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Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl

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"Keep your faith, raise your lively face
Just get rid of your broken wings—you're strong enough by now
I'll be your spark when you're lost in the dark
And let me be your song, be your match to
Light your heart up."
Mako Mankanshoku's theme, "Light Your Heart Up", Kill la Kill

The tendency for the brooding, angsty, loner boy to end up with a sweet, gentle girl who will patiently coax him out of his moods.

While the appeal of the brooding boy probably has something to do with All Girls Want Bad Boys, the brooding boy isn't necessarily bad, he's just… moody, troubled. At worst, he'll be an Anti-Hero who's put his bad boy past behind him or at least is trying to. Maybe he has a Dark and Troubled Past. Maybe he's a Hurting Hero. Maybe he's made terrible mistakes, and that weighs on his mind. Maybe he simply takes his responsibilities far more seriously than the rest of his teammates. Whatever the case, he's just waiting for someone to draw him out of his shell, and that person is the gentle girl.

For her part and unlike her kookier sisters (the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Genki Girl), the gentle girl doesn't try to actively shake the brooding boy out of his moodiness. Instead, she patiently and persistently offers kind words, either shy or gentle smiles, hugs, companionship, and hope. Usually The Power of Love will eventually heal the brooding boy, and she might learn some things about herself as well, especially if she ends up facing her own demons too. She may be the Living Emotional Crutch for the guy, but it's not necessary.


Eventually, their appearance will be used to underline their personalities. She tends to be blonde, while his hair is usually dark. This dynamic can also show up in a lot of Yaoi and Yuri work. If one of the partners is really cheerful and sweet, the other partner is probably an angst-fest waiting to be unleashed.

This relationship tends to be the focus of a Hurt/Comfort Fic. For a related couples trope based on personality dynamics, see Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl, Beast and Beauty, Ugly Guy, Hot Wife, Hot Guy, Ugly Wife, Light Liege, Dark Defender. Natural blue onis, especially in a Four-Temperament Ensemble that also has a Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl pairing.


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    Comic Books 
  • Angel & Faith has the titular characters, especially at the start of Season Nine, where Angel is recovering from having killed Giles.
  • Batman and Catwoman, although Catwoman is downplayed as she's a anti-heroine while Batman plays it straight.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes has Brainiac-5, a brooding genius with no social skills, and his Love Interest Supergirl, a cheerful and gentle girl who is one of the few persons able to brighten up his day (and put up with his foul moods for longer than five minutes).
  • In the Nova comics, the main character Richard Rider is serious and circumspect, and his sometimes-girlfriend is cheerful and perky.
  • Dream and Death from The Sandman are this. Ironically, Dream is the brooding one as he is constantly caught up in his responsibilities and the issues that result from them. Death, on the other hand, is a Perky Goth who is constantly upbeat, kindhearted, and ready to listen to Dream and offer support as his big sister.

    Fan Works 
  • The Homestuck fic armor portrays Karkat and Nepeta as this.
    "She is compassion in its purest form. She never backs down at the chance to help someone in need, opening her own heart in hopes that they will open theirs. Its what he adores about her the most.
    He was stubborn at first. Shying from her love, swatting away her benevolent hands. But she persisted: slowly, patiently, and lovingly. Always lovingly."
  • A Bed of Thorns has Belle and Rumpelstiltskin, for all that Rumpelstiltskin tries to hide it behind (tasteless) jokes.
  • Gender-flipped non-romantic example from The Bridge with Monster X and Aria Blaze. While they both brood at times and X has a gruffness to him, it's Aria Blaze who does the most brooding. The dynamic changes even more when it turns romantic as they help the other through their trauma and become more balanced.
  • In A Bridge Once Broken Loki is a brooding, PTSD-ridden, Broken Ace boy to Jahanna's gentle, loving girl.
  • In the Death Note Crack Fic A Charmed Life Light is angsty and brooding and Ryuk is gentle with him.
  • The Bleach fanfiction Chasing the Moon (and to a certain extent, it's prequel Phases of the Moon) sets this up with Yuzu Kurosaki and Byakuya Kuchiki.
  • Child of the Storm has this between Harry and Carol towards the end of the first book and at points in the sequel. However, it's a little unusual in that Carol is a spiky cynic (albeit much kinder than she initially appears, especially to Harry), has many issues of her own, and while she's perfectly happy to listen to Harry and comfort and counsel him when he's suffering from, say, a nasty case of PTSD in the sequel, she's also perfectly happy to give him a kick up the arse if he's wallowing. It's also sometimes Gender Flipped, with Carol having plenty of reasons of her own to brood, and Harry being compassionate to a fault and head over heels in Courtly Love with her (until chapter 46 when they finally get together).
  • This dynamic occurs in the Death Note Slash Fic Fever Dreams in which L is the brooding one and Light is the gentle one. While he's still very much a Manipulative Bastard he is very careful with how he treats L and of the detective's feelings. It's not just because treating L badly would be suspicious either but out of genuine concern for his well-being. As it turns out Light himself was on the receiving end of a very abusive relationship in the past and he doesn't want to treat L the way he was treated. This dynamic between him and L is turned up to eleven when Light allows his Kira memories to expire and reverts to the Nice Guy he used to be.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: Dev-Em is a brooding, surly boy; his girlfriend Kara is a kind-hearted, sunny girl.
  • Hope for the Heartless (The Black Cauldron fanfic) gives us a non-romantic version in the Horned King and Avalina. The Horned King is a monstrous and centuries old warlord who has been half-forced on a Redemption Quest he doesn't believe he can fulfill. Under his cold and scary mask he's lonely, desperate and tired. His aura of Death causes all living creatures to fear him on instinct and the plantlife to die in his presence. Also, he's prone to sarcastic humor. Avalina is a teenaged brush farmer who's as beautiful as she's pure. Her aura of Life is so strong that she can bring life to the Horned King's lands, befriend a gwythaint and a mad-out-of-grief horse of a knight, get inside the Horned King's shell and bring his centuries-long dead heart back to life. They're also the case of an Intergenerational Friendship, though the Horned King has shades of being a Parental Substitute towards Avalina.
  • In Jessica, Cameron's online girlfriend, "S," who helps him through the period after his mother's death.
  • In The King of Fighters fandom, almost any het pairing involving Iori Yagami involves the preferred partner note  invoking the trope via becoming the "only girl" able to offer him solace, tenderness and rest, "fixing" his massive issues coming from his centuries-long family baggage. Among the canon girls subjected to this, the most common ones are Athena Asamiya and Chizuru Kagura. And it's Hilarious in Hindsight when one considers the Drama CD's...
  • Wu Luan and Qing in Legend of the Black Scorpion, who deconstruct this as the original play Hamlet does.
  • The Secret Life of the Backyard Kids: Jorge and Angela. The former is a rich kid with a lot of issues, the latter is a Naïve Everygirl who thinks he's cute. Their conversation in Chapter 7 really drives it home.
  • Story of the Century. Original Character Erin is not the most patient of people and most of the time she is a Tsundere towards L, who in turn is a (seemingly) unrepentant Anti-Hero who says next to nothing about his problems (Erin does a lot of speculation on her part based on what little is given), but in a few peaceful moments, their dynamic dips into this; L seems to act slightly more "human" since they start hanging out and Erin does learn a few life lessons through their relationship. There could also be deconstruction going on too; unfortunately there's only so much "brooding" from him that Erin can take before she loses her gentlenessand in the end she still can't save him.
  • Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations and its sequel Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations Vol. 2 - Ex-Aid Era feat. Cross Ange provides a special case of both Brooding Boy and Girl in Samus and Mitsuzane. It serves as the purpose that Mitsuzane having recovered from Despair Event Horizon, shows him as an insecure man, spending most of the time living a life of solitude and regret. Depending on the Writer, the Gentle part could be either of them.
  • The Arrow fic Legacy is set twenty-five years in the future, but Oliver still has a tendency to brood. Fortunately, both Felicity and their daughter have a knack for smoothing away his grumpiness.
  • Maribat AU has the crossover ship of Marinette Dupain-Cheng, the All-Loving Hero Ladybug, and Damian Wayne, former child assassin and current Robin.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku and Blake form a gender-inverted version of this trope. Blake is brooding, anti-social, and paranoid due to her fear of being judged for being a faunus and her Dark and Troubled Past as a former member of the White Fang. Her belief that she's a coward and a fraud gives her a great deal of self-loathing. Izuku is a gentle and trusting soul who offers her constant companionship and comfort, finding nothing but good things to say about her despite his own Heroic Self-Deprecation. He also gives her an outlet to vent about her frustrations and tell her secrets without fearing reprisal, promising to act as her Secret Keeper for as long as she desires. But some of his attempts to cheer her up end up just embarrassing her, like when he's encouraging her to ask out wonderful guy she's apparently interested in when it's fairly clear to everyone except Izuku that she's talking about him.
  • In Off the Line, Vincent and Rainstorm have this dynamic, especially when the latter is in his female form.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has Red and Yellow as this. Red generally acts in a quiet, subdued manner, and he seems very unhappy, mostly by choice. Yellow is the one who does the talking for him, has a more cheerful and friendly attitude, and spends a lot of time and effort trying to get him to come out of his shell. Though their relationship seems more brother-sisterly-like which is probably a good thing since they're strongly implied to be half-siblings.
  • Downplayed with Steven and Daisy Oak in Pokemon Strangled Red after Miki's death. Their continued relationship is only referred to in passing.
  • In Prison Island Break, this is the dynamic shared by Shadow and Amy. Shadow is infatuated with her because of how kind and understanding she is, being the only person who tries to reach out and see the good in him. It's also the reason he starts falling for Sonia, whose gentle approach slowly thaws his cold exterior.
  • Izzyaro's Tales of the Founders explores this dynamic with Salazar Slytherin — a Broken Bird who briefly studied the Dark Arts to become stronger after the death of his family — and Helga Hufflepuff — a compassionate healer whose life he saved.
  • Gliscor (Brooding Boy) and Noivern (Gentle Girl) in Dark Amphithere's Total Pokémon Redux. Gliscor initially was uncomfortable around Noivern, because Pidgeot falsely blamed him. Noivern, on the other hand, helps Gliscor overcome his anxieties and wants him to be okay.
  • A Triangle in the Stars:
    • Though both boys, Bill is definitely brooding, and Steven is gentle, helping the triangle through his troubles. And sometimes, especially later, it's swapped and Bill helps back in his own way.
    • Gender Flipped and Downplayed with Steven and Connie, unlike in the show proper. It's especially highlighted in Chapter Forty-Six, where Connie can't even play Citchen Calamity because Bill was sitting right across from her, whereas Steven thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
  • This is almost ubiquitous in any The Walking Dead fanfiction starring Beth Greene and Daryl Dixon as the power couple, which skyrocketed in popularity (and amazingly has remained the most popular het ship in the fandom on Archive of Our Own) after "Still". Their canon backstories fit the dynamic to a T. Beth Greene is almost always portrayed as the sweet blonde virginal farmgirl from a slightly higher class. Daryl Dixon is the scarred manly hot-headed celibate guy with an abusive past who likes wearing an angel wing vest. In pretty much all of them, she is the key that opens up Daryl's heart, normally symbolized by him allowing her to see his scars (which he tends to hide in canon). Bonus points if it's complete with at least one Scar Survey after he takes her virginity. Extra if it's a Hurt/Comfort Fic.
  • The Pokémon and Infinity Train Crossover Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail has Lexi the brooding boy and Chloe the gentle girl. Lexi is a book who can detach his papers to a humanoid form, bitter at how Grace and Simon tore him apart and left him Buried Alive within the confines of his car for eight years. Chloe is a ten-year-old girl who has entered the Train in order to reinvent herself and is kind-hearted and gentle and slowly losing her shyness to embrace her likes. As one reader noted, the two of them are supportive of one another as the former is quick to give Chloe a well-needed confidence boost while Chloe is making sure to reign in Lexi's temper against the Apex.
    • In the same vein, Trip and Ash obtain a relationship like this. Trip is the stoic Unovan Trainer and Ash is the kind All-Loving Hero. However as the story goes on, Ash is going through a Guilt Complex over how he failed to be more supportive of Chloe while Trip is the one reeling him in and telling Ash that it's not his fault.
  • Metroid 10 gender-inverts the trope, with Samus Aran being a Brooding Babe while Ben Tennyson is a Gentle Guy. Samus is fairly stoic, reserved, and cold, with a Dark and Troubled Past of seeing her Arch-Enemy Ridley murder her mother and having her father sacrifice himself in an attempt to kill him, and her losing her Chozo family did not help her. By contrast, Ben is an optimistic, compassionate, and friendly All-Loving Hero, with a loving family back home and fairly upbeat even after all the fights he's been in. While Ben is definitely attracted to Samus, he also shows her compassion and understanding with her traumatic past, and becomes a close confidant to the bounty hunter, helping her with recurring nightmares of Ridley. It's this kindness that eventually causes Samus to similarly fall in love with him and become more emotionally vulnerable around him. That being said, they both are rather insecure around one another, with Samus worrying that her cold exterior isn't good for Ben, while Ben, due to dealing with a number of girls only interested in his fame than him as a person, wonders if he's good for her.
  • This Spooks fic called Demons has Lucas North developing this relationship with an OC named Andi when he stays at her apartment as part of an investigation, though she's not comfortable with him using her home for a stakeout at first. It is especially the case near the end when Andi has to console and calm down Lucas during one of his PTSD nightmares from his imprisonment and torture in Russia and though he tries to tell her he's alright and brush it off as "just a bad dream", he still accepts her warmth and compassion for him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast, though it only started resembling the trope after Beast did something else than brooding and yelling at Belle (read: saved her from a pack of wild wolves). From then on Belle realized that there was more to Beast than cruelty, tended to his wounds, and started helping him to become a better man… well, man-beast.
  • Hercules has a gender-flipped version with Megara (Brooding Girl) and Hercules (Gentle Boy). Megara was hurting badly after she made a Deal with the Devil with Hades and that backfired badly on her, so she was set as a Honey Trap of sorts for the super-strong Kind Hearted Simpleton Hercules… but Herc's cheerful approach to life and genuine care for people made Megara actually fall In Love with the Mark.
  • Wreck-It Ralph features both a straight platonic example with Ralph and Vanellope and a gender-inverted romantic example with Felix (gentle boy) and Calhoun (brooding girl).
  • Zootopia: Judy's emotional support and faith in Nick inspires him to believe in himself again and become the first fox police officer. This soon gets deconstructed pretty hard; while Judy is optimistic, idealistic, and supportive to Nick, she isn't perfect and her own flaws bring trouble to their relationship. Her subconscious bias regarding predators flares up during a public interview that almost ruins their friendship and causes considerable hardship in the eponymous city.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Bad Sleep Well, Koichi and Yoshiko Nishi take on these respective roles. Koichi is quiet but full of emotional turmoil, and Yoshiko is a gentle, physically disabled ingenue whom he falls in love with after marrying her.
  • Baśń O Ludziach Stąd has a brooding, angsty, loner girl end up with a boy who aimed for adorkable and overshot by a couple hundred metres.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): Unlike the animated original, the much more intelligent Beast fits this trope immediately, and it's his intelligence and education that woo Belle over.
  • Inception has Dom and Ariadne. The former is a fugitive who is still haunted by the memories of his dead wife, while the latter is the Naïve Newcomer whose more optimistic views help him get through the job and eventually get over his issues.
  • Love Songs: an entirely male version with Brooding Ismaël and sweet Erwann.
  • Maleficent has a non-romantic, gender-flipped version, a bit understated by their frequent Snark to Snark Combats. Maleficent is the brooding, bitter, angst-ridden Byronic Heroine and Diaval is the gentle Nice Guy offering her emotional support. While he is not the one to prompt her full Heel–Face Turn, he does encourage her helping Aurora and bonding with her, which leads to Maleficent turning good again.
  • In Panna a netvor, a Czech adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, Netvor (the Beast) is a bird-like Animalistic Abomination who broods about being neither human nor monster, but is increasingly moved by Julie's (the Beauty) kindness and innocence.
  • Star Wars: Padmé Amidala is the Gentle Girl to Anakin Skywalker's Brooding Boy.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) has a Kaiju version of this trope in Godzilla and Mothra—Godzilla is as grumpy and aggressive as ever, but he shows a sweeter side around Mothra, who is depicted as the Martial Pacifist Team Mom of the Kaiju and is especially loyal and kind to Godzilla himself.

  • The 10000 Dawns: Robert Brick can get moody at times, in contrast to his more cheerful girlfriend, Sasha Billie.
  • Rodion and Sonya from Crime and Punishment, with Rodion as the broody protagonist and Sonya as the downtrodden but nonetheless gentle prostitute.
  • The backstory of Michael and Julia in Vikram Seth's novel An Equal Music ended with a tragic version of this.
  • Eventually it seems to be Rolf Carlé and Eva's dynamics in Eva Luna. Not that she has not lived her woes, but he's the one most traumatized after going through Hell in World War II. One of their most iconic scenes has Rolf explaining said WWII woes as well as how his mentally-handicapped sister died in a psych ward, and Eva turns the sad story into a more hopeful one to re-write the circumstances and offer him solace.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey has broody and troubled Christian Grey and sweet, submissive Anastasia.
  • Finding Snowflakes: Subverted. The guy, who is usually stoic and reserved, has a relatively positive outlook towards life whereas the resident Genki Girl is actually really a closet cynic.
  • Forbidden: Maya and Lochan have this dynamic. They share the burden of taking care of their family (which is the same family) and so they're both somewhat brooding, but Lochan has the additional burden of social anxiety, and Maya helps ease that.
  • Rafael and Skylar in Gives Light, but they're both boys.
  • Ashley and Melanie in Gone with the Wind. Ashley, although respected by his community, is not quite one of them—he's more bookish and intellectual and less inclined towards the hunting and carousing his friends and neighbors enjoy. Then, after the horrors of the Civil War, he becomes even more withdrawn and brooding. He describes the sweet, kind Melanie as the "gentlest of dreams".
  • While in most contexts it's a bit of a stretch to call Ginny "gentle", she and Harry very clearly have this dynamic starting in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Harry is brooding and moody over the aftermath of Cedric's death, almost no one believing him about Voldemort's return, and being terrified over the possibility of Voldemort being able to possess him. Ginny manages to give him some comfort by having him actually talk about his fears, which helps him, somewhat. This continues in the next book, when Ginny offers him a comforting shoulder after Professor Dumbledore's death.
  • Same-gender example in The Heroes of Olympus and The Trials of Apollo. Nico is the son of Hades, the god of the underworld, and has had a fittingly troubled life. He's a black-haired, brooding loner who tends to drive people away with his general aura of death. Will, on the other hand, is the son of Apollo, the god of music, healing, and the sun. He's blond, optimistic, an accomplished healer, and one of the few people that can get Nico out of his shell.
  • Gender-inverted in The Hunger Games, with Katniss as the Hurting Hero and Peeta as the gentle, compassionate one.
  • Love Letters to the Dead: It looks like this will be the case with Sky and Laurel, with Sky being mysterious and Laurel being shy and sweet. However, these roles are flipped when it becomes apparent that Laurel is far more troubled than she first appears, and Sky tries his best to help her through her emotional turmoil.
  • Mara, Daughter of the Nile: Thutmose and Inanni would be this if Thutmose was the least bit interested in going through with their Arranged Marriage. Inanni even has an Internal Monologue about how she "would be a good wife to him and comfort him when he headached" (She has been led to believe that severe headaches are the reason he is a Mood-Swinger.)
  • Jace and Clary in The Mortal Instruments.
  • Caederyn and Allene in Spitfire. Caederyn is trying desperately to be be The Wise Prince and live up to his father's legacy; he's constantly conscious of wanting to ''deserve'' the authority he's been endowed with by birth. Allene, though no less thoughtful and intelligent than Caederyn, has a much sunnier disposition and is far more social.
  • Angsty social outcast Haru and cheerful optimist Nami in Tadgifauna. Though Nami gets a hell of a lot less cheerful after learning Haru cheated on her.
  • The Tairen Soul protagonists are this before Character Development kicks in. Rain is a centuries-old warrior who scorched the world, and Elysetta is the young, seemingly human woman who gives him catharsis and finds it difficult to adjust to Fey politics. One of the ways Rain courts her is by playing with her little sisters.
  • Twilight: Edward "This is the skin of a KILLER!" Cullen and Bella. In New Moon, however, gender-flipping this is what kicks off the Jacob/Bella relationship, with him being the gentle guy to Bella's "My boyfriend dumped me so my life is over" brooding.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Leafpool and Crowfeather are this; as is Crowfeather's first relationship with Feathertail.
    • Jayfeather and Half Moon are worth a mention, even though they have limited interaction in the books since they don't even live in the same time.
  • Subverted in Wuthering Heights: Cathy is far from gentle, but instead just as fierce and rugged at heart and almost as morally gray as the brooding Heathcliff himself. Isabella Linton thinks she's evoking this trope when she marries Heathcliff, but her delusion is brutally deconstructed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Fred played "Gentle Girl" to both Gunn and Wesley. Well, when Gunn and Fred began expressing interest in each other, neither were particularly broody. Wesley on the other hand...
    • Connor and Not-Cordelia. With a twist in that the Gentle Girl is evil, is only gentle while he's watching, and is manipulating him into serving as her Dragon.
  • Arrow has adorkable I.T girl Felicity and broody vigilante Oliver. An ongoing theme throughout the series is Felicity helping him to open up about his tragic past and trust people again. Given the Trauma Conga Line he's gone through, it's not surprising he needs a little help in learning to be happy again.
  • John Sheridan and Delenn on Babylon 5—he doesn't want to burden her with his problems and thinks he has to do it all himself. She disabuses him of that notion rather quickly.
  • Dylan and Brenda fit this from Beverly Hills, 90210.
  • Buffy would play this role to Angel, then Cordelia, and finally Faith would step up after the events in the comic series.
  • Clare and Eli from Degrassi are like this. Clare is a sweet, mostly innocent Christian girl, and Eli drives a hearse.
  • Rose and the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who are a pretty archetypical example. Later, Clara Oswald has this effect on both the Eleventh Doctor (when an incarnation of Clara coaxes a brooding Eleven out of self-imposed retirement) and the Twelfth (where Clara "prime" becomes his Morality Chain and The Heart of their relationship).
  • Jagger and Karen on General Hospital. Repeated a few years later with Stone and Robin, then a year after that with Jason and Robin (brain damage left him unable to express any emotion, so her getting him to laugh/cry/show love was a huge feat.
  • Gilmore Girls's season has Jess and Rory. Jess is the cynical brooding boy who falls for the town princess Rory after he discovers she has a passion for books and music similar to his own. Bonus points that both teens were a product of Teen Pregnancy but with two wildly different upbringings. note  A recurring theme is Rory believing that Jess can do more than everyone - including him - expects and that it doesn't have to be him against the world. Although they eventually break up due to Jess's issues, he later returns having got his life together, lost the brooding aspect, and acknowledged he couldn't have done so without Rory believing in him.
  • Joe and Ahim early on in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.
  • On NCIS, Agent Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane is slipping into the Gentle Girl role to Gibbs' Brooding Boy. As a fellow Shell-Shocked Veteran with her own demons to contend with, she understands him in ways very few people ever can, and he knows she understands him. Her inherent gentleness, compassion, and lack of judgment means she can coax him out of his dark moods when no one else can, and he will turn to her when he wouldn't turn to anyone else.
  • In Riverdale, Jughead is a very moody, sardonic and intense boy from the South Side of town who has teamed up with Betty, the kind, compassionate Girl Next Door in order to solve the murder of a local teen. They work very closely together and eventually develop feelings for each other, becoming a couple midway into season 1.
  • In Smallville, Clark's female companions/love interests tend to play this role to his brooding boy on his bad days: Lana Lang, Chloe Sullivan, and Lois Lane have all played this role at various times, and Lois ends up being the one who helps him move out of his formerly brooding ways completely by the end.
  • Arthur and Guinevere can be this at times on Merlin.
  • Power Rangers RPM: Summer/RPM Yellow is a caring Action Girl, who doesn't take crap from anyone. This naturally leaves her in charge of Dillon/RPM Black, wisecracking Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Stefan and Elena. Stefan is the mysterious, brooding vampire who falls in love with Elena, the sweet, cheerful girl next door, who often makes Stefan crack a smile.
    • When Damon takes a break from being the Deadpan Snarker to rival his brother for the brooding championship, Elena plays this to him as well.
    • Anna and Jeremy definitely fit here. While she is more of an Abhorrent Admirer a first, their eventual dynamic, especially after her death fits this trope down to a T.
  • Veronica Mars had Logan and Hannah during season 2.
  • Not explicitly romantic, but there's plenty of Ship Tease between Daryl Dixon and his Morality Pet Beth Greene in The Walking Dead.
  • The White Queen: Richard III and Elizabeth of York. His temperament becomes increasingly saturnine after he becomes king, and when a schism forms between Richard and his wife Anne Neville, the only person who can reach past his gloomy exterior is the kind Elizabeth.

  • In Country Music, songs about this trope could practically form a subgenre. If the male narrator in a song refers to himself melancholically as a "cowboy" and applies spiritually charged language to the object of his affection, it's probably this Trope. Bonus points are awarded for implying that the woman's love saved him from a dangerous path in life. These songs can either apply a lot of emotional weight in a short time by relating to concepts already present in the fandom's psyche or degenerate into a bad Strictly Formula piece.
  • Tsukiko Amano's song Bodaiju can be seen very easily as being written from the POV of a Gentle Girl and directed to a Brooding Boy.
    You come closer and then move away again, and the temperature of your body drops
    How much strength do I need?
    When the tips of your dreams pierce your chest even deeper, I’ll be here, I’ll always be by your side
    Don’t hesitate anymore, I’ll pull the blunt thorn out of you and cover the wound until the day you smile
  • In Franz Liszt's "A Faust Symphony," this well describes the relation between the first two movements, "Faust" and "Gretchen." The former has all the brooding and passion of a Byronic Hero, while the latter is gently melodious and intimately scored.
  • Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's duet, Don't Give Up could be seen as this trope. Gabriel's character is a serially unemployed man and ex-soldier whose home has been destroyed (Word of God says it's set during the Dust Bowl/Depression-era), edging towards suicide, and Bush sings wispy, gentle words of encouragement. It's set to a vaguely African, vaguely synth-pop beat. (It's also Better Than It Sounds.)

    Mythology & Religion 

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, glimpses of the future have shown the moody, anti-social Simon in a relationship with Mirielle, a gentle baker's girl. Though said relationship falls apart when Simon leans too much towards the dark side, subjugating and detaining Mirielle's superpowered friends. In the present, it's shown that Simon has taken an interest in Mirielle's oddly cheerful personality.

  • Hamlet and Ophelia from Hamlet could be seen as deconstruction of the pairing. It is suggested that they were quite close and affectionate before Hamlet's father died. Then, when Hamlet's stress of seeing the ghost of his father gets to him, poor Ophelia is stunned and has no idea how to help him. From then on he's acting mad, and his next scene with her has him denying their relationship ever happened. Then she goes crazy for other reasons…
  • Sam and Rose in Street Scene.
    Sam: What's the good of having brains, if nobody ever looks at you—if nobody knows you exist?
    Rose (gently): I know you exist, Sam.
  • The Grinning Man: Dea is the Gentle Girl to Grinpayne's Brooding Boy

    Visual Novels 
  • CLANNAD: Tomoya and Nagisa.
    • His father Naoyuki and Asuko in Clannad: The past path.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Makoto Naegi and Kyouko Kirigiri in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc are a Genderflipped version. After Kirigiri spends the majority of the game unable to trust anyone and feeling she has to take on the mystery alone, Naegi tells her You Are Not Alone and she just slightly begins to open up to him by the end of the third chapter. After he goes so far as to take the fall for her in the fifth chapter, she's decided to trust him completely as True Companions. Finally, when she seemed closest to the edge of a Despair Event Horizon in the final trial, he saves her from that despair, leading to the remaining students finally escaping.
    • Hajime Hinata and Chiaki Nanami in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair play it straight. Hajime's a rather cynical, withdrawn, and snarky guy brooding over the mystery of his forgotten talent, and Chiaki's a sweet, sleepy, and mellow girl who he grows to trust in and confide the most. Her execution in the fifth trial for an Accidental Murder throws him into a Heroic BSoD, and he's left floundering emotionally, spiraling deeper and deeper into despair until her ghost appears to lift him up in the sixth trial.
  • Almost all the Katawa Shoujo routes have elements of this and will bring up three big-ass deconstructions of the concept:
    • Hisao/Lilly: He broods because he has just found out that he has a severe heart condition and has just arrived to a totally different world, she's gentle and an Onee-sama despite her blindness. Their relationship helps Hisao open up and become happier, but doesn't do the same for Lilly. This, and Hisao's overdependence on her, nearly destroys their relationship—he will be reluctant to voice his objections to her leaving for Scotland despite how it will make both of them unhappy and she really doesn't want to leave, and "trusting Lilly's judgement" on it will tear them apart.
    • Hisao/Hanako: A gender-flipped example, where Hisao tries to support Hanako since she not only is a Shrinking Violet but has very serious self-image issues due to being Covered in Scars. If Hisao goes overboard, he'll go from Gentle Guy to "white knight", and since Hanako also has issues with being pitied she will end up screaming at him in their Bad Ending, calling him out on what she views as Hisao "using" her to make himself look good.
    • Hisao/Rin: Another gender-flipped example, with Hisao playing the part of the Cloud Cuckoo Landers Minder to Rin's Cloudcuckoolander/Mad Artist. Taking care of a person with serious emotional and mental issues, and one who's under heavy pressure as well, can be incredibly draining; one small mistake can either make the "caretaker" give up after the first fight or not be able to stop the other person from destroying themself.
  • Melody gives the option of pairing the protagonist with Becca - a relationship which fits this dynamic.
  • Can potentially happen in Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow , if the Plucky Girl Player Character hooks up with guys like Eduard (the local Amnesiac Lover), Asagi (who turns out to have quite the Hidden Depths), Kagura ( who has a very troubled Split Personality), or Soushirou (a Stepford Smiler who's dealing with his soon to come death ).
  • Inverted in the Kaori Route of Tokimeki Memorial 2: the main protagonist there is the Gentle Boy who patiently loves and supports Kaori, the Brooding Girl. The same can be said in the Novelization of that Route, Anata o Shinjiteru, although Shunta Torigoe (who takes the place of the main protagonist there), while having the same dynamic with her, is more energetic.
  • Surprisingly, the Player Character from True Love Junai Monogatari can become the Gentle Guy to more than one of his love interests, nevermind his stupidly high libido. The more striking examples are Mayumi Kamijou (who hides huge self-esteem problems under her Goodbad Girl facade and later goes through a very traumatic Attempted Rape) and Ryouko Shimazaki (an Idol Singer who hates the turn her career is taking but feels she cannot do anything to change it since her manager is her brother AND caretaker).

  • Subverted in Crepuscule with Setz and Carne. They certainly look the part, but as time goes on, it becomes evident that though Setz has his issues, he's at least trying to cope; once Carne's problems come to light, she's far more unstable. It doesn't take too long before their positions are swapped: Setz is the one who has to reassure the mentally ill Carne and ultimately try to save her when she goes insane. It doesn't end well.
  • Gender Inverted in Ever Blue, when Ten, a guy who's not dispirited upon his boat breaking in a couple of pieces or fazed when attacked by what may-or-may-not be the Grim Reaper meets Luna, a quiet, nervous and lonely young woman with quite a couple of secrets. They get on like house on fire.
  • Spoofed in this Penny Arcade strip.
    "I should warn you. My shit is way tormented."
    "I still love you. Even though you're so cool and rad."
  • Played with in Matchu. Matchu and Amber fit the bill personality-wise, but are also Star-Crossed Lovers who can't interact without something bad happening to either of them.
  • Pixie and Brutus: Brutus presumably saw a lot of nasty things in his military career and continues to be fairly dark and gruff. Pixie is a sweet little kitten who tries to make friends with everybody, happily offers to share her bed with Brutus, and apologizes for pouncing (which she's apparently unaware is too minor to hurt).

    Web Original 
  • Downplayed in Off the Page and into Life. Most of the time, Gail is willing to gently talk Henry out of one of his moods… but if that doesn't work, she's just as happy to use shouting and snarkiness, too.
  • Gender flipped in RWBY with Blake Belladonna and Sun Wukong. Blake has a very Dark and Troubled Past and feels she alone has to fight against the world's problems and frequently suffers from Heroic BSODs over her various issues. Whenever Sun sees Blake in distress, he often tries to cheer her up, usually to be ignored or coldly dismissed by her. The duet, "Like Morning Follows Night", from their perspectives, delves into this dynamic. Blake questions whether Sun understands what she's been through, and feels like she only causes suffering and tragedy to her loved ones, which is why she tries to keep everybody at a distance. Meanwhile, Sun tries to convince Blake to let go of her past and forgive herself for her mistakes.
  • Julia and Syrius from The War Comms are a (mostly) platonic version of this trope. That's not to say she doesn't try to make him smile, but she has enough experience to know that all he usually needs is a shoulder to cry on or someone to bandage his wounds. And she's more than happy to give that.
    • Come to think of it, Ralph and either Molly or Syrius fit rather well. Both Syrius and Molly are prone to lots of self-deprecation, and as said above he is very prone to self-harm and heavy depression, but whenever either of them is seen depressed the usually energetic Ralph comes up with surprisingly gentle behavior to make them smile.
  • this is the dynamic between Jester and Caleb in season 2 of Critical Role, with Liam (Caleb) even noting on a Talk Machina episode that the Sad one is soft for the sunshine one.

    Western Animation 
  • Terry and Dana from Batman Beyond have this dynamic in the first season, though with a teasing slant on Dana's end before Dana got Flanderized into The Obstructive Love Interest and Demoted to Extra later on. It's back in full force in "Epilogue".
  • Silverbolt and Blackarachnia in the Beast Wars's spin-off Beast Machines. This is a reversal of how their relationship started: he was a painfully earnest Knight in Shining Armor, she was a snarky Dark Action Girl. In the sequel series, however, he gets brainwashed into being a sadistic villain and is pretty traumatized by it when he's finally freed. He doesn't act like his old self again until the Grand Finale.
  • Deconstructed by Bojack Horseman with BoJack's relationship with Wanda, a peppy owl, in Season Two. Bojack finds it too difficult to change, Wanda has a hard time enjoying his negativity, and the relationship falls apart.
  • From Garfield and Friends, Gender Flipped version, Orson Pig and Lanolin Sheep in the U.S.Acres segments. Orson has given her a lot of kindness, so Lanolin at times, tries to show kindness back to him.
  • Gender-flipped and Zig-Zagged with Arnold and Helga in Hey Arnold!. Helga is a Broken Bird who acts as a bully to hide her insecurities and vulnerable side; Arnold is an All-Loving Hero who gives emotional advice and support to others (including Helga) when they are in some personal crisis. However, because the former acts as if she hates the latter, they hardly make any development in their relationship resulting in more friction.
  • The Magic School Bus: Arnold and Phoebe in the episode "Goes Cellular". Arnold was understandably moody and angsty, as he was orange on the night he was accepting a big geology award. Phoebe, on the other hand, stayed optimistic and even tried to help mask his orange skin… with flour.
    Phoebe: There. You don't look nearly so orange now. (giggles)
    Arnold: Phoebe, I can't go out there covered in flour! I look like a pumpkin pie!
  • Deconstructed with Eric Cartman and Heidi Turner in South Park. The two form a romantic relationship in Season 20 after quitting Twitter. However the sweet and compassionate Heidi, doesn't realize that Cartman isn't the misunderstood Jerk with a Heart of Gold he led her to believe but a notoriously manipulative sociopath and by the next season their relationship progressively deteriorates with Cartman constantly lashing out at her for the state of their relationship and decides to make her more like him by feeding her junk food and sharing his bigoted views. They become Birds of a Feather for a while only for Heidi to realize what Cartman's negativity has turned her into and decides to leave him for the sake of her well being.
  • Entrapta and Hordak in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, with the former often encouraging the latter to see that his imperfections are beautiful. Their relationship often crosses over with Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl.
  • Lance and Ilana from Sym-Bionic Titan, although their relationship is more familial and platonic than romantic.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Robin is far more serious and moody than his not-girlfriend Starfire, particularly whenever Robin gets laser-focused on stopping Slade. It's generally up to her to brighten his day with her cheer or give him a gentle and well-meaning What the Hell, Hero?.
    • Kid Flash and Jinx are a Gender Flipped version because she is gloomy over being walking-bad-luck and focused on her Villain Cred while he is very patient in his attempts at her Heel–Face Turn (and making her teammates look like idiots with his antics).
    • Beast Boy and Raven are another gender-flip. Even though they never have an official relationship on the show, Raven's troubled backstory mixed with Beast Boy's attempts at making her smile and laugh make them appear as such.
  • Winx Club: Resident gentle girl Flora's romantic interest who only appears in the comics is Karel, a brooding and mysterious werewolf.
  • Superboy and M'ggan in Young Justice have this dynamic through the first season, with M'ggan frequently being the one to coax him out of angry outbursts or sullen moods. Over the course of the season, however, it became more and more apparent that many aspects of M'ggan's "gentle girl" persona were cultivated as part of her Stepford Smiler act (and that she was deliberately modelling at least parts of her and Conner's relationship on a relationship she watched on a sitcom). Over time, as M'ggan grew more accepting of her true self, the more overt "gentle girl" traits faded into the background, while Conner developed more self-control over his temper and became better at regulating his own emotions. By season three, they've moved past this dynamic altogether, just in time to hand it off to newcomers Brion and Violet, although Violet, while possessing a female body, does not strictly consider herself to be a girl (but seems okay with female pronouns).
  • Platonic version between Duncan and Zoey during the fifth season of Total Drama. Duncan is a delinquent with a Hair-Trigger Temper and Hidden Heart of Gold, while Zoey is a Nice Girl who tries to see the best in everyone.


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