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Condescending Compassion

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"The sympathy extended to a victim is deceptive. People love the victim only when they can feel superior to him or her. [...] It is a human reflex that makes you feel better about yourself when you can help someone weaker, a victim. That works as long as the roles are clearly defined."
Natascha Kampusch, in the epilogue of 3,096 Days

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", "Not Like Other Girls", and "Some of My Best Friends Are X" frequently ties into this worldview.

See also The Victim Must Be Confused. For characters who respond to sincere help when they are in legitimate trouble with anger or offense, see Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like and Ungrateful Bastard. If those offering the help or doing the rescue can't do so without insulting the people they're trying to help or asking for a reward, see Hero with an F in Good and Wants a Prize for Basic Decency. For characters who are too self-righteous or oblivious to recognize that they are this trope, see Knight Templar. If they immediately realize they misspoke, it's Open Mouth, Insert Foot, and may lead to Digging Yourself Deeper.

This trope is also Truth in Television, as many people belonging to minority groups frequently encounter this, but that's everything needed to be said about it, so No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I Want Your Mother To Be With Me! 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.
  • 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.
  • A 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.
  • Downplayed with Momo Yaoyarozu from My Hero Academia. She never looks down on any of her classmates, but she tends to forget how rich she is compared to them, unintentionally bragging about it sometimes. This is especially notable when she excitedly offers to tutor her friends at her mansion and even get expensive tea ready for the visit, all the while baffling them without even noticing. However, she's just so Spoiled Sweet and adorable that no one could ever get mad at her.
  • 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.
  • In She's My Knight, Ichinose is trying to ask his crush Mogami to a movie, but is prone to a bad case of Open Mouth, Insert Foot:
    Ichinose: I bet you have too much time on your hands after school. I can take you to a movie, 'cause I feel bad for you.
  • During Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Doma Arc, Valon opts not to use The Seal of Orichalcos during his Duel against Rebecca and Otogi/Duke because he believes they're not strong enough to warrant offering their souls to the Orichalcos God/Great Leviathan.

    Comic Books 
  • 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 starts 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 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Hermes decides to play hero for a while, since he finds humans fascinating, but he manages to be condescending at best in all of his interactions with them. When people try to point out what a self-entitled jerk he is, he won't listen since he thinks his fascination with humans is no different than respect, but when Julia manages to ream him out for his behavior and the ichor in his veins starts turning to blood his horror at the prospect of turning human seems to clue him in at least temporarily.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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.

    Fan Works 


  • 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.
  • Cursed Blood: During their match at the tournament, Ibara informs Izuku that she wants to help him "redeem himself", as she sees his Quirk as an abomination due to his ability to raise the dead.
  • Deku the Warcrafted: When Izuku realizes that his partner Hagakure isn't wearing anything, as the Support Department didn't bother designing a proper protective suit for her, he immediately tries to forfeit their mock battle. While he has several valid points about how dangerous it is, especially with Bakugou as their opponent, she and the others see his concerns as condescending and insulting her Quirk. After realizing his mistake, he points her towards the Lost Workshop.
  • Gone Batty (Sefiru): Discussed. Nagi assumes that the representative from the disability mentorship program will be a middle-aged woman who will be compassionate in a vaguely condescending way. Instead she gets a man with a Hellbent For Leather attire and the same disability as her.
  • 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 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.
  • The Wedding Crashers: Leah is ever so generously invited to Renesmee's wedding, where the Bridezilla offers to buy her a dress so that she won't be wearing some "cheap off-the-rack thing". Renesmee also practically hands her the bouquet rather than tossing it, saying that maybe somebody will actually love her now. The worst part is that these and other acts in the same line by Renesmee and other people were done out as genuine attempts to be nice to Leah, which says a lot about how self-centered and disconnected they are.

Case Closed

  • Dominoes:
    • Ran fully buys into Yuusaku's insistence that Shinichi needs to be kept within a Gilded Cage since her boyfriend is "normal, delicate and weak". Once it becomes clear to him that she completely agrees with his father, Shinichi decides to break things off.
    • Yuusaku claims that he covered up the truth about Toichi's death in order to protect Toichi's civilian identity and give Kaito a "purpose", as clearly, if he didn't have his anger at Yuusaku to sustain him, the poor boy would simply have nothing to live for.


  • Like a Gentle Refrain: One of the reasons why Imelda is so defensive is because of how she was subjected to this after her parents disowned her for marrying Héctor, followed by him leaving her to pursue his dreams.

The Ghost and Molly McGee

Harry Potter

  • In Harry Is a Dragon, and That's OK, Neville's uncle Algie can't seem to understand how much Neville has matured, and keeps going on about how kind his friends are to be around him, and how brave he is to be overcoming his disadvantages. Neville manages to silence him by shifting into his Animagus form.
  • When Ginny joins Harry and his friends for their martial arts practice in Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, Ron assures her that he'll go easy on her since she's new, and she promptly gets past his guard and hits him in the stomach.
    It was surely an accident that her punch landed, well, lower than she probably intended.
  • Vernon Dursley is as unpleasant as ever in The Peace Not Promised. After complaining that Lily and Severus are late to their dinner appointment, he shakes Severus' hand, and then observes that it's callused and evidently the hand of a working man, "Not the kind one would expect to own a car that can bring its occupants to dinner on time."
  • Perfectly Normal: Dudley attends a dinner at the Weasley's place, along with Molly's Squib cousin. Both are incredibly uncomfortable at how the wizards treat them like simpletons.

Horatio Hornblower

  • 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".

Miraculous Ladybug

  • BURN THE WITCH: When Marinette attempts to help Lila escape the angry mob created by Witch Hunter, Lila attempts to throw her to the wolves. However, the mob merely takes this as another sign of Lila's evil, and Hunter!Alya cheerfully reassures Marinette that she can't be blamed for falling for her lies, as she 'couldn't have known any better'. Marinette does not appreciate the Dramatic Irony or the blatant patronizing.
  • Dad Villain AU: One of the reasons Adrien gradually grows disallusioned with his mother after his father rewrites reality with his Wish is that he comes to realize that she sees her son as completely, hopelessly dependent upon her love and approval... and prefers things that way. As evidenced by her rather self-absorbed response when he tells her about his dreams of the original reality:
    Adrien: H-hey mom? I had a really weird, long dream recently...
    Emelie: Oh, is that why you've been so clammy recently?
    Adrien: Yeah... You were gone, and dad was really mean and standoffish... It's weird because in my dream, I made all these friends, and like... it felt really real. I feel like I had those friends, and I had people to talk to... They... they really helped me feel less alone.
    Emilie: (rubbing his hair) Oh, Adrien... What an awful nightmare, no wonder you've been so out of sorts. At least you woke up, right?
    Adrien: Yeah, I-uh, what?
    Emelie: I'm sure you only felt lonely in that dream because I wasn't in it, Adrien. I'm your mother, if I wasn't here, of course you'd need a lot of friends to make up for it! Luckily I'm here to stay! I can't imagine what you'd do without me.
  • Feralnette AU: While Bunnyx claims to be worried about Marinette, as she's "gone feral" after she Stopped Caring about maintaining her social life and appearance in favor of focusing upon her duties as Ladybug, her supposed concern is shallow and self-serving. She considers all timelines that don't perfectly match up with hers to be Expendable Alternate Universes, and only cares about "fixing things" on her terms, rather than providing any of the help Marinette actually wants.
  • Juleka vs. the Forces of the Universe: Alya insists that Marinette is completely hopeless and incapable of achieving anything on her own merits, requiring the "generous support" of her and the Girl Squad. She uses this to justify being a complete Control Freak subjecting her to a barrage of Zany Schemes that keep resulting in Marinette being utterly humiliated while blaming their failure on Marinette.
  • The Karma of Lies: When he crashes Nadja's live interview with Ladybug, Viperion, and Kitsune, Chat Noir talks down to the other heroes, claiming that they can't be expected to know much about their line of work since they're only temporary heroes, lacking the experience he and his "partner" have. Nobody is impressed by his posturing, particularly since Chat Noir missed the Final Battle with Hawkmoth.
  • 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.
  • The Wolves in the Woods: Adrien takes this attitude towards Lila; when she calls him out on not doing anything about the way the rest of the class has started bullying Marinette, he sanctimoniously 'reassures' her that if she admits to her deception, she'll be Easily Forgiven... just like how he expects Marinette to instantly forgive everyone for all the torment. He then treats her mounting outrage as though she's a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, despite how he's the one treating the situation like they're in a preschool cartoon.

My Hero Academia

  • Apotheosis: Despite famously declaring that "Anyone can be a hero!", when he meets Izuku and learns that he's Quirkless, All Might advises him to give up on his dream, believing that he's simply not capable of accomplishing anything without a powerful Quirk. This proves to be the last straw, setting Izuku on the path to becoming a Villain Protagonist.
  • Another Form Of Power: All Might feels that Pro Heroism should be left to those who have won the Superpower Lottery. Might sound practical enough... so long as one ignores the Fantastic Ableism those without Quirks face. Izuku ultimately twists this logic and turns it against him by going into politics, using his influence to reshape society and shift the standards for how heroes are treated.
  • Burning Embers: Iida, Yaoyorozu, and Kirishima all fall into this after learning that Izuku made it into U.A. despite being Quirkless. Both Iida and Yaoyorozu believe that it's far too dangerous for somebody without a Quirk to become a Hero; Yaoyorozu even lectures him on how he shouldn't have stood up to Bakugou during their battle trial due to the massive difference in their respective abilities. Kirishima is more supportive, praising his skills... but claiming that they're especially impressive "for a Quirkless person."
  • Erased Potential:
    • As far as Yoshida-sensei is concerned, Izuku's desire to become a Pro Hero is nothing more than a Tragic Dream. He attempts to humiliate him into giving up on U.A. in order to focus on something 'more achievable'.
    • After learning that Izuku is Quirkless, Tenya starts into this, with Izuku immediately calling him out on it:
      Tenya: I do not mean to overstep—
      Izuku: Starting your sentence that way means that you're definitely going to overstep, and that you know you're going to before you even say anything.
  • (Not) Everyone Wants To Be A Hero centers around this. After a Quirkless Izuku trounces the competition during U.A.'s Sports Festival, everyone working there assumes that he'd be thrilled to be transferred to the Hero Course. The only who bothers asking Izuku what he wants is Toshinori, who gets treated like crap for trying to comply with Izuku's wishes; when he tries telling them how he feels, Aizawa speaks right over him, enraging Izuku with his arrogance.
    Izuku: What if I don't want—
    Aizawa: This is obviously a dream come true for someone of your status, so I'll forgive the lack of excitement. I promise it's real; you can even read the Hero Course Contract for proof.
    Izuku: So do you plan to force me to go to the Hero Course Classroom? Do you plan to chain me up in the seat you chose for me?

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

  • Various works inspired by The Conversion Bureau have the ponies looking down upon humanity in this fashion, believing that they "can't help" their naturally barbaric behavior and must be saved by ponification. This frequently leads to the humans fighting back.
  • A Dance on the Mats:
    • Played With. Anon is genuinely caring and respectful of Rainbow Dash after he injures her during their fight, but Rainbow sees it as a sign that he doesn't respect her.
    • Due to being in a Lady Land where gender roles are reversed, Anon receives this from others despite being a genuine tough guy and brawler. Rainbow Dash is the only exception who can give him a decent brawl.
  • In Spectrum, this is revealed to be a major reason why various environmentalists and environmental organizations refused to support Equestria before the war began. Princess Celestria to find another world for them to live in were seen as a slight; instead of solving the issue threatening their world, they were simply abandoning it in favor of an 'easy way out'.

Warrior Cats

  • Blixemi: Hollypaw, Lionpaw, Brambleclaw, and Squirrelflight all attempt to comfort and reason with an annoyed Jaypaw in "What You Can't See", but all of their attempts come off as far more condescending than intended. Jaypaw wishes to just be treated like a normal cat and finds their attention grating, while they keep throwing out statements like "We can relate" and "we know what's best".


  • Implacable: In the Omake side-story "The Ultimate Escape", Legend mentions that he'd planned to transfer Pisces to his Wards team "in spite of her issues". Taylor calls him out with a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech about his flagrant hypocrisy.

Zombie Land Saga

  • 6 Times Ai Protected Her Groupmates and 1 Time They Protected Her: While Ai and Tae are working together, a random woman comes over and starts complimenting Ai for allowing "someone like Tae" to help the group, not considering how she's downplaying Tae's contributions to Franchouchou because she's obviously a zombie. Ai calls her out on it, especially when she doubles down.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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 example, 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.
  • Metro Man from Megamind shows signs of this, particularly when he refers to the "helpless" citizens of Metro City. Subverted, as he turns out to be less contemptuous of them, than fed up with their expectations of him.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • American Fiction: This is the attitude of most of the white characters Monk comes across. While they continually espouse the need for more black stories and their desire to make their voices heard, they only want to do so through what they consider the best stories and on their own terms. It's most obvious when the white Literary Award judges decide to give "Fuck" the top prize and completely ignore Monk and Sintara Golden's objections to the novel's "merits".
  • 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.
  • Fat Head: The documentary frames Morgan Spurlock and other anti-fast food advocates as being of the opinion that poor people and minorities are stupid and do not understand what they're consuming. Tom counters that they are fully aware that fast food is not healthy, but are still making that choice.
  • 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 (2017) 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.
  • In the Heat of the Night: Endicott talks with Tibbs about the flowers he finds fascinating, and notes with remarkable pleasure that Tibbs prefers epiphytics. He then precedes to claim these flowers "need care and feeding and comforting" like African Americans do in his eye, "and that takes time." Whereas men like the murder victim, as he puts it, don't understand. And this is two and a half minutes before the slapping.
  • Joker (2019): Thomas Wayne is an elitist, but he's still making an attempt to improve Gotham City by reducing the crime rate and help the lower class. Unfortunately, he's really bad at communicating with the lower class and treats them like bratty kids and not fully understanding the systemic problems, contributing to why he becomes increasingly unpopular with them over the course of the story.
  • 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 whom 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.
  • 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.

  • 3096 Days: In this 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.
  • Bridget Jones: The "Smug Marrieds" in both the novel and films series are 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.
  • Discworld:
    • 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.
    • Weaponized in a press release issued by Reacher Gilt (who actually loathes the Post Office and fears it may in fact be a potential threat to the clacks, or rather a threat to him gouging as much money as possible out of the clacks) in Going Postal:
      Reacher Gilt loved the Post Office and blessed its little cotton socks. He was very grateful for its assistance during this difficult period and looked forward to future cooperation, although of course the Post Office, in the real modern world, would never be able to compete on anything other than a very local level. Mind you, someone has to deliver the bills, ho ho ... It was masterly ... the bastard.
    • In Equal Rites, Esk tells a wizard that Granny Weatherwax is a witch to provoke a reaction, and he replies that he has nothing but respect for witches, and all the work they do with helping women have babies and so on, but it's not high magic. He also has great respect for women in general, but they do tend to be excitable and lack the clarity of thought needed for wizardry.
  • Don Quixote: The first part of the novel gives 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 is one of horrified shock. When told to be more tolerant, he replies:
    Whoopsy Daisy: I'm not intolerant. I'm flooded with pity.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong: Mark Russell in the novelization. Father or not; he gives the teenager who single-handedly escaped eco-terrorists, drew King Ghidorah to Boston, and had the balls to scream in all three of Ghidorah's faces when about to die a good deal of this trope – in fact, Mark's entire parenting style in the book can be summed up as this trope. Mark expresses pity to Madison's face that she went through the traumatic experiences she did during the previous movie's events, and he insists that him enrolling her in a public school is her getting an opportunity to rest now that the war against Ghidorah is behind them; yet he doesn't make any real effort to communicate with Madison as an equal or to understand her own wants or her problems (most of which he is the cause of), and when she tries to make him aware how anxious and miserable she is at the high school he threw her into after she'd spent her preceding education being homeschooled, Mark just pulls rank on Madison and says the decision is his instead of hers. This attitude is ironically doing more harm than good to Mark's efforts to reconnect with Madison, as Madison can see the way he's treating her for what it is: he's wilfully forgotten that Madison proved her metal in no uncertain terms, so that he can pretend she's the naïve, ordinary, obedient girl whom Mark would much rather have over the genuine article, and he would rather let her stagnate cowering at home to fuel his selfish fantasy rather than face his fears of losing her.
  • 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 because of Muggles' sheer numbers.
    • Hermione's treatment of House Elves has shades of this, though it takes her a long time to fully realize it. After witnessing Mr. Crouch's brutal treatment and dismissal of Winky, she becomes a fierce advocate for elf rights, and although her intentions come from a good place, she fails to understand that House Elves simply don't view the world in the same way: Their Blue-and-Orange Morality makes them eager to serve humans, and notions as such "freedom" and "payment" are causes for shame rather than joy. True, they like working for kind, understanding humans better than mistreatment, but they still prefer mistreatment to freedom, to the point where many would consider it a Fate Worse than Death. While Harry did share how jubilant Dobby was upon being freed from the Malfoys two years prior to the Crouch incident, Hermione also fails to comprehend that Dobby was very much the exception to the rule. Believing that she knows what's best for the elves - that they'll like freedom "once they've got a taste of it" - she attempts to trick the Hogwarts elves into freeing themselves, which backfires; they are deeply insulted by this and Dobby even notes that he's become the only one to clean the Gryffindor common room since. Dumbledore, by contrast, treats the elves kindly and respectfully, and gladly agrees to pay the one House Elf (Dobby) who asks for it but does not suggest freeing the majority who don't desire it.
      • By the time of Deathly Hallows, Hermione still fiercely holds to her original intentions, but she's become much more aware of the general House Elf mindset, and even lectures Harry when he attempts to blame Kreacher for unintentionally causing Sirius' death.
  • Honor Harrington: This is one of the attitudes that (nicer) civilians of the Solarian League have towards non-league "neobarbs".
  • The Hunger Games: Effie Trinket has shades of this in the beginning, praising Katniss and Peeta for their table manners and for overcoming the "barbarism" of living in the poorest district in Panem (which makes Katniss internally roll her eyes). Katniss' prep team also displays this attitude, though more out of naivety than any malicious intent.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Old Man's War: Taken to a terrifying extreme. 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.
  • Prey: Jim Beal from this William Johnstone novel 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 to the point where integration is currently unfeasible by the centuries they were given limited education and social advancement due to slavery and the Jim Crow laws. The reader isn't meant to agree with him (at least not entirely) but Beal and his followers (some of them, anyway) come across as very much a A Lighter Shade of Black due to not being Western Terrorists, unlike rival militia leader Victor Radford, and his fellow Ax-Crazy Neo-Nazis.
  • 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 run away 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 Pyat Quartet: Colonel Pyat is affronted that so many people seem to think he's some kind of racist. Why, he has nothing against other races - it's hardly their fault that they are inherently inferior to white men, is it? And he fully approves of them trying to better themselves, in such limited ways as they are capable of!
  • Raybearer: The first sign that Olugbade would become a tyrant was that, even when he was young, he couldn't trust anyone who wasn't clearly inferior to him. It didn't matter how much they loved him, or how similar to him they were. All equals were seen as threats.
  • The Roosevelt: David Loris, a resident at the titular assisted living facility who was partially paralyzed in a car crash a few years ago, hates being pitied and treated like a baby by other people, especially staff. Emmet takes an instant dislike to David, which David finds refreshing because at least Emmet doesn't feel sorry for him and is reacting to his personality, not his body.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: The universe 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.
  • Simon's Papa: This Guy de Maupassant creation has an unwed single mother (in the 1800s) be looked on with (rather self-righteous) pity by the other women of the village. Their children, however, are full-on asshats to her son, the titular Simon. She ends up married to the village blacksmith in the end, getting the kid the admiration of his peers for having such a cool dad.
  • The Tamuli: Lampshaded. 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 Tower of Zhaal: The Yithians suffer from this when dealing with humanity. 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.
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts: Lieutenant pities the dark-skinned lowerdeckers for their supposed ugliness and moral inferiority, saying, "We try to tame you, but there is no taming vermin."
  • 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. Later in the novel, Vivenna thinks about this trope as she struggles to reconcile with her Austrism faith: it preaches nice things like humility and sacrifice to the less fortunate while condemning arrogance and egotism, but Vivenna comes to realize that pushing her well-meaning faith onto others is in and of itself a form of self-centered arrogance.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 raised in ignorance and 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 Breaking Bad Jesse's parents constantly talk about how he should turn his life around and insult him, without actually trying to help him. They actually kick him out of his aunt’s house (which she promised to him for being the only one in their family to take care of her as she died) and leave him homeless just so they could sell the house, and then try to justify it as helping him turn his life around. Though it is deconstructed a little, since it's heavily implied that they've just become burned out by trying to help Jesse with his problems over the years and him repeatedly throwing it back in their faces; he's essentially reaping what he's sowed a little.
  • Community:
    • 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. It's especially glaring in the second case, where, elated by their first successnote , they make an incredibly unsubtle character arc revolving around "the bond between father and son". Said son catches on immediately and is miffed.
    • Season 6 Episode 1, "Ladders", has two characters who exhibit this: Frankie, who eventually reveals that she took Abed under her wing because she believes "[he] doesn't know better" and can't make good decisions on his own; and Annie, who has been "sweetly condescending" to Abed on enough occasions for him to identify the behavior.
  • 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.
  • Ironside (1967): 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 BR Chopra’s Mahabharata Yudhistir is asked to render judgment on four murderers each belonging to one of Hinduism’s four castes. Yudhistir gives the lowest caste peasant four years, stating that because of his caste, he is ignorant. The trader who is the next highest caste gets eight years because according to Yudhistir, he is still “ignorant” but not “as ignorant” as the peasant. The soldier is given a harsh sentence of sixteen years since he is of an even higher warrior caste. The brahmin however, is handed over to other Brahmins to judge, because Yudhistir decrees that as a member of the highest priestly scholar caste, he is more knowledgeable compared to even Yudhistir himself, so only other Brahmins who are as learned as the murderer can “fairly” judge him.
  • The Power Rangers Zeo episode Trust in Me teaches An Aesop about this trope. In the episode, Rocky displays pity towards a blind woman named Penny for being blind, despite her being competent enough to defeat multiple opponents in a karate demonstration. Understandably, Penny is annoyed and gives Rocky the cold shoulder. After a lecture from Katherine, Rocky realizes his mistake and apologizes to Penny.
  • 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.
  • Riverdale: Percival Pickens treats the main characters like naughty children and his solutions are more “destroy everything and put in things that might not work” than “actually fix the broken foundations”.
  • In the HBO anthology series Room 104‘s final season episode "The Hikers", the episode centers on two Fat and Skinny friends rooming at an inn during a big hiking trip after they graduated from college; the episode shows the skinny girl trying to sabotage her fat friend's hiking trip, to motivate her to "get her life on track" i.e. lose weight, which surprises the fat friend (who so far has a job lined up after graduation and doesn't care about whether she is thin enough for other people). Then the skinny friend reveals she finds her friend disgusting-looking and pities her, claiming that if it weren't for her, the fat girl would have no friends, leading to the thin friend having a narcissistic breakdown that reveals her own insecurities. It's clear that the friendship is over .
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • In Star Trek The federation members often act this way to any and all aliens who are sentient yet primitive but show enough self-awareness to see that humans themselves were once like that.
  • 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 led 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.

  • 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.

  • Nanne Grönvall's song "Fördomar" (Prejudice) plays this for laughs. The whole song is about the protagonist bragging about how she's perfect and 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."
  • Kesha's "Praying" is absolutely filled to the brim with this sentiment:
    Oh, sometimes I pray for you at night
    Someday, maybe you'll see the light
    Oh, some say, in life, you're gonna get what you give
    But some things only God can forgive
    I hope you're somewhere prayin', prayin'
    I hope your soul is changin', changin'
    I hope you find your peace
    Falling on your knees, prayin'
  • Three Days Grace's "Misery Loves My Company" rebuffs Condescending Compassion:
    I don't need your condescending / words about me looking lonely
  • John Lennon's "Imagine" is sometimes criticized for falling into this trope, not helped by the fact that the music video has Lennon singing lines like "Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can..." while sitting in a mansion. Notably, during the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, several celebrities participated in a virtual group performance of the song and they were swiftly derided as being tone-deaf during a time when many people were losing their jobs and/or homes.

  • Binary Break: In the first episode, Cate suggests that she could skip the last soccer game of the season so that she doesn't overshadow Kat, and the latter could potentially get noticed more easily by the photographer from Teen Soccer Quarterly. Kat reacts poorly to this, because even if this matches her own feelings she wants to use the game as an opportunity to prove she's better than Cate.

  • In the third episode of The BBC radio drama Trust, about Yvette, the headmistress of East Salford Academy, a struggling school that's been taken over by an Academy Trust, the head of the Trust's flagship school, Lodestone Academy, starts off complimenting Yvette on how well she's managing in the circumstances, including saying that yes, Lodestone's modern dance troupe might have won the Trust's talent contest, but East Salford's brass band coped very well with the trombone falling apart. As it becomes apparent that Yvette doesn't buy her act for a minute and suspects nothing about Lodestone adds up, she becomes more overtly hostile.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: This is noted to be a common flaw of the Always Lawful Good metallic dragons. While they won't hurt humans and other sapient beings unless in self-defense or for a very good reason, they also 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.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Bretonnian society is so ridiculously stratified that commoners are literally seen as a different (and inferior) species than the nobles. This view leads to 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. Conversely, anyone who simply dismounts and fights alongside the peasant levy on foot is seen as an exemplar of humility and compassion.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: A lot Lumineth Realm-Lords (a particular culture of Elves from the Realm Of Light) take this attitude towards other races, and especially humans. They used to be the typical arrogant, stuck-up stereoptype of elves, until their own hubris brought about the end of thier civilization; they rebuilt thier society in what they call the Reinvention, and are now much more humble, wise, and restrained than their ancestors. Naturally, they feel that all other races need to benefit from their hard-earned wisdom and should always listen to them about everything. It's worth noting that there are plenty of other elven sub-cultures that live alongside humans and dwarves, and while they aren't exactly humble, they're much easier to get along with than Lumineth.

  • 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.
  • Wicked: The entire song "Popular" is this.
  • How to Dance in Ohio includes a subplot where the autism treatment program's dance is being covered as a Human-Interest Story by a few journalists, but the resulting article ends up being filled with this because the journalist only spoke to the doctor who was running the program and not any of the young adults who were actually taking part in it.

    Video Games 
  • Saul from Daughter for Dessert, with his annoying politeness and his show of sympathy for the business owners he buys out, has shades of this.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Fate/Grand Order: This is the Big Bad's primary motivation, 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.
  • 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).
  • King of Dragon Pass: This trope is why refusing a gift is considered a strong insult — it's taken as a statement of either "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.
  • In No Umbrellas Allowed, Stabilizer Junghan Gong forces you to buy an expired certificate from the Emotion Mitigation Center for 100V, more than its appraised price of 84V. He then offers you a loan to help "pitiful kids like you" pay for fees such as the business permit, which is needed by the end of Week 2 to keep running Darcy's shop.
  • Played with in Persona 5 in regards with twins Sumire and Kasumi. Sumire thought this is how the real Kasumi treated her, but in reality, Kasumi respected her as a Friendly Rival but her genuine attempts to care for and encourage Sumire came off as condescending and only made Sumire's confidence and self-esteem plummet to suicidal levels, all without Kasumi realizing it.
  • Persona 5 Strikers: The Demiurge genuinely wants to help humanity, but her dialogue makes it clear she has a very low opinion of humans, seeing them as idiots jerked around by their desires.
  • 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."
  • In Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart, Amy throws "I pity you" at the face of the opponents she successfully hits with an item. Cream does the same, saying "We didn't hurt you did we?", and while she sounds less condescending, the context of the game can still trigger the unsuccessful players who got in fact hurt by the tiny rabbit girl.
  • Star Control: The Melnorme have this opinion of gifts and charity, believing all transactions should be exchanges of equal value and carefully pricing everything they are aware of to make sure such exchanges are fair. Giving a Melnorme something without asking for anything in return would be an affront between them, but they understand other species don't work like that - and then force them to accept something in return instead if they try anyways, as it happened with the Slylandro.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Homestar Runner Decemberween Special, A Decemberween Mackerel, Marzipan's charitable spirit is undermined by how she overemphasises just how much less fortunate and how much more smelly people with less than two DVRs are, and refers to Senor Cardgage as "you poor wretch" right to his face.
  • Revenge Films: "I asked my wife to go on a date. She was surprised to see the man she was cheating on with" features a spiteful variant. When Bob finds out about Emily’s affair with Kevin, he brings her to the hospital where Kevin is at, mockingly cooing at her at ‘how happy’ she must be to see and comfort Kevin. When they leave, Bob then ‘does Emily a favor’ by bringing her to her ‘new home’, AKA, Kevin’s apartment, and then presents her with the divorce papers, still cooing to Emily about how happy she must be that he was letting her go to be with her true love and not to worry about the divorce, proudly proclaiming that her tears must be out of gratitude for his ‘kindness’.

  • Homestuck:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 unspecified mental 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.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Critical Role: Exandria Unlimited: In Calamity, The Paladin Zerxus offers comfort and encouragement to the Betrayer God Asmodeus, which Asmodeus derides as insulting and arrogant later on. Asmodeus has a point — Zerxus truly believes everyone has some good in them, but for a mortal to think "I can fix him" about a God of Evil is a special kind of hubris.
    Asmodeus: Now I'll tell you why I spit on your forgiveness. I'll tell you why I loathe your redemption. To reach a hand down to somebody, they need to be beneath you! And I am beneath nobody.
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Captain Hammer's song "Everyone's a Hero" is a combination of this and Metaphorgotten.
    Captain Hammer: "Everyone's a hero in their own way / everyone's got they villains they must face / they're not as cool as mine / but folks, you know it's fine to know your place."
    Captain Hammer: "A hero doesn't care / if you're a bunch of scary alcoholic bums."
  • 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."

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Bojack Horseman: Parodied with the Richard Branson expy 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).
  • Daria: Quinn and other members of the Fashion Club 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.
  • The Dragon Prince: Rayla shows shades of this. She clearly has empathy for humans but doesn't really hold them in high regard. Her interactions with Callum, her human romantic partner, imply that, for better or worse, she doesn't seem to ever treat him as an equal. Bearing that fact in mind, it's important to realize that Rayla is far more generous and forward-thinking to humans than virtually any elf in the show.
  • Family Guy: Chris gets voted prom king. His family initially assumed 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.
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: In the 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.
  • 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 continues 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 continue to sing, much to the chagrin of the tiny aliens living there. Ultimately, Jenny's compassion is sincere, but rather than being 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.)
  • 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.
  • The Simpsons: Has a tendency to treat Homer's elderly father Abe and other senior citizens in this way and has been a source of comedy throughout the show's run.
    • The Ned-Liest Catch: When Ned Flanders starts dating Edna Krabappel and learns of her past liaisons with multiple men, he begins to have doubts. Based on misinterpreted advice from Homer, he says he forgives her, to which Edna bristles; calling Ned out as a "sanctimonious prude", she gives him the ultimatum that the relationship will only continue if his judgement of her past doesn't get in the way.
  • South Park: Often Played for Laughs with Eric Cartman who, on 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!
  • 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.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Pearl is occasionally a smug know-it-all. It especially irritates Amethyst, and in "On The Run" she loses her temper. She accuses Pearl of looking down on her, reminding her of her faults, and indirectly blaming her for the Gem War. Their fight ends when Pearl understands and apologizes for unknowingly belittling her friend.
      Pearl: I just had no idea you were upset about this.
      Amethyst: WHAT? This is like my entire existence! ... You think I'm just a big mistake!
      Pearl: [gasps] No! No, Amethyst, you're not the mistake. You're just the byproduct of a... [covers her mouth] big mistake. No, that's not- I- [sighs] I never thought of this as you. I'm sorry, Amethyst. I hope you can forgive me.
    • In "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?
      • Despite this (or maybe because of it), White smugly criticizes Pink Diamond for a similar attitude.
        White Diamond: There you go again. Do you understand why you defend their flaws? I know why, Pink. You like surrounding yourself with inferior gems... You enable their terrible behavior, so you can be the best of the worst.
    • Steven Universe: Future explores this with none other than Steven Quartz Universe 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Pitying Perversion, Condescending Pity


Ally and Katie to Brennan

In "Oh No, Did We Hurt Brennan's Feelings?", Ally and Katie act super condescending to Brennan in their attempts at seeming nice.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CondescendingCompassion

Media sources: