"Hopes aren't worth DIRT! I'm going to destroy EVERYTHING!"We know that the Despair Event Horizon is a line that one loses all hope upon crossing. The crosser may remain a good person, or they may turn evil. The Hope Crusher is someone who enjoys pushing people toward and over that line. A Hope Crusher loves the sense of despair. When other people lose hope, they take pleasure in it. It's not necessary for them to be the one to push them into despair (although they often are); however, they cherish the feelings of despair of many people around them, especially when directed at them. They might not be Emotion Eaters, but they sure feel good when people around them despair. Since the sense of despair is something people usually try to avoid at all cost, liking despair so much and inflicting it on others are a good indication for the audience that this character is evil incarnate. They will be very fond of the Despair Gambit. They will often give a Hope Spot to their victims, and then yank it away at the last second, mostly thinking that despair is at its finest when the last ray of hope is destroyed right in front of their eyes. If they would instill Hope Is Scary, so much the merrier! Don't expect them to enjoy their own despair, though. Most of the time. Their goals are more likely to be For the Evulz (this is often seen in the Generic Doomsday Villain) though this isn't always the case. A popular non-For the Evulz explanation for this sort of character is an inability to experience positive emotions themselves coupled with a jealousy for other people's happiness and wanting these to be just as miserable as they themselves are. There are also some villains that believe that despair is necessary, and don't seek pleasure in destroying hopes and dreams, but do so because they believe that they have to. Note: targeting just one specific person to make them miserable doesn't make a character a Hope Crusher, to be this trope the character has to have a desire to make everyone around him or her miserable or have a specific plan in effect to make large groups of people miserable for that purpose alone. Contrast with Hope Bringer, who is likely to be the natural enemy of this kind of villain. Has occasional overlap with the Sadist, as sadists delight in other people's pain and suffering and seek to cause it by any way possible, and people suffer the worst when they are driven to despair. Can also overlap with those who believe that Dystopia Justifies the Means. Sometimes overlaps with darker Trolls if they specifically aim to destroy others' happiness.
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Anime and Manga
- Many a Pretty Cure villain use this modus operandi, liking despair of men. Examples include Northa, Joker, Kawarino.
- The Big Bad of Yes! Pretty Cure 5, Despariah, usually sat on her throne with the goal of obtaining the Dream Collet to obtain immortality, then finally shroud the people in despair. In the end, she subverts this by showing absolute fear over how the Cures won't despair no matter what. Realizing that despair is not the answer, she pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
- Naruto: Pain lost everything he loved in the constant wars that ravaged his home country of Amegakure. This led him to grow into a cynical nihilist who goes to great lengths to teach his enemies to feel pain. This includes crushing every bit of hope they have left.
Konan: He [Naruto] will become the bridge that leads us to peace! And I will be a support, holding the bridge up! [...] It doesn't matter if I'm scattered to the wind! I will stop y-
- Same applies to Tobi aka Obito Uchiha, the man behind Pain:
Tobi: You called me the darkness, didn't you? Then I will make you wilt... I will take your little rainbow bridge and its seven colors and plunge it all into darkness! When my illusion ends, so will your life.
- Ms. Chono from the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga lives to crush the hearts of men, and delights in expelling students on technicalities.
- The whole series of Yu-Gi-Oh! is fond of this trope: In the Yugioh GX anime, the True Big Bad is Nightshroud (Darkness), who wants to fuse all humans with a World of Silence, where their hopes and dreams will be cruelly crushed until the victims give up on them, along with their individuality. In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's anime, Aporia is a man who has lived through all forms of Despair, and tries to pulverize the hopes of 3 heroes in a sadistic duel with real harmful electric shocks, even delivering a Breaking Speech about all their dreams being nothing more than harmful illusions. Finally, in ZEXAL's manga, we have a deity of Despair, E'Rah, who feeds on hope, leaving nothing positive behind.
- In a subverted way, Kyubey of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. His goal is to stop the heat death of the universe, by making young girls make a contract with him, become Puella Magi, in which they will be doomed to despair and become witches, the very monsters they fight, bringing him closer to the aforementioned goal. Kyubey doesn't necessarily enjoy the role, but he's unabashed in driving girls in despair, as he thinks that having emotions to think that despair is bad... is a mental defect. But on that revelation, we all know that Kyubey is the closest thing the series has to a Big Bad.
- Crocodile of One Piece, took it upon himself to trample on the dreams and the ideals of those who oppose him. It's implied he does this because his own dreams were crushed in his past.
- Akainu is the poster boy of this trope. His very FIRST appearance was to blow up a ship full of evacuees, in the odd chance that one of the scholars may escape in it. Just ask Nico Robin, who was to escape in the ship.
- He crushed Luffy's, his allies', Whitebeard 's AND the readers' hopes when Ace takes Akainu's magma punch while saving Luffy, the intended target, dying in the process, while the Paramount War's objective was to save him. It was so bad a Despair Event Horizon that Luffy for the first time stated that he is not ready to be the Pirate King.
- The goal of the Anti-Spiral, the ultimate Big Bad in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, is to eliminate Spiral Power, which is derived from hope and courage, in hopes of preventing the Spiral Nemesis from destroying the universe. As such, they deliberately fight just beyond their opponents' abilities and dispense plenty of Hope Spots before snatching victory away in the cruelest, most unfair way possible with the aim of destroying their will to fight.
- Magic Knight Rayearth: The anime-only Big Bad of the second half is one of these. Not only does she want to destroy Cephiro, she wants its citizens to completely lose their hope of salvation while she's at it. This is because she is a being that was created by their extreme fear and despair after the death of their Pillar.
- Examples from Bleach:
"The number of plans you have devised are equal to the amount of hopes you have. So, I will simply crush them all."
- Ulquiorra spends every interaction with Ichigo attempting to dash any hopes he has. He does this to the point that during their final battle, he could have finished Ichigo off just in his second form alone, but transformed into his third one just to emphasize how screwed Ichigo truly was. He also does this with Orihime, although her humanity starts to rub off on him.
- Aizen says this line to Urahara, Isshin and Yoruichi:
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Frieza thrives on this. He didn't just want to defeat his opponents, he wants them to die terrified knowing that they never stood a chance of defeating him. He does this first by going into his true final form when his third transformation was more than enough the crush Piccolo, Vegeta, Gohan, Krillin, and Denda. He toys with Vegeta by letting him throw everything he has against him and showing Vegeta that his new power can't match him before torturing him to death. He then toys with Goku before using half of his full power to slowly beat Goku into a pulp. In the anime, he attempts to kill Goku first after surviving the Spirit Bomb, most likely to crush the little hope of the remaining survivors by taking out their strongest. In the manga, he picks off Goku's friends right in front of him to show him he can't save them and mockingly tells Goku he's going to kill his son next. Needlessly to say, his hope crushing hobby comes back to bite him in the tail when Goku goes Super Saiyan. His final fight with Goku also contrast nicely.
- Cell strives to become this. He holds the Cell Games not only to fight strong opponents, but to crush the hope of everyone on Earth by defeating their strongest fighters before he mercilessly hunts them down and murders them. He nearly achieves this status after he comes back from his near-death experience which killed Goku. After his return, he kills Trunks and badly injures Gohan and Vegeta, which broke the Z-Fighter's spirit. It takes Goku talking to Gohan from the afterlife to will him to keep fighting.
- Fairy Tail: Tartarus, a guild of demons, whose sole plan is to literally wipe out all of humanity in a massive genocide by removing magic from all around the world so they won't even have the hope of fighting back.
- The Joker of Batman mythos can qualify as this, seeing as his life's goal is to either kill Batman or corrupt him by getting him to break his one rule.
- Marvel Comics has D'Spayre, an Anthropomorphic Personification who both induces and feeds off the emotion of despair.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): The Nightmare Forces gave everypony in Ponyville nightmares and in issue 5 used the nightmares to kidnap Rarity in her sleep and convinced her that she will be forgotten and replaced so that they can force her to become the new Nightmare Moon. Issue 6 also has the nightmare forces trying to break Luna (and give the other ponies nightmares as well, but they broke through that). And in issue 8, the Nightmare Forces try this again with Luna, but fail.
- One of Darkseid's consistent goals is to crush people's hope so thoroughly and utterly that there is nothing left but to surrender their free will and give in to Darkseid. When he finally finds the Anti-Life Equation, which lets him do this on a much broader scale, things get very, very, ugly.
- Flash villain Zoom is a former criminal profiler whose entire modus operandi is forcing superheroes to suffer horrible tragedies, in the warped belief that such tragedies will make them better heroes.
- In Runaways, the aptly-named Witchbreaker's job is break the wills of other superhumans so that they cooperate with the Upward Path, a fiercely intolerant gang of religious fanatics and xenophobes with powers. She also tries to push her great-granddaughter Nico Minoru over to the dark side; it's left ambiguous whether or not she succeeded.
- Rise of the Guardians has main villain Pitch, whose goal is to grow more powerful by spreading despair amongst the children of the world.
- Palpatine from George Lucas' Star Wars excels at this. First, he completes Anakin Skywalker's turn to the Dark Side by telling him that the Jedi Knights have turned against him, and murdered his pregnant wife. Much later, he implements the same tactic upon Luke Skywalker by showing him the rebel fleet in a Curb-Stomp Battle, and that his close friends are horribly outnumbered on the Endor moon.
- The Sunset Limited has "White", a suicidal man who has such a bleak view of the world that he all but crushes the spirit of another man trying to give him hope.
- Caster/Gilles de Rais from Fate/Zero considers inflicting despair to be an art. His debut scene involves letting go of a Bound and Gagged boy at the mercy of his Serial Killer new master, and then right before the boy got out, Caster had his monster devour the boy, stating that despair is at its finest when it's about yanking a nearly fulfilled hope.
- Accel World: Dusk Taker's character arc drives around crushing the hopes and spirit of Silver Crow, and the heroes by stealing their powers, one of their new teammates, and using blackmail to put them past their Despair Event Horizon so that it looks like it's impossible for them to win.
- In The Pendragon Adventure, Saint Dane doesn't just want to beat Bobby, he wants to beat Bobby right after Bobby think's he's won - which he does on several occasions.
- In his first appearance in the first book of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Lord Foul announces that his ultimate intention is to annihilate hope from the Land. He then proceeds to spend the rest of the trilogy (and the two Sequel Series) going about doing exactly that.
- In The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel says that she would become something like this if she took the One Ring. "All shall love me and despair!"
- In Those That Wake, Man in Suit lives by this, as he's hopelessness given form.
- The Ministry of Love from Nineteen Eighty-Four, personified by O'Brien. Where a lesser regime would be content with simply eliminating an insurgent or even erasing all notions of them from history, the Ministry of Love goes much further. They utterly crush their victims first, and force them to abandon and betray everything and everyone they ever stood for or loved and to accept that there's nothing worthy in their life, except for their "love" for Big Brother.
- Sorrow from Of Fear and Faith is this, pretty much by default. In lieu of actually fighting its enemies it tries to Mind Rape them and drive them over the Despair Event Horizon. One of the ways it's shown to do this is by forcing people to relive traumatic memories, which works pretty well on several of the Stray Dogs.
- In The Wheel of Time:
- The Forsaken are the greatest servants of the Dark One, each of whom is named after a particular depravity they committed during the War of Power. Two of them fit this trope:
- Sammael, the Destroyer of Hope, was a general of the Light who defected by leaving a major city's gates open to the Shadow's forces.
- Ishamael, the Betrayer of Hope, was a highly renowned philosopher who announced his allegiance to the Shadow through a public lecture in which he explained that the Shadow's absolute victory was inevitable and resisting it was pointless. It caused massive riots.
- The Seanchan empire believes channelers of the One Power to be dangerous animals in need of strict control. Their handlers accomplish this with leashes that work as Restraining Bolt and Shock Collar, along with years of psychological conditioning until the channelers lose all hope of freedom and even stop seeing themselves as human beings. When some captive channelers are released, they immediately panic and beg to be collared again.
- The Forsaken are the greatest servants of the Dark One, each of whom is named after a particular depravity they committed during the War of Power. Two of them fit this trope:
- In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, the Lord Ruler cultivates this trope with a ruthless totalitarian regime, gristly public executions at the slightest sign of defiance, a State Sec of horrifying One-Man Armies, a church in his own name, incredibly powerful magical abilities elevating him to a Nigh Invulnerable Person of Mass Destruction, and a personal aura of despair that extends for blocks around him.
- Many Kamen Rider villains are also pretty fond of this modus operandi.
- Kamen Rider Wizard has this specifically as the bad guy's job - the Phantoms find Gates (victim of the week) and destroy their hopes and dreams or something they love. The despair causes the victim to become a new Phantom.
- While most of the Greeed in Kamen Rider OOO are embodiments of desire, the Purple Greeed embodies lack of desires. This gives it the power to permanently destroy the goals and dreams of humans, leaving them empty and apathetic, as well as to kill other Greeed Deader Than Dead.
- The Unicorn Yummy, created by the Purple Greeed, specifically has the power to pull a person's dream out of their heads, give it physical form, and then destroy it. It manages to destroy Hina's dream of being a famous fashion designer, but when it tries to do the same to Eiji, his desire to protect everyone is literally too large to destroy.
- In Kamen Rider Gaim, Mitsuzane/Kamen Rider Ryugen becomes one after he spends a good chunk of the series undergoing a Face–Heel Turn. He becomes convinced that the hope Kouta inspires in others is a threat to his own plans, especially in regards to his obsession with protecting Mai.
- Villain Protagonist Francis Underwood of House of Cards seems to take some pleasure in this, even though he doesn't generally do it for its own sake but as part of his schemes. For example, in one of his asides, after he sets Peter Russo up to fall off the wagon and end his political career with a drunken radio interview, he says with some relish "it takes just ten seconds to crush a man's ambitions." Other remarks he's made similarly indicate that he takes some pleasure in being ruthless and destroying people or "discarding" people he's done using.
- Also where he quietly tells the deranged homeless man trying to get into the congressional offices: "Nobody can hear you. Nobody cares about you. Nothing will come of this." That seemed pointlessly cruel even if he was a risk to security.
- Game of Thrones has Ramsay Snow, who makes torturing Theon Greyjoy mentally and physically a pastime. Ramsay purposefully uses the Hope Spot multiple times as a torture tactic, understanding that providing the illusion of hope and then ripping it away is far more psychologically damaging than never providing hope at all.
- Smallville emphasizes this aspect of Darkseid as a "Great Darkness" that consumes the Earth by crushing people's hopes and spirits.
- One episode of Cold Case involves a serial kidnapper who gets off on locking women away in an oubliette for long periods of time and watching as they succumb to despair.
- The Flash (2014): Much like his comic book counterpart, Zoom lives to crush the hope of others For the Evulz. For example, he secretly posed as Jay Garrick/ the Flash of Earth-2 because he enjoyed making others feel hope just so he could take it away.
- Nurgle, the embodiment of despair in Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, is strengthened whenever large amounts of people start feeling it (his opposite god is the embodiment of hope), so naturally his followers tend towards this. Ironic, given that Nurgle and many of his followers are Affably Evil while Tzeentch and his followers tend to be cruel manipulative Trolls.
- The Fall of New York setting supplement for Fast Company, the action rules for the JAGS system, features Dr. Nothing, a Psycho Psychotherapist who specializes in crushing the dreams of those who seek to make a difference in the Wretched Hive that New York has become. In addition to his skills as Fast Company (which makes him as Badass as any player character), he likes to Break Them by Talking as well as other dirty social tricks.
- Exalted: If someone serves Oblivion willingly, you can bet your yeddim that this is a major aspect of their character. The Archbishop of Chalcedony Thurible is one of the most prominent examples: he spreads a religion that states that hope is a lie.
- Perfectio from Super Robot Wars Destiny, as an Emotion Eater of negative emotions, likes despair the most. To make matters worse, he has a circular wave that will plunge any caught in it into despair, usually via the sheer power he exudes as a Nigh Invulnerable Eldritch Abomination.
- Yuuki Terumi from BlazBlue is an unabashed Troll who goes out of his way to make everyone around him miserable, as it's what he counts as 'interesting'. A reason was he thinks that despair is the only truth there is, it, along with hatred towards him, empowers him, and he's hell bent to make it to be the sole accepted truth of the world, claiming that everything else are lies.
- Final Fantasy VI: The goal of Big Bad Kefka isn't just world destruction, it's to completely break the spirit of everyone who lives in it too. He can't understand why people strive for hope and good feeling against impossible odds, especially when time destroys all things.
- In The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, the true big bads need to light "the flames of sorrow, destruction and despair" in their plan to resurrect Ganon. The first two are lit by Veran and Onox respectively, and they light the last one personally by kidnapping Zelda in broad daylight, in view of the villagers.
- Otani Yoshitsugu from Sengoku Basara, due to being ridiculed for his leprosy, made it his goal to spread misery and despair throughout the world so they suffer as he does. To achieve that, he attempts to kill Tokugawa Ieyasu, the one who's trying to bring bonds and hope to the war torn land.
- Jedah from Darkstalkers taunts his defeated opponents in his win quotes for losing to him by criticizing how they never had a chance to win to begin with.
- Unsurprisingly, Lucifer from Dante's Inferno tries to trick Dante into thinking he has hope for leaving Hell and rescuing his beloved Beatrice's soul. However, his ultimate plan is to use Dante into helping him gain the power to crush the almighty lord himself; the biggest source of hope if there ever was.
- Rakanoth, one of Diablo's minions in Diablo III, is called the Lord of Despair. He sought to drive both the High Heavens and Sanctuary into despair by capturing Auriel, the Archangel of Hope during Diablo's invasion of the High Heavens, and only after destroying him and freeing Auriel is hope restored to both.
- The White in Shin Megami Tensei IV are Anthropomorphic Personifications of Humanity's despair at being forever locked in the middle of the Order Versus Chaos Forever War. They seek ultimate destruction and to that end they send Flynn to the Alternate Timelines of Blasted and Infernal Tokyo, so he will see neither Law nor Chaos is the answer. They despise Neutral, the most hopeful of endings. To make Flynn despair if that doesn't work, they send him against extremely lethal entities (the Ancient of Days and Sanat Kumara). The Archangel Gabriel says they became this when they "gained knowledge beyond their ken" - which in this series is never a good thing.
- Abaddon-Shinado's Aspect of Anger is half of a divine monster powered by despair. Technically, its mission is to cast all despairing humans into the Abyss, but in its zealousness, it seeks to drive all humans to despair deep enough that it might just dump the race there. The Player Character is such a Hope Bringer that it resorts to progressively harsher forms of Mind Rape - which fail to put a dent on him. Eventually, both are forced into a confrontation in which Shinado plays its trump card by breaking the spirit of one of the hero's new friends, absorbing and through him or her attempting to crush his hope one last time. It wasn't such a good idea, to say the least.
- The Sha of Despair from World of Warcraft, like the rest of the Sha, feeds off of and causes its negative emotion, namely despair. It thus stands in opposition to Chi-Ji, the Red Crane of Hope.
- The CIMA in CIMA: The Enemy do this to feed off of people's hope, trapping them in the CIMA dimension, but leaving them a long, arduous escape route while they try to kill them before they can get out.
- This is Scarecrow's goal in Batman: Arkham Knight. Just killing Batman will turn him into a martyr and secure his status as a legend, a beacon of hope that will prevent people from feeling true fear. He doesn't just want to kill him, he wants to break him and destroy his myth.
Scarecrow: When the dawn comes, when Gotham lies in ruin and I turn my gaze to the world beyond, the Legend of the Batman will be worth nothing at all!
- This is the modus operandi of Super High-School Level Despair in Danganronpa. The true mastermind behind Monokuma, Junko Enoshima, takes the concept to its extreme by being obsessed with their own despair as much as anyone else's: they're thrilled when their plans are thwarted, because it means they can inflict the ultimate despair on themself. Of course, at the exact moment that they are about to die, their death is delayed by a split second, and they die confused without realizing it instead of in the despair they wanted.
- Bernkastel from Umineko: When They Cry is a Troll comparable to Terumi in terms of cruelty (and if Umineko were more widespread would equal or even surpass him in notoriety) that takes absolute delight in the despair she sows.
- Eridan Ampora from Homestuck, whose title is Prince of Hope. Don't let the title fool you, the Prince class is a destroyer of/through its aspect, and so Eridan is literally a destroyer of hope. Proving the point, after the trolls were denied entrance into the new universe they had created, Eridan took away their last hope for restoring their race by destroying the matriorb.
- The cubi of clan Seme in Amber Panyko Williams' Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures feed upon the emotion of despair. Since cubi can exert some amount of Thought Control, clan Seme can create the despair upon which they feed.
- "Crushing Hopes and Dreams" has become a Catch Phrase of the Gundamn! podcast, as certain Gundam fans tend to develop unrealistic expectations to which they need to administer a sometimes lethal dose of reality.
- * Meachakara from Atop the Fourth Wall. It isn’t enough for him to just kill Linkara, he wants to destroy his spirit first. He has tried to take away everything Linkara cares about, send him mad and push him over the Despair Event Horizon.
- Jack Slash from Worm. As the leader of the Slaughterhouse Nine, he seems to delight in making the world bleaker and darker.
- The Greater Scope Villain from RWBY, Salem, turns out to be this, they understand that humans take their strength from hope and companionship, so by focusing their moves on things that would drive humanity to despair and drive the nations and people apart, they will get the perfect opportunity to strike.
- The Corporate Commander from The Angry Joe Show loves to raise the expectations of gamers with an awesome new release before deliberately delivering a poor videogame to them on purpose as a scam he uses to take the consumer's money.
- The Baron Richmond, in Twig, delights in tormenting the small town of Warrick, composed entirely of people he's had shipped there, with random executions and an oppressive atmosphere of despair, but what causes him to fit this trope are the churches. When the Baron had Warrick constructed, he made sure to include several churches, empty buildings without any religious functionaries to staff them, and with all the holy symbols ruined in some way. The churches exist solely to tempt the people of Warrick into seeking some small spiritual comfort just so that he can crush it in an inventive and cruel fashion; for example, when the townsfolk started leaving rose petals on the doorstep he had his doctors develop a monster which could track them by the oils their fingers left on the petals.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Discord in "The Return of Harmony" has corrupted the rest of the Mane 6 and let them become such Jerkasses that Twilight Sparkle just gives up on trying to save Equestria.
- King Sombra, the villain of "The Crystal Empire". He's more of a looming threat than a directly active villain, but despair is a recurring motif with him. His former subjects suffer from depression. One of the traps in his castle is a Lotus-Eater Machine that sticks you inside your worst nightmare, to induce you to just give up. And Sombra's downfall comes when his former subjects use a big crystal to literally weaponize their hope against him.
- Principal Abacus Cinch of Crystal Prep Academy in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games. She wants to prove how perfect her school is by destroying the confidence of Canterlot High. Ironically, she's also this to her prized student Twilight.
- Robo Cop The Animated Series had a villain who was actually named Hope Crusher.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Lord Ozai is told that the people of the Earth Kingdom can persist for as long as they have hope. His solution? Take away their hope by burning the kingdom to the ground.
- The Simpsons: Depressing Springfield tavern owner Moe Szyslak.
I like creating disappointment. You know that little moment when people's hope dies? I feed on that.
- In Operation: Z.E.R.O., since he was overthrown in the past when his son found the Book of KND which gave him hope, Grandfather sets out to find and destroy the book to ensure history never repeats.
- The Joker in Batman: The Brave and the Bold tries to kill Batman/ Dick Grayson (who's currently the last member of the Bat Family) in order to rid Gotham City of their savior and his legacy forever.