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Nervous Wreck

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She's always like this.

"Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up, I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid or am I just stoned?"

There are some characters with firm Nerves of Steel. No matter the situation, they'll keep a cool head no matter what, and even in the cases where they do lose said cool head, they'll either regain it in no time or simply go on and do the right thing regardless of their fears.

And then, at the other end of the scale, there's these guys.

They'll be the first to panic under pressure, and Heroic BSODs are a common thing for them. Pessimistic by nature, they'll automatically assume the worst and worry even when everything's going right. And when the worst really does happen, they might even be reduced to spouting incoherent gibberish and their nervous tic may come out as well. For them, life is one long Freak Out.

Often, this character is revealed to have a painful past that left them like this. As such, this is sometimes a trait of a Shrinking Violet, a Cowardly Lion, or a more emotional Broken Bird. Some versions of this will hide their anxiety (or at least try to) behind a cheerful or stoical facade. If malicious, this character is a Dirty Coward who may not look the part when he believes he has the upper hand but will become a blubbering mess whenever he has to deal with his superiors or a competent opponent.

Compare Prone to Tears. Contrast The Stoic, Nerves of Steel.


    open/close all folders 
  • The Orange M&M is known for being constantly paranoid, thinking that people are constantly out to eat him (and given what happens to the other Spokescandies, he's not wrong). He also has a terrible track record with trying to talk to women and has an ostensive fear of changes, such as him protesting having Pretzel Guy stuffed into him. Whenever he tries to convince other people to imagine what it's like being him, it backfires on him, hard.
    Diedrich Bader: Yep, there goes your sister! ...Uhp, there's your cousin! Oop, it's your first date!
    Orange: ...Cheryl?

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mai of Asteroid in Love doesn't have much self-confidence. As a result, she freaks out very easily since she doesn't think she is capable of handling the task at hand.
  • Bertolt Hoover, from Attack on Titan. He normally manages to keep things under wrap as a Cowardly Lion, restraining it to constant nervous sweating and uncomfortable expressions. But once his composure breaks, he's reduced to Tears of Fear and shrieking in panic. In those moments, it's easy to forget he graduated 3rd in his military class and is the Colossal Titan. How much of this is his natural personality, and how much of it is connected to his Dark and Troubled Past is unclear.
  • Mihashi Ren from Big Windup! is chronically anxious, has next to no self-confidence, and constantly thinks that people are angry with him for some reason. A part of that comes from his naturally sensitive personality but most of it is due to getting heavily bullied for all three years at his middle school. He gets better. Somewhat, at least.
  • Bocchi the Rock!: At the beginning of the series, the protagonist Hitori is a clumsy and stuttering ball of anxiety that can barely say 'hi' to another person. Her social anxiety is so severe that she's gone her entire grade school life without any friends or acquaintances. And even after finding herself in a band like she always wanted, she's so afraid of facing the audience that she spends her first performance inside a cardboard box.
  • Kobeni, from Chainsaw Man, Good Lord, KOBENI, if there was a definition of someone who's a nervous wreck 24/7, it's her. Constantly panicking in her assignments, a terrible backstory, and despite being an effective demon hunter, she does NOT want to live in that world. And of course, everything related to her is Played for Laughs.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Zenitsu is a capable guy when he finds the courage to brave through killing demons or just resorts to his trance sleep mode where he fights in a state where fearing the enemy isn’t possible, but he tends to freak out like no tomorrow at every single thing before he shows his true colors.
  • Jyou Kido from Digimon Adventure, although he mellowed out in Digimon Adventure 02 as he matured.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Poor Shinji Ikari, in the first few episodes. It comes in very handy when he's shanghaied into being a mecha pilot. He spends his first few battles freaking out. While he does get much better after the Futagoyama incident as far as battles go, he never quite stops acting like this in his everyday life... and then, of course, any progress he made is undone as everything goes straight to hell...
  • Crona from Soul Eater, thanks to being raised to become a new Kishin by Medusa. They're even quite jittery when they're Axe-Crazy.
  • The title character in Komi Can't Communicate has extreme social anxiety to the point of being an Elective Mute. This is a problem, as she is also devastatingly gorgeous, leading people to ogle her and not be confident to approach what they see as an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl, which Komi naturally interprets as them giving her the cold shoulder.

    Comic Strips 

    Comic Books 
  • Empowered, especially early on, is an awkward, inexperienced superheroine who spends most of her time in costume fidgeting, stammering, and sweating if not outright panicking. Nonetheless, she's a Cowardly Lion who does her best to save the day anyway and eventually improves somewhat.
  • Eric Jorgensen of Gotham Academy jumps at the slightest provocation and is always jittery and afraid. He was starting to get better as he developed friendships with the main cast but then got significantly worse after Amy stole his rescue inhaler and taunted him while leaving him struggling to breathe.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Nova Shine has panic attack episodes when he feels he is getting too emotionally close to somepony, or that pony is getting too emotionally close to them, stemming from a lifelong flight from his family and a time when someone brought his parents to him despite knowing he was fleeing from them as a colt.
  • In Dragon Ball Abridged, this happens to Krillin. He cannot shut up when he's scared.
  • In A Fanciful Dream Bella experiences this. Granted, she thought she was being stalked.
  • In Graduate Meeting of Mutual Killing, Hoshio Saitou really doesn't take well the perspective of being left in a shelter to starve to death. He even considers barricading himself in his bedroom, out of panic.
  • My Dream Is Yours: Ocean, normally the polar opposite of a nervous wreck, becomes one when he contracts Dream-Transfer-itis and has O'Malley's recurring dream of riding a racecar. As a result, the odd creatures in his care also become nervous and jittery.
  • The Night Unfurls: Soren has yet to be reduced to spouting incoherent gibberish, but being hesitant and nervous is his defining trait, especially towards people having authority over him (e.g. Kyril and Celestine).
    Lily: Stop fidgeting, Soren.
    Soren: I'm not, Lily. I'm... freaking nervous. I'm going to see the Goddess Incarnate herself!
  • PMD: The Rogue Team: Often happens to Erin. While she can think logically when focused on something, she quickly panics whenever she's faced with any dangerous location or pokemon. Outside of threatening situations, Erin also acts nervously when interacting with others.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Cloud Kicker, the assistant manager of Ponyville's weather patrol. According to Raindrops, she's usually in control, but since Ponyville's right next to the unpredictable Everfree Forest, and her immediate superior is Rainbow Dash, who is often absent right at the worst possible time, Kicker tends to come off as frazzled.
  • In The Witch of the Everfree, Sunset has a series of panic attacks in the immediate aftermath of her removal as Celestia's student, and thereafter whenever she comes too close to encountering Celestia again.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: Atta starts off as this before her Character Development. (To be fair, inheriting a colony enslaved to a gang of grasshoppers led by an Ax-Crazy Sadist who won't hesitate to kill her sister or worse if she doesn't deliver would put everyone on edge.)
    Dot: It's not my fault [Atta]'s always stressed out!
    Atta: Oh, I know, I know! I'm always acting like the sky is falling!note 
  • Iridessa from Disney Fairies. She constantly is neurotic and freaks out easily.
  • Panic in Hercules whose name seems to be more indicative of what he suffers from rather than what he causes to others. The series also introduced Neurosis, whom even Panic considers a mess.
  • Fear from Inside Out always looks on the verge of a panic attack. Word of God describes him as acting as if he fears losing his job... except that he is his job.
  • Max in Mary and Max is one generally, with panic attacks striking whenever his life is "disrupted" — say, by a letter from a curious 8-year-old girl.
  • Both discussed and exploited in Pinocchio: After the puppet escapes from Stromboli the puppet master, J. Worthington Foulfellow tells Pinocchio that his encounter must have made him a nervous wreck, and, with the assistance of his stooge Gideon, proceeds to "diagnose" him. In the end, the fox informs Pinocchio that his problem is he is "allergic", and the only cure for what ails him is "a vacation on Pleasure Island".
  • Aaron, Moses' older brother in The Prince of Egypt. It's done for humor, and not—to children he comes off as a coward because of his repeated efforts to stop Miriam from talking back and babbling apologies to the Egyptians. Older viewers realize he's so panicky because he's seen hundreds of beatings and executions with no end in sight, and he's terrified that she's going to get both of them killed.
  • Ratatouille: Linguini is incredibly awkward and insecure, and also VERY high-strung and neurotic when interacting with others.
  • The second princess in Son of the White Horse is one. She did get married to a dragon who seems to represent the horrors of industrial warfare.
  • Rex in Toy Story is very easy to set off, from either external or internal factors.
  • In Turning Red, this is not as immediately apparent due to Ming not acting the stereotypical part, but a lot of her controlling and coddling behavior is a result of her struggling to deal with her massive anxiety issues.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Wedding (1978): The wedding planner is quite neurotic and has to deal with miserable occurrences like barely any guests showing up, the groom's aunt presenting a nude portrait of the bride (drawn from her yearbook photo), and a storm hitting the house.
  • Woody Allen is famous for playing this kind of character.
  • Many, many of the lead roles from French comic actor Louis de Funès are this, a good part of his humor consists of watching how his protagonists are cracking up under pressure. Although De Funès had to tone it down after his heart attack in 1974.
  • Don't Look Up: Randall panics easily when he's in high-pressure situations and takes several medications to deal with his anxiety. When delivering the news about the comet to President Orlean, he's reduced to a stammering mess, with Kate and Teddy being the ones who have to get the point across to her. However, when he and Kate leak information about the comet to a morning news talk show, he's able to quickly adapt to its lighthearted and joking style while Kate is the one who has a freakout about how everyone's going to die.
  • Ken the stutterer in A Fish Called Wanda.
  • Lee, a deconstruction of the archetypal badass western gunslinger from The Magnificent Seven (1960), has become completely paranoid due to frequent attempts on his life. No civilian wants him around because of the inevitable violence that will happen when someone tries to kill Lee to take his fame, and his nerves are completely shot from his experiences.
  • Felix in The Odd Couple.
  • In Pixels, Q*Bert is terrified of everything, from Matty's brutal computer game through the invasion of Earth up to Ludlow's broken heart.
  • Leo Bloom in all adaptations of The Producers.
  • In the Star Wars Universe, Nute Gunray (the Trade Federation Viceroy) nearly embodies this trope. Although beings from his species, Neimodians, are usually pessimistic and prone to great stress by nature, Gunray's overly-nervous personality is well beyond even Neimoidian standards.
  • Ernie in What a Carve Up!. He proofreads lurid horrid novels for a living, which makes him inclined to panic at the slightest thing. According to his best friend Syd, he actually starts hallucinating things when there is nothing to be frightened of. Needless to say, being invited to his uncle's Old, Dark House for a reading of his will does nothing to improve his state of mind.
  • Mr. Salt in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, after being put upon by his notoriously demanding daughter. And his sanity is not at all helped by what he witnesses in the Wonka factory...

  • The White Rabbit, in almost all adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is a Nervous Wreck due to being "late for a very important date," even going so far as twitching a lot.
  • Lori reacts to motherhood this way in Aunt Dimity Digs In. In an exaggerated bid to childproof the cottage, she fastens the kitchen cabinet doors so securely that no one can open them, padlocks the medicine cabinet and misplaces the key, and covers the edges of the coffee and end tables with miles of cotton batting. Ultimately, Bill finds her trying to wrestle their mattress out of its frame and onto the floor so the boys cannot crawl under it, although their little knees have yet to touch the carpet. Though she does calm down with time (and the services of a couple of nannies), Lori is still apt to react badly to the idea that her sons could get hurt, and the start of their schooling at Morningside in nearby Upper Deeping sets off another crisis in Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter.
  • It's not uncommon for characters in the Cthulhu Mythos to become this, usually the result of surviving an indescribable horror. Danforth in At the Mountains of Madness would be a good example.
  • Discworld:
    • The Bursar. He starts off fine in Eric and becomes only slightly twitchy after having to put up with the new Archancellor Mustrum Ridcully in Moving Pictures. However the events of that book, and the following one Reaper Man, leave him a paranoid, twitching, nervous mess, who has to be medicated into hallucinating he is sane (previous attempts to cure him of his nervous state proved impossible).
    • Brother Nhumrod in Small Gods. He apparently tends to touch any surface he comes near in case it "might slip away", and has a habit of repeating the last words of a sentence someone's said to him, in addition to a variety of other, undisclosed nervous tics. Brother Nhumrod's behaviour is apparently quite normal for someone who has survived several decades in the Omnian Citadel, home of the Exquisition.
  • Pharamond in Dragon Age: Asunder as a result of curing his Tranquil condition — i.e. having been severed from his emotions for years if not decades, which all come back to him at the same time.
  • In Dragon Bones, Oreg constantly watches Ward, and carefully steps away if Ward shows signs of being angry. Justified in that Oreg has been a slave to all of Ward's ancestors (he's the "child" in the Powered by a Forsaken Child castle of the family) and some of them were ... rather nasty.
  • In The Dresden Files, Molly Carpenter becomes this in Ghost Story, following Harry's apparent death in the previous book and her own attempt to fill in his shoes as the magic defender of Chicago.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Wyndle is usually stressed out about Lift's rash, bizarre decisions, but when he finds out that their enemy is the immortal Herald Nale, he turns the "terrified" dial-up.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
    • Ron starts having trouble eating and worrying constantly after becoming the new Gryffindor Keeper, hearing the song Draco composed for him and allowing his nervousness to affect his performance on the pitch, letting most of the Quaffles in and generally doing very poorly.
    • Later on, Hannah completely falls apart under the pressure of O.W.L. exams. First she has a mental breakdown in the days leading up to the exams and needs a magical tranquilizer from the school nurse, and then she loses her head again in the middle of the transfiguration portion of the exams, multiplying her ferret into a flock of flamingos, resulting in the exam being halted for ten minutes while the staff rounds up the birds and carries them out of the Great Hall, where the exam takes place.
  • Nora, from Hush, Hush seems to constantly fret about things. Granted she does have things worth worrying about, but she also seems hung up on the idea that Patch will leave her for better women (despite him repeatedly proving he won't), that something's going to go wrong with whatever she's doing, that Marcie Miller will do something horrible to her, etc. One notable instance is when she's serving Marcie and several other of her classmates at a restaurant. They demand that she sing "Happy Birthday" to them without offering any proof that it's actually her birthday... and this causes Nora to go to pieces and think that refusing will be grounds to get her fired on the first day of work.
  • Calkoro in Magical Girl Raising Project is timid and cautious normally, but when around someone that intimidates her, such as Kana or her boss Halna, she constantly fidgets, breaks out into a sweat, and struggles to keep herself from openly freaking out.
  • Nettie in Needful Things is always tense and jumpy due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. Keeton also gradually becomes this as paranoia sets in.
  • Matt in Peter Pays Tribute panics about things like giving an oral presentation to the class.
  • Something Might Happen: Twitchly Fidget doesn't leave his house, put on his shoes, or eat his breakfast cereal because he's convinced some horrible consequence will result from each of these.
  • Aya of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note has anxiety as her official main attribute. She simply can't handle pressure very well, and in the first few episodes, she actually attempted to run away from problems she can't deal with. Even in the latter half of the Animated Adaptation she nearly has Quivering Eyes Once an Episode. Strangely, this trope also provides for this series' educational value, as she tries to resolve her "uncertainty of the book" — which is supposed to be the kind observed in tween girls, its intended demograpic.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Shrewtooth... until he Took a Level in Badass.
    • Ravenpaw also was an apprentice; he calmed down once he left the Clan and got away from Tigerclaw.
  • Fiver from Watership Down is nervous and panicky even by rabbit standards. He often, however, is right to be uneasy.
  • In Wemberly Worried, Wemberly is a mouse girl who worries about absolutely everything, including her first day of school. When the teacher introduces her to another girl named Jewel who is also nervous, they become friends, and are happy enough that they both stop worrying so much.
  • Piglet, from Winnie the Pooh, is a classic example: meek, timid, stuttering, always fretting over something, and in the Disney version is usually seen visibly trembling.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lydia from Breaking Bad is a business executive who's secretly running a drug empire in spite of the fact that she's high-strung to the point of being completely nuts.
  • Better Call Saul: Gustavo Fring, the man who stood his ground while in the sights of a sniper with barely any visible fear, briefly becomes this following the failed assassination attempt on Lalo Salamanca, a state he is not lifted out of until he manages to, by sheer luck, get the drop on Lalo and kill him.
  • These show up a LOT in Canada's Worst Driver. They're as scary as road ragers and ditzes.
  • Rebecca from Cheers is a bundle of neuroses and incompetence.
  • Clare from Derry Girls freaks out at the slightest threat of her getting into trouble or failing at something, becoming a hyperactive, Motor Mouth ball of nerves. When threatened with detention for a group offense, she panics and rats out her friends immediately.
  • LazyTown: Milford is perpetually nervous, especially when something important is happening.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: Happy Whip, a can of whipped cream with Mr. Potato Head arms attached, comes across this way. Whenever he gets emotional (typically afraid, though pride can have this effect as well), he sprays whipped cream everywhere. The main purpose of his appearances is for him to panic and trigger this.
  • Doug ("Nervous Guy") Murphy from Scrubs, nervous about... everything.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Dr. Agnes Jurati is prone to freaking out in situations that would be mundane to other characters.
    • In "Stardust City Rag", she panics at the mere idea of having to use the transporter console to beam up her crewmates. Her pulse and blood pressure are so elevated that they automatically activate the EMH, who asks her, "What is the nature of your psychiatric emergency?" She hyperventilates when Emil offers to give her a sedative.
    • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", when La Sirena is traversing a transwarp conduit, she's the only one hiding in her cabin saying "Be over, be over, be over..." while everyone else is on the bridge enjoying the ride.

  • "Basket Case" by Green Day is from the point of view of an extremely neurotic person.
  • Fall Out Boy also has a lyric that refers to being a nervous wreck. "West Coast Smoker".
  • The Northern Boys have those lyrics in Nobody Likes me "When I say hi, I get shut down
When I'm outside, I get stressed out When I got people around I'm anxious Nobody likes me, what the fuck now?." [1]
  • "Just Another Nervous Wreck" by Supertramp is sung from the point of view of one.

  • The Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula, not to be confused with American Blackbirds) is this in the bird world. It's spouting its alarm calls and nervously shaking its tail and twitching its wings all the time because it's hyper-vigilant for predators, but it seems to be stuck in this mode out of habit - also acting like this when there are no predators. On the other hand, when they snap out of it they (the males in breeding season, anyway) are also known for some of Nature's most Awesome Music.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: It's fairly safe to say that Beaker fits this trope very well; being on the receiving end of your lab partner's wildly unpredictable experiments will do that to you.
    • For that matter, Shakey Sanchez spends much of the Vincent Price episode in a near catatonic state after being repeatedly swallowed by Behemoth.
    • Then, of course, we have the Screaming Thing, who starts out his sketch "relaxed, calm, and tranquil," but by the end of the numbernote , he's anything but.
  • Sesame Street: Telly Monster is very much the most high-strung character on the show; when anything slightly out of the ordinary happens, he makes a big deal out of it.
  • On Bear in the Big Blue House, Tutter often tends to be somewhat more tightly wound than the other characters, often getting upset or worked up over minor things and having to be reminded by Bear to calm down and breathe, or to take quiet time. When he first learns that he's going to school, he ends up getting so worked up over it that Bear and his new teacher have to correct the false assumptions he's built up over it. When he actually gets to school, Bear has to remain outside the school building for quite a while before he becomes comfortable enough for Bear to leave.
  • On The Mr. Potato Head Show, Happy Whip is a can of whipped cream with Mr. Potato Head arms attached, comes across this way. Whenever he gets emotional (typically afraid, though pride can have this effect as well), he sprays whipped cream everywhere. The main purpose of his appearances is for him to panic and trigger this.

  • Dead Ringers:
    • The Vaccines Minister for the Johnston government starts out slightly on edge because he's actually doing his job well, in a government that excels itself on bungling incompetence, and even worse, he has no idea how vaccines actually work. By the second time he appears, he's lost it completely and has a spectacular on-air breakdown. Also, he thinks the Covid vaccines have started talking to him...
    • BBC's Match of the Day commentators start getting really worried when it looks like England might, for once, be actually about to win a championship tournament, so much so that Alan Shearer refuses to let Garry Lineker say anything about football in case they jinx it, and demands he, Garry, and Rio Ferdinand either talk about completely inane nonsense or just sit in utter silence for the rest of the week.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Vivian has severe problems with anxiety, to the point that even her therapist is at a loss. She's known for her frequent panic attacks and habit of clamming up when talking to others. This is part of why she's good friends with Lenore, who's very relaxed and a calming influence.
    • Ivy also has problems with anxiety, her highly neurotic personality causing her to assume the worst of others and "shut down" in stressful situations. It isn't helped at all by her having a noticeable stutter that gets worse the more nervous she is.
  • Dino Attack RPG:
    • Kate Bishop. The fact that she was an 18-year-old stuck in the middle of a war certainly doesn't help.
    • Sam Race also becomes a Nervous Wreck when he starts showing early signs of PTSD.

  • A Delicate Balance: Harry and Edna show up unannounced at the home of their friends Tobias and Edna, and move in. They move in because, while they were at home, they suddenly became very frightened. The play makes perfectly clear that Harry and Edna have no idea what frightened them to the extent that they had to flee their house. Nothing happened.
    Harry: "There was nothing...but we were very scared."
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum has the aptly-named Hysterium, neurotic slave to Senex and reluctant accomplice in Pseudolus's schemes. Even the song "I'm Calm" reflects his status as a near-basket case.
  • Harpagon from The Miser, who's almost perpetually high-strung and paranoid about his money.
  • Malvolio in Twelfth Night is reduced to this by the end of the play thanks to the inhumanly cruel practical joke the other characters played on him. Granted, Malvolio personifies the Asshole Victim trope, but even the characters acknowledge they may have gone too far at the end.

    Video Games 
  • Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine: Minor Badnik Humpty is shown to be rather high-strung and twitchy, being shocked by the player character's early appearance and prone to falling.
  • Lani-Loli in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time is a downright worrywart who's always shown with a nervous expression on his face and prone to screaming when things go south. Then again, considering the fact that he's one of the Quantum Masks responsible for the safety of The Multiverse, who could blame him?
  • The Justice Minister in Ghost Trick is always seen as an absolute neurotic mess. It's not just a character trait - the source of his immense stress is quite recent, and once you address it, he immediately becomes noticeably calmer. For the record, he was manipulated by a ghost into signing an innocent man's death warrant, and he told no one about this because he thought no one would believe him, which his wife disagreed with and so left him.
  • Bob Kerman, one of the main characters of Kerbal Space Program, is usually portrayed as this. Hanging out with Jeb would do that to a guy.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has a security guard who panics and becomes a brief nervous wreck when he sees Neo again, because "I killed you! I killed you!" He remembers Smith killing Neo because Smith body surfed him to do it.
  • Every single Elsen in OFF is one of these, to the point taking them two inches out of their comfort zone will trigger some nasty transformations and get them to assault you.
  • Aloth from Pillars of Eternity and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. He's no slouch in combat, but no matter how many powerful foes he defeats, he's constantly advising against picking fights with even vastly inferior foes, and is a neurotic Neat Freak to boot.
  • Resident Evil: Outbreak is already about how an average group of citizens would react to a Zombie Apocalypse, and true to form, not all of them take it well. Jim Chapman, a mere 24-year-old subway worker, is reduced to a whimpering mess in his ad-libs, cursing at whatever monsters are in hearing range and fearing for his life.
  • In The Sims 3, any Sim with the Neurotic trait is this.
  • Implied with Marina from Splatoon 2. Even ignoring her Tareme Eyes, she near constantly looks on the edge of freaking out. She's also a Shrinking Violet, especially in the Japanese version.
  • Alphys from Undertale is this, mostly due to her failed experiments with DETERMINATION.
  • Hal "Otacon" Emmerich, in Metal Gear Solid, was in a state of panic and mortal dread for most of the game, using a stealth camo device to hide from danger, pissing himself when confronted by the Cyborg Ninja, and suffering from no small amount of guilt when he learns that he had been tricked into building a walking nuclear tank. In later games in the series, he gains some confidence, although he still has his moments. His nervousness can also be chalked up to a less-than-ideal childhood: as revealed in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, he had been raped by his stepmother, and when his father found out, he committed suicide and tried to also kill his stepsister. Said father was also revealed in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain to have tried to coax him into being the pilot of a prototype mecha that, due to some critical design flaws, could only be operated by Child Soldiers.
  • The submarine crews in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 are clearly unfit for their jobs, as they're audibly paranoid about the dripping noises and the pressure around them.
  • One of your starting pilots in MechCommander 2 is Call Signed Twitch, and as the name implies he is a jittery, stammering, and extremely anxious fellow who tends to over-react to problems. He also happens to be an amazing pilot for Beam Spam-type Mechs, so many players bring him along regardless and simply tolerate his neurotic radio chatter.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses gives us Bernadetta von Varley, an extremely skittish girl who almost never leaves her dorm room if she can help it and whose usual response whenever someone tries to engage her in conversation is either to beg them not to kill her or to accuse them of trying to humiliate her. Her B-Support with Byleth reveals that the cause for her anxiety is her father's attempts to train her to be a "good, submissive wife" so he could marry her off to a wealthy and powerful family. Said training involved such lovely techniques as forbidding her from making friends and tying her to a chair and demanding she remain silent.
  • Alcryst from Fire Emblem Engage. His Establishing Character Moment involves him ready to open fire on Alear and company, until he realizes who they are, which prompts him to run, jump really high in the air...and then deeply apologize on the ground for almost trying to hurt them. Compared to his more courageous brother Diamant, Alcryst suffers from low self-esteem issues that he can't help demeaning himself while trying to overcome his nervous behavior, which is more exemplified by the allusion of Exhausted Eyebags. The Fell Xenolouge turns the tables on this, because its version of Alcryst is egotistical and looks down upon his brother, whereas Diamant is quite timid.
  • Pizza Tower: Peppino Spaghetti is perpetually and visibly nervous even at the very beginning of the game, reaching peaks of near-screaming panic during any Collapsing Lair segments. The restaurant business is already stressful without having some villain trying to blow yours up with a laser, and the pressure gets to him very badly.

    Visual Novels 
  • Touko Fukawa in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Kazuichi Souda in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. Both are later revealed to have severe bullying issues, abusive parents, and mass-murdering levels of misanthropy.
  • Yuri from Doki Doki Literature Club! It's implied Yuri has some kind of anxiety issues, based on her shyness, her tendency to overthink things and second-guess herself, and her fear of coming off bad socially, in part due to her odd interests. During her Sanity Slippage, she mentions she keeps feeling like something bad is going to happen, even while confessing to the player. Some of the things she describes (loud breathing, pounding heart, etc.) both describe the feelings of obsessive love and an anxiety episode as well. This is one of many factors that could have contributed to her suicide.
  • Hanako of Katawa Shoujo has severe anxiety issues and regularly has panic attacks. Her teacher knows to simply let her run out of class if she needs to.
  • Quite a few characters qualify for this in the Ace Attorney series. Some standout examples include Ron DeLite, who constantly works himself up and can barely finish his sentences a lot of the time, Jinxie Tenma, who is overly paranoid about youkai and sees them just about everywhere she goes, and Simon Keyes, who upon first meeting Edgeworth, nearly faints (though his nervousness is a cover for his nature as a misanthropic puppetmaster).

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Paper Boy has a constant stutter and can't handle confrontation without his voice going up a few octaves.
  • Happy Tree Friends: Flaky. In "Without a Hitch" she got so scared of Flippy killing her, she stabbed him in the eye.
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: Chapter Master Azrael of the Dark Angels qualifies due to sheer paranoia. He can't talk to anyone without belting out accusations left and right, constantly stumbling over his own words as he tries not to spill any secrets, and snapping at everyone that surrounds him from sheer stress. He is constantly on the edge of a screaming nervous breakdown as a result.
  • Corn (Quetzalcoatl) from No Evil. He's a perpetually nervous wreck who has trouble interacting with everyone else and is easily spooked. Kitty is the only one who doesn't spook him.
  • Bulbasaur from Starters. This is especially evident in Lavender Town: The Untold Story, including an instance where he jumped out of a window to escape Hypno, who he thought was dangerous. He was wrong.
  • Calliope Mori, of the English branch of hololive, is very nervous and self-conscious, particularly when doing solo streams or while sober, stemming from a fear of disappointing others. One of the few times she sheds her anxiety is in her music, with her raps showing her at her most confident.

  • Camel in Agents of the Realm because of something that happened between chapters 2.5 and 4.5. She's so freaking out that she at first mistakes Folami's marriage proposal for an attempt to kick her out of Agents.
  • Rick from Basic Instructions is afraid of so many things that, ironically enough, he's lost all fear of fear, and settles for being terrified of everything else. Scott dubs him a "Renaissance coward". At one point he gets promoted and specifies that he kept quiet in the hope that his boss wouldn't realise he was having a panic attack.
    Rick: There are super tasters, who taste more intensely than other people, and super smellers, who smell more intensely than other people. I am a super fearer.
    Scott: I fear for your sanity.
    Rick: Yes, but you're not doing it nearly as well as I would.
  • Zeno from Charby the Vampirate shows himself to be like this shortly after moving into the cabin.
  • Princess Monika of the Quilted Kingdom in Cursed Princess Club. She had been kidnapped as a little girl by an evil wizard and turned into a crow for the duration of her captivity. Even after getting rescued and mostly cured of the curse, she still turns into a crow whenever she gets anxious — which, thanks to the trauma of the kidnapping and her more general Shrinking Violet personality, happens a lot even as a young woman.
  • Mannie Sue in Druid City. Generally anxious about any prevalent subject in her life, including social interaction, relationships, dealing with family grief, and sexual dysfunction.
  • Dies-Horribly in Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes is always on edge. This is justified because most goblins in his clan are named due to prophecy, meaning Meaningful Name is a given.
  • Max from Guardian Ghost, who was already an anxious mess before the series started, and now has to deal with sleep deprivation and stress on top of it.
  • Tirzah from Inhuman Relations does not handle adversity well. Or most anything else, for that matter.
  • One-Punch Man: King is one of the strongest heroes there is, and villains know it. All he has to do is show up and give them a Death Glare and they end up folding, assuming they haven't already done so just by hearing the approaching thuds of the King Engine. He actually has no combat ability whatsoever, his reputation coming entirely from being Saitama's battles. He's in way over his head and knows it, being just as terrified of being found out as he is of getting killed. Even the King Engine is just the reverberations of his panicky heartbeat.
  • Lippie from Out-of-Placers. she's described as having a "near-constant low-level anxious tremble" going on, and even sudden loud noises are enough to make her panic.
  • Sparklecare: Dr. Suffuzz is constantly trembling and stuttering, and always has a distressed look on his face. The reason for this is currently unknown.
  • Siv Västerström from Stand Still, Stay Silent usually gives the distinct impression she's barely holding back the urge to either cry or tear her hair out. Or, sigh meaningfully in frustration.
  • Suzanne from Surprising Octeal is extremely jumpy and skittish and prone to over-analyzing social situations. Notably though, she lacks a lot of the other traits frequently associated with this trope. She's at least decent in conversations, nothing particularly bad happened in her past, and she seems to be almost terminally brave in dangerous situations. She's just really panicky once a conversation gets complicated.
  • Trevor (2020): Terry is the least composed member of the medical team after Trevor’s initial attack, huddling on the floor, screaming that they are all going to die.
  • Zoophobia: Cameron lives in a land of talking animals and other mythical creatures, which wouldn't be a problem if she didn't have diagnosed zoophobia. Her student Jack isn't much better, since he was literally Born Unlucky on account of his uncle.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic is very prone to panic and stressing out over nothing.
  • This Not Always Right post has a woman who fits the description. Her first response to a woman handing her a balloon is to assume she's trying to kill her baby, that the balloon's going to strangle the baby, and tell the manager on her.
  • Anxiety from Jreg's The Mental Illnesses. Justified since, well, he's the Anthropomorphic Personification of an anxiety disorder.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs:
    • The neurotic Dr. Scratchansniff whose interactions with the Warners always lead to him getting utterly frustrated. Like most cartoon psychiatrists, he needs one more than he needs to be one.
    • Buttons, although given his situation, it's perfectly understandable.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?", Edward Nygma's employer Daniel Mockridge fires him when he asks for royalties for the highly successful game he created. This causes Nygma to become the Riddler and seek vengeance. Batman and Robin save Mockridge's life, but the final scene shows it to be a miserable life as he cowers in bed clutching a shotgun, clearly terrified that the Riddler could come back at any moment.
  • Bob's Burgers: Linda's sister Gayle is rather neurotic and sensitive. At least one episode implies she's on anxiety medication of some kind.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: One of the subordinates of Dastardly's squad, Zilly, is a stuttering and trembling mess when there is a mission, so most of the time, and he always tries, in vain, to desert, unless: 1) he is hypnotised, 2) he is emotionally manipulated by Dick to help or 3) there is the promise of a huge reward and his greed outweighs his fear.
  • The animated version of Dilbert's Loud Howard, borrowing a trait from Nervous Ted to make him at least a tad more rounded.
  • Dinosaur Train:
    • Angela Avisaurus is quite skittish about almost everything, and easily startled by the Dinosaur Train's whistle.
    • In her debut, Cindy Cimolestes is constantly stammering and tries to hide from everyone because she's scared that dinosaurs might stomp on her.
  • Let's Go Luna!: Leo is constantly neurotic and fearful of life's scary and messy things.
  • The Mr. Men Show: Mr. Nervous. He frequently lapses into daydreams, sort of blown-out-of-proportion scenarios involving whatever is going on around him at the time. Whether it be a short two-minute ride outside a store or a spider crawling out of his musical instrument. He will then usually flee for his life, screaming and shouting "Oh no no no!" or "This is the end!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Fluttershy has intense social anxiety that frequently manifests as panic attacks and paralyzing nervousness in anything resembling a public situation or in any kind of danger. However, she largely grows past these issues in later seasons.
    • Rainbow Dash normally presents the exact opposite of this. However, in a few cases it's shown that her cocky façade is just that, and when she is no longer able to put up that façade she collapses into a ball of nerves.
  • Over the Garden Wall: Wirt frequently hints at a Dark and Troubled Past, which turns out to consist of typical high school social anxiety.
  • PB&J Otter: Munchy Beaver. Oh man, Munchy Beaver. In one episode, he's just getting over getting the measles. Peanut, Baby Butter, and Jelly find a frog that looks like it has measles, decide to call it Measles and try to give it to him, but he incorrectly thinks that they want to give him the measles. In another episode, when two of his friends are arguing, he declares out loud, "I hate conflict." When he gets very nervous or worried, he tends to eat large amounts of wood.
    Munchy: I'm so nervous. I'm so nervous. I have to go munch some wood.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Candace is this even for "nervous teenager" standards. One song even acknowledges that no other guy but Jeremy could stand her neuroses.
  • Pluto the Pup: The classic short Pluto's Judgement Day has devilish cats presenting Pluto's past victims to a Kangaroo Court in order to convict him to a death sentence. The second witness is a cat prone to manic outbursts whenever a dog barks, caterwauling and demolishing whatever's in reach until his handler can get him under control again.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Sean is anxious pretty much all the time, especially in regard to space travel (which is ironic, since he wants to become an astronaut when he grows up). He shares this trait with his mom Dr. Rafferty.
  • The Replacements: In "The Truth Hurts", the head of the school newspaper who is replaced is a Nervous Wreck who is constantly jittery and gets extremely nervous about the idea of anything being published in the school newspaper that would make things like fruit on the bottom yogurt as opposed to being like plain yogurt, as he likes it.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Filburt gets nervous frequently when thinking of facing people, which often end up with the poor turtle entering his shell, and in the worst of cases, getting a rash.
  • Rugrats: Chuckie and his father Chas. The former seems to be scared of practically everything, while the latter is still mourning the tragic loss of his wife.
  • South Park: Tweek is a big example. He is constantly panicking about just about everything he can think of and has a constant twitch. His parents think he just has ADD and try to medicate it with coffee. Coffee that they have been spiking with meth. He has no idea about that, however.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Mrs. Puff is shown to be rather neurotic, probably the result of too many test drives with SpongeBob.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: "An Embarrassment of Dooplers": The Doopler emissary is extremely paranoid and self-conscious, and is easily sent into a spiral of panic by the thought of being rude or a bad guest. Given that his species involuntarily duplicates when stressed, this is a bit of an issue.
    Freeman: There's no need to feel embarrassed!
    Emissary: Thank you, you're very kind— wait! That's what someone says when there is a reason to be embarrassed!
    Freeman: Okay, I'm just not gonna say anything. We can just be silent.
    Emissary: ... she's giving us the silent treatment! THAT'S EVEN WORSE!"
  • Steven Universe: Rhodonite is a fusion between two different gem types (a Ruby and Pearl) which is forbidden in gem society and as a result, she is constantly frightened, wary of strangers and is frequently prone to nervous fits. Considering that homeworld has robots designed to shatter gems that they occasionally send into the Off-Colors hiding places, her fear is well justified.
  • Stressed Eric: Eric Feeble gets nervous about so many things that they drive the plots in most episodes. He's so neurotic that it causes his death in most episodes.
  • Tom and Jerry: In one cartoon, Spike the bulldog can't sleep because of the titular cat and mouse's antics. Spike blames Tom for this and informs him that he's a nervous wreck and illustrates his point by pulling on his own tongue, which, in zany cartoon fashion, causes his ears to flap up and hit each other. He then orders Tom to keep quiet or he will skin the cat alive. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues as Jerry tries to make as much noise as he can, while Tom struggles to keep things quiet.
  • Transformers: Animated: Skywarp exaggerates this. Here, the Seekers are clones of Starscream, each with one aspect of his personality, and Skywarp has his Dirty Cowardice. Thus, the only emotional and mental state he can process is utter fear. No wonder fans see him as The Woobie.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: Malik cares a bit too much about everything and has a tendency to overthink.
  • The Yum Yums: Goodie Grape Mouse is constantly worried and frequently says "Oh me, oh my!"

    Real Life 
  • Anxiety disorders:
    • Generalized anxiety disorder and its various subtypes/variations.
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is, contrary to stereotypes of it as just a general need for order, a form of this. Sufferers deal with disturbing intrusive thoughts that turn them into this trope, with the compulsions being rituals that provide a temporary sense of relief.
    • Some people with PTSD are this to some measure. Because of their trauma, they are constantly "on guard" and wary of something bad happening to them. Additionally, they may be easily startled and have a Hair-Trigger Temper. Most PTSD isn't like this all the time, which is why it's so jarring to observers when an external stimulus causes the sufferer to re-experience the trauma. Lack of understanding of this condition is why Vietnam veterans had such trouble reintegrating into civilian life — even their own families feared the unpredictable and extreme reactions. Due to combat training, veterans' defense mechanisms under this duress can be more dangerous than civilians'.
    • Abused children have the same issues/responses as veterans.
  • Captive cheetahs can end up suffering from severe anxiety if they are kept alone. For this reason, lonely cheetahs in zoos are often raised with a dog, who provides the cheetah with emotional support. This is because cheetahs are very frail and poor fighters and live in an environment full of tougher and more numerous predators, and in captivity, they can't put their nervous energy into hunting.


Hime Shirayuki

Hime's first school experience is less than stellar.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

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Main / NewTransferStudent

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