[[quoteright:281:[[{{Webcomic/Freefall}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Freefall_Cynicism_3241.JPG]]]]
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->''We have done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,\\
We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,\\
And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth.\\
God help us, for we knew the worst too young!''
-->-- '''Creator/RudyardKipling''', "Gentleman-Rankers"

A few clues as to which end of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism you are -- or the characters think they are.

Compare DespairTropes. Contrast IdealismTropes.
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!!Tropes
[[index]]
* AccentuateTheNegative: There's nothing good about anything.
* AdultsAreUseless: Adults hardly help children with their issues.
* AllForNothing: All that effort you put in? Probably shouldn't have bothered.
* AllOfTheOtherReindeer: Everyone hates you [[IrrationalHatred for no justifiable reason]].
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanDream: Flavor 2
* AnarchyIsChaos
* AntiEscapismAesop: Escaping reality because your reality is painful is weak, immature and pathetic. (Though this can also be an idealism trope DependingOnTheWriter).
* AntiHero: Heroes are not always clearly good.
** ByronicHero
** NinetiesAntiHero
* AntiVillain: Sometimes people who are considered evil are opposed to society [[EvenEvilHasStandards for some]] [[WellIntentionedExtremist good reasons]] and those in power are just [[DesignatedVillain labelling said person as evil]] [[EvilerThanThou to hide their own motives]] from the public. (Can also be an Idealism Trope, depending on how it's written.)
* AssholeVictim: Bad person becomes the victim of a crime. Because he was bad, no one cares.
* AtLeastIAdmitIt: Being open about your flaws doesn't make you a bad person, and let's leave it at that.
* AwfulWeddedLife: Marriage wasn't all it was cracked up to be, was it?
* TheBadGuyWins: Sometimes good doesn't triumph.
** PyrrhicVillainy: ...But the villain paid a price for winning.
* TheBarnum: [[BeamMeUpScotty There's a sucker born every minute]].
* BeautyIsBad: Very attractive characters are usually evil or mean.
* BeingGoodSucks: Doing the right thing is a terrible fate.
* BeingTorturedMakesYouEvil
* BeliefMakesYouStupid: Believing in something that cannot be proven can make us do stupid things.
* BewareTheSuperman: When a superhero becomes a tyrant.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: That person isn't as nice as you thought.
* BittersweetEnding: Where an ending is mixed with happiness and sadness.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: There are no good guys.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: The black side. There may be a clear distinction between good and evil, but evil is evil, and it exists.
* BlackAndWhiteInsanity: Real-life society is not as clear cut as we would like it to be. Therefore, don't expect everyone [[IncorruptiblePurePureness to meet your definition of good]] and refuse to adapt to the way that society exists and thus turn into an [[KnightTemplar Ideological Extremist]].
* BlameGame
* BlessedWithSuck: Maybe that curse ''will'' come in handy.
* BlindObedience: Doing whatever you're told, no matter what the intent of the one ordering.
* BreadAndCircuses: Fun for the LowestCommonDenominator!
* BreakTheCutie: Put a happy and cheerful person through hell.
* {{Bridezilla}}
* BrokenBird: Trauma will make you a bitter, distant person.
* BrokenPedestal: Your heroes are anything ''but'' heroic.
* BrutalHonesty: Being honest means being an asshole, apparently.
* BystanderSyndrome: No one will bother to help you when you're in trouble.
* TheComplainerIsAlwaysWrong: Being yourself is wrong.
* CompleteMonster: Violently vile beyond redemption. The only cure to this filth of humanity is a bullet in the head.
* ConspiracyTheorist: Some nebulous conspiracy must be behind this, I swear!
* CorruptBureaucrat
* CorruptChurch: The church isn't all that {{saintly|Church}}.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive
* CorruptPolitician
* CorruptTheCutie
* CorruptQuartermaster
* CosmicHorrorStory
* CrapsackWorld: The world is a terrible, shitty place. No one wants to be here.
* CycleOfRevenge: Taking vengeance will only lead to more vengeance. It may begin with you, but it won't end with you.
* TheCynic: The one with a negative view on the world.
* CynicalMentor: I'm mentoring you, but I don't give a crap whether or not you'll succeed.
* CynicismCatalyst: A traumatic event makes a character more cynical than before.
* DarkShepherd: Keeping the sheep to the straight and narrow through vicious threats.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Turn a LighterAndSofter program into something dark and more "adult".
* DarknessInducedAudienceApathy: I'm rooting for none of these guys. (Often caused by excess cynicism)
* ADegreeInUseless: A college degree, particularly in certain subjects, won't help you lead a better life; you'd be better off just sticking with that fast-food job you had in high school.
* DesignatedHero: (when used in-universe) We're the good guys because [[MightMakesRight those in authority said so]].
* DesignatedVillain: (when used in-universe) [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything You people]] are the bad guys because your goals are an inconvenience to those in authority.
* DespairEventHorizon: What's the use of it? I give up!
* DespairSpeech
* DestructiveRomance
* DeusAngstMachina
* DirtyCoward: When there's danger, I'm willing to harm others to save myself.
* DislikesTheNewGuy: No new friends.
* {{Dismotivation}}: I don't want to change the status quo.
* DisproportionateRetribution
* DoggedNiceGuy: Can also be an idealism trope, DependingOnTheWriter.
* DoomedDefeatist: If you're a defeatist, you'll die.
* DoomedMoralVictor: Can be played more idealistically for a BittersweetEnding.
* DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoUntoUs
* DownerBeginning: A bad start causes half the failure.
* DownerEnding: No happy ending.
* DudeWheresMyRespect: No one will show you any gratitude for your good deeds.
* TheDungAges
* {{Eagleland}} (Type 2 version): America is a wretched society.
* EatTheRich
* EnemyMine: Sometimes you have to work with your usual enemies to stop an even greater threat.
* EtTuBrute: Your loved ones will abandon you.
* EvilFeelsGood: Doing malevolent acts makes you feel good.
* EvilIsEasy: Forget what good has in store for you, evil has something far more convenient.
* EvilStoleMyFaith
* EvilVersusEvil: Villains are fighting each other.
* ExtremeDoormat: Willing to have others step over them.
* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: We're all bound to failure.
* FairForItsDay: A work is horribly racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted, but is still considered progressive because mainstream society at the time the work was made was even worse.
* FairWeatherFriend: Where are they when you really need them?
* FalseUtopia
* FamilyUnfriendlyAesop: They may not be what your Sunday school teacher taught you.
* TheFarmerAndTheViper: Good deeds are not always repaid with good -- in fact, the person you tried to help may well end up betraying you.
* TheFatalist: Believes there's no point in fighting your fate.
* FeetOfClay
* FinalSolution
* FlatEarthAtheist: Deny the existence of an almighty deity.
* ForgivenButNotForgotten: Just because I've forgiven you doesn't mean I will get over what you've done.
* FranchiseZombie: When ExecutiveMeddling causes a series that should have ended well to go wrong.
* GodIsEvil: The supreme deity is a monster.
* GodIsFlawed: The supreme deity isn't perfect.
* GoodCannotComprehendEvil: Good people can't understand why people are evil.
* GoodIsDumb: Good people are just naive idiots.
* GoodIsOldFashioned: Idealism is yesterday's news.
* GoodIsNotNice: Goodness is not about sweetness and light.
* GoodNeedsEvil: The complete elimination of deviance (i.e., evil) would end up making those whose jobs it is to enforce society's norms (i.e., good) obsolete.
* GrayingMorality: The heroes become less idealistic.
* GrowingUpSucks: Life will suck when we grow older.
* GrumpyBear: In a idealistic setting, you will see someone who isn't.
* HappyEndingOverride: Thought your happy ending would last? Just wait until the sequel!
* HappyMarriageCharade
* HatesTheJobLovesTheLimelight
* HeadbuttingHeroes: Not all heroes get along.
* HenpeckedHusband
* HereThereWereDragons
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: Fighting evil will often see you ''becoming'' evil in the process.
* HobbesWasRight: Ruling through fear always works.
* HollywoodAtheist: This one can be an idealism trope, DependingOnTheWriter.
* HollywoodHypeMachine
* HonorBeforeReason (when used in cynical contexts; e.g., "The right thing isn't always the smart thing").
* HopeIsScary (Played straight mostly by cynical characters in idealistic worlds; invoked by cynical characters in cynical worlds.)
* HumanityIsInsane
* HumansAreBastards: People are cruel and evil.
* HumansAreMorons: People are incompetent.
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: Whereas other species are morally superior.
* HumansKillWantonly
* ICanLiveWithThat (Type 1): Willing to accept a negative situation.
* IgnoranceIsBliss: Sometimes it is better NOT to know about things.
* InYourNatureToDestroyYourselves: Humanity is doomed to destroy itself through violence against its fellow man.
* InsignificantLittleBluePlanet: Oh, you humans think [[HumansAreSpecial you're so special]]? You're not. Deal with it.
* ItGetsEasier: Doing bad things like killing gets easier the more you do them.
* ItIsBeyondSaving: When the current society is too corrupt to be worth it.
* ItSucksToBeTheChosenOne: Being the world's savior is not fun.
* JadeColoredGlasses: Cynics wear them.
* {{Jerkass}}: That person is an asshole.
* JerkJustifications (Type 1 version): To get ahead in this CrapsackWorld, you must be an asshole.
* JerkWithAHeartOfJerk: There is goodness in that person--NOT!
* KarmaHoudini: Justice is not served.
* KickTheDog: People doing cruel and insensitive things to show how rotten they are.
* KickThemWhileTheyAreDown: Attacking people who are unable to fight back.
* KidsAreCruel: Children aren't nice and good-mannered.
* KillThePoor
* KnightInSourArmor: Doing the right thing while being a cynic.
* KnightTemplar (when idealism goes terribly wrong)
* KnowWhenToFoldEm: You just got to quit trying.
* LackOfEmpathy: Having no feelings for other people.
* LifeIsntFair: Telling everyone that life isn't as great as expected, usually in a cruel tone.
* LightIsNotGood: The traditionally [[DesignatedHero "good" forces]] aren't that benevolent.
* ALighterShadeOfGrey: The closest thing to "good guys" in this setting.
* LonersAreFreaks: Being a loner will get you the reputation of a sociopath or just a weird loser.
* LosingTheTeamSpirit
* LoveHurts: Falling in love will lead you getting hurt.
* LoveIsAWeakness: Falling in love makes you weak.
* LoveMakesYouCrazy: Falling in love will cost your sanity.
* LoveMakesYouDumb: Falling in love will cost your intelligence.
* LoveMakesYouEvil: Falling in love will cost your own humanity.
* LoveMakesYouUncreative: Falling in love will cost your artistry.
* LowerClassLout: Lower-class people are scums.
* LowestCommonDenominator
* LuddWasRight
* MaddenIntoMisanthropy
* MadeOutToBeAJerkass: Calling out a jerk will make you one.
* MediationBackfire: Bringing peace on both sides will cause them to attack you.
* MerchandiseDriven: Who cares about the artistic value? We made it because it would sell toys and make us rich!
* MightMakesRight: Force will get things done.
* AMindIsATerribleThingToRead: Be careful about whose mind you poke around in -- you may not like what you see.
* MisanthropeSupreme: A human who hates humanity.
* MoneyDearBoy: Yeah, it won't win an Oscar or an Emmy like my previous work, but those awards won't pay my bills.
* MoralPragmatist: They don't care about doing good or evil. They just want to get the job done, and sometimes that means being evil.
* MusicIsPolitics
* MyCountryRightOrWrong
* MyMasterRightOrWrong
* NayTheist: Doesn't like the concept of gods, even if they might be real.
* NeverMyFault: A cynic will blame others for their own shortcomings.
* NewEraSpeech
* NiceGuysFinishLast: Women only love mean and aggressive men and vice versa.
* NoAccountingForTaste: Marriage isn't ideal.
* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished: Doing the right thing will get you punished.
* NoHonorAmongThieves: "Every man for himself."
* NominalHero, also known as "Hero" In Name Only.
* NoSympathy: I don't care what you're going through.
* NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist: Person claiming to do bad things for good reasons is just in it for themselves.
* NotYourProblem: What you idealists are doing shouldn't be your problem.
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions (Note that this can also be an idealism trope, depending on the context)
* PacifismBackfire: When choosing nonviolence ends up creating more problems.
* PathOfInspiration: This religion is a lie meant to control you, and it always has been.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. {{Revenge}} is good.
* PeerPressureMakesYouEvil
* PoliceAreUseless: Don't count on the cops to help you or save you.
** PoliceBrutality: In fact, they're just as likely to beat you or worse as help you.
* PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad
* PostHistoricalTrauma: Some events are so horrible that it is difficult for anyone who lived afterward to ever be idealistic about human nature again.
* ThePowerOfHate: To hell with ThePowerOfLove. Hatred empowers me!
* PragmaticHero: Getting their hands dirty even if they hold themselves in a strict moral code.
* ThePromisedLand (Cynical flavor): Promises never last.
* PureIsNotGood: Trying to be IncorruptiblePurePureness will turn you into a distant, inhuman, and utterly unsympathetic person at the mildest and a [[KnightTemplar fanatical extremist]] at worst.
* QuitYourWhining
* {{Realpolitik}}: A country has to be ruthless, manipulative bastards.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: You are completely worthless!
* RedemptionEqualsAffliction: Convert and you will suffer.
* ReformedButRejected: No one will trust or forgive you even if you've changed.
** HeelFaceDoorSlam: You want to change your ways? You're too late!
* RejectedApology: No one will accept your apology.
* ReligionIsWrong
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized
* SadisticChoice: Sometimes one cannot choose between good and evil, only between a [[LesserOfTwoEvils lesser evil]] and a greater one.
* SafetyInIndifference: My indifference will protect me from getting hurt.
* SarcasticClapping
* ScienceIsBad
* ScienceIsWrong
* SecretlySelfish: Even if you're pursuing an altruistic goal, you may yet have a selfish ulterior motive.
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny
* SenselessSacrifice: That HeroicSacrifice was in vain.
* SexIsEvil: [[SexIsEvilAndIAmHorny Enough said.]]
* ShootTheDog: Doing morally questionable acts because it has to be done.
* ShootTheShaggyDog: The hero's efforts are rendered pointless and/or they die.
* SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids: Who cares about that idealistic garbage? I grew up.
* SillyRabbitRomanceIsForKids: I grew up from that lovey-dovey nonsense.
* SourSupporter: Works for a group of allies, but is doubtful.
* StarCrossedLovers: Try all they want, but these two are ''never'' going to be together.
* StarterMarriage
* StockholmSyndrome
* StoppedCaring: Nothing matters to me anymore, and...whatever.
* StraightEdgeEvil
* StrawHypocrite: We sure fooled those idiots [[ScamReligion into believing they are serving a good cause]].
* StrawNihilist: Everything in life is meaningless.
* SuicideDare: Telling people to kill themselves.
* TakingAdvantageOfGenerosity: People will take others' kindness for granted.
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: Teamwork doesn't mean everyone gets along.
* ThenLetMeBeEvil: If people are gonna treat me like the bad guy, then so be it.
* ThereAreNoGoodExecutives: All executives are rotten to the core.
* TookALevelInCynic: An optimistic character learns to be less trusting, generous, and caring, usually due to a betrayal.
* ToxicFriendInfluence
* TrueArtIsAngsty
* TrueLoveIsBoring
* UpperClassTwit
* UnscrupulousHero: A morally abhorrent hero who fights off villains worse than him.
* VictoryIsBoring: I won the battle. Now what?
* VideoGameCrueltyPotential: You think people play video games to be heroes? Nah.
* ViewersAreGoldfish
* ViewersAreMorons
* ViolenceIsTheOnlyOption: Don't want to truce? I'll kick your ass then.
* ViolenceReallyIsTheAnswer: Fuck pacifism! I want to kick your ass.
* VirginityMakesYouStupid
* VirtueIsWeakness: Compassion, kindness, generosity, or any other moral virtue are for sissies.
* {{Wangst}}: The minor issues of life are worth ranting about.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans, right?
* WeUsedToBeFriends: Friendships don't last long.
* WideEyedIdealist (as opposed to the [[TheIdealist more intelligent version]])
* WithFriendsLikeThese: You call these people friends? They're like my arch enemies!
* WorkingClassPeopleAreMorons
* WorldGoneMad
* WorldOfSnark: The world is full of sarcastic people.
* WretchedHive
* WrittenByTheWinners: Our reputation is more important than facts.
* YankTheDogsChain: The ButtMonkey gets [[ThrowTheDogABone something good for once]], but it's taken away from him.
* YouCantGoHomeAgain
* YouCantMakeAnOmelette
[[/index]]
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