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Jade-Colored Glasses

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"When I was young it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, they'd be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, oh, playfully watching me.
But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, oh responsible, practical.
And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Oh, clinical, oh, intellectual, cynical."

This is where a Wide-Eyed Idealist is psychologically beaten and broken down until they become more cynical in their views. May involve More than Mind Control, the piling on of various misfortunes and traumas, or simply the fact that Growing Up Sucks, but the end result is that they end up wearing Jade-Colored Glasses.

May be a way to avoid the pain. If so, expect Hope Is Scary if they start to recover.

The trope name is a pun on Rose-Colored Glasses and being "jaded". In an interesting coincidence, with "rose" being a shade of pink, and "jade" being a shade of green, two colors which exist on the opposite ends of a color wheel, jade literally is the opposite of rose.

Supertrope of Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!, Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!, Took a Level in Cynic, and Jaded Professional. A common trait of the Mentor in Sour Armor.


Compare and contrast the Knight in Sour Armor, a character who manages to still be an idealist despite his or her Jade Colored Glasses. Possibly related to Break the Cutie.

Contrast The Pollyanna who is endlessly optimistic despite hardship or tragedy, and likely to tell this trope to take off the glasses because Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!, and Took a Level in Idealism for when a cynical character becomes more idealistic over time.

May be the result of Mirroring Factions.



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    Comic Books 
  • Mimic of Marvel Comics' Exiles: An idealist superhero from a near-perfect universe, drafted into a dimension-hopping team, fixing "broken" realities. After seeing one too many far-from-perfect alternate versions of his colleagues, he snaps and decides some people, and some worlds, aren't worth saving.
  • In Twisted Toyfare Theatre, main character Spider-Man befell this fate by virtue of simply living in Megoville. Being the Only Sane Man in a world full of atomic supercrazies, several of whom routinely come over to his house uninvited, does that to a guy, to the point that he's completely unwilling to do anything even remotely heroic if he can avoid it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Initially an idealistic hero, Batman has been worn down by twenty years of crime-fighting, on top of Robin's death and witnessing the destruction caused by Superman and Zod's fight; to this end, he ends up throwing himself into plotting against and killing Superman, believing that ridding the world of a potential alien threat will be the one thing he does that really matters. When Alfred insists his fixation on killing Superman is unfounded and he's not their enemy, Bruce blows it off, saying that just because Superman isn't their enemy now doesn't mean he won't be.
    Bruce: Twenty years in Gotham, Alfred... we've seen what promises are worth. How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?
  • Theo Faron in Children of Men was a daring Merry Prankster and activist before the world's population ceased growing. After the crisis, he is so jaded and tired that he can barely muster a tear for anything.
  • Happens to Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight after Rachel is killed, leading him to become Two-Face.
  • Michael Corleone from The Godfather started off as an idealist. He volunteered to fight in World War II and had no intention of becoming involved in the family business. Eventually, events suck him in, but he thinks he can make the family give up the life and go into legitimate business. By the end of Part II, Michael has become a cold, cynical Mob boss.
  • In Real Genius, Dr. Hathaway tricks Chris and Mitch into solving his problem with his "Death Star"-like laser, so he can keep the funding from the DoD. Mitch was a wide-eyed 15-year-old, but Chris realizes what the ultimate use would be since he was "a cynic." He let Hathaway distract him with the promise of a job after graduation. It took Lazlo, the guy who lived in the steam vents, to point out the only use for a high-powered, portable laser unit — assassinations.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: James McAvoy observes in the "Double Take: Xavier & Magneto" featurette that his character's experience with Erik in X-Men: First Class had crushed Charles' rose-coloured glasses.
      "Erik challenged his world view so much, and then violently took away not just the ability to walk, but also his belief in other people a little bit."
    • Logan: This occurs to Wolverine to a certain extent. He wasn't much of a wide-eyed idealist to begin with, but he was at least on the side of good and hope. By the time of Logan, he's just a man trying to live out the last of his days in peace until he can take himself and Xavier onto a boat and finally kill himself, and flat-out refuses to believe that there are other mutants left in the world, much less that he has any moral obligation to help them if there are.

  • Life is Beautiful by sixx:A.M. describes someone who was wide-eyed, became cynical then went around again to being wisely positive.
  • Daylight by Aesop Rock is a bold declaration of an optimistic worldview and Nightlight, its sequel song, shows the narrator's slide into cynicism, giving a darker twist on the same lyrics. That's one theory anyway.
  • Charting Steely Dan's albums from Can't buy a Thrill to Gaucho will reveal a trajectory that slides further and further into cynicism. They were pretty damn cynical to begin with, but even the shaky optimism of "Change of the Guard" is long gone by the time of The Royal Scam.
  • "The Pretender", by Jackson Browne:
    I'm gonna be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender
    Where the ads take aim and lay their claim to the heart and the soul of the spender
    And believe in whatever may lie in those things that money can buy
    Though true love could have been a contender
    Are you there? Say a prayer for the Pretender
    Who started out so young and strong, only to surrender
  • Nas isn't entirely devoid of hope and optimism, but he's still a product of the ruthless streets of Queensbridge, New York, and it shows; especially on Illmatic. He's rightly paranoid that he could get killed at any moment, his hood is squalid, and full of gangs, drug dealers, and junkies, lost many of his friends to drugs or violence, and kids get hit with stray bullets every day. Despite this, he still has a glimmer of hope that he and the others in his neighborhood can get out of their situation.
  • Pretty much the fate of the main protagonists from The Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow and Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage. Both are idealistic, cheerful young men, but events in their lives (war and the death of his girlfriend with the former; abuse by the lackeys of the Cental Scrutinizer and banning of music with the latter) cause them to go insane. As a result, Sorrow see no one left to trust in life and shuts himself off from the world, while Joe is forced to conform to society as his hobbies are made illegal.
  • Finnish metal band Nightwish can be seen as this. While the earlier albums (from Angels Fall First to Wishmaster) high-fantasy and folk stories were a common occurrence in the lyrics and the music used to be more vivid and powerful, later albums (starting from Century Child) started bringing despair, loneliness and nostalgia for lost times as a common theme, and the introduction of a full orchestra for most of the songs brought an eerie "goth" feeling to the band, all of this culminating with Dark Passion Play, probably their darkest album overall.
  • Hinted at in the Paul McCartney penned theme to Live and Let Die.
    When you were young and your heart was an open book
    You used to say live and let live
    (you know you did, you know you did, you know you did)
    But if this ever-changing world in which we're livin' makes you give in and cry...
    Say Live and Let Die!
  • Oasis' "Fade Away" is all about how "While we're living, the dreams we have as children fade away" - while also asking the listener to be optimistic and "dream while you can".

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Harriet used to be an energetic child who wanted to become a stage performer. Then her parents died, and her personality did a complete 180 into a depressed, distrustful cynic.
    • When she was young, Jae was an average girl who dreamed of working with flowers. But then her parents forced their expectations onto her, trying to get her to focus on a more 'reasonable' occupation, which in turn caused her to become moody and rebellious, and eventually join up with Daigo's gang of delinquents.
  • In Dino Attack RPG, Rex was once the Wide-Eyed Idealist, but he started to wear Jade-Colored Glasses starting around the end of the LEGO Island Story Arc, and was definitely wearing them in the later stages of the Final Battle.

  • BIONICLE: Brutaka lost any semblance of optimism after the Great Cataclysm, believing that Mata Nui had abandoned them. This led to him briefly undergoing a Face–Heel Turn during the Voya Nui / Mahri Nui arc. He stopped wearing the glasses when The Order of Mata Nui gave him a chance to redeem himself.

    Visual Novels 
  • Archer of Fate/stay night, as his backstory eventually reveals. He didn't completely give up on his ideals, but his ideals gave up on him.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Akira Satou is, contrary to her appearance, somewhat cynical as a result of her parents having abandoned her and Lilly in Japan to pursue a business opportunity in Scotland. Late in Lilly's route, when their parents decide to have both of them come back to Scotland permanently, thus forcing Akira to break up with her boyfriend, and potentially doing the same to Lilly, despite Akira approving of her relationship with Hisao,, Akira says "life isn't a fairytale," and that some people will have no choice but to do things that hurt themselves or others in response to life's harsher events. In a subversion, if Hisao manages to play his cards right, Akira will regain her faith in love — she will go to Scotland, yes, but her boyfriend will go with her and Lilly will stay in Japan with Hisao.
  • Nameless: Yeonho is The Cutie, so Eri initially pegs him as The Pollyanna. As you'll learn throughout his route, he's really not.

  • To an extent Rose from Homestuck. Ironically, not the character actually named Jade. She's a Wide-Eyed Idealist.
    • Jade wears Rose-Coloured Glasses while Rose wears Jade-Coloured Glasses?
    • John also gets hit by this in Act 6 as he grows up. In particular, he comes to realise that his beloved Con Air is actually a pretty terrible movie. Jade assures him that it's still a great Guilty Pleasure, but that doesn't help John, who sincerely used to believe it was good.
      • This subverted a year (in-story) later when John watches Con Air on a montage where he passes the time by himself as he waits to reunite with many of his friends after three years, and he loves the movie once again.
  • In Sunstone, Alan is noticeably jaded about his BDSM lifestyle and how people view it after being tormented for it in college and having had a tragic failed Dominant/submissive relationship.
  • Jue Viole Grace, aka Twenty-Fifth Bam, from Tower of God. Formerly a Wide-Eyed Idealist, a Naïve Newcomer who couldn't even grasp why people would fight each other when they didn't do anything bad to each other before turned cynical survivalist that is content with making everybody drop out of the test he participates in since it's fairer that way. He doesn't believe that there is a way for everybody to be happy and tries to create a certain kind of equality this way, all while trying to find the person who betrayed him.

    Web Original 
  • Dream SMP:
    • Quackity started out as an optimistic budding politician who believed there was good in everyone when he ran against Wilbur in the L'Manburg Election. During that time, Wilbur, who was already spiraling mentally, gave him some advice on how violence was the key to power on the server. Seven months and many traumatic events later, Quackity embraces Wilbur's cynical mentality but swears to not make the same mistakes Wilbur did. Ultimately this becomes somewhat deconstructed. After having his old idealism shattered, Quackity went down a dark road that gradually lead to him becoming crueler as a person, teaching people 'lessons' under the mindset that he was helping them come to the same realizations he had and manipulating them to work for him. However, Slime would later cause Quackity to question this mindset, and later Purpled would betray Quackity because of the destruction of his home, which would never have happened had Quackity been more kind in his recruitment methods, further showing the flaws in Quackity's overly cynical outlook.
    • At the same time, Wilbur himself also classifies as one, who also initially believed in pacifism and fighting with words as opposed to violence during the War for L'Manburg Independence. After Eret's betrayal of the revolution, though, his naivety as the leader of the L'Manburgian revolution became shattered, and after the war, his mental health spiraled, and when he saw Quackity enter the world of the SMP with the same naive idealism that he himself once had, he advised him that to gain power and help others on the server, one must be willing to use violence of any means to achieve it... but this is slightly downplayed by the fact that Wilbur was never quite able to walk the walk even if he talks the talk.
  • By the time he appeared on The Nostalgia Critic, Ma-Ti was bitter and cynical. He's quite vocal why — he got screwed over.
  • In Worm, the wise-cracking superhero Clockblocker, after dealing with the deaths or departure of most of his team and the fact that the supervillains enforcing brutal vigilante justice are better at keeping order than the sponsored superheroes starts seeing the world as this. Choice comments include that humanity is a "joke" and deserves what it gets.

"In every cynic is a disappointed idealist."

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Alternative Title(s): Jade Coloured Glasses


Captain Ed

Having experienced the rock and roll lifestyle for himself, Captain Ed tries to encourage Jack and Kyle to "let the dream die".

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