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Lack of Empathy

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Inu-Yasha: Do you know how many villages were destroyed just so you could lure Kikyō out?!
Hakudōshi: Oh, please. Is that what you're so upset about?

Empathy is the ability to share in another person's emotions. The capability to be happy because someone else is happy, sad because they are sad, and so on. It is closely linked to love and compassion. Furthermore, guilt to a large extent arises from the ability of a character to put themselves in the shoes of someone they've hurt.

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A lack of empathy is a major character trait, one that drives many others. The villain will often have this trait, and will be denounced sometimes as a psychopath, or a sociopath. Real-world disorders with the same names inform this trope, but the relationship is very loose.

These characters may feel fear, but not the fear of others, regardless of the situation.

Note that a character who lacks empathy can still be perfectly capable of cognitive empathy; that is, the ability to recognise and identify an emotion — they might not be able to share in somebody's happiness or sadness, but they have learnt well enough what happiness or sadness look like, and coupled with the lack of remorse, this tends to result in a ruthlessly effective Manipulative Bastard.

On the flip side, just because a character has empathy does not mean that they possess one ounce of compassion or sympathy, though the lack of either usually coincides with at least a diminished sense of empathy. For instance, someone with narcissistic or antisocial personality disorder should not be confused with someone with asperger's or another form of autism. Narcissists and sociopaths usually have perfect cognitive empathy, but utterly lack affective empathy necessary for genuine compassion. Those with Asperger's or Autism sometimes have defective cognitive empathy, but normal or even hyper-effective emotional or compassionate empathy. In short: narcissists and sociopaths are generally superficially charming and polite, but their pretense of empathy is simply that, a mere ruse to attain a tangible end. Autistic people, on the other hand, more or less invert this: they're perfectly capable of feeling other people's triumphs and tribulations – often quite intensely – but you wouldn't necessarily know it from their face or tone of voice, and that's assuming they have learned to identify them.

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Jerkasses, the Moral Myopic, Straw Nihilists, Empty Shells, and The Soulless tend to express this trope. When taken to its logical conclusion, it leads to It's All About Me. Often an integral part of Comedic Sociopathy. Sometimes characters with a Lack Of Empathy have a Freudian Excuse up their sleeve. Sometimes, they just laugh and say Virtue Is Weakness as their justification. These characters often shrug off charges of their actions with But for Me, It Was Tuesday.

Not to be confused with No Sympathy, which refers to characters who supposedly do have an ability to empathize, but completely fail to demonstrate it. Kids Are Cruel, Teens Are Monsters, and Adults Are Useless often have this trope, though these can be (partially) excused by the cognitive faculties required for empathy having had insufficient time to develop (the former more so than the latter; anyone who's been around toddlers will tell you that they can be selfish little bastards/bitches). Sub-Trope of Hollywood Personality Disorders.

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Contrast with The Empath, who is able to empathize with another due to feeling their emotions due to psychic powers, but may still be evil due to what that power can do.

No Real Life Examples, Please! General real-world notes are on the Useful Notes page. We don't want real-world individuals as examples under the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • A vast majority of Supervillains from DC and Marvel comics. Norman Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin is a notable case. This trait is highlighted in "The Green Goblin's Last Stand", Spider-Man's (original) showdown with his arch-nemesis, where Spider-Man destroys Osborn's prized glider. Gobby fights with renewed anger, vowing to make Spider-Man pay for this travesty, while pointedly brushing off the fact that he just murdered Spidey's girlfriend an hour ago.
  • From Batman, James Gordon Jr. sees empathy as a weakness. His main plan involves turning children into sociopathic murderers like him.
  • The Indigo Tribe, a relatively new element in the Green Lantern mythos, represents the emotion of compassion. While on the side of the good guys, they're mysterious and kind of creepy. It's eventually revealed that the tribe is made up of those who lack compassion and need it forced on them.
  • Depending on the writing, Red Skull is either the second-or-third-worst selfish bastard in all of Marvel comics, or a disturbingly unselfish and even more dangerous Nazi true believer who will run roughshod over millions to avenge Hitler's death and restore his idea of the perfect fascist utopia. Either way, he won't be stopped by any appeals to mercy or pity.
  • Several of the Endless from The Sandman. Despite being Anthropomorphic Personifications of concepts very much tied to emotions, only Death and Destruction seem to hold much appreciation for how others feel. In Dream's case, it's probably his most noticeable character flaw after his obsession with duty, although his second incarnation seems to be slightly better in that regard. Destruction notably is the only Endless who quit his job and wanders creation to try and be something besides Destruction incarnate. Death makes a point of becoming mortal for a day every now and then to avoid losing touch with her charges.
  • The New 52 version of Superboy. Although in issue #6, he suspects that he's starting to feel a spark of it, and he eventually evolves into an All-Loving Hero.
  • Superman: During the New Krypton storyline, there is a scene where two Kryptonians take a walk down the street, discussing Superman and his bizarre desire to protect these Puny Humans. A car crashes. The bystanders, recognizing them as Kryptonians, beg them to help. The duo doesn't even react to them and continue their talk, eventually flying away.
  • Atrea from Ultimate Fantastic Four. Thanos' parenting style didn't lend itself well to considering the thoughts and feelings of others. She kills her own pet just for growling at Ben, then shrugs it off because it was old and "boring".
  • X-Men:
    • Magneto cultivates a lack of empathy for lowly "flatscans" and teaches his followers to do the same. Though, Depending on the Writer, he can vacillate on this, but usually the vacillation is only in his own mind — X-Men (vol 2) #85 for example features a Mags on the cusp of starting another bid at exterminating humanity and deciding to "test" whether or not humanity deserves extinction by finding a random man to serve as his "average specimen of humanity" and then testing his prejudices. But when this random man, Bill Jones, doesn't take his Fantastic Racism bait and proves to not be the slobbering racist Mags subconsciously wants him to be, he can't accept it and pushes Bill harder, eventually getting him to confess to wanting him, Magneto, dead (by threatening his family), which Mags takes as the proof he's looking for that "even an Everyman with a kind heart becomes a rabid beast at the sight of that which he does not understand." That, of course, was the conclusion Magneto had drawn from the start, and Bill was just the excuse he was looking for to justify his fundamental... well, Lack of Empathy.
    • This is an enforced biological trait of the Brood race. All Brood are screened for compassion at birth, and those who "fail" are killed. However with the recent mass extinction due to The Annihilation Wave this policy was dropped. It's also possible for Brood, such as No-Name, to learn compassion, but to gain it suddenly (such as by psychic projection), is such a shock that it is instantly fatal to the Brood in question.
  • The Ultimates: Not as bad as some of the others on the team, but as he notes in Ultimates 2, he can be spectacularly unpleasant when dumping women.

    Comic Strips 
  • Everyone in Dilbert, except maybe Asok and Ratbert, who are portrayed as naïve. The most outstanding examples are Dogbert, Wally, the Pointy-Haired Boss and Catbert. Scott Adams has joked that he himself might be a sociopath.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: In the proper series nothing was as important to Gendo as Yui. As long as he managed to save her he did not care for the pain his actions and behavior caused on people like his children or the girl his son loved. It bit him in the arse later when Yui returned, expressed how disgusted she was at his actions, and said she could not forgive him unless he earned their children's forgiveness first.
  • Bill Cipher, like in Gravity Falls, has this in A Triangle in the Stars. It doesn't last.
  • Advice and Trust: Gendo, to even higher levels than shown in the series proper. He's downright angry when the pilots opt to try and successfully save their friend from Bardiel, purely because it wasn't what they were ordered to do.
  • Horribly averted by the interrogator in You Obey. Played straight by Queen Chrysalis, whose reaction to forcing him to torture a prisoner is to only dryly remark what a drag it is that changelings experience what they inflict on those they torture.
  • In Getting Back on Your Hooves, this is what makes Checker Monarch so utterly terrifying. At the same time, however, it's also her Fatal Flaw, as she is unable to anticipate ponies acting on compassion rather than act the way she's trying to manipulate them.
  • In The Seven Hunters, a The Land Before Time fanfic, Calin is very clearly a sociopath. He thinks very little of his fellow packmates and shows no emotion as several of them are lost during a battle. He even puts on a fake smile and a cordial demeanor as he is telling a rival pack they are about to be exterminated. Calling him callous would be an understatement.
  • Thousand Shinji: Subverted. Shinji is very empathic... because understanding people is a necessary prerequisite to manipulate them. And being empathic does not mean he is sympathetic. He may understand someone else's troubles without caring for them.
    • However later it is proved that he does not understand everybody as well as he would like to believing, and not giving a damn about someone else's troubles came back to bite him in the bum later.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide:
    • Even after everything, neither Gendo nor Ritsuko cared about the welfare or mental health of the NERV pilots. Keiko gets hurt and Asuka has another break-down? Who cares?
    • Kluge is obsessed with destroying NERV one way or another. At a point he blatantly and nonchalantly says that innocent lives don't matter to him at all.
  • In Gensokyo 20XX, apparently this is the case with Yume Ni "Yu" Yakumo, a child, be noted, who apparently has this, seeing as she tried to throw another kid over a railing, the which of could have either killed or injured her, along with a nonchalant to eager tone about the other kids being her bitch. This isn't also helped in that she is also the bully.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • The original Jovian and Jacqueline Kikion display this masterfully, as shown in Jovian's merciless execution of Apoch in Act III chapter 41. Rason even outright states in Act IV chapter 24 that the two have no regard for the lives of others. In Act V chapter 35, when Render and Leon call Jovian out for murdering innocent humans who had nothing to do with their fight, Jovian responds:
      Jovian: You speak as if I care.
    • Having been the Kikions' original master, Hokuto is just as much disregard for life as they do. Throughout his screen time, he repeatedly blows off any and all pain and anguish he causes, insisting that it's all for a "higher cause." His idea of causing a distraction while he breaks into Yokai Academy's secured levels to steal an Artifact of Doom is setting Kuyou loose on the academy, and his idea of proving a point to Moka that human/monster coexistence is a fool's dream is by deliberately breaking The Masquerade and trying to get Tsukune and co. killed by humans while making Moka watch. On top of it all, he is an adamant nihilist who considers all forms of life, human or monster, to be meaningless trash.
    • Hex has little concern for the affairs of lesser beings. In Act VI chapter 52, when the group chews him out for not willingly helping Complica even though it's in his power to do so, Fang Fang remarks in disgust that even if they are "lesser beings" to him, at least they understand the value of life, to which Hex responds:
      Hex: It's not that I don't understand. It's just that I couldn't care less.
    • Evil Falla has a disregard for other people's lives that borders on sociopathic, openly comparing everyone around her to worms and bugs and having done such things as send her own little sister Complica to her death For the Evulz. She even openly states that nothing matters to her more than power, not even her own family.
  • Poké Wars: Uxie seems to be incapable of understanding anyone else's feelings. He casually discusses and plans genocide with the ease of someone planning a dinner party.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, after Piccolo destroys Dr. Gero/Android #20's right arm.
    Dr. Gero: You miserable reprobates! What have I ever done to you?!
    Piccolo: ...Pretty sure you vaporized half a city.
    Dr. Gero: I meant recently!
    Piccolo: That was an hour ago.
    Dr. Gero: Semantics!
  • Escape From the Moon: In her true identity of Spliced Genome, Doa literally doesn't care if what she does is good or not, only if it's interesting to her.
  • As of Chapter 30 of Infinity, Enlil suffers from this. For instance, not understanding why Precia is upset that Alicia's brain has been overwritten and is currently serving as Enlil's new body. Or why the protagonists are upset. This turns out to be foreshadowing. Enlil lacks empathy because Yggdrasil actively suppressed it.
  • Stress Relief:
    • Agent South Dakota treats Agent Connecticut as completely disposable. She rapes C.T. and then moves on with her life until the next time she needs to use her to relieve some tension.
    • Agent Wyoming completely blows off South violently attacking her brother, Agent North Dakota, and even finds it entertaining. Basically, any time a fight is about to go down, Wyoming will be asking you to Pass the Popcorn.
    • Agent Florida trumps both of them! He has a friendly conversation with the guard he was assigned to take out and kills him just as casually without remorse. Even while noting that the man has a daughter. He treats the fact that she'll never see her father again like a mild inconvenience.
    • The writer has confirmed that the Counselor's lack of response about South molesting C.T. is because of this.
      "By the way, if it ever seems like Price really doesn't give two craps about what happens one way or another, it's because he doesn't."
  • Hellsister Trilogy has Satan Girl and her son Berserker/Nemesis. The former is a mass of negative emotions given sentience and physical form, hence she lacks pity or compassion and regards people as playthings to be toyed with and then destroyed. Her son exhibits her same sociopathic ruthlessness, exacerbated by Darkseid's grooming.
  • Silva from An Emerald Unearthed does not give two fucks about anyone other than himself. Killing is as natural as breathing to him. He’d kill his subordinates, rivals, and people’s loved ones. When she thinks Emerald died when she messed up a jump from a window, he doesn't seem particularly perturbed by it. And he won’t even acknowledge why Emerald might have a problem working with him after killing her parents.
  • Lex Luthor from Kara Of Rokyn has become utterly incapable of understanding or caring for other people after decades spent hating Superman. Whoever isn't on his side simply deserves to die, and Lex refuses to admit it's him who has systematically pushed everybody away.

    Films — Animation 
  • Sierra from LBT VII: The Stone of Cold Fire shows some traits of this. Namely, how he casually discusses feeding the children to the sharp teeth once they take over.
  • The Secret of Kells: When the leader of the Northmen reads the Book of Iona (a.k.a the Book of Kells), the book that has touched everyone who's read it (even Cellach), his response was to tear out the pages, throw said pages in Aidan's and Brendan's faces and walk off with the gold cover.
  • The Boov from Home, embracing a Dirty Coward mentality for their whole society, have absolutely no regard for any of the natives they forcibly relocate as they conquer Earth. When Oh finally gets that perspective and the courage to stand up to Captain Smek about what they are doing to humanity, everything changes for them.
  • Megatron from The Transformers: The Movie, as shown when he coldly executes a mortally-wounded Ironhide still trying to fight him even in his death throes.
    Megatron: Such heroic nonsense. [blam]
  • ParaNorman: The film's whole plot happens in the first place because the seven Puritans being this trope very much. They took a young girl away from her mother, and as Judge Hopkins told her how she was to be hanged by the neck until she dies, they were eerily calm when the girl was crying out of fear. They later subvert this after they had a Heel Realization.
  • Hannah-Marie's cousin Jimmy in Scary Godmother is over this for he conspired to leave her to frighten in the Spook House and abandon her to go trick-or-treating. While his friends gained remorse, he didn't care one bit of that he hurt his own cousin's feelings.
  • The Lion King has Scar: he is perfectly willing to murder his brother, and have his nephew (a cub) killed in order to take over the Pride Lands, then gorge himself at the expense of both the pride and the hyena clan, without even a shred of remorse.
  • Balto: Steele starts out as a rude, arrogant and egotistical bully who abuses Balto for his part wolf-heratage and hanging out with Jenna. But when Balto takes his place as lead dog to deliver the medicine, Steele is so determined to stop him that he sabotages Balto's trail, clearly not caring about the poor sick children who'll die without the medicine. And he doesn't even shred even the slightest sign of guilt whatsoever.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pick any of the Big Bads in the James Bond franchise. They tend to be wealthy but criminally insane and sociopathic Diabolical Masterminds who are willing to be greedy and cut corners, all for a quick buck and without regards to the countless innocents they've killed or about to kill, including their own minions. Some are even willing to kill millions just to prove their villainy. Notable examples include:
  • Little Sweetheart gives us Thelma, a nine year old girl who will blackmail, stalk, rob, frame or kill you to get her way. She does not care if you are in pain, she does not care if you're having your life ruined, she wants whatever she wants. When her "friend" gets hurt early on, she shows no concern at all. It only gets worse from there.
  • In Blade Runner, lack of empathy is an Informed Attribute of replicants. Blade Runners use an empathy test to separate humans from robots. The replicants we see are quite ruthless and occasionally sadistic, but only toward people they see as enemies. We also see several instances of obvious empathy from Roy Batty, their leader.
  • The late Heath Ledger's summation of his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy."
  • Jack Nicholson's Joker in Batman (1989) lacks any empathy. This is especially apparent in the climax when, after Batman revealed that The Joker murdered his parents, and thus was responsible for creating him, started to mock Batman's choice of words of explaining this fact, and dares to say "How childish can you get?!" when summing it up.
  • Girl, Interrupted: Lisa is in the asylum for this reason. A great example, when Susanna finds Daisy's body, Susanna breaks down, starts crying and flies into a panic, while Lisa goes "Well this is annoying" and searches Daisy's pockets for cash to steal.
  • Discussed in The Thin Red Line: due to experiencing "combat numbness", people fail to feel anything for the suffering of their fellow men.
  • Angel Eyes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In a movie filled with people who are empathy-impaired, he's unquestionably the worst, lacking all emotions and desires save perhaps, Greed.
  • Halloween's Michael Myers never displays any sort of emotion. This even goes so far as to make him seem impervious to his own pain.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers: Infinity War: Johann Schmidt a.k.a. the Red Skull views other humans as ants. Why should a superior being care about something so insignificant? Ultimately, this ends up being his Fatal Flaw when it keeps him from ever being able to claim the Soul Stone for himself.
    • Ant-Man: Darren Cross does not seem to care at all that he killed a number of his own employees trying to kill Scott, and even less that completely innocent people would likely die as a result of him selling the Yellowjacket to HYDRA.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Even by Kree standards, Ronan is brutal and shows no empathy towards others.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Going hand-in-hand with his narcissistic personality, Ego's regard for lives other than his own is decidedly limited; he killed thousands of his own children when he realized they couldn't help his goal, he gave Meredith Quill a brain tumour when he realized he cared about her (considering that a weakness), and he thinks nothing at all of the countless lives that would be destroyed by his ultimate plan. That he describes the sensation of meeting life other than himself as "disappointing" speaks volumes.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Hela displays no empathy at all for any other being save her wolf, Fenris. She wants to rule or kill everything that is not her and will not hesitate to kill entire worlds or her own people.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home: The Big Bad, Mysterio cares nothing for the potential lives that could be lost because of his machinations. On the contrary; he thinks their deaths will attract more coverage.
  • Never My Fault: The man is incapable of accepting responsibility for anything at all, in contrast to Peter's belief of always holding responsibility.
  • Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. All he cares about is mutilating and murdering people, whether in real life or in their dreams.
  • Jame (sic) Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs. A good example of this is the "It rubs the lotion on its skin" scene; when his victim realizes there are human fingernails embedded in the walls of her cell from failed escape attempts, she starts screaming. He just starts screaming along in sort of a grotesque parody.
  • In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Holmes diagnoses Professor Moriarty with "acute narcissism, a complete lack of empathy, and a pronounced inclination toward moral insanity." As usual, he's spot-on.
  • Star Wars
    • Obi-Wan Kenobi is a heroic example, so much so, that he found Qui-Gon's sidequests to help others than those they were assigned to help, annoying. It also largely contributed to his uneasy Master-Apprentice relationship with Anakin, who was very emotional and rather unstable.
    • Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious on the other hand is the villainous incarnate of this trope, with everything that comes with it.
  • The Boglodite, Boris The Animal (and presumably all his other world stripping brethren) in Men in Black 3 is definitely this. When he goes back in time to correct the mistakes by aiding his younger self in killing Agent K and preventing the energy shield that would protect the Earth in the present day leading to his entire races' extinction, the first thing he does upon meeting his 1960s self is loudly proclaim him a "pathetic waste of Boglodite flesh" and voices killing him right then and there if he didn't value his own life. In turn, the younger Boris accuses the present one of weakness for being defeated by a human, DESPITE PLANNING TO DO THE EXACT THING THAT LED TO HIS DEFEAT IN THE FIRST PLACE IF NOT FOR THE OLDER ONE'S INTERVENTION! Is it any wonder they managed to work together to achieve their goals so far into the movie?
  • Ultraman Belial from Ultra Galaxy Legends and its sequel. It should come as no surprise since he is (canonically) the first ever, inherently, evil Ultra in the Universe. Not only did he start off by endangering the lives of his home planet (and himself) by being a brash power-hungry young warrior, after he got exhiled, he came back enfused by the power of Alien Reiblood AND winding a weapon that has him control an army of monsters to ravage the planet that exiled him, under the belief that THEY betrayed him and left him to die.
  • Ryunosuke in The Sword of Doom rarely concerns himself with the effects his actions have on others. This results in an ever-growing list of people who want him dead.
  • The Mechanic (1972). The sociopathy of the two hitman protagonists is shown in various ways. Arthur realizes Steve has what it takes to be his understudy when the latter watches a former girlfriend who's slit her wrists to get his attention bleed over the course of several hours (she lives, but only because they give her the car keys so she can drive herself to the hospital). In another scene when Arthur is at the hospital, he walks past a young boy with an artificial leg without even a sympathetic glance.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In X-Men: First Class, while Sebastian Shaw professes to act on behalf of other mutants, he has little (if any) regard for his "colleagues" in the Hellfire Club whom he views as expendable assets for his plot to trigger a nuclear holocaust and seize power over what remains for himself. Likewise, he shows no regret whatsoever for his crimes against other mutants such as Erik (aka Magneto) and Darwin.
    • Bolivar Trask's main character flaw in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Suffice to say, when someone with such high goals isn't the least bit stirred with Body Horror and other suffering, there's a bit of a problem
  • Lou from Nightcrawler does not care one iota about anybody else other than himself, nor does he care what he has to do in order to get the best news footage possible. Naturally, considering that he's a sociopath.
  • Dr. Rutledge in Source Code treats Colter less like a human and more like a machine. His attitude comes off like someone who doesn't believe Colter is even capable of normal human emotion, even though that flies in the face of his own conversations with the man.
  • In Ex Machina, Nathan's becomes increasingly apparent, and peaks when Caleb discovers videos of his previous creations breaking down and begging to be let out and it becomes clear that he doesn't care about the suffering of others.
  • Rollo and the Spirit of the Woods: The erratic rolleys like to portray themselves as scary meanies, and they're not good at taking others into account, taking the village of elves as their new home and refusing afterwards to coexist peacefully with them. However, Lackey, the glib adviser of the tribe's old chieftain, takes the cake. He's right from the start the most vocal about showing hostility to the elves, and even the other rolleys' feelings don't concern him unless he can somehow exploit them. He convinces the new chieftain Rolli to wage war on the elves, and when Rolli tries to launch the attack by shooting a burning arrow into the sea, Lackey doesn't think this is mean enough and intentionally causes the arrow to set the elves' tents ablaze. When Millie's death causes the sun to be covered by the moon, Lackey marvels at this while everyone else is unsettled and dismayed. He plays this even further in the deleted scene in which he gleefully looks forward to making things worse as his tribe's new chieftain even though everyone else is still unsettled by the permanent darkness, and he mocks Rolli for mourning Millie's death.

    Literature 
  • The vampire subspecies' in Peter Watt's Blindsight most disturbing personality trait is a complete lack of empathy. Because they needed to eat fellow humans to acquire necessary proteins, they would have never evolved if they felt bad about doing it. Every last one of them is a sociopath. If you're still in one piece around one of them, it's just because you are being more useful this way at the moment.
  • A Clockwork Orange: Alex, a dyed-in-the-wool sadist. Even in the final chapter of the British version, where Alex gives up being a delinquent, he never explicitly develops a sense of empathy. He simply gets bored with violence and desires to start a family.
  • In Psy Changeling, as a result of the Silence Protocol, this is a defining trait of the Psy race.
  • Harry Potter
    • Lord Voldemort, and almost all of his Death Eaters - but particularly Bellatrix, who seems to be a sadist as well as mentally unbalanced in general. When Narcissa (Bellatrix's sister) is reduced to a nervous wreck by Voldemort sending her son on a dangerous mission, Bellatrix insists she should be proud. "If I had sons, I would be glad to give them up to the service of the Dark Lord."
    • Professor Umbridge, whose idea of detention involves students writing lines in their own skin.
  • Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events, who relentlessly pursues the Baudelaire siblings around the world and causes them all manner of pain and suffering in pursuit of their inheritance, killing numerous innocent people along the way.
  • Discworld Elves are explicitly described as lacking empathy. They would break the universe if they thought it would make a pretty noise.
    • In Feet of Clay, the villain's response upon being told that his plan to poison the Patrician killed several innocents (including a child) is "Were they important?" Carrot is extremely disappointed to hear this.
  • Alisa, the Villain Protagonist of the first part of Day Watch not only lacks empathy toward others, but is pretty casual about doing things like causing her mother to miscarry in an attempt to repair her parents' marriage. While the philosophy of Dark Others (celebrating individualism/selfishness) explains some of her behavior, it's also true that Others in general no longer think of themselves as being like Muggles, and so she can't really care about them. What makes her character interesting is despite all of the loathsome things she does, the reader gets the impression that she actually does have normal human feelings, but they are deeply suppressed, and she is in her late teens, and her behavior is what you'd expect when someone immature and with an unhappy home life is given massive amounts of power.
  • Mark from That Was Then, This Is Now is compared several times to a lion—attractive, charismatic, and utterly incapable of caring about the people he hurts. This seems to be innate rather than environmental, and the narrator observes that it's unlikely he could ever be treated or convinced not to harm others, only put in jail for who and what he is.
  • Battle Royale: Kazuo Kiriyama. See Anime & Manga example above. Minor difference between the Manga and Literature version, Kiriyama's reason for not feeling empathy is due to a birth defect rather than an accident that left him damaged.
  • While several of the characters in And Then There Were None fit this to some extent, Anthony Marston is a particularly good example: he's The Hedonist, devoted to his own pleasures but unable to consider the wishes of others. Interestingly, the murderer generally kills from "least guilty to most", and while Marston committed a pretty terrible crime (running over and killing two children), he's actually killed first on the logic that he's amoral and has no comprehension of right and wrong.
  • Dominil from Lonely Werewolf Girl
  • From The Dresden Files, vampires have to a degree the ability to empathize with each other, but almost all lose the ability to empathize with humans—even the comparatively nice White Court see mortals as little more than walking snacks, and the other two Courts are if anything worse. Lack of empathy is also a requirement to join the Denarians, and if you do still have any after joining up, your brand-new Fallen Angel bond creature will fix that in no time...
  • Caine from Gone, almost to a humorous extent, especially when contrasted with his love interest, who, although a bit of a Manipulative Bitch, has her limits. He's honestly puzzled as to why she wouldn't want to watch coyotes feeding on young children when there was no good reason not to stop them, and a bit annoyed that she objects to crashing a helicopter with a toddler inside. And in Book 4, he thinks that, rather than being upset that he used her for sex, lied to her, and dragged her into plans of world domination, she'll be happy to be his queen. Yeah . . .
    • Drake is an even worse example, being so psychopathic that even Caine is nervous around him.
    • Gaia too.
  • Most if not all the antagonists in any Dean Koontz novel.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda evinces a serious limited ability to empathize. Her siblings think their father used a spell on her to stifle it. Surprising moments of empathy appear, and shock her with the realization that her siblings might be right, and the spell is now breaking down. OTOH, at all times, she fully averted A Million Is a Statistic and is grieved and disappointed in herself when she is unable to prevent natural disasters and so the deaths of thousands.
  • Richard Lopez and Blue Eyes of Ship Breaker have no empathy for anybody. Richard more or less profiles as a sociopath while Blue Eyes is an emotionless monster.
  • Max Barry's Machine Man has Dr. Charles Neumann. He has virtually no empathy whatsoever at the start. This goes further as he starts replacing his body parts with Better Parts.
  • This is the defining trait of the replicants of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. They are artificial people and have no empathy. Testing a person's empathy is in fact how bounty hunters distinguish real humans from replicants. However, the story also shows that humanity is losing its own empathy and becoming more like machines. Deckard's wife, like many other people, uses a machine to give her artificial emotions. The replicants are a chilling indication of where humanity itself might be headed.
  • Seems to be a feature of immortals and cats in The Last Unicorn. In the case of unicorns at least it's not that they lack the capacity so much as they have a differing value system; as the unicorn states, both cruelty and kindness are concepts for mortals, that don't really apply to unicorns or their ilk (Schmendrick, cursed with immortality himself, reckons she's full of shit).
  • Galbatorix in Inheritance Cycle definitely lacked empathy. Ironically, the first time he ever experiences empathy in any way, it gets him killed.
  • The narrator of spoof self-help book Oh, the Humanity definitely qualifies. The general impression is that he understands empathy in an abstract sense but has no ability to actually experience or apply it. During his Hilariously Abusive Childhood he considered "empathy" to involve a bully trampling his science fair project and saying "That must suck for you, dorkhole", so at least it's kind of understandable that he has trouble with it.
    "That reminds me, I've been meaning to call you and tell you how much you have to live for. I'm sorry, I've just been doing so much gardening as of late."
  • Most of the villains in The Belgariad and The Malloreon, including Taur Urgas, Zandramas, Brill, and Ctuchik. Demons have a Lack of Empathy as a race trait, with both Nahaz and Mordja having nothing but contempt for one another, their fellow demons, and the entire human race.
  • Mandos in The Silmarillion is a rare good example. As The Judge and the overlord of the realm of the dead (dead elves anyway) empathy would get in the way of his job.
  • In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, the narrator has acquired this.
    "Tho' indeed my own Misfortunes do not make less impression on me than they ever did, yet now I never feel for those of an other."
  • In Wen Spencer's Tinker series, it is a distinct trait of the oni. Fortunately, their half-human children don't evince it; if they had, the elves would have had to kill them all, and actually done it.
  • Paladin of Shadows: Katya. Jay says this is what prevents her from being a truly good spy.
  • The Hirogen alpha in Demons of Air and Darkness, who like most Hirogen relates to other sapient beings only as prey. At one point, he reflects on how one of his victims cried that she had a husband and children, "as if the family structure of prey was of any relevance".
  • In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, love is considered a disease. At age 18 everyone is required to get a surgery that removes the capability to love from their brain. As a result, most adults show and understand very little emotion, and in some cases get so emotionally detached that they will kill their children.
  • Happens to most humans on Earth in Perry Rhodan's "Aphilia" arc. It's a very gradual process caused by the new sun the planet is orbiting at the time, so society more or less adapts — the world resulting from it isn't a nice one at all, and people immune to the effect become essentially hunted outcasts, but self-interest and very strict law enforcement with robotic backup manage to hold things together more or less well.
  • Clocks that Don't Tick has the immortal oligarchs known as the Bosses. They've no issue with allowing billions to die on account of their apathy. At one point, the protagonist guesses that they stay isolated in their mountain mansions in order to stave off what tiny, tiny amount of empathy they might have left.
  • In This Immortal, Evilutionary Biologist George exhibits a lack of sympathy both towards people and especially towards other living creatures, e.g. he dissects the last living dog on Earth just because he can and For Science!.
  • Journey to Chaos: When Eric accuses Tasio of apathy towards victims of mana mutation the trickster replies, "My heart bleeds for every poor, tragic, hilarious victim". He's empathetic and compassionate in so far as fits his chaos god mentality. He's constantly helping mortal people and understands both their troubles and triumphs; just as often he's making a nuisance of himself.
  • Victoria has numerous examples among its villains, but the eminent example is perhaps the Cascadian goddess. When she notices that one of her faithful attendants has been shot dead with an arrow, she is upset—because the feathers on the arrow come from a holy owl, and mortals have no right to harvest them.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Roxanne Beale is so obsessed with completing her mess of a dissertation she doesn't even really care that her sister committed suicide or that she framed an innocent woman, one who was actually helping her finish the work, just that her work kept getting delayed. In fact, the only reason Roxanne murders Kendall is because Kendall had the audacity to mess up her life by bullying her sister to death.
  • World War Z implies this with Paul Redeker, an Amoral Afrikaner who devised a plan to save the already overrun South African nation from the zombie hordes by creating decoy safe zones to draw zombies away from the true safe zone set up to house the government and necessary laborers. At least one military officer charged with overseeing his nation's version of the plan was Driven to Suicide after giving an order to pull military support from one of the decoy zones. Interestingly, the interviewee retelling Redeker's story suggests that Redeker was actually an inversion of the trope, and that he forced himself to push aside his emotions in order to avoid a mental breakdown due to being over-empathetic. Because the interviewee is Paul Redeker, having literally forgotten his own identity and assumed another after a mental break, this may actually be the case.

    Music 
  • "Pretty Vacant" from the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.
  • "I Don't Care" from The Ramones' Rocket to Russia.
  • Daniel Amos' "It's Sick" (from Vox Humana) is about responding to foreign tragedies with complete apathy. The narrator at least has the self-awareness to feel bad that he doesn't feel bad:
    "It's sick! And I got it on my TV
    It's sick! When I don't feel a thing
    It's sick! And I get a little queasy
    When somebody tells me it's only a game, it's sick!"
  • In the audio play, The Grand Cyberpunk Gala of Gabriella Gadfly, the antagonists are a group of AI that had once been human, and are in the process of losing their emotions. This is bad because once they become completely detached from human sympathy, they'll attempt to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence in a way that will destroy a populated city.

    Podcasts 
  • Taako of The Adventure Zone: Balance develops this in response to his time on the Starblaster, after encountering hundreds of worlds only to see them get consumed by The Hunger one after the other; he sees anyone but the Starblaster crew as "dust.

    Roleplay 
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Melissa lacks empathy to a sociopathic degree. When her boyfriend hesitates at the idea of siccing a bloodthirsty monster on an apartment full of poor people, she eggs him on. When said monster kills an innocent bystander and his dog, she's only concerned with how long it takes to finish him off. And when the chips are down, she doesn't hesitate to try and commit murder without any hesitation or remorse.
    • To a much lesser degree than Melissa, Jacob has problems empathising with others. Specifically, he cares more about how people might inconvenience him than how they're feeling, which is a direct result of his mother forcing him to adhere to an overly strict regime. When Lenore finally manages to guilt him into helping her defuse a bomb, he's thoroughly confused at what he feels.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Acererak from Dungeons & Dragons Tomb of Horrors quest, Full stop. He decides to become immortal by becoming a lich, and when his body begins to fail after several centuries, he begins to plot ascending into becoming the ruler of all dead by building a tomb filled with hideous traps that can (and will) kill even the strongest of adventurers, all in his honor. Then when it is finished, he kills all the ones who built it AND his followers, kidnaps an innocent Siren and places her in a cavern, shackled through magical means. Why? Just for his own amusement of seeing adventurers go paranoid whether she is a trap or a monster. And finally, when adventurers DO reach his chamber, he sucks their soul out, just like that.
  • A common trait for Osirans in Promethean: The Created. As their humor is phlegm, which embodies logic and calm, they tend not to think in emotional terms. Strange Alchemies mentions how one Osiran encountered a dying homeless man whose last words were "Help me"; rather than assist him, the Promethean moved on, and spent a long time wondering why the man thought a stranger would aid him.
  • The Fae in Changeling: The Lost. The fae's lack of empathy make them seem utterly alien to those they kidnap, enslave, and shape to their own twisted desires. The very few times a fae does develop real feelings for their unwilling playthings they actually lose most of their supernatural power and memories of their previous existence.
  • Orcus, lord of the undead, and Lolth, the Spider Queen in Dungeons & Dragons.
    • The third edition sourcebook ''Lords of Madness" describes mind flayers as "cold" and "clinically detatched" and seems to imply that all the major abberation races described in the book simply never even consider (nor care about) how their victims feel.
    • Mind flayers are this trope on steroids. They learn their emotions from specially enchanted crystals, not from each other. They don't learn how to feel based on others, they learn how to feel from rocks. Other creatures are no more than tools to them, and it's only their devotion to the elder brain that really allows them to have a society.
  • The Fair Folk of Exalted. Due to the nature of the Wyld, where they can summon up and dismiss whole countries full of people with but a thought, many of them have difficulty grasping the idea that people in Creation are independent and sentient beings.
    • The Yozis, too. Malfeas genuinely doesn't understand that people even have opinions, let alone that they might act on them, and it took quite a while for the Ebon Dragon to convince him that the Infernal Exalted would need a source of motivation other than Malfeas shouting at them and slapping them around when they failed. The Dragon himself is a sociopath whose sole ability to relate to others is based upon figuring out how best to a) get what he wants, b) ruin their lives or c) do both at once (usually c). Kimbery cares deeply about others, but this doesn't extend to e.g. not destroying their lives "for their own good", and as soon as they object or fail to live up to her arbitrarily high expectations she hates them to death. Adorjan is very generous, but this is performed through such charming things as murdering her victims' loved ones to teach them the folly of attachment, or simply killing her target horribly to give them the greatest gift - silence - with no concern for whether or not they actually want this enlightenment. The closest She Who Lives In Her Name gets to empathy is a kind of icy and emotionless pity, Cecelyne exists solely to enforce her Social Darwinist views on the universe, Isidoros is willing to not trample people...if going to trample some other people would be more fun, and Metagaos is far too hungry to care whether what he's eating can feel or not.
  • Practically everyone in Warhammer 40,000, at least as far as their own kind goes.
    • Da Orks don't even make that distinction: seeing other Orks get horribly butchered in droves is more likely to cause another Ork to laugh at how Bloody Hilarious it all is rather than evoke any kind of rage, horror or revulsion.
    • Blanks in particular tend to be on the giving and receiving end of this trope. Being cut off from the Warp, which among other things embodies emotion itself, they are nearly incapable of forming emotional attachments to others and vice versa. Not surprising since they are the closest thing besides Necrons (the majority of which have lost their souls and individuality) to The Soulless that 40k has to offer. Some Blanks seem to be perfectly capable of empathy, which suggests that those who lack it may have turned out that way due to severe abuse or neglect as children, no doubt due to the sense of "wrongness" that normal humans tend to feel while in their presence. There are mentions of Blanks/Pariahs being hunted down and killed on more superstitious planets due to this creep factor, which would lend credence to the idea.
    • Arguably, this was The God-Emperor of Mankind's Fatal Flaw (or at least among one of the more dangerous ones). For all that he did to ensure human supremacy and prosperity, he didn't seem capable of actually connecting with most humans on a personal level, even his own Primarchs. This ultimately brought ruin to everything and everyone around him, including himself, when said Lack of Empathy became one of the major reasons half his sons betrayed the Imperium to Chaos and set off the events that made the Imperium a theocratic hell-hole upon which the Emperor can only watch his dream burn and die by inches for millennia.
  • This is one of the drawbacks of blue magic in Magic: The Gathering: blue was already The Spock, but the more villainous blue mages go from disregard for emotions to disregard for everything except achieving their goals. Black can also be like this, although usually it does understand that others have internal lives; after all, that makes them easier to manipulate.
    • Yawgmoth didn't care about the feelings of the victims of his schemes. He eventually extended this trait to the rest of Phyrexia, creating a society of unemphatic half-machine monsters.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Satoko's Evil Uncle Teppei and her aunt Tamae, Rina, and ESPECIALLY Miyo Takano.
  • Most of the witches from Umineko: When They Cry. Beatrice seems like this at first but it's shown that despite the number of tortures/murders she commits, she likes Maria to the point where Maria is a Morality Pet of sorts to her. And then later, she's considered an imaginary friend to Natsuhi. Plus, despite how much time she spends fucking with Battler's mind and his life, in Episode 6, Battler and Beatrice end up married. Similarly, Lambdadelta seems heartless at first ( except for Bernkastel), but is shown to genuinely pity Battler when he is trapped in a logic error, knowing fully well how terrifying that situation is.
    • Erika Furudo is not only unfazed, but actually excited by the murders occurring, partly because she "knows" that wherever a detective like her goes, a murder occurs. Needless to say, when questioning witnesses, she doesn't bother with delicacy.
      Battler: You... do you even have a heart?
      Erika: A heart? What is that?
  • Quite a few of the villains in the Ace Attorney series are this.
    • One of the earliest is Redd White, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. He blackmails everyone he possibly can, doesn't give a damn that he's driving countless people to suicide, happily murders Mia so she can't blow the horn on him, has Maya framed for the crime, and doesn't feel the least bit sorry that he just ruined the Fey family's lives in general. His own secretary believes that he'd murder her if she talks. He doesn't actually show concern for the events of his game until he's on the line.
    • Another notable example is Manfred von Karma. All he cares about his his perfect trial record. He doesn't care who he hurts, or if he might be putting innocent people in prison for crimes they never committed. He also doesn't mind that he was playing Edgeworth, Hammond, and Yanni Yogi so he could get what he wanted, which was revenge for a slight against him. He shows no remorse over tazering Phoenix and Maya to steal their evidence. Oh, and he considered murdering Edgeworth's father to be totally justified, because the guy ruined his trial record and all.
    • Among the many murderers in the series, Matt Engarde, Dahlia Hawthorne, and Quercus Alba probably demonstrate this trope the best. They all care for no one but themselves, and anyone else is just a tool to accomplish their goals.
    • Frankly, the only villains for whom this trope does not apply are Yanni Yogi, Mimi Miney, Acro, Marlon Rimes and Godot if you count him as one, since they all acted out of revenge/desperation and did not want to hurt anyone except those who ruined their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney gives the particularly disturbing example of Kristoph Gavin. Over the course of the game, he completely ruins Phoenix's career as a lawyer, causes Trucy to be orphaned, murders Zak Enigma, tries to frame Phoenix for that crime as well, murders Drew Misham, tries to frame Drew's withdrawn daughter Vera for it, and is revealed to have been trying to poison Vera since she was a child, by way of giving her tainted nail polish while she has a habit of biting her nails. All of this comes from the simple fact that Zak Enigma hired Phoenix instead of him as a defense attorney, and everything he did was either to get twisted revenge on Phoenix or cover his own ass.
  • Fate/stay night
    • This was part of Saber's Fatal Flaw when she was alive: she adhered to the belief that a perfect king must feel no emotion, allowing them to be impartial and perfectly just. While this allowed her to rule effectively it also alienated her people and contributed to the kingdom's collapse. Granted, she can feel empathy, but she "discarded her own humanity" in order to become the "perfect king". When she actually reconnects with her humanity, she doesn't take it well. The fact that her reign ended so tragically made her come to the conclusion that she simply was not meant to be king, and someone else should've taken her place.
    • Kirei Kotomine has a version of this as well. He only feels happiness from the suffering of others, and literally cannot feel satisfaction in altruism or even simply trying to enjoy himself. This is in contrast to Shirou Emiya, who can only feel satisfaction from making others happy.
    • Female lead Rin Tohsaka is like this as a consequence of her Magus upbringing, though it's not nearly as severe as most examples. She admits to Sakura in the Heaven's Feel route that although she cares for her, she cannot feel the guilt over their father's actions, as well as her inability to save Sakura from her Fate Worse than Death that they both believe she should. She also tends to not really understand how Shirou, Archer, and Saber feel on occasion, though to be fair all three of them are also pretty messed up emotionally.
      • Rin is actually a subversion, as while she herself thinks and believes she doesn't have any empathy, in truth Rin has a fairly strong sense of empathy (especially for a Magus). This is best shown in the prologue when she finds a mortally wounded Shirou and her thoughts immediately drift to her sister Sakura and how heartbroken she would be, prompting her to sacrifice her trump card in a desperate (but successful) attempt to save him.
    • Gilgamesh takes this trope and runs with it, with everything that comes with it. Shirou even comments that it's more like he's staring through himself rather than Gilgamesh looking at him, as if he's not even recognizing him as a human being.
  • Grisaia no Kajitsu: Neither Irisu Kiyoka and Sakaki Michiaki is capable for feeling for the people whose lives they ruined or hurt. Neither of them cares for anything but furthering their goals. Michiaki is mostly empty and emotionless while Kiyoka is an otherwise petty human being.

    Web Animation 
  • Wizard from Death Battle: He's often incredulous at a fighter's backstory, especially if they do something that avoids gaining power, like Pikachu's refusal to evolve via Thunder Stone.
  • Cloud has trouble when it comes to other people's tragedies in Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged. Given that lack of empathy is a sign of Disassociation, which Cloud has a Mako-induced and drastically exaggerated case of, it makes a lot of sense it'd be one of his biggest flaws.
  • RWBY:
    • Cinder Fall has absolutely no compassion for anyone. If she even acknowledges people, they are merely tools pushing her plans further or obstacles that need to be crushed. She looks onto the carnage of Vale by the Grimm and calmly says it's "horrendous" as if it is something to be admired. Jaune even calls her out on it, demanding to know how she could be proud of all the suffering she's caused. The only acknowledgement she has for people's feeling is how she can use them to manipulate or hurt them.
    • Jacques Schnee, Weiss' abusive father, is just as bad, if not worse. As stated by Qrow Branwen, all Jacques cares about is winning and is willing to use others to further his goals. He only hosts a fundraiser for Vale in order to attain good publicity, and goes so far as to flat-out tell Weiss to her face that her dreams and ambitions do not mean a thing to him.

    Web Comics 
  • Jan in Gifts of Wandering Ice. He has an antisocial personality disorder.
  • Korean Webtoons: Dr. Frost is an Insufferable Genius psychologist who claims that he has no empathy, which according to one of his old colleagues caused the death of one of his first patients and made him a pariah in the medical community. Unusually for a Sherlock House - style protagonist his lack of empathy doesn't translate into abuse towards his assistant (other than making her pretend to like a patient so he can break into his apartment) or his patients, although doing an unwanted Sherlock Scan or stopping a high school girl's anxiety attack by springing at her and clamping his hand over her mouth is unsettling. Frost's lack of empathy even has an organic, explained source: when he was a child he suffered a traumatic brain injury (he later acquires a similarly injured puppy, claiming he's only keeping him for study).
  • In Sinfest, when Slick's heart is pulled into the porn-world, we see the hooded executioner hack it with his axe, and letters forming "empathy" fall out.
  • A frequent trait of webcomic characters, such as Black Hat Guy from xkcd and Belkar from The Order of the Sticknote .
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Frieza and the other villains, of course.
  • Deep Rise gives an example in The Nobles: They rarely if ever, feel or display empathy towards beings of other species, due to feeling that they are superior to all other life.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the process of becoming an aberration, and thus a being that feeds off of humans in an attempt to cheat death, is explicitly said to destroy any capacity for empathy.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Louise admits at one point that she doesn't understand emotions such as empathy, and when she realizes she feels sorry for her father Bob, she outright questions her own sanity.
  • Vlad Masters from Danny Phantom. He doesn't care if Maddie is already happily married with children, because he wants her to be his wife and her son Danny to be his son. He spends much of the show trying to accomplish this.
    • One episode that examined an alternate future where Vlad and Maddie got married showed that the relationship would not be a happy one; Vlad appeared to treat Maddie more like a trophy that he won from Jack, rather than his wife.
    • Dan Phantom, Danny's evil future counterpart, is even worse in this regard.
  • Family Guy: Stewie and Peter Griffin. Lois may fall under this trope in the later seasons.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Subverted in "The Beach", where Azula apologizes to Ty Lee after insulting her. She also comforted Zuko when she found him at their family's old beach house.
    • Ozai's only goal in life is to be the most powerful man in the world, so he casually tosses aside his father, his brother, his wife, his son, and eventually his prized daughter in the pursuit of ever greater power.
  • Slade from Teen Titans feels no sympathy for all the people he's hurt in his various actions, from mistreated underlings to people he's harmed in his plans. When Robin calls him out for helping Trigon destroy the world, Slade rationalizes his role in it, and when Robin points out that Slade's made people suffer, Slade coolly says "It's what I do best."
  • South Park:
    • Eric Cartman only cares about himself and getting whatever he wants, and is perfectly willing to lie, cheat, manipulate, and commit mass murder to do so. In one episode, when Kyle is in dire need of a kidney transplant and Cartman is the only match, Cartman blatantly refuses to do so unless he's paid $10 million for it, forcing Stan and the other people of South Park to resort to trickery to get said kidney.
    • Done very frequently, perhaps the most notable involving Kenny's deaths, which, aside from the standard shocked exclamation, are rarely treated with much weight at all and forgotten about quickly. Subverted with "Kenny Dies" when the boys actually treat Kenny's supposedly permanent death with much more sorrow. It doesn't last long, however, and by "A Ladder To Heaven" it's obvious they've all but forgotten about him.
  • Invader Zim.
  • Kevin Levin in Ben 10. In his debut episode, he deliberately rigs two trains to collide so he can steal all of the valuables on board; when Ben points out that he'll be killing hundreds of innocent people in the process, Kevin flippantly remarks, "Hey, no pain, no gain." He's gotten much better in Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, because he's stopped using his powers to absorb energy, which had made him violently insane in the first place.
    • Vilgax was originally this, then he became a sort of Noble Demon in Alien Force, which was quickly revealed to be an act.
  • Van Kleiss from Generator Rex. Is willing to kill EVO henchmen who displease him without a second thought, kidnap a little girl so he could force her EVO father to go on a rampage, and messes with Rex's emotions simply because he can.
    • White Knight also counts. Despite dedicating himself to wiping the threat of EVOs from the earth, he's just as ruthless and uncaring as Van Kleiss. His disregard towards Rex as a mere weapon, willingness to sacrifice his own forces and millions of innocent people to stop one EVO (he even openly states that "Soldiers are replaceable" to the group of soldiers Rex rescued), and use of Dr. Holiday's mutated EVO sister as blackmail to keep her in Providence are proof of this.
    • But at least White Knight has some justification, unlike Van Kleiss. He's the only true human left on the planet, everyone else could mutate into a rampaging EVO at any moment, some of which cannot be cured and must be killed. In his position, he's got some justification for being unfeeling to most other people, he's literally the only person on Earth who can be trusted to never mutate into an EVO.
    • By the end of the series, White Knight has warmed up to Rex, to the point of rescinding Six's standing orders to take out Rex if he ever transforms into a Humongous Mecha again since he trusts Six and Rex. Van Kleiss reveals that he was always a selfish jerk seeking godhood and never cared about anyone but himself.
  • Eustace from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Throughout the series the only moment he ever showed true empathy was when he hallucinated Courage as a version of his younger self, and gave him his hat out of pity. It makes the audience wonder what worth his kind wife Muriel sees in him.
  • Even though he's justified by being Surrounded by Idiots, Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants himself is often shown to be indifferent in later episodes such as refusing to help a man who was handcuffed by Mr. Krabs for not paying. But Mr. Krabs tops the cake more than the aloof Small Name, Big Ego, as his greed takes over his empathy and common sense.
  • Moral Orel has Clay Puppington; he accidentally shot his son and not only refused to take responsibility for it, he mocks Orel for crying in pain.
    • Clay is a psychopath/sociopath - or maybe a narcissist. Bloberta, on the other hand, proves to have some capacity for empathy. In the last episode, when Clay says that the family is going to sing Christmas carols, Bloberta says that Orel should be involved in it too. Some might ask when she started caring about Orel. There was an episode that went into her childhood. Her mother would not let her sing with the rest of the family because they already had a soprano and they did not need another one. Fridge Brilliance sets in when you realize that Bloberta remembers the humiliation she suffered when it came to families singing songs and does not want to put Orel through that.
    • A lot of the cast shows traits of this. Stopframe and Dr. Potterswheel both have their moments in "Numb" (regarding Bloberta). The former when he takes back his apology (for taking advantage of her to get to Clay) and the latter when he admits he cares for her, not about her. Joe is a brat who's a jerk to pretty much all the children and most of the adults in the show, Miss Sculptham pretty much just does her job as a teacher and shows no interest in teaching or giving advice outside school hours.
  • Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes, whose job is literally to make people miserable. Heloise on a lesser level, but at least she cares about Jimmy.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: As a disciplinarian, Temple Fugate doesn't know how to accept not only other human beings, but the Universe: He is a Mean Boss to his employees and he is sure he will lose an appeal because everyone thinks of him as a Jerkass.
    • Ferris Boyle, whose malicious greed hardened him to Victor Fries begging to keep his wife alive.
    • Don't forget The Joker, who was completely insane and kicked the dog on several occasions, but what really cemented him with this trope was during the infamous flashback in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where Joker mocks Batman after learning his Secret Identity from torturing Robin enough to drive him insane while showing Batman that he filmed it all, remarking that Batman's Origin Story "would be funny if it weren't so pathetic," before deciding to laugh about it anyway. When Batman manages to crash through a window and beats him to a pulp, Joker nonchalantly tells him, "If you don't like the movie... I've got slides!" When Batman threatens to "break [Joker] in two", Joker is unafraid, saying that if Batman really wanted to "have that kind of fun", he would have done it years ago. This final comment perfectly displays his fundamental inability to understand human emotions, as any viewer could immediately tell from the context and the tone of Batman's voice that there was a very real chance of him breaking his one rule this time, but the Joker apparently didn't realize that killing strangers and torturing one of Batman's loved ones might cause him to react differently from normal. Or the Joker just didn't care.
  • Captain Tunas in Thundercats 2011 is obsessed with killing the Ramlak, a monster who destroyed his home, and has no regard for the lives of his crew, who he sees as a bunch of worthless weaklings. He strikes up a rapport with protagonist Lion-O, who also desires vengeance on a villain who destroyed his kingdom. But after seeing where Tunar's actions lead, Lion-O turns from his course.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Discord, the Arc Villain of the first two episodes of season 2, is a Reality Warper with a very twisted sense of humor. He feels absolutely no empathy for anyone, and the only thing that matters to him is his own amusement. This turns out to be because he has never had a single friend; when Fluttershy befriends him, he reforms.
    • Diamond Tiara, the Cutie Mark Crusaders's school snob is all over this trope in episode Ponyville Confidential, when she gains the name of "Foal Free Press" editor-in-chief, she blackmails the Crusader Trio to write more embarrassing stories about most of the show's cast, or else she'll post private photos. At the end, after the trio write an apology to their victims, Diamond is finally punished by being kicked out of the chief's chair.
    • Queen Chrysalis, the Changeling queen, outright declares that her heart has no room for love. To her and her kind, it is nothing but a source of food. (She does seem to care for her subjects, so perhaps she just lacks empathy for non-Changelings.)
      • The season 5 episode "Slice of Life" featured a Changeling as one of the wedding guests. The writers stated that this particular Changeling was a friend of Mathilda's. This implies that Changelings are at least capable of caring for others beyond just seeing them as food.
    • In the season 3 episode "Too Many Pinkie Pies", the main thing that differentiates the Pinkie clones from the original is that the clones care only for their own amusement, while the real Pinkie wants her friends to be happy too.
    • "Griffon the Brush-Off" is all about this trope. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash avert it while playing pranks on their friends; they both agree that pranking Fluttershy is out of the question because she's too sensitive and it would hurt her feelings. Then Dash's old friend Gilda comes to visit, and plays the trope straight by being a Jerkass to everypony except Dash, because she cares only about being cool. Dash also wants to be cool, but is so appalled at Gilda's behavior (which includes making Fluttershy cry) that she tell her to "go find some new cool friends someplace else."
      • In "The Lost Treasure of Griffinstone" we see where Gilda developed this mindset. She's from Griffinstone, a Griffin kingdom that has fallen on hard times. The loss of a national treasure caused the griffins to lose their national pride, and their society has crumbled as a result. The griffins have reverted to the greedy and selfish jerks they were before the idol's discovery united them. They won't do anything unless someone is willing to cough up some bits for it. Not even if lives are depending on it. Gilda is actually the nicest griffin shown in that episode.
    • "Wonderbolts Academy" gives us Lightning Dust, a pony who has all of Rainbow Dash's drive and ego, but none of her empathy, to the point that she sees nothing wrong with pulling a stunt that nearly kills several ponies.
    • The most explicit example is Cozy Glow, the Big Bad in the season 8 finale. Unlike all previous villains who outright rejected friendship (or at least didn't understand it), she is fully aware of the Power of Friendship, and plans to harness it for her own ends. She uses her youth and cute appearance to ingratiate herself to others and form immediate "friendships" with them that amount to nothing more than her convincing them to do things for her. Even when sent to Tartarus as punishment for attempting to drain magic from Equestria, the very first thing she does upon her arrival is attempt to make "friends" with previous Big Bad Tirek.
  • Roger from American Dad!. In the episode "Frannie 911," he tried showing empathy for a change, and it literally almost killed him, after which he reveals that empathy is fatally toxic to his species.
  • Bender from Futurama. Notable in that he is capable of love, but not empathy. For example, he loves Fry with all his heart, but in a completely narcissistic fashion, as he only cares about Fry being alive and present so that Bender can love him, not about Fry himself being happy. However, he does have a Heel Realization about this in "Jurassic Bark", when, after being jealous and utterly unsympathetic over Fry's feelings about his old dog Seymour (who Fry is trying to clone) all episode, he throws the corpse in a volcano to eliminate the competition. Fry's grief causes Bender to realize, in a stroke of revelation, that Fry's feelings for Seymour are just like Bender's feelings for Fry, and finally understands what empathy feels like.
    • In the episode "I Second That Emotion", Prof. Farnsworth installs an empathy chip on Bender in order to teach him about empathy. It forces him to feel whatever emotions Leela is feeling at the moment. The episode ends with Bender not learning a thing and continues to be a Jerkass and Leela acting more like a jerk.
  • From Adventure Time, we have The Ice King and Lemongrab. The Ice King is insane, and Lemongrab is unable to read social cues.
  • A lot of characters in Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, but protagonist and immortal Mad Scientist Frankenstein is this ALL THE WAY! Will create horrific abominations, like a flying shark or vampiric horse, just to kill them for his amusement and will happily let his own elderly children get reaped by the Grim Reaper just because he grew bored with them. When he created a robot housing a copy of his brain so he could have better company to talk to, even his robot self couldn't stand how much of a self-centered jerk he was.
  • In the Season 2 premiere of The Powerpuff Girls, we're unfortunately introduced to Princess Morbucks, a snobby, greedy, selfish, arrogant, shallow, vain, all-around Spoiled Brat who has no sense of empathy whatsoever. She only wants to be a Powerpuff Girl because they have superpowers, the one thing they have and she doesn't have. When the Girls reject her and she screws up one of their missions, it's clear that her actions were only for her sake and she was just jealous of their superpowers and their popularity, not even the least bit grateful for the Girls saving her from being blown up, instead blaming them for her humiliation. Enraged by the Girls' rejection, she proceeds to destroy the Girls with a new Supersuit that she bought and manages to defeat Buttercup and Bubbles with little effort, only for Blossom to retaliate in a glaring sense of Tranquil Fury, who manages to beat the hateful little snot in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown with her sisters waking up to help her before Blossom destroys Princess' Supersuit with her Ice Breath, then gives her a powerful "Reason You Suck" Speech of what it means to be a Powerpuff Girl and how Spoiled Brats like her will never truly get what they want, but they will get what they deserve. And this was just in her debut episode alone!
  • In Total Drama, Mike's evil Split Personality Mal has this in spades. He laughs at Sam when he's stung by a jellyfish, is fine with leaving Cameron to die in the forest and would have let Zoey get eaten alive by piranhas if that wouldn't have ruined his Hyde Plays Jekyll act.
  • Pete on Goof Troop generally uses other people as means to an end and either doesn't notice or doesn't care how much anguish he causes any of them—on some occasions he even finds it amusing. He does occasionally feel regret for his actions if something drastic happens (such as his wife threatening to leave him or his son almost dying), but then he's motivated more by keeping them in his life than by caring about how they feel. One episode in the entire series showed him caring about another person's feelings out of more than convenience; he understood how the kid who lost at mini-golf felt in "Tee for Two."
  • Master Shake of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a raging Jerkass who just plain doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself. He constantly goes above and beyond to torment Meatwad for his own amusement, going so far as to stuff Meatwad's pets into a microwave. One particular example is in the season 2 episode "Super Squatter," in which he breaks into Carl's house to watch TV, and spends hours watching TV while completely ignoring the fact that Carl shot himself in the foot with a shotgun and was sitting right next to him bleeding out and begging for help the entire time.
  • The Biskit Twins in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) display this in most of their appearances due to their It's All About Me attitudes, although they have the occasional Pet the Dog moment.
  • A majority of the cast from The Ren & Stimpy Show with Ren being the most blatant example, who lacks any form of empathy towards Stimpy...except when he doesn't.note 
  • M. Bison in Street Fighter don't get why Chun-Li is pissed at him for killing her father. After all, he killed his father too, and you don't hear him whining about it.
  • Pink Diamond, aka Rose Quartz, in Steven Universe. Despite having led a rebellion for the right of Gems to choose their own life roles and to protect the sanctity of Earth, she was incredibly selfish and short-sighted, never acknowledging the feelings of others around her unless she found their behavior to be entertaining. Justified because the other Diamonds treated her with similar callousness. She wouldn't become aware that "lesser" Gems actually have their own emotions until she faked her death and rebelled with Pearl, while realizing that other lifeforms are due equal respect wouldn't happen until meeting Greg thousands of years after that. Fans treat the show's ending theme, "Love Like You", as being from her perspective as a result.
  • Rick and Morty: Zig-Zagged with Rick Sanchez. While he's fully capable of caring for other people in his life, he actively tries (and often succeeds) in treating them as being meaningless. While it is rarely outright stated, the implied reason is that all the horrible things he has seen on his adventures led to him deciding that every decision he makes is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of the multiverse. Whether he actually believes that or it's an excuse to justify some of his more morally dark actions is up in the air, but either way, Rick doesn't see it as worth the effort to bond with any particular version of family/friends, since they can be interchanged with any other of the infinite versions of them that exist just one portal-gun trip away.


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