And that's why I've decided to kill you all."
Have you ever been so annoyed with life, you just want to forget about "civilized" culture and become A Darker Me? Or a different you? The kind of person who couldn't care less about social conventions and went about exacting Disproportionate (but poetic) Retribution?
Well, in fiction, some characters do get that bothered.
Start with a Nice Guy, maybe even a Deadpan Snarker, or any character who plays by society's rules. Mix with frustration, add a dash of romantic rejection and betrayal, put him or her in the oven to 300 degrees Angstius for a few years, months, weeks or, in some cases, days (indeed, the time to completion varies a lot by the main ingredient's willpower) and voilá! You now have a man or woman who has been maddened into misanthropy.
What comes next is usually pretty fun. The character in question will systematically deconstruct the parts of modern living, culture, work, and their own life that they dislike, and rebuild these relationships from their end into something workable (again, for them). They will reject conventions like white lies, saying exactly what they feel and think. They will not dress to expectation, going unkempt, wearing only things that are comfortable, or switching to a highly unique personal style. If someone annoys them, they won't bother acknowledging their presence. If they try to pester the misanthrope, they won't hesitate to tell them exactly how much of a Scrappy they are. If the misanthrope dislikes them enough or outright hates them, they will use threats or slapstick-level physical comedy to subdue or chase them off. They won't kill anyone, but likely because they now have such an efficient way of venting their anger, they either don't get that angry anymore or don't stay angry long enough to cause them stress.
It's not all an ego trip, though. They may act like a Jerkass, but they'll often be just as unrestrained in their positive impulses and aspects, seeing no reason not to do a nice thing for someone they like, such as helping them to release their own inner fears and limitations, or even "teaching them" that they can ignore social convention every once in a while. If they have been pining for someone, they will now proceed to confidently and unconventionally romance them.
Interestingly, they will only get mildly rejected for this behavior. Lifelong friends will be weirded out by the change, but nonetheless happy for their friend's newfound assertiveness and happiness. Of course, since they don't usually cause stress, they will avoid the sharp end of this knife. Love interests who are shrewish will be horrified away, while those who were oblivious to them now take notice. While the Pointy-Haired Boss will want to fire them, his bosses will find his attitude refreshing and promote him up against the annoying middle-manager's wishes.
They do seem to temper this anti-social behavior some by story's end, though often never completely. One thing is certain: They now live life without regrets.
Related to Beneath the Mask. Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds is usually less fun than this. Compare the Mirror Morality Machine. Has nothing to do with Madden NFL. Well, at least not for most of us... See also Did You Think I Can't Feel?
- 4Kids's attempt at Bowdlerization actually had this happen to Rafael in Yu-Gi-Oh!'s filler season. In the original version, Rafael's Dark and Troubled Past was that he was the sole survivor of his family after the cruise ship he was on was driven into a tidal wave by Dartz... and after being rescued, he randomly decides that humans are bastards, with no discernable reason as to why other than the news. The dub, however, didn't mention anything about his family dying, instead implying that they had moved on and weren't ready to accept him back into their lives... which pretty much maddened him into misanthropy.
- One Piece: Played with. Trafalgar Law, a man nigh infamous for his cruelty, is still a rather laid back person, if a bit cold. Though, as bad he is, he was even worse as a child — if it weren't for Corazon showing him compassion and love, he would've been a lot more cynical after the world abandoned his city to burn a fiery death after using its people to dig up the poisonous Amber Lead for profit. Instead, while he still has a remarkably jaded a view of the world, he hasn't lost his capacity for mercy and compassion, even if he doesn't show it all the time. That being said, he's still a pirate, and he is primarily concerned with himself, those allied with him, and his goals: particularly, his goal of killing Doflamingo for Corazon's death.
- Fruits Basket has Ren Sohma, mother of Akito. While the death of her husband Akira was the tipping point, the rest of the Sohma family did their best to marginalize her as soon as Akira began showing interest in her. Eventually, Akira became the only positive influence in her life, and when he died, her mental health went downhill and led to her becoming abusive to Akito... which led to a lot of unhappiness in the family. Well, more unhappiness than was already there.
- A deconstruction of this happens in the 2000's version of Supreme Power with Mark, albeit he goes more to the Übermensch side of the scale.
- Batman, particularly in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
- Wanted (both the film and comic) has Fox systematically madden and train Wesley into a badass who has zero regard for playing by the rules that made his pre-fraternity life miserable. Amazingly for a career killer, he handles the breakup with his girlfriend by casually breezing into and out of their apartment, much to her anger and confusion. The comic has Wesley brutally beaten weekly (only to later let him free to have a go at hurting his 'trainer'). The film adds a nice Shut Up, Hannibal! confrontation with his former boss, and a keyboard comeuppance to the friend who was cheating with his girlfriend.
- Maika from Monstress can be pretty accurately described as a misanthrope, and with good reason. She was a child slave, and she's not exactly moral now.
- This is Captain Nero's backstory in Star Trek Countdown. He started off as a hard-working family man, but then his wife died and his planet blew up, so he shaved his head and became the silent, tattooed psychopath we all know and love.
- Magneto had this happen to him twice: once when he was driven into his supervillainous status by his experiences in the Holocaust, the death of his daughter Anya, and the abandonment of his wife Magda, and a second time after losing two of his students and being tortured almost to the breaking point by someone trying to steal his powers.
- Harry in The Darkness Series. Harry becomes disgusted by his school and his so-called "friends." Sure, they'll support him when he's playing hero or won them a house cup but when the chips are down they'll readily abandon him at the first sign of trouble.
- There's also the independent!Harry and/or "Harry is falsely sentenced to Azkaban" Fandom Specific Plots which frequently involve Harry rejecting manipulative headmasters and his once friends for new friends (frequently OCs, Slytherins, and/or Crossover characters), learns awesome and questionable new skills, and gets gothic clothing and tattoos.
- In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything L already has this attitude from the things that have happened to him pre-story and Light is also slipping into this as his mask of perfection begins slipping. However the people around him frequently make excuses for his behavior because of who he is and try their best not to notice—such as when his wife excuses his foul moods as "headaches."
- A very dark variant in Falling Down. The lead is fired, divorced, and stuck in traffic. Already mentally unstable and prone to violent outbursts, he decides his mission is to spend the day with his daughter on her birthday, no matter what. Turns out, he always had a dark side...and was fired a WHILE back, only to keep commuting. And had a restraining order against him...
- Office Space has the lead hypnotized into vanishing his stresses, but the hypnotist dies before "waking" him up. He begins ignoring his boss, showing up to work to play Tetris, and wooing the female lead. It wears off halfway through the movie, but the female lead is eventually driven to a natural point on this when she flips off her boss.
- Elisabet in Persona (1966) is an extreme version of this. She refuses to talk to anyone because she's sick of telling white lies. In a partial aversion, she's considered somewhat nuts, and a nurse is sent to take care of her.
- Yes-Man has a variant where the perennially negative lead simply always agrees to everything, leading to a much more exciting life.
- All of Danny Wallace's books (including Yes Man) have something of this, though you would wouldn't call him "misanthropic".
- Fight Club: That's pretty much the whole point. (Apart from the "only mildly rejected" part.)
- The Brave One: At the very beginning of the film, Erica Bain spouses a great love for New York and the people in it on her radio show. By the end of the first act, what has happened to her (thugs killing her husband, taking her dog, and beating her within an inch of her life) had driven her to spouse that she is terrified of the city, and what she does to the people who had done said wrong is not pleasant at all.
- Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker has a little of this. His ego and arrogance lead him to believe he's being held back purposely by the Jedi, creating some resentment and giving him a more aggressive, angrier and distant demeanor (for a Jedi). However, by the time he really starts getting into it, he turns to The Dark Side thanks to the influence of Palpatine.
- Played for laughs in Anger Management, where bringing the timid David Buznik to this point is the goal of the entire movie. It's very strongly implied, without browbeating him into learning a better way to deal with his emotions, he might do something far worse than misanthropy.
- After a few nights of wearing The Mask, Stanley Ipkiss can't stand living a normal life and begins doing things like threatening to call the IRS when his boss attempts to give him a hard time.
- American Beauty: The whole point of this movie, too, ultimately played for tragedy. At least, the implication is that Lester's misanthropy leads him to a much greater understanding and acceptance of himself, up until his homophobic, in-the-closet neighbor shoots him dead after mistaking him for being gay.
- Ash in Evil Dead series is a sensitive, fairly average man in the first movie. Then over the course of a weekend which consists of all of his friends and loved ones (even his own hand!) possessed by ancient demons and Mind Rape, he's turned into a callous badass fountain of one-liners. Though during the adjustment period between the two he's reduced to a gibbering lunatic...
- Rambo: John Rambo is practically the poster boy of this trope, In the first film he is a cynical Vietnam Vet. By the fourth movie he has abandoned civilization and humanity almost entirely.
- The Divide is a long view into the ride of a bunch of people trapped in a New York bunker after a nuclear attack into this. The ones that do not are dead (or taken for something probably worse) by film's end.
- At the conclusion of Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver sees humans as nothing more than Yahoos who talk and wear clothes. He avoids human contact, including from his own family, as much as possible.
- In Heidi, this happened to the main character's grandfather in the past, after the death of his son Thomas (Heidi's dad) followed soon by Heidi's mother Adelheid kicking the bucket as well. The old man never was one for socializing, but after that he went up into the mountains and left everything, until he starts defrosting when Heidi goes live with him. It happens again when she's taken away from him by aunt Dete, apparently becoming even worse than in the past, until Heidi comes back to his side.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemos Back Story is not fully revealed in this novel, but he declares he has lost all his family because of The Empire, and definitely he shows Angst about it. He never shakes hands with Professor Aronnax, he has severed all contact with the "civilized" world and its morality, and creates his own society of people that also had been maddened into misanthropy that will become an N.G.O. Superpower. Oh, and he tries to become an Übermensch. When Aronnax calls him out about the cruelty implied in never letting them leave the Nautilus, he answers:
"What! We must give up seeing our homeland, friends, and relatives ever again?""Yes, sir. But giving up that intolerable earthly yoke that some men call freedom is perhaps less painful than you think!"
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur Dent does this while stranded on prehistoric Earth with the Golgafrinchans, and makes the transition from Fish out of Water to Unfazed Everyman. It's implied that Ford Prefect does this quite often, as he shares sound advice on how to go mad.
- Seerdomin from the Malazan Book of the Fallen is a gruff loner, not even trying to hide his legacy as a former follower of a cannibalistic holy war and still wearing his old uniform, so that everyone who sees him will immediately understand what he has done.
- Nim's Island: Mild example. After his wife's death, Jack effectively isolates himself and his daughter from human society and doesn't plan on returning anytime soon.
- House: Dr. Gregory House, though he suggests he was always like this. "Since age 4."
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) ended with Chief Tyrol planning to become a hermit in what will eventually become Scotland. His reasoning? There's no people or Cylons to further screw up his life.
- In an episode of Seinfeld, George, unsatisfied with his lot, decides to take the opposite approach to everything he does, starting by asking a woman out by being honest and saying he's "unemployed and lives with his parents." Everything drastically improves for him from there: he gets the girl, moves out of his parents' apartment, and gets a job with the Yankees!
- Blair attempts this in season two of Gossip Girl. Chuck seems to be heading down this route in season three.
- Koga Saejima, the hero of GARO has this as one reason behind his Tsundere attitude— losing his father at a young age and assuming the family mantle makes him rather... impatient with anything not to do with hunting Horrors. It also allows him to cut directly to what needs to be done in that hunt.
- The premise of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin is Reggie just getting sick of his pointless job and diving into eccentricity.
- Claudia Donovan in the third season finale of Warehouse 13 is suffering an acute version of this, being so angry and hurt over the death of her friend Steve Jinks that she lashes out at the Regents and everyone around her, while simultaneously saving an artifact to try and Set Right What Once Went Wrong against the laws of the organization. Fortunately, things actually start to look up and, if anything, Claudia actually gets a lot more mature for all the effort. Unfortunately, Artie is warned of an unspeakable evil created by his use of the astrolabe to restore the destroyed Warehouse, and acutely fears that this evil may manifest through Claudia.
- A more clear cut example is H.G. Wells in season 2. When her daughter died, she started seeing only the worst in people, and eventually had herself bronzed, in the hopes that when she'd be eventually thawed, the world would be a better place. When she figures that it's only gotten worse, she becomes a total Straw Nihilist and attempts to cause a second Ice Age before Myka talks her down.
- Bernard Black in Black Books, who in the final episode admits that most of his bitterness stems from the death of his fiancee. Fran later reveals that the fiancee actually faked her death to get out of the relationship because Bernard was already an unbearable misanthrope and everyone knew she was still alive except for Bernard. After initially being upset, he forgives Fran, apparently happy to continue believing that Humans Are Bastards.
- It could just be that he was awful in a different way; an earlier episode shows that when he is in love Bernard becomes pretty insufferable, showering his (believed) love interest with flowers and chocolates.
- Downplayed for laughs in Dead Like Me when Mason decides to become The Unfettered — by helping himself to people's lunches and stealing tip money, which promptly gets him banned from Der Waffle Haus until he smartens up.
- In The Librarians and the Curse of Cindy, the titular Cindy was a sweet girl who was cruelly turned into the resident Butt-Monkey on a reality TV show, and was completely unaware that her castmates were using her until after they voted her off the show. Naturally, she didn't take it well, and then a seemingly sympathetic member of the production crew offered her the chance to be adored forever, and all she had to do was help create a missle...
- Timon of Athens. He likes people and people like him, and he gives people money & lavish gifts; then he gets in some financial trouble and his friends won't help him, so he becomes a misanthrope and lives in a cave. His one true friend, an actual misanthrope, berates him for being a copycat.
- The Man Who Came to Dinner: Nurse Preen. Blame her patient, New York critic Sheridan Whiteside, and the plot's treatment of her.
"I am not only walking out on this case, Mr. Whiteside, I am leaving the nursing profession. I became a nurse because all my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was filled with the idea of serving a suffering humanity. After one month with you, Mr. Whiteside, I am going to work in a munitions factory. From now on, anything I can do to help exterminate the human race will fill me with the greatest of pleasure."
- Beast Wars: Uprising: Galva Convoy was created by the Builders as a counter-agent to Lio Convoy. But in the four years after his creation, an interested party shows him information on the last eleven million years of Cybertronian history, and Galva comes to the conclusion that it will all have to go.
- After having been experimented on, used as a slave, paralyzed for 30 years in a small village and fully aware the entire time, Shale has NOT come to have any love for "squishy" organic creatures.
- Especially hating the birds for the constant crapping... And the villagers even more for encouraging them — you can see a basket of birdseed right next to Shale.
- Jack from Mass Effect 2 certainly qualifies; when she was just an infant, she was kidnapped from her parents by Cerberus due to her biotic potential. She subsequently spent her entire childhood being tortured and experimented upon in an attempt to make her some sort of Biotic super-weapon until she and the other captives finally rebelled. But even then she didn't catch a break, and basically spent the next few years being used and sold from one person to the next, from pirates to gangs and so on, and causing all sorts of havoc along the way until she was finally captured and locked in cryo on a prison ship. By the time Shepard actually meets her, she is so jaded that the mere concept of someone genuinely wanting to help her for reasons other than their own personal gain is practically foreign to her.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Jaesa Wilsaam if you take the dark side option in the Sith Warrior story. This trope is also how Kaliyo in the Imperial Agent story comes across.
- Oersted from Live A Live, after being shunned by his kingdom for accidentally killing the king, decides that if the world views him as a villain, he might as well become one and becomes the Big Bad. Unfortunately for all of time and space, he had the powers of a demon king at his disposal.
- All the Guardians in OFF, but especially Japhet, who built the huge city that occupies Zone 2 and just wants acknowledgement for everything that he's done for the Elsens living there. The Elsens, meanwhile, have become far too paranoid and fearful of even the simplest things to appreciate anything he's done, and in fact don't even recognize him (though when the Batter finally meets him, he's occupying someone else's body,) frustrating him to the point that now he just wants to destroy everything he's created.
- Porky Minch underwent this throughout the MOTHER series. He starts out as an obnoxious and unpopular next-door neighbor to Ness, but he starts doing progressively more cruel and evil things throughout the course of the game. This is due to the influence of Giygas, who selected Porky to be his herald in order to spread his influence throughout the Earth and hinder Ness. Porky eventually escapes at the end of the game, where he travels through time into the far future to corrupt and ultimately destroy what's left of the world.
- The Man Behind the Man of Pathfinder: Kingmaker is Nyrissa, aka the helpful Guardian of the Forest you meet early into the adventure. However, they weren't always like that - it was only after having her heart removed and banished from the First World until she completes her Redemption Quest of toppling a thousand kingdoms in apology for the one she'd "stolen" that she became the way she is now. Prior to this, they fell very much under the Chaotic Good, All-Loving Hero category, based on the flashbacks the player can witness.
- Metalocalypse: Toki, tired of being thought of as "the nice one", becomes a child-hating demon of venom — until he forms a bond with a dying little girl through her music. And then gets even more broken.
- In an episode of Time Squad, Edgar Allan Poe is shown as a Manchild, Stepford Smiler and Tastes Like Diabetes Incarnate whose writings were all about Sugar Bowls and other cute, fluffy things. However at the end, the main characters openly criticize a pink cake he baked for them, which eventually drove him into becoming... Well, Edgar Allan Poe.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show has a hilarious, and disturbing, example from the episode "Hermit Ren," in which Ren becomes so infuriated by his best friend's obnoxiousness that he decides to lock himself in a cave, with only the company of his hallucinations.