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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.


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.


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). Sub-Trope of Hollywood Personality Disorders.


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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: An interesting, selective case with Yuri Katsuki, of all people. He has so little self-worth that he can't empathize with people that do value and support him, including his family and friends in Hasetsu, Minami, and Victor. He manages to upset Victor in Episode 12 while acting completely detached from the situation. He actually enters the rink after their fight calmer than in any other competition, despite Victor being clearly miserable and depressed.
  • Naruto has many antagonized characters, villain and anti-hero alike, with a history of lacking empathy towards anyone but themselves. Sasuke, Gaara (Pre-Character Development), Orochimaru, Kabuto, numerous Akatsuki members, Tobi, and especially Madara. There's also the abundance of villains from the anime filler arcs but let's face it, no one really cares for those.
    • Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower: Anrokuzan (aka Mukade) displays this when he calmly recounts how he killed Sāra's mother and used Sāra herself as an Unwitting Pawn, furthering her Heroic BSoD. On top of it all, he even mocks Sāra for not realizing it sooner.
    • Gaara's traumatic childhood leaves him to take his name to heart ("Gaara, the demon that loves only itself") and kill without compunction or restraint.
    • Sasuke also becomes largely apathetic after finding out the truth about Itachi and doesn't particularly care if he harms others or even himself, so long as he can get his revenge. One of the most effective examples of this is when he casually massacres a legion of Samurai who were protecting a diplomatic meeting he was crashing purely because he couldn't be bothered not to kill them and doesn't think twice to leave his entire team to die after they save his life repeatedly seconds earlier.
    • And Sasori. He says he wouldn't feel any different about his grandmother dying than he would about all the hundreds to thousands he's killed, then when Sakura is outraged by this, he tells her ninja shouldn't feel that way.
    • Tobi aka Obito Uchiha is one of the worst examples in this series. His nihilistic outlook on life leads to him using and/or killing several people for his goals. The Nine-Tails' attack on Konoha, which killed several people and forced the protagonist to become a Jinchuuriki, is his doing and not to mention the many other terrible actions which he committed and all for the sake to replace reality with a dream where everyone can be happy and the good guys always win. And for this he is willing to kill lots of people, as he reasons that they will be resurrected anyway once he accomplishes his goal.
    • Madara Uchiha is even worse considering the fact that even Obito himself considers him too much of an asshole to tolerate. Once he appears on the battlefield with Alliance he shamelessly killed a lot of people and all in order to test his new powers. At one point he openly declares that he sees the world as mere "entertainment". Also in his fight with Hashirama, he refused to stop despite them both being zombies anyway and Obito's about to obliterate everyone in the barrier and acts offended that Hashirama considers that save people to be more important than fighting him again.
  • In Koharu No Hibi, after a fairly nasty breakup between Koharu and Akira, Koharu is confronted by one of Akira's friends, who explains to Koharu just how much pain Akira is feeling now because of her. Koharu is happy to learn this, because it means Akira hasn't forgotten her and is still thinking about her, not even caring what he's going through at all.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
    • The Homunculi, with the possible exception of Greed, either enjoy harming humans or simply don't care, and in cases where they have a Morality Pet, have no empathy towards anyone else. Pride is so devoid of empathy that he views the other Homunculi as lowly as the other Homunculi view humans, but Subverted after his rebirth, when he asks his mother if an injured bird can be "fixed".. And while Father shows a measure of affection for his "children", he has even less empathy for humankind than they do. As a comparison, Envy has, on multiple occasions, laughed openly at the "foolishness" of humanity. When Ling Yao accuses him of doing the same, Father simply tells him that, much like humans see themselves above insects and worms, he sees himself as so far above humanity that he literally feels nothing, not even contempt, towards them.
    • Solf J. Kimblee seems to have been written as a serious look at real-life sociopathy. He seems to be aware of his differing mentality from others and therefore goes to great lengths to disguise it, but at the end of the day he's still an amoral guy who honestly doesn't believe that there's any moral difference between slaughtering people as a soldier and saving them as a doctor; to him both are just doing their job (which, if they do well, he applauds equally). Essentially, Kimblee defines his bizarre twisted code of morality based on how much a person follows through on their beliefs or occupation; his psychopathy is too extreme for society's rules to matter to him. While he can demonstrate a certain amount of respect for another person, it's always in a very detached way, and he's completely incapable of feeling genuine empathy. There's a reason both Pride and Envy like him.
    • The 2003 anime version of Kimblee is, if anything, even worse. He considers all living things, himself included, as little more than walking bomb components and practically lives for the sake of spreading misery and pain, joining whoever lets him blow up people consequence-free.
      • The Big Bad of the 2003 anime, Dante, is almost as bad as Father. She's been Body Surfing through different bodies for more than two centuries and mass sacrificed humans, and caused dozens of wars, disease outbreaks and worse, just to keep her Philosopher Stone fix going. Unlike Father and the Homunculi she doesn't even have an excuse as she's 100% human, just a completely selfish sociopath who believes It's All About Me.
      • Plus she's been emotionally abusing her son for about four hundred years.
  • Tohsaka Tokiomi of Fate/Zero. The man gives up his younger daughter to a Fate Worse than Death for the sake of making her an "equal" to her elder sister (which could potentially result in his daughters fighting each other in the next Grail War). He also is genuinely surprised that Kariya disagrees with him over it, his response being more or less "are you seriously asking me such a pointless question?" Kariya calls him an "unfeeling magus" and "inhuman monster". Later subverted in the Light Novel though, as Tokiomi did not actually know what kind of "training" Sakura would have to go through and that he gave her to the Matou family to prevent the Association from bestowing a Sealing Designation on her (which in turn was something Kariya wasn't aware of). Tokiomi loved Sakura, as much as a "true" magus is capable of loving someone.
    • Archer's response to hearing Saber's wish to save her kingdom from its destruction is to laugh in her face and call her a naive child. And unlike Rider, he doesn't even give reasons he thinks that way.
  • Dragon Ball is filled with these kind of villains:
    • After killing Upa's father Bora in cold blood on a whim, Mercenary Tao tells Upa point-blank that he's lucky he didn't decide to kill him too.
    • Vegeta was a perfect example before his Heel–Face Turn, being so cruel and callous that even Nappa and Raditz, themselves cold-blooded Jerkasses, were taken aback by some of his actions. He coldly murdered his partner Nappa who asked him for help and refused to consider bringing Raditz back because he was a weakling for getting himself killed. Not only that, but when the Namekians he killed weren't revived by the Dragon Balls due to Shenron's Literal Genie tendencies, he viciously lampshades it and outright laughs in the other Namekians' faces. Even when he wasn't technically evil anymore, he still doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself, including his own son. It wasn't until the Buu Saga that he begun to show any empathy towards people and it's mostly because he became begrudgingly fond of them, which he saw as a weakness and was why he gave himself to Babidi. By the end of the series, he finally learned to truly care about someone other than himself.
    • Frieza has absolutely no empathy for anyone but himself. Best exemplified in Super, when Tagoma coldly shoots through Shisami to hit Gohan; while the Z-Fighters and even Sorbet are all taken aback at Tagoma's ruthlessness, Frieza is impressed by it.
    • Like Frieza, Cell has no empathy for anyone. As far as he's concerned, all other living things are either food to get stronger, entertainment to fight and kill, or both.
    • Majin Buu provides different takes on this. Fat Buu genuinely doesn't know any better due to his childlike demeanor and gradually learns empathy through Mr. Satan and Bee, while Kid Buu is simply too mindless to comprehend anything other than destruction. Super Buu however is sentient enough to know that he's inflicting harm on others and evil enough to not care and enjoy it anyway.
    • Zamasu, the corrupt Supreme Kai of Universe 10 in Dragon Ball Super, has no empathy for mortals, viewing them as Always Chaotic Evil. In Episode 59, when Goku reveals to him that his counterparts from Trunks' Bad Future caused all sorts of devastation, rather than be shocked or remorseful, he's delighted to discover his dream had become a reality. He also has no qualms against trying to kill his own master to further his goals.
    • Due to his child-like mentality, Zeno doesn't seem to comprehend that erasing trillions of mortals and universes isn't a good thing. This is best shown when he erased Universe 9 for losing the Tournament of Power where when all the fighters momentarily stopped for a moment due to witnessing a universe being erased, he is genuinely baffled as to why they are stopping meaning that he fails to understand to horrible act of erasing a whole universe. This mentality continues even as Zeno wipes out six more universes until only five remain at the end of Super. Luckily, 17 just wishes all the universes back, which Zeno was counting on him to do.
  • Candy Candy: Candy's step-siblings Eliza and Neal Reagan, but most specifically Eliza, who seems to hate and pick on Candy for no real reason at all.
  • Ulquiorra from Bleach, mostly because he doesn't understand what it means to be human and the human emotions that come with it. It's eventually subverted, however, as his interactions with Orihime help him understand the heart and what it entails, as seen in his death scene. Some more straight examples are Aizen, Grimmjow, Nnoitra, Mayuri, and Szayel Apollo Granz.
    • In Mayuri's case, he describes in horrific detail the experiments he carried out on the souls of the Quincies, and then proceeds to complain about the difficulty of getting specimens.
  • Death Note: Light Yagami starts out as a fairly nice guy who wants to change the world for the better, but that all changes as soon as he gets his hands on a Death Note and he eventually becomes so unhinged that he is all too willing to kill and manipulate anyone who gets in his way, or whomever he believes is a threat to him.
    • His "girlfriend", Misa Amane, is arguably even worse. With the sole exception of Light, she never cares about or even acknowledges the pain of others (applies both to pain she witnesses and pain she causes), casually offering to kill one of her friends, whom she used to send her Kira tapes to the media, if Light thinks it necessary. Even when Sayu Yagami, Light's little sister, is kidnapped, she is as cheerful and happy-go-lucky as ever, apparently not understanding that something like this would naturally upset Light.
  • Kikuhara from Devils Line. He is a man who is unable to feel love towards someone either as a regular companion or being attracted sexually towards them. Kikuhara also has no compunctions when throwing his companions away like a tissue to achieve his own goals.
  • Yuno from Future Diary is this and a Yandere to boot. More to the point, she only has empathy for Yukiteru, even though her definition of empathy is quite twisted.
  • Mukuro from Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, although he does have his Pet the Dog moments.
    • Hibari is a much more straightforward example.
    • Every single member of the Varia. Xanxus is the most notable.
    • Byakuran.
  • A few of the Diclonius in Elfen Lied. Lucy's different because deep deep down, she actually does feel guilty about the murders.
    • She really only started feeling guilty after she killed Kouta's little sister and father, and even afterwards, she doesn't show any empathy towards the numerous innocent humans and Diclonii that she kills or maims. It's only if the killings affect Kouta and his feelings for her, that she shows any bit of remorse or hesitation in her actions.
    • The Unknown Man from the manga, Mayu's mother and stepfather, Mariko, and the cruel kids from Lucy's childhood.
  • The titular Haruhi Suzumiya starts out this way, but she gets better. Ryoko Asakura, on the other hand, doesn't.
  • Monster:
    • Johan Liebert becomes the titular monster because he has no regard for other people's feelings or lives, and would manipulate them and destroy their lives just because he could. However, the semi-sequel Another Monster suggested that Johan may actually possess empathy. He just also has the ability to efficiently ignore it.
    • Wolfgang Grimmer defies this. He claims to be unable to feel, but he knows enough about right and wrong to try his best to do good for others.
  • Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic! is a heroic example of this. He finds it extremely hard to understand other people's feelings, and tends to do very morally ambiguous things without much consideration for others. Most of the time it's played for laughs. There are numerous times where he finds himself unable to understand why someone feels fear or sadness (even when someone died).
    • Justified somewhat as he's been exposed to death quite a bit and BSODing on the battlefield can get you killed.
    • Also Gauron and Gates.
    • Sousuke's Evil Counterpart Zaied is an extreme example of this. A borderline Empty Shell, Zaied sold out his comrades in order to fulfill his desire to be on the winning side and shows no qualms about cutting down Sousuke, the only survivor, when they encounter one another years later. There's nothing left of Zaied. He has no empathy for anyone; truly an example of It's All About Me.
  • Sunako of Shiki first appears as this. Being quite indifferent to deaths of many humans at the hands of the Shiki, though showing sympathy to a priest who has embraced a form of Nihilism. But later she acts very emotional when the humans pull the same stuff on the Shiki.
  • Most of the villains in One Piece.
    • The Tenryubito definitely take the cake for this. They are nothing but glorified Spoiled Brats who feel they can do whatever the hell they want, even murder, because of their statuses. They don't give a damn who gets hurt as long as they're pampered and spoiled.
    • Sanji hails from a family of assassins in the North Blue, the Germa 66. His family, notably his father and his three genetically modified fraternal quadruplet brothers, treated him like trash for being a normal (weak) human and use their army as meat shields without a care in the world. Sanji's mother and sister, who was also modified, on the other hand show compassion and empathy, and it was eventually Sanji's sister, Reiju, who helped Sanji escape from his family.
    • It's later revealed to be an invoked and enforced trope as of Chapter 852; Judge wanted the then-unborn Sanji and his quadruplet brothers to become the perfect Tykebombs to wage war and conquer nations with, so he performed experiments on them in utero and outright surgically removed their ability to feel and understand empathy. Sanji's mother, who disapproved of her husband's actions, secretly consumed a gene enhancement-reversing drug that for some reason only worked successfully on Sanji, at the cost of her own life. Vinsmokes Ichiji, Niji, and Yonji weren't so lucky; the drug only managed to preserve what little shreds of humanity was left from Judge's experiments, enough to perform Even Evil Has Standards when Big Mom showed off her human and creature collections.
  • Seishirou Sakurazuka of Tokyo Babylon and X.
  • Comes with the Contractor package in Darker Than Black.
  • Kazuo Kiriyama from the Battle Royale manga. He's revealed to actually physically be unable to feel empathy, as he got in a car accident that damaged his brain when he was young and lost all of his emotions. From the way this is presented, quite a few people consider this completely Narmy. There are some effective moments, though - at one point he chooses to let some kids befriend him on the results of a coin flip; on the island, he flips a coin again (at their urging), and when they lose the flip he slaughters them without a second's hesitation.
  • The entirety of the Ranma ½ cast fall into this trope at one point or another due it being a series built on Comedic Sociopathy. The exceptions being maybe Kasumi and Tofu.
  • Paul/Shinji from the Pokémon anime. He's the biggest jackass of a character the series has yet produced, short of a few of the villains. It makes sense, given that he's an Expy of the rival from the Pokémon Gold and Silver/Crystal games.
    • Kodai, the Big Bad of Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions would probably sicken even Paul. He even comes right on out and says he doesn't care about anyone but himself. He is unable to feel compassion or guilt at all, even for the most horrible crimes one could commit.
  • Although portrayed more sympathetically than many examples, due to having No Social Skills and a history of being betrayed by humans, Akai Tsubasa/Phoenix from Kaitou Joker is this. He doesn't understand other character's emotions and relationships, in particular being confused by Joker's friendship/rivalry with Queen and Spade and angering two guards to the point that they take him prisoner (without Akai realizing he even is a prisoner.) Akai doesn't express any concern when other characters are in danger (eg. when Joker is injured and being chased by a hungry shark; when Joker and his friends are shrunken and imprisoned in a cage) and even taunts and laughs at them. Unlike Joker, Akai doesn't seem to value life, leaving Hachi and the other phantom thief assistants to be impaled in a trap, threatening to feed a shipful of people to a giant squid, and cheerfully wrapping Joker in an anchor and throwing him into the ocean, along with Akai's former companion Hosshi.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Ali Al-Saachez, who actually goes as far as to consider empathy to be disgusting. His employer, Ribbons Almark is pretty lacking in this department as well.
  • Medusa from Soul Eater.
    • In the opinions of some (Spirit and Nygus have mentioned it), Stein counts, although his more recent interactions with Marie could suggest they're misjudging him or simply (justifiably) wary of what he's like.
    • Medusa's claim that she'd simply dispose of Crona as a failed experiment got an angry reaction out of both Spirit (obviously) and Stein. Which knowing her was likely her intention.
  • Sir Isaac Ray Peram Westcott from Date A Live is a heartless and cold person who do not care about innocent lives, his subordinates, and even his own organization. If not all, of the Wizards under his command express unwavering loyalty towards him. He still treats them like disposable pawns.
  • Muraki from Descendants of Darkness.
  • Takuma Fudou from Get Backers.
  • Haguro from Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest. Also, Ryuuko has little empathy and lusts after whoever seems to have even less than she does. Haguro is convinced Inugami is this as well.
  • Izaya Orihara of Durarara!! could definitely be interpreted as a sociopath. He likes to proclaim his love of humans (in a way that suggests he doesn't consider himself one) and spends his time manipulating others for his own amusement. Sometimes his actions are funny when viewed from the outside, especially when done to nasty people, but he has no compunction about harming innocents. While some people like and indeed fawn on him (generally girls), it's only because he's a convincing liar. Other than that, he has no friends to speak of.
    • Later on though, this becomes subverted. As of volume 9 of the novel, Izaya is very capable of showing emotions. The closest thing he has shown was fear of losing Shinra during middle school after Shinra took a stab wound for him by another student that was out to hurt Izaya. Naturally, this event has affected him in more ways than one and his determination to get revenge on the person who hurt his only friend is very evident in this volume.
    • Mikado shows shades of this as of volume 6. Aoba can't pinpoint what emotion Mikado has except that it's cold and emotionless. How dark Mikado is will be up for interpretation until later volumes.
  • A good amount of the characters in Texhnolyze. Even the most sympathetic characters in Lux skirt close to being Villain Protagonists at times. Yoshii is definitely this. He came down from the Class in order to instigate a massive war between the groups. He states that his goal is to awaken the people from their sleep in order to build leaders of them, even if they don't want him to. This involves him murdering innocent people and starting gang wars because he finds it "interesting", all with a pleasant smile on his face. While he may have an ideological purpose behind it all, it is so obscure that it only makes him look all the more hysterical.
    • Yoshii is not of the Class. He is a Theonormal, a surface dweller, while the Class are mediators between the citizens of Lux and the surface. His motivation comes from the fact that where he comes from nobody fears death or cares for life. The way the people of Lux care about things makes him crave to see more of their deep will to live, and to do so, tries to throw the entire city into chaos of war of everybody versus everybody.
  • Under Grand Hotel: This is Swordfish in a nutshell. Although he's in love with Sen he's a murderous bisexual who threatens anyone who expresses an interest in Sen with death, has sex with Sen to the point where it nearly kills Sen, tries to strangle him, kills the guys who raped Sen saying that he did it for Sen's sake even after Sen told him not to kill them, moves out of Sen's room and lets a rapist move in when angry with Sen, and slices the throat of another one of Sen's rapists right in front of him while saying "I love you, Sen." This being after he tried to get Sen to kill the guy himself but Sen refused.
  • Katsuragi, Souma, and Sakurako of Sakura Gari. Initially, it seems as if It's All About Me with them, and that they'll do whatever it takes to get what they want even if they hurt/kill others in the process. Also, every one of Souma's lovers are shown to have horrible endings. He even notices and mentions it himself. This doesn't stop him from continuing to take lovers and he shows no remorse over their deaths. While he does develop a little empathy as a result of his interactions with Masataka, whom he had genuinely fallen in love with, his actions eventually end up driving Masataka away for good.
  • Ryoki Tachibana from the manga Hot Gimmick. Although he's utterly obsessed with Hatsumi, the series' doormat female lead, he's usually far too up himself to ever do anything as pointless as care about her or anybody else, including his family. His response to most of her (considerable) problems is "forget it, just focus on me" and he gets pissed off at her for worrying about her family. In another scene, shortly after she had her heart broken and was almost raped he berates her for crying about it, comes on to her too strong and forcibly kisses her despite her protests. Later, however, he begins to develop genuine feelings for her, but still retains his possessive and inconsiderate nature. In the novel, his actions result in her dumping him for the more compassionate and caring Shinogu. It's later shown that Ryoki's family is disjointed and loveless, which is why he finds Hatsumi's devotion to her family incomprehensible, and cannot sympathize with her for it.
  • Makoto Itou in the School Days anime, who sleeps around without caring how the girls feel. This includes when Sekai gets pregnant, and his abandoning her in favor of Kotonoha leads Sekai to murder him. Not so much in the game depending on how it ends.
    • His father, Tomaru Sawagoe, is even worse. Unlike Makoto (who to his credit doesn't go that far), he actually gloats about the women he's raped, including his own daughters.
  • Dufort/Dufaux/Dyufo of Zatch Bell!. Then again, Justified with all he went through as a kid. He was sold off by his mother to an evil scientist who did nothing but make him unhappy or angry to see the effects on his Answer Talker. And then he got blown up. At least Zeon saved him from certain death.
  • Osamu Tezuka's MW uses this as its main theme in concern to the villain protagonist Michio, who as a little boy inhaled a gas that damaged his brain and turned him into a sociopath. His homosexual lover's (who also happens to be a priest) attempts to justify or curve his behavior is met with tragedy.
  • Mori from Flame of Recca. Was more than willing to abuse his adoptive son Kurei by turning him into an emotionally stunted killing machine and create clones so that they can die protecting him or dispose of them himself when they're no longer useful (as he did by devouring his loyal clone Renge when he achieved his Tendou Jigoku state.) Kaima (whom merged with Mori to become the Tendou Jigoku) also counts, creating his own mad?gu for the sole purpose of killing.
  • Kyubey in Puella Magi Madoka Magica doesn't understand why teenage girls get so worked up over things like finding out that he effectively tuned them into liches without their knowledge, and sees nothing wrong with using the hope and despair of those girls as a source of energy.
    "You people are all the same. Every time I tell someone, it's the same response. I don't get it. Why do humans care so much where their souls are?"
  • Agon Kongo from Eyeshield 21 is the classic sociopath: he's very good at socializing and pretending to be a charming young man, but lacks any affection for anyone. Interestingly, the one person he was somewhat empathetic to was his brother. His identical twin brother. Which might imply something about how his mind works.
    • Near the end of the series, he does show some genuine empathy. Or at least tries to, in his own jerkass way.
  • Prince Schneizel. At first he seems to be a kind and understanding gentleman who sympathizes with the plight of his subordinates. Then he's revealed to be a cold Manipulative Bastard who uses Dissonant Serenity to hide his detachment from humanity. Whether he truly did care for anyone is up for debate.
    • Schneizel is an interesting case, because he does honestly seem to want world peace... but at the same time, this is a man who can talk about nuking millions of people without so much as blinking.
      • Scneizel's psychology is so detached from the idea of empathy that some fans have suggested from how people talk about him that he willed himself to be a blank slate that responds to the surroundings rather than actually being able to grasp people having ambitions or an actual sense of self; he aims to take over his father's throne because his society's values indicate he should do so as the stronger of the two, not because he cares in the slightest about being Emperor. He doesn't even have the A God Am I reasoning behind nuking millions of people from orbit until Cornelia suggests it, and barely reacts when she is gunned down trying to stop him. Even when Lelouch finally defeats him, Schneizel appears to legitimately not care when he thinks he's about to die and this entire war was for nothing. Word of God confirms that he lacks ambition — and that's exactly why he is so dangerous, since he honestly doesn't have any long-term interest in any of his undertakings.
      • Which is why Schneizel el Britannia is the true Light Yagami Expy in Code Geass, not Lelouch.
  • Black Cat: Series Big Bad Creed Diskenth combines this trope with No Social Skills for truly bad results. Interestingly, his Lack Of Empathy is actually a crippling flaw for his career as a villain—he has no idea why his underlings constantly run away after he Bad Bosses a few of them, and his total inability to understand The Hero's emotions results in his own defeat.
  • Black Mage Zeref of Fairy Tail actually needs this to control his vast magical powers. If he develops compassion for other people, he suffers deadly Power Incontinence that drains the life out of everything around him. For centuries he placed himself in self-imposed exile on Tenrou Island to avoid hurting other people. Unfortunately, by the end of chapter 249, the machinations of Grimoire Heart cause him to forget compassion again and Master Hades becomes his latest victim. The formerly kindly Zeref then derides his victim as "trash" that should just fall into the abyss.
  • Muruta Azrael and Lord Djibril of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny. They're a pair of Fantastic Racists with a Final Solution for the Coordinator problem, and no ability to empathise with anyone else. They subscribe to a We Have Reserves style of fighting, firmly believe There Is No Kill Like Overkill, and have no qualms about using Weapons Of Mass Destruction in the pursuit of petty, personal vendettas. Azrael sees his men as equipment, and regards other Naturals as expendable, Djibril orders the Destroy to kill half of Eurasia because their governments threaten to rebel...needless to say, not a lot of empathy going on there.
    • Their Tykebombs, the pre-Extended and Extended are almost as bad, albeit for more sympathetic reasons. The Psycho Serum they're forced to take has left them all in varying states of Sanity Slippage, with no ability to empathise. Orga doesn't care who he shoots at, Clotho sees it all as some kind of game, Auel and especially Shani take a sadistic delight in slaughtering their enemies, Sting's just utterly cold-blooded, and Stella? The most sympathetic of the group? She doesn't even see people as people. They're all "Scary Things', and need to die because of it.
      • Shinn is an interesting case in that his empathy is selective. He has empathy, but only for people that he decides he likes. He feels horrible for Stella, because she's otherwise innocent and reminds of his sister, but not the other Extended, who he kills without a second thought. He feels bad for a girl he just met who's family was killed by the EA, but not Athrun or Cagalli, despite them also loosing their families in the last war, because they are associated with the Orb goverment, who he blames for his families death. He mocks Athrun about killing his friend to his face, because he was an enemy pilot, despite the fact that he was still Athrun's friend. Basically Shinn only empathizes with people who remind him of himself, his family, or are explicitly on Durandal's side. Not Zaft as a whole mind you, just Durandal loyalists because Durandal praises Shinn and makes him feel important.
  • From the original Mobile Suit Gundam: Char Aznable has many, many, talents. The ability to see other people as anything other than tools is not among them, although there are one or two people (Lalah Sune, his sister Artesia) whom he seems to care about. Gihren Zabi plays this trope very straight, killing his father so that he can usurp his position, turning his little brother's funeral into a political rally, and never showing an ounce of regard for anyone who isn't himself. This eventually bites him in the ass when he fails to anticipate how his sister will react to their father's murder.
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam's Bask Om and Yazan Gable are an Insane Admiral and Sociopathic Soldier who enjoy hurting as many people as they can. Series' Big Bad Paptimus Scirocco also completely lacks empathy, but is able to make up for it with his Psychic Powers.
    • On the heroic side, Quattro Bajeena, formerly known as Char Aznable from the original. While he's fighting for the good guys this time, and he seems to be trying to care about people, he still doesn't understand anything about emotions, and he tends to brush people's feelings off without realizing or comprehending that they might be hurt by it.
  • Gozaburo Kaiba, The Spirit of the Millenium Ring, and Dark Marik—who's little more than the human equivalent of a rabid dog—epitomise this in the Yu-Gi-Oh! verse.
  • King Joseph of Gallia from The Familiar of Zero. In fact, much of his actions are an insane attempt to to instigate a feeling of remorse. His list of evil deeds include: killing his brother to usurp his throne, attempting to poison his niece Tabitha with an insanity-causing potion (her mother took it instead), forcing said niece to serve him as his agent, forcing Tabitha to betray her friends and sentencing her death when she failed, and finally launching an unprovoked assault on the country of Romalia with the intention of annihilating the capital city. Each of his deeds grew progressively worse, hoping that by increasing the depravity of his deeds he would finally feel an inkling of remorse. Whether he finally understood empathy when his familiar, who was in love with him, chose to die with him is ambiguous.
  • Desil Galette of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE doesn't give a damn about anyone who isn't himself. He views the entire war as one big game, and the soldiers he kills as toys to be thrown away. This attitude is chilling enough in a child, but it persists well into his adulthood, and he eventually begins plotting against his own brother when the latter dares to upstage him.
  • Griffith from Berserk upon becoming a Godhand. His very first action as Femto says it all, as he viciously rapes his former executive officer Casca in front of her love and his former comrade Guts just to spite and hurt him while smirking at him the entire time. The evidence just gets more damning after he is reincarnated into the physical world as a human, where he goes to the Hill of Swords, a memorial to the Band of the Hawk whom he sold out during the Eclipse in order to become a Godhand just so he could find out if he could still feel anything about all that he did to his former friends and comrades. Turns out he doesn't. And says it with such a straight and rational face that it's scary. And no, this does not sit well with Guts at all.
  • The Eclipse virus in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force takes away the ability to feel empathy from its victims along with other things that drive its users to madness. For instance, when Signum was questioning Cypha on a world that was wiped out, the latter responded with nonchalance on taking part in the extermination.
  • It becomes increasingly apparent in the Baccano!! Light Novels that Elmer C. Albatross is, despite his seemingly selfless behavior, completely incapable of empathy. Ironically, that lack of empathy is exactly what lets him continue his unconditionally selfless behavior in the face of pointless suffering and depravity, and thus why he horrifies and disgusts Fermet.
  • InuYasha has quite a few examples:
    • Naraku has absolutely zero empathy for anyone but himself; to him, all other beings, human and demon alike, are either food to get stronger, pawns to be manipulated, entertainment to torment and kill, or some combination of the three.
    • Naraku's detachment Hakudoshi is just as bad. This is first shown when he cuts off the head of a demon just walking by, and then kills an otter demon right in front of his son. The latter got resurrected by Sesshomaru after wandering a bit. He also sics a massive pack of rat demons on several innocent villages for the sole purpose of drawing Kikyo out of hiding, and when Inuyasha furiously asks him if he knows how many innocent lives were lost, he flippantly remarks, "Is that what you're so upset about?"
    • Tokajin, being a cannibal, views other humans as nothing but food and treats them as such.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Enishi wants revenge on Kenshin for killing his sister Tomoe (by accident), but privately admits that he couldn't give a crap about anybody else Kenshin has wronged. The only reason why he teams up with others Kenshin has wronged, while pretending to sympathize with them, is because he sees them as useful in defeating Kenshin.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • Kuyou, big time. When Tsukune, having been scheduled for execution by the Security Committee, asks him to at least leave Moka and the other members of his Unwanted Harem alone, Kuyou assures him that their deaths with be quick and painless and then laughs in his face while Tsukune pleads with him not to hurt them.
    • Gyokuro Shuzen doesn't give a damn about anyone but herself. Her children, her lovers, her subordinates - at best, she sees them all as pawns to be manipulated, and at worst, they're obstacles in the way of her plans that need to be eliminated. Perhaps her best display of this is when she directly ordered Kahlua, her second-eldest daughter, to kill Kokoa, her youngest, despite the fact that Kahlua literally begged her to change her mind, all with a sadistic Slasher Smile on her face.
  • In Death Parade, the arbiters essentially lack the comprehension of complex emotions and are thus unable to empathize with the humans they need to judge, to the point of needing more emphatic assistants who provide them with a moral compass of sorts. While it's not played out to be particularly villainous, it is a problem considering these are beings who judge whether a soul will be reincarnated or sent to "the void."
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • Various ghouls have this mind set but Torso is a notable example. His diary reveals that he is unable to comprehend or relate to others, and has the sense something is wrong with him. His diary depicts him as thinking of humans as nothing but automated dolls crammed with meat and has no problem with mutilating woman that he takes as his lovers.
    • Kureo Mado, the CCG's personal Knight Templar, has absolutely nothing but contempt and disgust for all Ghouls no matter what, rubbing in Hinami's face about how he killed her parents and turned their remains into his Quinques, and openly expressing disgust at how Ghouls "imitate" human feelings like maternal love and compassion. Case in point: after Touka gives him a heartfelt speech about how she just wants to live like he does and points out that she only eats humans because she can't survive on anything else, Mado is completely unmoved and tells her point-blank that he can't bear to hear another word out of her mouth.
  • Danganronpa 3:
    • Mukuro Ikusaba cares about one thing only: her sister Junko. Everyone else means nothing to her. While she doesn't take any sadistic joy in the suffering of others, she doesn't particularly care if they suffer either, and will willingly throw them under the bus for Junko's sake.
    • Izuru Kamukura is completely indifferent to the pain of people around him, to the point that his reaction to watching someone getting Mind Raped is to remark on how dull it is. This is justified, though, as while he logically knows what emotions are, he's a Transhuman so far above others he just can't empathize with them. Though like Mukuro, he has someone whom he makes an exception for, Chiaki Nanami. Her death is the one thing that drives him to actual tears.
  • Little Witch Academia: When Croix Meridies reveals Dream Fuel Spirit's side effects to Chariot after it's already been used, she claims that a few muggles (or even one or two young witches) losing their magic potential due to it is a necessary sacrifice. Later on her plan involves inciting hatred between two countries by rigging a football game and using their anger as fuel, which gets bad enough that it causes violent riots and nearly leads to them starting a war.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Akihiko Kayaba cares nothing for the deaths of the players in SAO, treating it more like an inevitable consequence of living in the world he created. Unlike most examples, however, he isn't malicious about it, just indifferent.
    • Nobuyuki Sugou shows no remorse over any of the heinous deeds he commits through the Fairy Dance arc, up to and including trapping 300 SAO survivors in ALO for the sake of performing inhumane Mind Control research and trying to rape Asuna while making an incapacitated Kirito watch, and even takes delight in them. Most notably, he views the 300 SAO survivors he trapped in ALO as nothing but guinea pigs for his research and calls them as such. He also believes he's entitled to have Asuna and completely disregards her own emotions, opting to make her fall in love with him and marry her.
    • Gabriel Miller cares for nothing but getting the first fully-functional artificial intelligence (i.e. Alice) all for himself, and that's before taking into account all the numerous atrocities that he did before getting to her, such as experimenting on animals to find the nature of the soul, killing his fiance, and leading people he manipulated to their deaths.
  • Attack on Titan has Gabi Braun, who shows no empathy for the Eldians living in the walls of Paradis Island, who were attacked by the military she's now a member of (and has been brainwashed by). Despite being Eldian herself, Gabi, like many Eldians around her, believe that they're different and superior to the Paradis Eldians (who have been in isolation for about 100 years). She's called out by fellow Child Soldier and future Tyke Bomb candidate Falco Grice, who does sympathize with the Paradis Eldians. One of the reasons Gabi gives to Falco is that she didn't see the attacks happen so therefore they can't be sure if they actually suffered. Both of them are later confronted by Kaya, an orphan (the girl who was saved by Sasha way back in chapter 30-something) who gives Gabi and Falco shelter when they're on the run in the walls. Kaya asks Gabi why she had to watch her mother be eaten alive by a titan, and Gabi gives the government-approved spiel of how all Eldians are evil and have killed millions of people and that Kaya and her mother were paying for their ancestors' cruelty. Kaya's retort is that she and her mother never did any of those things. Falco agrees with Kaya, although neither of them are able to get through to Gabi.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • From Batman, James Gordon Jr. sees empathy as a weakness. His main plan involves turning children into sociopathic murderers like him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".

    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 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 do 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.

    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.

    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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jackie on That '70s Show is a prime example of this. She's even called out for it on occasion, like when Kelso's van sinks into frozen water in the Arctic:
    Kelso: Jackie, are you losing your van?
    Jackie: (snidely) No.
    Kelso: THEN SHUT UP!
  • Game of Thrones:
    • If you wondered where Cersei and Joffrey got it from, it's Tywin. He will let the North and Riverlands be ruled by psychotic monsters if it means his family can win the war.
    • Aside from his immediate family, Jaime has a lot of trouble understanding the emotional state of other people. Or at least taking such into account when thinking. This is either because he's genuinely an idiot in regards to this, or much like his brother, he can't resist a snark, though it turns out he does have a Hidden Heart of Gold, the same thing which led him to make his life-defining choice of killing Aerys. It was hidden so well, even he's forgotten about it. Brienne brings it out in him and he has trouble adjusting to his post-douchebag life in King's Landing, populated as it is by his family.
  • Oz has a few characters like this. There's Chris Keller though it seems that he acts this way in part because of his twisted affection for Beecher. Claire Howell, who has no qualms about physically assaulting/harassing men who refuse her lustful advances, practically rapes a few of the male inmates, and murders one by dropping a hairdryer into his bathtub.
    • Schillinger and the Aryans.
  • Also shown in an episode of My Name Is Earl, which seemed to express the Scientologist view points of the lead actor.
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, the cast became concerned that Jenna might be a sociopath, but at the end she expresses remorse and it's concluded that she's "only" an "extreme narcissist."
  • Reese from Malcolm in the Middle needs to have empathy explained to him by his parents after this exchange:
    Lois: How would you feel if you were that woman whose quiche you salted?
    Reese: ...Fat?
    • At the end, he can't understand why anyone would want it, as it would just make them feel bad if they hurt people.
      • However; this only seems to go into Comedic Sociopathy territory; he can show empathy, at least towards positive emotions.
    • Reese also once bought an expensive toy plane for Dewey and broke it in front of him just so he could see Dewey's face when he does it, and gleefully confirms to Dewey when the latter angrily tells Reese that he's the worst brother ever that he is indeed the worst, apparently taking pride in it.
    • Francis may have even less empathy than Reese. Aside from his usual delinquent behavior, he also admitted that he had frequently tortured Reese and Malcolm, locked them up in a closet, stole their toys, and scarred Reese on the shoulder with a bayonet, apparently without regret, when he was supposed to be encouraging Dewey about being a good brother.
  • Most every character on Seinfeld, with the occasional exception of Kramer (the only one of the four regulars who is shown to take an interest in the well-being of others). Kramer's main problem in this regard is his constant breaking into Jerry's house and stealing his food.
    • This comes back to bite them in the Grand Finale, as they simply joke about a mugging they witness rather than trying to help in any capacity, and they get charged with violating a local Good Samaritan statute by doing so.
  • The defining trait of Megan from Drake & Josh.
  • Apollo on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. When Hercules confronts and defeats him after he attacks a village with fireballs, Hercules angrily goes, "You could have killed those people!" Apollo, "Who cares... besides you anyway."
  • Dexter likes to think he's one of these, and keeps claiming as much in his narration. His actions, on the other hand, prove otherwise.
  • Some of the killers in Criminal Minds, although a number of episodes have subverted it by having a killer who profiles as psychopathic, yet shows some evidence of caring about at least one other person. They even had one killer who once showed all this signs of fitting this trope, yet actually had a Heel Realization and tried to make up for what he'd done, which the show points out as being virtually unheard of.
  • Another self-diagnosed (or so we assume) example is Sherlock, who honestly seems to believe that emotions like worry, guilt and sympathy hamper his ability to be useful: hence why he doesn't bother with them. At least until John gets wired up to a bomb, whereupon Sherlock freaks out. Ditto for the season 2 finale, in which he subverts many of the features of this trope.
    • Wholly contrasted when Moriarty, who is most likely the only character who suffers from actual Anti-social Personality Disorder, shows up, and jests at Sherlock about their "game":
    Sherlock: People have died.
    Moriarty: That's what people do!
    • Mycroft Holmes is another example. By the beginning of series 2, Sherlock is at least considering that there might be something to this "empathy" thing, and asks Mycroft if he ever wonders whether there's something wrong with the two of them. Mycroft's answer? "All lives end; all hearts are broken. Caring's not an advantage, Sherlock."
    Mycroft: My brother has the brain of a scientist or a philosopher, and yet he elects to be a detective. What might we deduce about his heart?
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks are bred to be xenophobic omnicidal maniacs revolted by all other life-forms. There's a perfect example in the episode "Doomsday" where a scientist is willing to tell the Daleks everything they want to know and instead they just suck his brain dry of the information while turning his head into a pile of ash.
    Rose: You didn't need to kill him!
    Dalek: Neither did we need him alive.
    • There's also a good example of a Dalek actually developing empathy and being utterly horrified at the feeling.
      Rose: I'm begging you, don't kill them. You didn't kill me!
      Dalek: But why not? Why are you alive? My function is to kill. What am I? What AM I?!
    • And later:
      Dalek: I can feel so many ideas... so much darkness...
      Dalek: This is not life, this is sickness!
    • Non-Dalek example: The Lady Me, ne Ashildr from "The Woman Who Lived" desperately wanted to bury her empathy; after living for centuries while everyone else died around her she felt it was the only way to maintain her sanity. Once she helped Leandro open a portal into space and Leandro betrayed her by using the portal to launch an invasion of the Earth, she realized that she did still care about the lives of others, and helped the Doctor close the portal.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Angelus; the series makes it clear that once a human becomes a vampire, their sense of love and empathy is significantly dampened. Even Angelus and Darla, who spent years together slaughtering innocents, were more than willing to abandon each other whenever their lives were at stake. Some vampires manage to avert this (Spike) but even then, it's twisted at best.
    • A given for those who work for Wolfram & Hart. When Angel calls him out on endangering innocent people, Holland Manners point-blank tells him that he "just can't seem to care."
    • Glory wants to go home, and doesn't care how many people she'll kill if that should happen. This does start to fade in the Season 5 finale of Buffy, due to the personalities of Glory and Ben starting to merge and swap a little.
    • Even before Warren's Moral Event Horizon crossing, he's shown to be the one among the Trio most willing to take real risks and least willing to care about doing real harm to people. In "Flooded," he willingly gave the M'Fashnik demon they hired to rob a bank near Buffy's address and let it go after her, and in "Gone," he was completely indifferent to the fact that Buffy was dissolving at a molecular level as a result of her exposure to their Invisibility Ray, even trying to speed up the process.
    • Quentin has little regard for the relationship between Buffy and Giles and regards their emotional attachment as a distraction and weakness.
    • Illyria. Wesley gets roped into becoming her instructor in this regard. In an ironic twist, Illyria discovers her sense of empathy all too well — with Wesley's death.
  • A rather large portion of the cast from The Shield at one point or another, but most villains fit this trope (especially Armadillo Quintero).
  • In season 6 of Supernatural Sam loses his empathy as a result of losing his soul. He'll still put himself at risk to help Dean, but he'll also risk his life if it's advantageous. Helping him is clearly either a habit or because he's aware that he should care and goes along with it. In one episode while Dean is being panicking while being attacked by (apparent) aliens, Sam casually asks him over the phone what's going on, then when he loses connection checks out a waitress, has a beer, and calmly goes to look for him.
    • And when he can't seem to find him, he shrugs, gives up, and picks up a chick. He doesn't understand why Dean is upset to return and walk in on Sam having sex instead of looking for or worrying about him.
  • C.C. Babcock on The Nanny, as demonstrated by this exchange:
    Fran: Question: When they shot Bambi's mother, did you find that a sad moment?... At all?
    C.C.: (almost gleefully) I'm sure she's mounted on a nice wall in a fine home somewhere.
  • In the TNT miniseries Nuremberg, the psychiatrist Gustav Gilbert (played by Matt Craven), is tasked with talking with the defendants (including Hermann Goering) to try to figure out how they, seemingly civilized men, could commit the terrible deeds of the Nazi Party. Talking with the prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson (Alec Baldwin), he lays it out:
    I told you once that I was searching for the nature of evil. I think I've come close to defining it: a lack of empathy. It's the one characteristic that connects all the defendants: a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.
  • Several of the murderers of the day in Monk do commit heinous crimes, although few truly stand out as having lack of empathy.
    • Evan Coker, the man who murdered a tow truck driver in order to retrieve something from his repossessed car, and also nearly caused Karen Stottlemeyer's death as a result, was shown in the ending while being arrested by the police as chuckling and smiling after Stottlemeyer almost went ballistic and beat him down because his wife was almost killed by him.
  • Lionel, Lex, and Zod all demonstrate degrees of this on Smallville, with Earth-2 Lionel and Clark Luthor doing them all one better, but the show's crowning example of Lack of Empathy would have to be Brainiac. Void of emotions, he manipulates every member of the Season 5 cast without batting an eye, and later attempts to destroy the world in Seasons 7 & 8 out of a more or less intellectual dislike for people. Post-reprogramming he gains emotions as Brainiac 5 and is quite horrified at his previous incarnation's actions.
  • Frank and Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • Dark Oracle: Blaze, Violet, and comic!Sage all fully subscribe to It's All About Me, and have no empathy for anyone but themselves. Omen starts out this way, but gets better. As Cally notes they're all "ink on paper" and as such, have no innate ability to care about others.
  • The second season finale of House is House's own conscience confronting him on his Lack of Empathy to his patients, climaxing in a heartfelt "I'm sorry," to the man he has wronged.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Sheldon is a subversion. He is capable of understanding basic emotional responses, but because Sheldon is neurotic and is socially awkward, he lacks the ability to understand the more subtle social cues, such as sarcasm, and has a hard time understand why people get upset over certain things. Sheldon is also extremely blunt with his opinions and tells everything exactly as how he sees it, which upsets people and Sheldon is confused as to why they react that way.
    • Leonard's mother however, plays it very straight. For example Leonard has a very human reaction to finding out his childhood dog died and his dad left (and finds out in an off hand way several months after these events happen). How one Dr. Beverly Hofstadter responds:
      Beverly: Mitzy's the one that's dead, I'm the one that getting a divorce. Leonard, why are you making a fuss?
  • Ned in Ned & Stacey thinks of himself like this and usually up is, but eventually comes to feel empathy with Stacey. At one point Stacey tells him that he has no compassion for the people in the muffin shop because he cannot imagine being them. He then has a dream in which he is ever person in the muffin shop. Since he "can't say no to me," he is empathetic and refuses to shut it down. Of course this is a huge Jerkass move towards his partner Amanda, Stacey's sister and Ned shows no empathy towards her.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • By the end of season four, Walter White has evolved to this point. If they aren't a part of his family, they're just acceptable collateral damage. This is exemplified in a scene where he tries to assure Jesse how broken up he is about Todd shooting a kid. Immediately after, he starts whistling a joyful tune, coincidentally "The Lily of the Valley". Jesse is noticeably disturbed by this.
    • Todd himself, whose reaction to the aforementioned child-shooting is "shit happens." He's willing to do anything to make more money or get closer to Lydia, and doesn't seem to understand other peoples' objections. It initially seems like he's being nice to Jesse out of sympathy but he is only doing it because Jesse is the only one who can cook good meth.
  • Doc Martin has no bedside manner and is probably a candidate for schizoid personality disorder. He routinely tells people about their illness in the most abrasive way possible.
  • Naturally, many of the criminals in Dragnet lack empathy. One of the most notable is the hit-and-run driver who, after the bereaved says his piece, comments very matter of factly, "Pretty upset, isn't he?" and is only concerned with how long he'll be in the slammer.
    • In the final episode a guy robs a corner grocery store. Then when the grocer Julio begs him not to take all the money as there are bills to pay, the robber says, "That's just too bad. Here, let me help you pay them," and shoots him in the stomach thrice. He is unmoved later when Julio's corpse is being wheeled out of the ICU and the widow is being consoled by the priest who gave Julio has last rites.
  • Played for Laughs very early on How I Met Your Mother with Barney Stinson. He rarely had empathy for anyone. Once when a stripper broke her leg (from something Barney did) he then asked her if she was going to finish the show. And once when Marshall was upset about something, Barney took an opportunity of silence to tell Marshall that he had called eternal shotgun in Ted's car.
  • Madalena from Galavant wants the jewel of Valencia, and doesn't seem to care how many people have to die for her to acquire it.
  • Drug kingpin and mass murderer Marlo Stanfield of The Wire ticks nearly every possible box for a sociopath, and will kill anyone in order to achieve power and prestige in the criminal underworld, regardless of whether they be rival drug dealers, an Evil Mentor who tried to take a fatherly interest in him, Innocent Bystanders, or even a security guard who Marlo committed some petty theft in front of, and simply begged for Marlo to respect him enough not to do so. For the people of the Baltimore slums, Marlo's reign is a period of paranoid terror, as even the rumor that you said something derogatory about Marlo may result in him killing you and your entire family, whether you actually did or not. It gets so bad that veteran criminal and drug dealer Bodie, who has been in the drug game since he was 12 and seemed completely hardened to it, has an Even Evil Has Standards reaction when a group of Marlo's victims, (including Bodie's friend Little Kevin) are discovered all at once.
    Nigga kill motherfuckers just 'cause he can. Not cause they snitchin', not 'cause it's business, 'cause... this shit just come natural to him. I mean, Little Kevin is GONE! This nigga don't feel nuthin'. And all them motherfuckers in them row houses... nobody means a fucking thing to him! Fuck Marlo, man, fuck him! And anybody that thinks it's all right to do people this way!
  • In The Expanse Dr. Dresden is a verifiable sociopath and all of his assistants had the part of their brains that enable empathy disabled by transcranial magnetic stimulation.
  • A common theme in the series Black Mirror is how our use of technology can make us lose empathy with each other and make us dehumanise others around us:
    • In Black Mirror: The National Anthem, the British public force the Prime Minister to have sex with a pig on live television in order to save a princess. After it was revealed that he was trying to fake the footage.
    • In Black Mirror: White Christmas, electronic "cookies" containing a AI replica of a person are used as slaves contained within virtual prisons, despite being as seemingly sentient as the persons they originated from.
    • In Black Mirror: White Bear, an amnesiac criminal is tortured by subjecting them to a fake zombie apocalypse-like scenario.
    • In Black Mirror: Men Against Fire, a soldier fighting in a future war against horrifying mutants finds out that he is actually participating in a genocide program; the mutants he is slaughtering are in reality human undesirables for the regime, but the implants he has makes him see them as literal monsters.
    • In Black Mirror: USS Callister, a nerdy social loser game designer plays a homebrew video game mod based on his favourite TV show (an ersatz Star Trek), he is the bold heroic captain and his crew are sentient digital copies of his co-workers who he made for trivial workplace slights and subjects them to Video Game Cruelty Potential if they don't play along.
  • Victorious featured a student of this type. Ryder Daniels had no problem approaching a girl to work on a project solely for a favorable grade. Nor did he have any problem pulling a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on her once he achieved this grade. He was a true Jerk Ass. Too bad for him they all found out.
  • Explored in The Good Doctor. The main character is a young autistic man working as a doctor. Jumping the gun and giving false hope to a family because he might be able to save their terminally ill son's life is something he would do regardless of how painful it would be for them and ultimately is. He's not The Sociopath, he's just more concerned with saving lives over sparing feelings.

  • "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's “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.

  • 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.

    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.

    Video Games 
  • When empathy is lacking because the targets are just characters in a game, expect it to lead straight into Videogame Cruelty Potential. The potential effects of this on empathy for real people is still a point of heated debate.
  • Jon Irenicus in Baldur's Gate II, apparently as a result of (roughly speaking) having no soul. Presumably Bodhi too, but she doesn't act that way as clearly. Irenicus has lost the ability to feel most emotions, at least positive ones, and is himself horrified at his condition. However, since he was already evil before and is now devoted to vengeance, he doesn't mind being able to do absolutely horrible things without flinching. His interactions with others can go something like this:
    Irenicus: [indifferently] The pain will only be passing, you should survive the process.
    Irenicus: [with a slight hint of irritation] Do you even realize your potential?
  • BlazBlue:
  • Pick any Capcom villain.
    • Albert Wesker is one finest example, having betrayed every organization he worked for like Umbrella and S.T.A.R.S.
    • HUNK. Rather tellingly in Umbrella Chronicles, where one of his subordinates shoots an unarmed man holding a G Virus sample. He turns around and rails at the subordinate, not because he just murdered a guy in cold blood, but because he risked damaging the sample.
  • The main villains and psychopaths in Dead Rising and the sequel.
    • Carlito subverts this as he feels sorry for shooting Isabela for her Heel–Face Turn.
    • Another subversion is Cliff from the first game - he's suffering from a Vietnam flashback caused by seeing zombies eat his granddaughter; when you kill him, he apologizes and explains himself before he dies.
  • "Since when did people start expecting science to be humane?"
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the Sload, a race of "slugmen" native to the archipelago of Thras to the southwest of Tamriel. Sload are described as not feeling the same emotions other races do, but have some understanding of them and are capable of simulating them. As a race of Unfettered Chessmasters, they are utterly ruthless in the pursuit of their goals, with even genocide being on the table if it helps them achieve their ends. They (in)famously do not feel anything for their victims, even likening the taking of their souls to having "coins in a pouch."
  • Brad of Everlong has a very... warped psyche.
  • Former Elder Elijah in Fallout: New Vegas. Views people as tools to be used and disposed of when they're not needed anymore. He wants to wipe the Mojave clear of all life with the lethal cloud, destroy armed resistance with invincible holograms, and enslave the survivors with bomb collars and establish a totalitarian regime. In the Sierra Madre, he equips his captives with bomb collars to ensure obedience, has the collars linked so they won't fight each other (and blames them for being so greedy that this safety measure is necessary, even though greed is his own middle name) and suggests you should kill off your allies when you don't need them anymore, yet thinks you believe him when he says he'll let you go after the whole thing is done. There is nothing to suggest that he ever entertained the idea of getting any of his previous victims to help him without coercion. Before he came to the Sierra Madre, he nearly wiped out the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel under his command by trying to hold the Helios One power plant against the NCR, sending wave after wave of paladins to die until the more tactically savvy members deposed him and retreated.
    • Caesar's Legion embrace this so closely that it's practically their hat. Most Legionnaires have a complete lack of compassion for others. They torture NCR soldiers for fun, rape female slaves and smugly deride the inexperience of their fellows who died trying to take Nelson. Some like Silus intentionally fit their slave collars in such a way that it is uncomfortable when they move their heads or swallow food, as a reminder that they are property. The Legion-friendly trader Dale Barton will happily trade with you and praise the Legion's caravan security policies while ignoring the abused slaves and crucified prisoners right in front of him.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • The game's whole plot happens in the first place because Professor Hojo was being this trope very much. He decided to execute his horrible experiments to a lot of people he came across, regardless of the consequence. Because he can. And For Science!.
    • A majority of Final Fantasy villains lack any empathy, most notably Kefka. Probably one of the few villains in the series who actually could express Empathy was Sephiroth (pre-madness, at least).
  • Fire Emblem Awakening:
  • Genevieve Aristide from First Encounter Assault Recon. Doesn't care that her actions would send the world even further into hell from what Harlan Wade did, she's got a job to protect.
  • Heavy Rain Lt. Carter Blake really almost has no empathy for anyone and everyone. The only ones who he has empathy for is Captain Perry, Ash, Grace Mars, and Scott Shelby.
  • In Jade Empire Master Li is incapable of viewing people as anything but tools.
    • Even his own daughter, Dawn Star. When he learns of the connection, he simply doesn't care.
  • The Jak and Daxter games has one in Krew, a Fat Bastard who cares for no one but his profits and rare artifacts, and is willing to let a city be destroyed if it benefits him, and him only. One example him lamenting over the loss of an artifact in the sewers, ignoring the five men who were swept away while moving it.
  • Organization XIII of Kingdom Hearts. Perfectly willing to do horrible, horrible things to anyone and everyone (even each other) without so much as a hit of guilt if it means getting their hearts back. As Nobodies, they aren't supposed to be able to feel anything, which explains some of that. Dream Drop Distance implies that it's not that they're incapable of empathy anymore, but that Xemnas's manipulations led them to believe that they were empty emotionless shells, so they acted accordingly. This is because reaching out and connecting with friends causes the heart to naturally grow back, as happened with Roxas and Axel, something that Xemnas, Xehanort, didn't want to happen, because it would ruin his plot to turn the members into vessels for his heart.
  • Ganon, although it's debatable in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where it is hinted that the reason why Ganondorf intended to invade Hyrule was for his race's survival and benefit.
  • In the Mass Effect 3 codex for Ardat-Yakshi (Asari with a neurological mutation that makes them Horny Devils), the syndrome is stated to cause the affected Asari to be hard-pressed or even outright incapable of feeling empathy, and those who don't kill are said to drift constantly through abusive or manipulative relationships. This could admittedly just be propaganda, given the Asari are deeply ashamed of Ardat-Yakshi and imprison them all upon confirmation of their existence, killing those who resist... but then again, Ardat-Yakshi not only kill those they mate with by burning out their nervous systems and neural tissue, but increase their biotic powers by doing so, and it's such a pleasurable experience that they become addicted to doing so. Case in point, according to Liara, the Ardat-Yakshi Morinth was actually "only just hitting her stride" when it came to preying on others.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Solidus constantly tries to emulate Big Boss, but he sadly lacks his father's sense of compassion for enemies and allies alike. This is brilliantly displayed when it's discovered that his subordinate Olga Gurlukovich was operating as The Mole for the Patriots to save her baby daughter's life; even after Olga explained her reasons, Solidus brushed it off, ruthlessly strangled her with his exoskeleton's Combat Tentacles, and blew her brains out right in front of Snake and Raiden.
    • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Hot Coldman reveals that he planned the Boss' death in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The entire time he reveals it, he has an immense grin and look of glee on him.
  • Sektor from the Mortal Kombat series. And no, this isn't a case of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul — he was like this even before he was turned into a cyborg.
  • Mewtwo is said to have the most savage heart amongst Pokémon, thinking of only defeating its foes.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], the real Alex Mercer is actually described in-game as being a sociopath. This made him very effective as a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate.
    • The members of Blackwatch are all described by many people as being psychopaths and Nazis. They've gotten much worse as of the sequel, in which a recording can be found of one Blackwatch officer calling out one of his subordinates for gunning down a family of civilians, not because he killed innocent people, but because he wasted ammo.
  • Johnny Gat of Saints Row doesn't just lack empathy, there's a good chance he shot it for looking at him funny. He demonstrates his ruthless nature at Aisha's funeral, brutally beating Ronin leader Shogo, and burying him alive. He seems to become even MORE ruthless after this point. Yeah.
  • Sly Cooper: Clockwerk outright states that he views empathy as a sign of weakness, boasting to Sly after trapping him in a Gas Chamber that it is "always the downfall of the Cooper Clan."
  • Arcturus Mengsk from Starcraft callously sacrifices both strangers and allies in his pursuit of power.
    • At one point he fires on the ship carrying his son Valerian. "My father will sacrifice any piece on the chess board to take the queen."
  • Street Fighter - BISON!!!! (flames suddenly spring up from nowhere)
  • Suikoden II: Luca Blight. Your country's equivalent to the boy scouts brutally slaughtered the night they are to see their families? Regret not joining in on the massacre that you set up to practice your swordsmanship. Adorable and traumatized little girl that you recently orphaned wailing in grief and fear after you just ran her teenage guardian through? Shut the brat up for good for spoiling your "fun" by decapitating her! Your sister grieving over your father that you just poisoned to death? Mock her and remind her that she is a Child by Rape.
  • Dimentio, the true Big Bad of Super Paper Mario. He clearly sees Count Bleck's feelings for his lost love as a weakness to be exploited and does the same with Nastasia's feelings for Bleck.
  • In Sword of the Stars, the Suul'ka reject empathy as a weakness. This is especially creepy since they still have the same empath abilities that all Liir possess.
  • If you decide to kill several major characters or want to Kill 'em All in Undertale, some of the characters will call you out on your sociopathic behavior and believe you're killing everyone just because you could and how you, the player, lack any empathy. The lack of empathy is also a major character trait for Flowey. Because Flowey was reincarnated without a soul, he lacks the ability to feel empathy for others. The inability to care about anyone else is what drives Flowey to madness and allows him to adopt the attitude of "kill or be killed" once he loses hope that he'll ever feel compassion again. Even when you beat his Photoshop form, sparing instead of killing him causes Flowey to react with despair and confusion; saying he just cannot understand why you're acting so nice to him.
  • Dr. Kirk in Dino Crisis doesn't give a damn about anyone but his experiments. In the ending path where Gail dies, Kirk makes fun of them. Regina has none of that and responds by punching the doctor in the face.
  • Multiple villains of Bioshock.
    • Andrew Ryan takes Corrupt Corporate Executive and Control Freak to their logical extremes, and claims that it is man's nature to only care about himself. Because of that, Ryan could not care less about the wellbeing of the citizens of Rapture, and readily hoards whatever could benefit them, causing their displeasure with him and making him feel that he's completely justified in doing so.
    • Dr. Suchong's attempts to understand the bonding between Little Sisters and Big Daddies shows how disconnected from empathy he is. Anyone else could see that Androcles' Lion is at play, as the Big Daddies respond positively to Little Sisters saving them and vice-versa. Suchong is convinced that it's actually pheromones, hypnotherapy or some other "logical" explanation. It gets him killed when a recently bonded Big Daddy doesn't take kindly to him slapping a Little Sister.
    • Sofia Lamb has equal empathy for everyone— individuals don't matter as anything but how they fit as the cogs of her ideal society.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon: When Lillie begs her not to use Nebby to open the Ultra Wormholes, warning her that doing so might kill it, Lusamine informs her that she knows that might happen, but as long as it does what she wants it to, she doesn't care.
    • Averted in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. When Lillie tells her that using Nebby to open the Ultra Wormhole might kill it, Lusamine understands it and clearly doesn't want to do this to Nebby, but she feels that she must in order to save Alola from Necrozma. After Necrozma's defeat at the hands of the player, Lusamine decides to take Nebby back to Aether Paradise to care for it, and orders Lillie to help care for it too, as a way to make up for what she did.

    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.

    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 Stick.
  • 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.
  • A majority of the cast from The Ren & Stimpy Show with Ren being the most blatant example.
  • 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 Jerk Ass.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ren from The Ren & Stimpy Show 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.
  • Rick and Morty: Zig-Zagged. Rick Sanchez empathy is always questionable, but never abundant even at the best of times. If you aren't his family, Birdperson, Squanchy, Unity, Mr. Poopybutthole or a select few other characters, he likely doesn't regard you in any meaningful way. But even to those characters, mainly his family, Rick has been known to treat them poorly, or with indifference. While it is rarely outright stated, the implied reason for Rick's lack of empathy is the horrible things he has seen on his adventures and his realization that every decision they make is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of the multiverse (although, it's implied that he's simply using that as an excuse to justify his actions). Also, Rick doesn't see it as worth the effort to bond with any particular version of his family, since they can be interchanged with any other of the infinite versions of them that exist just one portal-gun trip away. Though he seems to love his family, he still views them as interchangeable.

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