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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.

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.


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    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 in handling the task on 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.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Zenitsu is a capable guy when he find 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...
  • 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 heaing 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.
  • 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.

    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 breath.

    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 to 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.
  • Night of the Vent: A Tale of Weirdness: Poor Nolan.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 consisting on watching how his protagonists are cracking up under pressure. Although De Funès had to tone it down after his heart attack in 1974.
  • 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 film version of 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 pessimistics 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.
  • The Bursar from the Discworld books. 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).
  • 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 to Eleven.
  • 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 effect 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.
  • 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 resolves her "uncertainty of the book"—which are 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 as 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.
  • 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 despite the fact that she's high-strung to the point of being completely nuts.
  • 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.
  • 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 which refers to being a nervous wreck. "West Coast Smoker".
  • "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.

  • 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 

    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 off 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 inclue 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.
  • Flaky from Happy Tree Friends. Taken Up to Eleven in "Without a Hitch" where 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 chapter 2.5 and 4.5. She's so freaking out 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.
  • 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.
  • Dr. Riley Zinc from A Loonatic's Tale.
  • Jack Delitt from Newheimburg has this issue in spades.
  • 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.
  • Cameron from Zoophobia is providing the page picture. She 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 
  • Edward Borman in The Mercury Men. Justified, given the situation he's in.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • The Earl of Lemongrab from Adventure Time. Whether his character and situation are hilarious, or terribly depressing, is debatable.
  • 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, its perfectly understandable.
  • Mr. Deetz on Beetlejuice, due to some flanderization from the movie.
    Howard: Dogs make me nervous. Crowds make me nervous. Being nervous makes me nervous!
  • 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.
  • Double D in Ed, Edd n Eddy, mostly caused by the fact he has to deal with his best friends' antics.
  • Scared Stiff is one of Prime Evil's primary minions Filmation's Ghostbusters, and one who true to his name is nervous of both ally and enemy. Ironically, he was the very first enemy introduced, attacking the ghostbusters with a bandwagon and cackling maniacally, until Kong Sr. put a stop it (both the wagon and the cackle) and he realised he was not unbeatable at which point he came down to be a stiff punching-bag for ol'Prime Awful.
  • PJ on Goof Troop. He's very uptight, panicky, pessimistic, fearful, and will often be shown trembling or freezing with anxiety. Considering that his father thinks the proper way to raise him is to insult and belittle him and to dominate him through intimidation and power, this is understandable. He gets significantly better by the end of the second movie.
  • In Harley Quinn (2019), we get to see what Commissioner Gordon would really be like if he had to spend years dealing with supervillains tearing up Gotham.
  • Hey Arnold!: What Olga Pataki actually is. Underneath her "perfect girl" façade there's a girl who has next to no self-worth and is severely stifled under her parents's super-high expectations of her, and who breaks down in tears at the mere thought of failing at something.
  • Stumpy from Kaeloo is completely neurotic.
  • Mr. Nervous from The Mr. Men Show. 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, frequently.
    • 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.
    • Twilight Sparkle in "Lesson Zero" and "It's About Time".
    • Rarity in "Suited for Success" and the Bad Future of "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils".
  • Wirt from Over the Garden Wall. He frequently hints at a Dark and Troubled Past, which turns out to consist of typical high school social anxiety.
  • Munchy Beaver from PB&J Otter. 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.
  • Jitters A. Dog from Raw Toonage and Bonkers.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Sean is anxious pretty much all the time, especially in regards 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.
  • In the episode "The Truth Hurts" from The Replacements, 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.
  • Filburt from Rocko's Modern Life 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.
  • Chuckie and his father Chas in Rugrats. The former seems to be scared of practically everything, while the latter is still mourning the tragic loss of his wife.
  • Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are usually this.
  • Tweek from South Park 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 Square Pants: Mrs. Puff is shown to be rather neurotic, probably the result of too many test drives with SpongeBob.
  • 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.
  • In one Tom and Jerry 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.
  • Skywarp of Transformers Animated 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.
  • In 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 sub types/variations.
    • 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 aren'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.


Video Example(s):



He has a perpetually worried expression on his face and is prone to screaming. Granted, being responsible for the safety of the multiverse can be a stressful job.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / NervousWreck

Media sources:

Main / NervousWreck