The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave, impartially.
A character who is far too idealistic for his or her own good.
It may be the Naïve Newcomer
who Jumped at the Call
— he or she has a huge
stack of comic books/movies/bards' tales, and thinks they're pretty Genre Savvy
. Unfortunately, their universe is more toward the cynical end
of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism than the stories they know
. Alternatively, they might just be generally nice people
whose idealistic attempts at solving the problems of their world turn out to go horribly horribly
awry as no one else plays by their rules
. Usually used as nothing more than a device to highlight the realism/grittiness/cynicism of the setting.
This character either becomes a victim of Trauma Conga Line
or Break the Cutie
, dies horribly
or acquires a coat of jade
post-haste. In settings that are still somewhat idealistic
, they might get off with just becoming a Knight in Sour Armor
, or the Morality Pet
to one. In particularly anvilicious
cases, expect deployment of Diabolus Ex Machina
to deal with them.
If the character remains triumphant and idealistic throughout, then it may be a case of Good Is Not Dumb
, The Pollyanna
, or even Stupid Good
. If their idealism drives them to turn evil
, they become a Well-Intentioned Extremist
While All Loving Heroes
are frequent victims of wide-eyed idealism, their suffering or sacrifice
can encourage them to become full-blown Messianic Archetypes
and inspire others in the setting to lighten up and thereby change the setting, unless they're a different kind of messiah,
in which case the setting is only cemented.
When The Hero
appeals to a group of people, often Least Is First
falls under this. Someone will likely tell them Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!
and they are just as likely to retort with Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!
Compare The Idealist
, Being Good Sucks
, The Pollyanna
, the Love Freak
, and The Ingenue
. If there are entire civilizations of Wide-Eyed Idealists waiting to be slaughtered, see also We Have Become Complacent
and Sugar Apocalypse
. Contrast the Grumpy Bear
, the cynic in an idealistic setting. See Turn the Other Cheek
and The Farmer and the Viper
. Not to be confused
with using literal wide eyes to show that a character is idealistic
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Anime & Manga
- Gilly the Perky Goth from Dork Tower.
- Steve in Gilbert Hernandez's "Love and Rockets X" story within Love And Rockets.
- Tomcat in the Jedi vs. Sith. He believes everything he hears in the songs and stories that claim the Jedi are invincible heroes. When he ends up in the middle of the battle against the Sith and sees Jedi dying in the mud with their non-Force sensitive comrades, it does not end well.
- Due to the way comic books have been since the end of the Silver Age, characters and stories have gone from escapism to complex story telling, usually in the form of being Cynical and Darker and Edgier types. Because of this, any hero who hasn't done so becomes this by default. Examples include:
- Superman. Even in the face of unquestionably dark odds, he still stands by his beliefs and ideals. He fully admits that the world isn't perfect, so he's not stupid, but he tries his damnest to make it better.
- Similar to the above, Spider-Man. While he's got a very misplaced reputation for being whiney and angsty (coming from the second two Raimi films playing up his Woobie points and the nineties being, well, the nineties), Peter Parker's main reason for being so popular isn't because of his powers, but because he'll always do the right thing, no matter what the world throws at him.
- Robin. All of them, except Damian, which plays against Batman's seriousness and the grimminess of Gotham. Dick stayed happy and upbeat after his parents died in front of him and became the Boy Wonder, Jason too, until the world broke him in A Death In The Family and broke him again in Under The Hood, Tim's entire reasoning for becoming Robin was that Batman needed one to keep him off the edge, and Stephanie's entire MO is to stay upbeat about everything even in the worst situation. Barbara too, though that shattered after The Killing Joke.
- Blaine in Hunting The Unicorn to Fridge Horror-inducing extents. He would help anyone who asked without question, which puts his Chronic Hero Syndrome in a completely different light. Greg has a point when he tells Blaine how lucky he is to have met Kurt, and that "all Kurt did was fall in love with him." As it turns out, people have taken advantage of his clueless nature before.
- Saori Tagawa from The Ikaris is a marriage counselor who boasts she has NEVER failed on saving a marriage. She also has a very idealistic outlook about love and marriage. Attempts to talk her out of it are met with a Shut Up, Hannibal! sharp retort.
- Téa from Ultimate Re Imaginings, right to the point of trying to brush off Joey's claims that his father was abusive, all the while he was sitting in a hospital bed.
- Vale, the heroine of the Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning, has a prominent idealistic streak. Back in her home district, she used to make up stories full of idealism, and even in the midst of the Hunger Games, she desperately wants to believe that there is good in everyone (despite what the "pragmatic voice" in her mind says). She undergoes quite a bit of Break the Cutie but never gives up her belief in the underlying potential for good in humanity. She eventually dies defying the Capitol in the hopes that it will prove a point to those watching, and in fact, this action does plant the seeds for the rebellion that occurs thirty years later in Hunger Games canon.
- Another example: District One's Obsidian is quite idealistic for a Career. For example: "Growing up and hearing stories of Hunger Games past, they had seemed like so much fun, adventures with fantastic, unimaginable riches and eternal fame as the victor's reward. A dream come true for a small, idealistic boy with a 'bright' future as a Career tribute lying ahead of him." However, in the arena, he experiences some Break the Haughty when the brutality of the Games come into conflict with his expectations and beliefs. He ends up winning the Games after Vale's death, but as a very broken shadow of the carefree Career he once was.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Brain Bot hopes that the Stardroids are peaceful to the point of wondering if they're in trouble when they arrive, and is very disappointed when they turn out to be hostile.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Amy Adams's characters in Enchanted and Doubt.
- Kaji starts out as one in The Human Condition, but is forced to become more cynical as a result of his fight to stay alive.
- Renate Richter in Iron Sky thinks that all Hitler wanted was peace under his gentle rule. It's clear that she's been brainwashed by the Moon Nazis, and the film starts with her doing plenty of brainwashing of her own of young Nazi children, showing them a 10-minute version of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. Her idea of romance is to be genetically compatible with an Aryan man to produce perfect children. After arriving to Earth with her "fiané" Klaus Adler (who has no such ideals and merely wants to conquer the world), she helps the President's re-election campaign by writing inspiring speeches straight out of Hitler's handbook (with gems like "we raise our hand to one nation"). She tries to convince James Washington (a black male model who was "albinized" by Renate's Mad Scientist father) of the Nazis' good intentions by showing him The Great Dictator, not realizing that it's the full 2-hour version. Her illusion finally breaks after seeing the film and a disastrous encounter with some skinheads spray-painting her "symbol of peace" everywhere.
- Alice, the innocent younger sister from Last of the Mohicans.
- In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, all Mr. Smith wants is a Boy Scout camp and nature preserve on a piece of land. Too bad the rest of the Senate is against him.
- Otto from One, Two, Three about Communism. He even thinks it's a capitalist lie that Siberia is cold, and is happy that the Communists assigned them "a magnificent apartment, just a short walk from the bathroom!"
- Horrendously deconstructed in Europa by Lars von Trier: Leopold Kessler, a naive German-America pacifist arrives to post-WII Germany to help his compatriots survive aftermath of the war. He is repeadetly bullied and resented by his own uncle, gets involved in intrigues between American military and Nazi resistance, the woman he loves and eventually marries turns out to be a member of Werwolf, he, betrayed and used by veryone, finally snaps and blows the train with himself and everyone else in the movie, and drowns. What is worth noting, that train was the one he just saved from being blowed up by The Remnant - and nobody is grateful to him.
- Will Proudfoot in Son of Rambow in spite of having lost his father and being raised in a repressively conservative religious household.
- While Charles in X-Men: First Class isn't exactly naive, his idealism is accentuated by the fact that everyone else seems to have a far more pessimistic approach to mutant-human relations. It's suggested that this is at least partly because he hasn't faced persecution in the same way. It sets up a nice contrast with his portrayal in the previous films, where he remains idealistic, but is a lot more cautious about it now that he's had personal experience.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Sansa Stark, who bases her whole life around singers' tales, is a perfect little lady, gentle and trusting. Until the person she is starry-eyed over cuts off her father's head in front of her. And then MUCH misfortune followed.
- Sansa's Trickster Mentor, Littlefinger is implied to have been even more idealistic than her as a child, having had a mischievous, adorable and optimistic nature before his own Break the Cutie process. He hasn't handled it well... at all!
- Less drastic but still quite there examples also exist with her siblings: her younger brother Bran especially, who believed in the same songs and stories as she did. His Break the Cutie process just happened faster.
- The young baby-faced soldier boy in All Quiet on the Western Front definitely qualifies. as should be completely obvious given the nature of the book and this page, he dies.
- Voltaire's Candide. Among many, many other examples in the book is Dr. Pangloss's thoughts on having caught syphilis, and having had an eye and an ear removed as part of the treatment:
"O sage Pangloss," cried Candide, "what a strange genealogy is this! Is not the devil the root of it?"
"Not at all," replied the great man, "it was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not caught in an island in America this disease, which contaminates the source of generation, and frequently impedes propagation itself, and is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have had neither chocolate nor cochineal."
- Cosima from Comrade Death. She flat out refuses to see Sarek for what he really is. He confesses to abandoning her husband to die, and later refuses to save her grandson from going to war, and both times she dismisses his spite as being concealed guilt and claims he would have helped if it had been in his power to do so.
- Tyentyetnikov starts as this in Dead Souls, tries to improve the lot of his serfs, with at best mixed results, and becomes apathetic in the end.
- Dangerous Beans in the book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, who finds his dreams of a rat utopia all but dashed, and learns that on Discworld, you have to Earn Your Happy Ending.
- Subverted by Carrot Ironfoundersson. He starts out as a wide-eyed idealist... except that for some reason, his idealism somehow works. He can talk anyone into behaving like a friendly, reasonable person. If any other character tried it, they'd be dead. It works because he's big, strong, usually accompanied by city watchmen (including a troll and later a golem) and, most important of all, is fairly intelligent. Carrot is an actual idealist, rather than just naive like most of the examples here; he knows full well that Humans Are Bastards and simply refuses to be one himself. Also, the world does tend to warp itself around him. After all he may or may not be the heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork, and in a world chock full of narrativium, how can things not go his way.
- In The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, Twoflower, if anything, has an even more rose-tinted view of the world, to the endless irritation of his traveling companion Rincewind — and likewise comes to no harm. Admittedly, this is probably because he travels with a Cosmic Plaything, so all of the trouble they run into goes after Rincewind rather than him. After they part ways, he does get thrown in a dungeon to rot for being so wide-eyed, which supports that theory.
- Reg Shoe is another Morporkian Wide-Eyed Idealist. In his case, he actually was killed as a result, as shown in Night Watch, but that hasn't dampened his enthusiasm any.
- Don Quixote severely deconstructs this trope: In the first part, Don Quixote cares more for fulfilling his fantasies than for anyone else. He confides that the farmer Haduldo will stop floggin the boy Andrés and that the Galley slaves he liberates will be grateful enough to make him a favor. (They're not.) His actions make him the original Lord Error-Prone. In the second part it goes From Bad to Worse: Don Quixote really acts For Happiness and after some Massive Multiplayer Scam aventures that convince him he is a real Knight Errant he must face the sad fact that he has not helped anyone and therefore, all those Chivalric Romance tropes were Blatant Lies. This is so heartbreaking that he becomes Bored With Insanity and dies. Being called "Quixotic" is not always a good thing.
- Isherwood Williams in Earth Abides, although he's not a complete naïf.
- For Want of a Nail features a nation full of politicians like this in the Confederacy of North America, a nation formed after the British Empire restructured their management of their colonies following the American Revolution.
- Harry Potter
- Colin Creevey in falls under this with his cheerful, naive, and innocent loyalty to Harry at all costs.
- Hermione also has her moments, with her working for House Elf rights even though they have Happiness in Slavery, much to the amusement of others who know better.
- Tessa from The Infernal Devices, always compares her adventures to what she's read and hopes for the best of all situations.
- The main character of Invisible Man is both this and a Love Freak, albeit with (absolutely desperate) followers. Since he's also a Horrible Judge of Character, he runs into a few problems . . .
- In a twisted way, Inspector Javert of Les Misérables. He might be a snarky hardass, but he has absolute faith in authority and the law, believing that no judge or politician has ever erred, that leaders can all be counted upon to have nothing but the public good in mind, and that whoever has met the harsh punishments of the justice system therefore deserves it. This runs up hard against the story's Full Spectrum Morality, with fatal results.
- In Outbound Flight, the smuggler Maris Ferasi fit this trope pretty well. She had the utmost trust in and adoration for the Chiss commander Thrawn. Unusually, she wasn't disillusioned within the book — Thrawn lied about what he had done to resolve an extraordinarily prickly conflict, letting her leave without knowing just how much of a Downer Ending the whole issue became. Why?
Thrawn: There are all too few idealists in this universe, Car'das. Too few people who strive always to see only the good in others. I wouldn't want to be responsible for crushing even one of them.
Car'das: And besides, you rather liked all that unquestioning adulation coming your way?
Thrawn: All beings appreciate such admiration.
- Jane Bennet of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Her younger, more cynical sister, Elizabeth, is convinced that Jane's new friend, Caroline Bingley, deliberately sabotaged her romance with Caroline's brother in order to hook him up with the sister of his best friend Darcy — all to increase Caroline's own chance of getting hitched to said best friend. Jane remains convinced that Caroline is her affectionate friend and would never do anything to hurt anyone, and more importantly, never do anything less than beneficial to her brother's happiness. Obviously he must prefer Georgiana... It takes a surprise face-to-face meeting with Caroline for Jane to admit Elizabeth was right about her, but she displays the same naivete and belief in love and the innate goodness of man when Wickham seduces their youngest sister, Lydia—despite Jane and Elizabeth knowing that he's tried the same technique on at least two other girls.
- Played with in Redeeming Love with Michael, whose Love Martyr tendencies make him look like this trope (especially when placed beside the noticeably more cynical members of most of the rest of the cast). The heroine mocks him for his idealism, and his brother gives him a lecture on how it’s going to ruin his life. However, even though he looks like this trope to everyone else, Michael is actually not ignorant at all, and he struggles with the seeming impossibility of the task that’s been given to him (healing the Broken Bird with The Power of Love). However, ultimately Love Redeems, and although it was a hard and very rocky road, idealism actually wins the day.
- Zoë in Saving Zoë, and this trait is why her sister Echo believes she was killed by a serial killer who pretended to be a modeling agent.
- Drizzt Do'Urden in The Dark Elf Trilogy: Homeland; he gets mildly bitter during the later portion of the novel when he finds out that his favorite mentor Zak kills clerics by the dozens, not that he always enjoys it....
- Moomin-"all I want is to grow potatoes and live in peace"-troll of The Moomins.
- Toglio in Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. Always thinking to himself about how he and his squad are "The good ol' boys", hard-working and patriotic. Then, of course, he gets his leg shot up to hell and sent home.
- Rinaldo in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword," one of the conspirators of Ascalante's plot to overthrow Conan.
"Alone of us all, Rinaldo has no personal ambition. He sees in Conan a red-handed, rough-footed barbarian who came out of the north to plunder a civilized land. He idealizes the king whom Conan killed to get the crown, remembering only that he occasionally patronized the arts, and forgetting the evils of his reign, and he is making the people forget. Already they openly sing The Lament for the King in which Rinaldo lauds the sainted villain and denounces Conan as 'that black-hearted savage from the abyss.' Conan laughs, but the people snarl."
"Why does he hate Conan?"
"Poets always hate those in power. To them perfection is always just behind the last corner, or beyond the next. They escape the present in dreams of the past and future. Rinaldo is a flaming torch of idealism, rising, as he thinks, to overthrow a tyrant and liberate the people."
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: The Professor Aronnax must be constantly reminded that other people are not as good as himself. He really doesn’t want to believe that Nemo is doing something sinister, and Ned Land must remind him that the war ship that is shooting the Nautilus is doing it on purpose.
- God-King Susebron from Warbreaker. His entire experience of life outside his palace consists of having been read a book of fairy tales by his mother as a child. Semi-subverted in that while he does develop a more realistic view of the world, he never loses his almost childlike sense of straightforward goodness.
- Dorden, The Medic of Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts has aspects of this, in trying to adhere to Thou Shalt Not Kill and preventing Gaunt from carrying out necessary Shoot the Dog despite their World Half Empty.
- Angel: While running Caritas, Lorne firmly believed that anyone, human or demon, could turn their lives around if given sufficient guidance, and thus allowed everyone, even baby-eating demons, entry.
- Lieutenant George in Blackadder Goes Forth, despite having spent three years in the trenches of World War I, is still mindlessly optimistic about giving the Germans a good bashing, and readily believes all war propaganda to be true. The grim reality of his situation (in particular, the event of "going over the top" he's been looking forward to for all the series) dawns on him when he realises that he's the only one of his class group left, all the rest having been killed. He goes over the top shortly afterwards in a Bolivian Army Ending. His response to realizing all his friends are dead is "Well, I guess I'm the only one left... oh.... I mean, if it wasn't for the excitement of going over the top tomorrow, I might be a bit down!" Subverted when he says to Blackadder: "Captain, I'm... scared." Up until that point, it's not clear whether the whole thing was intended to be more of the show's black humor, or if it was actually supposed to be horrifying. That line cleared it right up. Then, it goes From Bad to Worse.
- Annie in Community. She even thinks her nickname is "Irony-free Annie".
- A.W. Merrick and Reverend Smith of Deadwood. Since they both live in Deadwood this doesn't work out too well for either of them. Reverend Smith's religious faith is seriously undermined when he develops a fatal brain tumor and must question the purpose of his suffering. Merrick gets off easier, he's able to hang on to his world view for most of the series but has to toughen up to deal with what life keeps throwing at him.
- Lady Sybil Crawley of Downton Abbey.
- Hiro of Heroes is a careful treatment and examination of this trope.
- Shinji in Kamen Rider Ryuki, caught in a fight for a single wish, Shinji fights to try and stop this but learn he could not...
- Kouta in Kamen Rider Gaim fights to save the earth... and in the end has to leave to a far away planet after killing Kaito.
- David Shephard and Michelle Benjamin both fit this trope to a T in Kings although David seems to be growing out of it.
- Scandal: Quinn, which will perhaps lead to her being The Scrappy.
- Dr. Molly Clock. Partially subverted, however, in that her incorrigible optimism is undaunted in the face of the naked cynicism of Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso, and even allows her to triumph against them.
- J.D. himself might fit too, at least at the beginning.
- And then there's the one-episode character from season one (played by Sean Hayes), who is eternally optimistic about the chances of a little boy in his care, until finally he suffers a Heroic BSOD as he realizes nothing he's tried is working and the kid is going to die.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Edith Keeler in "The City on the Edge of Forever". If she had lived, her peace movement would have delayed America's entry into World War II and Hitler would have won.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Naive, gentle Tora Ziyal, despite growing up as a prisoner of the Breen, despite being rejected by Bajorans and Cardassians for her hybrid status, still remains trusting and hopeful that she can somehow help, with her art that resembles that of both cultures, in proving that the groups aren't so different after all. She knows her father, Dukat's past, but loves him anyway, sincerely believing he's changed, and keeps right on forgiving him. Too bad that choosing saving her friends over staying with her father gets her shot by her father's Dragon as a traitor. Dukat goes mad as a result.
- To some extent, Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not completely — he's good at being skeptical and savvy about more abstract situations — but has a tendency to be far too trusting and willing to get close to people who he knows personally or who behave in an well-meaning manner, usually resulting in injury and/or betrayal (e.g., Lore, Ira Graves, Ishara Yar, brainwashed members of the crew on various occasions). Considering he's an android, stereotyped as logical and dispassionate about things that could emotionally compromise normal people, this trait of his is almost a subversion. Or perhaps his programming isn't designed to pick up on "sketchy vibes".
- New correspondent Kristin Schaal is currently playing this (along with The Woobie) on The Daily Show. It remains to be seen how long it will last, as she is cruelly disillusioned in just about every appearance.
- Sam Seaborn in The West Wing. Often, he creates idealistic scenarios and goals that sound wonderful, but when he presents them to Leo or the President, they are shot down because of being impractical, a waste of time, or just plain dangerous. He also is very trusting and naive, which gets him into trouble on a frequent basis. Often, as in the case of a public education plan he developed that would have been revolutionary, he completely forgets to factor in a budget, accidentally assuming that there are no limitations. Ironically, this makes utter sense, as this seems to be the most glaring problem with entire American Dream.
- Phil Coulson of Agents Of SHIELD and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a very idealistic man who believes that people are fundamentally good. His belief in heroes is seen as slightly old-fashioned (his favorite hero being Captain America, who is definitely an idealist), but it's implied that this fundamental faith in human decency is why he's described as Nick Fury's "one good eye" and why Fury is willing to go to such lengths to resurrect him. He's rather like the Token Good Teammate for the rest of SHIELD and, in an interesting example of Playing with a Trope, his idealism seems to be highly valued by the more cynical agents he works for and with.
- In the backstory of the old BattleTech world, the last First Lord of the Star League, Richard Cameron was orphaned as a boy, and grew up with idealistic, Arthurian vision of his supposed role as head of the multi-kingdomed, federal empire. Since politics in the Battletech universe are much more realistic than that, he was the worst possible choice for the critical throne at the worst possible time, and catastrophe followed. Not helped by the fact that an Evil Chancellor, who would later go on to kill Richard and bring the Star League to ruin, was warping his mind and constantly clouding his judgment towards said idealism.
- Warhammer 40,000
- The Tau started out pretty close, before the inevitable grimmification. They still qualify in that galaxy, even though in any other they'd be the bad guys the heroes have to stop at all costs.
- Also the Chaos God Nurgle, in a very weird way.
- Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is as idealistic as Sweeney is cynical. And then he gets bashed (literally, in some cases) down by Judge Turpin and the Beadle. And he is still idealistic, even though everyone — even his er, bride, Johanna, tumbles down the Sliding Scaleof Idealism Versus Cynicism. And it can be viewed as all HIS fault. It should be noted, though, that Anthony Hope is one of the few characters who is still alive at the end.
- The League Of Youth by Henrik Ibsen has the young attorney Stensgaard. He wishes to make things better by creating a new political party, and thus gather the young forces against the "old regime". As it happens, he is led off course by older and more experienced politicians, who actually does it to preserve status quo and their own positions. At the end of the play, he is run out of town.
- Urinetown has Hope "Life should be beautiful" Cladwell, who overthrows her Archnemesis Dad while paying little heed to how his Repressive But Efficient regime worked.
- BioWare usually includes at least one in the party, who is usually also young and female.
- Aerie from the Baldur's Gate series, as becomes apparent if you put her in a party with Keldorn, Haer'Dalis or Jaheira.
- Mission Vao from Knights of the Old Republic. Despite being a product of one of the galaxy's worst Wretched Hives, she is a cheerful girl who's higher on the Karma Meter than the party's Jedi and is the first to support the Player Character after the Tomato Surprise hits. Shame on you again Dark Side players, killing a teenaged girl like that!
- Dawn Star in Jade Empire. Closed Fist practitioncers can change her outlook.
- Tali and Liara in Mass Effect, less so in the sequel.
- Leliana in Dragon Age: Origins is an inversion. While definitely cheerful and idealistic, she used to be much more cynical and manipulative in her role as a spy and assassin where she prided herself on her ability to "be the woman" her target was looking for in order to get close to them. Her current role as a lay sister in the chantry is her Becoming the Mask, although her old teacher would have you believe otherwise. As with Jade Empire, you can encourage her one way or the other.
- Fenthick in Neverwinter Nights, so much that he cannot comprehend evil. This leads to tragedy when it's revealed that he was unknowingly helping The Mole the entire time. His fate? Found guilty of "negligence", then publicly executed to appease angry citizens of the city. Linu is a lesser example.
- NPC rather than party member, but Dragon Age II has Seamus Dumar. He's an outspoken opponent of the unthinking fear the qunari in Kirkwall inspire, and believes in bringing the two sides closer together (no easy task, since qunari aren't that approachable themselves). Too bad he lives in a Wretched Hive and his father is a well-meaning Slave to PR. Mother Petrice has him murdered and tries to frame the qunari for it to spark a race war.
- PJ in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. Given Ace Combat tries to use "War Is Hell" as An Aesop, and he mentions his girlfriend back at the base... He dies.
- "Will / Ed" from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin / Dark Conflict. His idealism arguably pushes him dangerously close to being an Idiot Hero, as he is often wildly optimistic and consequently sometimes fails to look at situations properly. However, his will and sheer determination in even the worst of situations often leads to at least one crowning moment of heartwarming. Case in point — mission 16, which starts off with desperate music playing pushing ever closer to the Despair Event Horizon, when suddenly Will/Ed decides he's going to fight, and the music changes from desperate to sheer awesome.
- Brother-Sergeant Thaddeus in Dawn of War II, with most of his older and wiser fellow sergeants pointing out his relative naivete at several points. In the Expansion Pack Chaos Rising, Thaddeus will go rogue if his Corruption level is the highest in the squad — unlike all the other squadmates, who go rogue over Necessarily Evil reasons, Demonic Possession or over bitterness, Thaddeus' corruption is revealed to be over his idealism — he willingly believed the word of a daemon.
- The Deus Ex series has this in spades:
- JC Denton starts out the game this way. He's sent directly from training to a terrorist situation on Liberty Island, and believes that UNATCO is a paragon of law enforcement and justice. When the NSF commander (Leo Gold) at the end of the level tries to debate him about ethics, JC is adamant that UNATCO can do no wrong and justifies their treatment of the NSF. It only takes about a day before he's forced to confront his employer's atrocities, and eventually switches his loyalties to the NSF when they activate his brother's killswitch. As a result, he takes on a much more cynical and snarky view of the situation.
- Sam Carter is also this. Acting as the quartermaster for UNATCO, Carter always stresses by-the-book approaches to hostage situations and non-violent solutions. When JC is escaping UNATCO amd tries to get him to join the resistance, Carter refuses to hear JC's explanation and says that all it needs to get back on track are a few good people. He's later dumped unceremoniously by the company after Walton Simons assumes control, and admits how he was naive in believing they could change anything (which prompts him to help the Vandenberg scientists).
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, David Sarif is this to an extent. In a world of high tech cybernetics, ruthless conspiracy and corporate warfare — signs that would warn a Genre Savvy individual that they're in a Cyber Punk setting - Sarif believes that the best thing to do with augmentation technology is to remove all restrictions on it, and that doing so will help the people of the world. Of course, despite the multiple endings, this is a prequel to Deus Ex, so we know that all four endings will result in the exact same scenario a few decades down the line. His belief that merging man and machine will create a better world is vindicated by the original game's Helios ending, where the hero merges with a benevolent AI.
- Flonne in Disgaea falls under this trope. She never ceases to be an overoptimistic idealist who believes that demons can love, and that Seraph Lamington is a good guy. In the best ending she's absolutely right.
- Tahlkora from Guild Wars: Nightfall. "I signed on for the heroic songs and the praise. I did not sign on for the blood-sucking bugs."
- The Kingdom Hearts series plays with this trope, ultimately subverting it: Sora is so idealistic that villains often take advantage of his do-gooder tendencies and manipulate him in various ways. The villains all insist that the protagonists are Wide-Eyed Idealists who should just give in and admit that the world is nothing but darkness at its heart. A notable example is in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, when Sora is manipulated into erasing his own memory. Ultimately, his idealism and his bonds with friends protect him.
- Grovyle from Pokemon Mystery Dungeon may not be overly positive, but he does cling on to hope for a better future.
- Luisa Fortuna in Red Dead Redemption is an exceedingly idealistic individual in the Crapsack World. She genuinely believes in rebel leader Abraham Reyes, who John quickly learns is a Glory Hound with a penchant for Meaningless Meaningful Words and chastises John for working with Allende when he constantly makes it clear that he's Not in This for Your Revolution.
- Anduin Wrynn from World of Warcraft displays the qualities associated with this trope. Despite the chaos in his past and his father's stubborn vehemence toward the Horde, Anduin firmly maintains that "both [his] people, and the Horde, are essentially good." His benevolence toward both the Alliance and the Horde is unchanged even by his near death at the hands of Garrosh Hellscream, the present Warchief of the Horde at the time.
- It is even implied during a vision from the draenei prophet Velen that Anduin may lead the forces of Light during the final battle against the Burning Legion, placing him in direct contrast with Sargeras, who views the denizens of Azeroth- the Alliance and the Horde by extension- as corruptible and impure.
- Poor Sigurd from Fire Emblem Jugdral. He charges into bandit territory to rescue his childhood friend, falls in love and marries a beautiful maiden, and some time later charges back into the fray to rescue another friend. Unfortunately, Augustria is way more political than Verdane and Sigurd's actions aren't seen as quite so heroic. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
- Edge Maverick of Star Ocean The Last Hope. A big part of his Character Development is dropping the "wide-eyed" part of the trope, becoming an idealistic character who functions in reality.
- Shirou Emiya of Fate/stay night, who wants to follow in his father's footsteps to become an "ally of justice" and enters the Holy Grail War to prevent civilian casualties and abuse of the Holy Grail. The end result depends somewhat on the route: His idealism remains unscathed in the first route, he chucks away the 'Wide-Eyed' part after a thorough examination of his ideal in the second route, and chucks away it all as meaningless to who he really is in the third. The latter ones are foreshadowed in "Fate" when he couldn't come up with a real answer about if what he was doing actually brought him happiness. Then again, judging by Archer's comments, the past he went through seemed similar to the Fate route, so there may be a pair of Jade-Colored Glasses waiting for Shirou there...
- Komari from Little Busters!, who always tries to look on the bright side, has a childish temperament, and hates sad stories. And then it turns out that this is because her brother, who was very sickly, tried to shield her from anything painful, only telling her happy stories. Even when he died, he convinced her that it was just a dream. While in good faith, this had terrible consequences - Komari repressed the sad memories, but they're triggered whenever she encounters death or blood, causing her to have a Heroic BSOD. The main development at the end of her route is her learning to take a more realistic approach and accept both the good and bad parts of life.
- Franchesca "Kid" Martines from Angels 2200 is a textbook example. Not surprisingly, she almost gets booted off the squad when she can't bring herself to fire on an enemy fighter knowing she'd be taking someone else's life.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace is this in all things including nudity, and so was Susan before her Mercy Kill of the aberration. Literally so — her eyes change into her current half-droopy state when she looks down at his corpse, and while she still has wide eyes quite often, they do tend towards the "half-droopy". After the encounter of a weird kind with Jerry led to Freak Out, though, she now tends to having wide open eyes more often than not.
- Played with in Homestuck with John Egbert. He's a wildly idealistic kid playing a game that's already destroyed the Earth and rendering it more or less uninhabitable, and being constantly accosted by literal Trolls who continue to call out the fact that the kids fail to win the game and nothing they do will change that. This doesn't seem to deter John in the slightest.
- Then there's Jake English, who considers Erisolsprite, a vile-tempered Jerkass of the first order, to be a "friendly guide" despite the sprite in question emphasising how much he hates Jake in every other sentence.
- Lisa from Mechagical Girl Lisa ANT is one of these... only thing is, not only she still firmly believes her life is a Magical Girl anime despite all she's been through, but she doesn't even cares about her robot outfit being actually a Humongous Mecha for ants.
- Seiko from Used Books is a great example. She is constantly standing up for people the others deem as villains. She holds fast that people are basically good, even if they have done nothing but cause hardship. She also stops in the middle of a battle to bandage up an enemy someone on her own team just injured.
- A toned-down version of Penny in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. "...a generally nice person whose idealistic attempts at solving the problems of their world turn out to go horribly horribly awry..." Do I detect a bit of irony?
- Himei of Sailor Nothing was once a Genre Savvy Ascended Fangirl of Magical Girl anime... starring in a Deconstruction of Magical Girl anime. She quickly learned (by the beginning of where the story picks up) that the job is not so much fun as it looks. Aki fills the role after Himei has become thoroughly jaded.
- Tragically, we see in Scooby-Doo that The Nostalgia Critic was like this as a seventeen year old, happy and bouncy and positive everything will get better. They will, but not for a long time.
- Survival of the Fittest
- Chris Davidson from v4 may indeed be this as well.
- One could easily make a case for Carol Burke as well, who seems to genuinely believe they are going to be rescued and the terrorists wouldn't get away with it a fourth time. To her, very few at her school would actually play, especially her friends. Heck, she trusts Reiko Ishida and gets killed for her troubles.
- Orn "Dutchy" Ayers could also be interpreted as this. However, it's also a major reason why he's considered The Woobie; he's smart enough to know that although things should be good and he wants to do the right thing, things... aren't working out. As a result, he doesn't take things very well, and spends a good portion of his time on the island in a Heroic BSOD, wishing he could save all his friends.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Silverbolt of Beast Wars started out as a starry-eyed idealist. He was so thoroughly chivalrous that he refused to hit or fire upon a female (Blackarachnia) even if his own life, or the lives of his comrades, depended on it. His naivete took its toll in the three-part second season finale where he refused direct orders from Optimus to capture Blackarachnia, instead going after her to help her dig up the Ark. This enabled Megatron to make it to the Ark easier and gain the access codes from Blackarachnia after threatening Silverbolt's life. Then Megatron went into the Ark and fired a fatal blast into the still dormant Optimus Prime's head, triggering a cataclysmic time storm that nearly destroyed all the Maximals and wiped out time and space. All thanks to Silverbolt's refusal to capture Blackarachnia. Later on, of course, everything gets cleaned up but Silverbolt's actions nearly led to the destruction of time and space due to his wide-optical idealism. In Beast Machines, this trope becomes subverted as Silverbolt is transformed into the villainous Jetstorm. Blackarachnia does bring him back but once Silverbolt returns, he no longer has the rosy outlook on life that he used to, becoming a bitter Anti-Hero for the remainder of the series.
It should be noted that despite leading Megatron to the Ark the first time, his continued pursuit of Blackaracnia kept her on the Maximal side all through season 3 despite some close calls regarding her Chaotic Neutral yearnings. In fact, it's only because of his devotion that ultimately she becomes a real Maximal. This ironically is the only thing that saves the future yet again when she's the last maximal to survive a mental takeover of Optimus Primal, and thus she's able to save the ark from self destruction.
- The Fantastic Racism of Manhattan is particularly painful for Angela of Gargoyles, who was raised on Avalon where humans and gargoyles live in harmony. She also hopes more than is wise or reasonable that her mother Demona can change or be redeemed.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes manages to be one of these in Miseryville. While he suffers plenty of Amusing Injuries, he usually comes out on top, with Lucius really suffering.
- Zeta from The Zeta Project is naive and kind, always taking people at their word, a terrible of judge of character who thinks the best of everyone and generally easily manipulated. It's due to being so young and having no knowledge of the world beforehand, and to be fair, his friends do try to help him get better about this.
- In Transformers Prime, Optimus when he was Orion Pax as Megatron's protege in the Cybertron civil rights movement. He ended up endearing himself to the general public compared to his mentor's more ruthless methods.
- Subverted with Yoink from the "Yoink Of The Yukon" short on What A Cartoon! Show. Oddly enough, he survives and his cynical partner gets to be The Chew Toy.
- Wally from the Where's Wally? cartoon series fits this trope to a T but manages to avoid the horrible death part. He's too cheery for his own good and his dog Woof has more common sense than he does yet he always escapes unscathed from his dangerous journeys.
- In the early seasons of The Simpsons, Lisa started out as this, but as the series progressed, she became a Deadpan Snarker who has as much compassion as a housecat towards her own brother, and Homer from time to time.
- Brattus and Mole from Mr. Bogus both show shades of this in most of their appearances.