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[[quoteright:200:[[Webcomic/{{xkcd}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/anti_nihilist.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:200:"Life may be meaningless.\\
The future is not."]]
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->''"There can't possibly be any meaning in this world. But isn't that wonderful in its own right? Because if there isn't any, we can find our own."''
-->-- '''2nd Lt. Felicia Heidemann''', a {{Moe}} ShellShockedVeteran, ''Anime/SoundOfTheSky''

Basically, an Anti-Nihilist, Existentialist or Optimistic Nihilist is someone who decides to be ''[[TheParagon nice, heroic, caring, loving and/or compassionate]]'' for the same reasons the StrawNihilist decides to be ThePessimist SocialDarwinist OmnicidalManiac.

This is the sort of character that goes by doctrines along the lines of "Don't cling to pain. Don't expect happiness. Don't fear loss. Accept reality as it is. Enjoy the good. Endure the bad. Don't make a big deal out of anything. Be selfless, and unconditionally kind and just, without ever expecting a reward. We're all going to end up as piles of dust, so why not be nice to each other and get those pleasant fuzzies?"

Instead of angsting all the time about "[[CrapsackWorld Life is short]], [[DownerEnding we're all gonna die]] [[YouCantFightFate and you can't stop it forever]], [[PutThemAllOutOfMyMisery thus we might as well start killing each other right now]]", this type thinks more like "Life is short, we're all gonna die and you can't stop it forever... [[YouAreNotAlone so why not make each others' lives worthwhile and enjoyable?]] [[ForGreatJustice The only thing that matters is letting people know that you care about them, because whatever someone is, has, or can do doesn't mean a damned thing in the end]]." The Anti-Nihilist is someone who knows how cynical the world is, and decides to stick to a particular value and make meaning out of it, [[WhatYouAreInTheDark because they know how utterly meaningless, pointless and nonrewarding life is if you don't.]]

The Anti-Nihilist is very likely to adhere to a {{Utilitarian|ism}} morality to work ForHappiness, although this isn't a universal rule; there are Anti-Nihilists whose morality might border on self-made BlueAndOrangeMorality. Expect this declaration of nihilism to be uttered as a form of [[ShutUpHannibal shutting up other nihilists']] [[BreakingLecture lectures]] [[DespairSpeech on Despair]] and how HumansAreMorons. Thus, very likely to take form as a [[WorldOfCardboardSpeech World-of-Cardboard]][=/=]PatrickStewartSpeech. It will likely include SillyRabbitCynicismIsForLosers because this guy is enjoying himself while the other guy wallows in misery.

Another distinguishing feature of the Anti-Nihilist is their tendency to [[ScrewDestiny consider concepts like "fate" and "destiny" complete hogwash]]. After all, if the future is set in stone, they're already going to do what they plan on doing, ''so it doesn't matter anyway''. Might as well have fun with it and do some good. This very attitude may even make them ImmuneToFate by simple virtue of not giving a flip about what the normally [[SelfFulfillingProphecy Self-Fulfilling Prophecies]] say. Some anti-nihilists manage to ScrewDestiny in the face of an ironclad prophecy via LoopholeAbuse, and may do so simply for the joy of eliciting a FlatWhat from the Fates and cynics.

Compare DeterminedDefeatist, who is pessimistic not about the world but about his own chance of success, but has a similar "let's try anyway" mentality. See also {{Ubermensch}} for the type of person who believes in creating their own meaning and morality, but may not be quite as caring or considerate of others in the process. May choose to be a SmallStepsHero; though they don't believe there's any real "Bigger Picture" to fight for, that means the little pictures are more important.

May overlap with KnightInSourArmor, who is character that, besides his cynical views, decided to be a good guy not because of the beliefs that it can change the world for better, but just because is the right thing to do.

IAmWhatIAm is the process of embracing the Anti-Nihilist worldview.

The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche is closer to this trope than it is to TheThemeParkVersion of nihilism described under StrawNihilist.

See UsefulNotes/{{Existentialism}} for the philosophy that encourages living in Real Life as this character.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Reigen from ''Manga/MobPsycho100''. His life philosophy is that, even if fate's dealt you a bad hand, you can still make something with your life. Also, just because there's AlwaysSomeoneBetter than you at something does not in any way invalidate your own talents. And Reigen says all of this [[BadassNormal despite having no psychic power of his own]]. This philosophy and outlook on life helped Mob start having his AGodIAmNot tendencies.
* The main conflicts in ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' have shades of this, with the HotBlooded protagonists representing this trope while their opponents appear to be {{Straw Nihilist}}s. [[spoiler:[[WellIntentionedExtremist There's more to them than that]], but they're still ''very'' depressed people]].
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'':
** [[CrazyAwesome Jack Rakan]].
--->'''Jack:''' Truth? Meaning? That crap ain't got nothing to do with my life!
** Fate Averruncus appears to be growing into this. [[spoiler:[[SincerityMode Thanks a lot, Rakan-san.]]]]
* In ''Anime/{{Madlax}}'', the eponymous heroine is a gun-for-hire in a civil war-torn country, yet this only makes her more appreciative of life and its small everyday joys; e.g. she visits her client and target ([[SuicideByCop same person]]) on the night before his assassination to comfort him. In the end, it is she (or [[spoiler:the part of Margaret corresponding to her]]) who defeats the StrawNihilist of a BigBad.
* Mikasa Ackerman of ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' openly acknowledges that she lives in a CrapsackWorld, but keeps fighting because, as long as she has Eren, she has something to live for.
-->'''Mikasa:''' This world is a cruel place. But it is also very beautiful.
* Elmer C. Albatross of ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'' has this exact outlook. The guy had a horrible childhood and as a result adopted this sort of unsettling StepfordSmiler personality and obsession with happiness. He feels the world sucks so much that it's important to be happy.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'':
** Shinji Ikari grows into this trope at the end of ''[[TheMovie End of Evangelion]]''. With all the hell he's put through, and with the [[MindRape horrifying]] EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt, it would make sense that he would jump into the DespairEventHorizon and become an {{omnicidal|Maniac}} StrawNihilist, especially when [[spoiler:Rei gives him control over the fate of humanity]]. Nevertheless, he [[spoiler:lets the AssimilationPlot fail, and]] chooses to live life as an individual. Based on how you interpret it, ''Evangelion'' itself is loaded with Existentialist themes, like Jean-Paul Sartre's "[[Theatre/NoExit Hell Is Other People]]" (in ''Eva'', the so-called Absolute Terror Field surrounding all souls), but at the same time affirms that being alive and suffering are parts of life and that happiness can be achieved.
** Kaji also has very strong traits of it. He knows more about what's going on than almost anyone else, yet he's the only character who appears genuinely happy. During one very close battle against an Angel that appears to be the final moments before the end of the world, he is watering the melon patch he is growing, with the battle being visible in the distance. If the world does not end on that day, then the melons need to be watered. If it does, then it won't matter what he is doing in the final moments anyway. Either way, he can't do anything to change what's going to happen in the next ten minutes.
** [[spoiler:Yui Ikari]] is also revealed to have been an optimist despite everything she knew about the darker secrets of the world. She believed that, so long as you were still alive, it was possible to find happiness no matter what.
* The character Panaru in episode three of ''Anime/BoogiepopPhantom'' is respected for having this philosophy and teaching it to others.
* [[spoiler:[[ShellShockedVeteran Filicia Heideman]]]] from ''Anime/SoundOfTheSky''. [[WarIsHell The things she went through]] constantly haunt her. She concluded that, perhaps, life doesn't have any particular purpose, and made herself one in taking care of her new unit, even if it takes [[ToBeLawfulOrGood commiting treason to stop a war.]] [[LesYay And, she has Rio.]]
* Makina from ''Manga/CorpsePrincess''. The final scene in the anime is of her repeatedly punching her archenemy Hokuto (a fellow fighting-zombie) in the face after all is lost: it's the first time she ascribes meaning to her existence.
-->'''Makina:''' You're not an undead! You're alive! And so am I!
* Main point of ''LightNovel/KinosJourney'': "The world is not beautiful, therefore it is".
* In ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'', [[spoiler: Madoka, although exposed by the Incubators to the pitiless CrapsackWorld that fed on despair, chose in her sacrifice, and also as a reply to Mami's claim that death would be easier and her apotheosis would be a FateWorseThanDeath, to instead believe that if somebody told her that it's wrong to hope, she'll tell them they're wrong countless times. As long as they can remember her, [[YouAreNotAlone they were not alone]]. Homura Akemi]] [[CharacterDevelopment also grows into this kind of character]] [[spoiler:to honor her [[AbstractApotheosis sacrifice.]]]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Homura Akemi:''' Even though this world is without witches, that doesn't mean there are no curses. The distortions of the world change form and target people from the darkness. This may be a world without salvation and where nothing but sadness and hatred repeat, but it's still a place she once tried to protect. That is something I remember, something I will never forget. That's why... I will keep fighting.]]
** In ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion'' [[spoiler: Homura has a conversation with an AmnesiacGod Madoka, which makes Homura believe that Madoka only sacrificed herself [[ChronicHeroSyndrome because she had to]] and not because she wanted to. This, [[JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind as well as the journey]] [[LotusEaterMachine through her own subconscious]], actually causes Homura [[ILetGwenStacyDie to reject her previous position]]. (For the record, her subconscious includes girls shouting "[[GodIsDead Gott]] [[BilingualBonus ist]] [[Creator/FriedrichNietzsche tot]]!" while throwing tomatoes, which indicates Homura has really resented Madoka's sacrifice.) At the end of the movie Homura becomes an {{Ubermensch}} and undoes Madoka's sacrifice...[[IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy because she believes that it's what Madoka really wants]] (and also because it's what Homura herself really wants).]]
* Lelouch from ''Anime/CodeGeass'' ultimately believes in people's desire for the future and for peace. [[spoiler: So much so that [[HeroicSacrifice he willingly gives up his own life to finally bring peace to the world.]]]]
* Shiro in ''Anime/{{K}}'', who's in a lot of ways a LighterAndSofter version of Lelouch, has this philosophy, and it ends up sort of becoming the philosophy of the series - see the end of season 2 where [[spoiler: Shiro tells Nagare that he's okay with destroying the Slates because all they really need is a warm meal and friends to share it with - and Nagare realizing as he loses that he also would have been happier enjoying that than trying to upend the world.]]
* In ''Manhwa/TheTarotCafe'', immortals tend to find themselves jaded and disgusted with life. Pamela proves herself to be this trope when she talks to Belus [[spoiler:actually the ''very'' crazed and angry demon Bellial]] at the end of the series.
-->'''Pamela:''' It took me a long time to accept this abnormal life of mine... but going through so much made me realize that it's not how long one lives that's important... it's ''how'' one lives. I choose to live happily.
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', while Zoro would be the last person to talk about the inherent beauty of the world, he's still deeply invested in protecting his crew and honoring the memory of his friend, he's just as much a Romantic as the rest of his crew, he just doesn't happen to go on about as much. This also overlaps with some Buddhist ideology. He also started as a guy who didn't care about anything but his own strength.
* ''Anime/DevilmanCrybaby'' has Akira Fudo. While he can be idealistic at times, he's not too naive to believe that love and peace can solve everything, and he becomes aware of what a harsh reality the world actually is after becoming a Devilman. Nevertheless, he still chooses to fight demons, and despite being gradually broken by the countless losses he experiences, he doesn't lose faith in the will of humankind, believing that when faced with the impossible it's better to fight back than do nothing.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'':
** Despite being totally batshit psycho, Rorschach is a textbook example. Instead of abandoning rules and discipline due to a nihilistic outlook he decides his rules and principles are all the more important in a world that has no more meaning than the one we impose on it.
** Dr. Manhattan also develops into this by the end.
** Rorschach's therapist, Malcolm Long, who becomes influenced by his philosophy, also comes to a similar conclusion. When his wife tells him not to intervene in a street fight, he says: "I have to. In a world like this... I mean, it's all we can do, try to help each other. It's all that means anything..." [[spoiler:And then they--and half of New York City--die. Not exactly a subversion, but certainly tragic.]]
** [[UnreliableExpositor Rorschach describes]] The Comedian as being someone who understood the pointlessness of life and never let that fact stop him from trying to make it better. In truth, The Comedian was a StrawNihilist who felt that life being meaningless made morality meaningless as well and gave him an excuse to do whatever he wanted, including raping and murdering people.
* Franchise/{{Batman}}, DependingOnTheWriter. The victim of a seemingly random and meaningless tragedy, young Bruce Wayne could have decided that life itself was meaningless and succumbed to depression and nihilism. But instead he chose to focus on what his parents meant to him and to Gotham, re-inventing himself as a force for order and justice, which stands in direct opposition to The Joker's strain of chaos and destruction. There's actually a surprisingly deep (if unsubtle) quote in ''Film/BatmanAndRobin'' which captures the existential nature of Batman's character.
-->'''Alfred:''' Death and chance stole your parents. But rather than become a victim, you have done everything in your power to control the fates. For what is Batman if not an effort to master the chaos that sweeps our world, an attempt to control death itself?
* On the subject of Batman, ''ComicBook/TheKillingJoke'' offers a similar philosophy, with SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker as a StrawNihilist and Batman and Commissioner Gordon as this trope. The Joker firmly believes that "one bad day" is all it takes to shatter a person's perceptions of morality and order, driving them just as crazy as he is. To prove it, he shoots and paralyzes Barbra Gordon (while Commissioner Gordon watches), then kidnaps the elder Gordon and drags him to a dilapidated amusement park, where he's stripped naked, beaten, and forced to view gigantic photos of his daughter's nude, crippled body. When Batman arrives, the Joker delivers a [[BreakingSpeech long speech]] about how, by driving Gordon insane, he's proved that all of humanity's struggles are ultimately pointless--life is simply a "monstrous, demented gag." But as it turns out, Gordon is ''fine''--he not only managed to resist going crazy, he even insists that Batman capture the Joker "by the book" to make a statement about law and order still working. Batman, for his part, remarks that he's heard the Joker's "gag" interpretation before (presumably when his parents were killed), and still doesn't find it funny. In short, both Batman and Gordon acknowledge that life ''is'' sick and twisted, which means that imposing structure on it through principles like justice and kindness is all we ''can'' do.
* Despite hanging out with various Norse gods and calling [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Thor]] "oathbrother", ComicBook/BetaRayBill qualifies.
-->'''Bill:''' If there is nothing but what we make in this world, brothers... let us make good.
* ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye'': Minor character Ore was killed in the first issue, the annual (coming out between issue 8 and 9) has him temporarily revived, and his dialogue reveals him to be one. At one point Swerve asks if he's a believer of in any science or religious answer to life.
-->'''Ore:''' I'm not '''anything.''' I just think... pfft. What do I think? I think that life is violent and cruel--and precious. Yeah... I think you don't have to believe in a '''higher power''' to be overawed by the world around you.
* Optimus Prime becomes this in ''ComicBook/TheTransformersIDW''. This might also be a case of RealityEnsues as to the effects of being at war for millions of years would have on one's psyche.
* ''ComicBook/AllStarSuperman'' turns Superman into one. Due to his advanced senses, he can actually ''see'' the way the universe works: a vast, intricate mechanism of connections. The universe merely chugs along indifferently, and the only thing that matters are our connections to each other. The only thing in this vast machine worth protecting is ''life.'' [[spoiler:When Luthor temporarily steals his powers, he experiences this for himself and is moved to tears.]]
* The Terrible Eye from ''ComicBook/TheUnbelievableGwenpool'' is actually ''thrilled'' at the prospect of the afterlife being just eternal darkness and nothingness. Understandable, since her research of magic has led her to believe afterlife is a never-ending nightmare akin to those in ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' or ''Manga/{{Berserk}}''. TheNothingAfterDeath is a vast improvement over ''that''.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Harry himself, in ''Fanfic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality''. He knows that there is no God or meaning to the universe, so he decided to ''become'' God, and... [[UnusualEuphemism optimize]] things. This is also the fundamental difference between him and this 'verse's Voldemort. Voldemort saw an uncaring world and said "[[StrawNihilist Why not be evil]]?" Harry saw an uncaring world and said "Why not be good?"
* In ''Fanfic/ImmortalitySyndrome'', Blossom and Buttercup become {{Straw Nihilist}}s after [[spoiler:they die and are brought back to life]]. Once it happens to Bubbles though, she decides that yes, there is pain and suffering in the world, but that's all the more reason to spread love and joy [[spoiler:rather than kill everything to end it all]].
* This is the primary aesop of ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos''. Despite the extreme CrapsackWorld and JerkassGods around them, Sonic and friends decide that helping others is the only hope to make things better.
* [[OriginalCharacter Kyoji]] [[OmnidisciplinaryScientist Nakamura]] in ''Blog/ThePredespairKids'' explains this as his mindset in a conversation with Mukuro Ikusaba.
--> "The concepts many of us hold so dearly in our lives, such as love, peace, kindness, happiness, and justice are meaningless. They are merely ephemeral concepts manifested by our own minds. And yet, it’s precisely because they’re so ephemeral that I value them so much. In my vocabulary, meaningless is not synonymous with worthless. The most meaningless things in the world are, to me, the most valuable and important."

[[folder:Film – Animated]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'', Buzz Lightyear experiences a major HeroicBSOD when he realizes that he's a toy and not a real space ranger. This trope comes into play when he accepts who he really is and what he ''can'' do.
-->'''Woody:''' [[YouAreNotAlone Look... over in that house is a kid who thinks you are the greatest, and it's not because you're a Space Ranger, pal.]] It's because you're a toy. You are ''his'' toy!\\
'''Buzz:''' [[HeroicSelfDeprecation But why would Andy want me?]]\\
'''Woody:''' Why wouldn't Andy want you? Look at you! You're a Buzz Lightyear! Any other toy would give up his moving parts just to ''be'' you. You've got wings! You glow in the dark! You talk! Your helmet does [[BuffySpeak that... that... that "whoosh" thing]]! ''You'' are a cool toy! As a matter of fact, you're too cool. I mean--[[AlwaysSomeoneBetter I mean, what chance does a toy like me have against a Buzz Lightyear action figure? ...Why would Andy ever want to play with me, when he's got you?]]\\
(Buzz contemplates the "ANDY" marking on the sole of his shoe, and becomes resolute)\\
'''Buzz:''' ...Come on, Sheriff. There's a kid over in that house who needs us. Now let's get you out of this thing!
* ''{{Disney/Zootopia}}'' introduces ZPD Chief Bogo as a textbook example of DaChief - cynical, short-tempered and having exactly zero patience for NaiveNewcomer Judy. However, it slowly becomes apparent that he has HiddenDepths that are in line with this trope, as well as KnightInSourArmor. When a dismayed Judy confesses to feeling like she "broke" the city (by [[spoiler:accidentally helping ignite a new flare-up in [[FantasticRacism racial tensions]]]]), he comforts her with uncharacteristic gentleness.
--> '''Bogo''': Don't give yourself so much credit, Hopps. The world has always been broken. That's why we need good cops...like you.

[[folder:Film – Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Collateral}}'' shows how one of these might be created. Max starts the film as an idealist and a dreamer, contrasted with StrawNihilist Vincent. After a series of [[HannibalLecture lectures]] from Vincent, Max eventually throws his philosophy back in his face--[[spoiler:yes, Max's life is meaningless, and yes, if he continues living it the way he currently is, he'll never achieve his dreams, so why shouldn't he risk his own life to try to stop Vincent?]]
* A number of protagonists in Creator/WoodyAllen films are people who don't believe there is much more to life than misery and unhappiness, but desperately search for meaning in their existence, and/or simply find a way to enjoy themselves while they can. They may also seek to "escape" their reality, either through overactive imaginations (some of Alvy's childhood memories in ''Film/AnnieHall'', for instance) or more mysterious, generally unexplained {{Plot Device}}s (''Film/MidnightInParis'').
** In ''Film/AnnieHall'', a number of Alvy's opinions on life and relationships ''reek'' of pessimism and nihilism, best exemplified by the film's opening lines: "There's an old joke, um... Two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life--full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly."\\\
This, however, is turned around when Alvy shares another joke at the very end of the film[[note]]This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs."[[/note]] and rationalizes that he has a reason to endure all of the absurdity and suffering "because he needs the eggs". The theme is also exemplified through Dr. Flicker's viewpoint in his talk with young Alvy and his mother, when young Alvy had concluded that nothing is important because the universe is expanding and everything in existence will fall apart.
---> '''Dr. Flicker:''' It won't be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we've gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we're here!
** In ''Film/MidnightInParis'', Gil finds his reality to be unsatisfying and his work as a Hollywood screenwriter to be worthless. He wishes to escape it all, and he does. However, he later concludes that there is no escape as life and present-day realities are always unsatisfying for everybody, and one ''has to'' live with it. The story concludes with Gil, having decided to leave his "Golden Era", finally finding meaning and joy in his own contemporary era.
** In ''Film/StardustMemories'', [[AuthorAvatar Sandy Bates is a director of many comedy films who started to tell more serious stories]] because he started finding life to be too miserable and full of suffering and nothing seemed funny to him anymore. [[FilmWithinAFilm His latest movie]] is about delivering a message along the lines of "No matter who you are or what you did, your life is headed for a garbage dump." He desperately searches for meaning in life, discovering that he'd find it in love and enjoyment in such, despite maintaining that everyone is just headed for the metaphorical "garbage dump".
** In ''Film/HannahAndHerSisters'', Mickey decides to kill himself, because he feels that existence is meaningless. After he bungles it, he goes to the streets, and eventually wanders into a movie theater, where a Creator/MarxBrothers film is playing. After a while, he starts enjoying the film.
--->'''Mickey:''' I started to feel, how can you even think of killing yourself, I mean isn't it so stupid? Look at all the people up there on the screen, they're real funny, and what if the worst is true. What if there is no God and you only go around once and that's it. Well, ya know, don't you wanna be part of the experience? You know, what the hell it's not all a drag. And I'm thinking to myself, jeez, I should stop ruining my life searching for answers I'm never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts. And after who knows, I mean maybe there is something, nobody really knows. I know maybe is a very slim reed to hang your whole life on, but that's the best we have.
** Play for laughs in ''Film/PlayItAgainSam'', Allan's philosophy is quite close from an existentialist one:
--> '''Allan''': It's quite a lovely Jackson Pollock isn't it ?
--> '''Museum Girl''': Yes it is.
--> '''Allan''': What does it say to you ?
--> '''Museum Girl''': It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos.
--> '''Allan''': What are you doing Saturday night?
--> '''Museum Girl''': Committing suicide.
--> '''Allan''': What about Friday night?
* Phil in ''Film/GroundhogDay,'' eventually. Nothing seems to keep the day from repeating, not even suicide, so he might as well help out.
* In the famous final scene of ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian'', the cast cheerfully sings about the importance of always looking on the bright side of life even in our super-shitty world. [[SoundtrackDissonance While being crucified.]]
-->Life's a piece of shit\\
When you look at it\\
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.\\
You'll see it's all a show,\\
Keep 'em laughing as you go.\\
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.
* In ''Film/TheSeventhSeal'', Block ultimately becomes this. He can't find God or any meaning in life, so his final quest is to perform some meaningful act to validate his life. He attempts to distract Death to let Mia and Jof and their young child escape alive by overturning the [[ChessWithDeath game of chess]] that could result in his death. Death simply resets the pieces, saying he is glad that Block got some joy out of the altruistic gesture, but also implying that it changed nothing.
* According to Rufus in ''Film/BillAndTedsExcellentAdventure'', the entire future will be based on this:
-->'''Rufus:''' Be Excellent to Each Other and Party On, Dudes.
* In ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'', Ultron claims humanity is doomed no matter what happens, so there is no point in protecting them. [[spoiler:Vision]] admits that he agrees humanity will one day be gone, but it's still worth delaying the inevitable in exchange for seeing the beauty they are capable of.
* Creator/MorganFreeman's Detective Somerset becomes this by the end of ''Film/{{Se7en}}'', exemplified by his final line (an Creator/ErnestHemingway quote):
-->''"'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for'... I agree with the second part."''
* In ''TheZeroTheorem'', the son of management, Bob, believes in the Zero Theorem, the idea that everything ultimately adds up to nothing (meaning life is ultimately without any actual higer meaning) but sees it as a source of joy and reassurance opposed to Qohen who finds this idea depressing:
--> '''Qohen''': How would anyone believes such a horrible thing?
--> '''Bob''': What's so horrible? I believe it. Nothing's perfect, nothing lasts forever, there's nothing to worry about!
** But as he says so himself, he's young enough to believe anything, even that it might be wrong.

* The title character of ''Jacques the Fatalist'' is (obviously) TheFatalist, and since he believes everything that happens is preordained, he appreciates the good things and reacts with stoicism toward the bad ones.
* Attila József: "Why should I be honorable? I'll be laid out regardless! Why shouldn't I be honorable? I'll be laid out regardless." ("Miért legyek én tisztességes? Kiterítenek úgyis! Miért ne legyek tisztességes? Kiterítenek úgyis.")
* Ralph, Piggy and Simon in ''Literature/LordOfTheFlies''. The primary theme of the novel is the regression of humans when removed from the rules and order of society. Ralph and Piggy ruminate on the fact that structure and meaning of the "real world" doesn't apply to their island, but they still commit themselves to maintaining order and peace. All the others, without anything to control them, quickly fall into anarchy and violence.
* Many ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' books have this theme, especially ones focusing on Death and Sam Vimes, which pretty much reflects Creator/TerryPratchett's RealLife views.
** This is a significant plot point in ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'': Death is convinced that the real reason for concepts like the Hogfather (and the reason [[spoiler:the Auditors]] want to destroy them) is [[spoiler:training - if you learn to believe in the little lies, you can believe in the big ones, like, for example, [[StrawNihilist justice or mercy]]]]. Susan affirms her belief in the necessity for this belief, and, in possibly the most [[CrowningMomentofHeartwarming heartwarming moment in the story]], Death agrees:
--->[[AC:'''Death:''' [[spoiler:You need to believe in things that aren't true; how else can they ''become?'']]]]
** [[MagnificentBastard Lord Vetinari]] (the most competent and benevolent tyrant [[WretchedHive Ankh-Morpork]] could ever hope for) might well be one, as he repeatedly gives cynical speeches about the inherent [[HumansAreBastards evil]]/[[HanlonsRazor stupidity]] of people, yet the very first time he gives such a speech (at the end of ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'') Vimes immediately points out that he still bothers to get out of bed in the morning.
** Stated most succinctly by Brutha in ''Discworld/SmallGods''. When Om points out that they'll all be dead in a hundred years, he replies: "But here and now, ''we are alive!''"
** The golem Dorfl, the first of his kind to gain autonomy, decides that the only sane response to being responsible for one's actions is to only take actions you can be proud of.
* The entire plot arc of the first two ''[[Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy Hitchhiker's]]'' books is basically a large argument for this. '42' is supposedly the Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything. However, '42' is just a random number Creator/DouglasAdams chose, a placeholder for the idea of 'meaninglessness', but at the same time is so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh and have fun with it. The characters spend the best part of the series searching for some kind of meaning to the madness, but in the end realize that the universe is random and silly, like the number '42'.
* The books of ''Literature/HisDarkMaterials'' end up coming around to this theme, more or less, with a bit of a FantasticAesop courtesy of Dust. But it's former nun Mary Malone who first reaches the conclusion: that though once she felt that no God meant no purpose to the world, the need to keep Dust alive, that is, wisdom, curiosity, education, and kindness, gives the worlds purpose. In other words, "There is now!"
* The Knights Radiant in ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive''. Their philosophy centers around the idea that since everyone dies eventually what matters is not your fate, but how you got there. Hence what they call their First Ideal:
-->Life before death.
-->Strength before weakness.
-->Journey before destination.
* [[FirstPersonSmartass Christine]], the narrator of the novel ''[[Literature/FactionParadox Dead Romance]]'' thinks like this when she's dismissing one of her friend's uber-depressing, {{Wangst}}y poetry:
-->'''Christine:''' What I'm getting at is that in a pointless, empty universe a good time is as meaningless as a bad time, so you might as well slap on a smile and get on with your life.
* The narrator of Ted Chiang's short story "Exhalation" is watching his universe wind down to equilibrium. Rather than despair, he implores future explorers to "contemplate the marvel that is existence and rejoice that you are able to do so. I feel I have the right to tell you this because, as I am inscribing these words, I am doing the same."
* An oft-paraphrased passage from Loren C. Eiseley's "The Star Thrower" illustrates this trope and its overlaps with SmallStepsHero and/or DeterminedDefeatist:
-->While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference.]] He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, [[SillyRabbitCynicismIsForLosers "It makes a difference for this one."]] I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.
* The ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'' novel ''Literature/DarkRendezvous'' actually depicts the wise, eight-hundred-something-year-old ''Yoda'' in this light. Specifically, when a Padawan expresses angst regarding Asajj Ventress's nihilistic philosophy, Yoda claims, "Right she is!"... then softens to "Maybe," and says that he's gone back and forth on whether or not there's a higher meaning and concluded that one should live their life to the fullest anyway. The point where he says, "suppose there is no Force" sounds ridiculous on the face of it, considering that this is strong-in-the-Force Jedi Master Yoda talking--but also sounds suspiciously like an author's views on the implications of whether or not God exists, with "the Force" substituted for God. Or it could be that he means that "The Force" is a false concept, like calling lightsabers Light and blasters Dark.
-->'''Yoda:''' Grief in the galaxy, is there? Oh, yes. Oceans of it. Worlds. And darkness? ''[points to a star map]'' There you see: darkness, darkness everywhere, and a few stars. A few points of light. If no plan there is, no fate, no destiny, no providence, no Force: then what is left? Nothing but our choices, ''hmm''? Asajj eats the darkness, and the darkness eats her back. Do that if you wish, Whie. Do that if you wish. To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night, Padawan: but choose!
** This also shows up in Creator/MattStover's ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'' works, perhaps most concisely at the end of his {{novelization}} of ''Literature/RevengeOfTheSith.''
-->The dark is generous and it is patient and it always wins – but in the heart of its strength lies its weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back.
-->Love is more than a candle.
-->Love can ignite the stars.
* This is the eventual moral outlook of Roger from ''Literature/TheBehemoth''.
* Lestat de Lioncourt from ''Literature/TheVampireChronicles''. Lestat essentially summarizes this philosophy when he says he can accept the lack of God, Satan, or eternal rewards or punishments, but not the idea that acts of human kindness lack value.
* This is the CentralTheme of most of Creator/CormacMcCarthy's novels: no matter the time or place, absolutely monstrous evil has always existed, and will always exist. In the midst of an unrelenting cold and dark world, there will still be those who will [[ArcWords carry the fire.]]
* [[CoolOldGuy Thom Merrilin]] from ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' quotes an old poem when musing on his journey thus far:
-->We can't go back, Mat. The Wheel has turned, for better or worse. And it will keep turning, as lights die and forests dim, storms call and skies break. Turn it will. The Wheel is not hope, and the Wheel does not care, the Wheel simply is. But so long as it turns, folk may hope, folk may care. For with light that fades, another will eventually grow, and each storm that rages must eventually die. As long as the Wheel turns. As long is it turns....
* Anargrin, the main character of the ''Literature/TheAngaranChronicles'' is this incarnate, as well as many of his colleagues in the [[VampireHunter Hunters]]. They find purpose by opposing the repressive theocratic regime of the continent of Angara.
* Meursault, the protagonist of ''Literature/TheStranger''. An incarnation of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absurdism the philosophy of the Absurd]], Meursault has concluded during his time as a student (precisly when he droped his studies) that life was ultimately futile, as ''everyone'' has to die at some point or another. As such, Meursault considers everything as pointless and doesn't care about his image, his relationships or love, and always speak his mind truly. While the Prosecutor and the Chaplain, opposing Meursault, find the idea of a completely meaningless and final life soul-destroying, Meursault really doesn't mind and is perfectly content to live through his daily and pointless routine, enjoying life's sensual pleasures as they come, but not really yearning for them. Once imprisoned and deprived of all his immediate pleasures (swimming in the sea, liying on the sand, women, smoking cigarettes, etc) and his freedom, Meursault quickly learn to adapt and be happy with this life as well, occupiying his time between sleeping and minutely re-examining his memories. At the end of the novel, [[spoiler:having spent his lasts weeks fearing for his near execution, Meursault (after his confrontation with the Chaplain) finally makes peace with his death and the insignificance of human existence and ceasing to hope for another life, concludes that he is happy with his life and realizes that he always has been so]]. If this guy isn't the best exemple of an Optimistic Nihilist...
--> '''Meursault''': I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I'd been happy, and that I was happy still.
* ''Literature/ImperialRadch'': Breq gives a speech to this effect in ''Ancillary Mercy''.
-->'''Ekalu:''' And so what's the point, sir? What's the point of talking about training and promotions as though it's all going to just go on like it always has?\\
'''Breq:''' What's the point of anything?\\
'''Ekalu:''' Sir?\\
'''Breq:''' In a thousand years, Lieutenant, nothing you care about will matter. Not even to you - you'll be dead. So will I, and no one alive will care. Maybe - just maybe - someone will remember our names. More likely those names will be engraved on some dusty memorial pin at the bottom of an old box no one ever opens. And that thousand years ''will'' come, and another and another, to the end of the universe. Think of all the gries and tragedies, and yes, the triumphs, buried in the past, millions of years of it. ''Everything'' for the people who lived them. Nothing now.\\
'''Ekalu:''' [[DeadpanSnarker I'll have to remember, sir, if I'm ever feeling down, that you know how to cheer me right up.]]\\
'''Breq:''' The point is, there is no point. Choose your own.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Inherent to all of Creator/JossWhedon's work.
** ''Series/{{Firefly}}'':
*** Mal fought for freedom and honor in [[TheWarOfEarthlyAggression The War Of Government Aggression]]. He lost, and has come to terms with that. But at the same time, he refuses to be a slave or a thug--even when the entire 'Verse insists that he has to obey a higher authority or act against his principles to survive, he remains Captain Malcolm Reynolds. And he aims to misbehave.
*** Simon also has something of a tendency toward this. He specifically states that acting morally means even more out in the black without an authority to impose it.
*** River recognizes that all meaning is "imbued" and thus there really is no "meaning" to begin with. River has a surprisingly positive outlook on life, and sees things in a very innocent way (i.e. the loaded gun everyone was freaking out about took the form of a harmless stick in her mind). [[Recap/FireflyE14ObjectsInSpace "Objects in Space"]] is actually an exploration of these two character types, juxtaposing River against Jubal Early, who's definitely a StrawNihilist. Faced with the same realization as River, Jubal's response was to become a complete psychopath who tortured his puppy.
** ''Series/{{Angel}}'':
*** Series/{{Angel}}'s defining moment in season two is the revelation that life has no purpose or meaning, thus making even the tiniest act of kindness an end in itself. He carries this philosophy throughout the rest of the show, and it plays heavily into all of his actions. One could argue that it's the show's defining theme, and even [[BolivianArmyEnding the finale]] is all about this. Angel's {{Koan}}:
--->If nothing that we do matters, then all that matters is what we do.
*** Wesley outright states the existential nature of the character Angel (as well as the series itself) when he says:
---->'''Wesley:''' There is a design Angel, hidden in the chaos as it might be. But it's there. And you have your place in it.
*** Contrary to Angel, his son Connor also encounters an existential crisis, but he acts as a [[{{Foil}} mirror image]] to his father by going the opposite route and becoming a StrawNihilist.
* Thanks to CharacterDevelopment, the once callous and self-serving Jeff Winger has elements of this by the end of season 3 of ''{{Series/Community}}''.
** Pierce's mother leaves him a tape basically espousing this philosophy before she dies
-->'''Mrs. Hawthorn''': Life is only worth a damn because it's ''short.'' It's designed to be used, consumed, spent, lived, felt. We're supposed to fill it with every mistake and miracle we can manage.
* Dean Winchester of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' to some extent, at least up until episode 2 of season 4.
* Implied by Oma Desala in ''Series/StargateSG1''.
-->'''Oma Desala:''' The Universe is so vast, and we are so small, there is only truly one thing we can control; whether we are good or evil.
* From ''Series/BabylonFive'' we have Ranger Marcus Cole, who is always eager to annoy the relatively straight-laced military characters of the show with his input:
-->'''Cole:''' I used to think it was awful that [[LifeIsntFair life was so unfair]]. Then I thought, "wouldn't it be much worse if life ''were'' fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because [[LaserGuidedKarma we actually deserve them]]?" So now I take [[IronWoobie great comfort]] in the [[CrapsackWorld general hostility and unfairness of the universe]].
* Inherent in ''Franchise/StarTrek''. The Federation--or at the very least, Earth--is a whole society of Anti-Nihilists. Since there is no scarcity, the acquisition of wealth is pointless.[[note]]But whatever you do, don't tell the Ferengi that. They'll burn you for heresy![[/note]] Since they've OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions, religion is irrelevant. And since the universe is big enough for everybody, there's no reason to conquer or force people to serve you. Life is focused on individual accomplishment and/or happiness. People go out and find their own purpose--whether that might be exploring the galaxy, making great scientific discoveries, or just starting a farming colony.
* Rust Cohle in ''Series/TrueDetective'' has a deeply nihilistic and pessimistic outlook on life, and thinks that perhaps it would be best if the human race voluntarily extinguished itself. However, he still works as a detective. At the end of the series he looks at the stars, and realizes that once, it was ''all dark.''
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Syrio Forel:
-->'''Forel:''' There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: "Not today."
** Daenerys strives to be a fair and just ruler in a world that laughs at the very notion. Her principles and empathy for the downtrodden make her malleable and vengeful to those who harm her "children", and she is very much in pursuit of a high ideal in a world that only respects strength and cruelty, and even those are only temporary shore-ups of authority. Therefore, although from a family renowned as conquerors and although a good portion of the city she just escaped from would like nothing more than to see her dead, she ''still'' wants to immediately head back because doing good is in her blood and her people need her.
* ''Series/HouseMD'' is this, in his own way. As another character points out, he may hate his life, but at least he ''enjoys'' hating life.
* The Twelfth Doctor (Creator/PeterCapaldi) in ''Series/DoctorWho''. By the time [[TheNthDoctor this incarnation of the Doctor]] emerges, he has lived through such horrors as the Last Great Time War and the siege of Trenzalore (which lasted about 1,000 years), on top of the general misery inherent to a functional immortal who no longer has a family or peers to work as a support network, whose mortal companions will inevitably leave him one way or another -- but without whom he cannot hold himself to his chosen mission to be a healer who travels space and time helping others. In his debut story "Deep Breath" he tells the MonsterOfTheWeek that he no longer expects to "reach the Promised Land" after all the mistakes and sins he's made, in "The Zygon Inversion" he laments his Time War atrocities, and in "Face the Raven" (after betrayal and [[spoiler: the death of his beloved Clara Oswald]] break him utterly) says "I was lost a long time ago." But while his suffering sometimes results in rash decisions and unhappy fallout -- even a brief stint as a WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds at the end of Series 9 when the events of "Face the Raven" are compounded by horrifying torture and he is DrivenToMadness, with [[spoiler: Mind Rape]] needed to fully bring him back to his best self -- it also has convinced him that he no longer has anything to lose. He is that much more determined to be the man who saves people and atone for the mistakes he's made, giving him deeper empathy and compassion to allies and enemies alike. Post-Series 9, he is able to apply the lessons he learned from his painful stint as an AntiVillain to finally be the lover his previous selves were not to long-suffering "sweetie" River Song, and manages to [[EarnYourHappyEnding earn a happy ending]] in the process. And in "The Doctor Falls" at the end of Series 10, facing what he knows is probably his FinalBattle, he gives a WorldOfCardboardSpeech wherein he states that he's going to fight the Cybermen even if it kills him, even if his desperate gamble to save the under siege villagers is utterly hopeless, because it's simply what he does.
-->"Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall."

* Music/VanDerGraafGenerator tackles the subject with "Lemmings"; the first half dealing with the meaningless of life, and the second concluding that ending it all won't fix anything.
** They also tackle this subject more directly in "A place to survive", with the music affirming the hardships and futility of life but but encouraging the listener to never give up.
* This trope is prevalent in the album ''Lateralus'' by Music/{{Tool}}. The lyrics grapple with themes of alienation, helplessness, and disgust at the state of the world, but ultimately come to the conclusion that being bitter won't make things any better and that it's up to everyone to choose what makes their life meaningful.
* Music/MiseryIndex addresses this with "Gallows Humor" and "The Weakener": while falling into apathy and nihilism as a coping mechanism to deal with the fact that the world is full of awful things and horrible people is very easy to do, those horrors won't care about your lackadaisical, "so it goes" attitude when they're at your doorstep, and furthermore, the infectious quality of those attitudes is extremely harmful when something terrible is rising before your eyes and the people who see it for what it is are drowned out by the people who have chosen not to care. The essential gist of the two songs is that while nihilism is a very attractive way to deal with the fact that the world sucks, it's also very, very dangerous.
* Music/WithinTemptation's "Covered by Roses" addresses the fragility of human love:
-->Covered by roses
-->When this dance is over
-->We all know all beauty will die.
-->The choirs have awoken
-->Left no words unspoken
-->Remember you as long as I can
-->Hold you in my arms all night
-->And spill the wine until the end
-->We all have our place in time,
-->Need to live every moment
* The song "Matches" by Sifu Hotman, [[ColbertBump featured on]] ''Podcast/WelcomeToNightvale'' address this kind of mentality, and about how humanity is capable of truly awe-inspiring things, regardless of there being no greater purpose in life.
--> The reason I'm not a nihilist\\
Is someday I wanna live like they do in Star Trek
* Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra - "Kiss The Sky" has this philosophy too, specially the chorus
-->Too late to keep the world from dying
-->It's not too late to spread the love you have
* "Save Your Serpent...[=---=]..." by Music/EgoLikeness encourages this attitude:
--> Build no temple\\
Just remember\\
What you came from\\
Who you are\\
And you're owed nothing\\
Just feel lucky\\
To leave a trace of who you are.
* "Kill Your Heroes" from Music/{{Awolnation}} is a tract for this philosophy.
* "A Song About an Anglerfish" by Music/HankGreen is about a man who realised that the deep sea anglerfish is happy despite having no reason to be happy, and is trying to convince himself to also be happy despite having no reason to be happy.
-->For years this rule has kept me out of hopeless despair\\
You simply do not feel what is always there\\
I ask my brain to entertain that pain is the same\\
That if I feel it all the time, can you really call it pain?
* The title track from Father John Misty's album Pure Comedy presents a heavily cynical and nihilistic view of humanity, society and life in general before ending on a note of optimism and companionship.
-->Oh comedy, oh it's like something that a madman would conceive!\\
The only thing that seems to make them feel alive\\
Is the struggle to survive\\
But the only thing that they request\\
Is something to numb the pain with\\
Until there's nothing human left\\
Just random matter suspended in the dark\\
I hate to say it, but each other's all we've got

* Myth/NorseMythology has a variation as its CentralTheme. The mythology teaches that the gods are in constant battle to keep the universe intact. They all know it's doomed, yet continues to fight and are going to continue through Ragnarök until they have died. [[DoNotGoGentle It's better to try to win even if futile, than simply surrendering.]] Moreover, some prophecies of Ragnarök (DependingOnTheWriter) claim that although civilization will collapse and the vast majority of humans and gods will die, the very fact that they fought to exist will allow ''some'' kind of new cosmos to be rebuilt from the wreckage. For this reason, Creator/CSLewis considered Norse religion the noblest form of paganism, and wrote that if God told us he was dying, it was better to die nobly with him than to join the forces killing him and "win." Similarly, the ''Literature/PoeticEdda'' states: "Cattle die and kinsmen die, thyself too soon must die, but one thing never, I ween, will die,--fair fame of one who has earned." Though the Norse believed in several afterlives, they did not consider the deeds done in life as the key to a certain afterlife like [[WarriorHeaven Valhalla]], but the manner of death. Instead they spoke for giving oneself a good reputation because that was the only thing that would be left of them in this world.
* Traditionally considered the writer of [[Literature/TheBible the biblical book]] of [[Literature/BookOfEcclesiastes Ecclesiastes]], King Solomon is perceived as this by some, even to the point that some argue it inspired Buddhism to a degree. The book doesn't downplay the existence of God, but doesn't shy away from detailing the futility of human life or the acts of humanity as a whole, noting that the good can suffer and the wicked can prosper. However, it also recalls the joy to be found in various aspects of life and in doing good. Ultimately [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]; in the end, Solomon finally declares that man does, in fact, have a duty: to fear God and keep his commandments, because in the end, he will [[KarmaHoudiniWarranty bring all good and evil deeds into account]].
-->I also said to myself, "As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.
-->Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless.
-->All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
* Usually, this is the classical response of agnostics, atheists, deists, Epicureans and the like to accusations of nihilism and hedonism; since some theists think that if there is no god or gods (or the god in question is apathetic) who will give us a meaning in such a miserable life, everyone would be DrivenToSuicide. "The fact that we have only one life to live should make it all the more precious." Also, some philosophers say that one must find their own meaning in life, not a pre-made one.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Bleak Cabal in ''TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}'' is canonically an example of this. Life is meaningless and cruel so hey, no need to add more meaningless cruelty to it by your own actions. The Bleak Cabal runs Sigil's soup kitchens and asylum, and are at a whole a rather decent bunch even if most of them are insane to one degree or another. Sure, their actions won't make any difference in the long run (but in their view, ''nothing'' does anyway), but it helps ''today''. They may be the only example on the page that exist ''in the afterlife,'' surrounded by evidence of gods, and still hold to this philosophy. Of course, beholding a being of divine power and acknowledging it as an ''empirically'' superior being are two different things.
** A 2nd Edition ''Planewalker's Handbook'' described three "archetypes" for Bleakers, of which the middle one fits this trope well (and the first not at all):
--> Perpetually depressed: "Nothing means anything, so why bother doing anything?"
--> Perpetually cheerful: "Nothing means anything, so why not do anything?"
--> Perpetually mad: "Nothing means anything, so anything means anything!"
* The more idealistic characters in ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}''. Sure enough, the world is gangbanged from all directions by undead, Wyld mutants, demons, and other awful things. The folks in charge of defending it are too busy politicking. Heaven is a sham and a scam, and the patron god of heroism is a crack addict. But--and this is a massive ''but''--you're a hero, possessed of a power to drastically change the world. And by "hero", it's hero in an archaic {{Ubermensch}} sense: you get to decide what is right or wrong, answerable only to your own conscience (or the lack thereof).
* Nurgle, the Chaos God of disease and despair in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' and ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' is, surprisingly enough, like this. Yes, all things will eventually die and rot, and you will most likely never achieve your dreams, but does that matter? Instead of angsting over it or spending you life trying to reach an impossible goal, you should just be happy with what you have. Nurgle loves you no matter what you do. Of course he is the god of disease, so while he genuinely does care for you, his idea of caring involves "gifting" people with terrible diseases...
** Well of course. Diseases are made out of millions of lifeforms. Someone needs to love those too.
* Similar to the Bleak Cabal above, this is also canonically the attitude of the faithful of the Sovereign Host in ''TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}''. People of Khorvaire know for a fact that the afterlife is a dreary, gray wasteland known as Dolurrh where the best they can hope for is for their soul to slowly fade away into nothingness. The gods are unresponsive, and even angels and fiends can't say whether they even ''exist''. Despite that, the Sovereign Host teaches that life is for living and people should find meaning in creating the world they'll leave behind. Nearly every other religion's teachings have a hard time with this truth and include some idea about how ''their'' [[{{Cult}} faith will]] [[TheUndead let them]] [[PathOfInspiration escape Dolurrh.]]
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'':
** Arguably, the Abzan clan, from the Plane of Tarkir. Yes, life is tough and food is scarce... but that just means it's all the more important to look after each other and what little nature exists in the desert that they live in. They prioritize family, and every family has a tree that they protect with their lives. This stems from their colors: primarily white (emphasizing community) with some green (emphasizing nature) and black (emphasizing pragmatism).
** The more sympathetic interpretations of the Black color in general fall under this. All the other colors focus on ways to shape the world to one end or other, but Black encourages its followers to live the best lives they can in a harsh, cruel, unreasonable world that cannot be meaningfully improved or changed.
** The Aetherborn, introduced in Kaladesh, take Black's stand on this (above) to its extreme. They are born with the knowledge that their lives are very short, and so are determined to live life to the fullest. This even extends to their deaths, as rather than holding a funeral, an Aetherborn near death will hold a party, with mandatory attendance of friends and associates.
--->''[[http://magiccards.info/aer/en/67.html "Death might come tomorrow, but today—today I am alive."]]''\\
''[[http://magiccards.info/kld/en/87.html "When you have the chance, take it. Laugh, sing, dance. Don't allow the night to end.]] [[http://magiccards.info/kld/en/76.html When the time comes, let go. Nothing lasts forever."]]''

* In ''Theatre/AvenueQ'', the main character, Princeton, starts off as a fresh-out-of-college idealist searching for his purpose in life. By the end of the play, [[spoiler:he still hasn't found it and fears he may never find out why he even exists. To comfort him, the other characters say that very few people, if any at all, find their purpose, and the best thing to do is just enjoy life as it comes, because nothing is going to last forever.]]
-->Don't stress, relax, let life roll off your back. Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now.
* ''Theatre/TheBookOfMormon'' plays with this trope. [[spoiler:At the end, the cast concludes that Mormonism, as with all religions, most likely isn't true. However, if it spreads good morals and makes people happy, than there's no harm in believing in it anyway.]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** This is the life philosophy of the [[MindHive geth]]. [[spoiler:The usual philosophical conundrums of organics are easily answered by the geth: Why do we exist? What happens after death? For the geth, they were created to be menial labor for the quarians, and their memories are archived after "death". Since they are no longer performing their original task and have been "disowned" by their "gods", they have created their own purpose: total unity of their MindHive in a single giant DysonSphere platform (though a more accurate analogy would be a Jupiter Brain). The true geth (which Legion is from) want to do so on their own terms along technology paths they find themselves, while the heretic sect took an easier, more controlled path under the command of the Reapers.]]
** [[spoiler:Javik]] eventually has to face the prospect that he may ''outlive'' the chance to get revenge on the Reapers and will need a new purpose in life. [[spoiler:Unless you suggested he use the Memory Shard. In which case he will kill himself.]]
* The ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'': "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." There is no God. There is no Devil. There are only [[HumansAreFlawed Flawed Humans]], the children of flawed {{Precursors}}. So if we wish to live in peace, prosperity and freedom, ''we'' must build a civilization that permits those things.
-->'''Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad:''' ...laws arise not from divinity, but reason. I understand now that our creed does not commend us to be free--it commends us to be wise.\\\
'''Ezio Auditore da Firenze:''' ...merely an observation of the nature of reality: To say that nothing is true is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic.
* ''Franchise/MetalGear'':
** Solid Snake adopts this outlook. He doubts whether or not his actions will make a difference in the long run and knows how brutal and senseless life can be, but still devotes himself to the cause of creating a more just, peaceful world by stopping the [[LensmanArmsRace proliferation of superweapons]], especially the eponymous HumongousMecha.
** Snake's predecessor, Big Boss, once had a very similar philosophy, but became a WellIntentionedExtremist and one of the series' main antagonists when he took romantic notions of being a soldier too far, [[TraumaCongaLine though it's hard to blame him for it.]] [[spoiler:He eventually returns to anti-nihilism at the end of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'', ending his long and storied life with a very fitting DyingMomentOfAwesome: He reconciles with Snake and reaffirms that world peace is WorthLivingFor, performs a MercyKill on a comatose old friend who had unwittingly become the keystone of the [[CrapsackWorld War Economy]], enjoys OneLastSmoke, and salutes the grave of his mentor (who was also an Anti-Nihilist who sacrificed her life and reputation to make the world a better place) before passing away. His last words?]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Big Boss:''' This is good, isn't it?]]
** Senator Armstrong of ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance'' has a sideways version of the Snakes' philosophy. He sees a world full of citizens pacified by empty principles and soldiers dying for causes they don't believe in, but rather than a world of peace, he wants to create a world of freedom - one where people can choose their own principles and fight for their own causes. He may not be able to end all war, but at least he can make sure that those who put their lives at stake are doing it for their own good reasons.
* VideoGame/BlazBlue: Jin Kisaragi [[CharacterDevelopment grows]] into this character eventually. He was a rather extreme example of a BrokenAce, talented, handsome, and admired by many for his efforts, but Jin himself found no meaning or pride in any of it and grew up to believe nothing in the world mattered except death itself. He soon realizes that the problems of the world are a lot bigger than he originally thought. He never lets go of his nihilistic views, but decides its better to fight against the corruption that plagues the setting than do nothing. His WorldOfCardboardSpeech sums it up.
* The ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'' series has traces of this outlook. The game setting is described as apocalyptic, with the world falling apart, and there being no signs of positive outcomes, no matter how much you preserve and struggle, but despite the bleak circumstances, the character carries on anyway, because in doing so, they carve meaning out of meaninglessness.
* Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog himself expresses such a view at the end of ''[[VideoGame/SonicStorybookSeries Sonic and the Black Knight]]''. As he puts it, every world will eventually end; the only thing you can do is live your life to the fullest in the time you have. This exact outlook of his, unknowingly to some, was established all the way back in the very first game in the form of a {{Tagline}} [[AllThereInTheManual on the Japanese box art]]:
-->''"Don't just sit there and waste your precious time. When you want to do something, do it right away. Do it when you can. It's the only way to live a life without regrets."''
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', this is the game's moral message juxtaposed against the antagonist Kefka who is a more traditional nihilist. At the end of the game, Kefka declares that everything lives only to die, and that most people will live lives devoid of any genuine meaning or impact on the world, then die and be forgotten one day. To him, all life is meaningless and insignificant. The party, particularly Terra, tell him it doesn't matter; the day-to-day struggles and triumphs, the love of friends and family, and the hope to improve one's lot in life, give life a meaning all their own and make it worth living.
* A life philosophy for many characters in ''VideoGame/PillarsOfEternity'', including a player character with a Philosopher background. One particularly important end-game WalkingSpoiler who sees the world this way is [[spoiler:Iovara, who was executed by the BigBad and his inquisition when she discovered the "gods" were artificial creations and the universe was, in fact, devoid of inherent meaning. She believed kith would be better off knowing the truth and making their own way in the world]].

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* It's not too uncommon for ''{{Franchise/Nasuverse}}'' protagonists to be Anti-Nihilists.
** In ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', Shirou lives his life by this sort of doctrine, even though he doesn't realize it. The "Unlimited Blade Works" route causes him to actively seek it, as he realizes his life is empty and the only thing he finds meaning in is selflessly sacrificing himself for others.
** ''{{VisualNovel/Tsukihime}}'''s protagonist, Shiki. holds a similar view. The main difference between his and Shirou's outlooks is that Shiki sees everything as meaningless because of his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, which force him to see the world and everything in it as being as fragile as cardboard, and as such can derive meaning for himself simply from living a good life in what little time he has (and he has even less than a normal person, also as a result of his powers).
*** That said, [[WordOfGod Nasu]] himself has come and said this small difference is enough to make so that Shiki and Shirou would never get along.
* During ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend'' [[TeenSuperSpy Yuuya]] is revealed to be this. A terrible thing he did as a child weighs on him enormously, but he uses it to drive him forwards and can be incredibly kind and thoughtful. Part of the plot of ''Holiday Star'' is him using his acceptance of what's happened and his refusal to reject the memory or the deed to [[HorrifyingTheHorror drive away a soul-absorbing spirit thing]], and spreading some of that sentiment to others.

* There is a ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' [[http://xkcd.com/167/ strip]] in which the white beret guy uses this trope when confronted with a more typical nihilist.
* [[http://asofterworld.com/index.php?id=767 This]] ''Webcomic/ASofterWorld'' strip sums it up pretty well. "Nothing matters at all. Might as well be nice to people."
* When the Shadowchild asks her what the importance of being good is, ''Webcomic/{{Digger}}'' has [[http://diggercomic.com/?p=294 this reply]]:
-->'''Digger:''' Because it's a cold, hard, miserable world sometimes, and there's suffering enough to go around without any of us making it worse.
* Dechs of ''Webcomic/AntiheroForHire'' once got a medium-sized [[HannibalLecture lecture]] from a mercenary out to kill him ([[CasualDangerDialog during the fight]]), about how his morals are meaningless and the people he protects would not return the favour and so on. Eventually the mercenary left, making it clear that he probably could win, but it [[MoneyDearBoy wasn't worth the risk]]; but it left him rattled and doubting everything. At the end of the chapter, [[MissionControl Wrench]] shakes him out of it by simply asking "does it matter if it matters?".
* [[http://dresdencodak.com/wp-content/gallery/stickman/2007-07-16-whistl_in_the_wind.jpg This]] ''Webcomic/DresdenCodak'' doodle uses a hole in the chest as a metaphor. While most people try to fill theirs up, the anti-nihilist enjoys it for what it is.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* WebVideo/{{Kurzgesagt}}: Cheerful, colorful videos that frequently describe with brutal honesty how harsh and uncaring the universe is, but always with an eye toward reminding the viewer that the lack of purpose in the universe means that each person is free to find whatever meaning they can, and that time is precious.
* The Wiki/SCPFoundation, [[NightmareFuel of all things]], features this with SCP-1281, which is a message from a dead alien race.
--> The galaxy is dark, empty and cold. It spins inevitably toward death. You will die too, one day. Perhaps you will have longer than we have. We hope so. But one day you too must vanish. Until that time, you must light the darkness. You must make the night less empty. We are all small, and the universe is vast. [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming But a universe filled with voices saying "I am here" is far greater than a universe silent. One voice is small, but the difference between zero and one is as great as one and infinity.]] And when your time is passing, [[FlingALightIntoTheFuture please send this message on]], so the next voice can speak against the darkness.
* WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic is developing into someone who thinks that life is stupid and the world has very few good things in it, but cares deeply about protecting children and displaying HonorBeforeReason UndyingLoyalty to the people he likes.
* This is ultimately the main message of Nemo Ramjet's web-novel ''Literature/AllTomorrows''; taking us through the overarching history of mans' future and then; when it's all over, saying that the important part isn't how things ended up, but in those individual moments of life throughout our history.
* In the final episode of Season 5 of ''Machinima/ArbyNTheChief'', Arbiter has some shades of this in his words to Trent Donnovich, who he discovered to be [[spoiler: having an affair while]] engaged to his friend/love interest Claire. Doubles as a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech.
-->'''Arbiter:''' It doesn’t surprise me that a dose of emotion would have a toxic effect on an emotion-deprived cretin like you. Who’s really the plastic one here? Your bleak outlook on life is poisonous. Maybe the world is a big sinking ship. But we can’t accept that as an inevitability and use it as an excuse to act like shitheads. We have to be the change we seek. We have to build something better for ourselves.
* Costa [=McClure=] of ''WebVideo/LovelyLittleLosers''.
-->'''Costa:''' And I'm not letting you give up, either. Because it is pointless. And so is life. But everyone else manages to suck it up.
* In the final episode of ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'' Volume 4, Ruby reveals herself to have developed into this in her letter to Yang; she's now aware of the bad things in the world, but has resolved to continue fighting the good fight anyway.
** The theme is also expressed in the Volume 4 theme, "Let's Just Live", and continues in the Volume 5 theme, the heroes may have suffered and lost, but they can resolve to fight on regardless.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}'': Bender, depressed at learning that as a robot, he has no Free Will and can only do what he was programmed to do, seeks solace at a Robot Monastery. The [[PunnyName Ab-Bot]] tells him that his order has accepted this, but rather than be depressed about the fact that their purpose in life is pre-determined, they choose to revel in fulfilling that purpose to the best of their ability.
-->'''Ab-Bot:''' Are we automatons? Yes. But we are ''magnificent'' automatons.
* Mr. Peanutbutter from ''WesternAnimation/BojackHorseman'' believes that "The universe is a cruel, uncaring void. The key to being happy isn't a search for meaning, it's to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually you'll be dead."
** As of Season 3, Bojack himself seems to have become one.
-->'''Bojack:''' See, Sarah Lynn? We're not doomed. In the great, grand scheme of things, we're just tiny specks that will one day be forgotten. So it doesn't matter what we did in the past, or how we'll be remembered. The only thing that matters is right now, this moment, this one spectacular moment we are sharing together. Right, Sarah Lynn?
* At the end of episode "Rick Potion no. 9" of ''WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty'', Morty is positively ''traumatized'' by the events: [[spoiler:After Rick ruined the whole planet beyond repair, they jumped dimensions to a reality where everything turned out fine but both of them had died soon afterwards, allowing main!R&M to bury their own corpses and blend in]]. In the later episode "Rixty Minutes", however, we see on two occasions that he has [[CharacterDevelopment coped with it]] in an anti-nihilistic way: First, when the rest of his family choose to use their new interdimensional TV channel package to look for realities where they were famous and successful, Morty says "I don't care about myself" in a relaxed, indifferent manner. Second, when Summer is about to run away from home from finding out [[spoiler:she was an unwanted pregnancy]], he stops her with a heartwarming speech talking about his earlier experience.
-->'''Morty:''' I'm [[spoiler:a version of your brother]] that you can trust when he says don't run. Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die. Come watch TV?
** Jerry (Morty's father) may also be one, given that he keeps going despite his entire life being terrible. The quote "Life is effort and I'll stop when I die!" sums it up.
* Pearl in ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'', particularly in the episode "Keep Beach City Weird", where she tells Steven that conspiracy theorists like Ronaldo are simply trying to find conflicts where none exist in an attempt to feel like their lives are more important than they actually are. Sounds pretty cynical, until you realize she's telling this to a ''kid'' in order to make him feel better.
-->'''Pearl:''' Oh, Steven. Humans just lead short, boring, insignificant lives, so they make up stories to feel like they're a part of something bigger. They want to blame all the world's problems on some single enemy they can fight, instead of a complex network of interrelated forces beyond anyone's control.
** Notably, it's also a bit hypocritical given that she does hold a very strict BlackAndWhiteMorality and wallows in self-pity every once in a while.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', in the episode, "All About Mormons". The town is introduced to a family of optimistic and kindhearted Mormons. When the family tells Stan of the story of Joseph Smith, Stan yells at them for believing in something so ridiculous and factually incorrect. Later, Gary, the family's youngest son, tells Stan that he doesn't actually believe in Mormonism, but it doesn't matter, as everything good in his life is because of his family's Mormon beliefs. Incidentally, Creator/TreyParkerAndMattStone would later go on to create Theatre/TheBookOfMormon.
* The titular character of ''WesternAnimation/{{Kaeloo}}''.

[[folder:Real Life]]
%%* UsefulNotes/{{Buddhism}} is considered by some to be an early example.
* Søren Kierkegaard's "Knight of Faith", one of the major influences to the Existentialist trope. You fully accept that following such stuff about God and ethics is ultimately an absurd goal in this life, but in contrast to the aesthetic "nihilist" and the otherworldly "knight of infinite resignation", you still prefer to make the most of it.
* Creator/FriedrichNietzsche's version of the Anti-Nihilist in particular is less of a "utilitarian" who works ForHappiness and more of a "Let's [[{{Ubermensch}} live by our own rules]] while being [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arete awesome,]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtus_%28virtue%29 manly/virtuous]] and [[Main/MagnificentBastard magnificent]] at it". It should also be noted that he pointed out that a way to make life suck a little less could be through charitable acts (note that he didn't say that it would make you happy, just feel less angsty/guilty/whatever).
* Creator/AlbertCamus, of ''Literature/TheStranger''. In his essay ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_Sisyphus The Myth of Sisyphus]]'' he argues that the absurdity (desire for man to find meaning and the Universe's indifference to this desire) of life is in fact an invitation for human beings to experience revolt, freedom and passion and not in fact a valid reason to commit suicide (which he argues is even ''more'' absurd than life itself), concluding with the thought that "The struggle itself [...] is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
* This trope is the basis of the website humorously named [[http://www.anus.com ANUS]] (acronym for American Nihilist Underground Society).
* For all his cynicism and for all the HumansAreBastards themes in his work, Creator/KurtVonnegut was a vocal secular humanist.
* Philosopher Thomas Nagel has an essay titled [[http://www.pitt.edu/~kis23/ABSURD.pdf "The Absurd"]] that basically arrives at this point after noting the absurdity of existence.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKR-HydGohQ This video]] was made after its creator visited Chernobyl. He describes the point of view as nihilistic in the video, and it sums up this trope simply and eloquently.
%%* UsefulNotes/{{Taoism}} is mostly about this trope, especially the original, philosophical Taoism.
* Creator/StanleyKubrick perfectly summed up this trope.
-->'''Kubrick:''' The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile, but that it is indifferent. But if we can come to terms with this indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.
* [[GoodBadGirl Greta Christina]] of the [[http://the-orbit.net/greta/ blog of the same name]]
* Comedian and musician Music/TimMinchin, as better seen in his [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoEezZD71sc address]] for a graduation ceremony in The University of Western Australia.
-->There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it.
* [[https://www.theverge.com/tldr/2017/4/11/15255852/final-fantasy-vii-level-99-reactor-circlmastr-meaning-life This gamer]] who decided that despite life's inherent meaninglessness and that against the epoch of infinite time no human accomplishment can possibly stand for more than a few centuries at best. He was determined to stamp his life with his only meaning. By playing the first half of the first level of Final Fantasy VII, [[LevelGrinding to max out his character's levels]] to level 99. Spending [[BeyondTheImpossible 500 hours over two years]] all for the goal of [[SubvertedTrope trolling a forum user that annoyed him.]]
-->Life does not have inherent meaning; to say that our lives are pointless and our achievements meaningless is to state the obvious. No matter how grand our achievements or how broad their scope, time turns all to dust and death destroys all memory. But that does not mean we cannot ascribe our own meaning to what we do. It is because nothing has meaning unto itself that we are free to create meaning, to make metaphor, and in doing so reflect on ourselves and our world.
* [[http://www.thelastbrokenhome.com/life-is-meaningless/ This guy]], who during a philosophy class in college, [[WeAllDieSomeday realized he was going to die like billions before (and after) him]], and that nothing could prevent it. While he briefly [[StrawNihilist ranted about the shortness of life, concluded that every choices taken in human existence were totally devoid of meaning, and that nothing will remain of us when we are gone]], he quickly adopted a much more positive set of mind: if death is inevitable, then 1) It renders all our fears obsolete and 2) It should make us even more happy to be alive. Camus sure would have approved this guy's way of thinking.
-->That life is limited and finite that it holds no real reason or meaning, does not mean it is not worth living, that it’s not worth trying, that it’s not worth enjoying. For we are here already, and will continue to be until whatever time God or nature determines we ought not to be. Till then – till our deaths – we are here. We’re here anyway. We’re here because – in some weird way – we’re meant to be here. And so, by whatever luck, we have days left to live. And in that class on that day, the seeds of a very important lesson were sowed…that to live the rest of my days, as I had lived the many days before that day – as a sad and sorry kid, weak of mind and body, and scared of most everything – seemed, well…stupid. Cause whatever the meaning of life, of this much I was certain… That on that day, and on this day, I stand above that ground rather than lay below it. And that’s not a thing to waste. And everything that scared me, and everything that worried me – some test, some cute girl, some misfortune or future I had no control over – all of it meant nothing. So, fuck that. It was time to be free.
* In real life, the concept of this trope can be described as "optimistic nihilism", which is explaned in [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBRqu0YOH14 this video]]. It's the idea that if universe doesn't have any plans for us and we don't know what happened before we were born and we won't be sentient once we'll die, there's nothing scary about being dead. Also, because we only get one chance, we might as well use that time to be happy and help others. And finally, because there's nothing after death, the bad things that happen to you during your lifetime do not matter.
* Creator/PattonOswalt described his late wife Michelle [=McNamara=] (a true crime writer who specialized in cold cases) as ''loathing'' the platitude of "everything happens for a reason", and countering with her own philosophy of "It's chaos. Be kind." He urges his audiences to do the same.