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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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    Anime & Manga 
  • A lot of people in Attack on Titan, but particularly Annie and Ymir, when it comes to selfishness versus selflessness and Heroic Sacrifice, respectively. As the series progresses, Armin becomes more and more accepting of doing whatever it takes to achieve his goals. Renier, Bertolt, and Annie also suffer from a total loss of hope.
  • Pretty much Rock by the Roberta's Blood Trail arc in Black Lagoon. Living in a Wretched Hive/Crapsack World will do that to you, especially after the Break the Cutie incidents he'd suffered in previous arcs.
  • Bleach: Flashbacks reveal that Ryuuken Ishida used to be a Wide-Eyed Idealist who was under a lot of pressure to protect the future of the Quincies. A series of disasters occurred that culminated in him suffering a Heroic BSoD that slid over the Despair Event Horizon when his wife was murdered by the Quincy King; in the present, he's very attached to the jade-colored glasses he wears for all things Quincy. His son, who doesn't know the truth, is extremely frustrated with it. That's the brief version, but it gets worse: Yhwach's method of murdering Quincies creates a blood clot made of Stil Silver. Ryuuken autopsied his own wife to collect the silver in order to forge the only weapon capable of de-powering Yhwach long enough to kill him. Ryuuken's act ensures Yhwach's defeat but leaves him forever despising his Quincy heritage. Uryuu accidentally witnesses the autopsy, vows to never become something that's forced to cut up his loved ones, and so changes his mind about becoming a doctor. After learning the truth, Uryuu becomes a doctor at his father's hospital, implying that he now understands that his father performed the autopsy because he was a Quincy, not because he was a doctor, and further implying that Uryuu may also have lost his desire to be a Quincy.
  • Lelouch in Code Geass could be considered an example as well given his troubled backstory, only that the glasses he wears are of a much darker tint.
  • In Monster, when Johan isn't breaking cuties he's handing out jade-coloured glasses. The protagonist of the series, Doctor Tenma, is his special project in this regard. Johan can never find a pair that fits Tenma, even when he attempts a Thanatos Gambit. What's more, at the conclusion, everyone who manages to survive ends up taking them off and starts rebuilding his or her life with an optimistic outlook on life.
  • Naruto:
    • Obito Uchiha started out as a good kid until he got back from being crushed in a jutsu-induced landslide just in time to see his best friend murder the girl he liked. After that, he starts an evil organization and plans to become a physical god.
    • Nagato could count as well. He started off as a sweet kid with hopes of changing the world for the better; but after being made into the universe's Chew Toy, and witnessing his best friend's death, he becomes determined that only pain can change the world.
  • Over the course of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gendo Ikari shows shades of cynicism in all directions following the "death" of his wife, Yui Ikari, when Unit 01 sucks her soul inside it and turns her to LCL then failing miserably to resurrect her, and finally, discovering that the first Rei clone he ever made from his attempts to rescue Yui, the one remnant of his wife's image, had been mercilessly strangled by Naoko Akagi in a fit of distraught anger (hearing that Gendo called her useless from Rei's mouth made her think it was her old enemy Yui taunting her), who killed herself violently after seeing what she did. At some point in his life, Gendo became afraid of bonding with anyone, even his son, and, having lost the one person in his life who truly understood and loved him, turns intensely cold, impassive, and morally oblivious to whatever he tries to do- only Instrumentality matters, for it will let him see Yui once more. In the midst of all this, Gendo literally ends up wearing tinted glasses after his old ones break while rescuing Rei from a superheated Entry Plug. While Gendo might seem to be heartless, he's really a Jerk with a Heart of Gold- down deep, there is regret for what he's done.
  • One Piece: Common among the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
    • Crocodile and Moria both dreamed of being the Pirate King. Both fought their way to the New World, the hardest part of the journey. Both faced complete defeat at the hands of one of the Four Emperors and grew jaded as they sought other ways to conquer the world. Their arrogance and sedentary lifestyles as they ostensibly bided their time to try again led to their defeat at Luffy's hands.
    • Boa Hancock's introduction shows her in the worst possible light, and it isn't inaccurate in the least. But when we find out why she's like it, she becomes a lot more sympathetic, and grows the slightest amount warmer thanks to Luffy.
  • Akemi Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Living as a Magical Girl will do that to you.
    • Sayaka comes to a point that she sports a pair after learning some grave facts about becoming a magical girl the hard way before becoming a witch.
    • Kyouko used to be a Wide-Eyed Idealist, but had her optimistic worldview shattered when her father killed her whole family and then himself after finding out people only listened to his preachings because of the wish she'd made.
    • Then it was invoked and then defied with this sentence: "If someone says it's wrong to hope, I will tell them that they're wrong every time. I could tell them that countless times."
  • Rossiu from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann spent the first half of the series as an idealistic yet practical kid who truly believed in Kamina and Simon's quest for a new world. Then war happened to him, he spent years as the only intelligent person on a government council who deliberately slacked off so he'd do the paperwork for them, playing advisor to a guy who'd rather go for a stroll than actually govern his own damn country. The stress made him so jaded and cynical that he was willing to sacrifice Earth to save about 18% of humanity.
  • Back when he was a Self-Made Man in the court of his country, Sonken aka Chuutatsu from The Twelve Kingdoms witnessed a terrible level of corruption and cruelty. When chosen as the King of Hou, then, the Jade Colored Glasses were so firmly glued to King Chuutatsu's face that he became an absolute Knight Templar and his absolute sense of justice caused him to slaughter a large portion of his own population for minor offenses. His zeal was so terrible that the minor noblemen rebelled, overthrew and killed him, his kirin and his wife Queen Kekai, leaving his daughter Shoukei as the last survivor.
    • Also Queen Shushou of Kyou, who is a good person at heart but is also very much a Little Miss Snarker who keeps telling her kirin Kyouki that he's too good for his own benefit.
  • Frederica Bernkastel in When They Cry meta-series. Living forever in a place severed from a normal timeline after being murdered hundreds of times will do that to you.
  • Judai (Jaden, in the English dub) of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, gets this in Season 4. As a result of fusing with Yubel on top of spending too long Dueling to save the world rather than for fun, he no longer enjoys the game and always aims to end it as fast as possible when he plays, oblivious to all else. He gets better with the help of his friends, though, and a duel with Yugi helps him regain his love for dueling.

    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.

    Fan Works 
Final Fantasy
  • Guardian examines how Lulu of Final Fantasy X got her pair. She's shown to be much more innocent as a child, but after the death of Lady Ginnem, she spends time in Bevelle where she sees the hypocritical treatment of Yuna before and after Braska's success, becomes prone to resentment, and learns that any "successful" pilgrimage ends in the summoner's death anyway.

Mega Man

Miraculous Ladybug

  • The Fox of Marseille: While she used to be a huge fan of Ladybug, Alya's opinion shifted once she got her own Miraculous and started fighting crime in Marseille. While Le Papillon acted like a villain straight out of a comic book, Rena Rouge found herself facing threats like thugs, drug dealers and rapists; by the time her family moves to Paris, she's become a Terror Hero, and looks down her nose at Ladybug and Chat Noir, believing that they don't take their duties seriously enough.

My Hero Academia

  • In Conversations with a Cryptid, All for One remarks that Izuku may not be especially familiar with feeling optimistic, given how he's "rarely had enough happiness in [his] life to even be familiar with the concept". Izuku replies that he's "probably not wrong" about that.
  • The Emancipators has Izuku turn out far more cynically, having grown up watching his Barbaric Bully get praised and coddled for his 'amazing' Quirk. As a result, he's very quick to think the worst of people, and is honestly thrown off with Tenya actually apologizes to him after they get off on the wrong foot.
  • Hero Class Civil Warfare: In Intersection, Kingpin has a pair thanks to being kidnapped and tortured right alongside Bakugou due to All for One taking an interest in his performance.
  • The Sleeper Hit AU involves Midoriya Izuku remaining Quirkless. Though he still pursues his dreams of becoming a Pro Hero and has succeeded by the time the main story begins, this hasn't been without considerable hardship — including getting expelled from U.A. on his very first day due to Aizawa's ulterior motives and struggling to find a school willing to take a chance on a 'powerless' student. This has left him convinced that the only reason anyone would be kind towards him now is to further their own agenda, such as making themselves look good in the public eye.
  • Unlimited: While Izuku has a decent amount of faith in others, he doesn't have any in authority figures, having been repeatedly betrayed or taken advantage of by Pro Heroes far too much. The fact that some have intentionally forced him to handle a crisis himself, only to turn around and scold him for acting, leaves him understandably wary.


  • Androgyninja's A Drop of Poison: Sasuke telling her that she's unlikely to be anything more than Cannon Fodder proves to be a Cynicism Catalyst for Sakura. Not only does she find it harder to ignore the various inequalities in Konoha's shinobi system, including the various advantages those from clans have over civilian-born shinobi like herself, she develops a tendency to presume the worst of others. Such as believing that Kakashi, her own jonin instructor, doesn't care about her — a perception that isn't helped by his teaching methods.

One Piece

  • Tashigi in This Bites! starts out with whole-hearted faith in the marines and the World Government, which begins to crack even more than in canon during the Alabasta arc, especially after Princess Vivi is framed by the World Nobles for piracy when she was trying to save her country. Throughout the series, her work with MI3 and the Straw Hat Pirates further exposes her to the World Government's corruption. By the time that Robin recounts through the SBS the ruthless destruction of Ohara by the Marine Buster Call, Tashigi had become so jaded that the only emotion she could feel about this atrocity is anger... and not even directly at organization she once swore to serve.
    Tashigi: …If I'd heard what I'm hearing now four months ago, I would have been horrified. I would have vomited, or not believed it or… or something. I… I would have felt something. But now… after all I've learned, after all I've seen… hearing this… I'm not disgusted anymore. I don't have it in me to be disgusted anymore. I can't vomit in disgust, I can't reel in horror… I am apoplectic because I can't feel anything else. The World Government has successfully jaded me. Not even pirates or criminals, but the World Government, who I swore to protect and serve with my life, and that… That enrages me to the point where I need to physically hurt something, or else I think that I am going to literally lose my mind.

Touhou Project

  • We have this occur in the Gensokyo 20XX series with Reimu and Yukari, the latter of which is a Broken Bird and the former playing the role of The Fatalist. This isn't surprising considering the events of the series and, incidentally, the authoress herself is like this, seeing the world in much the same way that Yukari and Reimu do.

Touken Ranbu

    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.

  • This happened to Nathaniel in The Bartimaeus Trilogy when Lovelace destroyed the house.
    • Although, to be honest, that didn't completely remove his naivete and beliefs about justice and honor, just diminished them. It was spending several years working in a corrupt, selfish, and paranoid government that resulted in glasses so jade he turned into a Villain Protagonist.
  • The Business Of Dying
    • Protagonist Dennis Milne originally became a police officer, because he was very idealistic and had a strong sense of justice, always trying to get bullies and criminals their just desserts and trying to make the world a safer place. But things didn't go well. Eventually, his idealism was lost, his shooting a dangerous man during a hostage situation didn't bother him a whole lot and it led to him getting into contact with Raymond Keen, starting his double-life as a hitman.
    • There's also Carla Graham, a social worker at Coleman house, who also began rather idealistic and quickly learned that most of the kids sent to the home don't want help from authority, despise it, and just go about doing whatever they want because they know they can. Her previously failed marriage has also left her more cynical about things like love and money, which was part of the reason why she became a call girl on the side.
  • Discworld: When we first meet Sam Vimes, he's the ultimate cynic, and so beaten down by life that he has a serious drinking problem and doesn't even try to do his job. When we meet the 17-year-old Vimes in Night Watch, we discover he was idealistic and perky, and it took "30 years of being hammered on the anvil of life" to turn him into the man we know.
    • The Patrician, however (possibly the only character who's more cynical than Vimes) seems to have been born like that. Or at least donned his glasses very, very early, going by his anecdote in Unseen Academicals about the time he saw an otter and its pups devour an egg-filled salmon alive...
  • In The Dresden Files, a good example of this appears in "A Restoration of Faith," the short story that was the first appearance of Harry Dresden. Faith, a ten-year-old girl, has run away from her rich family home, where she states she isn't loved.
    "I see these Disney shows about how much parents love their kids. How there's some sort of magical bond of love. But it's a lie. Like you and that troll." She laid her head against my shoulder, and I could feel the exhaustion in her body as she sagged against me. "There's no magic."
    I fell silent for several paces as I carried her. It was hard to hear that from a kid. A ten-year-old girl's world should be full of music and giggling and notes and dolls and dreams—not harsh, barren, jaded reality. If there was no light in the heart of a child, a little girl like this, then what hope did any of us have?
Then Harry gets one for himself in the next paragraph.
A few paces later, I realized something I hadn't been admitting to myself. A quiet, cool little voice had been trying to tell me something I hadn't been willing to listen to. I was in the business of wizardry to try to help people; to try to make things better. But no matter how many evil spirits I confronted, no matter how many would-be black magicians I tracked down, there was always something else—something worse—waiting for me in the dark. No matter how many lost children I found, there would always be ten times as many who disappeared for good.
No matter how much I did, how much trash I cleaned up, it was only a drop in the ocean.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Flies": The viewpoint character, John Polen, remembers when he started trying to analyze the Body Language of various animals in order to better understand emotional language. Seeing the dissonance between people's words and emotions has driven him to extreme cynicism.
  • The Heather Wells Mysteries has protagonist Heather wear them by the time the story starts. She was pretty wide-eyed and idealistic when she was a teenage pop-singer, but as she got older, she lost some of this. She ultimately became jaded when she was dropped by her label for insisting on singing her own songs, her mother consequently stole her life savings and left the country, and finally, Heather also walking in on her fiancé cheating on her with another singer.
  • Subverted with Jem, who had a very traumatic experience and seems to function quite well outside his "illness".
  • The main character in Invisible Man is an absolutely perfect example of this — he begins as a Love Freak and a Wide-Eyed Idealist and ends up nearly knifing a guy for insulting him. It doesn't help that he was an Unwitting Pawn twice over and a victim of Yank the Dog's Chain at least three times.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray's eponymous character was given jade-colored glasses by Lord Henry. Rather than being "broken," Lord Henry simply puts thoughts into Dorian's mind that reminds him of how terrible the world can be and the fleeting nature of youth, beauty, and the sheer pleasure that can be derived from living a life of debauch and leaving notions of innocence and kindness behind.
  • In Sid Stills' Blues (Three-Quarters in the Bag in Alphabet City), Sid used to be a carefree musician but has become jaded and cynical in his later years, not having released any new music in more than a decade and becoming reclusive. He views himself as an old has-been who has worn out his musical usefulness and is not very famous anymore and is surprised at how excited younger people are to meet him. He is so convinced that he has nothing left to offer the world that he is prepared to simply let his lung cancer kill him.
  • At the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire, the lovely and ladylike Sansa Stark is an idealist who thinks the world works exactly like in heroic songs and fairy tales. By the fourth book, her views have changed considerably, and she's being mentored by Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish.
  • One of Sansa's other teachers, Sandor Clegane, went through this in his backstory and also tried to knock sense into Sansa before her idealism got her into even worse trouble. Arya didn't exactly have very rosy specs to start with, but he also helped make her aware of the amount of jading she still needed, too.
  • Brienne of Tarth manages to combine this with Wide-Eyed Idealist; she half-believes the world is like the songs and is always shocked when someone breaks an oath or anything like that, but she's also resigned to never being able to sleep while there are strange men around, and occasionally having to beat seven shades of shit out of someone trying to rape her.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Allegiance, Mara Jade, as the Emperor's Hand, tended to be sharp-tongued but was overall quite idealistic. She consciously felt that the Emperor was "a good and wise man", she believed that the Empire was fundamentally good with some foul elements that could be removed from within, and just in general she had a pretty stable existence. We see in Choices of One that she couldn't even really imagine being anything else, and found the sensation of missing someone to be alien. The Emperor's death changed everything — his last command to her was "YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER," and it echoed in her head at dangerous intervals, her Force-sensitivity fluctuated on and off, and she saw the Empire for what it was — fundamentally foul with some good elements, and not ruled by anyone she felt was worthy. In the years after that, she bounced between various non-Imperial non-Rebel groups, mostly smugglers, always leaving after her Force-sensitivity flared up and made her employer uneasy, and although her last employer, Talon Karrde, was by far the best, by The Thrawn Trilogy she was highly cynical. Mara means "bitter", and "Jade" fits that (and one of creator Timothy Zahn's dictionaries also listed, as another meaning for Jade, "discarded woman").
    • Ben Skywalker puts on some very tinted glasses immediately after Mara's death. He's mostly an odd mix of idealistic and pragmatic (merging both of his parents' traits, leaning slightly towards the latter), but losing his mother, the one person in the galaxy that he loved and admired the most (and could talk to without fear of anything), clouded his judgment and even caused him to go so far as kill in the name of revenge, causing Luke to forcibly stop that last attempt at killing Jacen (who Ben correctly guessed as Mara's killer), at which point Ben realizes he's gone too far. He recovers from that phase fairly quickly, but the tint's never going to wear off.
  • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Gibraltar Falls", Manse admits that Thomas succeeded correctly, and he had resisted not because it was wrong but because he had seen too often when it could not be done.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Bunheads, Michelle started as a dancer with great potential that gradually let it fritter away until she wound up stuck in a dead-end job as a Las Vegas showgirl.
  • Doctor Who has the Doctor himself. For all of his apparent youth and energy, it's hard to forget he's over two, perhaps even three thousand years old and was forced to kill his own peoplenote  in the Time War; he still retains a lot of idealism, but he lets the cynicism shine through every now and again. Very apparent with the Ninth and Eleventh Doctors.
    • In the Expanded Universe, Eight started off as bubbly romantic, but his entire run became darker and darker, until the end where he was more than willing to die off for good. It's only because the alternative was all existence being destroyed that he reluctantly regenerated into an incarnation (War Doctor) where the glasses were so dark that he won't use the name "Doctor" to describe himself at that point.
    • An extra scene in the New Series reveals this one of the reasons why the Doctor drags Companions around with him. They still have the youthful idealism and wonder that he used to enjoy.
  • Marty and Thommo from Frontline. There are plenty of signs that they both used to care deeply about journalism, but had the idealism ground out of them by years of working in tabloid current affairs.
  • Game of Thrones: Robett Glover's faith in House Stark was severely crushed by Robb's failures and downfall.
    Robett: I served House Stark once...but House Stark is dead.
  • Eliot Spencer of Leverage is this, having gone from an idealistic young soldier to a ruthless hired killer to the character we first meet on the show.
    Eliot: You have no idea who I was before all this started. That guy — kid — he had God in his heart and a flag on his shoulder. Clean hands. I haven't seen him in the mirror in more than ten years, and believe me—I get up every morning looking for him.
  • The Thick of It: By the time we meet Hugh Abbot, he seems to have already not only earned his pair but glued them permanently to his face.
  • Supernatural: Castiel is introduced as someone who believes fully in the mission of Heaven and willing do follow orders to achieve it. Eventually, he admits to Dean he has some doubts and those doubts gradually grow to the point where he rebels and joins Dean and Sam as they try and stop the apocalypse. He then slides into further cynicism when he discovers that God is aware of Heaven's misdeeds and doesn't care.
  • The White Queen: Richard of Gloucester, a steadfast supporter of King Edward IV, used to be the most idealistic among the sons of York, but the more he's vexed by his eldest brother's glaring flaws, the more his worldview crumbles.
    Richard: How could he do this to me? Now Edward tries to buy my honour! He confuses me with my brother George. He does not even know me.
    Anne Neville: Then send it back and show him you do not care for wealth.
    Richard: The insult has been paid now. Though everything I thought I knew has been shaken, perhaps there's no honour in anyone and each of us is alone.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Beastieball: Redd has been figuratively wearing these for many years before the story, as the league and Beastieball grew ever more competitive, and became less about fun. This led to him eventually losing his drive to win.
  • Alistair in Dragon Age: Origins loses his mentor, his place in the Grey Wardens, and pretty much everything to his name during the course of his backstory and the first hour of the game. If you complete his personal quest in a way that shows to him that not even his own remaining family really cares about him unless it benefits them, he completes this transition.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Squall from Final Fantasy VIII: When his "sister" Ellone was taken away from his orphanage, and due to his use of Guardian Force junctions — which erased his memories — he never got over the trauma. As a result, Squall grew up believing that it was better to push everyone else away and refused to make friends or even have any ambitions beyond proving himself strong enough to take care of himself.
    • Auron in Final Fantasy X was a Wide-Eyed Idealist and true believer in his first pilgrimage with Braska, but after he found out the truth and was killed in Zanarkand, he became a much more sobering influence on the pilgrimage with Yuna.
  • Lanselot Tartaros (A.K.A. Alphonse in the gaiden Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis) from Ogre Battle series starts out as a Wide-Eyed Idealist. However, after losing his best friend and lover by the end of the gaiden, he became a bitter cynic that we see in Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together.
  • Nessiah (A.K.A. the grim angel Aries) from Yggdra Union was at first a Messianic Archetype. However, after getting cursed and thrown out of Asgard by the corrupt magi, he went insane and started the massive plan that destroyed countless people's lives in order to exact vengeance on Asgard. When a Messianic Archetype gets broken, the result is not pretty.

    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, so 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 is 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.

    Western Animation 
  • An Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode has a discount toy doll being drug-addicted, alcoholic, nihilistic, and self-harming and convinces two characters to become depressingly nihilistic, with the second one (another, more expensive doll) driven to blowing his head off with a shotgun.
  • One episode of Hey Arnold! had Eugene becoming this when he discovered his childhood hero was actually a Prima Donna actor. By the end of the episode, he gets better when said actor realizes he was wrong and decides to stand for the ideals of his character by saving the life of Eugene's younger friend.
  • Justice League's J'onn (Martian Manhunter). In "Tabula Rasa", he struggles with a crisis of conscience as he's telepathically overwhelmed by the sheer volume of selfishness and entitlement from the thoughts of humanity. This on top of being the only Martian alive causes him to become detached and unfeeling towards humanity at large. Represented in Justice League Unlimited by the fact that he rarely ever leaves the Watchtower for anything. Once he does leave towards the end of the series, it's shown that he eventually gains a connection to humanity, with a personal life and companion in the process.
  • In the short-lived Neighbors from Hell, Jane Lynch plays a representative of the E.P.A. sent to investigate the drill that would go through Hell. Balthazor, a demon sent to the surface to infiltrate the company that's made the drill, tries to convince her to have declared an environmental hazard and shut down the project. After she kidnaps him and tries to rape him, he manages to talk her down and tries to convince her to shut the project down. When she says she already accepted the bribe to look the other way, he calls her out on it. She then reveals that she became part of the EPA to protect the environment, but after she saw that people either bribed officials and polluted anyway, or happily paid the insignificant fines and kept destroying the planet, she realized that saving the planet was useless, and decided to play along.
  • Rev. Lovejoy of The Simpsons. Naturally, it was heavily implied that Flanders was solely responsible for beating the idealism out of him.
    Lovejoy: Finally, I just stopped caring. Luckily, by then it was the Eighties and no-one noticed.
  • Played literally in the South Park episode "You're Getting Old" where Stan Marsh, upon reaching his 10th birthday, contracts 'cynicism' — depicted as an illness that causes everything you see to look like shit and everything you hear to sound like shit and everything you eat to taste like shit, etc. In the following episode, he learns that the best way to treat his cynicism is by drinking alcohol.

"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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