Or, if you prefer, sour Krauts
Germans in fiction are often stereotyped in one of two ways: as Nazis
, or as being dour, serious and frustrated to the point of ridicule. (Or both
.) This is a mild Truth in Television
: While Germans do, indeed, have a sense of humour
, they also strictly divide work time and leisure time (see Oktoberfest
). And since chances are you'll encounter German people in business situations, this means they will be perceived by others as downright serious during the former. This has also contributed to the additional stereotype of Germans being portrayed as ruthlessly efficient
. May be known as German Gründlichkeit
in other nations.
Also, Germans, like several other European countries
, tend to be just a tad more reserved than more laid-back, open Americans are accustomed to. Unfortunately, this reserved-ness is often mistaken for coldness.
This trope exists even inside Germany, as North Germans are often perceived that way by the rest of Germany.
Not so much Truth in Television
: TV Germans also seem to get angry quite easily, often yelling and having fits that make them sound like, well... you know.
(Of course, everything sounds angrier in German
Another variant of the "serious German" trope is to have a German character attempt to tell a joke, and fail miserably, thus providing us with the quote page's horrible joke. Really, we apologize. Although German Humor
does include a lot
of untranslatable puns itself...
It should also be noted, that this trope is generally not too old, and hails back to the era of Frederick the Great (18th century) who received his name for turning the unstable melting pot of squabbling states into the efficient Prussian empire, but until Bismarck (late 19th century) this trope was usually limited to German military. See the 1632 entry below for a history-accurate point of view an Englishman or American could have possibly had about Germans.
See also Germanic Efficiency
And as to the quote at the top of this page: it's "flauschig" (or "fluffig", a borrowing from English).
- Axis Powers Hetalia. Germany, of course. The thing is, this trope originates with Prussia's disciplined military culture that dominates perceptions of Germans, but Prussia himself represents this by being a fiercely Hot-Blooded warrior, so not depressive at all, even though he's the origin of the trope. However, it is said his true nature is even more methodical and serious than Germany's.
- The comic also acknowledges that south Germans are supposed to nice and jolly (they gave us Oktoberfest), but Austria is even stricter than Germany, if more refined and aristocratic. However, that Austrians are perceived as more carefree than Germans does manifest in different ways, such as how Austria throws his clothes around and leaves his underwear around his house.
- Signum of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, while not an actual German, comes from an alien culture that uses a lot of Gratuitous German. She's the very image of a true soldier, which is why her new partner Agito finds her to be an utter drag. The Fourth Wall Mail Slot had Fate advising her to "relax" when she asked for tips on how to be "buddy-like" with her partner. A bit of a problem since Signum hates to be relaxed.
- In the first A's Sound Stage, Hayate, after noticing Signum initially decline her invitation to go to the public baths with her, Shamal and Vita, asks Signum if she still isn't used to the idea of spending time with her mistress. Hayate ultimately gets Signum to come along by essentially saying that it should be okay for her if her mistress says it is.
- From Eroica with Love: Klaus von dem Eberbach exemplifies this trope to the tenth degree. Hates disorder, doesn't know how to relax (literally), uptight, conservative, and always clad in a suit - Klaus can send the stress levels of a room soaring just by walking in. Interestingly though, he's the only German to conform to his national stereotype in a series rife with them: his German underlings include a sweet natured transvestite somewhat prone to hysterics, a beleaguered second in command, a goofy third in command and an earnest rookie.
- In Cyborg 009, the German Cyborg Albert Heinrich/004 is given one of the most tragic backstories as an East Germany escapé who loses his fiancée and has his body half-torn in their escape, is reconstructed as a heavily armored Cyborg by Black Ghost, and then is put into a coma for many years. Though he (thankfully) doesn't reach wangst levels, he often remarks on how everything has changed for him and shows deep worry about how much of a human he truly is due to all his implants.
- Victor Hillshire from Gunslinger Girl gave of this vibe in the earlier parts of the manga, to the point where Jose pointed it out when the former was asking the latter for advice in fratello relationships. We see later that he just doesn't socialize with children well, Triela in particular because he rescued her from a Snuff Film death back from when he was in Europol in a bungled raid that got his partner killed, kidnapped her from custody from the Dutch police and brought her to Italy for treatment before he found out the true nature of the Social Welfare Agency. It was awkward at first, until her decision to let Mario Bossi go see his daughter rather than stay and be protected by the Agency helps him see her as a partner rather than a child or a cyborg killer, as he had difficulty knowing how to interact with the latter two. Now, ironically, they're the closest fratello group other than Sandro and Petra, who actually took it a step further.
- The generally taciturn Hoover Kippenburg in the Area 88 manga was stricken with guilt over a training accident back in Europe that killed several pilots. When he briefly takes over for Commander Saki during the Wolfpack arc, Shin describes Hoover's style as steady and methodical.
- Uryuu Ishida from Bleach: While probably not actually being German (he is a Quincy, but they are based on Germans in terms of culture), he is a very serious character who never relaxes. Even around his friends and in peace time he will always stay stern and unsmiling. His friends are sometimes thrown off by this attitude.
- Most of the members of the German-themed Kuromorimine Womens' College of Girls und Panzer are quite serious, and have difficulty lightening up. Maho, commander of the tankery team, calls some of them over for a Christmas party, but they mistake it for a review of their recent mistakes in tankery, and dread it. In the party, Maho often finds herself not knowing what to do, and wondering what her younger sister Miho, a former student, would do in the situation.
- In Emma, the Mölders family and many of their staff are from Germany, but with the sole exception of dour, silent footman Hans, they completely avert this trope.
- German stand-up Henning Wehn has had a fair amount of success in Britain (frequently appearing on Panel Shows) with a shtick that by turns lampshades, defies and plays straight the stereotype.
- Patton Oswalt does a bit about Germans being completely humourless and serious all the time in his special "Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time". His theory is that Germans purposely try to quash all attempts at humour as soon as possible before someone starts making snarky comments about the Holocaust.
- X-Men: Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler was intended to be an aversion of this, a light-hearted Errol Flynn type. He was introduced as devout as any other lay Catholic simply to demonstrate his demonism was only skin-deep and to heighten the injustice of the religious superstition against him. However, through The Dark Age of Comic Books he became more of a Sad Clown, then as Wangsty as any X-Man. Recently he was killed outright and apparently replaced with a Darker and Edgier Alternate Universe version of himself. He's come back as of Amazing X-Men (vol.2) #5 but as he's apparently had to sacrifice his soul to keep Azazel out of Heaven, there's no reason not to expect a Break the Cutie plot with him in the future.
- Astérix: In Asterix and the Goths the Goths (Roman term for people from the area we nowadays identify as Germany) were cast as militaristic war-mongering villains, playing into the All Germans Are Nazis trope. Creators René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo later regretted the tone of this story, saying it was made only twenty years after the war when anti-German sentiments were still vivid. In later Asterix stories Germans are portrayed in a more sympathetic light, though still as people who are often deadly serious.
- Contrast the German art-house film, Wings of Desire, with its American quasi-remake, City of Angels, and note how the commoners behave in both films. The former very much lives up to this trope.
- The black-clad German nihilists in The Big Lebowski. They believe in nozzing! Even Walter, a Jewish man, prefers Nazis over them.
They were Nihilists, man. They kept saying they believed in nothing. Walter:
Nihilists... fuck me. I mean, say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism
, dude, at least it's an ethos.
- Inverted in the 1632 series, where the "downtime" Germans consider the Americans to be the uptight, stuffy, and unnecessarily organized ones. (So does just about everybody else.)
Rebecca's own brows were furrowed. "Alles in ordnung?" What is he talking about? Germans are the most unruly and undisciplined people in Europe.
Germans! Who squabbled about everything, including even the language they spoke, and were notorious throughout Europe for the production of religious sects, mass rebellions, mercenary soldiers, everything except order.
- In one of the Father Brown stories, an Italian actress storms off in a temper and locks herself in her room. The rest of the troupe debate whether to break the door down to prevent her committing suicide. Father Brown (half-jokingly?) says that as she's Italian there's no need, but had she been a German "gone away to think about Weltschmerz" he would be all for knocking the door down.
- The inhabitants of 7th Sea's Eisen (which is Germany with a minimal rename) are practically required to be like this. Of course, their entire country was dashed to pieces by a holy war, so they have an excuse.
- Natives of Krieg in Warhammer 40K. Although in their case it's justified: they're a Martyrdom Culture consisting almost entirely of clones due to the planet rebelling and being reconquered with 'half a millenia of nuking. Since then, they seek to atone by using WWI trench warfare tactics in full coats and gas masks (their planet is still radioactive). Their conformity, fatalism and zeal for dying fighting cause them to need Commissars not for maintaining order and morale as is usually a Commissar's main duties, but to liaison with regiments from other worlds because they reliably creep everyone else out. To be completely fair, while their helmets are mostly German styled, their uniform also have WW1-French influences, like a crest upon their helmet like the French Adrian helmet and their overcoats are French.
- Sasha Nein from Psychonauts.
- While Ace Attorney's Miles Edgeworth isn't German by birth, he has a German mentor (also an example of this trope) and spent much of his youth in Germany, so he qualifies. Franziska von Karma is also an example. (Mind you, this is only in the localized version; in the original game the Karumas are American.)
- Johann Strauss from Quake IV.
- Team Fortress 2's The Medic swaps constantly between 'cross and dour' to 'just plain crazy.'
- He seems fairly cheerful throughout "Meet the Medic", and a few of his voice clips are puns, but even more of them are complaining about his own team.
- This element of his character seems to have gradually been reversed, to the point that in the Halloween 2012 event all of his lines are completely enthusiastic, making him a canonically gleeful Mad Doctor.
- Siegfried of the Soul Series, but then, he has every right to be depressed given his backstory.
- Germany in Scandinavia and the World is basically the poster child of this trope, due to him being the personification of the country and also having a lot of guilt issues.
- In the Invader Zim episode "The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot", Membrane introduces Dib to the world leaders he's having a conference with. Seeing that he's watching a report about Chickenfoot, they all start laughing at him, except for the German guy. (According to the DVD commentary, you can tell he's German because he has a monocle).
- The Germans get fed up with this stereotype in an episode of South Park, raiding South Park Elementary's "Comedy Awards" forcing Jimmy to deny that the Germans are the least funny people in the world. Then they introduce their creation, FunnyBot.
- The fact that the founder of philosophical pessimism was German probably doesn't help this trope much. Neither does Friedrich Nietzsche, for that matter.
- The Marx Brothers' parents were both Germans note . Groucho originally played a Germanic accented character which he dropped just about WWI.
- Disproved in Spike Milligan's war diaries with the anecdote that at a reunion many years later a German friend of one of the people came along and Spike discovered that they had been on opposite sides of the same hill in Italy in one engagement. The German quickly passed Spike a note which read "Sorry to have missed you during the war"...
- The world's largest Goth convention, Wave Gotik Treffen takes place in Leipzig, Germany.
- Would you believe there's a German comedian and slam poet with a depressive shtick? Nico Semsrott's "stand-up tragedy" program is called (translated) "Joy is just a lack of information".
- Christiane F: The real life autobiographical story about a teenage heroin prostitute who lived in Berlin during the 1970s.