses how the Joker is wired to accept the harshness of reality better than most normal people can. Since he lives in a hellholle like Gotham, this "super sanity" as they call it manifests as laughing at death, pain and fear.
- Raven of the Teen Titans is an Apocalypse Maiden who, since birth, was trained to seal away her emotions, despite the fact that she was an empath who thrived off other people's emotions.
- Carl Grimes from The Walking Dead has been forced into this in order to cope with death in the comics, though more in the form of Safety in Indifference then being cheerful about it. A good example is his reaction to Tyreese's death. It eventually causes Troubling Unchildlike Behavior
- Huntress is a peculiar example, because while she witnessed the murder of her family when she was eight years old, and was then raised by assassins who trained her to fight and kill, those same assassins also loved and cared for her and showed her real affection. They certainly did condition her to accept horror, but not out of cruelty.
- In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion Asuka was desensitized to sanity losing situations Acquired Poison Immunity-style as a part of her pilot training.
- In And If That Don't Work Asuka is subjected to operant conditioning to keep her functional after being burned by acid down to a "screaming potato" and then rebuilt as a cybernetic human-Evangelion hybrid. She happily notes that she doesn't get nightmares about it, ever. The alternative was admittedly a lot worse, however.
- In The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13, Link claims to have had the fear beaten out of him by his horrific lifestyle. He also admits that while such "mundane" things as pitch black pits and waves of blood don't scare him, the thought of losing his loved ones most certainly does.
- He invokes this effect by basically torturing a small group of knights into fearing nothing but him, to make sure they wouldn't give up or freak out in a life or death situation.
- The goddesses themselves also invoke this trope Up to Eleven by putting Link's mind through the Ocarina of Time adventure 98,000 times during his four seven-year sleeps. It's borderline And I Must Scream, in a way.
- Light in No Hoper. His mother was killed gruesomely in a vampyre attack right in front of him when he was very young and then this is reinforced at the testing facility with the staff's casual attitude when most of the test subjects die.
- In the Umineko: When They Cry Affectionate Parody Silly Hat Productions, Battler notes early on that he's gotten used to Beatrice's games. He then goes on to claim they're not as effective anymore.
- In To Lead The Way, Serena is consistently raped by her father, and believes his actions to be acceptable because, quite frankly, she hasn't had the chance to learn otherwise.
- From Gensokyo 20XX, we have this with an age-regressed Reimu and she is a downplayed and played with example, in that, while she is mentally conditioned, she's conditioned herself to accept something a child wouldn't otherwise be able to as something may not be changed, i.e, mental illness, declining health, and the death from the result thereof Note . Along with the aforementioned and if some of her other behavior and willingness to accept cruelty is to go by, it would be a safe assumption that cruelty is half of what she knows. Of course, seeing their kind of setting and what she's been exposed to since age-regression, she probably doesn't have any other choice, except to be. Needless to say, it does cause her misery, something she had learned to endure.
- Dante mentions he is pushing sixty in Dante's Night at Freddy's, and that a lifetime of killing demons and losing family members has made him extremely jaded to the likes of the Freddy Fazbear characters.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: In Act V chapter 23, the other members of the group are left dumbfounded that in the aftermath of Tsukune's bloodlust-fuelled rampage through Yokai Academy's festival, which has left the school grounds covered with corpses, Rin's only concern is that the fireworks show has been cancelled. In response, Ran explains that she, Rin, and Ren have seen so many horrible things while enslaved to Babylon that the recent events don't even faze them.
- In Neon Metathesis Evangelion as in canon, Rei sees no problem whatsoever with how she's treated by NERV. Rei I's influence changes this after the reintegration of her soul; she will lash out violently if sufficiently provoked.
- Rambo in First Blood is particularly notable in that he realizes he's so conditioned to accept horror that he doesn't actually have any idea what he's supposed to do with his life now that the war's over. The entire premise of the movie is pretty much him demanding an answer to this question and not getting one. Later movies "solved" this problem by tossing Rambo into typical action movie plots against Always Chaotic Evil nemeses. The original book, by contrast, ended with Rambo killed as a result of his inability to adapt.
- The first half of Full Metal Jacket. Some might say that Kubrick depicted this trope a bit too well.
- The Hunted featured a character who was trained to be proficient in close-quarters knife assault tactics. This type of assassination is very emotionally taxing, and combat training includes with it conditioning to help make close-range murder easier on the psyche. The main conflict in the movie comes when the main character, having gone through this training, is utterly unable to relinquish violence and reintegrate into the world.
- In Soldier the Super Soldier squad is forced to watch a pack of dogs attacking a wild boar as children during their training. The main character is then completely unable to exist as anything except a soldier in later life.
- Similarly, Child Soldiers in Blood Diamond are mercilessly drilled (and sometimes drugged) in order to teach them how to kill.
- Downplayed in 12 Years a Slave. We see slaves on the Epps' plantation quietly working together as the screams of fellow slaves being whipped fills the air-there's no delight in hearing such sounds, there's just acceptance, and the knowledge that if any of them so much as move to give water, they'll be next under the lash.
- Hot Fuzz has all the townsfolk of Sanford unfazed by all the grisly deaths going on, treating them all as minor inconveniences.
- In Suffragette, the protagonist, Maude, at first refuses to say anything against her boss, stating that he is a good employer. Then, when she has been convinced to just give a statement of what her job is like (as the suffragettes want to prove that women work just as hard as men) she calmly describes the gruesome deaths of colleagues in work accidents, how the chemicals they have to work with decrease their lifespan, and how they put their babies in baskets under the kettles with boiling water, which their employer thinks is completely okay, as he wants them to return to work early. What she does not tell, but is later revealed is that the man also routinely rapes the young teenaged girls who work for him, and it is implied he did this to Maud, too. The reason why Maud has to tell all those things is that the colleague, who originally offered to speak, has been beaten up by her husband and they fear that the men in power will not listen to a woman who isn't pretty. No one thinks this particularly remarkable, nor does anyone suggest to take the fact she's been beaten up so badly as evidence why women need votes.
- In A Brother's Price, when they find the body of a man who was raped, and then killed by having his tongue cut off, Ren is shocked at the lack of reaction from the soldiers who accompany her. It's not unreasonable to assume that they have seen worse, it comes with the job, and there seems to have been a bandit problem for a long time.
- In Dragon Bones, Oreg has been a slave for so long that what would constitute horror to others is his baseline normal. When talking to his master about things that may annoy him, he moves to keep a piece of furniture between them. Ward (who inherited him at the start of the novel) notices this, and concludes that Oreg must be used to people whose reaction to things that annoy them is violence. Ward has some experience with this, as his father (Oreg's former owner) was abusive. Ward, however, refuses to acknowledge this as normal. His brother Tosten, on the other hand, is a bit more sensitive, and when Ward seeks him out for a family reunition, thinks that Ward has come to kill him in order to get him out of the way as potential heir. He accepts this and only asks Ward to make it quick and painless. Ward is horrified when he finally understands what Tosten is talking about.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four. The whole world has fallen below the Despair Event Horizon yet the people have been conditioned to accept the fact and just live their drab lives worshiping Big Brother or not giving a shit about politics despite trying to survive in such a suicide-encouraging hellhole plagued by constant and immutable war, poverty and paranoia, with the Party members getting the worst of it thanks to the corrupt Big Brother Is Watching regime. Also, if a Party member even thinks of going against the will of Big Brother, he is even more conditioned to accept horror via Room 101. O'Brien even openly admitted that only pure power is what keeps the Dystopia alive and the future is pretty much "a boot stamping on a human face forever".
- Winston is subjected to a little piece of personal horror when he recalls how he walked through a district that had just been hit by a bomb, and casually kicked a severed human arm into the gutter as though it were a stone or a piece of debris.
- Never Let Me Go has this as the central tragic plot point. As terrifying as the fate of the Hailsham students is when it's finally revealed to the reader, it's not particularly remarkable to Kathy, who mentions it casually while talking about something else. It genuinely doesn't even occur to anyone that they could do something else with their lives.
- Brave New World has an entire society of people who don't engage in any meaningful intellectual thought, or for that matter, much of anything. Aside from the few characters intelligent enough to realize how blithe all this is, everyone seems to enjoy it. A part of this conditioning is taking small children to the hospital of dying, and giving them cookies every time someone dies.
- Discussed in The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbits wonder why the horses of the Ringwraiths don't exhibit the nerve-racking dread that all other living things that encounter them do. The answer is that the horses were raised in Mordor, and quite simply are used to it. The movies give them Red Eyes, Take Warning, implying a more supernatural explanation there.
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe features food that's been
conditionedbred to want to be eaten. Arthur Dent, being a normal human from Earth rather unused to this, is a little disturbed.
- Bethan, the sacrificial maiden from The Light Fantastic. Although that depends on your definition of "horror" - her belief that she would get to drink tea with the moon goddess after being sacrificed might have been correct, considering that there are real goddesses in that universe.
- The Giver:
- People who work with the very young or the old are conditioned to accept euthanasia as a fact of life, starting from their early adolescence. This includes Jonas's father, who nonchalantly euthanizes a baby.
- Like most people in his community, Jonas takes things that would be downright horrifying to many people as normal — although once he receives memories of better times, he realizes how horrible the Community is to make its residents live this way.
- In The Sparrow, the Runa are conditioned to serve the Jana'ata. In every sense of the word. Including the Twilight Zone sense of the word.
- After some jarring injustices, one of the humans teaches the Runa the old Earth adage of "We are many, they are few". The Jana'ata that are there to hear this being chanted, understandably, flip out and try to pull a Total Party Kill-their entire civilization hinged on the Runa never making that connection (the Runa outnumber the Jana'ata population something like 10:1 at least, even if they are pacifist herbivores).
- In the sequel Children of God, the Jana'ata's fears are proven exactly right and they are almost hunted to extinction by the Runa.
- The Big Bad in Stephen King's Desperation tries to scare Johnny Marinville by showing him his blood-dripping penis, but it doesn't work because he saw far more disturbing things in Vietnam.
- Many of the Calla from The Dark Tower series have come to accept how the Wolves take away one twin from each pair, and return them in a mentally and physically damaged condition. Granted, this is more likely to be true among those Calla whose own children are too young or old to be taken.
- In a more short-term manner, Basini in The Confusions of Young Törless regards what his classmates do to him with a childish acceptance. It isn't clear whether this is due to real innocence, because he is genuinely complicit in it, because the way in which they frame their advances and "experiments" has eased him into accepting them as okay... or because he has been abused before.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's book Mirror Dance, the clone Lily Jr. knows and agrees with the notion of being killed to give "my lady" a full body transplant.
- Cowslip's warren in Watership Down is managed by a human. In return for a daily delivery of garden scraps and the shooting of predators, the rabbits all pretend not to know that the area is full of snares and have convinced themselves that rabbits must await death with dignity and stoicism. The protagonists escape, taking a Defector from Decadence along with them.
- In The Hunger Games, an entire subculture exists of people who select, groom, and train the "tributes" for the eponymous games. In the first book the main character's team is nothing but friendly professionalism. In the second, they start to break down...
- In the Delirium Series, youth are conditioned to believe that love is a deadly disease, and the only cure is brain surgery to remove the part of the brain that causes love. After the surgery, most people have a Lack of Empathy, and in extreme cases hate or kill their children because they can't feel love.
- The Wheel of Time treats horses enough like minor characters that it's important if they've been trained to not panic in fights against Trollocs and Myrddraal.
- To a lesser extent, recruits and even soldiers occasionally break before those horrors.
- The main characters themselves. In their first encounter with an enemy, Perrin and Egwene hid in a hole. By the end of the series, they were known to charge Eldritch Abominations and armies on their own. Rand panics the first time he ever sees Trollocs, and by the end of the series he's annihilated armies of them on his lonesome, killed Forsaken, and fought the Dark One himself. Mat hates fighting throughout, but he secretly enjoys commanding some of the largest battles at the end of the series.
- The Borderlanders and the Aiel-lifetimes of wars do that to you.
- Aes Sedai have this as a professional requirement and a product of their membership tests. Some of them do it much better than others. Egwene Sedai and Cadsuane Sedai are known for having absurd control of themselves. Others such as Nynaeve Sedai are known to have poor emotional control even though they're highly capable.
- In World War Z, dogs that were alive at the time the Zombie Apocalypse kicked off are terrified and enraged by the scent of the undead, and freak out in the presence of zombies or the infected. Those dogs born after it started are "born smelling the dead", and are sufficiently acclimated to this aroma that they can be trained to work with humans and each other to lure zombies into kill-zones and traps.
- In Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery," the Town with a Dark Secret operates on this trope. This is a unique example in that there's not really a conscious effort by anyone to groom the citizens or harden their hearts to the horror - in this case, the trope is self-perpetuating. Everyone grows up witnessing a Human Sacrifice ritual every year, and as they get used to this ritual, they continue it without any second thoughts. The tradition gets passed down from generation to generation in a vicious cycle, and if anyone has doubts, they can rationalize those doubts away by saying "Culture Justifies Anything" or "Nobody Ever Complained Before."
- Subverted in Ancillary Justice: The protagonist is an artificial intelligence, built to serve in the military, and obey every command without question. On several occasions, she is told to kill innocent people. She does so, seemingly without emotion, but the reader learns that she feels regret, and the novel is about her quest for revenge on her "owner".
- Played every way, but especially memorably when straight in A Song of Ice and Fire. The nature of the Crapsack World is such that wide sections of the populations on two continents are culturally inured to such things as widespread rape, bigotry of many kinds from classism to sexism via racism and worse, indentured servitude of various descriptions and hellatious training, working or living conditions. To the point that, when a relatively reasonable Death-Cult springs up in the form of those who worship the Many-Faced God, it makes sense that offering either assassination (of those who have wronged you) or euthanasia (for when you hurt too much either physically or mentally to recover) as part of the regular (and regulated) service gets participants and, unlike many others, it lasts. Its cultural impact spreads widely as an weirdly gruesome form of checks-and-balances, thanks to their strict code of ethics making them... acceptable, if feared. Valar morghulis; valar dohaeris — "all men must die; all men must serve".
- Speaking of serving, we get the Unsullied, the Essossi, eunuch warrior-slaves whose Training from Hell in Astapor puts Sparta, Persia and the Ottoman Empire to shame. They go so far as to have had both fear and self-preservation trained out of them by horrific means. As it turns out, the "Good Masters" didn't manage to train a sense of self-worth out of them, as, given a chance to fight for their own reasons as free men, they almost all jumped at the chance. They're all still as hard as nails, but... Subverted Trope. They couldn't be trained to be completely inhumanly submissive, however hard the Astorpuri slave-masters tried.
- The Cleganes pretty much decided to turn their own sons into Westerosi Unsullied to get ahead. Minus gelding them, of course — or technically turning them into slaves, first (although, being a minor House sworn to lords who treat you like dirt isn't as great a step up as it looks on paper). It led to much dysfunction on both sides by producing a Straw Nihilist as one and a trigger-happy Serial Killer as the other, as well as contributed to derailing many of their liege-lord's plans and the probable end of their own family lineage. So, not a great success, then.
- In Victoria, both sides in the Azanian War believe this to be true of the other:
- Azania is a high-tech Lady Land that has perfected Homosexual Reproduction by cloning and embryonal life-support machinery, freeing its population from physical motherhood and relations with men. They consider themselves an emancipated and enlightened culture; to their enemies, this is an unnatural and abominable cavalcade of horrors, and something only people brainwashed by a fanatical totalitarian state could possibly live with.
- The Northern Confederation is a self-consciously reactionary state of hard-right libertarians, Christian fundamentalists and borderline Luddites, who enforce late-19th century social conventions in their society (including female domesticity and modesty). They consider themselves upright, Godly and above all, natural; their enemies see their female citizens as horribly oppressed, and believe women will submit to such slavery only when subjected to mind-destroying abuse by men.
- Connor from season 4 of Angel grew up on a demon world, so he's used to all the horrors. Specifically, when Jasmine showed up everybody saw her as beautiful, until they were exposed to her blood at which point they saw her true form◊ (NOTE: Squicky in an OK for TV sort of way), which Connor still described as beautiful.
- Mind you, that may be because he considers her to be his daughter (it's complicated) rather than because he actually likes her appearance.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Sunnydale, California is a town where the valedictorian(ish) can declare, "I am proud to announce that the class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate in Sunnydale history!" and get unironic cheers. Buffy also lampshades this as it becomes more and more absurd over the years.
- The jadedness with which Dr. Brennan and her team respond to extreme gore and decomp gets thrown into sharp relief on Bones, each time someone unaccustomed to such things, like Sweets or a guest star, walks in on a forensic examination in progress. Early on, Brennan's own clinical detachment when discussing violent murder occasionally invoked this trope even for her own colleagues.
- Game of Thrones:
- This is such an integral part of the Unsullied's Training from Hell that their final test is to murder a baby.
- Missandei also shows signs of being conditioned to the horrors of slavery when she hardly bats an eye at her master mutilating an Unsullied to make a point.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Taste Of Armageddon", the entire planets of Eminiar VII and Vendikar are like this. To wit: The planets have been at war with each other for over five hundred years using computers to calculate supposed attacks on each other. The people calculated to have "died" in these attacks are given twenty-four hours to report to what are essentially Suicide Booths, leading to thousands of people all the time willfully committing suicide en masse! Even worse? When Kirk tells them this is wrong, the leader of Eminar VII says he's the barbarian, offering the argument that a real war would kill more people and destroy civilization generally. Kirk's reply is basically "Yup, and that kind of destruction usually forces people to END a war before it goes on for 500 years".
- Implied to be the case with most of the main cast of Fringe, to the point that it's been lampshaded by the characters at least twice.
- The characters in Criminal Minds are as conditioned to the horrifying depths of a depraved individual's mind as any character in a forensic show is to blood and gore...
- ...although they have to deal with that as well. There was an episode in which a murder took place on a Native American reservation and the Sheriff was initially a suspect. Gideon ruled him out after watching him give his own take on the crime scene. Like the killer, the sheriff was unfazed by the gruesome scene, but if he were the killer, he would have feigned disgust.
- Played for Laughs somewhat in Friends, when Chandler goes to Joey's tailor, who he's been going to his entire life. The tailor feels him up while measuring him, and when Chandler tells Joey, Joey claims that that's how tailors get the correct measurements. It never occurred to him that tailors weren't supposed to borderline molest you when they took your measurements.
- The entire populace of Camden County on My Name Is Earl are this. Earl's reaction to a suicidal man jumping into a pool is simply "I'll get the hook." No one is concerned that both the richest and most powerful man in town and his successor are total maniacs. The whole reason that Ernie the owner of the Crab Shack went missing was because nobody thought a doorstop that looked like a nose was unusual, so nobody realized it belonged to Ernie's dead body buried under the cement.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Future War" reveals Tom Servo as this. During a drug test, his point of view looks like a Disney Acid Sequence with Mike and Crow as monsters. Servo chuckles and explains it's not a hallucination, but what he sees everyday.
- Exalted: While the Abyssal sourcebook is full of horrifying things, The Dowager of the Irreverent Vulgate in Unrent Veils takes the cake for invoking this trope. She raises children to be her Abyssal Exalted. She teach them "the pointlessness of existence and hatred for the cruelty of life". The place she raises them, the Mound of Forsaken Seeds? No normal animal nor Fair Folk will get near it without magical compulsion.
- In Paranoia, this happens with some citizens of Alpha Complex. Work as a janitor mopping up in the Internal Security Information-Extraction chambers, and after a while you've seen it all.
- The 'Jaded' Trait in Dark Heresy indicates a character whose life has been so dark and crappy that they've become entirely immune to fear and Sanity Meter hits from 'mundane' horrors that have a natural explanation (such as, say, a very grisly murder scene; seeing an Eldritch Abomination in the flesh will still hurt your psyche). There are several character backgrounds that makes your character start with this trait, from being Mind-Wiped to hailing from Volg Hive, a place so violent, dirty and low-down that it basically serves as a garbage pit you throw people too savage to live in a Wretched Hive in.
- In GURPS, having the Callous disadvantage along with the Unfazeable or multiple levels of the Fearlessness advantage, and no disadvantages like Pacifism, Phobia or Squeamish, makes a character fitting this trope.
- Call of Cthulhu player characters, non-player characters, friends, and foes all alike can, and probably will, become this trope if they didn't already start like this for one reason or another.
- When integrating antagonists and mechanics from the d20 version of the game into the more common Dungeons & Dragons or D20 modern settings, the manual recommends either dramatically reducing or leaving out the sanity-erosion mechanic entirely because of this trope. Fantasy adventurers accept weird things beyond their comprehension all the time because it's their job (literally their job for classes like clerics and warlocks).
- Characters exposed to repeated and increasingly traumatic events in Unknown Armies will either become gibbering messes, or completely immune to the traumatic stimuli. The latter is noted as being just as much a form of insanity as the former.
- Almost the entire population of Amonkhet in Magic: The Gathering. Amonkhet is a Daylight Horror take on Fantasy Ancient Egypt where death is not just accepted, it's actively sought after in difficult trials, with the worthy supposedly going to a bountiful afterlife; since the God-Pharaoh is Nicol Bolas this is somewhat unlikely. Oashra Cultivator◊, for example, is a smiling gardener surrounded by flowers, who is casually talking about being "harvested".
- It shouldn't surprise anybody that this is a goal in Dwarf Fortress, what with it being the veritable poster child for Videogame Cruelty Potential. Unhappy dwarves are prone to fits of violence, and nothing makes a dwarf unhappier than seeing loved ones and treasured pets die. The solution? Drip feed them a steady stream deaths until they acquire the coveted "doesn't really care about anything anymore" trait. All in the name of progress of course!
- In Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, the Tsviets of Deepground are like this. Special mentions go to the team-killing Azul and bloodthirsty Rosso.
- Summoners in Final Fantasy X are like this, raised from a young age to accept that someday, they'll march off to battle an Eldritch Abomination named Sin and die in battle to give their world a few years' off from its horrific bombardment and maybe a chance that this time Sin won't return (you know, if humanity has fully repented for ever using technology). (Everybody besides from the player and the protagonist are aware of this, to them there's no other option: either give the world temporary peace or no peace at all. Yuna, a daughter trying to live up to her father's legacy as a Summoner who defeated Sin, decides to find another way when she learns that not only is a second sacrifice is needed (always someone dear to the Summoner), but the whole Summoner vs. Sin system is an endless cycle which actually provides the means for Sin to return over and over while misleading the people of world with just enough hope to keep them in line).
- Similarly, in Tales of Symphonia, The Chosen One is raised to believe that they are responsible for sacrificing their life to save the world. Some accept this better than others, although it leaves both the ones we see with serious self-esteem issues. Colette believes that her life only has value as long as she can have the strength to become a sacrifice, and is all right with the idea because it will allow her friends to live long and happy lives in a carefree world. Zelos, although he hides it, is far more bitter about the entire system.
- Tales of the Abyss not only has Ion go to his death with a smile because he can't grasp that his individual life has any meaning besides what he can do with it, like trying to stop a war, find a way for Luke to win and save Tear's life and instead of resenting it, he is honestly happy that betraying him and causing his death helped The Mole. While he's an extreme example, the entire population of Auldrant qualifies.
- Nephry breaks up with Peony because the scorer said she'd marry someone else, and not only does neither of them fight it, they don't try to renew the relationship even after the Score is rejected and they have the option.
- Luke's own father and uncle are willing to send him to die both to set off a war they'll win and because the Score says so: it's not until fairly late in the game that they seem to realize that this was a cruel thing to do to Luke and Natalia and it would have been not just ok, but good for them to not want to do it.
- Grand Maestro Mohs sees nothing wrong with a genocidal war, since the Score was made to bring prosperity to Auldrant, so it's obviously for the best. While Mohs is hated by fans because of Ion's death, he actually doesn't even qualify as a Well-Intentioned Extremist on Auldrant. His is the moderate faction, containing the normal, sensible members of the Order who just want the best for Auldrant, like Tear. In a different era of Auldrant's history, he'd probably be a good guy, just not when the Score is currently counting down to Auldrant's demise and he's dealing with replicas. Since the Score, written for the benefit of everyone, doesn't regard replicas as worth a mention he's actually fully justified in considering them not people, given the Order's doctrine about Lorelei. He's actually completely right that Lorelei cares about everyone, he just overestimated Lorelei's ability to make the Score turn out that way.
- Almost everyone reacts with shock and horror to the idea of revealing a Score of death, even when, or especially because, doing so would save someone's life and go against the Score, and since the Score was written to create the most prosperity and happiness for Auldrant's people, obviously Lorelei wouldn't have had them die then if it wasn't for the best.
- The best example, even more than Van is the Big Bad. When Luke asks him if he cares about Luke at all other than as a living weapon he honestly doesn't understand the question, mistaking it for an existential one. The Big Bad was brought into the world as a Laser-Guided Tykebomb, in accordance with the Score with parents who were aware of this the entire time and only thought about him in terms of that function just like how he regards Luke. Oh, and as a babysitter for their 'real' child. The people who used him to destroy his homeland and as an excuse for performing deadly experiments on civilians who were going to die anyway considered themselves fully justified, between the Score and using him as a scapegoat. When that's the ethical framework in which he was raised, is it that odd that he doesn't see anything wrong with creating replicas or destroying Auldrant? After all, it was ok to hook him into a machine and destroy Hod for the greater good, and he's doing this to allow humanity to survive the Scored end of the world. In the context of Van's childhood, his interactions with Luke in the early game become a massive Pet the Dog. He gives Luke the childhood he wishes he could have had: a comfortable life with parental figures who at least seem to love him instead of being constantly told thousands will die because he's a monster and subjecting him to brutal experiments. He just can't grasp that Luke feels he has a right to resent what was done to him because Van himself was repeatedly told that he didn't and internalized the idea.
- The Start of Darkness for most of the loyal god-generals was when they ran into a horror that they could not accept. Largo's daughter was kidnapped, causing his wife to kill herself and he could not have justice. Legretta suddenly fell in love with someone she went after in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and the knowledge that this was likely Scored makes her skin crawl. Sync, like Ion believes that he can't have value other than as a tool and hates this.
- Fatal Frame II's Crimson Sacrifice ritual involves one twin strangling another to pacify the gate to Hell. All sets of twins in the village know of the ritual and accept it as necessary. Some, like Sae (though not her twin), even look forward to it...
- The Little Sisters, as shown in BioShock 2.
- In Suikoden III, Yun of Alma Kinan is fully aware she's going to be sacrificed as part of a ritual to continue hiding the sealed True Water Rune. Though the party that meets her protests this and tries to stop the ceremony, she calmly insists on its necessity, and the ritual goes as planned.
- The initial protagonist of Theresia: Dear Emile was raised by a Torture Technician, and displays a lot of sadomasochistic tendencies (sometimes at the same time as more normal reactions.) In particular, she's comforted by the smell of blood.
- Mass Effect
- In Mass Effect 2 Jack is this trope, full stop. At first she seems to just enjoy killing, but it's not until you do her loyalty mission that you find out she was put into life-or-death combat matches with other biotics as a child. When she won, she got a dose of drugs. As she says, she "still gets a rush" when she kills someone.
- Javik in Mass Effect 3 is this as well, but for different reasons. Having been born when the Reaper War in his cycle had already been well underway has caused him to simply accept war and atrocities as a fact of life. This is explicitly called attention to while talking to him after Sanctuary, if you talk to him before talking to Tali, you hear them have a conversation about what happened at the Cerberus facility being pretty typical in his cycle.
- Heather in Silent Hill 3 becomes increasingly inured to the blood and gore all around her as time goes on, but even at the beginning she's surprisingly blase about, for example, finding a roasted dog in in a cafe. Some speculate being raised by the Properly Paranoid Harry Mason or having the memories of torture-magnet Alessa had something to do with it.
- However, at the end of the game, she finally gives in to everything she's experienced, most notably finally being able to grieve the death of her father. She collapses after the final boss and allows herself to cry it all out.
- Examine Heather's knife in her inventory and she'll comment that she started carrying it for self defense, but now feels comforted and excited by having it.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, most of the playable characters are Special Forces qualified teenaged mercenaries who've been in training since before they reached puberty. Rinoa, as their client, is shocked and upset to hear Squall tell her - with full agreement from Selphie and Zell - that they will follow her orders no matter how hopeless they think her plans are, even if it gets them killed. Squall, in turn, is confused and frustrated by her reaction; he thinks they're simply being professional.
- All the inhabitants of Vella's world in Broken Age (bar Vella herself and her grandfather) find the idea of sacrificing young maidens to a giant monster to be not only acceptable, but to be celebrated. Young girls will go out of their way to be chosen, the villages to dress them up in themed costumes and those not chosen are shamed and their family disgraced.
- In the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado Shin Megami Tensei IV, there are two classes of individuals: Casualries and Luxurors. Between both, there are brutal forms of classism and discrimination (pretty much locking both into their lot in life), and generally a massive gap of influence, wealth, and power. But they believe God decrees the station everyone's meant to hold and can change it anyway with the Gauntlet Rite. However, a certain woman in black called the Black Samurai starts popping up, distributing mysterious books containing political commentary and social theories. These have the effect of breaking the illusion that the gap is necessary or even desirable, maddening the Casualries reading them, and leaving them prime targets for Demonic Possession…
- The Phone Guy in Five Nights at Freddy's (the worker who sends you messages every night) is unnaturally calm about his job, which is the same as yours: defending yourself from killer robots.
- Persona 5: The Syujin High boys' volleyball team (and honestly, the entire school) is so used to Kamoshida owning the place that they're in complete denial about his physical abuse of the students. They call it "training". On a slightly more amusing note, if you take your time completing Kaneshiro's Palace and draw close to the deadline, Makoto will remind you to get it done ASAP, because she has been getting her own friendly "reminders" daily via text. When asked if she's okay, she will reply that she's gotten used to it.
- Shirou in Fate/stay night. It's hinted at in Fate route with how quickly he adapts to the situation and more or less stated outright at the beginning of UBW. Why did he stay calm when Shinji tried to melt everyone in the school? Because he's used to seeing corpses, which lets him tell them apart from people who are just injured! Isn't it obvious?
- To explain why he was used to seeing corpses at 18ish, as a child, he was at ground zero of a magical version of Hiroshima, and the trauma of the explosion meant his first memories were of walking past literally hundreds of burning, melting, screaming very-soon-to-be-corpses.
- Ayumi comments on this in Corpse Party D2: Depths of Despair. After finding herself back in the cursed schoolhouse, she notes that she hardly feels anything when examining corpses anymore.
- Very nearly everyone who lives long enough to develop a discernable personality in Gone with the Blastwave, but unlike most of the examples on this page, this is not a result of some kind of supervillan scheme or Government Conspiracy. (Well, not as far as we know.) It's just that they've been fighting this apparently endless war that's long past the point of being winnable -by any of the participants- for so long and seen so much death and mutiliation and human misery in all its myriad forms that they've become completely desensitised to it all. The more normal squaddies seem to be operating on a mild form of Heroic Safe Mode, whilst a couple have descended into outright Comedic Sociopathy, and all but the sniper (the closest thing the comic has to an Only Sane Man) have a highly-developed death wish. War Is Hell.
- Homestuck: The trolls live in a brutally Social Darwinist Crapsack World where, had SGRUB not taken place and destroyed the planet, most of them would've probably been culled for being disabled like Terezi and Tavros or low-blooded mutants like Karkat. Daylight brings rainbow (blood)-drinkers and the undead, while they sleep in a tub of tranquilizers to make sure they don't get nightmares from the Eldritch Abominations that live in the sea.
- In "[S] Jade Wake Up", Jade meets Feferi and they both meet, essentially, the "relative" (after passing through a tunnel of similar creatures) of Feferi's lusus. Jade is disturbed while Feferi thinks they're nothing to be scared of since the creature that is effectively her foster mother is essentially a small version of the one they encounter. Feferi's lusus is also the one who killed all the rest of the entire troll species after unleashing a Brown Note of galactic proportions.
- In Goblins, Biscuit's orc tribe conditions its young to stoically cope with loss by deliberately confiscating each orc child's favorite plaything and destroying it while the child watches. Their conditioning methods seem to be effective, as Biscuit endures untold years of demonic torture, followed by the loss of his leg without complaint or even disappointment.
- Benni from Forest Hill was raised by his abusive father to think that Parental Incest and child prostitution was normal. What he did not accept was being forced to rape other children, and the physical abuse he took from trying to refuse to do so.
- In Sleepless Domain a nameless City of Adventure is protected at night by teenage Magical Girl Warriors who are frequently injured or killed in the line of duty. At least one outside observer is appalled by the residents' "business as usual" attitude towards casualties among their adolescent protectors.
- Fern Green of Awful Hospital is a veritable valedictorian of the Laurie Strode◊ School of Character Development.
Fern: (Upon seeing a dead clone of herself) ...Fine. Whatever.
- Played for laughs with The Cinema Snob. At this point, when he shuts his eyes and thinks of something happy, he sees the village-burning scene from Cannibal Holocaust - not because it cheers him up, but because he's seen so many disturbing films that it's his baseline. (The scene also comes to him unbidden when he listens to beautiful music.)
- In the Atop the Fourth Wall movie, he brings Salo to Linkara's movie watching party and is clearly having the time of his life while everyone else is horrified beyond words.
- Agents in LIS_DEAD are conditioned right down to their exact personality and while some like Dramatic Detective don't entirely seem to like it, they at least put up with it because it's useful
- The Nostalgia Critic's Dark and Troubled Past has caused him to be biased in this way, like when he's telling off the boy in North for having a panic attack because apparently every set of parents violently argue at the dinner table.
- Pidanayana Buddhism in the dystopian science fiction work Ad Astra Per Aspera is a corrupted form of Buddhism that teaches that suffering is the key to Enlightenment.
- Night Vale's citizens are totally aware of and undisturbed by the maniacal City Council, the possibly demonic mayor, the Sheriff's Secret Police, the vague, yet menacing government agencies, the sinister Hooded Figures, the Alien Geometries of the dog park and radio station, and countless other vaguely Lovecraftian horrors.
- Two-parter episode The Sandstorm hints that Night Vale's seemingly pleasant and cheerful rival city Desert Bluffs might actually be even worse, both in terms of horror and in terms of their acceptance of it.
- If you see something, say nothing and drink to forget.
- The protagonists of Twig are artificially created children who hunt mad scientists in order to help maintain the information monopoly of an Academy of Evil, and so they are often deceptively cheerful in going about their business. They're having fun, challenging themselves, and fulfilling their intended purposes, after all - why wouldn't they be happy?
- Not Always Right: This kid was way too calm considering his mother went psychotic earlier.
Writer: “Little boy, how are you just so calm in all this?”Customer’s Son: “This isn’t the first time this has happened. Last time, she kicked someone where it hurts a lot, ’cause he fell over crying and stuff."
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Ghost Host", the Flying Dutchman makes a habit of scaring SpongeBob while he stays with him while his ship gets repaired. Over time, SpongeBob gets less scared of the Dutchman's antics to the point where he becomes unfazed at even his most elaborate horrors.
- In Billy & Mandy's Big Boogie Adventure, Grim manages to obtain Horror's Hand, which requires someone to face their greatest fears, because he faces his worst fears every day: being around Billy and Mandy.
- Steven Universe
- Pearl likes to wax lyrical about Gem culture, despite it psychologically oppressing her people and causing her inferiority complex. Much of her character arc is about Pearl bridging the dissonance between what she actually feels and what Gem society says she "should" feel.
- Steven himself shows signs of this in a few episodes, bouncing back from encountering all sorts of dangerous things as he gains more experience adventuring with the Crystal Gems. In "Space Race", Pearl apologizes for dragging him along on a test flight in a home-made spaceship and nearly getting the both of them killed, and Steven shrugs it off with "I'm used to it." Other episodes, however, show that Steven's not dealing with things as well as he lets on.
- Rick from Rick and Morty, as a result of his genius and experiencing all kinds of fucked up scenarios Man Was Not Meant To Know, has become detached and very cynical about pretty much everything. Later on, Morty and the other Smiths become more numb to the horrors of the multiverse as such things become more habitual.
- Word of God states that this is the reason The Real Ghostbusters were able to look at Cthulhu (or rather, Cathulu) without going insane. Their job has already forced them to come to terms with the existence of countless other Eldritch Abominations - to them, Cathulhu is just another deity to bust, if one so powerful that their proton packs barely scratch it and it takes 100 gigavolts of lightning just to put it back to sleep.
- In Milo Murphy's Law, the title character was Born Unlucky, and has come to cheerfully accept the weird and dangerous things that are going to happen to him—as well as the fact that, while friendly, most of his schoolmates prefer to stand several feet away from him.
Zach: AAAGGGHHH—wait, why aren't you screaming?!
Milo: I find it doesn't help. Just hurts the larynx.