Condescending Compassion is when a person feels magnanimous enough not to hold someone's 'faults' against them openly. They can't help being a commoner, idiot, mutant or simply wrong so it would be rude to treat them badly because of it. Instead, they resort to the much better idea that they should be sympathetic or even friendly to that lesser being, but of course, they won't really take them seriously. In a way, the condescension or even pity is likely well intentioned, but if the target of this attitude realizes it (and they probably will) then they're naturally likely to be quite insulted or hurt.
May factor into Black and White Insanity or Windmill Political. Can be a rare trait for the Anti-Hero. Often runs in the background of White Man's Burden or Save Our Students plots, which explains why some viewers find those stories offensive and others find them inspiring or heartwarming. The phrases "You Are a Credit to Your Race" and "Not Like Other Girls" frequently ties into this worldview.
See also The Victim Must Be Confused.
- A weird accidental example in Fullmetal Alchemist. When Ed realizes Envy's true Freudian Excuse, namely envying humans for their ability to steel through hardships by forming strong bonds with each other, he treats it and by extension Envy with sympathy and pity. Envy immediately views it as this trope and is so humiliated and insulted that he commits suicide.
- A large part of the humor in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War comes from the protagonists being social Darwinists who equate love with vulnerability. They know any confession will be reciprocated, but neither person is actually willing to take the first step and confess, because they're too proud to admit that they love/'need' each other. Noblesse Oblige is specifically mentioned at one point.
- In Kaze to Ki no Uta, Gilbert sees this in regards to Serge due to his initial kindness and compassion, which absolutely annoys him to no end.
- An variant appears in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, with the Masters of the Ryonzampaku Dojo treating everybody that tries to fight YOMI / YAMI this way. As a high percentage of the people that try to fight the organisation (Muggles, the occasional Badass Normal and more "normal" martial artists) are pretty much raising the ire of a bunch of Sociopath Kung-Fu People who are walking Human Beings of Mass Destruction via Supernatural Martial Arts and they are the only ones who can give a fair fight, there is an odd In-Universe justification for said condescension.
- In Boarding School Juliet, the Dogs (as in the social group, not the species) and Cats fight. That's all they do together, all they've done for generations, and it's the only way any of them know how to interact with someone from the opposing side. Cats can only be important to Dogs as rivals, and vice versa. So Percia interprets Inuzuka's going easy on her as a 'rejection' of her, a statement that she doesn't matter to him in any way. The Irony is that Inuzuka acts like that because he is in love with her, and by being Oblivious to Love Percia managed to mistake his feelings for this trope.
- Haruhi Fujioka of Ouran High School Host Club is often subject to this from her well-meaning but painfully sheltered school friends, as a result of her scholarship admittance to Ouran High School for the ridiculously wealthy. Hilarity Ensues.
- Mingluan and Mingyi in Goddess Creation System seem like close brothers who can laugh and play together, but digging beneath the surface shows the ugly truth: Mingluan is a bastard and Mingyi considers himself inherently superior because of it and treats his brother as an inferior. Once Mingluan figures it out he's deeply insulted.
- Kimi no Okaa-san ni Kudasai! opens up with the protagonist, a down on his luck part timer, working up the courage to confess to his longtime crush and coworker, a single mother. Said confession consists of him asking her out with marriage in mind (fine), deflecting her claims that her age is a problem (fine)... and then proceeding to bring up the fact that society typically sees women approaching their thirties, who don't have their virginity, or already have children as undesirable, and that her circumstances (including her child) don't matter as long as they love each other. Cue her next rejection, asking what he can bring to the table if he wants to start a family with her, and him wondering where all of it went wrong.
- Common in the works of the German cartoonist Ralf König. A good example is a show-within-a-show-within-the-comic. The protagonist is a film critic with a Condescending Compassion bias. He shows the audience a movie where this is built into the narrative. The comic start with the film critic ranting about how movies these days are naive and shallow when it comes to homosexuality, making horrible mistakes such as portraying gays as capable of happiness and meaningful lives. Then he shows his own favorite movie. It's about gays getting beaten to death and falling in love with each other as they lie dying in the hospital. After the movie, he feels so sorry for the poor, poor little homos that he pretty much has a nervous breakdown.
- In one strip of The Feeling Prince Charles Had, a heterosexual character talks to a homosexual and holds a little well-meaning rant about how he thinks it's okay to be gay, ending with his wondering when we will ever get rid of homophobia and start treating homosexuals as equals. The reply: "Maybe when you no longer feel you need to give me permission."
- Morning Glories: Zoe accuses Casey of doing this with Hunter, telling him not to pine for someone who thinks she's doing the geeky kid a favor by being nice to him.
- Love and Rockets: In the story "An American in Palomar'', the titular American is a photographer taking pictures of the townspeople in order to show others "the beauty of their lives." Luba correctly points out that what he's really doing is making them look like sub-human savages in order to get rich.
- The Ultimates: Jan told Hank that he was amazing and brave during the fight with the Hulk. Hank knows that he was taken down with little effort in the start and did not help at all from that point on, and tells her that he hates patronizing.
- This comic Strip◊ from Joaquin Lavado (Quino) is titled "They are Just Like Us." Here comes a translation:
This "globalization" issue allows us to realize that the people of other races and cultures fall in love, Just Like Us.
And, like us, make love, and children are born of that love. Children that they love and care about, just like us.
And they need music to express themselves, dance and have fun, just like us.
And they weep in sorrow with tears like our own, and laugh with joy with loud guffaws, just like us.
They even rent the same movies that we see and eat the same fast food with the same soda we drink here.
What does all of this demonstrate? That they, though seeming so different, are just like us!
It's so easy to say, "They are just like us!" How long will it take for us to even begin to say "We are just like them"?
- In one of Spaceman Spiff's adventures, he decided to Mercy Kill a blob which he felt was so stupid that it could only stare blankly ahead. In reality, it was Calvin shooting spitballs at Susie.
- Anyone Can Become A Hero: The main character Johnny Joestar suffers from a lot of people coddling him at every turn out of pity because of his inability to walk.
- Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: Upon learning of her true reasons for going to Meridian and staying with Phobos, Alchemy calls Elyon out on being this. She says that while it's good Elyon is using her powers to help the people of Meridian, it's pretty glaring that she never stopped to ask why they were in such a poor state that they needed her help to begin with. Instead, she appears to be acting on the assumption that since she's a princess and they're commoners, that's simply the way it's supposed to be.
- My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic: The Space Ponies treat the Equestrians like they're still in nursery school when it comes to brute strength, think their ideas of harmony and friendship are silly and are all too happy to make them bipedal in order to improve their lives.
- In When the Wind is Southerly, sailors Horatio and Archie left the Navy and live together as lovers. Horatio is seriously ill (artistic license of "the madness of King George") and during one of his attacks, he had a violent argument with their servant girl Jane. Since then, they hate each other's guts. When visiting Mr. Bush asks why she didn't leave (and implies why she wasn't fired), Hornblower stiffly replies that "she claims to understand that I was unwell" and Bush thinks that "of course condescension from a servant would be intolerable to a man of Hornblower's pride".
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Jor-El regards Earth as the best place for his son Kal-El to live after escaping Krypton's destruction. However, he also regards Earth as primitive compared to Krypton, repeatedly referring to it as such and trying to explain what a video montage is to Izuku, who rolls with it to avoid seeming rude when they meet in K.E.L.E.X.'s simulation.
- While All Might is a good hero in Apotheosis (MHA), he believes that people with no quirks or impractical quirks should leave the dangerous heroing to people who won the Superpower Lottery. Which sounds practical on paper... if All Might hadn't completely forgotten the institutional discrimination and social ostracization people with no quirks or impractical quirks face. Combined with how All Might is publicly famous for saying that anybody could be a hero, it makes him a huge Hypocrite. Izuku is so angered by this condescension and casual disregard for the suffering he went through, it pushes him to destroy the system All Might and so many others like him benefit from.
- Sins of the Past: Adelene and Amicia's efforts to reach out to new girl Kamala are hampered by their refusal to take "No" for an answer. Adelene in particular sees herself as being incredibly generous when offering her a seat at their table, and takes Kamala's quiet insistence that she'd prefer eating alone as a massive personal slight.
- Antz: Muffy, the snobby WASP who takes incredible pity on the "poor, dirty, smelly" Z and Bala when they ask a simple question of how to get to the food wrapped in plastic at a picnic. She couldn't be more condescending if she tried.
Muffy: Darling [husband], they're poor, they're dirty, they're smelly. We have to help them...
Chip: Ugh, please, Muffy, not another Crusade.
Muffy: Chip, we have social obligations to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Chip: [rolls eyes]
Muffy: I know you laugh at my hobbies, but this is important to me. [nearly stomps on the ants she claims to want to help]
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame has Claude Frollo speak very condescendingly to Quasimodo when he finds out that Quasimodo has been helping Esmeralda. He says that someone so misshapen and ugly couldn't help but have lustful feelings for someone as beautiful as Esmeralda. In this sample, there is no compassion in the slightest and ironically it's Frollo who gives in to his feelings despite an entire musical number that details he knows what he is doing is wrong. It ultimately culminates in him giving her the option of being his or being burned alive.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: A potential example with Cartman and Kyle.
Cartman: All those times I said you were a big dumb Jew, I didn't mean it... you're not a Jew.
Kyle: [irritably] Yes I am! I am a Jew, Cartman!
Cartman: No, no, Kyle, don't be so hard on yourself.
- The reason this is a questionable example is that the film takes place within the early seasons of South Park where Cartman was more of an Expy of Archie Bunker (whose racism was due to being oblivious and from an older time) rather than The Sociopath Manipulative Bastard he is more well known for being nowadays. In this case, Cartman may legitimately think and believe that calling someone Jewish is an insult without actually understanding it what it means.
- The Bitter Tea of General Yen includes scenes of missionaries in China. They are all extremely condescending towards the Chinese people, and they all think they're savages who should be pitied and shown the Christian way of life.
- The Breakfast Club: This is Claire's attitude towards the unpopular kids in school, particularly Bender. Her popularity and friends influence her to be mean to those "beneath her," and much of her conflict stems from hating the fact that this is so.
- In But I'm a Cheerleader, this idea underlies the film's setup, starting with the intervention confrontation at the start of the film. Megan comes home from school to be confronted by her parents, her boyfriend, some of her female friends, and Mike, a self-described ex-gay staffer from a residential therapy program called True Directions. On her arrival at True Directions, Megan is put through an intense session led by camp director Mary, who strives to break down Megan's insistence that she isn't actually a lesbian and her presence there is a mistake. Megan is actually reduced to tears by the end of the session. It becomes clear that Mary thinks the True Directions program is attempting "therapeutic" intervention.
- An attempted and failed aversion resulted from the making of the 1932 black comedy/horror film Freaks. Director Todd Browning wanted to show sideshow performers to be, if not exactly ordinary, then at least well-adjusted and confident, and not in need of the other circus people to feel sorry for them or protect them from persecution. But he was forced to cut large portions of the screenplay by the film's producers (partly for censorship reasons and partly because the studio just wanted a shorter film), with the result that the freaks are pictured more as Noble Savages (they are even sympathetically referred to as children) and then as near-villains when they take their revenge in the climax.
- Get Out plays with this trope in a very interesting way. The members of the Coagula, including the founders, the Armitage family, love and admire black people so much that they want to be black themselves and have developed and perfected the Coagula technique, which allows them to place the brain of an old white person into the body of a young black person and enjoy the life that they always wanted, as well as the perks that (they imagine) come with being black.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this is actively used as an intentional insult by Harry toward Voldemort, as he points out that for all of Voldemort's supposed superiority, he's an utterly pathetic individual, incapable of understanding love or friendship. Considering what kind of person Voldemort is, hinting that he's pitiable at all is probably the most virulent insult someone could sling his way.
- "You're the weak one. And you'll never know love or friendship. And I feel sorry for you."
- In a film called Hate Crime, the mother of a young man convicted of murdering a gay man decides that the Christian thing to do is to offer condolences to the mother of the gay man. She says something to the tune of "Well, after all, your son's bad choices weren't your fault." Bitch gets slapped.
- The gentile teacher at the beginning of The Hebrew Hammer implores her all-Christian students to be respectful of Mordechai's different faith and practices, although that doesn't stop her from throwing a few jabs at Jews into her speech.
- Played with by the protagonists of Inception as they write the story of the Dream Within a Dream. Their target is a young heir who they intend to manipulate to make a certain business decision. There is some resentment between him and his dead father, with the father's last word to him being "disappointed". The protagonists resolve this by giving him a fake epiphany...
Son: I know, you were disappointed because I couldn't be you.
Father: No... I was disappointed... because you tried.
- In Iron Sky after being brought back to earth, James Washington, a black astronaut who accidentally discovered the secret Nazi moon base, is horrified to learn his skin, hair, and eyes were dyed a lighter color. When he demands that Renate Richter, who had spent her life on the moon base and was sent to earth on a fact-finding mission, give him an explanation, she responds with shocked confusion, insisting she was doing him a favor by talking to the base's doctors into making him a white man.
- In the movie The Ledge, the Christian antagonist openly feels sorry for the atheist protagonist's "empty life without God" as well as for his gay roommate (he mistakes them for lovers). This doesn't sit well with the protagonist, who then decides to seduce the antagonist's wife in retaliation.
- In Mammoth, believing prostitution to be horrible, Leo keeps feeling sorry for Cookie. He does this in a way that's actually shaming her and would emotionally damage her if she internalized it.
- On the Bowery: At one point Ray manages to get into a mission that admits hobos from the Bowery. He manages to sit through a condescending sermon from a preacher telling all the hobos to accept Jesus, but after a mission worker rattles off all the rules that transients have to obey in order to get a bed, Ray leaves in disgust and goes back to the Bowery to get drunk.
- The main conflict in The SM Judge is about how the prosecutor and others are trying to cast Magda in the role of the poor little victim who everyone should feel sorry for -never mind that the prosecutor himself is the only one having a real harmful influence on her life. Ironically, she didn't get any help when she hated herself for being a masochist or when she got abused for real by her previous husband. Nope, the pity comes only after she has turned her life around so that everything is going great.
- The War: A new teacher comes to town and she's not prejudiced in the slightest bit. She thinks it's wonderful that dumb black children have to sit in the back of her classroom while the bright white children get all her attention. That's what makes life "a bowl full of cherries" for her.
- X-Men Film Series
- X-Men: The Last Stand: The quest by Angel's father to help his son is a classic example, only fueling the son's self-hatred. As he caught his young Angel trying to cut off his own wings, he reacted with revulsion to the fact that his son was a mutant. He then dedicated his life to trying to "cure" his son from being a mutant.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: Played with when a nurse tells Mystique that she feels sorry for the blue-skinned woman she saw on TV because it must have been such a shame to be born looking like that, but she's unaware that she's talking to the woman in question.
- In 3096 Days, the autobiography of Natascha Kampusch, Natascha discusses this trope. She was kidnapped as a child, and after she got free, she experienced that people tried to reduce her to a victimhood-role that was basically there for these people to feel better about themselves at the victim's expense.
- The "Smug Marrieds" in both the novel and films in the Bridget Jones series either passive aggressively shame/pity single peers (mostly women) when they aren't asking "How's Your Love Life?" or making "tick tock tick tock" sounds when reminding Bridget about her biological clock.
- Trolls and dwarfs have almost always been at war (one's big, stupid, and made of minerals, the other's small, aggressive, and always on the lookout for precious ores to mine...), but Thud! puts a new spin by quoting an excerpt from The Fundamentalist's explanation, citing that trolls should be pitied for being misshapen and crude, being made from the leftovers used to fashion dwarves and humans. Which turns out to have been a direct contradiction of the real holy text, in which trolls created themselves. The dwarf grags nearly got into a civil war over their greatest tenet being overruled and destroying a holy text (a just-as-big taboo), eventually settling for trying to blame the murder on the trolls.
- In Hogfather, Death calls out an Expy of Good King Wenceslas for engaging in this trope, when the fellow brought leftovers from his own holiday feast to a peasant's hut and insisted that the peasant (who'd actually been looking forward to his own homemade bean supper) express effusive gratitude, to make the king feel good about himself. Back in the city, a woman leading carolers is said to be kind to the poor ... so long as they're polite, not too smelly, and deferentially thankful.
- Don Quixote: the first part of the novel give us The Barber and the Curate, two Moral Guardians, and in the second part Loony Fan Sanson Carrásco, whose sincere desire to help that poor fool, Don Quixote and cure his madness is sabotaged by this attitude, rendering all of them into Threshold Guardians. Also, all three do things to help him that could be easily described as "crazy".
- Emma: Mrs. Elton, newly married to a local clergyman, immediately fancies herself the best, most respectable woman of the neighbourhood, even among the long-settled families of country gentry. She is quite rich and a new bride, so people in Highbury respect her and tolerate her to a certain degree, but she is insufferable. She forces her friendship and tries to mentor Jane Fairfax, who is an accomplished young lady, and because she is poor and of less consequence, she can't escape Mrs. Elton's condescending goodwill as well as other characters.
- Esther Diamond: When one of the drag queens from the first book finds out that Max and Lysander have been voluntarily celibate for decades in Max's case and his whole life in Lysander's, his reaction os one of horrified shock. When told to be more tolerant, he replies:
Whoopsy Daisy: I'm not intolerant. I'm flooded with pity.
- In Goodbye To Berlin, the short story "The Landauers" involves Christopher befriending a rich Jewish family whose members all try to get his opinions on various topics, but then get unreasonably angry when he actually gives his opinion. This is perhaps best epitomized by Natalia Landauer's Catchphrase, "Then I cannot help you" - always delivered when Christopher declines to perform some favor for her.
- Harry Potter:
- This is how the non-Death Eater members of the magical community of Britain tend to treat Muggles. Even though the Muggle Prime Minister is supposed to be Fudge and Scrimgeour's equal in authority, they treat him like a child, which understandably frustrates him. Even Arthur Weasley looks upon the non-magical population like animals at the zoo who entertain him with their behavior rather than people. This could be the result of a mild culture-wide Inferiority Superiority Complex, however, since it's at times suggested that despite their lack of magical powers or prowess, Muggles as a whole are actually more of a threat to the wizarding world than vice versa.
- Hermione's treatment of House Elves has shades of this, though she doesn't realise it and truly believes that she is the only one who treats them as equals. Their Blue-and-Orange Morality makes them eager to serve humans, and they're offended by such notions as "freedom" and "payment". They like working for kind, understanding humans better than mistreatment, but they still (with only one exception that we see) prefer mistreatment to freedom, to the point where they literally consider it a Fate Worse than Death. Hermione, believing that she knows what's best for them and that they'll like freedom "once they've got a taste of it," attempts to trick them into freeing themselves. The House-Elves are insulted by this and Dobby even notes that he's become the main person to clean Gryffindor house since. Dumbledore, by contrast, treats them kindly and respectfully and gladly agrees to pay the one House Elf who asks for it but does not suggest freeing the majority who don't desire it.
- In David Weber's Honor Harrington series, this is one of the attitudes that (nicer) civilians of the Solarian League have towards non-league "neobarbs".
- I Choose Life, the autobiography of Sabine Dardenne. She spends the last part of her book talking about this trope. Kidnapped as a kid, later saved, but experienced that people tried reducing her to a victim.
- Taken to a terrifying extreme in Old Man's War: The Consu are not xenophobic monsters like everyone assumed. Quite the contrary, they love everybody and want to help all the other races of the galaxy achieve peace and enlightenment. Problem is, they see themselves as the pinnacle of civilization and their idea of helping people advance is to force them to be more like the Consu through war and suffering.
- Pride and Prejudice:
- This is a big part of why Elizabeth rejects Mr. Darcy's first proposal. While his feelings are genuine, he spends most of the proposal repeatedly pointing out her family's poor status and her relatives' embarrassing behavior, and how sorry he feels for her. She brutally tears into him for it. This helps Darcy realize his main character flaw, which is right there in the book's title.
- When he receives news that Lydia Bennet has eloped with Wickham, the rector Mr. Collins decides that it would be a good idea to write to Mr. Bennet and "console" him and his cousins on their misfortune. These condolences primarily come in the form of a self-righteous lecture about what a wicked and shameful girl Lydia is and how she's brought ruin on them all through her selfish conduct. The 1995 TV adaptation has him come and deliver this lecture in person... which, needless to say, just endears him to the Bennet sisters even more.
- The universe of A Series of Unfortunate Events is filled with well-meaning but condescending adults who pity and attempt to help the Baudelaire orphans in various ill-thought-out ways, and usually end up making their situation a lot worse.
- Lampshaded in The Tamuli. Throughout the previous trilogy The Elenium, the protagonists have been Elenes who are very pro-Styric despite the widespread anti-Styric attitudes that exist among Elenes and stand up against Elene racism on the matter. However, in The Tamuli, they finally get to see the great city of the Styrics - and the shock of seeing Styrics living ordinary, normal lives like Elenes, as equals to Elenes, instead of the downtrodden, victimised people they're used to seeing, makes them realise that they'd been courting condescending compassion all along. Being good people at heart, they're able to confront this ugly side of themselves and overcome it, but it's a shock to the system when they're first exposed to the reality of the type of compassion they'd previously been feeling.
- The Yithians suffer from this when dealing with humanity in The Tower of Zhaal. They have plans to trap humanity's survivors in a Lotus-Eater Machine in the Dream Land as a way of "saving" us from extinction. This is actually noteworthy as most advanced species are Blue-and-Orange Morality at best.
- In Warbreaker, Vivenna tries to be understanding towards the prickly Jewels after learning that she lost her Breath to one of the Returned. Jewels responds that being chosen to give your Breath to a god is an honor for her people and that her sacrifice helped save her family from starvation, and thus she really isn't interested in Vivenna's pity.
- In David Weber's The War God's Own, this is the attitude of spoiled young Sir Vaijon of Almerhas when first introduced. Things go to hell when he meets the protagonist, who is of a race that Vaijon considers the lowest of the low and has been personally chosen as champion by the patron god of Vaijon's military order.
- In Milk Goes to School, Milk comes off as a Spoiled Brat (no pun intended) to the other kids due to her saying things like, "Sit by me, you're pretty like I am".
- Jim Beal from the William Johnstone novel Prey is a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic whose official position (which to be fair, he actually seems to believe in) is that black people aren't naturally inferior, but were made inferior by the centuries they were given limited education and prospects due to slavery and segregation. The reader isn't meant to agree with him (at least not entirely) but he comes across as very much a Lighter Shade Of Black due to not being a Western Terrorist, unlike neighboring militia leader Victor Radford, and Ax-Crazy Neo-Nazi.
- The first episode of Adam Ruins Everything points this out as a contributing factor to why various charitable giving operations don't help like we think they do. Adam asks his student-for-the-day Emily what she visualizes when thinking about a citizen of an African country. What she comes up with is a string of stereotypes of rural African communities before stopping and realizing how condescending she sounds. Later in the episode, it is implied that this contributes to the attitude that poor people can't just be given money directly because they might spend it on things they don't need.
- Deconstructed in the All in the Family episode "The Games Bunkers Play". Throughout the series, Mike is a staunch liberal who supports civil rights for black people and acts friendly towards the Bunkers' black neighbor Lionel, whom he always wants to discuss racial issues with. During the game in the episode, Lionel reveals to Mike that he finds Mike's attitude towards him patronizing and he feels like Mike just sees him as a representative of all black people he can talk to. Mike tries to defend himself and point out how much of a bigot Archie is with his attitude. Lionel then points out that Archie's attitude is a result of him being an ignorant boob who doesn't know any better. Mike, on the other hand, is smart enough to know but treats Lionel less like an individual person than Archie does.
- In the episode "Early 21st Century Romanticism", Britta makes friends with a lesbian for the sole purpose of having an excuse to smugly brag to everybody about what a progressive and tolerant person she is. At one point, the rather naïve and sheltered Annie curiously asks her some questions about her friend, and Britta uses this opportunity to condescendingly lecture her on her "homophobia" and how it makes her a lesser person. It turned out that Britta's "lesbian" friend was straight, thought that Britta was a lesbian, and befriended her for exactly the same reason. Neither girl was very happy to find out the truth.
- In two episodes, the main characters run a Dungeons & Dragons game to help an outsider who is a passionate fan of the game resolve some personal issues in their life (in the first case, to help a potentially suicidal young man feel a connection; in the second, to bridge a divide between an estranged father and son). However, while in both cases they mean well, it's pretty clear that almost all the main characters consider Dungeons and Dragons stupid and beneath them, and they initially just plan to run a game where the person they're trying to help scores an easy victory under the assumption that this will automatically solve their problem. This results in them coming off as unintentionally patronising, condescending and dismissive to the person they're trying to help.
- In a The Daily Show bit just after Obama's election, Larry Wilmore got all excited about finally getting the chance to exercise his "black liberal guilt" by condescendingly praising other races for basic accomplishments like being hardworking and having cute children.
- Doctor Who: In "The Unquiet Dead", Rose (from the early 21st century) is sympathetic towards housemaid Gwyneth (from 1869), and tries to give her advice on how to improve her situation. Gwyneth doesn't think her situation is particularly sad, however, and is insulted by the insinuation. It's softened somewhat by the fact that Gwyneth's Psychic Powers allow her to read Rose, and she understands that this is simply because Rose's background is fundamentally different than hers.
- On Everybody Hates Chris, it was a Running Gag that every time Miss Morello addressed Chris personally, she would say something that could be construed as "I'm so happy that for once a young black boy is trying to better himself through education, instead of growing up to be the criminal I thought he was."
- In an episode of Fringe, a doctor with a paraplegic son was killing other paraplegics in an attempt to find a cure for his son's condition. When the son found out, he was not only horrified by the murders his father was committing but incredibly hurt both that his father didn't accept him the way he was and that he tried to justify the deaths as acceptable mercy killings.
- In Highway to Heaven, a bar patron is highly offended when his efforts to buy a drink for a man in a wheelchair, just because he is in a wheelchair, are met with "No, thank you." He thought he deserved brownie points for "being nice to a cripple."
- House addresses this a few times in the mentality of doctors and their patients. Cameron previously was married to a man who she knew was dying of terminal cancer, and their marriage naturally only lasted six months. She finds herself likely attracted to the miserable, depressed, crippled House, and makes several advances on him. Eventually, House spells it out that what she feels for him isn't love, it's pity, and that he's not going to go into a relationship based on something like that. Likewise, Wilson's repeated failed marriages are attributed by House that he's only attracted to women who are "broken", and then loses interest when they get back on their feet. Again, it's implied this is a major reason why Wilson and House are friends since House is so damaged that Wilson just can't fix him no matter how long they're together.
- In season 9 of How I Met Your Mother, the front desk clerk Curtis constantly and repeatedly pities Ted for being single at a romantic location and during a wedding.
- In Red Dwarf, Lister indignantly refutes Kochanski's insinuation that he is homophobic by citing his drinking-buddies status with a gay crewman who he describes as being just one of the boys. The fact the crewman's nickname is Bent Bob doesn't seem at all incongruous to him.
- An episode of Saved by the Bell has Zack dating a paraplegic girl. He is very considerate to her, but to such an extent that he slides into this trope — at one point loudly and publicly "congratulating" her for going through life in a wheelchair when she'd much rather just be treated normally. She calls him out on it and breaks up with him, but by the end of the episode he's learned the error of his ways and they reunite (at least temporarily).
- Ironside wanted to ward this attitude off in the pilot episode. Noticing that his staff were being a bit too protective of him, he sternly ordered each one to repeat the sentence, "Ironside, you're a cripple." After they reluctantly did so, he stared them down. "Now you've all said it. And none of you ever need to say it again."
- In the Regency episode of The Supersizers Eat, it is mentioned that the Enclosure Act prohibited anyone but the landowners from hunting on the land (anyone else becomes guilty of poaching), there were bad harvests and high taxation which lead to famines a bad time to be poor. The scene where Sue as an upper-middle-class lady goes distributing leftovers to the poor reeks of condescension. Hard and uncomfortable to watch, but Sue's delivery is also funny as hell.
- Speechless has a lot of fun mocking this attitude in people, with J.J. and his family constantly either being annoyed by people's pity or shamelessly exploiting it.
- Nanne Grönvall's song "Fördomar" (Prejudice) plays this for laughs. The whole song is about the protagonist bragging about how she's a perfect Mary Sue who does not have any prejudice whatsoever. The first verse is simply about how great and open-minded she is in general. The second verse is the Alice of this trope, expecting gratitude from gays for not despising them. The rest of the song goes downhill from there with blatant racism (against blacks and whites), sexism (against men and women), ageism (against young people and old people) and so on.
- The narrator of "I Thought I'd Lost You" is annoyed by various well-intentioned people acting like her loss wasn't important.
Nobody listens to me
Don't hear a single thing I've said
Say anything to soothe me
Anything to get you from my head...
- A popular Christmas song, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid has an equally large amount of people who dislike it and accuse it of playing this very, very straight. It was written in 1984 to raise money for famine relief in Africa and was re-recorded in 1989, 2004, and 2014 for similar causes, but its lyrics play into the insulting Western stereotypes of the continent of Africa as a desolate place full of miserable and ignorant people, with many arguing the song did more harm than good for the people it tried to help. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2010, even one of its writers, Bob Geldof, called it "[one of the] two worst songs in history."
- In several Dungeons & Dragons editions, this is noted to be a common flaw of the Always Lawful Good metallic dragons. While they won't hurt humans and other sentient beings unless in self defense or for a very good reason, they don't take them seriously, instead considering them like humans would consider a puppy or a kitten - they are going to be friendly and kind to them, but they won't consider them as anywhere close to their equals. Only silver dragons consistently escape this trap.
- Warhammer 40,000: Defining characteristic of the Tau attitude toward other races. Depending on the Writer this may be presented as a marginally better alternative to the Absolute Xenophobe Imperium of Man, or much, much worse because at least the humans are honest about how much they hate you.
- Brettonian society in Warhammer is so ridiculously stratified that commoners are literally seen as a different (and inferior) species than the nobles. This view leads this trope being common amongst the more "compassionate" of lords and knights. For example, a lord who mistreats his peasants may see several of his neighbors band together to depose him. This isn't because they actually care about the welfare of the peasants, but because abusing poor defenseless peasants is conduct unbecoming of a Brettonian noble that makes the noble class look bad.
- Wicked: The entire song "Popular" is this.
- RENT includes a scene where Mark intervenes when two cops try to bully an old homeless woman away from the street by filming their encounter. When the cops give up and leave, the homeless woman then lays into Mark for using her and her struggles as a mere prop for his art and to make himself feel like a progressive radical resisting the system rather than doing anything practical to help her — tellingly, when she asks him if he has a dollar he can give her, the result is merely awkward silence. It particularly has bite since it's heavily implied (in both play and film) that Mark has less reason than most of the other characters to live in poverty but chooses to do so for reasons of what he considers to be artistic integrity.
- Dragon Age: The Chantry's attitude about elves when they aren't outright racist toward them (which many city elves doubly resent because the Chantry put them in poverty and second-class citizenry in the first place). Then again, the Chantry has this reputation in general.
- In Dragon Age II, Sebastian tries to sell Merrill on the Chantry by talking about its work caring for orphans and widows. Merrill questions why orphans and widows need to be cared for — in her own clan, they are treated just like everyone else.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Vivienne often gives this impression when she isn't acting like a Rich Bitch. While she claims to care about "the people of Thedas" and lists protecting them from the dangers of magic (despite being a mage herself) as her main motivation, she won't descend from her opulent balls and high ivory towers to actually slum with them, and disapproves of an Inquisitor whom she feels does so too much.
- This is the primary motivation of Fate/Grand Order's Big Bad as Goetia genuinely sympathizes with humanity's suffering but takes the most condescending way to go about fixing it, choosing to incinerate the Earth, eliminate them all, and start anew since he, an immortal being, believes that humans have absurdly short and miserable lives and thinks they would be much happier with his improvements. As the story progresses, he becomes increasingly frustrated with how people keep resisting him since he doesn't understand why they wouldn't want to become bettered by someone like him.
- Red Dead Redemption plays this trope, along with White Man's Burden, throughout its narrative, as the backdrop of the story is "civilization" being brought to the "savage" lands of the west. The game even opens with John Marston listening in on a pair of women talking about how the natives "may have lost their land, but gained access to heaven", and a second talk involving a young woman who is told by a priest that the natives may resist, but it's only because they don't know better, and it would be wrong to hate them for it. The priest also scores bonus points for telling the girl it's okay for her to be confused by this, as she is "only a young woman."
- This trope is why, in King of Dragon Pass, refusing a gift is considered a strong insult - either a statement of 'My clan is so wealthy that anything you offer is just peanuts to us' or 'We don't trust you to manage your own resources properly'. The Orlanthi people, being technologically primitive, don't have much to be generous with, but that just makes generosity all the more meaningful in their culture. The traditionally polite way to "refuse" a gift is to give a reciprocal gift of equal value in return, and the option to do so (or ask for it) frequently appears throughout the game.
- Katawa Shoujo plays with this trope in a few ways. Being a game about disabled love interests, it's easy to fall into this, and is the cause for some bad endings. Especially Hanako's. Interestingly enough, the "sympathetic bigot" part of the trope played out in real life during the development of the game. Not knowing led to ignorant pitying, but once the creators actually began researching and talking to people they developed a more nuanced portrayal of the people involved (for example, the main obstacles in the characters lives are rarely their disabilities but their emotional/psychological problems — which can stem from their disabilities but don't necessarily have to).
- Cronus believes that one of his best qualities is how he doesn't nearly make as big a deal about the fact that he's a seadweller as he could and that the others should be thankful he's such a progressive guy. After all, he could lord it over them, but he actually stoops to their level to see them as equals (and reminds them of it constantly)! What more could they possibly ask for?
- Kankri also has a tendency to fall into condescension, even though he expressly argues against that kind of thing.
- This in general is Beforus's hat. It's a culture that is based around babying those with "lower" blood colors like they're helpless.
- In Something*Positive, Dahlia (who is wheelchair-bound due to spinal damage) often has to suffer the well-meaning 'sympathy' of people who constantly pity her for her lack of legs, especially people who seem to think that just because her legs do not work she must also be mentally retarded.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Downplayed. Emil and Lalli have an Odd Friendship that runs on a platonic version of Language of Love. In addition to the Language Barrier, Lalli has an Ambiguous Disorder that makes him come across as much less able to take care of himself in a dangerous situation than he actually is to people who don't know him well, including Emil. This results in Emil's general acceptance of Lalli's quirks coming hand in hand with sometimes being more protective of him than necessary, considering the fact that Lalli is the one with more field experience by several years.
- Never Satisfied: How Lucy interprets Broom Girl inviting them to the potluck with the other contestants.
Lucy: She patted me on the head! Like I was some sort of dog!
- It's also how they interpret her choosing to let them go instead of shooting them while they're immobile.
- A Cracked article, "5 old-timey prejudices that still show up in every movie", argues that this attitude from white people is why there are so few non-white protagonists in blockbuster movies. And especially not in a relationship with a white female character.
Again, we can blame the studios all we want. But they've learned from hard experience that for the most part, if they don't play to our prejudices, we simply won't go see their movie.
- Discussed in The Tuesday Zone's review of Call Girl of Cthulhu, specifically as it relates to the protagonist's Nice Guy Syndrome.
First of all, the main character — who we are 100% meant to sympathize with and support — just referred to women as things. Second, note that the main character desperately wants sex and only interacts with two women before this conversation: his roommate, whom he condescends to because he could only have sex with someone he loves, unlike her, and the titular call girl, whose line of work he disrespects but attempts to tolerate. He paints prostitutes, apparently reflecting on how he respects their bodies more than most clients or some hogwash like that, but doesn't realize that he's judging them and their line of work in a snobbish way as a result. He thinks he knows what their bodies are good for better than they do.
- Invoked in Todd in the Shadows' "Best Hit Songs of 2017" episode, regarding "Praying" by Kesha:
"It is a song about forgiveness, but the really condescending forgiveness that Southerners like to use to remind you that you're a loathsome piece of shit."
- Bob's Burgers: In "Late Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise", Linda takes offense to the upper middle-class Cynthia Bush calling the Belchers "simple folk" who are "doing the best they can" in the essay she's "helping" her son Logan write.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Keystone Motel", Sapphire treats Ruby's anger as insignificant because she knows it will eventually fade. This trivialization of her emotions only makes Ruby angrier — especially because her hurt feelings are entirely justified given the circumstances. Sapphire later admits that by doing this, she was only escalating their fight.
Steven: But [Ruby] seems really upset.
Sapphire: That doesn't matter. She can't stay mad at Pearl forever and she can't stay mad at me forever, and then she'll come back and see that I'm right.
- Rose Quartz suffered from this during her time on Earth—though she loved humans and genuinely fought against the Great Diamond Authority to protect them, it was clear that she saw them as "lesser" life forms who couldn't help themselves. The Reveal that Rose was actually Pink Diamond accounts for this—the Diamonds genuinely believe that they are superior to all life.
- White Diamond has this trope in spades. She's the most powerful Gem in all of Homeworld—even the other Diamonds are terrified of her—and believes that she always knows what is best for everyone; as such, she speaks in a kindly but highly condescending tone, as if all other creatures are stupid children. Even worse, if anyone dares to even remotely disagree with her thoughts or question the Fantastic Caste System she's established, she simply brainwashes them into an extension of herself, eradicating their entire personality. And scariest of all, White thinks this is an improvement—after all, who wouldn't want to be subsumed into someone so utterly perfect?
- Steven Universe: Future explores this with none other than Steven himself. After defeating Homeworld and establishing a galaxy-wide peace, he is clearly developing the same Pride his mother Rose Quartz once held. It's also heavily implied that he spent so long fixing everyone's problems that the lack of those very problems is leading to a severe identity crisis.
- In "Guidance," Steven discovers that Amethyst has been placing the Gems of Little Homeschool into various jobs around Beach City. He applauds her efforts, then promptly takes over the situation, forcing Gems to do things they'd rather not do and assuming that Amethyst doesn't understand his attempts to "reform" the caste system of Homeworld. Amethyst later calls him out on this, explaining that she asked the Gems what they wanted to do and assigned them new roles based on communication, not what she thought was best.
- In "Little Graduation," Steven is shocked to discover that big changes have happened among his friend circle, such as his preferred couple of Lars and Sadie breaking up and most of the group moving on with their lives. He's stunned by the idea that no one bothered to consult him about these situations, and Sadie promptly points out it really wasn't his business, and furthermore that he has no right to interfere in their private matters.
- Quinn and other members of the Fashion Club on Daria would use the fact that they felt sorry for "ugly" girls as a sign of their basic moral goodness, and would hand out makeovers as a form of charity.
- Parodied on Bojack Horseman, with the Richard Branson expy Sebastian St. Claire. Sebastian St. Claire, a billionaire who has given up the business world to help out in a fictional war-torn Eastern European country, is very condescending towards the local people, never actually bothering to engage with or learn from them while simultaneously spending a lot of time talking about how poor and needy they are. He is also continually using the Cordovians as photo-opportunities and never bothers to consider what they might actually want (for example, building a monument to himself and a shiny library in the middle of a dilapidated refugee camp). At one point, he tells Dianne that a little boy named Kinko's name means "orphan who will probably die soon".
- However, this later gets partially deconstructed, as Kinko does indeed die in a bombing. Diane, who'd made a solid connection with the kid, is distraught to the point that she flies back to LA - whereas Sebastian's detachment, as callous as it was, allowed him to stay and help improve the lives of the Cordovians (and glorify himself for doing so).
- The Simpsons' tendency to treat Homer's elderly father Abe and other senior citizens in this way has been a source of comedy throughout the show's run.
- Often Played for Laughs in South Park with Cartman who, in the rare occasions he shows any compassion whatsoever to minorities or any group of people he isn't openly discriminatory against, will instead treat them this way, such as treating Token as a ticking time bomb who could riot at any possible moment just because he's black or believing merely referring to Kyle as being Jewish was somehow a slur. Naturally, said people take extreme offense to it:
Cartman: Kyle, I want to apologize for all those times I called you a Jew. I'm sorry. You're not a Jew.
Kyle: YES I AM, CARTMAN! I'M A JEW!!!
Cartman: No no no, Kyle. You're being too hard on yourself!
- In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Jelly Goodwell, the "foremost" monster expert on Mewni, supports affording monsters less hostility and helps Star try to change the way that the Mewmans perceive them, but doesn't actually believe that monsters are any more intelligent or deserve any more rights than, say, a wild pack of wolves.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot zigzags with this in the episode "The Wonderful World of Wizzly". When visiting the Disneyland-esque amusement park, Jenny is horrified at seeing animatronics there and views their lives there as akin to slavery and mistreatment. So she made it her mission to liberate them by flying them out of the park and encouraging them to make something of themselves. It utterly fails since the animatronics are nowhere near as advanced as her and were designed and programmed specifically to serve and entertain park attendants. Jenny continutes to try this until the robots' begin singing in unison and finally annoying her to listen. Rather than return them to the park though, she instead flies them to what she thought was an uninhibited world in the hopes they can form their own society. Instead, they continute to sing, much to the chagrin of the tiny aliens living there. Ultimately, Jenny's compassion is sincere, but rather be condescending, she actually overestimates their capabilities. A large part of this does seem to stem from Jenny not having interacted with any other robots on her level of sentience and personality (note this episode was one of the last of Season 1 and where more sentient robots would be introduced over time.)
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle drops this like an anvil on Pinkie Pie in "Baby Cakes", making a stressed out Pinkie who was grateful for her friend's appearance to angrily slam the door in her face.
Twilight Sparkle: It's okay, Pinkie. I figured you would need some help. That's why I stopped by. Babies take a lot of work, and some ponies are just not cut out to handle the responsibility.
- In the Marvel's Spider-Man episode "An Ock and a Hard Place", Dr Octavius, trying to show that he's not the same stern taskmaster as before, says even the less gifted students will get to work on the Neo-Cortex project, ruffling Peter's hair as he does so.
- In Family Guy, Chris gets voted prom king. His family initially assume it's some kind of prank, only to find out that the student body voted him prom king because they thought he was mentally handicapped and felt bad for him. Chris initially dismisses this, but after finding out the prom queen was a girl who died in a car accident, comes to realize the student body only voted for him out of pity.