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Hope Crusher

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"If I am being honest, I care only to give hope to the frightened, huddled masses so that when I come upon them they will have more to lose. Their pain will be greater. Their screams more pure. (...) Nothing dies like hope. I cherish it."
Dredgen Yor, Destiny

We know that the Despair Event Horizon is a line that one loses all hope upon crossing. The crosser may remain a good person, or the crosser may turn evil.

The Hope Crusher is someone who enjoys pushing people toward and over that line.

Hope Crushers love the sense of despair. When other people lose hope, they take pleasure in it. It's not necessary for them to be the one to push them into despair (although they often are); however, they cherish the feelings of despair of many people around them, especially when directed at them. They might not be Emotion Eaters, but they sure feel good when people around them despair. Since the sense of despair is something people usually try to avoid at all costs, liking despair so much and inflicting it on others are a good indication to the audience that this character is evil incarnate.

They will be very fond of the Despair Gambit. They will often give a Hope Spot to their victims, and then yank it away at the last second, mostly thinking that despair is at its finest when the last ray of hope is destroyed right in front of their eyes. If they would instill Hope Is Scary, so much the merrier! Don't expect them to enjoy their own despair, though. Most of the time.

It's often attempted by Complete Monsters for the sake of feeding or delighting in their victim's suffering. If they aren't a Complete Monster, there's a chance that they're Made of Evil instead.

Their goals are more likely to be For the Evulz (this is often seen in the Generic Doomsday Villain) though this isn't always the case.

A popular non-For the Evulz explanation for these sorts of characters is an inability to experience positive emotions themselves coupled with a jealousy for other people's happiness and wanting these people to be just as miserable as they themselves are. There are also some villains who believe that despair is necessary and don't seek pleasure in destroying hopes and dreams, but do so because they believe that they have to. It's a common 'means' in Despotism Justifies the Means - an Evil Overlord or Diabolical Mastermind can't have their oppressed underlings getting uppity and spoiling their fun.

Note: targeting just one specific person to make them miserable doesn't make a character a Hope Crusher, to be this trope the character has to have a desire to make everyone around him or her miserable or have a specific plan in effect to make large groups of people miserable for that purpose alone.

Contrast with Hope Bringer, who is likely to be the natural enemy of this kind of villain. Has occasional overlap with the Sadist, as sadists delight in other people's pain and suffering and seek to cause it by any way possible, and people suffer the worst when they are driven to despair. Can also overlap with those who believe that Dystopia Justifies the Means. Sometimes overlaps with darker Trolls if they specifically aim to destroy others' happiness. They may also be an Intentional Heartbreaker.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The party "Gathering of Races" was already pretty bad at this in Backstabbed in a Backwater Dungeon, by pretending to be kind to the protagonist Light only to turn on him and try to drive him to death by despair as a sick game, but former party member Shion goes even further. She teams up with an other-world soul dragon to torment a little human girl they name "Momo" by intentionally setting her ghost loose in a dungeon, making it a game to see how long she can wander aimlessly before they capture her and put her into a grotesque undead body to torment. They confuse Light's Tranquil Fury for despair and taunt him to show them more despair for their amusement. They get to see how despair is on the receiving end when he goes into There Is No Kill Like Overkill, with the dragon's Kryptonite Factor.
  • Black Clover: There is a reason Vetto of the Eye of the Midnight Sun's Third Eye is known as "Vetto the Despair": he takes sadistic joy in finding what gives his enemies hope, then crushing it with vicious, overwhelming force as he tells them to despair at their powerlessness. Are you a Dance Battler? He will cut off your leg. Do you dream of becoming an Idol singer? He will crush your throat. Are you an Un-Sorcerer who can only fight using Anti-Magic swords and dreams of becoming the Wizard King? He will crush your arms with ancient magic and curse them so that they cannot be healed. Ever. When even this doesn't prove enough to crush Asta's hope, however, Vetto suffers a Villainous Breakdown as he calls Asta a "despair-eating demon". After Asta defeats him (with more than a little help from Vanessa and Finral), Vetto decides to blow himself up with an explosion strong enough to destroy the Seabed Temple and kill everyone inside in order to deny the Black Bulls their victory, only being stopped by Yami learning a new spell and cutting him down from a distance. It's eventually revealed that the reason Vetto is so obsessed with despair is because his own hopes were crushed centuries ago when the nobles of the Clover Kingdom slaughtered him along with his fellow elves on the day of Licht's wedding. Once he's reincarnated in a cloned body months later, however, Vetto's personality stabilizes and becomes closer to who he was in the past, though he still retains his hatred of humans.
  • Ulquiorra from Bleach spends every interaction with Ichigo attempting to dash any hopes he has. He does this to the point that during their final battle, he could have finished Ichigo off just in his second form alone, but transformed into his third one just to emphasize how screwed Ichigo truly was. He also does this with Orihime, although her humanity starts to rub off on him.
  • Prince Schneizel of Code Geass also turns out to use this strategy along with Divide and Conquer. Unlike most villains, however, he does it because he believes Ambition Is Evil and hope and dreams are only sources of problems that the world wishes to get rid of forever. This goes from painting the Big Good as a Manipulative Bastard who only cares about personal gain to using Kill Sat to nuke every single city in the world, halting any attempt at progress in the world.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z:
      • Frieza thrives on this. He doesn't just want to defeat his opponents, he wants them to die terrified knowing that they never stood a chance of defeating him. He does this first by going into his true final form when his third transformation was more than enough to crush Piccolo, Vegeta, Gohan, Krillin, and Dende. He toys with Vegeta by letting him throw everything he has against him and showing Vegeta that his new power can't match him before torturing him to death. He then toys with Goku before using half of his full power to slowly beat Goku into a pulp. In the anime, he attempts to kill Goku first after surviving the Spirit Bomb, most likely to crush the little hope of the remaining survivors by taking out their strongest. In the manga, he picks off Goku's friends right in front of him to show him he can't save them and mockingly tells Goku he's going to kill his son next. Unfortunately for Frieza, his hope-crushing hobby comes back to bite him hard when Goku becomes the first Super Saiyan in many, many years, the very thing he exterminated the rest of the Saiyan race to try to prevent from arising. His final fight with Goku also contrasts nicely.
      • Cell strives to become this. He holds the Cell Games not only to fight strong opponents but to crush the hope of everyone on Earth by defeating their strongest fighters before he mercilessly hunts them down and murders them. He nearly achieves this status after he comes back from his near-death experience which killed Goku. After his return, he kills Trunks and badly injures Gohan and Vegeta, which broke the Z-Fighter's spirit. It takes Goku talking to Gohan from the afterlife to will him to keep fighting.
    • Dragon Ball Super: A heroic example with Jiren, whose fighting style consists in taking everything the enemy can dish without damage and then beating them down with his overwhelming power. While him appearing in the Tournament of Power (where every fighter is just too stubborn to give up due to the stakes of the battle), the fact Vegeta was affected speaks volumes of just how good he is at it.
  • Fairy Tail: Tartarus, a guild of demons, whose sole plan is to literally wipe out all of humanity in a massive genocide by removing magic from all around the world so they won't even have the hope of fighting back.
  • In Fist of the North Star this is half of Raoh's modus operandi: whenever faced with a serious opponent he crushes them in a painful and spectacular manner to ensure nobody will rise against him. Interestingly, the other half is being a Hope Bringer for anyone who accepts him as their ruler, as they know his rule is harsh but just, and anyone threatening his loyal followers will die. A defining moment of this is when some of his soldiers had mutinied following rumors of his death and attacked some villagers when Raoh appeared and slapped the head off a mutineer, resulting in the villagers cheering at his arrival and the mutineers kneeling for their execution.
  • Cioccolata from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind believes that there are two ways that he may attain happiness. The first is when his own despair is replaced with hope, and the second is looking down on someone else in utter despair. This goes along with his modus operandi of recording his victims suffering.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: The anime-only Big Bad of the second half, Lady Debonair, is one of these. Not only does she want to destroy Cephiro, she wants its citizens to completely lose their hope of salvation while she's at it. This is because she is a being that was created by their extreme fear and despair after the death of their Pillar.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Milverton actively seeks out opportunities to push people past their Despair Event Horizon for the pure enjoyment of watching them fall to evil. Most notably, he does this with Adam Whiteley, but he also tries to do this with Sherlock, Mary Morstan, William, and has done it with many people in the past.
  • This is the end goal of the League of Villains from My Hero Academia, both that of its founder All for One and his heir Tomura Shigaraki; by creating unchecked chaos and eventually defeating All Might, they hope to create a world where the public is cowed into obedience to villains and heroes lack the strength or will to fight back.
  • Tobi aka Obito Uchiha from Naruto believes that reality is hell and "There is no such thing as hope", and to prove his point to others (and himself) he strives to push others across the Despair Event Horizon to break their will and convince them that his plan is the right thing for humanity.
    Konan: [Naruto] will become the bridge that leads us to peace! And I will be a support, holding the bridge up! [...] It doesn't matter if I'm scattered to the wind! I will stop y-
    Tobi: You called me the darkness, didn't you? Then I will make you wilt... I will take your little rainbow bridge and its seven colors and plunge it all into darkness! When my illusion ends, so will your life.
  • Crocodile of One Piece took it upon himself to trample on the dreams and the ideals of those who oppose him. Every time the Straw Hats and Vivi think they've stopped his plan, they quickly learn that Crocodile has a backup contingency just in case. It's implied he does this because his own dreams were crushed in his past.
  • Many a Pretty Cure villain use this modus operandi, liking despair of men. Examples include Northa, Joker, Kawarino, and Dyspear.
    • The Big Bad of Yes! Pretty Cure 5, Despariah, usually sat on her throne with the goal of obtaining the Dream Collet to obtain immortality, then finally shroud the people in despair. In the end, she subverts this by showing absolute fear over how the Cures won't despair no matter what. Realizing that despair is not the answer, she pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Princess Connect! Re:Dive: Mana exults in taking hope away from her victims, to the point that when she has Pecorine at her mercy early in season 2, she actually chooses to let her go, allowing her to deepen her bonds to the other characters, so her despairing soul will be even tastier.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Whereas Kyubey's goal is to stop the heat death of the universe by having young girls make a contract with him and become Puella Magi, the Big Bad plots to sow despair to create the witches, enemies of the Puella Magi. It's Kyubey themself; said girls will be doomed to despair and become witches, the very monsters they fight, bringing Kyubey closer to the aforementioned goal. They don’t necessarily enjoy the role, but are unabashed in driving girls in despair, and thinks that having emotions to think that despair is bad... is a mental defect. But on that revelation, we all know that Kyubey is the true Big Bad.
  • Rebuild World: Carol has a side job as a prostitute whereby she seeks out strong hunters, sells herself to them for cheap, and then keeps doubling the price each visit, driving them to take desperate measures to be able to pay for her. This is because Carol has a deep secret that would ruin her life if it got out, and she does this to feel like she's not alone in feeling at the edge of ruin constantly. Finding someone to be The Confidant about this secret makes her consider quitting prostitution.
  • Seraph of the End: Ferid Bathory shows a sign of this in this line towards the Hyakuya orphans right before he murders them, apart from Yuu and Mika.
    Ferid: Caught between hope and despair, I wonder how you'll cry.
  • The goal of the Anti-Spiral, the ultimate Big Bad in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, is to eliminate Spiral Power, which is derived from hope and courage, in hopes of preventing the Spiral Nemesis from destroying the universe. As such, they deliberately fight just beyond their opponents' abilities and dispense plenty of Hope Spots before snatching victory away in the cruelest, most unfair way possible with the aim of destroying their will to fight.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Ms. Chono lives to crush the hearts of men and delights in expelling students on technicalities.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
      • X (Howard X Miller in the dub) says that he uses a Deck Destruction deck because he loves driving duelists to despair by severing the bond between them and their deck.
      • Alice, the living doll who uses doll monsters, says she aims to crush duelists' hopes and drive them to despair just like she was after she witnessed some really awful duelists. However, Jaden manages to restore her hope in their duel.
      • The True Big Bad is Nightshroud (Darkness), who wants to fuse all humans with a World of Silence, where their hopes and dreams will be cruelly crushed until the victims give up on them, along with their individuality.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds:
      • Aporia is a man who has lived through all forms of Despair and tries to pulverize the hopes of 3 heroes in a sadistic duel with real harmful electric shocks, even delivering a Breaking Speech about all their dreams being nothing more than harmful illusions.
      • Only his boss, Z-ONE, manages to outdo him. When Aporia performs a Heel–Face Turn and attempts to fight him, Z-ONE promptly crushes his hopes and destroys him by ironically using the same tactics Aporia himself had been using before. He does the same to Yusei during their Duel, first attempting to trick him into thinking he was a future version of Yusei himself and then revealing the actual circumstances of the future and the lengths he's already gone to trying to avert it—and all while constantly overwhelming him with his Timelord cards.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL's manga, we have a deity of Despair, E'Rah, who feeds on hope, leaving nothing positive behind.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • The Joker of the Batman mythos can qualify as this, seeing as his life's goal is to either kill Batman or corrupt him by getting him to break his one rule. Most of the time he doesn't intend to stop at Batman either; he's a Straw Nihilist outright disgusted with humanity, and his murderous behavior — as well as his suicidal recklessness — are violent acts of protest and despair at the world and not purely For the Evulz, with his battle with Batman being an ideological one over who is correct. What he really wants is to give all mankind one bad day.
    • New Gods: One of Darkseid's consistent goals is to crush people's hope so thoroughly and utterly that there is nothing left but to surrender their free will and give in to Darkseid. When he finally finds the Anti-Life Equation, which lets him do this on a much broader scale, things get very, very, ugly. In Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom, one of his elite soldiers believes she can win Darkseid over by killing Superman. Since Maelstrom is absolutely and arrogantly certain that she can make the deed, Darkseid says he will consider making her his private slave if she succeeds, but he will banish her forever if she fails. Shortly after, Desaad asks Darkseid why he is entertaining Maelstrom's delusions, Darkseid explains he cannot properly destroy her hopes if she is not hoping for anything.
      Desaad: I apologize, master, but my curiosity is piqued, and I cannot fathom why you would entertain that woman's desires.
      Darkseid: I wouldn't expect a lowly dog as yourself to comprehend my reasons for doing anything.
      Desaad: I beg for enlightenment on this particular matter. To give her false hope...
      Darkseid: Only to see it crushed? Maelstrom will fail in her quest and that will cause her more pain and suffering than any torture device you could imagine.
    • The Flash: Hunter Zolomon, the second Professor Zoom/Reverse-Flash is a former criminal profiler whose entire modus operandi is forcing superheroes to suffer horrible tragedies, in the warped belief that such tragedies will make them better heroes.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • D'Spayre is an Anthropomorphic Personification who both induces and feeds on the emotion of despair.
    • In Runaways, the aptly-named Witchbreaker's job is to break the wills of other superhumans so that they cooperate with the Upward Path, a fiercely intolerant gang of religious fanatics and xenophobes with powers. She also tries to push her great-granddaughter Nico Minoru over to the dark side; it's left ambiguous whether or not she succeeded.
    • Thanos partakes in this as a hobby, going around the galaxy driving people to despair simply for his own amusement.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): The Nightmare Forces gave everypony in Ponyville nightmares and in issue 5 used the nightmares to kidnap Rarity in her sleep and convinced her that she will be forgotten and replaced so that they can force her to become the new Nightmare Moon. Issue 6 also has the nightmare forces trying to break Luna (and give the other ponies nightmares as well, but they broke through that). And in issue 8, the Nightmare Forces try this again with Luna but fail.
  • Despair of the Endless from The Sandman (1989), being the Anthropomorphic Personification of despair, serves as this. Given that making people despair is her fundamental nature, and that she's certainly not immune from it herself, she's a more sympathetic version than most, though she very much enjoys her work.
    Despair: Today he's sitting in their family room. Realizing that his life is over, wondering if he has the courage to physically end it. He doesn't. Isn't it beautiful?
  • In Star Wars (Marvel 2015), this is Vader's plan during the fittingly titled Hope Dies arc. When the newly constructed Rebel fleet is gathered for a demonstration before the Rebellion's assembled leadership and allies, Vader has his Double Agent Queen Trios sabotage the fleet's systems and give their location to the Imperials, who can then swoop in to wipe the fleet out. In Vader's view, this will demonstrate to the whole galaxy that there is no real hope of fighting the Empire and prove that the Rebellion is doomed to fail. He mostly succeeds, destroying most of the fleet and scattering the rest as they flee.

    Comic Strips 
  • Scary Gary:
    • Leopold thoroughly enjoys making his (often depressed or on the edge of despair) housemates miserable whenever he gets the opportunity, and revels in their suffering. Chances are if someone is unhappy, then it makes him happy (and he may or may not have been the cause).
      Leopold: (Sitting on the kitchen table in front of Gary and smiling after Gary told him how he feels like his life is a hollow lie) Your despair nourishes me.
    • The poltergeist enjoys causing misery for Gary and his housemates. When the poltergeist takes possession of Gary’s Echo Dot, it seems content to make Gary feel worse about himself.
      Gary: Echo: What’s my inspirational quote for today?

    Fan Works 
  • Ace Savvy: A New Hope: Lord Tetherby's plan essentially boils down to him having Ace Savvy killed so he can destroy the hope of the city, which means they will be forced to turn to his security company to keep the city safe.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Cheese Sandwich accidentally becomes this at the end of his fight with Pinkie. Him shrugging off her strongest attacks and taking out Pinkamena so easily robbed her of the will to fight so thoroughly that her hair goes straight and she doesn't even try to resist when Cheese knocks her out to take her to Zecora for healing.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Sierra claims that she joined Team GO Rocket specifically to crush people's dreams.

    Films — Animated 
  • BoBoiBoy: The Movie: Bora Ra interrupts Ochobot's last words of "I hope..." to BoBoiBoy by yanking Ochobot out of his hands and declaring that he'll destroy that hope. He then kills Ochobot.
  • Rise of the Guardians has main villain Pitch, whose goal is to grow more powerful by spreading despair amongst the children of the world.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. More horrifying than his ability to shatter worlds is Thanos's power to shatter hope itself. With a single gauntleted fist, he crushed all that was held dear by and gave courage to the hearts of Bruce Banner, Thor Odinson, Tony Stark, and Steve Rogers - destroying the souls of four mighty warriors who are embodiments of courage and reducing them to hollow shells of terrified, hopeless resignation.
  • Not content with the conquering and extermination of species he deems beneath him, Sarris of Galaxy Quest relishes in breaking their spirits before finally killing them, as we see in a recording of him torturing the previous Thermian leader to death (and denying them a Mercy Kill after the leader begs for one after they supplied Sarris of all the information they knew) and later when he forces Jason to admit to the still hopeful Mathesar that he and the rest of the GalaxyQuest crew are merely actors and their exploits were fictional.
  • G'mork from The NeverEnding Story, a wolf monster who serves as a herald to the Nothing, aiding it in its destruction of Fantasia expressly to crush the hopes and dreams of mankind, as people without hope are easier to control and with control comes power, meaning G'mork can take reign over the despairing humans as a demon god.
  • Palpatine from George Lucas' Star Wars excels at this. First, he completes Anakin Skywalker's turn to the Dark Side by telling him that the Jedi Knights have turned against him and murdered his pregnant wife. Much later, he implements the same tactic upon Luke Skywalker by showing him the rebel fleet in a Curb-Stomp Battle, and that his close friends are horribly outnumbered on the Endor moon.
  • The Sunset Limited revolves around "Black" (an ex-con who found religion) trying to talk "White" (a suicidal Straw Nihilist Hollywood Atheist professor) out of killing himself. White remains so relentlessly driven to see the world as a hellhole full of humans he hates, created by a vile God (if there is one at all) and from which the only escape is the sweet embrace of death, and his Breaking Speeches much more effective than Black's reaffirmations, that he completely annihilates Black's beliefs. The final scene of the film is White walking out of the room the whole conversation has been done in (presumably to kill himself for good) and Black raging at God over his lack of usefulness.
    Black: You gave him the words! If you wanted me to help him, how come you didn't give me the words?!

  • Accel World: Dusk Taker's character arc drives around crushing the hopes and spirit of Silver Crow, and the heroes by stealing their powers, one of their new teammates, and using blackmail to put them past their Despair Event Horizon so that it looks like it's impossible for them to win.
  • In his first appearance in the first book of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Lord Foul announces that his ultimate intention is to annihilate hope from the Land. He then proceeds to spend the rest of the trilogy (and the two Sequel Series) going about doing exactly that.
  • Caster/Gilles de Rais from Fate/Zero considers inflicting despair to be an art. His debut scene involves letting go of a Bound and Gagged boy at the mercy of his Serial Killer new master, and then right before the boy got out, Caster had his monster devour the boy, stating that despair is at its finest when it's about yanking a nearly fulfilled hope.
  • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, the Lord Ruler cultivates this trope with a ruthless totalitarian regime, gristly public executions at the slightest sign of defiance, a State Sec of horrifying One-Man Armies, a church in his own name, incredibly powerful magical abilities elevating him to a Nigh-Invulnerable Person of Mass Destruction, and a personal aura of despair that extends for blocks around him.
  • The Ministry of Love from Nineteen Eighty-Four. Where a lesser regime would be content with simply eliminating an insurgent or even erasing all notions of them from history, the Ministry of Love goes much further. They utterly crush their victims first and force them to abandon and betray everything and everyone they ever stood for or loved and to accept that there's nothing worthy in their life, except for their "love" for Big Brother. It's not just instrumental either: the Party seems to see such violence as part of what it means to have power, and thus part of what it desires for its own sake.
  • Sorrow from Of Fear and Faith is this, pretty much by default. In lieu of actually fighting its enemies, it tries to Mind Rape them and drive them over the Despair Event Horizon. One of the ways it's shown to do this is by forcing people to relive traumatic memories, which works pretty well on several of the Stray Dogs.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure, Saint Dane doesn't just want to beat Bobby, he wants to beat Bobby right after Bobby thinks he's won - which he does on several occasions.
  • In The Pilgrim's Progress, this is Giant Despair's whole shtick (as you might guess from the Meaningful Name). He captures pilgrims who come too close to Doubting Castle, locks them in his dungeon, beats them, starves them, provides them implements for committing suicide, and shows them the bones of other pilgrims he's killed, all for no other reason than to make them lose hope. Fortunately, Christian remembers he had the key to escape from the dungeons with him all along.
  • In Those That Wake, Man in Suit lives by this, as he's hopelessness' given form.
  • In The Wheel of Time:
    • The Forsaken are the greatest servants of the Dark One, each of whom is named after a particular depravity they committed during the War of Power. Two of them fit this trope:
      • Sammael, the Destroyer of Hope, was a general of the Light who defected by leaving a major city's gates open to the Shadow's forces.
      • Ishamael, the Betrayer of Hope, was a highly renowned philosopher who announced his allegiance to the Shadow through a public lecture in which he explained that the Shadow's absolute victory was inevitable and resisting it was pointless. It caused massive riots.
    • The Seanchan empire believes channelers of the One Power to be dangerous animals in need of strict control. Their handlers accomplish this with leashes that work as Restraining Bolt and Shock Collar, along with years of psychological conditioning until the channelers lose all hope of freedom and even stop seeing themselves as human beings. When some captive channelers are released, they immediately panic and beg to be collared again.
  • Worm has three of these.
    • First, and most importantly, The Simurgh, the third of the Endbringers. Unlike her brethren Leviathan and Behemoth, Simurgh doesn't focus on widescale destruction, but on mental damage. As the setting's only confirmed Psychic, Simurgh specializes in traumatizing people working for the betterment of mankind, which she is able to recognize through her ability to perceive the past, present, and future simultaneously. Not only does she destroy the hope of the people she hurts in her attacks, she also destroys the hope of humanity at large.
    • Jack Slash, the leader of the Slaughterhouse 9, is a human-level Hope Destroyer. While his power is dangerous, it's fairly low-key as far as parahumans are concerned (he can extend the slash radius of the blades he uses, letting him kill crowds of people at a time). Instead, what really makes him dangerous is his entirely human talent for psychological torture. He delights in preying on the flaws and insecurities of everyone, be they hero or villain, and knows how to break the hope of almost anyone. He also loves to dangle false hope in front of his victims.
    • Finally, Mannequin, one of the members of the Slaughterhouse 9. Mannequin was originally a Tinker (parahuman with superpowered tech skills) named Sphere, whose life's work was to construct space habitats for humanity. Then Simurgh struck Switzerland, killing his family and traumatizing him so badly that he abandoned his former identity completely. Now, Mannequin's favorite victims are people who succeed where he failed, improving life for humanity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The episode "The Road" of Cold Case involves a serial kidnapper known only by the alias "John Smith" who gets off on locking women away in an oubliette for long periods of time and watching as they succumb to despair.
  • The Flash (2014): Much like his comic book counterpart, Zoom lives to crush the hope of others For the Evulz. For example, he secretly posed as Jay Garrick/the Flash of Earth-2 because he enjoyed making others feel hope just so he could take it away.
  • Villain Protagonist Francis Underwood of House of Cards seems to take some pleasure in this, even though he doesn't generally do it for its own sake but as part of his schemes. For example, in one of his asides, after he sets Peter Russo up to fall off the wagon and end his political career with a drunken radio interview, he says with some relish "it takes just ten seconds to crush a man's ambitions." Other remarks he's made similarly indicate that he takes some pleasure in being ruthless and destroying people or "discarding" people he's done using.
    • Also where he quietly tells the deranged homeless man trying to get into the congressional offices: "Nobody can hear you. Nobody cares about you. Nothing will come of this." That seemed pointlessly cruel even if he was a risk to security.
  • Many Kamen Rider villains are also pretty fond of this modus operandi.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard has this specifically as the bad guy's job - the Phantoms find Gates (victim of the week) and destroy their hopes and dreams or something they love. The despair causes the victim to become a new Phantom.
    • While most of the Greeed in Kamen Rider OOO are embodiments of desire, the Purple Greeed embodies lack of desires. This gives it the power to permanently destroy the goals and dreams of humans, leaving them empty and apathetic, as well as to kill other Greeed Deader than Dead.
      • The Unicorn Yummy, created by the Purple Greeed, specifically has the power to pull a person's dream out of their heads, give it physical form, and then destroy it. It manages to destroy Hina's dream of being a famous fashion designer, but when it tries to do the same to Eiji, his desire to protect everyone is literally too large to destroy.
    • In Kamen Rider Gaim, Mitsuzane/Kamen Rider Ryugen becomes one after he spends a good chunk of the series undergoing a Face–Heel Turn. He becomes convinced that the hope Kouta inspires in others is a threat to his own plans, especially in regards to his obsession with protecting Mai.
  • Saturday Night Live provides us with an unwitting and Played for Laughs example with the recurring character of "Debbie Downer" — she is just such an unrelentingly dreary Eeyore that any other character that spends several minutes talking to her will fall into despair, in a very marked contrast to how they were at the beginning of the sketch.
  • Smallville emphasizes this aspect of Darkseid as a "Great Darkness" that consumes the Earth by crushing people's hopes and spirits.


    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the methods that a changeling can use to recharge itself with glamour, Ravaging, can develop in various styles; one of these is the destruction of hope: the character seeks to induce despair in a person. He stands by and lets her sink, refusing to help or even mocking her efforts to reignite any hope she has lost. He may talk her out of taking action to improve her life by pointing out how useless they are.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition, the Oath of Conquest Paladin specifically has "Douse the flame of hope" as a rule of its oath. The idea behind it is that an enemy whose hopes and will have been crushed into dust is an enemy that will never, ever rise up against you or the order you're trying to uphold ever again. Oath of Conquest paladins tend not to be nice people.
  • Exalted: If someone serves Oblivion willingly, you can bet your yeddim that this is a major aspect of their character. The Archbishop of Chalcedony Thurible is one of the most prominent examples: he spreads a religion that states that hope is a lie.
  • The Fall of New York setting supplement for Fast Company, the action rules for the JAGS system, features Dr. Nothing, a Psycho Psychotherapist who specializes in crushing the dreams of those who seek to make a difference in the Wretched Hive that New York has become. In addition to his skills as Fast Company (which makes him as badass as any player character), he likes to Break Them by Talking as well as other dirty social tricks.
  • The lore of the Forgotten Realms features Shar, the Goddess of Darkness, Loss, and Sorrow. Being a Goddess of Evil, crushing hope is not only one of her attributes, but one of her key tenants: Shar, and those who follow her, believe hope to be an illusion, and through the destruction of hope can others give in to her despair, and thus bring the realms closer to her idealized perfect silence.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: This is a common trope for the Cataphractoi, intelligent spirits of Darkness created when someone commits suicide or otherwise dies after crossing the Despair Event Horizon. Since Cataphractoi know how they are formed, they will often work to push people into despair in order to try and create new Cataphractoi.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000:
    • Nurgle, the embodiment of despair, is strengthened whenever large amounts of people start feeling it (his opposite god is the embodiment of hope), so naturally his followers tend towards this. Ironic, given that Nurgle and many of his followers are Affably Evil (Nurgle genuinely loves his followers) while Tzeentch and his followers tend to be cruel, manipulative Trolls.
    • In 40K, one planet still remembers the Imperium's coming and believes they will one day return to them. The planet is way out in the middle of non-Imperium-controlled space, so not only will they not do anything to assist, the likelihood of anyone knowing about them is near zero. Chaos troops take sadistic glee in kidnapping natives and revealing to them just how insignificant they are and how little the Imperium they worship cares about their very existence.

  • In H.M.S. Pinafore, Dick Deadeye spends most of his time trying to be as much of a wet blanket as possible to Ralph and Josephine's romance, constantly pointing out how it will never work, and eventually even ratting out their elopement plans to the Captain so they can be foiled.

    Video Games 
  • This is Scarecrow's goal in Batman: Arkham Knight. Just killing Batman will turn him into a martyr and secure his status as a legend, a beacon of hope that will prevent people from feeling true fear. He doesn't just want to kill him, he wants to break him and destroy his myth.
    Scarecrow: When the dawn comes, when Gotham lies in ruin and I turn my gaze to the world beyond, the Legend of the Batman will be worth nothing at all!
  • Yuuki Terumi from BlazBlue is an unabashed Troll who goes out of his way to make everyone around him miserable, as it's what he counts as 'interesting'. A reason was he thinks that despair is the only truth there is, it, along with hatred towards him, empowers him, and he's hellbent on making it to be the sole accepted truth of the world, claiming that everything else are lies. In BlazBlue: Central Fiction, it's all coming together with how it's revealed that he's the original spirit of Susano'o Unit, who held the grandeur of creating a world where everyone lives in fear of his strength and are hopeless to match him.
  • The CIMA in CIMA: The Enemy do this to feed off of people's hope, trapping them in the CIMA dimension, but leaving them a long, arduous escape route while they try to kill them before they can get out.
  • Unsurprisingly, Lucifer from Dante's Inferno tries to trick Dante into thinking he has hope for leaving Hell and rescuing his beloved Beatrice's soul. However, his ultimate plan is to use Dante to help him gain the power to crush the almighty lord himself; the biggest source of hope if there ever was.
  • Jedah from Darkstalkers taunts his defeated opponents in his win quotes for losing to him by criticizing how they never had a chance to win to begin with.
  • In Destiny:
    • Dredgen Yor (once known as Rezzyl Azir) was corrupted over time by exposure to the bones of the Hive, which he took as trophies and grafted to his Hand Cannon "Rose." He gradually abandoned his noble goals as a Guardian and became a terrifying monster who enjoyed inflicting pain and despair on others, and if he did something seemingly altruistic, it was only to give his victims hope before he turned and destroyed them all. In the end, he was undone by the apprentice of a Guardian he killed; after slaying the Hunter Jaren Ward, he forced Ward's personal Ghost to give the Hunter's hand cannon "The Last Word" to the apprentice Shin Malphur, because he knew the boy would come after him, and Yor wanted the apprentice to feel angry and hopeful with his mentor's weapon. When they met again years later, Yor barely got a few words in before Shin Malphur blasted him with a Golden Gun and killed Yor where he stood.
    • The Hive god Crota goes by the epithet "The Eater of Hope." This is most likely because, during the battle on the Moon, he was nigh-invincible and cut down so many Guardians that they couldn't believe for a second that humans could stand against him.
  • Rakanoth, one of Diablo's minions in Diablo III, is called the Lord of Despair. He sought to drive both the High Heavens and Sanctuary into despair by capturing Auriel, the Archangel of Hope during Diablo's invasion of the High Heavens, and only after destroying him and freeing Auriel is hope restored to both.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: The goal of Big Bad Kefka isn't just world destruction, it's to completely break the spirit of everyone who lives in it too. He can't understand why people strive for hope and good feeling against impossible odds, especially when time destroys all things.
    • Seymour Guado in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia. Being revived and put in a new world doesn't change his omnicidal ambitions a jot. Instead, he derides various heroes for managing to find reasons to live even when they've suffered pain and loss, and tries repeatedly to break them into his own nihilistic worldview by playing off of their missing memories or trying to instill self-doubt.
    • Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroth absolutely relishes doing this to Cloud and co., to the point where it literally breaks Cloud in two mentally. Temporarily at least.
    • The Big Bad of Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker started out as an innocent, childlike entity created specifically to connect with the feelings and emotions of others, and countless copies of her were sent out to the Universe to find the meaning of life among the myriad civilizations in the stars. However, all she found was dead-end worlds annihilated by cataclysmic disease or war, societies so advanced they eliminated all conflict and all purpose and meaning to life, and immortal entities who had nothing left to exist for but wait for the end of the universe itself, all of them sharing a wish for nothingness and the belief that life, ultimately, had no purpose and that the road to this realization was nothing but pain. With no other perspective to counter this argument, she was consumed by their suffering and their despair and now believes that to end everything in nothingness is a kindness. So she sits at the edge of the Universe and sings a song that weaponizes the very concept of despair: utilizing Dynamis, the power of emotion, the song of the Final Days utterly consumes anyone who feels a particularly strong negative emotion, such as anger, sorrow, and ESPECIALLY despair, so that their soul is erased from existence, and their bodies are turned into a Blasphemy, a monstrous creature that in turn causes others who see it to despair and become Blasphemies themselves. She doesn't even have to be the direct cause of said despair in order to cause the transformation, nor does she deliberately intend it—merely being exposed to despair while she sings her song provokes it, which is what makes her especially dangerous.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, the true Big Bads need to light "the flames of sorrow, destruction and despair" in their plan to resurrect Ganon. The first two are lit by Veran and Onox, respectively, and they light the last one personally by kidnapping Zelda in broad daylight, in view of the villagers.
  • By the time of Mega Man Zero 4, Dr. Weil is the undisputed ruler of Neo Arcadia and was so tyrannical that its citizens choose to escape into the wastelands to find a new home rather than stay under his rule. Because of this, Dr. Weil initiated Operation Ragnarok, a military op where he sends his army to all habitable areas outside Neo Arcadia and destroys all signs of nature growing back, believing this will dissuade anyone from deserting his domain. At the end of the game, when La Résistance thought everything is over with Weil's apparent death, he fires a "warning shot" from his Ragnarok Kill Sat, alerting everyone that it hasn't been shut down. Weil sends Ragnarok on a Colony Drop towards Area Zero, the largest habitable region outside Neo Arcadia; the "warning shot" earlier implies (and eventually confirms) to be a taunt because he believes that the Resistance is now powerless to stop the crash.
  • From Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, Abaddon-Shinado's Aspect of Anger is half of a divine monster powered by despair. Technically, its mission is to cast all despairing humans into the Abyss, but in its zealousness, it seeks to drive all humans to despair deep enough that it might just dump the race there. The Player Character is such a Hope Bringer that it resorts to progressively harsher forms of Mind Rape - which fail to put a dent on him. Eventually, both are forced into a confrontation in which Shinado plays its trump card by breaking the spirit of one of the hero's new friends, absorbing and through him or her attempting to crush his hope one last time. It wasn't such a good idea, to say the least.
  • Otani Yoshitsugu from Sengoku Basara, due to being ridiculed for his leprosy, made it his goal to spread misery and despair throughout the world so they suffer as he does. To achieve that, he attempts to kill Tokugawa Ieyasu, the one who's trying to bring bonds and hope to the war-torn land.
  • Lord Achriman, the sadistic Big Bad of Serious Sam 4, tries to deliver a Breaking Speech practically every time he opens his mouth. As the lead philosopher and propagandist of Evil Overlord Mental, Achriman does his best to convince humanity that there is nothing they can do to stop Mental's Horde from wiping them out and that surrendering themselves to be processed is in their own best interest.
  • The White in Shin Megami Tensei IV are Anthropomorphic Personifications of Humanity's despair at being forever locked in the middle of the Order Versus Chaos Forever War. They seek ultimate destruction and to that end they send Flynn to the Alternate Timelines of Blasted and Infernal Tokyo, so he will see neither Law nor Chaos is the answer. They despise Neutral, the most hopeful of endings. To make Flynn despair if that doesn't work, they send him against extremely lethal entities (the Ancient of Days and Sanat Kumara). The Archangel Gabriel says they became this when they "gained knowledge beyond their ken" - which in this series is never a good thing.
  • Among a bunch of other sadistic tendencies, Infinite from Sonic Forces takes pleasure in doing this.
    Infinite: (to Silver) This wasn't part of my agenda, but I'm always happy to crush a hero. It keeps the rabble in line. Shows them that there is no hope.
  • Super Mario RPG: The objective of the Smithy Gang was to seize up the fragments of the Star Road to get rid of the wishes of everyone and "create a world filled with... WEAPONS!". In particular, Axem Red, leader of the Axem Rangers, explicitly states that the star fragment they're fighting over with Mario and Co. give people hope, therefore "it needs to be destroyed!".
  • Perfectio from Super Robot Wars Destiny, as an Emotion Eater of negative emotions, likes despair the most. To make matters worse, he has a circular wave that will plunge any caught in it into despair, usually via the sheer power he exudes as a Nigh-Invulnerable Eldritch Abomination.
  • The Sha of Despair from World of Warcraft, like the rest of the Sha, feeds off of and causes its negative emotion, namely despair. It thus stands in opposition to Chi-Ji, the Red Crane of Hope.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa, this is the modus operandi of the Big Bad Monokuma, and by extension the Ultimate Despair, which he runs. Despair is his favorite word, and he creates the Deadly Game for no other reason than to make its participants suffer. Monokuma's controller Junko Enoshima takes the concept to its extreme by making it into a fetish to the point of being obsessed with her own despair as much as anyone else's: she is thrilled when her plans are thwarted because it means she can inflict the ultimate despair on herself. Of course, at the exact moment that she is about to die, her death is delayed by a split second, and she dies confused without realizing it instead of in the despair she wanted. Further materials such as Danganronpa Zero and Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School explore this further: her true talent was supposedly the "Ultimate Analyst", allowing her to analyze every possible outcome of every action. Due to being able to do this, she got quickly bored at everything and decided that despair is unpredictable while hope, harmony, and good things are pretty boring... So Junko decided to not only worship despair but also shove it to the whole world whether they like it or not to make things, in her eyes, more exciting.
  • The witches in Umineko: When They Cry. Most notably, the Big Bad is a Troll comparable to Terumi in terms of cruelty (and if Umineko were more widespread would equal or even surpass him in notoriety) that takes absolute delight in the despair she sows. Not Beatrice, but Bernkastel (and Lambdadelta to a lesser extent).

    Web Comics 
  • Aurora (2019): Tynan, Shadow of Thunder, is a storm god who feeds on mortal fear, and as such has devoted his entire existence to getting better at spreading fear and dread.
  • The cubi of clan Seme in Amber Panyko Williams' Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures feed upon the emotion of despair. Since cubi can exert some amount of Thought Control, clan Seme can create the despair upon which they feed.
  • Eridan Ampora from Homestuck, whose title is Prince of Hope. Don't let the title fool you, the Prince class is a destroyer of/through its aspect, and so Eridan is literally a destroyer of hope. Proving the point, after the trolls were denied entrance into the new universe they had created, Eridan took away their last hope for restoring their race by destroying the matriorb.

    Web Original 
  • The Corporate Commander from The Angry Joe Show loves to raise the expectations of gamers with an awesome new release before deliberately delivering a poor videogame to them on purpose as a scam he uses to take the consumer's money.
  • Mechakara from Atop the Fourth Wall. It isn't enough for him to just kill Linkara, he wants to destroy his spirit first. He has tried to take away everything Linkara cares about, send him mad, and push him over the Despair Event Horizon.
  • "Crushing Hopes and Dreams" has become a catchphrase of the Gundamn! podcast, as certain Gundam fans tend to develop unrealistic expectations to which they need to administer a sometimes lethal dose of reality.
  • RWBY: Salem admits that Ozpin's faith in humanity's potential is not misplaced. She can see how strong humanity is capable of being when it stands united against any threat or adversity. As a result, her plan is to turn humanity against itself, dividing and weakening them, cultivating mistrust, paranoia, and war until all hope humanity has for itself is destroyed. Every human. Everywhere. Salem knows she cannot kill Ozpin so instead plans to destroy his hope in humanity's future and defeat him with despair.
  • The Baron Richmond, in Twig, delights in tormenting the small town of Warrick, composed entirely of people he's had shipped there, with random executions and an oppressive atmosphere of despair, but what causes him to fit this trope are the churches. When the Baron had Warrick constructed, he made sure to include several churches, empty buildings without any religious functionaries to staff them, and with all the holy symbols ruined in some way. The churches exist solely to tempt the people of Warrick into seeking some small spiritual comfort just so that he can crush it in an inventive and cruel fashion; for example, when the townsfolk started leaving rose petals on the doorstep he had his doctors develop a monster which could track them by the oils their fingers left on the petals.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Lord Ozai is told that the people of the Earth Kingdom can persist for as long as they have hope. His solution? Take away their hope by burning the kingdom to the ground. Though this particular case isn't so much trying to crush hope as it is being so thorough that there's no one left to have hope.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series/New Batman Adventures episode "Cold Comfort," Mr. Freeze has lost his wife and his entire body from the neck down so he spends the episode destroying the things people hold most dear to them, including the skeleton of a dinosaur an archaeologist discovered, and the magnum opus of a painter.
  • The Joker in Batman: The Brave and the Bold tries to kill Batman/Dick Grayson (who's currently the last member of the Bat Family) in order to rid Gotham City of their savior and his legacy forever.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Discord in "The Return of Harmony" has corrupted the rest of the Mane 6 and let them become such Jerkasses that Twilight Sparkle just gives up on trying to save Equestria.
    • Principal Abacus Cinch of Crystal Prep Academy in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games. She wants to prove how perfect her school is by destroying the confidence of Canterlot High. Ironically, she's also this to her prized student Twilight.
  • In Operation: Z.E.R.O., since he was overthrown in the past when his son found the Book of KND which gave him hope, Grandfather sets out to find and destroy the book to ensure history never repeats.
  • Robo Cop The Animated Series had a villain who was actually named Hope Crusher.
  • Aku from Samurai Jack is one to the world he rules over in general and Jack in particular, leading to the series' many, many infamous "Shaggy Dog" Story moments. One of his favorite tactics is to let Jack come this close to finding a way to the past, before destroying it and flying off while taunting the Samurai mercilessly. In season 5, it is shown that he has succeeded in breaking Jack's spirit completely, destroying the last portal to the past and forcing him to kill innocents. In one comics-only story, Aku disguises himself as a woman and travels with Jack for what must have been months if not years before revealing himself, solely to teach Jack that he "will always be alone".
  • The Simpsons:
    • Depressing Springfield tavern owner Moe Szyslak.
      Moe: I like creating disappointment. You know that little moment when people's hope dies? I feed on that.
    • Principal Seymour Skinner has an obsession with forcing the children of his school to become dull, mediocre, conformist, devoid of dreams (and thus sheep-like and easier for him to manage because they won't protest stuff like the budget cuts) that borders on that of an Ayn Rand villain (or a caricature thereof) at times.
      Mrs. Krabappel: Our demands are very reasonable. By ignoring them, you're selling out these children's futures.
      Seymour: Oh, come on, Edna! We both know that these children have no future!
      [All of the children in the cafeteria stop what they are doing and stare at Skinner out of fright. Skinner notices.]
      Skinner: Prove me wrong, children! Prove me wrong!
    • In the Season 6 episode "And Maggie Makes Three" the show's most popular example of this trope is when Homer is forced to return to his job at the Nuclear Plant in order to support Maggie's upcoming birth. Mr. Burns allows him to come back but as punishment for his desertion, it's company policy to give him a demotivational plaque that says "Don't Forget: You're Here Forever!" in front of his post in order to break what's left of his spirit. Thankfully, after Maggie is born Homer is motivated to continue working there because of his love for her, he puts her baby pictures on the plaque, thus making the words look like it's saying: "Do It For Her!"
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Robotnik won't go out of his way to crush people's hope due to generally being too pragmatic to waste time like that, but due to his general sadism he'll gladly take the opportunity if given one.
    Robotnik: A nice dream. But dreams are meant to be… broken.
  • Lord Dominator from Wander over Yonder is revealed to be this in "My Fair Hatey", as she explains in her Villain Song "I'm the Bad Guy":
    I've always had a weakness
    For barrenness and bleakness
    I crush all your hopes
    And then I watch you cry!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bringer Of Despair


D Kills Nia

Just when the real Nia is about to awaken from her slumber, she's hit by an Unstoppable Spear from Consul/Moebius D, who gleefully tastes Ouroboros's despair in killing Nia so Moebius can preserve the Endless Now.

How well does it match the trope?

2.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / HopeSpot

Media sources: