[[quoteright:269:[[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sgnwoin_823.jpg]]]]

->''"The optimist sees a light at the end of the tunnel,''
->''the pessimist sees nothing but the dark of the tunnel,''
->''the realist sees a train at the end of the tunnel,''
->''and the machinist sees three idiots standing on the tracks."''
-->-- '''[[GermanHumour German joke]]'''

Which best solves problems? ThePowerOfFriendship, or a [[KillHimAlready bullet between the eyes]]?

The answer depends on where the series falls in the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.

A story can be idealistic or cynical towards any idea. In general, if the story values or is hopeful for a particular ideal, then it is idealistic. If the story criticizes, assaults, and [[AccentuateTheNegative accentuates the negative]] about that expectation, then it is cynical.

For a simple, archetypal example, let's assume that the idea to believe in is HumansAreGood[=/=]RousseauWasRight. In idealistic series, [[FriendToAllLivingthings those who believed it]] got [[ThePowerOfFriendship lots of friends]] and a HappyEnding (therefore, RightMakesMight), while cynical series are {{Crapsack World}}s where [[WideEyedIdealist those who believed it]] got ruthlessly bullied by [[HumansAreBastards everyone else]] (therefore, MightMakesRight). Of course, the definitions of "Right" and "Crapsack" in the above can technically mean whatever one wants them to mean.

However, be careful not to confuse idealism with [[TastesLikeDiabetes straw optimism]], cynicism with [[StrawNihilist straw pessimism]], and the scale as a whole with the SlidingScaleOfSillinessVersusSeriousness. Also note that when this applies to characters, this does not mean good or evil. After all, it's perfectly possible for an idealist to be [[KnightTemplar evil]], and a cynic to be [[KnightInSourArmor good]]. Likewise, a very cynical series could be quite [[LighterAndSofter lighthearted]] (see also: CrapsaccharineWorld), conversely a very idealistic series could be extremely [[DarkerAndEdgier dark]]. It's also true that [[BlackComedy comedies]] can be cynical as all hell (see also: {{Satire}}), and dark dramas can end [[EarnYourHappyEnding idealistic]] (see also: AWorldHalfFull).

See also: TheIdealist and TheCynic for the archetypal characters. For how both sides often portray each other, see WideEyedIdealist[=/=]SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids, and GrumpyBear[=/=]SillyRabbitCynicismIsForLosers. See CynicismTropes, and IdealismTropes for lists of each.

This particular sliding scale can be the topic of fierce debate. Each person will have a different point which they tend towards. Therefore, this scale is most useful in targeting demographics and those who are sympathetic to a certain world view, and identifying where on the spectrum one's own work is.

CerebusSyndrome describes a shift from comedy to drama and this often also results in a shift from idealism to cynicism. ReverseCerebusSyndrome is the inversion. When shows [[ZigZagged Zig Zag]] between the two, they're on a CerebusRollerCoaster.

* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/AnimatedFilms
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/AnimeAndManga
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/ComicBooks
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/FanWorks
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/{{Film}}
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/{{Literature}}
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/LiveActionTV
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/{{Meta}}
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/{{Music}}
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/NewspaperComics
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/RecordedAndStandUpComedy
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/TabletopGames
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/{{Theatre}}
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/VideoGames
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/{{Webcomics}}
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/WebOriginal
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism/WesternAnimation