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Chilly Reception

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It sucks to be the new guy. You're alone, you don't know the rules of this place, you have no idea how to deal with group politics, and you're still trying to work out where on earth the bathroom is.

To make things worse, if this trope is in place, your very newbie-ness will earn you the ire of every other person in the group, making your first few days, weeks or even months on the job an absolute misery. It's not that you did anything wrong (although you might be led to believe otherwise), it's just that they don't know you, and that makes you the target of your new colleagues' every frustration.

It just doesn't seem fair. You've been assigned for a reason — you're talented, you're needed and you're qualified. Your new boss seems to have every confidence in you. Yet no one in this so-called team will talk to you, leaving you to blunder around on your own only to scream at you when you inevitably mess things up. Several will be downright hostile (up to and including bullying or hazing), and even the upper levels of the management won't step in to fight your corner — even the boss who has so much faith in you is liable to treat this as a Secret Test of Character, and leave you to sink or swim on your own.

Don't worry too much. You can count on your Blithe Spirit, Idiot Hero, or Pollyanna traits winning over your crew in time. You probably can't expect an actual, spoken apology from the people who made your life a lonely hell at the start of his career, though. You'll have to settle for a tacit one — for example, assigned the crappy job of cleaning the toilets for the seventh time that week, one of your crewmates actually turns up to help.

Various justifications for this trope may be given, which can affect the level of audience sympathy that the newbie's abusers get. If the newcomer is a replacement for someone the team feels can't or shouldn't be replaced, they tend to be much more sympathetic — after all, at least they're loyal, and the newbie can expect the same level of affection once they overcome their grief at the loss of their teammate. Still understandable, but less sympathetic, are instances where the newcomer isn't what the team was expecting (for example, they expected a courageous, aggressive person to lead them into battle and they get a soft-spoken diplomat instead), or the team is very close-knit and the addition of anyone else upsets the equilibrium. However, more Jerkass reasons may include racism, sexism, Small Name, Big Ego behaviour, jealousy (particularly if the newcomer is a natural at whatever it is the team does), or general personal nastiness.

A Chilly Reception is a temporary state of affairs — if it persists, it becomes All of the Other Reindeer, where the same kind of bullying is a result of some difference between the protagonist and their peers. This can be a logical progression — for example, if during the "probation" period the newcomer says or does something that marks them out as a rebel or outcast, such as disagreeing with some fundamental belief that the others hold.

Certain character types, such as the Defrosting Ice Queen, the Tsundere and The Rival, will probably make themselves known during the Chilly Reception. As noted above, this is often a Secret Test of Character and may feature one or more Sink Or Swim Mentors.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Eureka Seven: In the beginning, all the members of Gekkostate besides Eureka, treat Renton with apathy and disrespect, constantly mocking him, playing cruel pranks on him, blaming him for every little mishap, beating the crap out of him and generally treating him as the crew's resident Butt-Monkey until he Takes a Level in Badass and stands up to Holland. Keep in mind Renton is fourteen, and almost everyone else on the ship is an adult.
  • Gakuen Alice: Mikan's introduction to the academy is basically out-and-out bullying. The Alice children are pretty messed up anyway, with clique-ish and arrogant behaviour being considered the norm, so a newcomer was always going to have a hard time fitting in. Mikan makes things worse for herself by not being an Alice (at least, as far as she knows) and berating the other children for their better-than-thou attitude. Her Blithe Spirit wins her classmates over.
  • In Kaleido Star, Sora gets ridiculed by almost the entire cast because of a misunderstanding (if you're feeling forgiving) or because of the cast drawing their obvious conclusions (if you're not) — they assume she cheated her way in because of her unorthodox admission into the crew. Compounding the problem was Layla lecturing her in front of the other prospective Stage members and she joined slightly later than the other rookies, making her the odd woman out. Cue Sora being lumbered with an unfair amount of the chores and ridiculed at every opportunity, even by her future True Companions, Mia and Anna. Fortunately, it gets better.
  • One Piece: Nico Robin. Only Luffy knew of her good nature, the others only knew her as a villain, and one that had been particularly cruel to their former True Companion Vivi. What follows is an incredible display by Robin where she manages to defrost all of them by playing off their personality quirks, except for Zoro, who remained cold until one heartwarming moment at Skypiea.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this happens to Homura, in the first timeline, in contrast to her being very popular in the main timeline due to being smart and athletic. She isn't particularly good at sports due to being hospitalized for a long time and is also behind on her studies, so no one except Madoka likes her.
  • In the Sakura Wars OVA and television series, Sakura gets a chilly reception, particularly since she's a Country Mouse. At least Maria (the then-captain), gives her some credit despite the straight-talking, and gets Sakura on stage as soon as possible. See below for Video Game examples

    Comic Books 
  • Top 10: Joe Pi initially gets a cold response from some of the other cops, mostly because he's taking the place of a colleague who was killed in the line of duty. He quickly proves himself both on the streets and with his new partner's family.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Ultimately subverted in the epilogue of the fourth and final story. In canon, it's tradition in the Wonderbolts that every newbie is given an Embarrassing Nickname based on something they did on their first day. In this continuity, Twilight recalls how Rainbow Dash put a stop to said tradition when she coldly informed Spitfire that the nickname they'd given her was the same one her foalhood bullies used to use, resulting in the team agreeing to drop it.
  • Everyone Loves Mob Ritsu in chapter 3 gets a very chilly reception when he attempts to join the Body Improvement Club. This is justified as he is there to make sure that none of the guys are bothering Mob(gender-swapped) and has already threatened Onigawara to get him to stay away from her.
  • My Mirror, Sword and Shield: Suzaku gets this reaction twice when he first joins the Royal Guard and later the Knights of Round. This is mostly due to racism and the assumption that he slept with Emperor Lelouch to get his position. They never warm up to him and both groups end up getting dissolved when the Royal Guard is wiped out in their first battle and the Knights of Round attempt a coup.

    Film — Animated 
  • Kung Fu Panda: As Po admits, his first few days after being declared as the Dragon Warrior were awful with all his heroes (except for Master Oogway) making it clear they hated him and wanted him gone. Of course, he starts impressing most of the Five with his tireless tenacity and good cooking and humor, Shifu turned around seeing how phenomenally quickly he is learning martial arts and finally Tigress changed her mind after he defeated Tai Lung.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Bem Bom: This biopic about the Portuguese Girl Group Doce portrays the band's formation in such a way. Fá, Lena and Teresa have worked with each other in past projects and have experience in the music business. Laura is chosen to be the fourth member by the producers based on her looks and she has no experience, which really annoys Fá, and to a lesser extent Teresa and Lena. After some failed attempts at recording their first song, Fá storms out and Laura wants to leave, but is stopped by Teresa, while Lena convinces Fá to teach Laura how to sing since they're going to have to make this work anyhow. Laura manages to nail the song thanks to Fá's mentorship and she comes to be accepted.

  • In Another, most of Kouichi Sakakibara's class stares at him coldly when he first arrives; his class is under a curse, and fears that the presence of a new student will trigger it. Amusingly, in the live-action adaptation, one of the background students is actually smiling during this scene, as if he missed the memo on how to act.
  • In the Circle of Magic books, the four protagonists are all given a hard time when they arrive at Winding Circle, resulting in their removal to Discipline Cottage.
  • Menolly, a musician in the Dragonriders of Pern series, is accepted by almost everybody in Harper Hall, but the ones who object to her presence make her life hell. A rare example of the protagonist not winning everyone over — instead, she settles for getting her own back.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh!, Yuri is not what Wolfram and Gwendal wanted in a Demon King; Chosen One or not, he doesn't have a clue about the Demon Kingdom and its politics. That changes pretty quickly, with Wolfram falling head over heels for him and Gwendal establishing himself as a Reasonable Authority Figure prone to Cuteness Overload.
  • Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce. Kel hasn't even set foot in the castle for her Page training before she's being hazed, having been put on probation by her training master. Needless to say, the boys she trains with don't exactly improve matters. She makes friends and triumphs regardless
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: Hoo boy... Naofumi Iwatania AKA the Shield Hero is on the receiving end of this trope right from the start. At first it seems like just a mild form of inconvenience for him... until it drastically deteriorates completely after his little "helper" who decided to join him earler only did so to later steal his belongings as he slept and then proceeded to double-whammy it with her False Rape Accusation. After suffering such a horrific turn of events like that, it's literally no surprise he permanently became the polar-opposite of his formerly-jovial self.
  • RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant: In The Judgement of the Faunus, the Faunus seek the sanctuary of the Human settlement some of them came from when they were still Human. Instead of being welcomed home by their friends and relatives, they're confronted by cold, stone-faced villagers who close their doors and hearts and try to drive them away. This makes the ex-Human Faunus begin to understand why the ex-animal Faunus think Humans are so narrow-minded and heartless.
  • Captain William Lawrence, the human protagonist of the Temeraire series, received this treatment from many at the start of his Aerial Corps career for reasons ranging from his starting out in the Royal Navy to envy over him gaining the affections of a rare Chinese dragon to his response to the friendly and well-mannered overtures of a pilot that turned out to be an abusive Jerkass.
  • Warrior Cats: In A Dangerous Path, after Graystripe is exiled from RiverClan and returns home to ThunderClan, some of the ThunderClan cats treat him coolly because of his fling with the RiverClan she-cat Silverstream. Fireheart tells him to just ignore them, and soon enough, he gets treated more warmly when he exposes Darkstripe trying to murder Sorrelkit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Criminal Minds
    • The team is so close knit that it takes a couple of episodes for a new member to fit in with the dynamic.
    • Prentiss is a notable example; she got the cold shoulder at first because she showed up in the BAU, and Hotch and Gideon didn't sign off on her transfer. Strauss only put her on the team so she could dig up secrets to bring down Hotch. Prentiss definitely proved herself later by not "whispering in Strauss's ear" and she was officially accepted by the rest of the team.
  • This trope is used so many times on Law & Order, that it's almost expected by fans, but Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is where new characters get it the worse, such as with Casey Novak's first day and both Benson and Stabler treated her like an incompetent who was constantly in their way and bungled their case. The fact that both working in Sex Crimes and dealing with both of them made her cry by the end of her night makes one wonder how she stuck to the job. She didn't win their respect until she was able to locate the missing girl who was hidden in a cooler but alive.
    • The only other person who got it worse than her was Sonya Paxton, who from the very first day none of the characters hid their contempt for, especially Stabler, whose behavior towards her bordered on downright misogyny. Unlike Casey though, she was just as antagonistic towards the division and wasn't able to prove herself (but showing up intoxicated to court and wrecking what should have been a slam-dunk case after railing about how weak alcoholics are tends to undermine a person.) She did eventually return a few years later and was able to assist the detectives, but that came at too steep of a price.
    • Also, it can be expected for the new character to make a derisive comment about the person they replaced, with or without this trope coming into play or even if they're the one doling out the unfriendliness (with one of the few exceptions being Fontana never having a cross word for Briscoe, for obvious reasons.)
  • NCIS: It takes a lot for anyone on Team Gibbs to warm up to any newcomer. Notably, McGee was more sympathetic to the new-newcomer, Ziva, since he was the old-newcomer.
  • NYPD Blue:
    • When Simone replaced Kelly, Sipowitz gave him an extremely cold reception. It was basically:
      Simone: Hi, I'm Detective Simone.
      Sipowitz: Hi, how ya doin'.
      Sipowitz goes to Da Chief's office.
      Sipowitz: Yeah, this new guy, it's not working out.
    • This was purposeful on the producers' part because they felt that if Sipowitz gave Simone an extreme cold shoulder, and rejected him without giving him any chance, viewers would be more likely to see that and not do it themselves.
  • Power Rangers: Rears its ugly head a couple times in response to the Rookie Red Ranger. Specifically, Taylor isn't fond of Cole in Power Rangers Wild Force and Sky gives Jack the cold shoulder in Power Rangers S.P.D.. In both cases, it's less of a problem that a new guy's coming in and more that they're automatically promoted to leader; Taylor and Sky are by-the-book types with the most experience in their teams, and they didn't like suddenly having to take orders from rookies who don't particularly care for the rules. And for Sky's case, Jack's criminal past just prior to joining the team is probably a factor as well.
    • Power Rangers Time Force had Jen being a bit cold towards Wes, partly because he was inexperienced and also his resemblance towards her deceased boyfriend.
  • This happens to varying degrees in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. How chilly the reception seems to be in direct proportion to how popular the preceding character was and how their exit was handled. Jonas Quinn was never really well-received by O'Neill or the audience. Ronon Dex was loved as soon as he showed up in Atlantis. Oddly enough, even though Richard Woolsey was designed to be a shifty character, everyone got over the chilly reception pretty quick and accepted him as expedition leader.
  • The Walking Dead Season 3: After being gone from Rick's group for nine months, Andrea figures that they'll welcome her back happily. Instead, due to her ignorance about The Governor's true nature, the group greet her with weapons drawn at her, frisk her of any weapons, and are rather angry at her for her remaining stay at the prison.
  • When Will Bailey filled in for Sam on The West Wing, he was put through some pretty humiliating scenarios. The entire speechwriting staff quit on his first day in protest of him getting the job over anyone on the inside, CJ and Josh seemed to enjoy "hazing" him by slipping olives in his pockets or filling his office with bicycles, and Toby was icy towards him because he didn't respond the same way Sam did when Toby needed his help.
    Will: Seriously, Toby, you put me in that office and everyone on the speechwriting staff is going to resent me.
    Toby: It's a West Wing office. Everyone who works in the White House is gonna resent you.
  • The series premiere of Without a Trace was in-universe the first day for new team member Martin Fitzgerald. Supervisor Jack Malone lampshades this trope when introducing him, declaring, "Let's give him the frosty welcome every rookie deserves." He does get a bit of this—his father is a high-ranking official and it's assumed he got his position via Nepotism and that he's only using it as a stepping stone into a more prestigious assignment—to the point that Jack has to outright order fellow agent Danny Taylor to be nicer to him (which ultimately pays off, as the two become great friends).
  • Though done with a much smaller team, this trope is everywhere on The X-Files. In the pilot, Mulder is none too thrilled to be having a new partner and is snarky. Moreso than usual. Until about mid-season one, he fluctuates from being standoff-ish and friendly towards Scully.
    Mulder (responding to Scully's knock on the door): Nobody down here but the FBI's Most Unwanted.
    Scully: Agent Mulder. I'm Dana Scully. I've been assigned to work with you.
    Mulder: Oh, isn't it nice to be suddenly so highly regarded? So, who'd you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Scully?
    Scully: Actually, I'm looking forward to working with you. I've heard a lot about you.
    Mulder: Oh, really? I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me.
    • The truth is he's not wrong. Scully's mandate in being assigned to the X-Files is to provide evidence that Mulder is wasting Bureau resources and give their superiors cover to shut him down. They didn't foresee that she would side with him on a need to investigate the unknown, even as she disagrees with his conclusions.
    • Of course, once he and Scully become friends as well as partners, he's not too fond of his superiors assigning even temporary partners in her absence.
    • Scully acts in a similar way to the addition of Agent Doggett in season 8, though to be honest, he could have started off the partnership on a better foot. He lies about having known Mulder and tells Scully that Mulder never really trusted her, which led to this:
      Scully (flipping around Doggett's ID card): John Doggett. You might have introduced yourself.
      Doggett: I was getting around to it.
      (Scully stands up, glares at him, and throws her cup of water in his face)
    • The addition of Monica Reyes, ironically, didn't garner much attention from anyone, positive or negative. This could have been partially because Scully and Mulder were no longer really on the X-Files, and Monica and Doggett had worked together before.

    Video Games 
  • In Halo: Reach, you're informed at the beginning that you're being brought in to replace a well-liked member of the team who the others would have preferred to honour by leaving the spot empty. This doesn't have much of an effect on gameplay, but in a couple of cutscenes, some characters are dismissive or just ignore you. Except Jorge. By the end of the game, this is of course entirely gone.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the third chapter involves Mario competing in the Glitz Pit, which has two divisions- the minor league for fighters ranked #20 to #11 and the major league for fighters ranked #10 to #2- with the champion given a separate room. While most of the minor leaguers are friendly, the major leaguers greet Mario and Yoshi(who is Mario's partner by default in that scene due to being needed to defeat the Iron Clefts) with cold silence.
  • In Persona 5, the protagonist is met with distrust and hostility at his new student, Shujin Academy, due to word getting out about him being a juvenile delinquent who supposedly assaulted someone. Even some of the characters who eventually become party members are wary of him at first; Ryuji suspects the protagonist might rat him out to Kamoshida, while Ann is a bit standoffish, especially after noting that the protagonist lied about being sick that morning(since Ann saw him). The only exception is Ann's best friend Shiho, who is kind to joker in part because she knows people ostracize Ann.
  • Sakura Wars:
    • In Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, the main (male) character, Shinjiro Taiga, gets this from the veteran members of the Star Division. They were expecting the Commander of the Flower Division, not his rookie nephew with qualifications but no experience. Cheiron/Sagitta is loudly hostile, Subaru has no time for an ineffective rookie, and seniors Ratchet and Sunnyside don't really know what to do with him (well, Ratchet doesn't — Sunnyside might have been expecting this). This is adding insult to injury for Shinjiro: he thought he was joining the Japanese Flower Division force, was punted across to the USA instead, and was met by hostility and hazing when he got there. Of course, it's largely a Dating Sim, so you can guess how it all pans out.
    • Shinjiro is actually carrying on a family tradition of Chilly Receptions — his prestigious uncle, Ogami, got much the same treatment from the Flower Division as a Secret Test of Character (although Sakura, the victim of this in the anime, escaped this treatment for the games).
  • Stardew Valley: The small town you move into is wary of newcomers, and characters like Shane, Sebastian, George, and Linus will be particularly stand-offish and hostile until you raise their heart level. Even the friendlier sorts aren't particularly inclined to chat for long at first, and you'll probably be spending the first Flower Dance observing, as you're not close enough to anyone to participate. Later in the game, if you get married, the Mayor will admit he had concerns as to whether you'd ever fit in. The only characters that seem to be instantly friendly are Robin and Pierre. Y'know, people that live from selling you their products/services.
    Sebastian: “Oh. You just moved in, right? Cool. Out of all the places you could live, you chose Pelican Town?”

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, Amanda is very hard on Lily when she arrives at the diner and the protagonist starts training her as the new cook. Amanda even consults Veronica about potentially firing her.
  • The title character of Melody doesn’t want her new tutor when he shows up, and he has to earn her respect. Justified, as Melody didn’t click with any of her previous tutors.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Newbies on forums. In all but the friendliest or best shepherded forums, they get shouted down in discussions, mocked for their ignorance of forum rules (be they major or minor), and are wide open to sympathy-less measures by zealous/overbearing/bad-tempered moderators. Kinder moderators and forum members make allowances for newcomers...but there's a different forum persona who considers them "prey." Some newbies earn this ire from fellow forum-goers — others are just unlucky.
  • Needless to say, Truth in Television. From the new kid at school to the new signing for a football team, we've all seen it: there is at least one person who will be a complete Jerkass to people they don't know. In some extreme cases, hazing or bullying a newcomer is standard practice, and even the people in charge of making sure no one gets hurt will be loath to step in.