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Friendless Background
Nothing cements loneliness like sitting alone on the Trauma Swing.

"Up until now, the only friends I had were the ones in my head!"
Mako Mankanshoku, Kill la Kill

There are a lot of Characterization Tropes that can be used to quickly and non-verbally introduce a character, and one of the sadder ones is the Friendless Background. The character will, through fate or choice, be presented as not having any friends, or at least not within easy visiting or communication range. He or she will eat lunch alone, look forlornly (or enviously) at others with friends and Love Interests, and usually be found immersed in reading, video games, or some other highly solitary activity.

This is commonly because of a few of the following, sometimes in combination to really grind the alienation in:
  • Newcomer: Be they a New Transfer Student in a new school, an employee at a new work place, or having escaped their Doomed Hometown as a refugee.
  • The Loner: Might be because of preference or ostracism. Freakishness optional. Jerkass-ness optional.
  • Home Schooled: Similar to Newcomer, the character has grown up or lived away from others. May or may not come with interesting psychological quirks.
  • Trauma: Some sadness like parental abuse (often seen in Dark Magical Girls) or other kind of angst may keep the character from letting anyone close to them, can result in The Woobie.
  • Shyness: Some characters (like in real life) are insecure of themselves for whatever reason and are not even able to talk to other people (sometimes temporary).
  • Lack of self confidence: Similar to the one above, the character may believe he is not worthy of other people's friendship while craving acceptance.
  • Incompetence: A character may simply lack the social intuition required to connect with others, regardless of how willing or confident they are.
  • Unattractiveness: The character is physically repulsive and avoided or mistreated because of that.
  • Fear: The character is either deliberately intimidating or actually dangerous to be around, and others have learned to steer clear.
  • Active ostracism: The character is actively shunned for whatever reason, be it real, misconstrued, or imagined. May coincide with any of the previous.

The last five types can result in envy for more extroverted characters (like Misao from Magical Project S).

What's curious about this Dark and Troubled Past (or present) is that it's incredibly easy to fix. "When you have nothing to lose, you stand to gain everything", so to speak. In short order the character will Crash-Into Hello, get in a fight, drop their groceries or make a new friend through less quirky means. Before long they'll make loads more friendsnote  or join a group of them. Despite their lack of social skills or experience they'll magnetically gather new friends thanks to their at times strange but honest charm and learn to use The Power of Friendship to its fullest.

Of course you can expect the "genuine" loners who become one of the True Companions to moan about being stuck With Friends Like These... — all while secretly thanking them all.

It should be mentioned that this can become implied against the author's wishes if the character never mentions or demonstrates having had friends before meeting their new ones, and/or never hangs out with anyone outside their Limited Social Circle. Fridge Loners, so to speak. If they had any friends, they're kind of like a set of living Forgotten Fallen Friends. Of course, this can be fixed by introducing a Beleaguered Childhood Friend, showing a photo album, or introducing Those Two Guys as friends.

Related to I Just Want to Have Friends and compare with Social Circle Filler when an author wants to prevent this initially. Compare Alone in a Crowd.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Haruhi Suzumiya starts off as a loner who finds most people boring; her making friends with the narrator basically kicks off the plot. The difference this makes in her personality is is pretty impressive. She joins a group fairly quickly.
  • 7 Seeds has Natsu, who used to be bullied so much in school that she stopped going to it and was so extremely shy and socially awkward that she couldn't even easily talk with her family if they were concerned. Her only friend was her cat.
    • Matsuri used to have no friends, either, as nobody ever took her seriously and thought she was just a shallow little Genki Girl. Unlike Natsu, though, she doesn't appear to be too traumatized by it.
  • Ishida Shouya and his entire class in Koe No Katachi bullied a young deaf girl who transferred into their school badly, ostracizing and tormenting her as often as they could, with the teacher allowing and encouraging it from the background. When confronted by the principal on this, his entire class used him as a scapegoat, fringing innocence and causing him to take the blame for everything. Ishida spent the next five years being ostracized by his entire school, constantly mocked, beaten and bullied, well also believing he deserved it completely for what he did to the deaf girl years before. He eventually decides his whole life is basicly meaningless because of these factors and decides it would be easier and better to just kill himself.
  • Magical Project S Besides Sasami, Misao Amano has no friends and is most of the time alone. her parents are always working, which is the main reason that she is very shy. At the end she gets more confident.
  • Dragon Ball featured Goku, who was raised alone by his adoptive grandfather and never knew anyone until the start of the series. Several characters from that series also qualify, but most of them because they start as dickish villains who eventually get reformed.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi Motou was one of these before completing the puzzle.
  • Gaara from Naruto never had a single person in his village who loved him - not even his own parents - because everyone (including his own siblings) was afraid of the tailed beast sealed inside him. As a result, he's a complete sociopath by age 12, but an encounter with Naruto helped him see the value of other people.
    • Naruto himself started as this, a perpetual social outcast who wanted to make friends but always failed due to parents telling their children to steer clear of him. Only after he graduated did he finally begin to truly befriend his classmates and others.
      • However, flashbacks from his, Choji's and Shikamaru's point of view showed that they hung out together at times with Kiba as the "Dead Lasts". Shikamaru was Choji's first and only friend before that point, and his parentage didn't enforce Naruto's ostracism like other families did. So, how friendless Naruto (or Choji) was depends on who's telling the story, how close their association can be considered to friendship and how much the author wants you to think their life sucked compared to who they're fighting.
    • In the pilot, Naruto is undeniably in this trope. The only person who even professes to be his friend in his village of Youkai (Naruto is a Nine-tailed fox in the pilot, rather than host to one) does so in an attempt to get out of Naruto's pit trap, before threatening to tell on Naruto if he doesn't let him out. As a result of this, the chief (who lost all eight of his friends while fighting Naruto's father) tells Naruto not to return to the village until he brings back a human friend.
    • Despite being popular with girls and held in respect for his skills. Sasuke is not close to anyone, even before his family's massacre as the flashbacks to it show. Sasuke didn't hang out or was close to anyone outside of his family. This worsens as the series goes on due to Sasuke's Face-Heel Turn .
  • Lucy of Elfen Lied was like this during her childhood spent in an Orphanage of Fear where she was frequently bullied by the other children for her horns and emotionlessness. The one person who it seemed like she was gonna become friends with at the orphanage later betrayed her and sold her out to the boys that had been bullying her. She then makes herself an Iron Woobie by making two more attempts to reach out to someone else and become their friend. The first ends in another betrayal, while the second ends in her new friend being killed and her being captured. After that it's sort of understandable why she stopped trying.
  • Sailor Moon
    • Queen Nehelenia reveals that she has no friends in a fight with Sailor Jupiter, who is protecting Usagi. Sailor Jupiter tearfully asks if she has anyone like Usagi to be there for her, and the queen gets angry and blasts her.
    • On another note, it's shown at least twice that all of the Inner Senshi had little to no friends before Usagi befriended them. Hotaru is similarly isolated until ChibiUsa follows in her mother's footsteps and makes pals with the other girl. It's a little ambiguous, since that comes from one of the movies, which may be separate from the anime continuity. Anime episode 54 suggests that Rei is pretty popular at her school (she attends a different school from the others).
  • In Natsume Yuujinchou, Natsume spent most of his childhood friendless because everyone (including his many foster parents) didn't believe that he could see spirits and assumed him to be a creepy pathological liar.
  • Medaka from Medaka Box since she was so awesome that other people were intimidated by her. For a long time Zenkichi was her only real friend. Which is why she drags him along with her, she is desperate not to be alone again. Abnormals in general seem to have this sort of background; their Abnormalities make it nearly impossible for them to form connections with other people. "Minuses" also have these backgrounds, except they don't want friends either. The Abnormal Hinokage has it the worst though: people can't even remember him...because he is so awesome they forget him out of sheer fear.
  • Durarara!!'s Shizuo Heiwajima spent the majority of his childhood with a grand total of one friend, as most people either were either terrified or resentful of him.
    • Shinra and Izaya are in a similar situation. The only person Izaya was ever close to in his life was Shinra. Shinra had his obsession with Celty to keep him from caring that he has no friends outside of Shizuo and Izaya (both of whom are pretty lousy friends whatever their intentions, especially when in the same room.)
  • Miharu from Nabari No Ou deliberately acts cold and indifferent to discourage people from making friends with him. Weirdly, his classmates all seem to adore him anyways.
  • Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke starts the series as never having had a friend in her whole life, due to being very shy and looking (and unintentionally acting) like a classic Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl.
  • How about Mr. Friendless England of Axis Powers Hetalia, bullied and beaten up as a child, (which probably have something or another to do with the current Mean Brit and Tsundere stance he projects) and was even subjected to humiliation and exclusion by his own brothers according to Word Of God.
  • Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica never had any friends because she was very sick and spent most of her time in the hospital. It's probably why she goes to such extreme lengths to protect the one friend that she makes.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr. from Tiger & Bunny has always been too preoccupied with revenge to develop any significant relationships, and was a complete loner until he was paired up with Kotetsu. Kotetsu is literally the first friend he's ever had.
  • Kodomo no Jikan: As seen in a flashback, Rin started out completely friendless, as well as mute (due to the trauma of her mother's death combined with her blaming herself for it). By the time the manga/anime starts, she, Kuro and Mimi are True Companions.
  • Saori from Wandering Son has been shown several times to have no friends before she met Shuichi. She has No Social Skills and found boys to be too rambunctious but girls to be too snobby.
  • Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion, owing to at least five of the reasons listed above, has no friends at the beginning of the story, although he forms some tentative friendships once he moves to Tokyo-3. Rei also has no non-professional relationships with anyone except her surrogate father figure Gendo.
  • Kio from Loveless claims to be Soubi's first and ,until the mange begins, only friend. And given Soubi's background -Parental Abandonment, physically psychologically and sexually abused as a child, essentially a slave to his sacrifice- this is hardly unlikely.
  • In Saint Beast, thanks to Fantastic Racism Kira and Maya grow up in the shrine away from other angels. After they grow up Maya instantly makes friends with Gai who has a similar temperament and no prejudices whereas Kira attempts to stay a loner.
  • From tsuritama, up until Haru basically stalked/mind-controlled him into friendship Yuki had always been alone thanks to a combination of crippling social anxiety issues, the frighteningly ugly face he pulls whenever scared, and need to constantly switch schools because of his grandmother's job.
  • Tsubomi of HeartCatch Pretty Cure! started out like this, due to the fact that, like Misao above, her parents were constantly working, so she'd end up staying with her grandma and was so shy, she'd only consider the flowers she'd like to tend to her only friends. It isn't until she moves to Kibogahana that she starts making friends. Even if her first is a loud-mouth Jerk Ass.
  • Kitano of Angel Densetsu doesn't have friends at the start because he looks like a walking waking nightmare, and rumours painted him as a violent drug addict. The joke is he's a sweet, kind boy who always tries to think the best of people, even when he's being beat up. His parents love him though.
    • Averted in flashbacks to his old school though. Before his transfer, Kitano was actually very well-liked and highly regarded by both the faculty and student body of his old school. Its only transferring to Heikiku High that his friendlessness starts.
  • L from Death Note refers to Light as his 'first-ever friend' (although he may have been lying.) Either way, he has never had a friend prior to the Kira case.
    • Light himself may qualify. Although he's popular at school, he doesn't seem that close to anyone.
  • In Sangatsu no Lion, Rei does not have any childhood friends within his normal life outside of shogi, and was, as he narrates, "always the kid that got bullied." He implies that his teenage years were not that much different when he specifically requests that Hayashida not say anything about his professional career to his classmates. Later volumes elaborate on this.
  • Kotonoha Katsura of School Days has difficulty making friends due to her shyness and attractive appearance; all the boys in her class fight over her and force each other to stay away from her, which alienates the girls in her class.
  • Haruka Kotoura from Kotoura-san as seen in the first half of the first episode. Her telepathic powers plus Innocently Insensitive nature causes everyone to hate her, together with her parents. The first scene of the anime looks like this.
  • In Girls und Panzer, Yukari had no friends while growing up because she was obsessively interested in tanks and could not find anyone who shared her interest. The "Little Army" prequel manga reveals that Miho had a similar problem while she was in elementary school.
  • Blue Exorcist has two (and possibly three) main examples. First is Shiemi due to the Home Schooled reason. Second is Rin due to All of the Other Reindeer. Yukio also qualifies as due to being a) a Shrinking Violet Cute Bookworm when young and b) being Rin's younger brother, made it difficult for him to get any friends even before he started training early to be an Exorcist. Izumo also counts, as the only other friend she had before the Cram School was Paku; in fact, she originally didn't want any other friends, she just got dragged into it.
  • All of the members of Haganai's Neighbors Club have varying incompetency in making friends.
  • While it hasn't been explained, in Sakura Trick, Haruka reflected she has always been alone and Yuu was her first friend. It may be the reason why she's so clingy to Yuu.
  • Rosario To Vampire: Before Tsukune came along, Yukari was often a victim of Fantastic Racism at Yokai Academy for being a witch, though her tendency to pull nasty pranks certainly didn't help matters.

    Comic Books 
  • Huntress; particularly emphasized in certain issues of Birds of Prey; a somewhat unusual example, in that she did have family, some of whom genuinely cared for her (although they were all evil), but until she teamed up with the Black Canary, she never had even one friend. There's some Fridge Logic to this: making friends with the daughter of a Mafia don is all very well, but if there's a serious falling-out, your face might appear on a milk carton. Although it really had more to do with the fact that the mafia assassins who raised her, the Asaros, deliberately kept her isolated.
  • An example of the second sort: if Tintin had any friends at all besides Snowy prior to the start of his adventures they are never mentioned. However, it does not seem to be from a preference to be alone, a lack of social skills or somesuch as a whole lot of characters Tintin encounters during his adventures become his friends, and some very close ones indeed (Haddock, Chang, Calculus) with no problem. One could theorize that Tintin's schoolmates etc. all got prosaic bourgeois jobs in Brussels which meant that there weren't any real chances of encountering them in Tintin's exciting world of adventure (most of which are set outside Belgium).

     Fan Fic 
  • When Vera is hospitalized for poisoning in Dirty Sympathy Apollo, Klavier and Trucy are the only people that visit her because her only family is dead and she was a Hikikomori, she doesn't have any friends.
    Trucy: It's not like she has any friends besides us!
    Apollo (thinking): You mean she has any friends including us.

    Films - Animated 
  • The titular alien of Megamind (with the sole exception of Minion, his Non-Human Sidekick). Early scenes show his attempts to gain friends, all of which backfire miserably (in a combination of bad luck and Fantastic Racism), culminating in his decision to become a supervillain.
  • In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, it has been implied that Melody did not have any friends and the only person she talked to was Sebastian. Also, she's shown to be mocked for talking to sea creatures.
  • In Frozen, Anna and Elsa were raised in seclusion their whole lives and didn't have any friends throughout their childhoods. This may be why Anna was so naive to the point that she was willing to marry Hans, a guy she just met.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • The Heat: Ashburn. She grew up in foster care and then as an adult FBI agent, her need to demonstrate her intellect at the expense of others alienates them.
  • Doc Holliday in Tombstone.
    Turkey Creek Jack Johnson Why are you doin' this, Doc?
    Doc Holliday Because Wyatt Earp is my friend.
    Turkey Creek Jack Johnson Friend? Hell, I got lots of friends.
    Doc Holliday I don't.
  • Near the end of Tommy Boy, Richard confesses he thinks of Tommy as friend, even after all their misadventures.
    Richard: It may not mean much to you, since you have so many...but I don't.
  • Sin City has Marv, who fits the unattractive type in this trope. He mentions that, due to his looks, he was never even able to buy a woman. It may also have something to do with him being Ax-Crazy as well.
  • Zero Dark Thirty: After Jessica establishes that Maya does not have a boyfriend, she asks Maya if she has any friends. Maya says nothing.
  • All of Me. Edwina.
  • X-Men:
    • X-Men: First Class: Since Raven Darkholme is explicitly stated to be Charles Xavier's oldest and only friend, that means prior to their meeting in 1944, he had difficulty connecting with other children despite growing up in the lap of luxury. X-Men: Days of Future Past elaborates on this a little further by revealing that Xavier was considered to be "crazy" in between the ages of 9 and 12 due to the voices in his head, and was therefore a social pariah among his peers.
    • The Wolverine: Mariko had difficulty making friends while she was younger.

    Literature 
  • Bella Swan of Twilight. Her best friend back in Arizona was her mother (or so she says.)
  • Harry Potter.
    • Harry. Prior to going to Hogwarts, he's bullied at his Muggle school because of the tatty hand-me-downs and broken glasses he wears (and because no-one wanted Dudley to think they liked him). Dudley's gang frequently beats him up, referred to as "Harry Hunting." He is pretty much friendless until Hagrid shows up in his life.
    • Ron is mocked for being poor by the Slytherins, and of course is perpetually in Harry's shadow, so he's an outcast to an extent. Word Of God indicates many wizarding children, including the Weasleys, are homeschooled before starting Hogwarts, so it seems they conveniently don't have much chance to make friends before they're eleven. You'd think the Weasley kids would have made friends with Luna considering how closely she lives to them, but book 5 seems to be the first time she and Ron meet. No wonder Ginny got so entranced in that diary — she literally had no one to talk to other than her older brothers and parents.
    • And Hermione... well, she was a stuck-up prissy know-it-all in the first book. To misquote Ron, "No wonder she hasn't got any friends!" But probably Neville has it worst in their year, until book 4 or 5.
    • Luna also seems to suffer heavily from this trope. Being somewhat strange, she is heavily teased or just ignored. She loved being part of the DA because "it was just like having friends". When the trio happens upon her room they see that she hand-painted a magical mural of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville, all interlocked by a moving golden chain of "friends" repeated over and over.
    • Remus Lupin is another character who suffered from this trope in his early years. It's implied that this is a result of his lycanthropy, and probably was caused by a combination of the Fantastic Racism prevalent in the wizarding world and the fact that his parents basically put the rest of their lives on hold in an attempt to find a cure. In any case, it's the main reason why he was unable to prevent his friends' bullying of Severus Snape during their school years: he was so grateful to finally have friends that he didn't want to do anything that would turn them against him.
  • 'Cita in the second Petaybee book. She grew up as a member of a cult that gave children names like "Nightsoil" and "Goat-dung", and even by that standard, she is was an outsider.
  • The Secret Garden's protagonist Mary Lennox has gone through life with no friends because she is shown to be spoiled and sour and has No Social Skills. A good portion of her character growth involves her gaining friends. At one point she's talking about the number of people she likes, and says, "I never thought I should like five people." One of those five is a robin.
  • Anne Shirley has one of these, having spent her childhood in and out of orphanages and foster homes. She is so lonely that she invents imaginary friends, to Marilla's horror.
  • Chichikov in Dead Souls. He's more interested in making money than making friends.
  • As children, both Vlad Dracula and Elizabeth Bathory in Count and Countess.
  • At home on Alderaan before Galaxy of Fear, Tash Arranda didn't have no friends - at least, other kids would let her play on their speed globe teams - but it was noted that she was closest to her parents and had trouble making friends, since her untrained Force-Sensitivity made her seem strange.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Brienne of Tarth is treated pretty poorly by the men she meets, as they scoff at her for acting manly, but laugh on the rare occasions she's forced to act feminine. Brienne says that the women are worse. One of the reasons she falls so hard for Renly is because he was nice to her, and this goes double for Jaime.
    • Sam has it even worse. Oh sure, he got along with his mother and sisters, but his soft, gentle demeanor was not only mocked by essentially everyone but was also a source of serious abuse from his father. Then he goes to the Wall where he becomes fast friends with Jon Snow and all of Jon's friends.
  • Various characters in the Discworld series fit the trope in various ways.
    • Rincewind seems to have made very few friends, except perhaps the exasperating Twoflower, if only because he's usually running too fast to get away from some kind of danger. (He says that his parents ran away from home before he was born.) Even once he settles down, he's something of a loner, if only because his new colleagues regard him with amiable contempt and use him for various purposes.
    • Susan makes a couple of friends at school, but they're fellow loner/outsider types. Even at that stage, it's clear that she's a bit too weird and a bit too intelligent to get close to normal human beings. Once she learns that she's the granddaughter of Death, with all that implies, fighting the dangers of isolation becomes a full-time issue for her — though she manages.
    • The trope is really central to the whole species of noble dragons, however. "Noble dragons don't have friends. The nearest they can get to the idea is an enemy who is still alive." Of course, they don't care.
  • The background of quite a few Circle of Magic characters. Briar was part of a gang as a kid, but they seemed more like 'allies' then friends with any really degree of concern for one another. Sandry also had a lot of trouble making friends; her parents moved continiously, other noble parents didn't want their children associating with such a strange family, while commoner kids regarded her with great suspicion. This made her just very, very determined to make friends. Tris, however, was by far the worst off, being neglected by her relatives and bullied by almost all her peers.
  • In Why We Took The Car, Maik is stated to have no friends at all. Tschick appears to have no friends either when he enters Maik's school, and never makes any there.

    Live Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Brienne of Tarth is ostracized by Westerosi society due to her unattractiveness, large size, and her pursuit of a traditionally masculine occupation.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Faith. Her parents were worthless and the only person who never treated her badly died before she showed up in Season 3. This leads to her becoming evil after her tough girl act makes her push Buffy away when they accidentally kill a guy.
    • Genevieve, due to being homeschooled.
  • Most of the main characters on Community, for various reasons: Britta is a hypocritical buzzkill, Abed is weird, Annie was an awkward nerd in high school, Pierce is a Jerkass and Chang is certifiably insane.
  • iCarly:
    • During the flashback that showed how Carly came to know Sam, Carly was eating alone. Probably justifiable since Carly had moved to Seattle from her existing home in California. Not friendless before that though, as she had Missy, her best friend back in California.
    • Freddie apparently came to know Carly and Sam either during the last year of elementary school, or their first year of middle school. Whatever friends Freddie had must have moved to different schools, as it was shown in the earlier episodes his only real friend was Carly. Eventually, he started joining various school clubs and became friends with a handful of other students.
    • Sam was a bully, even in her younger years, and her only 'friend' was likely to be her twin sister Melanie, who left on a boarding school scholarship, as well as being a grade ahead due to Sam falling behind. Carly pushed back when Sam stole her sandwich, and their friendship was born.
  • Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series. It's mentioned in the series (and shown in both the animated series and the 2009 movie) that he was bullied as a child, and it's implied that Kirk is his first real friend. In the episode "The Naked Time" he mentions being ashamed of his friendship with Kirk, so it's possible Vulcans don't generally have friends in the way humans do.
    • Though they do at least have some variety of friendship; in "Amok Time", Spock formally identifies Kirk and McCoy as his friends to T'Pau, and mentions a legal right to have them present for his wedding in that capacity. General consensus is that he didn't have any friends because of his mixed racial heritage.
  • This seems to initially be the case for Brian Krakow in My So-Called Life. The closest things he has to friends are Angela and Sharon, who are both often rude to him and who he doesn't seem to be very close to anymore. This changes later as he seems to develop a close friendship with Rickie, and the last few episodes seem to foreshadow a possible new friendship with Jordan. An apparent friend named Brad is mentioned once, but only in a lie Brian is telling his parents, so it's not clear if Brad even actually exists.
  • Veronica Mars half-willingly ejected herself from her own social circle and plummeted down to the bottom-most rung (outside of freshmen) at Neptune High after her father, at the time the sheriff, accused the father of her murdered friend Lilly of killing her. She remained there until Wallace Fennel arrived, and she helped him down from the flag pole...
  • Lex Luthor from Smallville. The most poignant scene is actually very short, but drives home the point that Lex has been a loner all his life, probably because he was considered a freak by the other kids (not to mention his twisted upbringing): Adult Lex flashes back to his childhood, to a birthday party where he sits alone at a table surrounded by cakes and paper streamers, crying silently.
  • Beth from Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. She's been kicked off multiple anti-terrorism taskforces in the past for being too blunt, and when she joins the team, she has nobody to put down as an emergency contact until Cooper volunteers himself.
  • Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock. Until John comes along, he didn't have any friends at all — Mrs Hudson being more of a Parental Substitute and Lestrade a Friend on the Force of sorts who, while quite a nice man, isn't willing to be the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder that any friend of Sherlock's inevitably ends up becoming. Intelligence Equals Isolation combined with his Byronic Hero persona are the likely causes, though he makes little effort towards befriending anyone anyway. As Mycroft points out in the very first episode:
    John: I'm guessing you're not friends.
    Mycroft: You've met him. How many friends do you imagine he has? (...) I am the closest thing to a friend Sherlock Holmes is capable of having: an enemy.
    • Or, as Sherlock himself puts it:
    Sherlock: I don't have "friends." I've just got one.
    • To an extent, John as well. At the beginning of the show he's living alone in a depressing little flat after being invalided home from the Afghan war, he hardly even talks to his sister (from whom he is estranged for reasons that aren't specified, but may be related to the drinking problem that gets literally Sherlockscanned in the pilot), and the only friend (or even acquaintance) of his we see is Mike Stamford, towards whom he acts rather aloof (though Mike himself is affable enough); and that was merely a chance meeting. Before Sherlock, he also appears to have been entirely alone in the world, as stated by him during his one-sided conversation with Sherlock's headstone:
    John: I was so alone, and I owe you...so much.
  • Amy Farrah Fowler of The Big Bang Theory is this trope personified. She has a preoccupation with friendship activities, especially with Penny, because this is the first time in her life she's been able to experience anything of the sort. Sheldon didn't have any friends back home either, but he's less concerned about it. (Perhaps because his family, even though they didn't understand him, loved him. We don't know anything about Amy's family.)
  • Friends ironically. Although by the time the series starts the gang - in their early twenties - have formed their tight-knit True Companions, several of them are hinted to have been this growing up. In particular Chandler never mentions any friends from when he was younger and is upset he has hardly anyone to invite to his wedding.
    • Subverted concerning Rachel and Monica. In high school Rachel was the popular Lovable Alpha Bitch and Monica, her Fat Best Friend, was implied to be this trope. However during the series Monica mentions or even dates several friends, including her fellow Formerly Fat friend Will (played by Brad Pitt), her childhood friend who helps Chandler enter advertising, Lewis Posin her "fifth grade best friend", an exchange student whose Mom gave her food and two cousins she was close to growing up. However all of Rachel's wealthy "friends" ditch her early on and everyone from their old school seems to hate her. Not to mention, Monica is the rock of the gang who brought them all together, and it was only because of her they accepted Rachel initially. Ultimately it's the awkward Monica rather than the outgoing Rachel who made real friends, despite her apparent unpopularity.

    Theater 
  • Wicked's Elphaba Thropp:
    Dr. Dillamond: Miss Elphaba, don't worry about me, go along and enjoy your friends.
    Elphaba: (breezily) Oh, that's alright, I have no friends.

    Video Games 
  • The manga for Persona 4 fleshes out the protagonist's character quite a bit, and depicts him as friendly and polite, but distant. Because his parent's work causes them to move around a lot, he tries to avoid getting attached to other people, so he won't disappoint them when he leaves, essentially like a perpetual "Newcomer" version of this trope. Naturally, a large part of the game involves him getting over that and forming social links with various people around Inaba.
  • Geo from Mega Man Star Force is also one (being a combo of types 3,4 and 6).
  • According to the Official Fanbook, Raidou Kuzunoha grew up friendless, since he never had spare time or energy from his training everyday. He consequently became a Heroic Mime because he cared little for his own emotions and never thought his words would be worth hearing.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Morrigan may be the most horrific example of the home-schooled variant (to the point of being nightmarish). She explicitly says, if you get close to her (either platonically or romantically), that she is unused to such things as friendship, but is grateful for yours.
    • Alistair even lampshades this:
    Alistair: Oh, let me guess, this is the part where we find out you've never had a friend in your entire life—
  • Mass Effect 2 has probably every variety of the trope you can find:
    • Jack grew up in an experimental facility, and after escaping actively avoided making friends.
    • Grunt was grown in a tank, only being 'born' when you recruit him.
    • Garrus lost all his friends to a mercenary attack.
    • Thane and Samara never bothered making friends, both being Married to the Job.
    • Miranda ran away from home, cutting ties with everyone she knew. And the one person she trusted betrays her on her loyalty mission and ends up getting killed.
    • The majority of the options in Shepard's Multiple-Choice Past leave him/her with few friends and family.Details 
  • When Laharl fom Disgaea was asleep for two years people just assumed that he was dead or simply forgot about him. No one cares beyond that, except Etna who wanted to use him for her own gain, and one of his vassals who expressed disappointment that she didn't get to use the grave she dug for him. Granted, everyone are demons and thus clearly aligned Evil, it's only in their nature to abuse, backstab and use each other. Laharl doesn't even care for his own father aside from disappointment that he found out too late that his father died and thus the competition for his father's Overlord position had been going on for quite some time before he woke up.
  • Marona in Phantom Brave never had friends in her life because the way society treats her and only have Ash in her own life. So it's really heartwarming when Marona made her first friend in her life with Castile.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, there are a few cases of this.
    • Hisao loses touch with all his old friends, including the girl with whom he shared a mutual crush, during his stay in the hospital, and as such, has no friends upon entering Yamaku.
    • Hanako had a few friends before the house fire that scarred her and claimed the life of her parents, but they abandoned her because of how she looked
    • Shizune has difficulty keeping friends from communication problems related to her deafness and her tendency to come off as overbearing and abrasive.
    • Surprisingly, Misha, who gets along well with most of the other students, says she has no friends from her previous schools whom she misses or hopes to reconnect with, and vaguely hints at being bullied for being a lesbian.
  • Marche in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a new transfer student, shy, and lacks confidence in himself. He is mostly quiet on his first day at the new school, but he does become friends with two other kids. Marche is also not sure of himself during his time in the fantasy Ivalice, but he sheds his shyness and confidence issues as the game progresses and becomes more determined to achieve his goals. It is revealed in the story that Marche didn't have many friends to due always having to take care of his sick brother.
  • Little Busters! has Mio and Haruka. Mio because, as a child, she preferred escaping into other worlds through books and make-believe and then ended up meeting a not-so-imaginary friend Midori she dedicated herself to as an older sister. After a while her parents became worried and took her to a therapist, giving her medication to stop seeing Midori. Years later, she suddenly remembered Midori, and was so upset that she became determined to live a life of solitude in penance for her sin, ultimately trading places with Midori and letting her live instead. Haruka because her family abusively kept her under their control as the 'lesser' twin, including forbidding her from going to school. Beyond that, for whatever friends she could have made her wild, No Social Skills personality didn't drive away, her crippling insecurity probably did the job.
  • Your partner in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. Interestingly, he notes that he was part of the problem, as he were worried he would end up making a False Friend.
  • Kiyotaka Ishimaru from Dangan Ronpa has difficulty making friends prior entering high school (and meeting Mondo Oowada) because of his overtly serious attitude due to him spending time on studying and encouraging school rules and student's behavior.
    • He's not the only one. Sakura Oogami was ostracized because of her frightening and intimidating appearance, outright saying in her suicide note that the other students were the first real friends she'd ever had. Touko Fukawa was severely bullied her whole life (leaving her with a severe persecution complex). And depending on how canon you consider the manga adaptation to be, Celes might have had one, seeing as she was so plain (even her name, Taeko Yasuhiro, was ordinary) that she was completely ignored in school, only taking on her sophisticated persona of Celestia Ludenberg after discovering her skill as a gambler.
  • The Courier of Fallout: New Vegas appears to be from such a background.
    • Of course, since The Courier is the player avatar, this depends on how the player wants their background to be.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Grisaia No Rakuen's Prologue of Grisaia Yumiko spends the entirety of the story thinking of everyone as mere classmates because she's never had a real friend before, so when she realizes how much she cares about them and how much they care about her she actually cries with happiness.

    Webcomics 
  • Tower of God - Twenty-fifth Baam had absolutely no human contact before he met Rachel, even the name he was given by somebody refers to his birthdate. His loneliness is what made him so caring about human beings and eager for friendship, while it also makes him quite the stalker.
  • Magisa - Eman Cruz has no friends. And if he gets one, they either leave him or die.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Galatea, who was raised as a lab specimen, was like this when she first escaped.
  • Oddly induced in The Good Witch; in her original timeline as a transgirl, Angel had one friend, Tommy. In her new timeline as a genetic girl, Angel has no friends, with Tommy barely even knowing her (apparently a warning sign about her personality)—so she uses her magic to turn him into her new best friend Molly.
  • Tnemrot has almost all its main characters like this. Dae was a homeless scavenger all on his own, Mia was sheltered in her father's home and never received much attention and Angel was a slave unable to move a muscle without her owner's say so.
  • Abel of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures is shown to have grown up this way in his origin comic, having been shunned by the other people in the town he was born in because of his wings, neither he nor his mother knowing that his father was actually an Incubus, growing up thinking he was a normal Being who just happened to have been born with wings, possibly due to magic his father had encountered as an adventurer. It seems like the only people who cared about him in his hometown were his parents and babysitter, his babysitter being a young woman who was similarly shunned for having a third eye-on her hand. The local school won't even allow him to enroll because of him being different. This prompts his parents to move to a demon-run city, where he seems to make several close friends and feel accepted, until his headwings come in, causing his father to reveal his real self and take him to SAIA, where the only friend he seems to have was his guide Mink due to the crushing depression he felt at having to abandon his home and mother, along with having seen one of his best childhood friends-and some not so close ones- murdered right in front of him and learning that everything he thought he was is a lie causing him to be distant with everyone. The fact that he is the last of his clan doesn't help either.
  • Hannelore of Questionable Content, very much. She grew up on a space station, surrounded by scientists and military personnel and developed crippling Super OCD at an early age. It becomes apparent that she only really bonded with the space station's sentient AI. When she becomes friends with Marten & Co., she seems genuinely surprised at having friends and is not sure if her parents paid them to hang out with her.
  • Antimony Carver of Gunnerkrigg Court is a combination of the first three. She grew up with and was taught by her mother in a hospital due to her mother's illness, starts attending school in the Court in the middle of the school year, and does not do a very good job of making friends simply due to her temperament. In fact, even after she makes friends with Kat, she remains her only friend for most of her first year.
  • Ruby, the nerdy business major, Broken Bird, and troublesome younger sister figure of Sticky Dilly Buns, it appears. She has a generally spiky attitude and a suspicion of men, and the only social relationships she's mentioned have been with family (and she's comically bad at "bonding with her sister"), and a favorite teacher (who. it's rapidly pointed out, seems to have been abusing her trust). She also seems genuinely surprised when someone offers to do her a favor.
  • Asia Ellis of morphE. She was raised under very abnormal circumstances. Once her adoptive father attempted to normalize her and bring her to public school she was not received warmly. It took her until she was in college before she was comfortable enough to meet people without the presence and guidance of her guardian.

    Web Original 
  • Alexis from A Grey World
  • Part of The Nostalgia Critic's backstory. Although, not to defend the evil of kids and teenagers, it's been established that he was a seriously Troubled Child. Sounding like he needed a hug immediately yes, but not the best to hang around with.
  • Abel lived alone in a house for his entire childhood with effectively no contact with the outside world until his later teens. The upside? It gave him enough free time to absorb an unearthly amount of information through books and, later on, the internet. The downside? His social skills were limited to what little contact he had with a temporary tutor he spoke with at a very young age. As for the reason of his isolation, both of his parents were underground crime bosses that didn't want their son growing up to be like them. They succeeded, but died before getting a chance to see Abel grown up and self-sufficiently independent.
  • Kurai from Land Games.
  • Tim of Marble Hornets apparently had no friends until college, thanks to spending most of his life up till then in a psychiatric hospital.
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Jane had one true friend Helen who died of cancer when they were at school. She doesn't have any other friends of her age and her step-aunt's family and other people at school were abusive. Poor Jane expects this trend will continue and in some of her vlogs her longing to have friends is painful to watch. She doesn't even have a place she could call home. It's implied she uploads her entries as a safety net of evidence, because she can't ask anyone else for help or advice, and there are some seriously weird things happening in the Rochester household.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible. Despite being a hot, popular cheerleader and involved in just about every activity in the school, Kim has no real friends outside of Ron and Monique, and she meets Monique during the series. Ron on the other hand, despite being a Loser Protagonist, seems to be able to run in multiple circles with friends all over the school, and he has no less than three Action Girls after him, though he spends most of his time with Kim.
  • Both title characters in the animation for grown-ups, Mary and Max.
  • Sari Sumdac from Transformers Animated is the home-schooled type (her Dad was probably afraid she'd accidentally find out she wasn't quite human). The only kids who come to her birthday parties are the ones whose parents work for her Dad, and they aren't very happy about it. Of course, she gets to be the Tagalong Kid and later Sixth Ranger to the Autobots, so it works out.
  • Adventure Time
    • Lemongrab is HEAVILY implied to be this. Word Of God states that he doesn't have any friends, and that he lives in an isolated castle outside of the kingdom walls. His reason for being friendless? He's a mentally/emotionally unadjusted jerk with an almost total inability to read social cues. It's only partially his own fault; on one hand, he has serious mental problems. On the other hand, he's a sourpuss, and mean as hell to everyone he talks to.
    • The Ice King. Although he has Finn and Jake as friendly rivals, and his penguins, he's actually very lonely, because his insanity has resulted in his social skills being more or less flushed down the toilet.
  • Avatar The Last Airbender:
    • Zuko has the emo/parental abuse/woobie type background. For the first two seasons, the only person he could trust was Iroh, and he wasn't even very nice to him most of the time. Flashbacks suggest he didn't have many friends as a kid, and for the first part of the third season, the only person keeping him in the Fire Nation was his Victorious Childhood Friend Mai. Fortunately for both of them (and Ty Lee), turning good tends to earn you True Companions.
    • Also Toph Beifong, for the first twelve years of her life. She was confined to her Big Fancy House, with her existence kept a complete secret by her parents, due to her blindness. However, this is remedied quickly, when she joins the protagonists at the end of the episode she is introduced in.
      Toph: (to her parents) You were doing it to protect me, but I'm twelve years old and I've never had a real friend.
  • The titular character of The Legend of Korra grew up in an isolated compound (located in the South Pole) populated only by guards and teachers. Her only friend before arriving at Republic City was her polar bear dog.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The loner background seems to be the case for Twilight Sparkle, who starts off as being too wrapped up in her studies to make friends. Before the series starts, her social circle was limited to her older brother Shining Armor, her assistant Spike, her mentor Princess Celestia, and her old baby-sitter/surrogate-sister Princess Cadence (who she likely saw rarely to begin with). In fact, the entire series is kicked off when her mentor, Princess Celestia, tells her to "stop reading those dusty old books" and go make some friends already. (Granted, this was part of a Batman Gambit to stop Nightmare Moon, but still...)
    • This is outright stated as part of Discord's backstory, as he himself states that Fluttershy is the first friend he's ever had. In his case though, he was a Jerkass always out for himself who never stopped to consider the feelings of others - it was Fluttershy's determination to reach out to him despite his rougher traits that taught him to appreciate how good having a friend is, and when he pushes her too far he realises how important her friendship is to him.
    • This is a part of Cheese Sandwitch's back-story in the episode "Pinkie Pride." It's shown that his only companion was his rubber chicken, and as a colt, he had to deal with a lot of bullying and wasn't happy until he saw Pinkie Pie.
    • Sunset Shimmer from My Little Pony Equestria Girls may also qualify, because at the end of the movie after being defeated, she admits that she doesn't know anything about friendship, implying that she never had any real friends prior to the movie.
  • Gus Griswald from Recess. Due to constantly moving from town to town (not to mention also being very shy), he was never able to make any friends at any of his schools (and it's also been suggested that he was bullied a lot in the past as he is now)...until he moved to town in his introductory episode (1B, "The New Kid"), and got the best friends he could ask for.
  • The title character of Daria, unless you count Beavis And Butthead or Amelia. Probably Jane as well.
  • Neither Max Goof nor PJ Pete on Goof Troop had any real friends before meeting each other. Max got along okay by having a loving, supportive home nonetheless run by a very strange father... PJ was not so lucky, being strictly controlled by an emotionally abusive father. They are initially apprehensive of each other, but become best friends almost instantly after Max uses Loophole Abuse to help give PJ a chance to play, and when PJ's dad tells them they aren't allowed to see each other, Max is determined to find a way for them to stay friends. They boost each other up, tell each other the truth about themselves, and help each other out of tough situations for no fewer than seven years. Even when ostracized by everyone else, they are totally committed to each other, and later, Bobby too.
  • Archer has made it into a Running Gag of sorts, where occasionally the scene will cut to a young Sterling sitting alone on a bench hours after winning the big lacrosse game, showing both his lack of real friends and Malory's total neglect of her own child.
  • Skips' cousin, Quips, from Regular Show, constantly tell terrible and unfunny jokes that he absolutely has no friends. But in season five, "Bachelor Party! Zingo!!", he managed to find a woman who can tolerate his jokes and they are planning to get married. But because he has no friends, Skips is only his best man for this reason and he has a bachelor party with just Skips, Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man, and Hi-Five Ghost, despite the four latter hesitating at first.
    Quips: (asking a request from Skips) At the end of the night, I want to eat wings on a hill with my best buds! Well, your best buds. Can I borrow your best buds? Just to reiterate, I don't have any friends.
  • Cosmo from The Fairly OddParents. He was bullied a lot in high school, and Wanda was the only one that signed his yearbook.

    Real life 
  • This article from Cracked.com exposes how this is very common in real life, where one out of four people do not have anyone to trust and some people have a very limited trust circle.


Fragile FlowerShyness TropesGrew A Spine
Emotionless GirlIntroversion TropesHates Small Talk
Figure It Out YourselfSolitary TropesGo Mad from the Isolation
Fond Memories That Could Have BeenTear JerkerGo Out with a Smile
A Friend in NeedFriendship TropesFriendly Rivalry
Dog Pile of DoomImageSource/Anime And MangaGag Lips

alternative title(s): I Have No Friends; No Friends
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