"I noticed that... your eyes are like mirrors, which makes them doubly pleasing to me. It allows me to admire my reflection without need for a looking glass."
The logical conclusion
of an overconfident obsession with oneself
. Distinct from It's All About Me
in that this trope does not use narcissistic behaviour for its comedic value
, but instead dwells upon the numerous negative qualities
of such characters. This trope also focuses more on the narcissist's conception of themself, rather than their interactions with others.
The Narcissist appears literally in love with themselves (though that is often a front beneath which they are insecure), present themselves as perfect, and often expect you to agree. They believe they are the most important person around, not only to themselves, but that they should be to you too. Extreme versions believe that this world only exists to serve them
and when praise isn't being given they can only view the world as a toy that isn't working properly instead of being filled with people who are simply acting in their own interests. Be very careful
when calling these people out on it though.
They've been known to use emotional manipulation
to boost their enormous ego. They differ from sociopaths
in that they have consciences and are capable of (somewhat warped) love, so they are not totally incapable of doing the right thing.
Narcissism is a personality trait theorized to be a self-confidence mechanism that defends against stress, anxiety, and depression, especially the kinds that are most likely to be suffered by people with Dependent and Avoidant personality disorders. This self-confidence is obtained by telling ourselves to ignore the factual consequences of our actions. People who display constant, excessive narcissism are said to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Because stress, anxiety, and depression bring productivity down small amounts of narcissism help in maintaining confidence in everyday business but too much narcissism causes people to procrastinate, become lazy, refuse to admit they made a mistake, become incapable of putting themselves in other people's shoes,
turn into a Know-Nothing Know-It-All
, or become a victim of Pride
There is some controversy as to what type of childhood narcissists had. Some researches believe that narcissists were overvalued by their parents
, while others think that they had a rather dismal childhood
Some forms of narcissism employ black and white thinking called splitting
as a central defense mechanism to stabilize their sense of self—viewing themselves as wholly good
and those that would criticize or humiliate
them as purely wicked or contemptible.
Premodern concepts include the ancient Greek Hubris
which meant excessive Pride leading to or simply occuring before a fall.
The contemporary view of narcissists is they're annoyingly unable to see this dynamic repeating itself in their lives, causing disorder on their own personality and others.
The Trope Namer
is Narcissus of Greek Mythology. His story was first told by Ovid, which makes this Older Than Feudalism
. One version of the myth is that Narcissus coldly turned down a beautiful woman named Echo, who as a result faded away to nothing but a literal echo. Angered by his callousness and vanity, Aphrodite cursed Narcissus to fall into unrequited love with the next person he saw - which was his own reflection in the river. Due to never moving from the spot, Narcissus was dying but a sympathetic God turned him into a flower, specifically the Narcissus flower
which grows near lake beds.
A common quality of an Alpha Bitch
, My Beloved Smother
, Pointy-Haired Boss
, The Bully
, The Fighting Narcissist
) or a Stepford Smiler
, though in the Smiler's case this trait functions more to protect the image of wholesomeness that is trying to be projected.
Keep in mind that looking after oneself first and taking pride in one's appearance does not constitute narcissism. In fact, pathological narcissism really has very little to do with vanity. As with many mental illnesses, the line between narcissism and normal behaviour isn't clear-cut. But if you're not acting like a self-obsessed, delusional Jerk Ass
then you're probably not a Narcissist. And if you make great sacrifices for many other people, you pretty much are not a Narcissist. Dr. Gregory House of House
is probably a Narcissist, and what is noteworthy there is that he is about as good and nice as any Narcissist is (and he's very flawed, which is the point of making the statement). And the majority of Narcissists would make House look almost saintly in comparison. If someone is a better and nicer person than House, he probably should not be listed as a Narcissist.
More likely to be into Selfcest
than most others.
Compare Small Name, Big Ego
, The Prima Donna
, Spoiled Brat
, Inferiority Superiority Complex
, Black and White Insanity
, Manipulative Bastard
, and It's All About Me
. Compare and contrast The Sociopath
who combines the narcissist's self-centredness with impulsive behaviour and a total Lack of Empathy
. See also Hollywood Personality Disorders
This is obviously Truth in Television
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Anime & Manga
- Patrick Bateman from American Psycho is more narcissistic than two clones of Narcissus screwing in a room full of mirrors. At one point he actually admires his reflection in a mirror while having sex.
- Not to mention every single other character.
- Tony Stark in the Iron Man films. "Textbook narcissism... agreed."
- Waldo Lydecker from 1944's Laura is definitely in love with the main character but his love for her is eclipsed by the blinding rays of his own self-love.
- Pavi Largo from Repo! The Genetic Opera is so in love with himself that he has a mirror with him at all times.
- Holmes accuses Professor Moriarty of "acute narcissism" in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Considering that Moriarty can't seem to prevent himself from smiling every time Holmes mentions his intelligence, and takes a moment to gaze into a mirror and smooth his clothes before engaging in Cold-Blooded Torture, it seems Holmes is right as usual.
- Buddy Ackerman in Swimming with Sharks. "What you think means nothing. What you feel means nothing. You are here for me. You are here to protect my interests and to serve my needs."
- Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood.
- Arliss Loveless in Wild Wild West. He even jokes about it.
Rita: Not to give you a big head, but I kinda missed you.
Loveless: Well isn't that a coincidence. I kinda missed me too!
- Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. He's obsessed with Belle because "in this town there's only she/who's as beautiful as me."
- The mentioned-but-never-seen Professor of Applied Anthropics of the Unseen University has put forth the Very Strong Anthropic Principle, which holds that the entire point of the universe is to give rise to the Unseen University so that it may house a Professor of Applied Anthropics (Footnotes comment that virtually everyone secretly believes this, with minor variations of a fill-in-name-here nature). Later in the book in which this is mentioned, one of the wizards mentions the principle, and comments that it's jolly decent of the Professor to share the universe with everyone else.
- Gilderoy Lockhart, from Harry Potter. He's so ridiculously stuck-up, it's Played for Laughs. But then he gets what he deserves when Harry and Ron pwn him and force him to accompany them to the Chamber of Secrets. Then, he accidentally loses his memory, which conveniently erases all his smug self-importance and turns him into a cheerful Man Child. His actor, Ken Branagh, has specifically rejected the idea that Lockhart's secretly insecure - the narcissism is 100% genuine.
- Also clearly the inspiration behind Narcissa Malfoy. But then, she is subject to major Character Development when it is shown that all she really wants is to be with her family, to the point that she spares Harry out of gratitude for reassuring her that her son is alive.
- Cormac McLaggen.
- They're all overshadowed by Voldemort in this department!
- In Death: A number of characters in the series can be put in this category. Then again, they tend to be sociopathic serial killers. Clearly, characters in those categories probably would love no one but themselves.
- In Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, Sam Vaknin studies the mindscape of malignant narcissists from the psychodynamic point of view.
- The title character of Mary Poppins loves to stare at herself in anything reflective. Her movie counterpart limits herself to hand mirrors and wall mirrors.
- Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is modeled after the Greek character of Narcissus and even painted dressed as him at one point.
- Redwall's Emperor Ublaz Mad Eyes is self-obsessed to the point that he thinks it's perfectly reasonable to put all his manpower (or beastpower) into attacking a small and unimportant tribe several thousand miles away so he can have their family heirloom of six pink pearls. Just because he thinks they'd make a pretty crown for him, not because they're magical or anything.note
- Jaime and his twin sister Cersei from A Song of Ice and Fire are both this, and it is implied that this is the underlying cause of their relationship because they look so much alike, particularely when they were younger. Jaime to a far lesser degree - he seems to feel some genuine romantic attraction to his sister, and is able to admit some of his mistakes.
- Morgoth from The Silmarillion, being as he is, based on Satan, the original narcissist.
- The depiction of Albrecht von Wallenstein in Friedrich Schiller's Wallenstein trilogy.
Live Action TV
- Played for Laughs by Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney on 30Rock. Her Freudian Excuse is a miserable childhood with her Stage Mom, Verna.
- Tracy Jordan on the same show also appears narcissistic at times, but this is just one of a whole host of psychological problems that render him more of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
- Angel: Angel has been called narcissistic although no one who knows about personality disorders would classify him as such. No clinical narcissist could be as forgiving and self-sacrificing as Angel. Using the term differently than the clinical definition on the DVD Commentary for "Billy," the writers admit that they enjoy scripting scenes for what they call Angel's "narcissism," such as during the series 2 finale arc where he finds himself in an alternate dimension where he has a reflection. In one scene, while the gang talk in the foreground, Angel can be seen in the background standing in front of a mirror utterly self-absorbed (it's also the scene where they all realize he can see his reflection). Eventually, Lorne has to drag him away.
Lorne: "Come on, Gorgeous, you can stare at yourself in my grandmother's glass eye."
- Though in complete fairness, Angel hasn't seen himself in over 200 years. He'd logically want to see his reflection again.
- Angelus on the other hand has an ego the size of a planet! He really cannot shut up, at all, ever, and is easily one of the cockiest bastards in the series. Angelus is bad beyond narcissism, however, and is an outright Sociopath, and more violent than most sociopaths at that.
- The closer Buffyverse example of a possible clinical Narcissist would be pre-soul Spike. Spike loves, if in a warped way, Drusilla and later Buffy, and will sacrifice for those he loves. While clinical Narcissists do not feel empathy, they have consciences (unlike Sociopaths) and can make sacrifices for those they love. Nevertheless, their lack of empathy usually leads to their causing pain for those around them, and a particularly egregious example of Spike hurting Buffy causes Spike to feel guilty enough to go through trials to regain his soul, so he will not be so hurtful again.
- After regaining his soul, Spike retains some of his edge, but is clearly too good a person to still be a Narcissist. He had helped to save the world before, but with a soul he is willing to sacrifice himself to save the world. It turned out he lived again (due to the character's popularity), but he gave up his life, as far as he knew, to save the world in Buffy Season 7, an extent he would not have gone to when helping to save the world in Season 2 or Season 5.
- Lexi from A.N.T. Farm.
- Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica. He remains pretty self-absorbed throughout the series.
- Richard Castle of Castle.
- Played for Laughs by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.
- Jeff Winger on Community, although his experiences at Greendale improve him eventually.
Britta: You're a textbook narcissist.
Jeff: Please. I'm an exceptional narcissist.
- Deep Space Nine. When Major Kira first crosses into the Mirror Universe, her Evil Counterpart the Intendent has exactly this response to her. Later episodes however chose to interpret this as the Intendent being Bi the Way and wanting to Screw Yourself.
- The Master from Doctor Who is completely obsessed with his own brilliance and considers the Doctor his only equal; few of his evil plots have a clear long-term goal besides getting his arch-enemy's attention. He takes it to the absolute extreme in "The End of Time" when he converts the entire population of Earth into duplicates of himself...all of whom are as pleased with this as the original.
John Simm: (on the commentary) I knew he had a high opinion of himself before, but I had no idea he's that narcissistic.
- The Doctor himself is also one. He just happens to be the good guy.
- The title character of House has shown narcissistic tendencies, which has not escaped the notice of any of the main cast.
- Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a case where the whole main cast is narcissistic to a degree, but special mention has to go to Dennis, a man so pathologically vain that an offhand remark about his weight is enough for him to starve himself until he passes out. He thinks he irresistable to women, but his reliance on his makeup and girdle tends to send the wrong message.
- Michael from The Office
- Shawn from Psych.
- Cat from Red Dwarf is absolutely in love with himself. The most telling example is when a Shapeshifting Seducer assumes the form that he desires most... himself.
Cat: So I'm the object of my own desires?
Shapeshifter!Cat: Is there anyone more deserving?
- Dr. Cox from Scrubs is the greatest doctor of them all, a diagnosing machine, this fabulous thing. Too bad his personal life is in shambles. The show has also delivered An Aesop when showing how a little bit of confidence is not necessarily a bad thing and goes a long way towards making their patients feeling at ease.
- Lex and Lionel Luthor from Smallville. Lionel's an Archnemesis Dad and Corrupt Corporate Executive who has trouble seeing his company and his son as anything more than extensions of himself, and is willing to break almost every law imaginable in order to stay on top. Possession by Jor-El eventually rids him of the worst of these traits, though he remains manipulative and grandiose long after his Heel-Face Turn. Lex starts out as a "Well Done, Son" Guy who tends to bring up his own problems in almost every conversation he has. This problem only gets worse as time goes by, and his delusions of heroism and need for adulation become more and more extreme; by the end of the show he's moved well past narcissism and into fullblown psychopathy as his need for control and someone to blame take over his life.
- Kings: King Silas Benjamin is a blatant narcissist, who cannot separate the good of his kingdom from the good of Silas. He views his children and his nation as extensions of himself, and takes honours going to anyone else as a personal insult. His wife and son also display traits of this.
- Alice Morgan from Luther is profiled by Luther as a malignant narcissist, a nasty subset of narcissism that includes sadistic and antisocial elements.
- When he first debuted in the WWF in 1993, Lex Luger was billed as "The Narcissist". He often posed in front of a 3-way mirror set up in the ring before matches.
- In the mid-2000's, Mark Jindrak played a similar character, billed as "The Reflection Of Perfection".
Religion and Mythology
- The Trope Namer Narcissus, was a boyish (aka Bishōnen) Greek Hunter who was punished by the gods to fall in love with his own reflection. Why that is depends on which version of the story you hear, the most famous being Ovid's version where he rejected Echo and didn't realize the reflection was his own. Another has Narcissus falling in love with his twin sister, and after her death, pretending his reflection is her. What happens after also varies, from a slow death due to starvation and thirst because he would not look away to drowning in an attempt to kiss his reflection, to stabbing himself when he realizes that his reflection is just a reflection and will never love him back. Regardless of cause of death, or a sympathetic god transforming Narcissus so he could stare at his reflection forever, regardless a flower either grew in the place where he died or he was transformed into one: the Narcissus plant, more commonly known as the daffodil.
- Satan in the versions where he becomes jealous of God and rebels against him.
- Warhammer has Sigvald the Magnificent - the favoured champion of the Chaos God Slaanesh, Lord of Vice and Excess. Sigvald is so narcissistic that he has his shield polished to a mirror sheen so he can look at himself in battle, and is often distracted by his own reflection even in the heat of combat. His narcissism even causes him to launch his followers on wars of aggression to punish people whose hair is said to be more beautiful than his (the high elves if you must know), or the makers of wines he finds dull and tasteless. Many champions of Slaanesh show similar behaviour.
- Heavenly Nostrils: Marigold Heavenly Nostrils the unicorn is introduced trapped staring at her own reflection for a good day. In fact, about half of the punchlines in the comic are about her belief that she's the most beautiful thing imaginable. She once thought that a dressing room was "loveliness camp".
- Inverted with Karkat (aka carcinoGeneticist) of Homestuck. Troll romance is complex and includes kismesissitude, which is a sort of attraction based on hatred and personal rivalry. Karkat's closest thing to a kismesis is himself due to unshakable belief in whatever his current mindset is a searing hatred of his past and future behavior. The other trolls find this hilarious.
- Karkat actually seems rather chagrined when he realizes this fact; possibly because kismesissitude is actually related to breeding and it may not be possible to provide the proper genetic material when you're your own kismesis (and being unable to provide genetic material from either of the breeding relationships is grounds for execution in Karkat's culture).
- Eridan also shows Narcissistic tendencies- for example, his feelings of superiority over the trolls of lower blood and entitlement to a romantic relationship. Also a result of his egotism and general obnoxiousness.
- Gemini Man in L's Empire is so obsessed with his appearance, that he applies a new coat of paint every 4 hours and shines his armor every 6. Calling him ugly is a good way to get a face-full of laser.
- Menage A 3 features international lingerie model Senna, who is deeply aware of her own international model-grade looks, thinks that nothing short of black magic can divert someone's interest away from her, and assumes that when her boyfriend is nice to one of her rivals, he must be working on some complex plot on her behalf.
- Starscream in most Transformers adaptations, particularly Transformers Animated and Transformers Prime. Subverted in Transformers Armada.
- Knock Out from Transformers Prime is even more narcissistic. True, he has displayed Ho Yay with Breakdown, but Word Of God has stated that it doesn't really matter whether he is attracted to males, females or both because he is first and foremost in love with himself.
- Sentinel himself is also an example, particularly in the Transformers: Dark Of The Moon where he proclaims himself a living god. In most versions he'll end up at least mildly villainous due to his narcissism.
- Simon from Captain N: The Game Master.
- Narcissus is promoted to God status in Disney's Hercules, where he is shown briefly smooching at a hand mirror.
- This is popular with Disney villains:
- Gaston from Beauty and the Beast has an entire song dedicated to how awesome he is.
- Ratcliffe from Pocahontas loves himself almost as much as he loves gold.
- The Evil Queen of Snow White, who had a magic mirror specifically to tell her that she's the most beautiful in the land.
- Scar of The Lion King is this trope turned Up to Eleven. "Meticulous planning, tenacity spanning decades of denial is simply why I'll be king undisputed, respected, saluted and seen for the wonder I am, yes my teeth and ambitions are bared, be prepared!" The song is called "Be Prepared" and can be listened to here on Youtube.
- The Italian version of the last part translates as: "I'll be a king admired, feared and loved, nobody is better than me!"
- And in the French version we have "Le seul dieu vivant qu'on acclaime!", which means "The only living god to be acclaimed!".
- Frollo of Hunchback Of Notre Dame is a textbook narcissist who projects his own lust on Esmeralda, as well as being a Knight Templar. "Beata Maria, you know I am a righteous man, Of my virtue I am justly proud / Beata Maria, you know I'm so much purer than the common vulgar weak licentious crowd..."
- And one Disney hero: Kuzco.
- Two in Enchanted: one hero, Prince Edward and once villain, Queen Narissa.
- Also King Candy AKA Turbo from Wreck-It Ralph.
- Bloo from Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends.
- Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy. Deconstructed in the movie when he reveals that he thinks of himself as a "foul, wannabe loser."
- Zapp Brannigan from Futurama
- Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes. His response to seeing an image of himself is "Hello, handsome."
- Mok from Rock and Rule. One of his villain songs consists only of the lyrics "triumph in the power and the glory that is me".
- King Julien from The Penguins of Madagascar. "That is not very interesting to me, because it is not about me. See how that works?"
- Johnny Bravo is obsessed with exactly two things: Himself, and using that first thing to mack on as many ladies as possible.
- Azula from Avatar The Last Airbender.
- Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants all of his paintings and sculptures are images of him. Then there's also his rival Squilliam who is just like Squidward only more successful and with more hair.
- The Warden from "Superjail"
- In The Looney Tunes Show Bugs calls Daffy this.
- From Daria, we have Wind Lane, one of Jane's older siblings, who is a miserable, self-obsessed wimp. He feels the need to turn everything into a crying fit about how he's failed in his three marriages and will never be happy, just so he can stay the center of attention. Although really, Wind will use anything as an excuse to start sobbing without really doing anything to make it better himself.
- In the first few seasons, Quinn was a narcissist. Just look here.
- Trixie from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
- Danger Mouse is usually quick to point out he's the world's greatest secret agent. Agent 57 lampshades it when he assumes DM's form to help him in "The Spy Who Stayed In With A Cold."
- Chris Mc Lean from Total Drama. Chris's favorite thing is himself, to the point that he puts his image on many items that go along with the challenges.
- Justin as well. You almost always see him admiring his physique and face.
- Alejandro, though to a much lesser extent than the others. It's no wonder, considering he is heavily based off of Justin.
Oh yes, sure, go on, kiss the water!