Sour Outside Sad Inside
This character is harsh and mean. They are deliberately abrasive and cruel. It's all a facade
though. In truth they're just depressed and fearful, trying to intimidate people into leaving them alone
. Like a hedgehog, this characters bristle with spikes in order to protect themselves
. Intimacy scares them. Perhaps because they've been hurt before?
This is a common method of creating a Jerkass Woobie
by being introduced as a jerk that the audience hates, only for character development to reveal that they're really just scared of getting close to anyone.
Often overlaps with the Broken Bird
who has similar feelings of depression, isolation, and fear of social interaction due to a Dark and Troubled Past
. Broken Birds, however, tend to be passive, while this character is proactive about driving people away. May cultivate and revel in their jerkass
reputation. If their hidden persona is discovered it is possible they might react with Don't You Dare Pity Me!
Compare with Tsundere
and Jerk with a Heart of Gold
, where a character can use a harsh and abrasive personality to conceal a sweet or loving side
. The Stepford Snarker
is somewhat similar, hiding their sadness and insecurities under snarkiness, but not necessarily such a Jerkass
about it. In anime fandoms this character is referred to as a tsunshun
In Real Life
, frequent swings between angry and aggressive reactions and anxious/depressive ones is a hallmark of Borderline Personality Disorder.
Contrast Knight in Sour Armor
Anime and Manga
- Asuka Langley, from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Her Broken Bird past, for example (her mother Kyouko going insane and treating a doll as Asuka in place of the real deal, and then killing herself) leads her to be extremely rude to most people...well, except Kaji and Hikari. However, when left to herself Asuka shows that she has almost no self-esteem and struggles to overcome it.
- Accelerator, from To Aru Majutsu no Index and To Aru Kagaku no Railgun. Being experimented on, forcing people away and being attacked on a constant basis because of his ability makes him more unbalanced than depressed, but he still uses his abrasive attitude to try to distance himself from others. Sometimes he acts more like a standard Tsundere, others he acts like a Tsunshun.
- Arguably, Kanda Yu from D. Gray-Man. His Dark and Troubled Past is a very good reason to hate the Order. He doesn't even make a secret out of it.
- Kyo Sohma, from Fruits Basket. Being the black sheep (cat) of the Zodiac has put immense pressure on his shoulders, which he covers up with his attitude. He gets over much of his negativity as the series goes on, mostly due to Tohru.
- Same with Rin. She began to act cold and distant to cope with her parents abandoning her as a child, to the point where she is incapable of expressing genuine feelings of concern for others. At several points she coldly tells Hiro and Tohru that they should butt out of her business and that "kind people should stay in their kind little worlds", only to later reflect that it came out much worse than she meant it to - she really just didn't want nice people end up hurt and broken like she was.
- Natsume, from Hidamari Sketch. Her feelings towards Sae cause her to overreact and act rude towards her before stomping away. One of the chapters (the only one to not be in 4koma style) helps explain the reason for her attitude. Sae also acts this way, but only when she deals with her younger sister.
- Ririchiyo Shirakiin, from Inu X Boku SS. Being virtually ignored by her family in favor of her sister and the bullying she went through as a kid because she's rich leads her to be rather unsociable at first. This facade lasts only about five minutes, for Ririchiyo either walks away to sulk somewhere or actually opens up to you and shows her Spoiled Sweet side. She's also the Trope Namer for the term tsunshun, as the term was coined In-Universe by Nobara Yukinokouji to describe Ririchiyo.
- Ryoko Ookami, from Ookami San.
- Shiva, from Saint Beast. He's got all of the tsun which covers up his fears of inferiority and frustration at not getting what he wants. Kira also counts to a degree with the issue being Fantastic Racism, but his Big Brother Instinct reveals his dere side more frequently.
- Taiga Aisaka, from Toradora, a deconstruction of tsundere. Also known as the "Palmtop Tiger" because of her fierce Tsun-ness. Moved into an apartment when her parents got divorced, because she could not get along with her mother and stepfather. Her father also makes promises that he has no intention to keep. As the series goes on, she becomes emotionally stronger and Ryuji and others help her stand on her own again, culminating with both a True Love's Kiss with Ryuuji and her decision to come back home, so she can mend her broken family life before marrying him.
- Victorique, from Gosick. At first emotionless due to being locked in a dungeon for several years and being forsaken by her father, she warms up because of Kujo and they become happily married at the end.
- Ichiko Sakura of Binbo Gami Ga seems to be your average Spoiled Sweet rich kid. Up close, however, she's quite a massive Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who thinks of nothing but herself. Behind that, however, lies a sad, broken little girl who just yearns for the loving care of her parents, whom she hadn't seen since infancy, not to mention the fact that she is still being haunted by a horrible betrayal by a girl she once trusted. All that trauma ultimately turned her into the Alpha Bitch she has become when the series started. It came to the point that even her Sitcom Archnemesis, resident Jerkass Goddess Momiji, slowly started to mellow out to her and even become her Trickster Mentor, helping her reconnect with humanity and bring back the kindness she used to have.
- Kyoko Sakura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. At first, she seems to be a mean, selfish girl who believes that Magical Girls should use their powers for their own purposes. But as the series progresses, it's revealed why she acts this way: Her family fell into destitution after her preacher father was excommunicated and when he found out that his followers increased and came back was due to Kyoko's Magical Girl powers from her wish compelled by Kyubey and not from people actually believing in him, he killed his family and himself and only she survived, which resulted in her the inability to trust anyone. It is only when she learns about the Awful Truths of being a Magical Girl and when she saves Sayaka from Homura that she starts to get over her sourness, which culminates in her performing a Mercy Kill to witch!Sayaka and sacrificing herself so Sayaka wouldn't be alone.
- Nishigami from Shindere Shoujo To Kodoku Na Shinigami, who tells his class not to get close to him on his first day at school because he believes everyone he gets close to will die.
- Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets.
- Katherine Brooks, the principal of Queen's Academy in Anne of Avonlea. She hates teaching, but as a plain, single woman who is determined to be independent, she has no other options, locking her into a career that is slowly sucking the life from her. Anne's relentless goodwill towards her eventually breaks through the sour shell, and a visit to Green Gables goes a long way towards easing the sad inside.
- In Smallville, Oliver may be this, especially in season nine. Chloe might be a mild example on her worst days, but with what she has gone through...
- Derek Hale from Teen Wolf mainly communicates through aloofness and threats of bodily harm. Which makes a lot of sense when you remember he was sexually manipulated as a kid. By a grown woman. Who then burned down his home with most of his family in it.
- One could interpret Eric from Power Rangers Time Force as being this. Trip even scans him in one episode and finds that he's a good person but he's lonely.
- Shizune Hakamichi from Katawa Shoujo turns out to be this, and it's hinted that it's in part to compensate for her deafness, and because she's actually extremely lonely and frustrated over her inability to keep friends.
- Aoba from Family Project due to issues with her parents and later her grandfather tends to treat others in an extremely hostile manner. It's quite rare for her not to be either a jerkass or completely disinterested.
- Touko Fukawa from Dangan Ronpa, due to never having friends in the past. For worse, she has a Split Personality... the Serial Killer known as Genocider Syo.
- Vriska is hiding a lot of angst under that 'Bluh Bluh Huge Bitch' attitude. She only shows this to John.
- Similarly to Vriska is Karkat, who hides a lot of self-loathing under his angry exterior.
- Zimmy in Gunnerkrigg Court: She's a creepy, grimy, nasty teenage ex-street kid Reality Warper with Power Incontinence with only one friend, gentle Power Nullifier Gamma. It's explicitly stated that Zimmy drives people away to protect them from getting trapped in her hell-world and getting their souls stolen.
- Yuudai is an angry, loud-mouth jerk who claims to "hate everybody"... except he actually doesn't. Word Of God confirms that Yuudai suffered some pretty hardcore abuse not too long ago, and in reality is so afraid of being hurt again that he pushes everyone away. Due to this, he is very sad and lonely, but maintains a sour exterior to hide his feelings— which works remarkably.