"Why in the hell am I telling all of this to you?!"
By their nature, characters have problems, issues, traumas, and sundry emotional baggage they need to lay down, even if only for a moment. However, finding someone to confide in isn't easy. Some don't care about anyone else's problems but their own, some characters feel they can't trust their secrets to others (or outright know telling anyone they know their problem
won't end well), and a few feel that no one can really understand what troubles them.
Enter The Confidant. He or she or it (statuary and inanimate objects
can serve this purpose
, as can pets
) is the one person that the character can confide in
. The Confidant doesn't just listen though; they understand and keep the secret
, no matter how much it sucks
. They may or may not have profound, sensible, or well reasoned advice; sometimes just listening can help the character achieve an epiphanic Eureka Moment
. The Confidant can be any cast member or a one time only character. Interestingly, The Confidant isn't necessarily everyone's
Confidant; there may be a daisy chain of confidants in the story.
For extra kicks, they might be a powerful
or influential person who proceeds to use their connections to help the character. Though usually a Nice Guy
or gal, even a Jerk Ass
a softer side
this way. The Bartender
is often saddled with this as a professional hazard, whereas the Chatty Hairdresser
tends to treat their customers as their confidant. Often a trait of the Fixer Sue
. She is always there to listen to everyone's problems, even people who wouldn't ordinarily admit they had any problems to themselves
, much less admit them to another person, and Mary-Sue fixes them single-handedly. For these reasons, The Confidant provides a good way to get a character to spill out their guts without necessarily monologuing about how That Makes Me Feel Angry
Naturally, this is a common form of The Reliable One
. They are also likely to act as Love Confessors
This Stock Character
was used in ancient Greek drama, which makes it Older Than Feudalism
Anime and Manga
- In Saint Beast, Luca fulfils this role for Judas. Being The Quiet One and The Lancer, he makes a specialty of it.
- Inori Yuzuriha of Guilty Crown is this to the often troubled and uncertain protagonist. He makes a point of how she always stayed loyal to him, no matter how bad their situation got, or how everybody else turned on him.
- After a rocky start, Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion comes to spill many of his fears, troubles and daddy-related worries to Rei Ayanami. There's this poignant little scene where we see him comfortably talking to her in episode 22, after everything else has fallen appart.
- In Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai, Kyosuke becomes this to his younger sister Kirino after finding out her secret hobby and affirming that he'd support her.
- The World God Only Knows: Keima says that this trope is essential to conquests: "A girl's troubles are an ace in the hole; acquire them even if it costs your life." When he becomes this for Kanon, he believes his victory to be inevitable.
- In Holiday, Ned's main function is to provide his sister with a sympathetic ear and a timely pep talk.
- In Maleficent, the titular character's shape-shifting raven servant, Diaval, is meant to serve as her spy, but with him as her only company for sixteen years, he becomes this, as well as a companion.
- In the Heralds of Valdemar series, this is the primary purpose of the Monarch's Own Herald. The position was established soon after the founding of Valdemar as a way to give the Monarch, who as a Herald him/herself would feel The Chains of Commanding most forcefully, an absolutely trustworthy and incorruptible advisor. Queen's Own Talia exemplifies this, with the added bonus of being The Empath so Selenay doesn't even have to tell her how she feels.
- In Dragaera there are the Discreets, people trained to be the confidants of the powerful.
- On the Discworld, witches typically fill the role of confidant in their towns.
- In The Wheel of Time, Min is this for Rand throughout much of the books. Whether he is ranting or thinking out loud, she is always there for him - sometimes just listening, sometimes giving advice or opinions. As she does not have any political or power agenda of her own, this is one of her primary functions in the series. As Rand slowly goes insane, she is among the last that he ever suspects of being against him (obviously a large reason for that is because they are in love).
- Dido's sister Anna in the Aeneid. Such an archetype of this trope that Shakespeare referenced it in The Taming of the Shrew; see "Theater" below.
- Jeeves to Bertie in Jeeves and Wooster. Additionally, Bertie to most of his friends, although it's often because they're hoping to get Jeeves' advice and assistance secondhand.
- Mike to Psmith in the Psmith series; Psmith likes to have an audience, so he makes Mike his "confidential secretary and adviser."
- Isabelle Lightwood to her mother, Maryse about the problems in her parents' marriage in The Mortal Instruments.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Davos is this to the notoriously coldhearted Stannis, being one of the few men he can trust and show self-doubt in front of.
- The Man Who Carried Trouble has Bill pouring out his trouble to the title character.
- Vampire Academy:
- Sonya Karp realized Lissa was a fellow spirit before the majority of the cast. She kept the secret. She was also aware that her cousin Emily Mastrano was mother to Jill, an illegitimate daughter of royalty. She was Emily's sole confidant in that respect.
- Daniella Ivashkov was the confidant of Eric Dragomir. She knew he had an illegitimate daughter.
- One time on Cheers a guy came in looking for Gus, a bartender that used to work there, because he had a big problem that the other bartender would be able to help with. But Gus hadn't worked there for years. Finally Coach got sick of the guy going on and on about how great the other bartender was and took on solving the guy's problem himself. It involves the man's son and his fiancee, who is black.
Coach: It's a problem of communication. Here's what you do you get home, andyou sit the kids down, and you say to your boy - what's your boy's name?
Coach: Uh, Ron. What's Ron's fiancee's name?
Rick... here's what you say you say, "Rick, Ron..." Rick and Ron?
- On Supernatural Bobby got sick of Sam & Dean leaning on him all the time, especially when he had his own problem - Crowley (a Middle Management Mook type demon) had his soul.
- Sherlock: It's possible Molly was this role when Sherlock needed her to help him keep John safe from Moriarty since she helped Sherlock fake his death.
- Chloe Sullivan from Season 5 onwards, became this to Clark Kent in Smallville. Though, sometimes, the burden of keeping Clark's secret, along with his relationship issues, a Lonely Rich Kid who was a former friend of Clark's gets obsessive about finding Clark's secret, and his Love Interest not being too forefront herself, does get to her, and she lets Clark know about it whenever he's being inconsiderate, or upset because of any of the above.
- Annie Cartwright to protagonist Sam Tyler on Life on Mars (2006).
- On Glee, Quinn and Kurt become Confidants for Sam, after they learn by different ways (Quinn by dating him, Kurt by running into him when he was making pizza deliveries) that his family has lost their house and is living out of a motel room and a car. Both of them find ways to help Sam, and keep his secret even under extreme pressure when the WMHS rumour-mill starts turning in extremely unflattering fashion to all three.
- Niles Crane from Frasier often plays this role, usually towards his titular older brother and anyone who has a problem with said older brother. Almost every time Frasier gets into trouble, his very first reaction is to go running to find Niles in order to spill the whole story and/or ask for advice, which Niles always genuinely and thoughtfully (though sarcastically) delivers.
- Inspector Lynley has his confidant in his partner Sergeant Barbara Havers. Although he has other close friends in the show, two of them are Brother Chucked after the pilot and the other is his wife - who he either can't confide in because his issues have to do with her, or won't confide in about anything else for any number of other reasons. Meanwhile, he is also Barbara's confidant, where the issue is much more straightforward — he is the only person she has to confide in, period.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tara becomes this to the Slayer over her destructive love affair with Spike. Buffy is so traumatized that she had basically become her arch enemy Faith that she begs not to be forgiven.
- Spike himself acts in this role at the beginning of the season; a sign that she's drawn more towards him than to her friends. Spike offers an alternate explanation in "Once More With Feeling" — the fact that he's a vampire means that Buffy can tell herself her confessions to Spike aren't real like confiding to her friends would be.
- Nixon to Winters in Band of Brothers (and vice versa).
- Tranio to Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew.
"...And now in plainness do confess to thee
That art to me as secret and as dear
Tranio, I burn, I pine, I perish, Tranio,
If I achieve not this young modest girl.
Counsel me, Tranio, for I know thou canst.
Assist me, Tranio, for I know thou wilt."
- Hotel Dusk: Room 215's Kyle Hyde ends up doing this.
- In the Mass Effect 2 DLC Lair Of The Shadow Broker, it is possible for Liara to become this for Shepard, allowing Shepard to express his or her feelings of grief, frustration, or helplessness about the mission to Liara in a way that they would be unable to do towards any of their crew. This is an attempt by Liara to redress the fact that Shepard tends to act as this for everybody else.
- Ash from Noob subverts this when it comes to Tenshirock, with whom he shares an odd Villainous Friendship. The dialog between the two is 90% Tenshirock exaplaining Ash his latest plan to drive people off MMORPG or refusing to help with Ash's Real Money Trade activities and Ash snarking back. In Season 5, it turns out that Ash has been trying to pry a piece of information out of Tenshirock for several years and been gravitating around him in the hope he'd let it slip. When another character shows up offering Ash an information exchange with Ash being able to choose what he wants, his immediate reply is "I want to know Tenshirock's secret.".
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Kat becomes this to Annie, an antisocial girl who tends to bottle up her emotions. The fox spirit Reynard is this to both of them, and generally acts as a mediator in their friendship.
- Kat inverts this in the 'Catalyst' chapter, after she realizes that she's bisexual and kisses Paz. Annie walks in on the two, and Kat comments that if Annie knows it, she doesn't care who else does.
- In Homestuck Karkat is one of the few people willing to put up with Eridan's melodramatic shenanigans and take him seriously. Kanaya is one of the few people willing to put up with Karkat's rudeness and take him seriously.
- It's implied that a good moirallegiance involves the two participants becoming this to each other.