"You don't care about anything except you. You just want to persuade people that you love 'em so much that they ought to love you back. Only you want love on your own terms. Something to be played your way, according to your rules."
This trope is the logical conclusion
of an overconfident obsession with oneself. However, it is distinct from It's All About Me
in that it does not focus simply on characters who frequently display self-centered behavior (often for comedic effect
), but explores the mindset of characters whose behavior is strongly symptomatic of narcissistic personality disorder
The narcissist appears literally in love with themselves, present themselves as perfect, and expect you to agree. Moreover, while highly self-conscious of how others view them, they display little (if any) concern
for the thoughts and feelings of others and are largely indifferent to the harm they cause in furtherance of their goals
. However, unlike sociopaths
, they are not entirely
incapable of possessing redeeming qualities given that they can experience shame for their actions as well as sincere (albeit self-centered) affection towards 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 in unrequited love with the next person he saw - which was his own reflection in the river. Which he did until he died, whereupon his body was transformed into a flower.
A common characteristic of an Alpha Bitch
, Jerk Jock
, My Beloved Smother
, Pointy-Haired Boss
, The Bully
, The Fighting Narcissist
) or a Stepford Smiler
. Particularly sinister and dangerous examples often include The Social Darwinist
, The Übermensch
, Evilutionary Biologist
, and General Ripper
. When taken to the absolute extreme
, this trope is manifested by psychotic megalomaniacs who consider themselves gods
destined to subjugate everyone and everything to their will.
It is insufficient for a character to simply be extremely vain
or excessively preoccupied with one's selfish desires
to qualify for this trope. Rather, such characters must display (1) both
of these qualities along with (2) a glaringly apparent Lack of Empathy
as well as (3) a deep-rooted obsession with how they are regarded
in the minds of others (a trait manifested through pervasively domineering
behavior). Likewise, characters that act like arrogant, selfish jerkasses but nevertheless regularly serve others' needs
at the expense of their own are not narcissists.
Compare Small Name, Big Ego
, The Prima Donna
, Spoiled Brat
, Inferiority Superiority Complex
, and Black and White Insanity
. Compare and contrast The Sociopath
who combine the narcissists' extreme self-centeredness
with an insatiable craving for stimulation
, a complete lack of shame
, and an inability to form ANY
emotional bonds with those around them. See also Hollywood Personality Disorders
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Anime & Manga
- Doctor Doom. RIIIIIICHARDS became his nemesis because he blamed him for the accident which scarred his perfect face.
- As mentioned below Tony Stark / Iron Man.
- Lex Luthor hate Superman for holding humanity back...from worshipping him instead. While he's not incapable of empathy, he has trouble viewing his employees and allies as anything other than extensions of himself, and is a major Control Freak who cannot stand it when those around him have different opinions from him.
- In the Silver Age Luthor's hatred for Superman began when the latter as Superboy saved his life from a chemical fire after Luthor's experiment to create life went awry. Luthor not only blamed him for intentionally sabotaging his experiment, he also blamed him for turning bald as well. Now if that's not vanity, I don't know what is.
- Depending on the Writer, The Riddler can fit this trope.
- Depending on the Writer, Eddie Brock, the original Venom / Anti-Venom is sometimes referred to as a Narcissist when he's not being referred to as a Sociopath. He doesn't totally lack Empathy like a Sociopath but it's certainly "Never His Fault." (It's Spider-man's!)
- Brock probably better fit a Borderline Personality Disorder than either of those (albeit an extremly dangerous one).
- Vanity in all interpretations of The Smurfs. He spends most of his time admiring himself in a handheld mirror.
- A-Pex in Power & Glory, who brags about his invulnerable body of throbbing pink steel”, even though he has a crippling fear of disease that leaves him incapable of fighting anyone.
- 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!
- 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 is convinced he could play everyone else's position on the Quidditch team better than them. Harry makes it clear that McLaggen's ego wouldn't be worth putting up with if he was world-class.
- 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.
- Joe from Robots Have No Tails is nicknamed Narcissus by his inventor because he'd rather gaze at his own reflection than do anything. But, like real narcissists, he's not content to simply admire himself and must devise ways of hurting others—in his case, up to and including drugging one of his master's creditors/house guests.
Live Action TV
- Played for Laughs by Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock. 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 is viewed as narcissistic in the show and his spin-off show turns that into a Running Gag. On the DVD Commentary for "Billy", the writers admit they enjoy writing scenes showcasing Angel's "narcissism," although Angel's willingness to be self-sacrificing shows he cannot be a Narcissist in terms of the disorder. He has empathy, and is anything but self-centered. The Running Gag in series 2 builds to the finale arc where he finds himself in an alternate dimension. While the gang discusses their plight, Angel can be seen in the background utterly distracted by his reflection— which in our dimension he as a vampire cannot see. Once the gang has recovered from the shock of seeing him being able to reflect at all, Lorne has to forcibly drag him away from the mirror.
Lorne: "Come on, Gorgeous, you can stare at yourself in my grandmother's glass eye."
- Angelus possesses all of Angel's narcissistic inclinations with none of the compassion to off-set it. He cannot shut up and is one of the cockiest, most dangerous and sociopathic characters in the entire show.
- In a warped way, Spike loves Drusilla and Buffy. However, it doesn't stop him from causing pain for everyone around him. 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. However, he still retains his edge and in the Angel spin-off, Angel's Running Gag is expanded to include him as well, culminating in them competing for everything from their place in world-shaking prophecies to trying to "save" Buffy from her latest boyfriend simply because they feel inadequate against his prowess among women.
- Glory is one to an utterly ludicrous degree. She even forces her minions to constantly come up with new ways of praising her.
- The First Evil: "You think you can fight me? I'm not a demon, little girl. I am something that you can't even conceive. The First Evil. Beyond sin, beyond death. I am the thing the darkness fears. You'll never see me, but I am everywhere. Every being, every thought, every drop of hateï¿½" Doesn't look like modesty is this thing's strength.
- 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. Not only is the set shaped around his name (C-shaped desk and all), he's also convinced, among other things, that the "gay agenda" is to make him, personally, gay.
- 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.
- It's 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".
- Cody Rhodes was like this during his "dashing" persona from 2010-2011 and had a digital mirror during his entrance.
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.
- Beholders in Dungeons & Dragons take this to an extreme. Each considers itself to be the pinnacle of creation and the perfect reflection of the Great Mother, the deity that created them. Anything that isn't a beholder is barely worth noticing. Beholders of other breeds are hated foes that must be slain on sight. Beholders of the same breed are tolerated inferiors, except technically each Beholder is its own breed. Beholders are also very good at noticing even the slightest difference in another beholder. A beholder with slightly bumpier skin or a slightly sharper teeth is as much a hated rival as a beholder with more obvious differences. Every beholder's belief that it is a perfect reflection of the Great Mother is justified because the Great Mother is a shapeshifter who adopts a form that matches that of the beholder looking at her thus reinforcing the beholder's narcissism. If all this seems crazy, that's because it is. The Great Mother is completely insane by human and even beholder standards.
- Vyers of Disgaea both thinks and speaks very highly of himself, but he is actually a very nice guy.
- Vega from Street Fighter also combines this with The Fighting Narcissist.
- Ditto for Narcis Prince in Super Punch-Out!! whose name also doubles as a pun. He likes to brag about how beautiful he looks, but he goes absolutely berserk in the fight should you punch his face.
- In Endless Space, the Horatio faction was founded by an eccentric trillionaire who cloned up an entire regime of allies, servants, and slaves (including Opposite Sex Clones) with some Imported Alien Phlebotinum he found on a planet. (Out of boredom, no less!) He then decided to fill the galaxy with the most beautiful thing he knew of — himself.
- Supplementary material for Sword of the Stars reveals that the Locust are an entire species of trans-carbon narcissists. "Narcissus could only dream of an experience like it."
- Fawful from Mario & Luigi. Any game. He speaks of himself in third person in a positive way, puts his own image on everything and everyone in the world and seems to want everyone to view him like he does himself. Generally, he's an extreme narcissistic with Mind Control technology gone insane with power.
- Everyone in the series qualifies, more or less. One of the Mario Party games had its Excuse Plot be that every character wanted a land they found to be named after themselves!
- Florent L'Belle from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies would be like putting Vega on the stand. Always overflowing with self-praise for his own appearance, he even has his own line of beauty products that he publicizes but refuses to actually market (weird as that sounds). Fitting, as both are Capcom creations.
- When it comes down to it, Hazama/Yuki Terumi from BlazBlue is pretty much this in a nutshell (and The Fighting Narcissist because it's a fighting game). His mindset is so simple being "I am the most awesome being in the world, so the world better run on my tastes, or else", and when someone else questions or objects to that opinion, he flips off. To drive the point home, in Japanese he refers to himself with the incredibly self-aggrandizing pronoun "ore-sama".
- In Mass Effect, this is subverted with Miranda Lawson. Created to be perfect in almost every way, she at first acts like one, but digging deeper reveal that this is a mask for a person with a severe Inferiority Superiority Complex and deeply self-loathing. Her father, Henry Lawson, on the other hand is a very clear example, creating Designer Babies like Miranda using only his DNA. Of course, this is the least of his problems.
- Phoebe And Her Unicorn: 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.
- Aranea Serket is almost certainly a clinical narcissist. No matter how she spins it, Aranea's grand scheme for the universe ultimately revolves entirely around assuaging her own boredom and being seen as a god and savior. She also proves herself to be almost totally void of empathy, being willing to incapacitate, Mind Rape, or even outright murder anyone who gets in her way. The only thing potentially stopping her from being a full-bore sociopath is her apparent capacity for affection (e.g. for Meenah and Vriska).
- 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.
- Ménage à 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 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 The 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 Foster's 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."
- Both Zapp Brannigan and Bender 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, in the first few seasons, Quinn was a narcissist. Just look here.
- Trixie from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Even after character development and becoming a ally she frequently lies to make herself look better and obsesses over how others perceive her.
- 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 McLean 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.
- Prince Daring Charming of Ever After High. The fact he always carry's a mirror to look at himself makes it really obvious.
- Pizza Steve from Uncle Grandpa.
Oh yes, sure, go on, kiss the water!