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 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, The Shepherd (the only person not picking on the rookie) 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
- 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.
- Alice Academy: 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 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 Kngdom 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this happens to Homura, in the first timeline, in contrast to her being very popular in the main timeline. She isn't particularly good at sports due to being hospitalizeed for a long time, and is also behind on her studies, so no one except Madoka likes her.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When Simone replaced Kelly, Sipowitz gave him an extremely cold reception. It was basically:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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's 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.
- 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 preceeding 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the 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.)
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- Prince Zuko is (understandably) shut down in his attempts to join the Avatar's party in Book 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, having been an antagonist to the group for most of their travels. Even after the others have accepted him, it takes some time for Katara, who was personally betrayed by Zuko at the end of Book 2, to stop giving him the treatment.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Newbie Dash" shows that a chilly reception is institutionalized by tradition in the Wonderbolts, Equestria's elite flying squad. Regardless of how popular the retiring pegasus is or how eager the 'Bolts are to have their new team member, every newbie is given an Embarrassing Nickname based on something they did on their first day (which becomes an Appropriated Appellation and Call Sign, also enforced) and given extra chores for not knowing all the flight drills right away. Even Rainbow Dash, whom the 'Bolts adore for her own accomplishments as much as she has worshiped them since she was a foal, receives this treatment.
- 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: many human beings will be a complete Jerkass to people they don't know. In some institutions, 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.