An injured or suffering character is approached by another, eager to help, but the injured party is offended. This reaction of humiliation and resentment may be spoken, acted upon, or merely felt, but it is some variation on "I don't want your pity," or "Don't you dare pity me". This may be used as actual Stock Phrases, but the reaction does not have to be verbalized.
The more serious the problem, the more likely this is to cause conflict. Temporary situations can invoke it for a time, as when Manly Tears or worse Sand In My Eyes causes another to try to comfort the weeping character.
This is most likely to come from a character who does not deal well with sympathy, even in the best of times. The Broken Bird, Troubled, but Cute, The Tsundere, the Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and the Ice Queen are particularly likely to react this way. Indeed, it may develop that their touchy character stems from this and can be resolved if it is. Someone wearing a Tough Leader Façade doubly so, since anything for which they can be pitied is a weakness and danger. The Stoic Woobie is often this trope embodied. Getting them to fess up about it, much less confront it, can be a difficult prospect.
There is a range of possible interactions:
At one extreme, an injured character tries to avoid insensitive or demonstrative "sympathy" that rubs salt in the wound. They might accuse others of having Come to Gawk. They might fear that any response to their problem will break them down when they cannot afford to break down. The pity may be effusive for a trivial problem, or something that the character does not consider as such. In other examples, the character cannot tell their remorse is sincere; the Handicapped Badass is managing just fine, thank you.
Genuine pity is often portrayed as an affront to the dignity of the pitied, as the pity-er is at least implicitly signaling their advantage over and superiority to the pitied, though there is also the popular Aesop that too much Pride is foolish and shallow. The injured character may hide from others to preempt pity. For any such character, mentioning his problem may hit a Berserk Button. The character can wallow in self-pity, but that is different.
The effect is more dramatic if the characters knew each other before the injury or if the problem is invisible. The pitying character may change after The Reveal. If the other person is in any way responsible for the injury, things can get very ugly indeed.
A hero sympathising with a villain's backstory may also incite this response, but be careful, this trope can be done badly. A character frequently angrily rejecting any form of comfort may come across as an Ungrateful Bastard or Unintentionally Unsympathetic when that may not even be the case. Alternatively, this can be presented as a genuine character flaw.
Compare Think Nothing of It, for when a character wants to avoid praise for admirable behavior, Leave Me Alone!, a common phrase also said by characters of this type, and Past Experience Nightmare, where the character tries to hide his pain but it still comes out in his unguarded moments. Also compare Declaration of Personal Independence.
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- Kung Fu Panda: Shifu apologizes to Tai Lung for having failed him as his father, which actually stuns him for a second. But the moment passes, and he angrily rejects it.
Tai Lung: I don't want your apology. I want my scroll!
- In The Prince of Egypt, after Ramses' son dies along with the other firstborns in the last plague, Moses tries to comfort the grieving Ramses. Ramses swats his hand away demanding that Moses leave.
- AVP: Alien vs. Predator has Charles Bishop Weyland, a wealthy elderly industrialist, who funds the mission to a newly-discovered pyramid under tons of ice. He later reveals to the protagonist that he's dying of lung cancer and wants to leave his mark on the world. Later, as the survivors are running from a Predator, Weyland tries to have a You Shall Not Pass! moment. The Predator scans him, sees his deformed lungs, and just walks right past the old man. The pissed-off Weyland attacks the Predator with a makeshift flamethrower. Now, the Predator won't ignore him and goes all stabby on the guy.
- ''Broker': So-yeong gets mad when detective Lee asks if she was forced into prostitution, and angrily asks detective Lee if Lee is pitying her.
- In Chocolat (2000), Armande (Judi Dench) turns out to be hiding the fact that she's diabetic from Vianne, the chocolate shop owner. After Armande's daughter reveals this, chews Vianne out for giving her sweets, and leaves in a huff, Vianne asks the old woman why she did not let her know. But Armande won't let anyone boss her around about how she lives her life, and as she leaves, says "Don't you dare pity me!" She dies the night after a sweets-filled birthday party Vianne caters for her, but this is seen by the film as preferable to living out her life in a nursing home.
- In The Crossing Guard, Jack Nicholson's character falls into a spiral of despair and anger after his daughter gets killed by a drunk driver while crossing the street. He delivers this to his wife when she expresses her pity for him.
- Defied by Ravi in Deewaar. Instead of turning down a job he was just offered and saying that the other man who applied for it needs it more, he asks how much he would be paid and says it's not enough before walking out. He needn't have bothered; the other man sees through it immediately (though the employer doesn't, so he was spared some embarrassment anyway) and is grateful.
- Fatal Attraction Alex snaps this at Dan when he tries to give her the brush-off.
- Michael Myers from the Halloween series is perfectly willing to kill people for no real reason. However, Michael really goes out of his way to kill people who dare to pity him as brutally as possible.
- Friends with Benefits: Dylan explains after she learns that he hadn't told Jamie his father has Alzheimer's because he doesn't like the pitying looks which people give to him over it. As she then does.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry uses Snape's Legilimency charm against him, revealing that in his childhood, James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew caught him off guard and put him through a Humiliation Conga while Remus Lupin looked on and did nothing. As soon as Harry leaves Snape's mind, the scowl on his face says it all.
- In the Heat of the Night:
Gillespie: Don't you ever get just... a little lonely?
Tibbs: No lonelier than you, man.
Gillespie: Oh, now, don't get smart, black boy. I don't need it. No pity, thank you. No, thank you!
- In the Name of the Father: Giuseppe rebuffs Joe's condolences over him and Gerry doing time for his crimes. It's not so much because he hates pity necessarily, but that it comes from an IRA member who has murdered numerous people. He says to save his pity for the people he's killed.
- Listen to Me: Donna doesn't like to be pitied because of her having a disability, treated differently, or called "handicapped" etc. On the other hand, she doesn't like people ignoring the limits it places on her (like being unable to dance) though she's intent on overcoming these eventually.
- Lockout. After Snow's friend Mace dies, Emilie tries to console him and he roughly rebuffs her.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Gandalf offers forgiveness to Saruman, after Isengard is destroyed. His response?
Saruman: Save your pity and your mercy, I have no use for it! [launches attack]
- Subverted in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: Max is clearly suffering from a traumatic loss, and could probably do with a little pity and understanding. Papagallo deliberately tries to re-open his old wounds.
Papagallo Tell me your story, Max. C'mon, tell me your story. What burned you out, huh? Kill one man too many? See too many people die? Lose some family? Oh, so that's it. You lost your family. That makes you something special, does it?"
- In Midnight Cowboy, where Dustin Hoffman's character refuses all attempts to help him over the course of the movie. Moral? He dies on the bus to Florida.
- Annie tells Kate not to pity her in The Miracle Worker, despite the fact that Annie had grown up in an almhouse, because it made her strong.
- Explicitly spelled out in the final battle between Liu Kang and Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat: The Movie:
Liu Kang: All those souls and you still don't have one of your own... I pity you, sorcerer!
Shang Tsung: *spits out some blood* Save your pity for the weak!
- In Disney's less-popular 1992 musical Newsies, Crutchy states, "I don't want nobody carryin' me. Never, ya hear?" when Jack and David go to break him out of the Refuge.
- In Pride & Prejudice (2005), Charlotte Lucas announces she is marrying Mr. Collins (after Lizzie turned him down) and reacts this way when Elizabeth pities her:
Charlotte Lucas: My dear Lizzy. I've come to tell you the news. Mr. Collins and I are... engaged.
Elizabeth Bennet: To be married?
Charlotte Lucas: Yes of course. What other kind of engaged is there?
[Lizzy gives her a look of shock and pity]
Charlotte Lucas: Oh, for Heaven's sake! Don't look at me like that Lizzy! There is no earthly reason why I shouldn't be as happy with him as any other... I'm twenty-seven years old, I've no money and no prospects. I'm already a burden to my parents and I'm frightened. So don't you judge me, Lizzy. Don't you dare judge me!
- From The Producers:
You have exactly ten seconds to replace that look of disgusting pity with one of enormous respect.
- The blind woman and the serial killer in Red Dragon:
Woman: If there's anything worse than pity, it's fake pity. Especially from a walking hard-on like Ralph Mandy.Killer: I have no pity.
- Parodied in Scary Movie 2 with Dwight, a man who uses a wheelchair and gets offended every time someone offers to help him with anything. He does this even when it would be ridiculously hard to do by himself, like crawling up two flights of stairs. When The Vamp offers to "help him out downstairs" to get his keys, he responds by auto-fellating himself.
- In Waterloo Bridge, Myra freaks out when Roy tries to offer her money for her back rent.
- In When Harry Met Sally..., Sally's reaction to Harry's explanation for why he had sex with her is...less than favorable.
Harry: But you looked up at me with these big sad eyes; "Don't leave, Harry," "Hold me a little longer, Harry..." I mean, what was I supposed to do?!Sally: What are you saying, you took pity on me?! Fuck you! *SLAP*
- In Young Man With a Horn, Amy (Lauren Bacall) slaps Rick (Kirk Douglas) and says this as they're breaking up.
- The lyrics of Rick Astley's Cry For help are about a man getting frustrated because his girlfriend is the poster girl for this pose.
- Kiss of Fire:
I can't resist you, what good is there in trying?
What good is in denying you're all that I desire?
>Since I first met you, my heart was yours completely,
If that's a slave then it's a slave I want to be
Don't pity me!
- In The Lonely Island's "Threw It On The Ground", the protagonist visits his local hot dog stand and is offered a free hot dog, prompting him to launch into a tirade about being given free things out of what he perceives to be pity.
I go to my favorite hot dog stand
The dude says, 'You come here all the time! Here's one for free!'
I said, 'Man, what do I look like, a charity case?'
I took it, and THREW IT ON THE GROUND!
I don't need your handouts! I'm an ADULT!
Please, you can't buy me, hot dog man!
- Inverted in Amon Amarth's The Hero. A dying mercenary rejects the sympathy of those tending for him because he feels that he does not deserve it.
I don't deserve their sympathy
I know who I am
My soul is death and misery
I am an evil man
- City and Colour's "The Grand Optimist" exhibits a mild form of this:
And now the wound has begun to turn
Another lesson that has gone unlearned
But this is not a cry for pity, nor for sympathy
- I'd rather be hated than pitied in Naked by Spice Girls.
- 1960's British duo Peter & Gordon had a song of unrequited love called "Don't Pity Me".
- "Misery Loves My Company" by Three Days Grace rebuffs Condescending Compassion:
I don't need your condescending
words about me looking lonely
I don't need your arms to hold me
cause misery is waiting on me!
- In Interstitial: Actual Play. When Scott tries to defend Edith against Doctor K sniping at her for wanting to leave to other worlds, Edith snaps at Scott, claiming she can handle things herself.
- Ric Flair went into WWE's Wrestlemania XXIV about 10 years past his prime, rapidly decaying in the ring and laboring under a decree from Vince McMahon that meant that the next match he lost would be his last. Knowing this, he challenged "Mr. Wrestlemania" Shawn Michaels to a match at the show. And when Michaels showed pity for his opponent in a promo a couple of weeks before the show and hinted that he might not bring his A-game, Flair called him out on it, demanding that Shawn give him everything he has, because, win or lose, he wanted to come out of the show with his honor and integrity intact.
- This carried over into the match; Flair was obviously unable to put up an actual fight, but he refused to simply lay down and be beaten. Shawn felt he didn't want to retire Flair (apparently legitimate) as Flair stood there, wobbling, fists barely up and yelling at him to "pull the trigger". Shawn's response? "I'm sorry. I love you." Superkick.
- The whole situation was then given an Ironic Echo treatment two years later, when Shawn was trying to end The Undertaker's undefeated-at-Wrestlemania streak because, as he said, "If I can't do this, I don't have a career anymore." At one point, Shawn was pulling himself up to his knees, using Taker as the ladder, and you could hear him yell "Stay! Down!" Shawn played this trope to the hilt by mocking Taker with his own signature throat-slit taunt and then slapping him in the face. The match ended very quickly after that.
- Triple H seemed to have this attitude a few times after crushing defeats.
- When Brock Lesnar almost re-breaks his arm at Summerslam, the refs & EMTs come to help him get up, but he shoves them away & leaves the arena on his own.
- After a brutal beatdown by Umaga, he has to be helped from the ring but shoves everyone away after getting his feet to the grown. Unlike Summerslam, he's legitimately injured and has no choice but to accept the help when he collapses after a few steps.
- His beatdown from Kevin Nash yields the same response. Hunter is being helped to the back but rasps for them to get off & pushes everyone away. The EMT] & doctor tell Hunter to let them help, but he insists he's okay. Like in the previous example, he collapses after a few steps & is told again to let them help him.
- In one episode of Just a Minute, the panelists started challenging new player Linda Smith and, when asked what the challenge was, saying "I just think she should get another bonus point" (which you get if you're incorrectly challenged). Linda's reaction? "Can I just say I don't find this patronising at all?"
- Zia from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues rejects pity for a variety of reasons: she doesn't feel that it's genuine, talking about her feelings makes her uncomfortable, and she thinks that she can handle her own problems by herself.
- Winged elves in Dungeons & Dragons are a rarely-seen subrace of elves with large, beautiful eagle's wings. They take great pride in their wings, and a winged elf who loses his or her wings in a battle or accident is pitied by the other members of the community. However, elves do not accept pity from anyone, so such an elf usually leaves his community and becomes a loner.
- In Grease, when the other kids find out Rizzo is pregnant and offer to help her out, she reacts like this.
Ghost: My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
Hamlet: Alas, poor ghost!
Ghost: Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.
- I and You: Caroline hates how gently people treat her due to her probably-terminal illness, saying that it's fake kindness rather than people actually getting to know her and really care about her. At several points in the play, she orders Anthony to leave when she thinks he's being nice to her out of pity.
- In the Act One Finale of La Cage aux folles, Albin the drag queen sings "I Am What I Am", defending his way of life. It includes the lines:
I am what I am
I don't want praise, I don't want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it's noise. I think it's pretty.
- Aldonza's "I Am" Song in Man of La Mancha
Don't you see what your gentle insanities do to me?
Rob me of anger and give me despair
Blows and abuse I can take and give back again!
Tenderness I can not bear.
- In the final song of The Phantom of the Opera the Phantom sings his tragic backstory to Christine, but after that short moment of vulnerability, he gets angry again.
Pity comes too late!
- In Wicked, Nessarose asks Boq if he took her to the dance only because he feels sorry for her: "It's because I'm in this chair, and you felt sorry for me...." It's not the actual reason — Glinda asked him to do this, and she specifically cited the chair as the reason she'd find it attractive, so, close enough.
- DEATH BATTLE!: In DEATH BATTLE! S07E04 - Genos VS War Machine, after destroying his entire body in an attempt at Taking You with Me, Genos' disembodied head rejects Rhodey's apology, coldly saying, "Don't talk to me..." Rhodey obliges by subjecting the cyborg to a Finishing Stomp.
- Dreamscape: Being belittled or underestimated is one of the few things that gets under Keela's skin.
- Jaune Arc, which is a major plot point for him. As the only son in a family of daughters, he wants to be like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and become a Huntsman. However, he's uncoordinated, clumsy, weak, gets motion sickness, has absolutely no idea how his Aura works, and, worst of all, he lied on his entrance papers to get into Beacon. When Pyrrha tries to help him, he snaps at her for doing so. However, after being blackmailed by Cardin after he overheard everything, he finally grows a bit of a backbone, swallows his pride, and asks Pyrrha for help.
- In Volume 6, Blake promises to protect Yang from Adam. Yang is offended; she doesn't explicitly say why, but since she's a badass Action Girl with abandonment issues, it seems like she doesn't like the implication that Blake is just there out of guilt. Later, Blake amends her declaration by saying they're protecting each other, and Yang is clearly moved.
- In Bugged Run, Chrys angrily rejects Ariel's offer of a better Pokémon after being defeated by her in a battle, flashing back to other times throughout their lives that Ariel has taken pity on her.
- In Cucumber Quest, Peridot denies that she's taking the MacGuffin because she needs Almond's pity or something.
- In Abel's Backstory of DMFA, Abel learns that another character's mother and father left him/died. Abel begins to say something along the lines of 'Sorry, I didn't know.' when he is cut off by the other person who complains that he wasted enough time pitying himself and wanted no more.
- In Errant Story, Sarine throws this in Jon's face when he tries to comfort her. A few pages later...
- A fairly mild example shows up in Girl Genius when Colette rejects Violetta's sympathy for having a difficult family, because Violetta's family is much worse.
Violetta: Whoof! And I thought my family was bad.
Colette: Your family is bad. Mine is noisy and embarrassing.
- This scene from Gunnerkrigg Court.
- Near the end of Galatea's origin story in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, this is her reaction when Bob finds her shivering alone in the rain in an alley.
- In Lavender Jack, Jack eventually realizes that the Black Note had no intention of surviving his own plan. Although Jack feels sorry for him upon learning this, it just makes the Note angrier.
Note: Ah. There it is again. The aristocrat's pity, and the hidden sneer that slides in with it. Oh, I can only imagine how nice it must have been. Growing up in a world that wanted you in it.
- In Not a Villain, Danni behaves like this towards Kleya on several occasions when Kleya tries to help her out: after she loses during the Death Match tournament, and when after she's booed by the crowd on her way to enter the Game.
- In Pacificators, it's strongly implied that Muneca Powell cannot handle people pitying her, as seen in when she screamed at Daryl to Get Out! after accidentally discovering her secret. Afterwards, she begged Daryl not to tell anybody.
- In Precocious, Autumn violently rebuffs Max when he attempts to turn his extravagant birthday party into an actual pity party for her.
- In Pv P, Reggie combines this with N-Word Privilegesnote and Insistent Terminology, when he complains about people using euphemisms for disabilities.
- In Sabrina Online, Sabrina learns a bit about her boss, Zig Zag, and her Dark and Troubled Past (molested as a child by her father, among other things). When Sabrina tries (awkwardly) to offer sympathy, Zig Zag launches into a tirade about how that kind of pity is exactly why she doesn't tell anyone about her past: She is who she is, refuses to use any Freudian Excuses, and hates it when someone tries to on her behalf.
- Schlock Mercenary, Lt. Der Trihs, after being reduced yet again to a head in a jar, says "I don't want pity. I wants arms and legs."
- Vampire Girl: Mildly subverted with Levana towards the beginning of the comic, as she believes no one can help her curb her thirst for blood, let alone no one would help a vampire in general.
- Lamar of We Are The Wyre Cats particularly hates being pitied for his disabilities.
- Analyst Bronies React: Keframe had a Twilight plushie complain about how she was so bored and had nothing to do. When Thespio tried to comfort the plushie, she shouted that she didn't need his pity.
- In The Antithesis, Qaira Eltruan is a cold and callous militant leader on the outside but suffers from self-hatred and guilt on the inside. Leid Koseling attempts to help him through his internal struggles along with the malay addiction (a type of drug similar to heroin) he suffers at the beginning of Decus, but he is at first very reluctant to accept her help. In fact, he feels threatened and insulted by Leid's attempts to aid him and often becomes angry over the fact.
- A Cracked article called 5 Insane Things I Learned as a Foreign Aid Worker mentions that the citizens of the developing world dislike being pitted and will react negatively towards dramatics (such as crying when you just met). It later goes on to justify this reaction to pity by talking about the whole "heroic savior" mentality actually causes even more problems.
- The Nostalgia Chick has a big breakdown in Spooning With Spoony after being raped by the titular character. The next episode later, she's dragging Nella everywhere to dance and shooting laser beams at her with delight. Two years later, she flinches and tries to hide her face when she's near Spoony and it's obvious she's nowhere near over the rape.
- Sherwood Forest: Will tries to comfort Shaima when they first meet, and she tells him "I don't want your pity." It's worth noting that not only is she in a really bad mental place, having just been kidnapped and dragged across the globe, but the guy who did this was also Will's foster father. No matter what he said, she wasn't going to respond well.
- In Tales of MU, Sooni's slave-cum-friend Kai endures extreme abuse from Sooni, including frequent beatings (once nearly to the point of death) and being forced to dress up in ridiculous cosplay. Whenever any of the main characters try to show any sympathy for her, she reacts with rage. It's later revealed in a bonus story that Kai comes from an extremely impoverished background and always dreamed of getting an education, and although Sooni as good as kidnapped her (with an implied reward to her family) Kai is willing to accept anything as long as it means she can continue going to university.
- Twig has Sylvester, who doesn't know how to deal with genuine human compassion directed his way as he reads it as pity, which makes him dislike the person in question because he hates the idea that they understand his situation as a Child Soldier Human Weapon for an Academy of Evil.
- The rallying cry of the autism rights movement. It was started by Jim Sinclair with xyr essay "Don't Mourn for Us."
- Many people with disabilities, in general, take this viewpoint nowadays. See for example the Piss on Pity movement.
- Randy Newman's acceptance speech on receiving his Academy Award for Best Song after countless nominations began with the line, "I don't need your pity."
- Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader, CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, FRAeS, DL, legless fighter pilot and hero of World War II was equal parts this, Handicapped Badass and The Determinator. Once, when lecturing at a boarding school, a schoolboy asked the great hero if he could carry his bags. Bader's response? BUGGER OFF!!!
- Freddie Mercury kept his HIV/AIDS diagnosis secret throughout the late '80s until shortly before he passed away in 1991 partly because he was afraid people would buy Queen albums only out of sympathy. (The other reason was that he was an intensely private man and felt that it was none of the public's business.) This still hasn't stopped people from criticizing him for hiding it until the end.
- For blind Puerto Rican singer and guitar player Jose Feliciano, having someone try to help him walk around seems to be quite the Berserk Button due to this trope.
- According to her daughters Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft, Judy Garland was often irritated at the idea that she was a sad, tragic, melancholic figure with no happiness in her life. Despite the hardships she went through, she tried to keep a sunny disposition and always tried her best to rise up from them. Reputedly once when she was about to be interviewed, she littered her hotel room with pills and alcohol all over the floor and tables. When Liza asked why, she replied, "I'm just giving the reporters what they want to see."
- Sex worker rights organizations resent the view that they are all victims who need to be rescued, feeling this actually makes things worse for them in a lot of cases.
- Many individuals who were born out of wedlock and/or raised by single parents dislike the very common assumption that their lives must, therefore, have been worse for it, with an unwanted pity following this.
- Richard Turner, regarded as being one of the greatest card mechanics ever to have lived, refuses to let other people pity him or go easy on him due to his blindness. When his karate instructor offered to award him an honorary black belt, he refused and insisted he be tested just like any student, resulting in his going ten rounds of full-force brawling with a fresh opponent each round (and getting his arm broken in the process).
- In 1968, Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson underwent an operation (officially for "gallstones"), and four months later, she was back on stage, singing Brunnhilde at the Vienna State Opera. Only many years later, in 1995, did she reveal the real reason for her operation: she had been stricken with cancer. She had never talked about it before because she, in her own words, "couldn't bear being pitied."
- The disputed tale of Alexander the Great and Diogenes the Cynic has elements of this. In the story, Alexander approached Diogenes with his entourage and offered to grant him any wish he desired because he respected him as a philosopher. Despite standing in front of a man who had conquered 6 countries and was halfway through his conquest of Persia, Diogenes simply and rudely asked Alexander to step aside because he was standing in front of the sun. While Alexander's entourage found the interaction hilarious, Alexander stated “If I were not Alexander, I would want to be Diogenes.” causing Diogenes to allegedly reply "If I were not Diogenes, I too would wish to be Diogenes." The tale of Diogenes and Alexander is commonly perceived as a lesson on who is happier; the man who has everything but has so many social conventions to abide by and so many expectations to live up to, or the man who has nothing but is free from societal expectations and conventions. While enlightening, the more likely explanation is that Diogenes was fully aware that Alexander the Great was just using him as a charity case and chose to mock him instead of feeding his ego. Alexander the Great was an egotistical man who named 70 cities after himself and wanted to use Diogenes to further show off his wealth and power.