Empathy is the ability to share in another person's emotions. The capability to be happy because someone else is happy, sad because they are sad, and so on. It is closely linked to love and compassion. Furthermore, guilt to a large extent arises from the ability of a character to put themselves in the shoes of someone they've hurt.
A lack of empathy is a major character trait, one that drives many others. The villain will often have this trait, and will be denounced as a psychopath, or a sociopath. Real-world disorders with the same names inform this trope, but the relationship is very loose.
These characters may feel fear, but not the fear of others, regardless of the situation. This kind of guy can walk calmly through a crazed mob. For good or ill, these folk are not susceptible to social panic.
Note that a character who lacks empathy can still be perfectly capable of cognitive empathy; that is, the ability to recognise and identify an emotion — they might not be able to share in somebody's happiness or sadness, but they have learnt well enough what happiness or sadness look like, and coupled with the lack of remorse, this tends to result in a ruthlessly effective Manipulative Bastard.
On the flip side, just because a character has empathy does not mean that they possess one ounce of compassion or sympathy, though the lack of either usually coincides with at least a diminished sense of empathy. For instance, someone with narcissistic or anti-social personality disorder should not be confused with someone with Aspergers or another form of autism. Narcissists and sociopaths usually have perfect cognitive empathy, but utterly lack affective empathy necessary for genuine compassion. On the other hand, those with Aspergers or Autism have defective cognitive empathy, but normal or even hyper-effective emotional or compassionate empathy. In short: narcissists and sociopaths are generally superficially charming and polite but their pretense of empathy is simply that, a mere ruse to attain a tangible end. (Whereas autistics, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of feeling other people's triumphs and tribulations — often quite intensely — but you wouldn't necessarily know it from their face or tone of voice.)
Jerkasses, the Moral Myopic, and The Soulless tend to express this trope. When taken to its logical conclusion, it leads to It's All About Me. Often an integral part of Comedic Sociopathy. Sometimes characters with a Lack of Empathy have a Freudian Excuse up their sleeve. Sometimes, they just laugh and say Virtue Is Weakness as their justification. These characters often shrug off charges of their actions with But for Me, It Was Tuesday.
Not to be confused with No Sympathy, which refers to characters who supposedly do have an ability to empathise, but completely fail to demonstrate it. Kids Are Cruel, Teens Are Monsters and Adults Are Useless often have this trope, though these can be (partially) excused by the cognitive faculties required for empathy having had insufficient time to develop (the former moreso than the latter; anyone who's been around toddlers will tell you that they can be selfish little bastards). Subtrope of Hollywood Personality Disorders.
Contrast with The Empath, who is able to empthaize with another due to feeling their emotions due to psychic powers, but may still be evil due to what that power can do.
No Real Life Examples, Please! General real-world notes are on the Useful Notes page. We don't want real-world individuals as examples under the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment.
In Koharu No Hibi, after a fairly nasty breakup between Koharu and Akira, Koharu is confronted by one of Akira's friends, who explains to Koharu just how much pain Akira is feeling now because of her. Koharu is happy to learn this, because it means Akira hasn't forgotten her and is still thinking about her, not even caring what he's going through at all.
The homunculi, with the possible exception of Greed. They either enjoy harming humans or simply don't care, and in cases where they have a Morality Pet, have no empathy towards anyone else.
Pride is so devoid of empathy that he views the other homunculi as lowly as the other homunculi view humans. And while Father shows a measure of affection for his "children", he has even less empathy for humankind than they do. As a comparison, Envy has, on multiple occasions, laughed openly at the "foolishness" of humanity. When Ling Yao accuses him of doing the same, Father simply tells him that, much like humans see themselves above insects and worms, he sees himself as so far above humanity that he literally feels nothing, not even contempt, towards them.
Solf J. Kimblee too, who seems to have been written as a serious look at real-life sociopathy. He seems to be aware of his differing mentality from others and therefore goes to great lengths to disguise it, but at the end of the day he's still an amoral guy who honestly doesn't believe that there's any moral difference between slaughtering people as a soldier and saving them as a doctor; to him both are just doing their job (which, if they do well, he applauds equally). Essentially, Kimblee defines his bizarre twisted code of morality based on how much a person follows through on their beliefs or occupation; his psychopathy is too extreme for society's rules to matter to him. While he can demonstrate a certain amount of respect for another person, it's always in a very detached way, and he's completely incapable of feeling genuine empathy. There's a reason both Pride and Envy like him.
The 2003 anime version of Kimblee is, if anything, even worse. He considers all living things, himself included, as little more than walking bomb components and practically lives for the sake of spreading misery and pain, joining whoever lets him blow up people consequence-free.
The Big Bad of the 2003 anime, Dante, is almost as bad as Father. She's been Body Surfing through different bodies for more than two centuries and mass sacrificed humans, and caused dozens of wars, disease outbreaks and worse, just to keep her Philosopher Stone fix going. Unlike Father and the Homunculi she doesn't even have an excuse as she's 100% human, just a completely selfish sociopath who believes It's All About Me.
Buu (or at least the fat version that absorbed Grand Supreme Kai and took on some of his traits) is a interesting case, as he was an Omnicidal Maniac because that was all that his creator wanted him to be. He has no empathy because he has never known it. When Mr. Satan teaches Buu that wanton murder and destruction are wrong, he agrees to stop. Unfortunately, shortly after some random thugs shot Mr. Satan and Buu's pet dog, and then all hell broke loose.
In Mayuri's case, he describes in horrific detail the experiments he carried out on the souls of the Quincies, and then proceeds to complain about the difficulty of getting specimens.
Death Note: Light Yagami starts out as a fairly nice guy who wants to change the world for the better, but that all changes as soon as he gets his hands on a Death Note and he eventually becomes so unhinged that he is all too willing to kill and manipulate anyone who gets in his way, or whomever he believes is a threat to him.
His "girlfriend", Misa Amane, is arguably even worse. With the sole exception of Light, she never cares about or even acknowledges the pain of others (applies both to pain she witnesses and pain she causes). Even when Sayu Yagami, Light's little sister, is kidnapped, she is as cheerful and happy-go-lucky as ever, apparently not understanding that something like this would naturally upset Light.
Yuno from Mirai Nikki is this and a Yandere to boot. More to the point, she only has empathy for Yukiteru, even though her definition of empathy is quite twisted.
Gaara, at first. A traumatic childhood leaves him to take his name to heart ("Gaara, the demon that loves only itself") and kill without compunction or restraint.
Sasuke also becomes largely apathetic after finding out the truth about Itachi and doesn't particularly care if he harms others or even himself, so long as he can get his revenge. One of the most effective examples of this is when he casually massacres a legion of Samurai who were protecting a diplomatic meeting he was crashing purely because he couldn't be bothered not to kill them and doesn't think twice to leave his entire team to die after they save his life repeatedly seconds earlier.
And Sasori. He says he wouldn't feel any different about his grandmother dying than he would about all the hundreds to thousands he's killed, then when Sakura is outraged by this, he tells her ninja shouldn't feel that way.
Obito Uchiha is one of the worst examples in this series. His nihilistic outlook on life leads to him using and/or killing several people for his goals. The Nine-Tails' attack on Konoha, which killed several people and forced the protagonist to become a Jinchuriki, is his doing, and he claimed to do so simply out of amusement.]]
A few of the Diclonius in Elfen Lied. Lucy's different because deep deep down, she actually does feel guilty about the murders.
She really only started feeling guilty after she killed Kouta's little sister and father, and even afterwards, she doesn't show any empathy towards the numerous innocent humans and Diclonious that she kills or maims. It's only if the killings affect Kouta and his feelings for her, that she shows any bit of remorse or hesitation in her actions.
The Unknown Man from the manga, Mayu's mother and stepfather, Mariko, and the cruel kids from Lucy's childhood.
Justified somewhat as he's been exposed to death quite a bit and BSODing on the battlefield can get you killed.
Also Gauron and Gates.
Sousuke's Evil Counterpart Zaied is an extreme example of this. A borderline Empty Shell, Zaied sold out his comrades in order to fullfill his desire to be on the winning side and shows no qualms about cutting down Sousuke, the only survivour, when they encounter one another years later. There's nothing left of Zaied. He has no empathy for anyone; truly an example of It's All About Me.
Kazuo Kiriyama from the Battle Royale manga. He's revealed to actually physically be unable to feel empathy, as he got in an accident when he was young and apparently lost all of his emotions. From the way this is presented, quite a few people consider this completely Narmy. There are some effective moments, though - at one point he chooses to let some kids befriend him on the results of a coin flip; on the island, he flips a coin again (at their urging), and when they lose the flip he slaughters them without a second's hesitation.
The entirety of the Ranma ˝ cast fall into this trope at one point or another due it being a series built on Comedic Sociopathy. The exceptions being maybe Kasumi and Tofu.
Paul/Shinji from the Pokémon anime. He's the biggest jackass of a character the series has yet produced, short of a few of the villains. It makes sense, given that he's an Expy of Silver from the Pokémon Gold and Silver/Crystal games.
Kodai, the Big Bad of Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions would probably sicken even Paul. He even comes right on out says he doesn't care about anyone but himself. He is unable to feel compassion or guilt at all, even for the most horrible crimes one could commit.
Gundam 00: Ali Al-Saachez who actually finds empathy to be disgusting''. His employer, Ribbons Almark is pretty lacking in this department as well.
In the opinions of some (Spirit and Nygus have mentioned it), Stein counts, although his more recent interactions with Marie could suggest they're misjudging him or simply (justifiably) wary of what he'slike.
Medusa's claim that she'd simply dispose of Crona as a failed experiment got an angry reaction out of both Spirit (obviously) and Stein. Which knowing her was likely her intention.
Haguro from Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest. Also, Ryuuko has little empathy and lusts after whoever seems to have even less than she does. Haguro is convinced Inugami is this as well.
Izaya Orihara of Durarara!! could definitely be interpreted as a sociopath. He likes to proclaim his love of humans (in a way that suggest he doesn't consider himself one), and spends his time manipulating others for his own amusement. Sometimes his actions are funny when viewed from the outside, especially when done to nasty people, but he has no compunction about harming innocents. While some people like and indeed fawn on him (generally girls), it's only because he's a convincing liar. Other than that, he has no friends to speak of.
Later on though, this becomes subverted. As of volume 9 of the novel, Izaya is very capable of showing emotions. The closest thing he has shown was fear of losing Shinra during middle school after Shinra took a stab wound for him by another student that was out to hurt Izaya. Naturally, this event has affected him in more ways than one and his determination to get revenge on the personwhohurt his only friend is very evident in this volume.
Mikado shows shades of this as of volume 6. Aoba can't pinpoint what emotion Mikado has except that it's cold and emotionless. How dark Mikado is will be up for interpretation until later volumes.
A good amount of the characters in Texhnolyze. Even the most sympathetic characters in Lux skirt close to being Villain Protagonists at times. Yoshii is definitely this. He came down from the Class in order to instigate a massive war between the groups. He states that his goal is to awaken the people from their sleep in order to build leaders of them, even if they don't want him to. This involves him murdering innocent people and starting gang wars because he finds it "interesting", all with a pleasant smile on his face. While he may have an ideological purpose behind it all, it is so obscure that it only makes him look all the more hysterical.
Yoshii is not of the Class. He is a Theonormal, a surface dweller, while the Class are mediators between the citizens of Lux and the surface. His motivation comes from the fact that where he comes from nobody fears death or cares for life. The way the people of Lux care about things makes him crave to see more of their deep will to live, and to do so, tries to throw the entire city into chaos of war of everybody versus everybody.
Under Grand Hotel: This is Swordfish in a nutshell. Although he's in love with Sen he's a murderous bisexual who threatens anyone who expresses an interest in Sen with death, has sex with Sen to the point where it nearly kills Sen, tries to strangle him, kills the guys who raped Sen saying that he did it for Sen's sake even after Sen told him not to kill them, moves out of Sen's room and lets a rapist move in when angry with Sen, and slices the throat of another one of Sen's rapists right in front of him while saying "I love you, Sen." This being after he tried to get Sen to kill the guy himself but Sen refused.
Katsuragi, Souma, and Sakurako of Sakura Gari. Initially, it seems as if It's All About Me with them, and that they'll do whatever it takes to get what they want even if they hurt/kill others in the process. Also, every one of Souma's lovers are shown to have horrible endings. He even notices and mentions it himself. This doesn't stop him from continuing to take lovers and he shows no remorse over their deaths. While he does develop a little empathy as a result of his interactions with Masataka, whom he had genuinely fallen in love with, his actions eventually end up driving Masataka away for good.
Ryoki Tachibana from the manga Hot Gimmick. Although he's utterly obsessed with Hatsumi, the series' doormat female lead, he's usually far too up himself to ever do anything as pointless as care about her or anybody else, including his family. His response to most of her (considerable) problems is "forget it, just focus on me" and he gets pissed off at her for worrying about her family. In another scene, shortly after she had her heart broken and was almost raped he berates her for crying about it, comes on to her too strong and forcibly kisses her despite her protests. Later, however, he begins to develop genuine feelings for her, but still retains his possessive and inconsiderate nature. In the novel, his actions result in her dumping him for the more compassionate and caring Shinogu. It's later shown that Ryoki's family is disjointed and loveless, which is why he finds Hatsumi's devotion to her family incomprehensible, and cannot sympathize with her for it.
Dufort/Dufaux/Dyufo of Zatch Bell!. Then again, Justified with all he went through as a kid. He was sold off by his mother to an evil scientist who did nothing but make him unhappy or angry to see the effects on his Answer Talker. And then he got blown up. At least Zeon saved him from certain death.
Osamu Tezuka's MW uses this as its main theme in concern to the villain protagonist Michio, who as a little boy inhaled a gas that damaged his brain and turned him into a sociopath. His homosexual lover's (who also happens to be a priest) attempts to justify or curve his behavior is met with tragedy.
Mori from Flame of Recca. Was more than willing to abuse his adoptive son Kurei by turning him into an emotionally stunted killing machine and create clones so that they can die protecting him or dispose of them himself when they're no longer useful (as he did by devouring his loyal clone Renge when he achieved his Tendou Jigoku state.) Kaima (whom merged with Mori to become the Tendou Jigoku) also counts, creating his own mad?gu for the sole purpose of killing.
Kyubey in Puella Magi Madoka Magica doesn't understand why teenage girls get so worked up over things like finding out that he effectively tuned them into liches without their knowledge, and sees nothing wrong with using the hope and despair of those girls as a source of energy.
Agon Kongo from Eyeshield 21 is the classic sociopath: he's very good at socializing and pretending to be a charming young man, but lacks any affection for anyone. Interestingly, the one person he was somewhat empathetic to was his brother. His identical twin brother. Which might imply something about how his mind works.
Near the end of the series, he does show some genuine empathy. Or at least tries to, in his own jerkass way.
Prince Schneizel. At first he seems to be a kind and understanding gentleman who sympathizes with the plight of his subordinates. Then he's revealed to be a cold Manipulative Bastard who uses Dissonant Serenity to hide his detatchment from humanity. Whether he truly did care for anyone is up for debate.
Schneizel is an interesting case, because he does honestly seem to want world peace... but at the same time, this is a man who can talk about nukingmillionsof people without so much as blinking.
Scneizel's psychology is so detached from the idea of empathy that some fans have suggested from how people talk about him that he willed himself to be a blank slate that responds to the surroundings rather than actually being able to grasp people having ambitions or an actual sense of self; he aims to take over his father's throne because his society's values indicate he should do so as the stronger of the two, not because he cares in the slightest about being Emperor. He doesn't even have the A God Am I reasoning behind nuking millions of people from orbit until Cornelia suggests it, and barely reacts when she is gunned down trying to stop him. Even when Lelouch finally defeats him, Schneizel appears to legitimately not care when he thinks he's about to die and this entire war was for nothing.Word of God confirms that he lacks ambition — and that's exactly why he is so dangerous, since he honestly doesn't have any long-term interest in any of his undertakings.
Black Cat: Series Big Bad Creed Diskenth combines this trope with No Social Skills for truly bad results. Interestingly, his Lack of Empathy is actually a crippling flaw for his career as a villain—he has no idea why his underlings constantly run away after he Bad Bosses a few of them, and his total inability to understand The Hero's emotions results in his own defeat.
Black Mage Zeref of Fairy Tail actually needsLack of Empathy to control his vast magical powers. If he develops compassion for other people, he suffers deadly Power Incontinence that drains the life out of everything around him. For centuries he placed himself in self-imposed exile on Tenrou Island to avoid hurting other people. Unfortunately, by the end of chapter 249, the machinations of Grimoire Heart cause him to forget compassion again and Master Hades becomes his latest victim. The formerly kindly Zeref then derides his victim as "trash" that should just fall into the abyss.
Their Tykebombs, the pre-Extended and Extended are almost as bad, albeit for more sympathetic reasons. The Psycho Serum they're forced to take has left them all in varying states of Sanity Slippage, with no ability to empathise. Orga doesn't care who he shoots at, Clotho sees it all as some kind of game, Auel and especiallyShani take a sadistic delight in slaughtering their enemies, Sting's just utterly cold-blooded, and Stella? The most sympathetic of the group? She doesn't even see people as people. They're all "Scary Things', and need to die because of it.
Shinn is an interesting case in that his empathy is selective. He has empathy, but only for people that he decides he likes. He feels horrible for Stella, because she's otherwise innocent and reminds of his sister, but not the other Extended, who he kills without a second thought. He feels bad for a girl he just met who's family was killed by the EA, but not Athrun or Cagalli, despite them also loosing their families in the last war, because they are associated with the Orb goverment, who he blames for his families death. He mocks Athrun about killing his friend to his face, because he was an enemy pilot, despite the fact that he was still Athrun's friend. Basically Shinn only empathesizes with people who remind him of himself, his family, or are explicitly on Durandal's side. Not Zaft as a whole mind you, just Durandal loyalists because Durandal praises Shinn and makes him feel important.
From the original Mobile Suit Gundam: Char Aznable has many, many, talents. The ability to see other people as anything other than tools is not among them, although there are one or two people (Lalah Sune, his sister Artesia) whom he seems to care about. GihrenZabi plays this trope very straight, killing his fatherso that he can usurp his position, turning his little brother's funeral into a political rally, and never showing an ounce of regard for anyone who isn't himself. This eventually bites him in the ass when he fails to anticipate how his sister will react to their father's murder.
On the heroic side, Quattro Bajeena, formerly known as Char Aznable from the original. While he's fighting for the good guys this time, and he seems to be trying to care about people, he still doesn't understand anything about emotions, and he tends to brush people's feelings off without realizing or comprehending that they might be hurt by it.
Gozaburo Kaiba, The Spirit of the Millenium Ring, and Dark Marik—who's little more than the human equivalent of a rabid dog—epitomise Lack of Empathy in the Yu-Gi-Oh! verse.
King Joseph of Gallia. In fact, much of his actions are an insane attempt to to instigate a feeling of remorse. His list of evil deeds include: killing his brother to usurp his throne, attempting to poison his niece Tabitha with an insanity-causing potion (her mother took it instead), forcing said niece to serve him as his agent, forcing Tabitha to betray her friends and sentencing her death when she failed, and finally launching an unprovoked assault on the country of Romalia with the intention of annihilating the capital city. Each of his deeds grew progressively worse, hoping that by increasing the monstrousness of his deeds he would finally feel an inkling of remorse. Whether he finally understood empathy when his familiar, who was in love with him, chose to die with him is ambiguous.
Desil Galette of Gundam AGE doesn't give a damn about anyone who isn't himself. He views the entire war as one big game, and the soldiers he kills as toys to be thrown away. This attitude is chilling enough in a child, but it persists well into his adulthood, and he eventually begins plotting against his own brother when the latter dares to upstage him.
You can argue that Griffith had a lack of empathy before the eclipse. He makes it clear a few times that he doesn't care for his own mercenaries, because they chose to sacrifice themselves for his dream. Caska made it clear that Griffith never showed any concern for any of his recruits, until he met Guts. Griffith used everyone around him as pawns for power, even the Princess of Midland. Speaking of which, Griffith tells her that he only respects and considers someone chasing their own dream as his friend. When Guts overhears and decides to pursue his personal dream, Griffith proved to be a hypocrite. Then you insert what happened after he became Godhand.
The Eclipse virus in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force takes away the ability to feel empathy from its victims along with other things that drive its users to madness. For instance, when Signum was questioning Cypha on a world that was wiped out, the latter responded with nonchalance on taking part in the extermination.
Tokajin, being a cannibal, views other humans as nothing but food and treats them as such.
In Rurouni Kenshin, Enishi wants revenge on Kenshin for killing his sister Tomoe (by accident), but privately admits that he couldn't give a crap about anybody else Kenshin has wronged. The only reason why he teams up with others Kenshin has wronged, while pretending to sympathize with them, is because he sees them as useful in defeating Kenshin.
A vast majority of Supervillains from DC and Marvel comics.
Norman Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin, is probably a notable case. This trait is highlighted in "The Green Goblin's Last Stand", Spider-Man's (original) showdown with his arch-nemesis, where Spider-Man destroys Osborn's prized glider. Gobby fights with renewed anger, vowing to make Spider-Man pay for this travesty, while pointedly brushing off the fact that he just murdered Spidey's girlfriend an hour ago.
Everyone in Dilbert, except maybe Asok and Ratbert, who are portrayed as naďve. The most outstanding examples are Dogbert, Wally, the Pointy-Haired Boss and Catbert.
Scott Adams has joked that he himself might be a sociopath.
During the New Krypton storyline, there is a scene where two Kryptonians take a walk down the street, discussing Superman and his bizarre desire to protect thesePuny Humans. A car crashes. The bystanders, recognizing them as Kryptonians, beg them to help. The duo don't even react to them and continue their talk, eventually flying away.
The Indigo Tribe, a relatively new element in the Green Lantern mythos, represents the emotion of compassion. While on the side of the good guys, they're mysterious and kind of creepy. It's eventually revealed that the tribe is made up of those who lack compassion and need it forced on them.
This is an enforced biological trait of the Brood race. All brood are screened for compassion at birth, and those who "fail" are killed. However with the recent mass extinction due to The Annihilation Wave this policy was dropped. It's also possible for Brood, such as No-Name, to learn compassion, but to gain it suddenly (such as by psychic projection), is such a shock that it is instantly fatal to the Brood in question.
From Batman, James Gordon Jr. sees empathy as a weakness. His main plan involves turning children into sociopathicmurderers like him.
The Red Skull thinks only of himself. Only of himself. He doesn't even think of other people as people most of the time. Only he and his goals matter. Millions can die and millions more suffer, and if he gains something by it, that's all that matters.
The New52 version of Superboy. Although in issue #6, he suspects that he's starting to feel a spark of it.
Several of the Endless from The Sandman. Despite being Anthropomorphic Personifications of concepts very much tied to emotions, only Death and Destruction seem to hold much appreciation for how others feel. In Dream's case, it's probably his most noticeable character flaw after his obsession with duty, although his second incarnation seems to be slightly better in that regard. Destruction notably is the only Endless who quit his job and wanders creation to try and be something besides Destruction incarnate. Death makes a point of becoming mortal for a day every now and then to avoid losing touch with her charges.
Horribly averted by interrogator in You Obey. Played straight by Queen Chrysalis, whose reaction to forcing him to torture a prisoner is to only dryly remark what a drag it is that changelings experience what they do those they torture.
In The Seven Hunters, a Land Before Time fanfic, Calin is very clearly a sociopath. He thinks very little of his fellow packmates and shows no emotion as several of them are lost during a battle. He even puts on a fake smile and a cordial demeanor as he is telling a rival pack they are about to be exterminated. Calling him callous would be an understatement.
In Gensokyo 20XXV, apparently this is the case with Yume Ni "Yu" Yakumo, a child, be noted, who apparently has this, seeing as she tried to throw another kid over a railing, the which of could have either killed or injured her, along with a nonchalant to eager tone about the other kids being her bitch. This isn't also helped in that she is also the bully.
Jovian and Jacqueline display this masterfully, as shown in Jovian's merciless execution of Apoch in Act III chapter 41. Rason even outright states in Act IV chapter 24 that the two have no regard for the lives of others.
Hex has little concern for the affairs of lesser beings. In Act VI chapter 52, when the group chews him out for not willingly helping Complica even though it's in his power to do so, with Fang Fang telling him in disgust that he can't seem to understand the value of life. Hex tells him that it's not that he doesn't understand the value of life; it's just that he couldn't care less.
Films — Animated
Shows up in, of all places, The Land Before Time! Sierra from LBT VII: The Stone of Cold Fire shows some traits of this.
Little Sweetheart gives us Thelma, a nine year old girl who will blackmail, stalk, rob, frame or kill you to get her way. She does not care if you are in pain, she does not care if you're having your life ruined, she wants whatever she wants. When her "friend" gets hurt early on, she shows no concern at all. It only gets worse from there.
In Blade Runner, lack of empathy is an Informed Attribute of replicants. Blade Runners use an empathy test to separate humans from robots. The replicants we see are quite ruthless and occasionally sadistic, but only toward people they see as enemies. We also see several instances of obvious empathy from Roy Batty, their leader.
The late Heath Ledger's summation of his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy."
Jack Nicholson's Joker in the 1989 Batman film also lacked any empathy. This is especially apparent in the climax when, after Batman revealed that The Joker murdered his parents, and thus was responsible for creating him, started to mock Batman's choice of words of explaining this fact, and dares to say "How childish can you get?!" when summing it up.
Girl, Interrupted: Lisa is in the asylum for this reason. A great example, when Susanna finds Daisy's body, Susanna breaks down, starts crying and flies into a panic, while Lisa goes "Well this is annoying" and searches Daisy's pockets for cash to steal.
Discussed in The Thin Red Line: due to experiencing "combat numbness", people fail to feel anything for the suffering of their fellow men.
Angel Eyes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In a movie filled with people who are empathy-impaired, he's unquestionably the worst, lacking all emotions and desires save perhaps, Greed.
Halloween's Michael Myers never displays any sort of emotion. This even goes so far as to make him seem impervious to his own pain.
Jame (sic) Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs. A good example of this is the "It puts the lotion in the basket" scene; when his victim realizes there are human fingernails embedded in the walls of her cell from failed escape attempts, she starts screaming. He just starts screaming along in sort of a grotesque parody.
In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Holmes diagnoses Professor Moriarty with "acute narcissism, a complete lack of empathy, and a pronounced inclination toward moral insanity." As usual, he's spot-on.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a heroic example, so much so, that he found Qui-Gon's sidequests to help others than those they were assigned to help, annoying. It also largely contributed to his uneasy Master-Apprentice relationship with Anakin, who was very emotional and rather instable.
The Boglodite, Boris The Animal (and presumably all his other world stripping brethren) in the third sequel of Men In Black is definitely this. When he goes back in time to correct the mistakes by aiding his younger self in killing Agent K and preventing the energy shield that would protect the Earth in the present day leading to his entire races' extinction, the first thing he does upon meeting his 1960s self is loudly proclaim him a "pathetic waste of Boglodite flesh" and voices killing him right then and there if he didn't value his own life. In turn, the younger Boris accuses the present one of weakness for being defeated by a human, DESPITE PLANNING TO DO THE EXACT THING THAT LED TO HIS DEFEAT IN THE FIRST PLACE IF NOT FOR THE OLDER ONE'S INTERVENTION! Is it any wonder they managed to work together to achieve their goals so far into the movie?
Ultraman Belial from Ultra Galaxy Legends and its sequel. It should come as no surprise since he is (canonically) the first ever, inherently, evil Ultra in the Universe. Not only did he start off by endangering the lives of his home planet (and himself) by being a brash power-hungry young warrior, after he got exhiled, he came backenfused by the power of Alien Reiblood AND winding a weapon that has him control an army of monsters to ravage the planet that exhiled him, under the belief that THEY betrayed him and left him to die.
Ryunosuke in The Sword Of Doom rarely concerns himself with the effects his actions have on others. This results in an ever-growing list of people who want him dead.
The Mechanic (1972). The sociopathy of the two hitman protagonists is shown in various ways. Arthur realises Steve has what it takes to be his understudy when the latter watches a former girlfriend who's slit her wrists to get his attention bleed over the course of several hours (she lives, but only because they give her the car keys so she can drive herself to the hospital). In another scene when Arthur is at the hospital, he walks past a young boy with an artificial leg without even a sympathetic glance.
In X-Men: First Class, while Sebastian Shaw professes to act on behalf of other mutants, he has little (if any) regard for his "colleagues" in the Hellfire Club whom he views as expendable assets for his plot to trigger a nuclear holocaust and seize power over what remains for himself. Likewise, he shows no regret whatsoever for his crimes against other mutants such as Erik (aka Magneto) and Darwin.
The vampire subspecies' in Peter Watt's Blindsight most disturbing personality trait is a complete lack of empathy. Because they needed to eat fellow humans to acquire necessary proteins, they would have never evolved if they felt bad about doing it. Every last one of them is a sociopath. If you're still in one piece around one of them, it's just because you are being more useful this way at the moment.
A Clockwork Orange: Alex, a dyed-in-the-wool sadist. Even in the final chapter of the British version, where Alex gives up being a delinquent, he never explicitely develops a sense of empathy. He simply gets bored with violence and desires to start a family.
Lord Voldemort, and almost all of his Death Eaters - but particularly Bellatrix, who seems to be a sadist as well as mentally unbalanced in general. When Narcissa (Bellatrix's sister) is reduced to a nervous wreck by Voldemort sending her son on a dangerous mission, Bellatrix insists she should be proud. "If I had sons, I would be glad to give them up to the service of the Dark Lord."
Professor Umbridge, whose idea of detention involves students writing lines in their own skin.
Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events, who relentlessly pursues the Baudelaire siblings around the world and causes them all manner of pain and suffering in pursuit of their inheritance, killing numerous innocent people along the way.
DiscworldElves are explicitly described as lacking empathy. They would break the universe if they thought it would make a pretty noise.
In Feet of Clay, the villain's response upon being told that his plan to poison the Patrician killed several innocents (including a child) is "Were they important?" Carrot is extremely disappointed to hear this.
Alisa, the Villain Protagonist of the first part of Day Watch not only lacks empathy toward others, but is pretty casual about doing things like causing her mother to miscarry in an attempt to repair her parents' marriage. While the philosophy of Dark Others (celebrating individualism/selfishness) explains some of her behavior, it's also true that Others in general no longer think of themselves as being like Muggles, and so she can't really care about them. What makes her character interesting is despite all of the loathsome things she does, the reader gets the impression that she actually does have normal human feelings, but they are deeply suppressed, and she is in her late teens, and her behavior is what you'd expect when someone immature and with an unhappy home life is given massive amounts of power.
Mark from That Was Then This Is Now is compared several times to a lion—attractive, charismatic, and utterly incapable of caring about the people he hurts. This seems to be innate rather than environmental, and the narrator observes that it's unlikely he could ever be treated or convinced not to harm others, only put in jail for who and what he is.
Battle Royale-Kazuo Kiriyama. See Anime & Manga example above. Minor difference between the Manga and Literature version, Kiriyama's reason for not feeling empathy is due to a birth defect rather than an accident that left him damaged.
While several of the characters in And Then There Were None fit this to some extent, Anthony Marston is a particularly good example: he's The Hedonist, devoted to his own pleasures but unable to consider the wishes of others. Interestingly, the murderer generally kills from "least guilty to most", and while Marston committed a pretty terrible crime (running over and killing two children), he's actually killed first on the logic that he's amoral and has no comprehension of right and wrong.
From The Dresden Files, vampires have to a degree the ability to empathize with each other, but almost all lose the ability to empathize with humans- even the comparatively nice White Court see mortals as little more than walking snacks, and the other two Courts are if anything worse. Lack of empathy is also a requirement to join the Denarians, and if you do still have any after joining up, your brand-new Fallen Angel bond creature will fix that in no time...
Caine from Gone, almost to a humorous extent, especially when contrasted with his love interest, who, although a bit of a Manipulative Bitch, has her limits. He's honestly puzzled as to why she wouldn't want to watch coyotes feeding on young children when there was no good reason not to stop them, and a bit annoyed that she objects to crashing a helicopter with a toddler inside. And in Book 4, he thinks that, rather than being upset that he used her for sex, lied to her, and dragged her into plans of world domination, she'll be happy to be his queen.Yeah . . .
Drake is an even worse example, being so psychopathic that even Caine is nervous around him.
Most if not all the antagonists in any Dean Koontz novel.
In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda evinces a serious limited ability to empathize. Her siblings think their father used a spell on her to stifle it. Surprising moments of empathy appear, and shock her with the realization that her siblings might be right, and the spell is now breaking down. OTOH, at all times, she fully averted A Million Is a Statistic and is grieved and disappointed in herself when she is unable to prevent natural disasters and so the deaths of thousands.
Max Barry's Machine Man has Dr. Charles Neumann. He has virtually no empathy whatsoever at the start. This goes further as he starts replacing his body parts with Better Parts.
This is the defining trait of the replicants of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. They are artificial people and have no empathy. Testing a person's empathy is in fact how bounty hunters distinguish real humans from replicants. However, the story also shows that humanity is losing its own empathy and becoming more like machines. Deckard's wife, like many other people, uses a machine to give her artificial emotions. The replicants are a chilling indication of where humanity itself might be headed.
Seems to be a feature of immortals and cats in The Last Unicorn. In the case of unicorns at least it's not that they lack the capacity so much as they have a differing value system; as the unicorn states, both cruelty and kindness are concepts for mortals, that don't really apply to unicorns or their ilk (Schmendrick, cursed with immortality himself, reckons she's full of shit).
Galbatorix in Inheritance Cycle definitely lacked empathy. Ironically, the first time he ever experiences empathy in any way, it gets him killed.
The narrator of spoof self-help book Oh, the Humanity definitely qualifies. The general impression is that he understands empathy in an abstract sense but has no ability to actually experience or apply it. During his Hilariously Abusive Childhood he considered "empathy" to involve a bully trampling his science fair project and saying "That must suck for you, dorkhole", so at least it's kind of understandable that he has trouble with it.
"That reminds me, I've been meaning to call you and tell you how much you have to live for. I'm sorry, I've just been doing so much gardening as of late."
Tho' indeed my own Misfortunes do not make less impression on me than they ever did, yet now I never feel for those of an other.
In Wen Spencer's Tinker series, it is a distinct trait of the oni. Fortunately, their half-human children don't evince it; if they had, the elves would have had to kill them all, and actually done it.
Paladin of Shadows: Katya. Jay says this is what prevents her from being a truly good spy.
The Hirogen alpha in Demons of Air and Darkness, who like most Hirogen relates to other sapient beings only as prey. At one point, he reflects on how one of his victims cried that she had a husband and children, "as if the family structure of prey was of any relevance".
In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, love is considered a disease. At age 18 everyone is required to get a surgery that removes the capability to love from their brain. As a result, most adults show and understand very little emotion, and in some cases get so emotionally detached that they will kill their children.
Happens to most humans on Earth in Perry Rhodan's "Aphilia" arc. It's a very gradual process caused by the new sun the planet is orbiting at the time, so society more or less adapts — the world resulting from it isn't a nice one at all, and people immune to the effect become essentially hunted outcasts, but self-interest and very strict law enforcement with robotic backup manage to hold things together more or less well.
Clocks that Don't Tick has the immortal oligarchs known as the Bosses. They’ve no issue with allowing billions to die on account of their apathy. At one point, the protagonist guesses that they stay isolated in their mountain mansions in order to stave off what tiny, tiny amount of empathy they might have left.
Oz has a few characters like this. There's Chris Keller though it seems that he acts this way in part because of his twisted affection for Beecher. Claire Howell, who has no qualms about physically assaulting/harassing men who refuse her lustful advances, practically rapes a few of the male inmates, and murders one by dropping a hairdryer into his bathtub.
Schillinger and the Aryans.
Also shown in an episode of My Name Is Earl, which seemed to express the Scientologist view points of the lead actor.
In an episode of 30 Rock, the cast became concerned that Jenna might be a sociopath, but at the end she expresses remorse and it's concluded that she's "only" an "extreme narcissist."
Reese from Malcolm in the Middle needs to have empathy explained to him by his parents after this exchange:
Lois:How would you feel if you were that woman whose quiche you salted?
At the end, he can't understand why anyone would want it, as it would just make them feel bad if they hurt people.
However; this only seems to go into Comedic Sociopathy territory; he can show empathy, at least towards positive emotions.
Reese also once broke Dewey's toy plane in front of him just so he could see Dewey's face when he does it, and gleefully confirms to Dewey when the latter angrily tells Reese that he's the worst brother ever that he is indeed the worst, apparently taking pride in it.
Francis may have even less empathy than Reese. Aside from his usual delinquent behavior, he also admitted that he had frequently tortured Reese and Malcolm, locked them up in a closet, stole their toys, and scarred Reese on the shoulder with a bayonet, apparently without regret, when he was supposed to be encouraging Dewey about being a good brother.
Most every character on Seinfeld, with the occasional exception of Kramer (the only one of the four regulars who is shown to take an interest in the well-being of others). Kramer's main problem in this regard is his constant breaking into Jerry's house and stealing his food.
Apollo on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. When Hercules confronts and defeats him after he attacks a village with fireballs, Hercules angrily goes, "You could have killed those people!" Apollo, "Who cares... besides you anyway."
Dexterlikes to think he's one of these, and keeps claiming as much in his narration. His actions, on the other hand, prove otherwise.
Some of the killers in Criminal Minds, although a number of episodes have subverted it by having a killer who profiles as psychopathic, yet shows some evidence of caring about at least one other person. They even had one killer who once showed all this signs of fitting this trope, yet actually had a Heel Realization and tried to make up for what he'd done, which the show points out as being virtually unheard of.
Another self-diagnosed (or so we assume) example is Sherlock, who honestly seems to believe that emotions like worry, guilt and sympathy hamper his ability to be useful: hence why he doesn't bother with them. At least until John gets wired up to a bomb, whereupon Sherlock freaks out. Ditto for the season 2 finale, in which he subverts many of the features of this trope.
Wholly contrasted when Moriarty, who is most likely the only character who suffers from actual Anti-social Personality Disorder, shows up, and jests at Sherlock about their "game":
Sherlock: People have died.
Moriarty: That's what people do!
Mycroft Holmes is another example. By the beginning of series 2, Sherlock is at least considering that there might be something to this "empathy" thing, and asks Mycroft if he ever wonders whether there's something wrong with the two of them. Mycroft's answer? "All lives end; all hearts are broken. Caring's not an advantage, Sherlock."
Mycroft: My brother has the brain of a scientist or a philosopher, and yet he elects to be a detective. What might we deduce about his heart?
The Daleks from Doctor Who are bred to be xenophobic omnicidal maniacs revolted by all other life-forms. There's a perfect example in the episode "Doomsday" where a scientist is willing to tell the Daleks everything they want to know and instead they just suck his brain dry of the information while turning his head into a pile of ash.
Rose: You didn't need to kill him!
Dalek:Neither did we need him alive.
There's also a good example of a Dalek actually developing empathy and being utterly horrified at the feeling.
Rose: You didn't kill me, you don't have to kill them!
Dalek: But why not? Why are you alive? My function is to kill. What am I? What AM I?!
Dalek: I can feel so many ideas... so much darkness...
Angelus; the series makes it clear that once a human becomes a vampire, their sense of love and empathy is significantly dampened. Even Angelus and Darla, who spent years together slaughtering innocents, were more than willing to abandon each other whenever their lives were at stake. Some vampires manage to abvert this (Spike) but even then, it's twisted at best.
A given for those who work for Wolfram & Hart. When Angel calls him out on endangering innocent people, Holland Manners point-blank tells him that he "just can't seem to care."
Glory wants to go home, and doesn't care how many people she'll kill if that should happen. This does start to fade in the Season 5 finale of Buffy, due to the personalities of Glory and Ben starting to merge and swap a little.
Even before Warren's Moral Event Horizon crossing, he's shown to be the one among the Trio most willing to take real risks and least willing to care about doing real harm to people. In "Flooded," he willingly gave the M'Fashnik demon they hired to rob a bank Buffy's address and let it go after her, and in "Gone," he was completely indifferent to the fact that Buffy was dissolving at a molecular level as a result of her exposure to their Invisibility Ray, even trying to speed up the process.
Quentin has little regard for the relationship between Buffy and Giles and regards their emotional attatchment as a distraction and weakness.
Illyria. Wesley gets roped into becoming her instructor in this regard. In an ironic twist, Illyria discovers her sense of empathy all too well — with Wesley's death.
A rather large portion of the cast from The Shield at one point or another, but most villains fit this trope (especially Armadillo Quintero).
In season 6 of Supernatural Sam loses his empathy as a result of losing his soul. He'll still put himself at risk to help Dean, but he'll also risk his life if it's advantageous. Helping him is clearly either a habit or because he's aware that he should care and goes along with it. In one episode while Dean is being panicking while being attacked by (apparent) aliens, Sam casually asks him over the phone what's going on, then when he loses connection checks out a waitress, has a beer, and calmly goes to look for him.
And when he can't seem to find him, he shrugs, gives up, and picks up a chick. He doesn't understand why Dean is upset to return and walk in on Sam having sex instead of looking for or worrying about him.
Fran: Question: When they shot Bambi's mother, did you find that a sad moment?... At all?
C.C.: (almost gleefully) I'm sure she's mounted on a nice wall in a fine home somewhere.
In the TNT miniseries Nuremberg, the psychiatrist Gustav Gilbert (played by Matt Craven), is tasked with talking with the defendants (including Hermann Goering) to try to figure out how they, seemingly civilized men, could commit the terrible deeds of the Nazi Party. Talking with the prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson (Alec Baldwin), he lays it out:
I told you once that I was searching for the nature of evil. I think I've come close to defining it: a lack of empathy. It's the one characteristic that connects all the defendants: a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.
Several of the murderers of the day in Monk do commit heinous crimes, although few truly stand out as having lack of empathy.
Evan Coker, the man who murdered a tow truck driver in order to retrieve something from his repossessed car, and also nearly caused Karen Stottlemeyer's death as a result, was shown in the ending while being arrested by the police as chuckling and smiling after Stottlemeyer almost went ballistic and beat him down because his wife was almost killed by him.
Lionel, Lex, and Zod all demonstrate degrees of this on Smallville, with Earth-2Lionel and Clark Luthor doing them all one better, but the show's crowning example of Lack of Empathy would have to be Brainiac. Void of emotions, he manipulates every member of the Season 5 cast without batting an eye, and later attempts to destroy the world in Seasons 7 & 8 out of a more or less intellectual dislike for people. Post-reprogramming he gains emotions as Brainiac 5 and is quite horrified at his previous incarnation's actions.
Dark Oracle: Blaze, Violet, and comic!Sage all fully subscribe to It's All About Me, and have no empathy for anyone but themselves. Omen starts out this way, but gets better. As Cally notes they're all "ink on paper" and as such, have no innate ability to care about others.
The second season finale of House is House's own conscience confronting him on his Lack of Empathy to his patients, climaxing in a heartfelt "I'm sorry," to the man he has wronged.
Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory is a subversion. He is capable of understanding basic emotional responses, but because Sheldon is neurotic and is socially awkward, he lacks the ability to understand the more subtle social cues, such as sarcasm, and has a hard time understand why people get upset over certain things. Sheldon is also extremely blunt with his opinions and tells everything exactly as how he sees it, which upsets people and Sheldon is confused as to why they react that way.
Leonard's mother however, plays it very straight. For example Leonard has a very human reaction to finding out his childhood dog died and his dad left (and finds out in an off hand way several months after these events happen). How one Dr. Beverly Hofstadter responds:
Beverly: Mitzy's the one that's dead, I'm the one that getting a divorce. Leonard, why are you making a fuss?
Ned in "Ned and Stacy" thinks of himself like this and usually up is, but eventually comes to feel empathy with Stacy. At one point Stacy tells him that he has no compassion for the people in the muffin shop because he cannot imagine being them. He then has a dream in which he is ever person in the muffin shop. Since he "can't say no to me." he is empathetic and refuses to shut it down. Of course this is a huge Jerkass move towards his partner Amanda, Stacy's sister and Ned shows no empathy towards her.
By the end of Season 4 of Breaking Bad, Walter White has evolved to this point. If they aren't a part of his family, they're just acceptable collateral damage. This is exemplified in a scene where he tries to assure Jesse how broken up he is about Todd shooting a kid. Immediately after, he starts whistling a joyful tune, coincidentally "The Lily of the Valley". Jesse is noticeably disturbed by this.
Todd does this too - everything he does, good or evil, is motivated by business, and not by his own personal feelings. It initially seems like he's being nice to Jesse out of sympathy but he is only doing it because Jesse is the only one who can cook good meth.
Doc Martin has no bedside manner and is probably a candidate for schizoid personality disorder. He routinely tells people about their illness in the most abrasive way possible.
Naturally, many of the criminals in Dragnet lack empathy. One of the most notable is the hit-and-run driver who, after the bereaved says his piece, comments very matter of factly, "Pretty upset, isn't he?" and is only concerned with how long he'll be in the slammer.
Played for Laughs very early on How I Met Your Mother with Barney Stinson. He rarely had empathy for anyone. Once when a stripper broke her leg (from something Barney did) he then asked her if she was going to finish the show. And once when Marshall was upset about something, Barney took an opportunity of silence to tell Marshall that he had called eternal shotgun in Ted's car.
Acererak from Dungeons & DragonsTomb of Horrors quest, Full stop. He decides to become immortal by becoming a lich, when his body begins to fail after several centuries, he begins to plot ascending into becoming the ruler of all dead by building a tomb filled with hideous traps that can (and will) kill even the strongest of adventurers, all in his honour, then when it is finished, he kills all the ones who built it AND his followers, kidnaps an innocent Siren and places her in a cavern, chackled through magical means, why? Just for his own amusement of seeing adventurers go paranoid wether she is a trap or a monster. And finally, when adventurers DO reach his chamber, he sucks their soul out, just like that.
A common trait for Osirans in Promethean: The Created. As their humor is phlegm, which embodies logic and calm, they tend not to think in emotional terms. Strange Alchemies mentions how one Osiran encountered a dying homeless man whose last words were "Help me"; rather than assist him, the Promethean moved on, and spent a long time wondering why the man thought a stranger would aid him.
The Fae in Changeling: The Lost. The fae's lack of empathy make them seem utterly alien to those they kidnap, enslave, and shape to their own twisted desires. The very few times a fae does develop real feelings for their unwilling playthings they actually lose most of their supernatural power and memories of their previous existence.
The third edition sourcebook ''Lords of Madness" describes mind flayers as "cold" and "clinically detatched" and seems to imply that all the major abberation races described in the book simply never even consider (nor care about) how their victims feel.
Mind flayers are this trope on steroids. They learn their emotions from specially enchanted crystals, not from each other. They don't learn how to feel based on others, they learn how to feel from rocks. Other creatures are no more than tools to them, and it's only their devotion to the elder brain that really allows them to have a society.
The Fair Folk of Exalted. Due to the nature of the Wyld, where they can summon up and dismiss whole countries full of people with but a thought, many of them have difficulty grasping the idea that people in Creation are independent and sentient beings.
The Yozis, too. Malfeas genuinely doesn't understand that people even have opinions, let alone that they might act on them, and it took quite a while for the Ebon Dragon to convince him that the Infernal Exalted would need a source of motivation other than Malfeas shouting at them and slapping them around when they failed. The Dragon himself is a sociopath whose sole ability to relate to others is based upon figuring out how best to a) get what he wants, b) ruin their lives or c) do both at once (usually c). Kimbery cares deeply about others, but this doesn't extend to e.g. not destroying their lives "for their own good", and as soon as they object or fail to live up to her arbitrarily high expectations she hates them to death. Adorjan is very generous, but this is performed through such charming things as murdering her victims' loved ones to teach them the folly of attachment, or simply killing her target horribly to give them the greatest gift - silence - with no concern for whether or not they actually want this enlightenment. The closest She Who Lives In Her Name gets to empathy is a kind of icy and emotionless pity, Cecelyne exists solely to enforce her Social Darwinist views on the universe, Isidoros is willing to not trample people...if going to trample some other people would be more fun, and Metagaos is far too hungry to care whether what he's eating can feel or not.
When empathy is lacking because the targets are just characters in a game, expect it to lead straight into Videogame Cruelty Potential. The potential effects of this on empathy for real people is still a point of heated debate.
HUNK. Rather tellingly in Umbrella Chronicles, where one of his subordinates shoots an unarmed man holding a G Virus sample. He turns around and rails at the subordinate, not because he just murdered a guy in cold blood, but because he risked damaging the sample.
Ganon, although it's debatable in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where it is hinted that the reason why Ganondorf intended to invade Hyrule was for his race's survival and benefit.
Organization XIII of Kingdom Hearts. Perfectly willing to do horrible, horrible things to anyone and everyone (even each other) without so much as a hit of guilt if it means getting their hearts back. As Nobodies, they aren't supposed to be able to feel anything, which explains some of that. Even the most "emotional", Roxas and Axel, had no conception of the desires of one another, as Roxas ran out without thinking a bit of Axel, and Axel has no conception of why Roxas ran out, and just thinks of his own personal benefit from being with Roxas.
In Roxas's case, it helps that he no longer trusts Axel or considers him a friend after realizing just how much Axel hid from him concerning Xion.
Mewtwo is said to have the most savage heart amongst Pokémon, thinking of only defeating its foes.
Genevieve Aristide from First Encounter Assault Recon. Doesn't care that her actions would send the world even further into hell from what Harlan Wade did, she's got a job to protect.
BlazBlueSetting Material Collection reveals that the Nox Nyctores weapons remove "unnecessary" emotions from their users in combat to make them more efficient. Yukianesa removes Jin's compassion, which explains a lot.
Johnny Gat of Saints Row doesn't just lack empathy, there's a good chance he shot it for looking at him funny. He demonstrates his ruthless nature at Aisha's funeral, brutally beating Ronin leader Shogo, and burying him alive. He seems to become even MORE ruthless after this point. Yeah.
To be fair, the Ronin leader was the reason Aisha, his girlfriend, was brutally murdered. Also, Shogo had just crashed Aisha's funeral, with Gat pleading for a moment of peace with his dead girlfriend and requesting another time to fight. Shogo refused and got that aforementioned brutal beating and live burial.
Jon Irenicus in Baldur's Gate II, apparently as a result of (roughly speaking) having no soul. Presumably Bodhi too, but she doesn't act that way as clearly. Irenicus has lost the ability to feel most emotions, at least positive ones, and is himself horrified at his condition. However, since he was already evil before and is now devoted to vengeance, he doesn't mind being able to do absolutely horrible things without flinching. His interactions with others can go something like this:
Irenicus (indifferently): "The pain will only be passing, you should survive the process."
Irenicus (with a slight hint of irritation): "Do you even realise your potential?"
Another subversion is Cliff from the first game - he's suffering from a Vietnam flashback caused by seeing zombies eat his granddaughter; when you kill him, he apologizes and explains himself before he dies.
In Jade EmpireMaster Li is incapable of viewing people as anything but tools.
Even his own daughter, Dawn Star. When he learns of the connection, he simply doesn't care.
Suikoden II: Luca Blight. Your country's equivalent to the boy scounts brutally slaughtered the night they are to see their families? Regret not joining in on the massacre that you set up to practise your swordsmanship. Adorable and traumatized little girl that you recently orphaned wailing in grief and fear after you just ran her teenage guardian through? Shut the brat up for good for spoiling your "fun" by decapitating her! Your sister grieving over your father that you just poisoned to death? Mock her and remind her that she is a Child by Rape.
Alice, the recurring Dark Magical Girl, honestly has no idea (being a completely innocent and completely insaneUndead Child) why people are so reluctant to Die for Her.
Dimentio, the true Big Bad of Super Paper Mario. He clearly sees his boss's feelings for his lost love as a weakness to be exploited, and does the same with Nastasia's feelings for Bleck.
In the Mass Effect 3 codex for Ardat-Yakshi (Asari with a neurological mutation that makes them Horny Devils), the syndrome is stated to cause the affected Asari to be hard-pressed or even outright incapable of feeling empathy, and those who don't kill are said to drift constantly through abusive or manipulative relationships. This could admittedly just be propaganda, given the Asari are deeply ashamed of Ardat-Yakshi and imprison them all upon confirmation of their existence, killing those who resist... but then again, Ardat-Yakshi not only kill those they mate with by burning out their nervous systems and neural tissue, but increase their biotic powers by doing so, and it's such a pleasurable experience that they become addicted to doing so. Case in point, according to Liara, the Ardat-Yakshi Morinth was actually "only just hitting her stride" when it came to preying on others.
However, Mass Effect 3 also shows that at least some of the Ardat-Yakshi who accept their forced seclusion can be perfectly moral individuals with strong emotional bonds, with some of them eventually being judged fit to re-enter society, and diary recordings suggest that a lot of them aren't any worse than normal teenagers would be if they were locked up in a monastery. However, the ones in the monastery are denied the addictive deadly sex that increases their power, so it's possible that all Ardat-Yakshi have the potential to become as evil as Morinth if they give in to it. How this differs from any normal person's capability to morally degenerate due to an addiction is never explained, and after the monastery mission it seems likely that Ardat-Yakshi in general are the victims of propaganda that is strengthened by the crimes of those who do become Serial Killers.
Jack starts out like this, but if her loyalty mission is completed and she survives the suicide mission, this changes greatly. By 3, she's a Badass Teacher and Mama Bear to her students.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Solidus constantly tries to emulate Big Boss, but he sadly lacks his father's sense of compassion for enemies and allies alike. This is brilliantly displayed when it's discovered that his subordinate Olga Gurlukovich was operating as The Mole for the Patriots to save her baby daughter's life; even after Olga explained her reasons, Solidus brushed it off, ruthlessly strangled her with his exoskeleton's Combat Tentacles, and blew her brains out.
Former Elder Elijah in Fallout: New Vegas. Views people as tools to be used and disposed of when they're not needed anymore. He wants to wipe the Mojave clear of all life with the lethal cloud, destroy armed resistance with invincible holograms, and enslave the survivors with bomb collars and establish a totalitarian regime. In the Sierra Madre, he equips his captives with bomb collars to ensure obedience, has the collars linked so they won't fight each other (and blames them for being so greedy that this safety measure is necessary, even though greed is his own middle name) and suggests you should kill off your allies when you don't need them anymore, yet thinks you believe him when he says he'll let you go after the whole thing is done. There is nothing to suggest that he ever entertained the idea of getting any of his previous victims to help him without coercion. Before he came to the Sierra Madre, he nearly wiped out the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel under his command by trying to hold the Helios One power plant against the NCR, sending wave after wave of paladins to die until the more tactically savvy members deposed him and retreated.
Caesar's Legion embrace this so closely that it's practically their hat. Most Legionnaires have a complete lack of compassion for others. They torture NCR soldiers for fun, rape female slaves and smugly deride the inexperience of their fellows who died trying to take Nelson. Some like Silus intentionally fit their slave collars in such a way that it is uncomfortable when they move their heads or swallow food, as a reminder that they are property. The Legion-friendly trader Dale Barton will happily trade with you and praise the Legion's caravan security policies while ignoring the abused slaves and crucified prisoners right in front of him.
Sly Cooper: Clockwerk outright states that he views empathy as a sign of weakness, boasting to Sly after trapping him in a Gas Chamber that it is "always the downfall of the Cooper Clan."
In Sword of the Stars, the Suul'ka reject empathy as a weakness. This is especially creepy since they still have the same empath abilities that all Liir possess.
Most of the witches from Umineko no Naku Koro ni. Beatrice seems like this at first but its shown that despite the number of tortures/murders she commits, she likes Maria to the point where Maria is a Morality Pet of sorts to her. And then later, she's considered an imaginary friend to Natsuhi. Plus, despite how much time she spends fucking with Battler's mind and his life, in Episode 6, Battler and Beatrice end upmarried. Similarly, Lambdadelta seems heartless at first (except for Bernkastel), but is shown to genuinely pity Battler when he is trapped in a logic error, knowing fully well how terrifying that situation is.
Erika Furudo is not only unfazed, but actually excited by the murders occuring, partly because she "knows" that wherever a detective like her goes, a murder occurs. Needless to say, when questioning witnesses, she doesn't bother with delicacy.
Battler: You... do you even have a heart? Erika: A heart? What is that?
Quite a few of the villains in the Ace Attorney series are this.
One of the earliest is Redd White, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. He blackmails everyone he possibly can, doesn't give a damn that he's driving countless people to suicide, happily murders Mia so she can't blow the horn on him, has Maya framed for the crime, and doesn't feel the least bit sorry that he just ruined the Fey family's lives in general. His own secretary believes that he'd murder her if she talks. He doesn't actually show concern for the events of his game until he's on the line.
Another notable example is Manfred von Karma. All he cares about his his perfect trial record. He doesn't care who he hurts, or if he might be putting innocent people in prison for crimes they never committed. He also doesn't mind that he was playing Edgeworth, Hammond, and Yanni Yogi so he could get what he wanted, which was revenge for a slight against him. He shows no remorse over tazering Phoenix and Maya to steal their evidence. Oh, and he considered murdering Edgeworth's father to be totally justified, because the guy ruined his trial record and all.
Among the many murderers in the series, Matt Engarde, Dahlia Hawthorne, and Quercus Alba probably demonstrate this trope the best. They all care for no one but themselves, and anyone else is just a tool to accomplish their goals.
Frankly, the only villains for whom this trope does not apply are Yanni Yogi, Mimi Miney, Acro and Godot if you count him as one, since they all acted out of revenge/desperation and did not want to hurt anyone except those who ruined their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney gives the particularly disturbing example of Kristoph Gavin. Over the course of the game, he completely ruins Phoenix's career as a lawyer, causes Trucy to be orphaned, murders Zak Enigma, tries to frame Phoenix for that crime as well, murders Drew Misham, tries to frame Drew's withdrawn daughter Vera for it, and is revealed to have been trying to poison Vera since she was a child, by way of giving her tainted nail polish while she has a habit of biting her nails. All of this comes from the simple fact that Zak Enigma hired Phoenix instead of him as a defense attorney, and everything he did was either to get twisted revenge on Phoenix or cover his own ass.
Korean Webtoons: Dr Frost is an Insufferable Genius psychologist who claims that he has no empathy, which according to one of his old colleagues caused the death of one of his first patients and made him a pariah in the medical community. Unusually for a SherlockHouse - style protagonist his lack of empathy doesn't translate into abuse towards his assistant (other than making her pretend to like a patient so he can break into his apartment) or his patients, although doing an unwanted Sherlock Scan or stopping a high school girl's anxiety attack by springing at her and clamping his hand over her mouth is unsettling.
In Worm, Regent fits this trope due to his upbringing-he notes that as a result of his father's powers, he barely feels anything any more, and even when he's taking vengeance on behalf of a teammate, he's incapable of empathizing with her situation, explaining to his victim that he's only doing it because "it's the sort of thing I'll do because it feels like I should. Dunno."
Wizard from Death Battle: He's often incredulous at a fighter's backstory, especially if they do something that avoids gaining power, like Pikachu's refusal to evolve via Thunder Stone.
Vlad Masters from Danny Phantom. He doesn't care if Maddie is already happily married with children, because he wants her to be his wife and her son Danny to be his son. He spends much of the show trying to accomplish this.
Dan Phantom, Danny's evil future counterpart, is even worse in this regard.
Family Guy: Stewie and Peter Griffin. Lois may fall under this trope in the later seasons. Quagmire is sometimes accused of this, but outside of The Hedonist sleazebag situations, actually seems a lot more considerate even than Brian in later seasons, just less of a hypocrite about his bad side.
Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula is all about this trope, though whether it's intrinsic to her nature or an effect of her unfortunate upbringing and uncertain mental state is up for debate.
Done very frequently, perhaps the most notable involving Kenny's deaths, which, aside from the standard shocked exclamation, are rarely treated with much weight at all and forgotten about quickly. Subverted with "Kenny Dies" when the boys actually treat Kenny's supposedly permanent death with much more sorrow. It doesn't last long, however, and by "A Ladder To Heaven" it's obvious they've all but forgotten about him.
Kyle and Stan are not shocked by his death in "Gnomes" at all, and say their usual Phrase Catcher lines in a flat, Motor Mouth fashion.
Vilgax was originally this, then he became a sort of Noble Demon in Alien Force, which was quickly revealed to be an act.
Van Kleiss from Generator Rex. Is willing to kill EVO henchmen who displease him without a second thought, kidnap a little girl so he could force her EVO father to go on a rampage, and messes with Rex's emotions simply because he can.
White Knight also counts. Despite dedicating himself to wiping the threat of EV Os from the earth, he's just as ruthless and uncaring as Van Kleiss. His disregard towards Rex as a mere weapon, willingness to sacrifice his own forces and millions of innocent people to stop one EVO (he even openly states that "Soldiers are replaceable" to the group of soldiers Rex rescued), and use of Dr. Holiday's mutated EVO sister as blackmail to keep her in providence are proof of this.
But at least White Knight has some justification, unlike Van Kleiss. He's the only true human left on the planet, everyone else could mutate into a rampaging EVO at any moment, some of which cannot be cured and must be killed. In his position, he's got some justification for being unfeeling to most other people, he's literally the only person on Earth who can be trusted to never mutate into an EVO.
By the end of the series, White Knight has warmed up to Rex, to the point of rescinding Six's standing orders to take out Rex if he ever transforms into a Humongous Mecha again since he trusts Six and Rex. Van Kleiss reveals that he was always a selfish jerk seeking godhood and never cared about anyone but himself.
Eustace from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Throughout the series the only moment he ever showed true empathy was when he hallucinated Courage as a version of his younger self, and gave him his hat out of pity. It makes the audience wonder what worth his kind wife Muriel sees in him.
Even though he's justified by being Surrounded by Idiots, Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants himself is often shown to be indifferent in later episodes such as refusing to help a man who was handcuffed by Mr. Krabs for not paying. But Mr. Krabs tops the cake more than the aloof Small Name, Big Ego, as his greed takes over his empathy and common sense.
Moral Orel has both Clay and Bloberta; Clay who accidentally shot his son and not only refused to take responsibility for it, he mocks Orel for crying in pain. Bloberta herself is just as bad, if not worse, as she had shown no concern for her son's well-being.
Clay is a psychopath/sociopath - or maybe a narcissist. Bloberta, on the other hand, proves to have some capacity for empathy. In the last episode, when Clay says that the family is going to sing Christmas carols, Bloberta says that Orel should be involved in it too. Some might ask when she started caring about Orel. There was an episode that went into her childhood. Her mother would not let her sing with the rest of the family because they already had a soprano and they did not need another one. Fridge Brilliance sets in when you realize that Bloberta remembers the humiliation she suffered when it came to families singing songs and does not want to put Orel through that.
A lot of the cast shows traits of this. Stopframe and Dr. Potterswheel both have their moments in "Numb" (regarding Bloberta). The former when he takes back his apology (for taking advantage of her to get to Clay) and the latter when he admits he cares for her, not about her. Joe is a brat who's a jerk to pretty much all the children and most of the adults in the show, Miss Sculptham pretty much just does her job as a teacher and shows no interest in teaching or giving advice outside school hours.
The Joker was insane and kicked the dog on several occasions, but what really cemented him with this trope was during the infamous flashback in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where Joker mocks Batman after learning his Secret Identity from torturing Robin enough to drive him insane while showing Batman that he filmed it all, remarking that Batman's Origin Story "would be funny if it weren't so pathetic," before deciding to laugh about it anyway. When Batman manages to crash through a window and beats him to a pulp, Joker nonchalantly tells him, "If you don't like the movie... I've got slides!" When Batman threatens to "break [Joker] in two", Joker is unafraid, saying that if Batman really wanted to "have that kind of fun", he would have done it years ago.
Captain Tunar in Thundercats 2011 is obsessed with killing the Ramlak, a monster who destroyed his home, and has no regard for the lives of his crew, who he sees as a bunch of worthless weaklings. He strikes up a rapport with protagonist Lion-O, who also desires vengeance on a villain who destroyed his kingdom. But after seeing where Tunar's actions lead, Lion-O turns from his course.
Discord, the Arc Villain of the first two episodes of season 2, is a Reality Warper with a very twisted sense of humor. He feels absolutely no empathy for anyone, and the only thing that matters to him is his own amusement. This turns out to be because he has never had a single friend; when Fluttershy befriends him, he reforms.
Queen Chrysalis, the Changeling queen, outright declares that her heart has no room for love. To her and her kind, it is nothing but a source of food. (She does seem to care for her subjects, so perhaps she just lacks empathy for non-Changelings.)
In the season 3 episode "Too Many Pinkie Pies", the main thing that differentiates the Pinkie clones from the original is that the clones care only for their own amusement, while the real Pinkie wants her friends to be happy too.
"Griffon the Brush-Off" is all about this trope. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash avert it while playing pranks on their friends; they both agree that pranking Fluttershy is out of the question because she's too sensitive and it would hurt her feelings. Then Dash's old friend Gilda comes to visit, and plays the trope straight by being a Jerkass to everypony except Dash, because she cares only about being cool. Dash also wants to be cool, but is so appalled at Gilda's behavior (which includes making Fluttershy cry) that she tell her to "go find some new cool friends someplace else."
"Wonderbolts Academy" gives us Lightning Dust, a pony who has all of Rainbow Dash's drive and ego, but none of her empathy, to the point that she sees nothing wrong with pulling a stunt that nearly kills several ponies.
Roger from American Dad!. The one time he tried to show empathy for others it nearly killed him — empathy is toxic to his race.
Bender from Futurama. Notable in that he is capable of love, but not empathy. For example, he loves Fry with all his heart, but in a completely narcissistic fashion, as he only cares about Fry being alive and present so that Bender can love him, not about Fry himself being happy. However, he does have a Heel Realization about this in "Jurassic Bark", when, after being jealous and utterly unsympathetic over Fry's feelings about his old dog Seymour (who Fry is trying to clone) all episode, he throws the corpse in a volcanoto eliminate the competition. Fry's grief causes Bender to realize, in a stroke of revelation, that Fry's feelings for Seymour are just like Bender's feelings for Fry, and finally understands what empathy feels like.
In the episode "I Second That Emotion", Prof. Farnsworth installs an empathy chip on Bender in order to teach him about empathy. It forces him to feel whatever emotions Leela is feeling at the moment. The episode ends with Bender not learning a thing and continues to be a Jerkass and Leela acting more like a jerk.
Alot of characters in Frankenhole, but protagonist and immortal Mad Scientist Frankenstein is this ALL THE WAY! Will create horrific abominations, like a flying shark or vampiric horse, just to kill them for his amusement and will happily let his own elderly children get reaped by the Grim Reaper just because he grew bored with them. When he created a robot housing a copy of his brain so he could have better company to talk to, even his robot self couldn't stand how much of a self-centered jerk he was.
Batman: The Animated Series: As a disciplinarian, Temple Fugate doesn’t know how to accept not only other human beings, but the Universe: He is a Bad Boss to his employees and he is sure he will lose an appeal because everyone thinks of him as a Jerk Ass.
Ferris Boyle, whose malicious greed hardened him to Victor Fries begging to keep his wife alive.
In Total Drama, Mike's evil Split Personality Mal has this in spade. He laughs at Sam when he's stung by a jellyfish, is fine with leaving Cameron to die in the forest and would have let Zoey get eaten alive by piranhas if that wouldn't have ruined his Hyde Plays Jekyll act.
Pete on Goof Troop generally uses other people as means to an end and either doesn't notice or doesn't care how much anguish he causes any of them—on some occasions he even finds it amusing. He does occasionally feel regret for his actions if something drastic happens (such as his wife threatening to leave him or his son almost dying), but then he's motivated more by keeping them in his life than by caring about how they feel. One episode in the entire series showed him caring about another person's feelings out of more than convenience; he understood how the kid who lost at mini-golf felt in "Tee for Two."