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Madden Into Misanthropy
aka: Maddened Into Misanthropy

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Top: Timon of Athens by Nathaniel Dance, 1767
Bottom: Timon laying aside the gold by Johann Heinrich Ramberg, 1829
"You blindly put yourselves at the center of the universe, every last one of you. Envious! Malicious! And even after all that you still think you're in the right! Jealousy. Hatred. Arrogance. Betrayal. Insolence. Deception. Those are the true natures of human beings! You're sickening. Even thinking about it now makes me physically ill! You're all hypocritical fakes! Every last one of you: useless.
And that's why I've decided to kill you all."
Phantom, MÄR

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 them 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, Humans Are Bastards, and Humans Are the Real Monsters. Can become a Misanthrope Supreme or Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. For the exaggerated version, see Murder Into Malevolence. Compare the Mirror Morality Machine and Put Them All Out of My Misery. Has nothing to do with Madden NFL. See also Did You Think I Can't Feel?.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • A recurring theme in Deadman Wonderland.
  • 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.
  • One Piece: Played with in the case of Trafalgar Law, a man nigh infamous for his cruelty, and who 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 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.
  • Naofumi in The Rising of the Shield Hero starts off quite upbeat and positive. However, the horrendous treatment he suffers at the hands of Malty, the King, and his fellow heroes sours his outlook considerably.
  • 4Kids's attempt at doing what they usually do 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 discernible 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.
  • This happened to Sensui in YuYu Hakusho. He acquired a copy of the Chapter Black, a videotape kept by the Celestial Bureaucracy containing every single evil deed ever performed by humanity. On watching it, he became convinced humans had no justification to continue existing. His recruits were also forced to watch it. (What he didn't realize is that the Chapter Black has a counterpart, the Chapter White, which records every good deed humanity has ever done. The two were never meant to be watched separately; Koenma even dismisses the Chapter Black as "a one-sided argument".)
  • Epsilon Alioth Fenrir in Saint Seiya was orphaned as a child following the death of his parents and was saved by a pack of wolves and decided to adopt their lifestyle and live with them in the forest.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 Armoured Closet Gay neighbor shoots him dead after mistaking him for being gay.
  • 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.
  • 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 espouse that she is terrified of the city, and what she does to the people who had done said wrong is not pleasant at all.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Fight Club: That's pretty much the whole point. (Apart from the "only mildly rejected" part.)
  • 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.
  • In Joker (2019), similar to the comics The Joker became the way he is after a lifetime of battling mental illness and mistreatment from others resulted in him becoming a lunatic who thinks all Humans Are Bastards and deserving of death.
  • 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.
  • Rambo: John Rambo. In the first film he is a cynical Vietnam Vet. By the fourth movie he has abandoned civilization and humanity almost entirely.
  • Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker's 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.
  • Yes-Man has a variant where the perennially negative lead simply always agrees to everything, leading to a much more exciting life.

    Literature 
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo’s 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Rise of Kyoshi: The result of the Trauma Conga Line that the not-Avatar Yun is going through. After learning that he's not the Avatar, something that has been his main defining identity for years, and being abandoned by his mentor/father figure, Yun fought tooth and nail to get back from the Spirit World to the Human World. When a teahouse owner refused to let a parched Yun have some water to drink, Yun realized that all the people he had sworn to protect as the Avatar were not only Ungrateful Bastards, but were openly mocking him, Yun ends up becoming an angry, walking Roaring Rampage of Revenge to take out his hurt and pain on everyone that lied to him about being the Avatar — which ends up meaning his violence is aimed at everyone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The premise of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin is Reggie just getting sick of his pointless job and diving into eccentricity.
  • 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.
  • Blair attempts this in Season 2 of Gossip Girl. Chuck seems to be heading down this route in season three.
  • House: Dr. Gregory House, though he suggests he was always like this. "Since age 4."
  • 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 missile...
  • 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!
  • 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.

    Podcasts 
  • The Big Bad of The Adventure Zone: Balance is an exaggerated example. John was, once, an ordinary human man who contemplated the truth of existence and the nature of death, and found the notion of eternity — be it eternal life or eternal nothingnesshorrifying, and decided that if this was the cost of existing, it was too high. Not only did he go completely insane and come to view everything as utterly meaningless, he also felt he had to convince every single thing — not just every person, but every single thing — on his plane of existence of this point. And somehow, he succeeded, thus allowing the entire plane to become the Hunger.
    To exist, to live, is horrible.

    Theater 
  • 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."
  • Timon of Athens. He likes people and people like him, and he gives people money and 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.

    Toys 

    Video Games 
  • The final game in The Blackwell Series, Epiphany, has this for Madeleine, the spirit guide before Joey Mallone came into the picture. After meeting with Joey as a complete matter of routine, Madeleine is betrayed by her Bestower partner, Jocelyn, and trapped in the void unable to return. Being trapped there for 70 years, in addition to the perhaps centuries she worked as a spirit guide being denied the release of death she craved, she finally resolved to consume the spirits of a self-help group, then tear a hole in reality to overwhelm souls with void energy, in the hopes that she herself will be one of the annihilated.
  • In Darkwood, this is deconstructed with the Doctor, who undergoes this after getting fed up with the ungrateful Villagers of the Silent Forest he tried to help cure after being infected by a dangerous plague. This leads to him unleashing his rage upon the Protagonist when they first met and beating him senseless when he wouldn’t reveal the exit to escape the forest (or rather he couldn’t because he can’t talk in his current plague-infected state). But when he re-confronts the Doctor once more in the Old Woods and has him cornered, he pleaded his case and revealed that all he desperately wanted was to go home — the same motive driving the Protagonist to escape the forest. As a result, the Protagonist’s first dialogue choice (which hints at what his true feelings on the matter are) is to help the Doctor, despite everything he did to the Protagonist. This meant that had the Doctor been nicer and struck a deal with the Protagonist from the get-go that he would’ve likely agreed to help the Doctor; his Jerkass behavior only made the situation worse for him even if it made him feel better at first.
  • 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.
  • Goddess of Victory: NIKKE: This happened in Mary's backstory. She was once a kindly, caring doctor who tried her best to help her patients, but day after day of watching them suffer and die slowly ground away at her morals and resilience until she snapped and decided that her goal should be preserving life at any cost, leading her to begin secretly selling the brains of her dying patients to be converted into Nikkes...whether or not they were willing.
  • Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen is about Kain's descent from a haughty nobleman to the last of the vampires in Nosgoth. While born a human, he gets turned into a vampire after being killed by a group of bandits, and throughout the game, he bears witness to sorcerers driven to insanity, devastation caused by The Empire, a pedophilic doll-maker, and heretical vampire crusades. By the end of the game, Kain has become so thoroughly disgusted by humanity that he chooses to let Nosgoth fall in decay and ruin, and establish a vampiric empire to rule and subjugate humans with. By the time of Soul Reaver, Kain's mortal origins have been all but forgotten.
    "He was mortal once, as were we all. However, his contempt for humanity drove him to create me and my brethren."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Master Detective Archives: Rain Code, Halara Nightmare is exactly this trope down to the last detail, formerly being a Nice Guy/Girl who trusted and believed in anyone, before betrayal from a False Friend resulted in family and home difficulties, encouraging them to take a life of Angst and hatred. However, those tendencies from before show up occasionally throughout the story.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tohru Adachi in Persona 4. As a result of his Friendless Background and being reassigned From New York to Nowhere, he spent all his free time drinking and watching TV in his apartment out of Small Town Boredom. The lack of positive outlets in his life alongside his sociopathic tendencies and superiority complex were the perfect ingredients to turn him into one of the more realistic depictions of a Serial Killer and a Misanthrope Supreme.
  • Lysandre in Pokémon X and Y was a Mad Scientist whose earlier attempts to fix the world legitimately, through the inventions and profits of Lysandre Labs, didn't have the effect he was looking for — where he expected the needy to be sated, they instead yearned for still more. His two main conclusions: (1) World aggregate happiness is effectively finite; after a certain amount of beings, happiness and survival can only be attained by taking it from/denying it to another. (2) The vast majority of humans (and maybe even Pokémon, if his musings about Mega Evolution are anything to go by) are irredeemable, incapable of anything beyond the most narrow selfishness. Therefore, the only way the world will ever know beauty and hope everlasting is to expunge all those imperfect creatures who ought never have existed, who can only ever be plagues on existence. As his report in Lysandre Labs puts it, "either everything is lost, or only a handful are saved". After being defeated he has a Villainous Breakdown, screaming that the player's "condemned the world to a future of misery and death".
  • One of the central plot elements of the Shadow Hearts series is a Tome of Eldritch Lore called the Émigré Manuscript — a book that has all manner of dark spells but is coded to the point where the spells are the diversion and anyone smart and selfless enough to ignore the spells and look at the books, greater meaning receives a revelation into the true nature of God's plan. Only three people in the entire series have achieved this level of clarity and all three have become complete Misanthropes, after realizing basically how little the universe cares about petty human nonsense, aside from the tome itself, all three have had really messed up lives that did not mix well with said revelation.
    • First we have the translator of the text Roger Bacon — a former philosopher who upon trying to share his enlightenment with man-kind received nothing but fear-mongering and elitist gatekeeping to the point where he no longer views humanity with anything but disappointment, that only occasionally produces genuinely worth-while people.
    • The second character encountered is the heroine of the first game, Koudelka Iasant. Koudelka was hardly a fan of humanity, being a Roma witch with a Dark and Troubled Past, but when she channels the knowledge of the Émigré Manuscript, her investment in man-kind completely dries up. While in the first game she is a cynic, she wants to help people, but come the second game (after her revelation) we see her learning of a plan to wipe out the world and basically only care enough to try to stop it because that's where her son lives.
    • Our third and final comprehender of the Émigré is a student of Roger, Albert Simon, who was thrown into misanthropy before his revelation; He tried to use his position in the Vatican to stand up for civil rights, only to find the people in the Vatican, were very much against it. After that, he tried to make his own revival movement... only for his star-acolyte to go full evil — which broke the last of his idealism. By the time he decided to read the Émigré Manuscript, he was already ready to wipe out humanity to keep from being disappointed in it anymore, the book wound up not only telling him how to do exactly that but gave him a form of clarity so that he goes about it in a Tranquil Fury.
  • 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.
    • The backstory for the Sith Inquisitor is that they were Made a Slave by the Empire before it was discovered they were Force-Sensitive. It's apparently the reason why nearly every line out of their mouth is pure, unadulterated sardonicism.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Maddened Into Misanthropy

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