"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 far too idealistic for their own good. It may be the Naďve 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 vs. 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 or ruthless, 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 Naďve Everygirl, 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
- Area 88
- In the manga and OVA, Ryoko has very idealistic ideas about love, and seems to think that she is in a romance story instead of a war story. In the manga, even abandonment and heartbreak at the hands of her absentee boyfriend does not dent her idealism.
- Rishar Vashtal from the manga also qualifies. He has romantic visions of a democratic Asran and genuinely wants to empower the Asranian people. Mickey, however, warns him that the Asranian people may call for his death after the war.
- Akari from ARIA is a special case, in that she manages to stand out in a setting that is practically paradise incarnated.
- Attack on Titan:
- Every military recruit that hasn't been mentally broken by encountering a Titan yet and expects good things after training. Some examples stand out, especially Eren, Marco, and Marlo, who are prime examples of soldiers wanting to enter the Survey Corps (Eren) and Military Police Brigade (Marco and Marlo) for the right reasons. Everyone gets a quick dose of the reality that battle with Titans is, though.
- Some civilians can be like this, too. Eren sees a young brother and sister admiring the Survey Corps and thinking how awesome they are, just like he did only 5 years ago with his own sister. He can only look away and try not to cry the same way Erwin looked away in shame last time.
- Axis Powers Hetalia: America is pegged as one of these by Fanon. Though, considering his nature, he could very well be one of these in Canon.
- Subverted in Baccano!, specifically in Druge & the Dominoes: turns out that even the widest-eyed of wide-eyed idealists can be provoked into trying to blow your head off if you push the right buttons. The only thing that stopped her was the fact that Luck got to him first.
- Black Lagoon
- The neo-nazi band. Having no real experience with the way the criminal underworld works, they're sent on a fixed race to "test their ability" against the protagonists, where they overspend resources, repeatedly underestimate the crew of the Lagoon, refuse to see facts, and waste time making dramatic and hammy proclamations about their heroic destiny as champions of the white race. Revy and Dutch kill all of them, and their would-be patron abandons them the moment it's obvious to him they've failed (though not before admitting to the leader that he set them up in the first place).
- Rock also struggles with this in earlier arcs: His attempts to understand Revy makes her angry at him, trying to "save" Gretel failed utterly, and his attempt towards Yukio backfires completely. It isn't until "Le Baile de la Muerte" he starts to understand that if he wants to save people he'll have to become a cynical rotten power-player like Chang and Balalaika.
- Rotton the Wizard. Firmly believes that he's in a far, far more idealistic series. Only his Crazy-Prepared-ness and association with a Dragon Lady Knife Nut and a chainsaw-wielding body disposal expert keep him alive and kicking.
- Bleach: As a teenager, Ryuuken Ishida was willing to sacrifice his personal dreams and happiness for the chance to save the future of the Quincies. However, flashbacks reveal that Aizen accidentally shatters his idealism; it is implied that a further Trauma Conga Line then occurs between the flashback arc and the main storyline to produce the bitter, hypercritical Dr. Jerk that his son Uryuu thinks he's familiar with.
- Both Suzaku Kururugi and Princess Euphemia Li Britannia from Code Geass genuinely believe they'll be able to reform the shockingly racist Britannian Empire and be facilitators for the peaceful integration of the Japanese people into the empire's fold. Cue Diabolus ex Machina on a national scale. This is subverted in the second season, where Suzaku forms a reasonable, if rather myopic, plan to free Japan (the rest of the world isn't his concern) and begins suffering from a bad case of Motive Decay until he realizes his ideals are nothing but smoke.
- This is spoofed in official side comics, where Suzaku and Euphy are portrayed as so blindingly naive that they still believe in the Delivery Stork and Cabbage Patch Babies, while Lelouch looks on in stunned disbelief.
- This trope is lampshaded artistically with Shirley, who has literally the largest eyes in the whole cast, with Euphemia just in second place.
- Touta Matsuda from Death Note. Deconstructed with Light: it's pointed out that he is "quite the positive thinker" and ironically it's his idealism that drives him to commit his atrocities in order to "make the world a better place."
- Ichiro Yamada from the manga Freesia. He very much initially thinks that he can help the country by punishing ex-convicts and such, until he realizes quickly that the Vengeance Proxy Enforcer firm that he works for is nothing more than a group of contract killers for people who have massive grudges.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
Havoc: He's stupid! How can such a naive thing keep climbing up in this country?
- In the manga version, Scar's brother and the Rockbell family are wide-eyed idealists who believe in the basic good nature of man. The Rockbells leave their practice so they can heal the Ishvalans being massacred by the Amestris army, and Scar's brother wants to learn alchemy so that he can better understand the bonds of humanity. During an attack Scar's family is killed, and Scar's brother tries to shield Scar, but is unsuccessful, and Scar loses his arm. Scar's brother sacrifices an arm and his life to save Scar, and Scar wakes up in the Rockbell's hospital. Finding out that his brother's arm is now attached to him causes Scar to go temporarily insane, and he kills the Rockbells in a Freak Out!.
- Roy Mustang is the other side of the coin. His sometimes borderline dumb faith in human nature helps him sometimes (when he took for granted Dr Knox would cover his scheme to save Maria Ross, because they were war buddies) and other times dooms him (when he believed overthrowing the Fuhrer would be a piece of cake when people found out he was a Homunculus. It turned out the brass knew and couldn't care less). Still, his idealism is precisely what makes his subordinates so loyal to him.
Hawkeye: I think it's good that there are idiots like that, once in a while.
- The first anime, on the other hand, makes a point of contrasting Al's childlike optimism and naivete with Ed's growing cynicism and the horrible truths of the world around them.
- Galaxy Fraulein Yuna: Yuna Kagurazaka is one of the rare examples of this trope not to suffer either of the standard fates.
- Albert from Gankutsuou, along with having Horrible Judge of Character. He is undoubtedly the most naive and idealistic of all the characters in that series. He truly believed for a long time that his friends' (and his own) families were perfectly rosy, and that the Count is a wonderful person. (He was very wrong, by the way - they were all insanely messed up.) Not to mention how he manages to go on about "true love". However, despite all hardships he goes through, Albert ends up taking the route A and becomes a better person who not only saves the Count's soul from Gankutsuou but also fixes his father's wrongs by becoming an envoy of peace.
- Getter Robo: Musashi Tomoe in the original manga combined this trope with Wrong Genre Savvy. After meeting Ryoma and co. for first time he insists on becoming a Getter Robot pilot. When he is said he is not strong, sturdy and intelligent (or crazy) enough to pilot Getter (a task which is very taxing for both body and mind), he replies he has got the most important skill to become a mecha pilot: hot-bloodedness. Ryoma and Hayato wondered if he was serious. Apparently nobody told him that Getter Robo is a Cosmic Horror Story and Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa Humongous Mecha mangas (Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Kotetsu Jeeg) are way darker than the idealistic fare of later series that the genre would be stereotyped with.
- Great Teacher Onizuka: Minami Kikukawa is a training teacher who would love teaching in a private school because in a public school she would have got to deal with troubles such like bad students and administrative corruption. Fuyutsuki quickly warns her that she is Tempting Fate with that naive attitude. After meeting the class four students (who prior Onizuka's arrival and lessons hated all adults and tried to drive all teachers crazy or suicidal), she realizes things are not so simple.
- Arguably, Éclair from Kiddy Grade, who, despite having dealt with the dreadful realities of GOTT and galatic politics for many, many years, has somehow avoided becoming a cynic, and actually keeps up her spirit to fight for her ideals. Granted, this may be due to two things: (1) she does use autohypnotic suggestions to block out some of her memories temporarily, and (2) as a superhero, and with her partner, she does in fact have the ability to back up those ideals with with force.
- Kanzaki Nao in Liar Game. Almost every chapter. You'd think that one of these days she'd learn... Except you know, she's usually proven right by the end.
- Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima! starts out as one of these, but he eventually starts to realize that good and bad aren't quite as clear cut as he thought they were. Evangeline actually deliberately discourages his idealism (despite the fact that she's a Noble Demon who's constantly sliding towards Anti-Villain territory). Negi eventually admits that he can't always be the good guy, although he still tries to go with most "good" option available.
- UC Mobile Suit Gundam, have at least one pacifist who thinks they could stop the fighting, usually they are proven wrong and lives to watch the ramifications of their actions.
- Tenma and Nina from Monster, despite being frequently subjected to horrific trauma. The fact that Tenma in particular absolutely refuses to become cynical about the human race drops him straight into Badass Pacifist territory.
- Now and Then, Here and There is based around this trope.
- Ai Tanabe, the newest member of Section 7 in Planetes. Her first name means "love," and it just picks up from there. She's taken to task for it countless times by fellow Section 7 crewman Hachimaki and Claire, Hachi's former Love Interest, the latter of which causes her to doubt her own ideals. And yet, although she's set up for a particularly cruel Diabolus ex Machina, which she could avoid by betraying her convictions, she stands by them to the absolute, heart-wrenching end, to Claire's shock. Given the nature of the series, she's proven right at the end.
- Played With in Princess Tutu. Duck Jumped at the Call to help Mytho regain his heart, never stopping to consider that he might have had a very good reason to shatter his heart. Her idealism slowly wears off throughout the series as she discovers how her thoughtless actions keep changing things for the worse. However, her initial optimism does have an affect on Fakir, who eventually returns the favor by giving her hope when she's on the brink of a Despair Event Horizon.
- This is what makes Alice L. Malvin of Pumpkin Scissors stand out from many of the other nobles of the setting. She firmly believes in her cause to "eradicate evil" and that others will push for it too. This is what got Machis and Oland to join in the first place.
- Sayaka Miki of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Naturally, the series being what it is, it doesn't end well at all. Madoka is also one of these, although the story seems to jump through hoops to discourage it. She finally gets it to work at the very end, although it takes a Cosmic Retcon to do so.
- The title character of Revolutionary Girl Utena, which can be infuriating when you realize that she refuses to see the emotional hardships that her peers go through (Juri's conflict over Shiori and her sexuality in general come to mind; Utena brushes it off and tells her to stop acting cold). Miki is this to a lesser extent, in regards to his sister Kozue, but it may be more that he's a genuine Nice Guy more than anything else.
- Kenshin Himura is a good example of this trope. Some might consider him Incorruptible Pure Pureness, but old habits die hard... Except his intro speech at the end of the first chapter goes, "no, swordsmanship is an art of killing. Kaoru-dono believes a sweet, naive lie. But if this one had a wish... it would be that her sweet lie would become the truth of this world." Kenshin's Walking the Earth with Obfuscating Stupidity routine involves some serious ideals, but despite avoiding his battle expression most of the time he's not too wide-eyed. He's got the world-weary thing going, but values Kaoru as a Wide Eyed Idealist. Some of the stupidity probably isn't fake. The line is impossible to find, as is common with Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass types. His backstory involves a bit of this, despite all his childhood trauma—it caused him to wind up a sworn assassin in a civil war.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: Kafuka takes this trope and runs with it. Everything has a good side to her: a Trash Can is a "Treasure Chest for the Homeless" and it only gets worse from there.
- The anime and manga incarnations of Princess Amelia, both genuinely and to a comedic extent. She does have a blind eye towards the more wicked intentions of certain foes, especially the Monster race, but this is more of an ideology taught to her than anything else because of her violent family history. In the novels, where she's more mature, she's still optimistic, but her idealism falls more into Stepford Smiler territory.
- The anime-exclusive character Filia, the Golden Dragon, is this combined with Holier Than Thou taken to aggravating levels. It doesn't help that she was sheltered for most of her life, but even after she learning the Awful Truth, during the last battle she believes that the Big Bad isn't beyond salvation (it's established clearly that he is at that point) and doesn't want to destroy him, even as he's consuming the world at that moment...
- 25th Baam from Tower of God cannot understand why people have to fight each other to reach the top of the Tower. This leads to him being a Broken Bird after the Time Skip.
- Vash The Stampede is determined to be one. No matter what he sees, what humans or Knives or anybody do, to him or anyone. His traumas are simultaneously cases of Break the Cutie and Break the Badass, and are usually horrific. Worse in the manga, where he is clearly fighting to maintain his idealism over his own common sense and has a lot more bleak moments. The setting is also much darker, since the series went seinen after the Fifth Moon. But he always stands up again. Because he won't give up on humanity and by extension Rem. And on himself. After all, if he gives up on people then what does he have to resist Knives' Hannibal Lectures with, and what have all these years meant? Therefore, Technical Pacifist willing to Turn the Other Cheek to a sometimes absurd degree. Vash is helped by his own awesomeness; when Knives and his subordinated aren't involved he can usually pull a casualty-free resolution out of the worst situations imaginable. Sure, this has meant horrific scars all over his body, but it gives him all kinds of warm fuzzies and hope. He wants Wolfwood to see this. Wolfwood wants him to see that most people are only human and you can't save everybody all the time.
- Know who's the Trigun poster child for this trope? Manga Knives. He was all "our hearts are the same as people's, I'm sure if we try we can understand one another," and actually cried when the first human they met besides Rem accepted them. Then he Went Mad From The Revelation that Humans Are Bastards, and resolved to Kill 'em All.
- Meryl is a little naive but never an idealist. Millie is... strange. Maybe a wide-eyed idealist. Maybe just terminally clueless. Actually very sharp under it all, and very tough. Anime Millie is Wolfwood's other foil, and they become a couple. One of Wolfwood's Character Development soliloquies involves the frustrated observation that Millie and Vash always "do everything I can't, like it's no big deal."
- Judai of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was once an Idiot Hero Ace who believed life was one big game and the only thing worth caring about was having fun. His journey of deconstructing The Ace is not a pleasant one.
- Due to her intense loyalty to her older brother Kouen, her crush on Sinbad and friendship with Alibaba, Kougyoku in Magi – Labyrinth of Magic wants them to forget their differences and fight together, honestly believing that because they fought against a common enemy her wish was coming true when in reality, things are becoming more complicated and tense between everyone.
- On the anime adaptation of Sailor Moon, the titular character definitely fits this, considering that deciding to spare the life of Hotaru almost killed her future daughter and brought The End of the World as We Know It. It's so blatant Sailor Uranus & Neptune try to incapacitate, sometimes even murder her for her idealism.
- Shoukoku no Altair: This is 17-year-old pacifist pasha Mahmut's Fatal Flaw at the start of the story, since while he's very clever, he has almost zero experience of the outside world. This leads to him being demoted, and spending months travelling the continent trying to gain more wisdom. However, even a year or two later his idealism still shows.
- Re:CREATORS: Of all the fictional characters that come to the real world, Mamika Kirameki is the only one who comes from a children's TV show. Therefore, she believes everyone is basically good and they can all be friends. Unfortunately, the other characters do not share her sense of idealism and her attempts to stop conflicts ultimately fall on deaf ears. Over time, she loses her naivety but remains as idealistic as ever. Unfortunately, this earns her a horrible death.
- 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.
- Supergirl: Pre-Crisis Kara Zor-El was an exceptionally innocent, trusting teenager. Her enemies often exploited her naivete and tried to earn her trust or seduce her so they could manipulate her and kill her or her cousin. Eventually she stopped being so gullible, but she kept believing that people are mostly naturally good-hearted. Post-Crisis Supergirl is less innocent (excepting some versions such like Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl Kara who was fooled by Lex Luthor) but she still stands by his ideals and always tries to do the right thing and be an hero, not matter how dark her world is or what bad things happen to her.
- 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 was decreasing when she retired as Batgirl and shattered after The Killing Joke.
- Ironically, X-23 has become this despite all the hell she's lived through. In contrast to Wolverine's pragmatic cynicism and willingness to compromise his beliefs, Laura has increasingly become an idealist seeking for something noble to aspire to, and is much much more uncompromising in her views of right and wrong (such as insisting on helping, rather than killing, Siphon once she discovered he was actually a victim of Paradise despite the extreme danger he presented when hungry and it does eventually end up biting her on the ass). Laura notably went through a mini-Freak Out! when she learned that, despite how bad things in her home reality are, the Ultimate Universe is even worse.
- An interesting inversion of the Darker and Edgier creep described above is brought to us by X-Men villain Exodus. A literal Knight Templar who was turned into a Sealed Badass in a Can 800 years ago and revived in the modern day, Exodus still holds true to the noble values of the knighthood and has no greater ambition than to protect and defend his people, even dressing like a classic Silver Age hero◊. Unfortunately, he also holds to the uncompromising black-and-white thinking of his era, turning him into an Anti-Villain who clashes with the X-Men because he is unable to admit that not all mutants are good and not all humans are bad.
- The Punisher MAX had a rare villainous example in Mickey Cooley, a young Irish-American who fervently, almost pathetically, believes that the PIRA are noble freedom fighters striking against legitimate targets which are part of the British oppression of Northern Ireland and should be supported as much as possible. Given that this series was written by Garth Ennis, whose frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of the PIRA and their American supporters is well-known, and the protagonist is The Punisher... yeah, it doesn't end well.
- Gotham City Garage: Kara Gordon is happy-go-lucky, innocent and optimistic in a post-apocalyptic world where the last city on Earth is ruled by a tyrant and the rest of the planet is a barren wasteland inhabited by bandits and scavengers. Big Barda thinks she'll have to break her cheerful idealism before it kills Kara... until they discover the "super-strong and invulnerable" thing.
- Ratbert in Dilbert is (or was) pretty much the only idealistic character in the Crapsack World the strip takes in. Considering the strip's message that "cynicism equals intelligence", it comes off as no surprise that he's portrayed as stupid.
- Pig, the title character of Pearls Before Swine, has a very idealistic outlook on life. This makes him a perfect Foil for his Nietzsche Wannabe roommate Rat.
- 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 The 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.
- Danny, Hermione, and Ron in the Princess of the Blacks series are at least as idealistic as canon despite the setting being Darker and Edgier. Notably, they're convinced that they can get Hagrid exonerated after he admits to kidnapping and smuggling a giant across international borders (both very serious crimes) to an auror. Naturally, they fail.
Films — Animation
- A given with La Muerte from The Book of Life, since she believes that the heart of humankind is essentially pure.
- Danny of Cats Don't Dance.
- Felicity in Felidae who seems to believe good in everyone despite being blind. Unfortunately...
- This trope gives us Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Marianne from Strange Magic starts out like this. She happily proclaims that once she becomes ruler she'll be able to successfully negotiate with the goblins so that everyone can go wherever they want to, brushing over the longstanding fantastic racism on both sides and security problems that would lead to. She's much more cynical about the goblins and everything else after she finds her fiancee cheating on her.
Films — Live-Action
- Amy Adams's characters in Enchanted and Doubt.
- Megan Davis in The Bitter Tea of General Yen is this for most of the film, but she learns her lesson in a harsh way.
- 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 "fiancé" 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.
- X-Men Film Series:
- X-Men: First Class: While Charles isn't exactly naïve, 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.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: Xavier has regained most of his cheery optimism from First Class, and Word of God even says that he has too much hope at the beginning of the story. By the end of the movie, he becomes The Idealist, i.e. he is no longer "wide-eyed," but he doesn't give up hope for peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans.
- True Believer: Roger, and apparently Eddie as well in the past, which he regains by the end of the film (thus the title).
- The Hunger Games: Prim, at first. She loses the wide-eyed part, but keeps the idealism.
- Wall Street: This serves as Bud Fox's Fatal Flaw. He is too wide-eyed about Gordon Gekko's schemes, as Gekko is solely driven by greed and wants him to obtain information by any means necessary, even if it's illegal. Bud also wanted to be like Gekko, but doesn't realize the costs of having such a lifestyle until it was too late.
- Boiler Room: Like Bud Fox before him, Seth is too naïve to realize that JT Marlin is actually a boiler room - it's a "pump and dump" scam, where the price of stocks of expired or fake companies (as well as speculative penny stocks) are artificially inflated through fraudulent, bogus or misleading statements, in order to sell the cheaply purchased stock at a higher price. Once the operators of the scheme "dump" (aka sell) their overvalued shares, the price falls and the investors lose their money. The film revolves entirely around Seth trying to earn a legitimate career a to impress his father, but this actually endangers his father's career as a federal judge when the FBI's Financial Crimes unit gets wind of it. His father even calls him out for this once he finds more about JT Marlin.
- Descendants Prince Ben pretty much hinged on the universe rewarding nobility and courage. His first scene in the movie is him telling his parents Belle and the Beast, he wants to give four children of villains a chance to become better people and invite them into the kingdom despite their parents being some of the most feared and hated villains in their historynote . Of special note is when he spent time with Mal, which revolved around the idea that Mal is a lost being who just needs good influences in her life, as opposed to the evil spawn of villains she and her friends are painted as. Of course, everyone heavily doubts his move to give the villain kids a chance, but Ben doesn't let that stop him.
- 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.
- Quentyn Martell has the mind set of a heroic fantasy, and sees himself as The Hero who will succeed. But he is in fact unskilled to the task given to him. He was sent to Meereen to marry Daenerys, but he is unable to woo her, as he just isn't manly enough. His next plan was to try to tame her dragons thinking it would impress her, but he ends up getting burnt to crisp for his foolishness.
- Brienne of Tarth realized long ago that since no Knight in Shining Armor will sweep her off her feet, then she will be one. She quickly learns knighthood ain't what it's cracked up to be either.
- 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 is confident that the farmer Haduldo will stop flogging the boy Andrés and that the Galley slaves he liberates will be grateful enough to do 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 adventures 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 . . .
- Unsurprisingly, idealists don't fare well in Les Misérables.
- In a twisted way, Inspector Javert. 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.
- Fantine loves Tholomyes and assumes he will care for her and Cosette, only for him to abandon her on a whim. She then trusts the Thenardiers to look after Cosette for her, and they mistreat Cosette and extort an outrageous amount of money from her until she ends up a prostitute and dies from tuberculosis.
- Enjolras and the rest of Les Amis de l'ABC start a rebellion, believing that the people of Paris will rise and support them. The support never comes, and they all end up dead.
- 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."
- 20,000 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.
- 300 adults decide to try to create the Just City from Plato's Republic by using 10,000 slave children in The Just City, first book of the Thessaly series by Jo Walton. It works about as well as any utopian experiment ever tried, meaning the problems become rapidly apparent.
- Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games. At first. His idealism gradually erodes as the series goes on.
- Eustace Osgrey of Tales of Dunk and Egg truly believes Daemon Blackfyre's cause was just and that his fellow rebels are heroes, no matter how much this has cost him.
- 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.
- Game of Thrones:
- At the beginning of the series, Sansa thinks she is going to be a fairy tale princess and that Joffrey is her Prince Charming. She loses more and more of her illusions after her father is executed and she's kept as a hostage in King's Landing. In Season 6, she tells Jon that she'd like to go back in time and smack her younger self for being so stupid.
- Eddard Stark is wise in war and justice, but is totally surprised by the amount of intrigue and corruption infecting capital politics.
- As a child, Littlefinger was one of these. After all, the small and lowborn yet intelligent hero always gets the girl, right?
- Hiro of Heroes is a careful treatment and examination of this trope.
- How I Met Your Mother has a deconstruction in Ted. Ted is a man who sees love and relationships through rose colored glasses. He believes there's only one person for him out there, that will be completely perfect for him and that relationships, when is with your "The One", are easy and free of conflict. This is something that his future self actually lampshades to be unrealistic and that he ended up facing a lot of hardships because of this belief.
- Kamen Rider
- 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.
- Keitaro in Kamen Rider Faiz just wants to make people happy, which would be easier to do if he wasn't in one of the darker installments of the franchise. Compounded by the fact that (aside from one non-canon instance) he is incapable of using any of the Rider Gear despite how much as he'd like to.
- David Shephard and Michelle Benjamin both fit this trope to a T in Kings although David seems to be growing out of it.
- Medici: Piero De Medici seems to genuinely not comprehend that the politics and justice of Florence are managed through an elaborate web of bribes, favors, threats and blackmail, unlike the rest of his family. Never is this clearer than when he speaks in defense of his father, Cosimo, at his trial. Piero spends days researching to find some scrap of evidence to unravel the case against his father, only to have the document he finds dismissed as a forgery.
- The Resident: Manish Dayal's Dr. Devon Pravesh, an intern who on his first day performs CPR on a drug addict for an extended time only to leave her brain-dead, a whole lot of Break the Cutie ensues.
- Scandal: Quinn, which will perhaps lead to her being The Scrappy.
- Dr. Molly Clock. 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 B.S.O.D. 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.
Weyoun: Please tell me you're not that naive.
- When the Dominion War starts and they occupy Deep Space Nine, Jake remains behind to report on it. A few months in, he finds out the Dominion is preventing his articles reporting on their oppressive policies from being delivered to his publisher, and actually tries to invoke freedom of the press.
- 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 S.H.I.E.L.D. 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.
- It's implied that, while he's naturally inclined that way anyway, retaining his idealism is also an intentional strategic choice on Coulson's part. Many of the entities he deals with are either terrified and confused by their new powers or savvy antagonists who have plans within plans to deal with swat teams and superspy tricks. The former find his cheerful "it's OK, your power is cool, think of all the good it could do" attitude comforting, and it puts the latter on the back foot. The simplistic morality involved also puts him in the good graces of the norse gods, which is a matter of great concern to SHIELD.
- Dominic "Nicky" Hutchinson of Our Friends in the North has dreams of becoming a left-wing politician who will make a real difference to the lives of poor working-class people. First he joins the Labour party, but quits when he discovers the levels of corruption within. He then joins an anarchist group closer to the extreme Left, but quits when he realises that they're plotting terrorist acts. He then rejoins Labour and stands in the general election but loses thanks to a vicious smear campaign by his Tory opponents. Finally he accepts that he is too nice for politics and abandons his political ambitions.
- Daredevil (2015): Karen Page is possibly the most idealistic of the protagonists, and this manifests in her determinator style dedication to bringing down Wilson Fisk. It's dangerous, and it doesn't pay well (Karen ends up being forced to kill James Wesley, while allies like Ben Urich and Elena Cardenas get killed), but she knows it needs to happen because Fisk is a dangerous criminal.
- Billy Joel's song "Pressure" is about a Wide-Eyed Idealist and how unrealistic his hopes and expectations are.
- King!Rin of Death Should Not Have Taken Thee! believes steadfastly in the idealistic conventions of classic RPGs, sending Straight Man Soldier!Len out to gain EXP, Save the Princess and defeat the Final Boss. Len spends the song Lampshading this incessantly.
- Aja Perera during her rookie years, or at least in Valkyrie Pro, to which she was enthused to make a 14 hour drive to, seeing such drives and wrestling matches as great ways to make friends.
- 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, despite being the embodiment of despair (and possibly love). Nurgle is a Friend to All Living Things... it's just that bacteria, rats and other vermin are so much more numerous.
- His opposite number, Tzeentch subverts this pretty hard (despite being the embodiment of hope, of all emotions). He represents the desire for things to change, and as such is the patron god of mutants, sorcerers, and traitors.
- 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 do it to preserve the 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.
- In Anyone Can Whistle, Hapgood confesses to Fay that being this was what made him functionally insane:
"Until this morning, I was probably the craziest man in the world. Because I was not only an idealist, I was a practising idealist! Now that is mad; it's thankless; and it's absolutely exhausting!"
- 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.
- In a world that is in effect suffering the final stages of a cancer, Solaire of Dark Souls fame is as cheery and up-beat as they come (and unlike a few others, doesn't try to kill you). Being essentially (as many pointed out) the cooperative type player archetype, he is always nice to you and is eager to help with a boss battle. However, true to the tone, he undergoes a Heroic B.S.O.D. at his failings to find his purpose and if steps aren't taken, will be possessed by a Chaos Bug, forcing you to kill one of the nicest characters in a dying, bleak world.
- 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.
- Deconstructed in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, where the villains depend on Sora's idealism to lead him into a trap. Sora nearly gets his body taken over by the villain of the piece. Double subverted when Riku descends into Sora's heart and saves him, proving once again that Sora's friends are his power.
- Grovyle from Pokémon 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: Genealogy of the Holy War. 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.
- Endless Space has several of these. The Amoebas, Sophons, and the human Pilgrims who have traits like this. Amoebas and Pilgrims believe in mutual understanding, the Sophons prefer to focus on exploration and science. That said they are all Martial Pacifist, and they are not afraid to fight back if need be.
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Master Thief of the Thieves' Guild, Gentleman Jim Stacey is one. His belief in the Bal Molagmer (Just Like Robin Hood thieves who practice Karmic Thievery) is entirely personalnote , and the other Guild leaders don't practice it. Depending on how you play the game, he may also end up getting killed by the other local crime group and rivals to the Thieves Guild, the Camonna Tong.
- Kana Rua from Pillars of Eternity. Most party members are world-weary, scarred sorts with various traumas. Kana Rua is a young idealist on a quest for a lost tablet written by a great scholar, hoping to find it and end his people's xenophobic age by proving the world is more united than they thought. Depending on how the game goes, this idealism can either end up shattered or be tempered and strengthened.
- 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 B.S.O.D.. 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.
- Play with in 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.
- Earth keeps trying to befriend her hostile neighbors no matter how harshly they act towards her, and instead of being wary at the clear signs that there's something horribly wrong with Sun thinks that he's just going through a rough patch and needs some friendly support.
- Pluto thinks that the rest of the solar system's All of the Other Reindeer attitude towards him and their (understandable) fear of the Humanoid Abomination Black Hole is all a big misunderstanding and that they can all be friends.
- Three of the four kids who makes of the Wyre Cats team in We Are The Wyrecats neatly fall into this category in the flashbacks, but life has not been kind to them.
- 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 B.S.O.D., wishing he could save all his friends.
- Vigilant: Somewhat subverted in that Wayne realizes the city is evil and needs a hero. However, Wayne believes that the vigilantes are the good guys, and is shocked from his idealism when V kills the man who killed her parents instead of turning him in to the police.
- Dreamscape: Dylan is always willing to see the good in people, no matter what they may be like on the outside. Although just as so, those people are usually straight-up evil and he'll have to fight them.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Aang starts off this way. But being shouldered with the weight of the Avatar Spirit, his entire people dying, Appa's kidnapping and the horrors of war quickly got rid of it.
- Zuko also started out this way. Then his father burned his face off and kicked him out of the country as punishment for his idealism.
- Katara is this to some degree, at least in the earlier episodes. Her idealism is lampshaded by the portrayal of her by an actor in the Lampshade Extravaganza epsiode, The Ember Island Players:
"it just gave me so much hope...!"
- Clarence: The main titular character is like this, he’s able look on the positive side and find the way of making anything nearly interesting around him despite of some of the things that is quite opposite and based on his naivety, however there’s a point where he seem to take back because due to something that might be far too serious.
- Zaheer of Sequel Series The Legend of Korra is a villainous example who merits inclusion here as well as under Well-Intentioned Extremist - he plans to topple the Avatar world's governments so a better world can rise from the ashes, but he seems to think that the world will naturally turn into a utopia as soon as those pesky authority figures are out of the way, with no other steps required. Things don't quite work out that way, and his assassination of the Earth Queen only leads to an even worse and more restrictive regime taking the place of the old one.
- 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.
- Steven from Steven Universe is this in spades. However, unlike some other Idealists, he actually survives, making this a possible subversion.
- 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.
- Kaeloo: The eponymous character is ridiculously cheery despite the Crapsaccharine World she lives in.
- Wander over Yonder: Wander himself. He believes everyone has good inside them, including any and all Galactic Conquerors. This often gets him into deep trouble with Sylvia having to bail him out at the last moment.