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Stepford Snarker

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Mr. Green: Who would want to kill the cook?
Ms. Scarlet: Dinner wasn't that bad.
Colonel Mustard: How can you make jokes at a time like this?!
Ms. Scarlet: It's my defense mechanism!

The fraternal twin of the Stepford Smiler. The Stepford Snarker has intense feelings of sadness, anger, numbness, loneliness, or other negative emotions, but, for whatever reason, wants to hide these feelings from the people around them. Whereas the Stepford Smiler hides these feelings by acting sweet and happy, the Snarker hides them by being snide and sarcastic. They often put on an outward appearance of being very jaded and bitter (though some may maintain a brighter disposition when in a better mood, snarking only when upset), and make sarcastic comments about everything and everybody, but those that are able to break their shell find that they're actually deeply hurt. If they're able to heal, they'll not necessarily stop being sarcastic — it may just be a part of their personality — but they'll hopefully find a way to express their feelings to their loved ones, rather than solely hiding them with their quips.

In addition, they may be an example of The Snark Knight, but don't always have to be. While the Snark Knight is antisocial and sarcastic because of discontent with their surroundings, the Stepford Snarker doesn't have to be anti-social. They could have many friends and even an optimistic view of the world itself, so long as they still hide their bad moods with snark. A staple of the Jerkass Woobie and frequently seen in Goths. Closely related to Sugar-and-Ice Personality, Tsundere, Broken Bird, and Defrosting Ice Queen, all of whom might use this sort of snark as a way of masking their inner sweetness. Compare/contrast Sad Clown, who is less rude and more ridiculous. Compare Hidden Heart of Gold (which emphasises hidden kindness rather than brokenness) and Sour Outside, Sad Inside (which is crueller on the outside). If the negative emotion is embarrassment and they're under 18, they're also an Easily Embarrassed Youngster, while a Stepford Snarker mentor figure might be a Mentor in Sour Armor.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Ryuuken Ishida comes across as grim, bitter, sarcastic, and hypercritical although there are hints that he's actually a gentle, protective person underneath it all. Then, the final arc visits the past in flashback and it reveals that he really was a very open, gentle, protective person until a series of circumstances ruined his Quincy future, doomed his adopted cousin, and, worst of all, culminated in the loss of his wife. The people responsible are still at large (and pose a serious threat to his son Uryuu, the only surviving member of his family) and the story all but confirms he's a Heartbroken Badass. The man's still incredibly protective, but he's learned the hard way to hide it.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Edward Elric is incredibly sarcastic, especially in the English dub of the first anime while occasionally showing a cocky grin. Though, when you learn of his past, all the burdens he carries in the present, and his tendency to use Heroic Self-Deprecation on himself despite the good he's done one can safely assume he uses it as a defense mechanism.
    • Ed's mentor, Roy Mustang, has similar traits, particularly in the 2003 anime. A man haunted by grief and regret, loathing himself for going along with monstrous orders at least as much as he hates the ones who actually gave them, and driven by loyalty to the few he deems to deserve it, he puts on a facade as kind of an asshole whose sense of humour is desert-dry.
  • Shinji Ikari, of Neon Genesis Evangelion's manga adaptation. Whereas anime Shinji deals with this crippling self-esteem and abandonment issues with passivity and avolition, manga Shinji is a sharp-tongued cynic with a violent temper. However, despite being better at hiding it, Shinji's issues are arguably even worse in the manga adaptation.
  • Yuu Yanase from Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi. The guy is already a troll to a certain extent and an Ineffectual Loner but he has shown signs of being one as time goes on. Given that your feelings are constantly ignored or laughed at by your best friend who is already taken by your Yandere rival is enough to be depressed, but given that your friend has become more of a jerk as a result of dating said rival is enough would want to make you even more snarky. And given that his last appearance has him break down for being rejected a second time physically and emotionally one can only tell if he becomes a full-blown one.
  • Tiger & Bunny makes no qualms about the fact that, under the Tall, Dark, and Snarky Ice King persona, Barnaby Brooks Jr. has some serious issues.

    Comic Books 
  • Depending on the Writer, Deadpool comes across like this, using his sense of humor to cope with his past trauma at Weapon X, as well as his own failings as a person.
  • Lupo from Minimonsters acts like this when he's not sleeping or eating whatever he sees. He is a werewolf who has to take care of his younger siblings instead of playing with his friends, as his family is (probably) the poorest one in Villa Susto. As a result, he is incredibly sarcastic to everyone, even his own friends. The main target of his snark is his filthy rich vampire "friend" Victor Von Piro. No explanation needed.
  • Spider-Man, Depending on the Writer. He uses his quippy brand of sarcasm to hide the fact he's usually pretty scared, self-doubting, and carries around a massive Guilt Complex.
  • Whirl in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is, deep down, a bitter and regretful person whose mistakes weigh on him like chains - most notably the time he indirectly started a war that cost billions of lives. There's a layer over that consisting of an abrasive Jerkass who goes out of his way to piss off everyone he's ever met, bombarding them with snide remarks and personal insults. And over that, he's a Death Seeker and Blood Knight.
    Whirl: (being held at gunpoint) I seriously doubt you have what it takes to see this through, but if you have, then please just skip to the end and kill us.
    Rung: Whirl! What is wrong with you?!
    Whirl: You tell me - That's your job, isn't it?

    Fan Works 
  • Mercury Black in The Black Hearts displays that his Deadpan Snarker status on RWBY started as a way to comment on his abusive household. His father and mother both abused him and his father constantly abused his mother. He was trained to be an assassin against his will and had to do some terrible things. The way he narrates the story contains his sarcastic comments about his rough life. By the time his story begins, it's clear that he's been dealing with it for so long that he's gotten tired of angsting about it. In CRME after Cinder finds him, he talks about his parents in a sarcastic manner while clearly showing the mental scars he endured. He even admits that this is his coping mechanism when speaking with Dr. Watts.
    "Most of my life has been pain and cruelty. After a while, you just get tired of crying about it."
  • Child of the Storm has canonical examples like most of the Avengers and Harry Dresden, but also Harry Potter (later known as Harry Thorson), who's already got an often darkly sarcastic sense of humour that belies his youth to begin with from canon, thanks to what he's been through already - the story picking up early in Prisoner of Azkaban. As the trials he goes through get worse, so does the sarcasm.
    • Carol Danvers is another particular example, being described in the sequel as having developed a spiky outer shell of sarcasm to deal with sexual harassment, having her trust abused, and a psychologically abusive Jerkass of a father. Underneath, she's actually quite sweet, but it takes time and trust (in Harry) for her to open up.
  • In Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations, Mitsuzane is often written as this combining with Stepford Smiler in spades. His reason to throw a lot of snarks even if it doesn't even make sense to snark at all. Once you learn about his past, Mitsuzane has been struggling to get over it, to the point he becomes insecure of himself and no longer reforms connections with his former friends in Zawame, considering the grave sins he had committed during his betrayal against Kouta.

    Films — Animation 
  • From Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope Von Schweetz fits this to a T. Years of being forbidden from racing in her game due to her forced status as a glitch reduced her to a snarky shell. Her budding friendship with the title character eventually revealed her Hidden Depths.
  • Zootopia: Nick Wilde snarks constantly as a conman, but it slowly becomes clear that it's a defense mechanism to deal with discrimination against foxes.
    Nick: I learned two things that day. One: I was never gonna let anyone see that they got to me.
    Judy: And... two?
    Nick: If the world's only gonna see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there's no point in trying to be anything else.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Rick from Casablanca comes off as an uncaring wiseass, but we soon learn he's covering up deep pain over being exiled from his home country, fighting on the losing side in two wars, and losing the love of his life.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers has quite a lot of snarkers, most of whom are garden variety Deadpan Snarkers, but Tony Stark and Bruce Banner specifically fit this trope because their sarcasm is respectively a defense mechanism and a way of maintaining self-control. This is particularly evident after Agent Coulson gets killed, and Tony snarks about how stupid he was to face Loki alone but is clearly using it to cover up his own grief. Given that Tony's own films show his life to be something of a mess, with quite a lot of moral emptiness (before he decides to become a superhero), alcoholism, and relationship issues (continuing after he becomes a superhero) he counts as this trope in all his films.
    • By Thor: The Dark World, Loki is this. A few unguarded moments show that he actually still does care (at least about Frigga, though possibly about Thor and his former friends too) but he spends most of his time among other people, especially the Asgardians, snarking at them to cover up both this and his pain that they now (at least seem to) hate him.
    • Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy may seem like a jerk, but it turns out he only acts tough and sarcastic to hide his anger over being the only one of his kind who can talk.
  • Almost every line Lane Leonard has in the movie Snow Day is pretty much either a sarcastic insult towards Hal's plan to win over Claire, or her just pointing out how dumb his plan is. However, she's really just insulting him because she's a bit bitter that he's not in love with her like she is with him.
  • Sgt. Craig from The Victors may come off as rough around the edges, but he hides his pain and weariness behind such an exterior.

  • Marco from Animorphs gets like this from time to time. He explicitly states several times that he is choosing to see things that upset or scare him as funny because he has no interest in the alternative.
  • Kilgore Trout in Breakfast of Champions (and in several of Kurt Vonnegut's other novels, such as his brief appearance in Slaughterhouse-Five). Trout's sarcasm and cynicism mask his despair over his own life and the state of the world.
  • Bernadette in Dragon and Damsel. After her parents die in a car crash, she feels numbed and pained, and one of her main reactions to this is to snark about pretty much everything.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden, the eponymous First-Person Smartass, is a horrendously emotionally damaged person - orphan, psychologically abused by his first foster father who tried to mentally enslave him (and succeeded in enslaving Dresden's foster-sister/first love, Elaine) and who he had to kill in single combat at the age of 16 (he spends years believing that he'd killed Elaine too), is nearly executed by the White Council for breaking one of their Laws of Magic in ignorant self-defence... and that's just the start. His habit of taking the hard road in pursuit of doing the right thing doesn't help. As a result, he's a Motor Mouth Deadpan Snarker and Pop-Cultured Badass who uses snark to cover up his mental scars with varying degrees of success. He's entirely aware of this, refers to himself as a 'disciple of the Tao of Peter Parker' and compares himself to Charlie Brown trying to kick the football despite knowing it'll be whipped away from him, because it's who he is and what he does.
    • Thomas Raith, White Court Vampire, best friend and half-brother of Dresden, and despite being a very literal Chick Magnet, has it even worse than Dresden in many ways (something Dresden explicitly remarks upon) and is every bit as sarcastic. This tendency is revealed to its fullest extent when he narrates Backup, one of the longer short stories.
  • In Eleanor & Park, Eleanor hides her pain and trauma with sarcasm.
  • Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. Not until the end of the book, after knowing him for years, does Scarlett realize how much she's hurt him with her constant rejections because his sole form of communication is snide comments and wisecracks.
  • Heroics: Cass, who hides her backstory behind sarcasm.
  • Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices, uses wit and sarcasm as a defense mechanism to deal with the fact that he's supposedly "cursed" and whoever loves him will die. Which is a pretty understandable reaction to a situation like this.
  • Udinaas from the Malazan Book of the Fallen. He starts out as a mild version as he's considerably happy with his life as a slave, but when things go really bad he tries to hide his hurt, desperation, and loneliness behind increasing bouts of 'The Reasons All Of You Suck, Myself Included'-speeches and snide remarks.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Percy is a pretty good example of this from the start, responding to loneliness, ridicule, and abuse with an unchildlike level of cynical humor. And that's before he becomes a war veteran twice over.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tyrion Lannister is a deformed dwarf who is widely hated for his infirmities. He develops into a brutally Deadpan Snarker as a coping mechanism, which, as he admits himself, only makes things worse.
    • His brother Jamie is another good example, possibly even more so since his surface-level jadedness means most readers don't even realize how damaged he is inside until he becomes a POV character in book three.
  • Nora Irving of Stuck has a sharp wit in general, but becomes outright spiteful at times when she gets irritated or sad.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Detective Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine-Nine outright admits in one episode that he makes smartass quips in large part because he's "not comfortable with emotions". The fact that his Disappeared Dad abandoned him at an early age also helps, as does his (apparently) unrequited crush on his partner.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander is the living embodiment of this trope. He grew up in a family of alcoholics, was bullied in high school, and is forced to always deal with the burden of being the only one out of his friends without powers, in a town full of monsters of all kinds. Naturally, he responds to all this with sarcasm and self-deprecating jokes to cover up his bitterness and deep insecurity. Xander's defensive mechanism is made incredibly obvious in stressful situations such as the time leading up to his untimely canceled wedding with Anya and when he had to make a living in his parents' basement paying rent while his friends went off to college. It's lampshaded in this argument:
      Xander: Oh, okay! So you had to do it. Because he was there. Like Mt. Everest. Like the way I used to be. (...) So this is your solution to our problems? I hurt you, you hit me back. Very mature.
      Anya: No, the mature solution is for you to spend your whole life telling stupid, pointless jokes so that no one will notice you are just a scared, insecure little boy!
    • Buffy is also this to a slightly lesser extent. She utilizes sarcastic quips and makes light of things less to be funny and more as a reflection of her low self-esteem and deep insecurities about herself. This is made particularly apparent on matters such as her love life and her life in general, such as her difficulty finding a balance between saving the world and a normal life.
      Anya: The house. See, this house ... just sitting here, doing nothing, by itself, costs money.
      Dawn: So what do we do?
      Buffy: (deadpan) Easy. We burn the house to the ground and collect the insurance. Plus, fire? Pretty.
      (Everyone stares at her)
      Buffy: You guys, I'm kidding, okay? It's-it's bills, it's money. It's pieces of paper sent by bureaucrats that we've never even met. It's not like it's the end of the world. (beat) Which is too bad, y'know. 'Cause that I'm really good at.
    • Faith. To the extreme. Also with shades of Stepford Smiler. Being a product of a Dark and Troubled Past, Faith hid all her unhappiness and self-loathing behind a tough-ass attitude and bad girl snark. Faith's bottling of her own demons got so bad she finally exploded and went on a killing spree, only magnifying her defense mechanism (she hated herself even more while evil, but hid it behind cruelty). Eventually after redemption by Angel, she becomes more at peace with herself but still keeps up the snarky smokescreens—to a less psychotic degree, of course.
      Faith: When you gonna learn, B? It doesn't matter what kind of vibe you get off a person. 'Cause nine times out of then, the face they're showing you is not the real one.
      Buffy: I guess you know a lot about that.
    • Spike. He acts really cocky and snarky, belittling everybody and everything, but as the series goes on it's becomes obvious all the bravado and smartassery is just a cover-up of his insecurities and lack of purpose.
  • Charité at War: Orderly and veteran Martin has lost a leg to World War II and a boyfriend to the concentration camp and copes by snarking at every new horror his regime or the war come up with. He's got softer moments, but he really has to like someone to show that.
  • Jeff on Community has been accused several times of hiding his feelings by being a wise-ass. This may be due to the fact that he spent several years as a lawyer, where keeping things to oneself is a professional necessity. It's also due in no small part to his misery at being forced to attend a crappy community college. He has himself on occasion admitted to it, and being in the study group has softened him a little, as shown in later episodes. Still doesn't stop him snarking when he's in a bad mood or feeling insecure, though.
  • Dawson's Creek: The self-proclaimed 'Black Sheep' of his family riddled with insecurities and Daddy Issues, Pacey most qualifies as this. He has a very sardonic, self-aware view of the world and himself. Lampshaded by Joey.
    Joey: You know Pacey. I mean, if he can't come up with a clever quip about something, he goes stoic.
  • Ellie on Degrassi: The Next Generation is introduced as a wry goth girl who frequently makes biting, sarcastic comments. After a while, it is revealed that she is deeply depressed.
  • Doctor Who:
    • When the Ninth Doctor — or really any incarnation of them — gets snarky about humanity, it's often a sign that he's very upset and trying hard not to show it. Rose even lampshades this in "The Doctor Dances".
      Rose: Cuts himself shaving, does half an hour on life forms he's cleverer than.
    • River Song. "Oh, I hate you." is usually in force when she's very worried or upset.
  • Friends:
    • Chandler could be a poster child for this trope. He openly admits to using sarcasm to hide the deep insecurity that developed due to his rather unusual and traumatic childhood. His snarking also grows noticeably worse during painful situations such as Ross and Rachel's break up, his parents visiting or friends leaving. When he falls in love with Monica, the fact he isn't as sarcastic with her is a telling indicator of how secure he feels and how she builds his confidence.
      Chandler: Hmm, what must it be like not to be crippled by fear and self-loathing? (laughs)
    • Monica whenever her critical, emotionally abusive Jerkass of a mother is around.
      Judy: Oh we don't mind paying for our son's wedding in England. After all, it might be the only wedding we get to throw...
      Monica: Ah, a joke that's funny in all countries.
  • Santana from Glee has always been ruthlessly snarky - even cruel. Turns out she was hiding bitterness and loneliness due to being in love with Brittany and unable to come to terms with it. Even now while her friends are trying to be supportive and get her to open up, she's still as prickly as ever.
  • Built into the premise of Go On. It's a sitcom about a support group, so naturally, there'd be plenty of these in the cast, including the main character.
  • Goth: Goth girl Daisy and Jerkass Woobie Shelby from Higher Ground often use sarcasm as a defense mechanism. Ezra could qualify as one, but he's probably better described as a Sad Clown.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has John Munch, Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire. In one episode, he is directly asked, "Do you always deflect personal questions with jokes?" His immediate response is "Do you always deflect jokes with personal questions?", which, being somewhat less impressive than his usual quips, suggests that did actually get to him. Given the fact that he's spent most of his career dealing with brutal murders and horrible sex crimes, it's not all that surprising that he needs some sort of defence mechanism.
  • Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle does this to hide his insecurity and loneliness over his Dysfunctional Family, the fact that his only peers are sheltered rich nerds who don't understand how poor peoples' lives work and the fact that almost everyone else ostracizes him for being smart. In his words, "I pretend it doesn't bother me and then lash out at people who don't deserve it."
  • M*A*S*H: Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce is hardly ever without a snarky line, even when flirting with the nurses (at which point they generally take the form of Double Entendres). In his case, it's his way of coping with the horrors of war, and generally, when he's not snarking, it means things have taken an especially grave turn.
  • C.C. Babcock on The Nanny is a snobby Blue Blood businesswoman constantly looking down upon almost everyone. Though as the series goes on, she's shown to be a very depressed and lonely woman who struggles to come to terms with the fact that Maxwell Sheffield isn't romantically interested in her.
  • Nashville: Juliette Barnes doesn't spare anyone the snark and occasional jerk part of her Jerk with a Heart of Gold personality. However, she was brought up by a seriously damaged mother solo, developed a tough shell to get through her personal and professional life, is difficult to work with, has a truly heroic capacity for the demon drink, and did not take well to motherhood ("Gimme the damn baby!") to the extent of having to go into rehab. She also has a psychotic break towards a fan taking pictures of her, attacking her in a rage.
  • Parks and Recreation: April becomes one of these after she first tells her boyfriend Andy, in an uncharacteristic (for her) moment of emotional availability, that she loves him, and he's caught so off-guard that the best response he can manage is to say "Dude! Shut up! That is awesomesauce!" Later on, talking to the camera, a visibly angry but very deadpan April flatly insists that there's no problem, then smiles brightly and says "I awesomesauce Andy!"
  • Dr. Cox from Scrubs: Partly it's because he's more desensitized to the hospital environment than the young staff he works with. The rest is because, as his therapist tells him, he has a personality that craves any kind of attention, positive or negative.
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Serenity Now" reveals that Jerry is this to the point of being completely out of touch with his own emotions. When the Girl of the Week implies that he's emotionally blocked and tells him that she'd like to see him get angry once in a while, he successfully learns to feel and express anger only to have her break up with him for being too explosive. His experience of genuine heartbreak over this prompts the realization that he unbottled all the other emotions along with the anger. And the cork is put firmly back in the bottle when he gets George to unburden his own feelings to him, causing him to realize the true depths of George's twistedness: "I think you scared me straight." Before this point, he believes that he doesn't express his feelings because he simply doesn't have them.
    Patty: You shouldn't have to try. It's just being open.
    Jerry: I'm open. There's just nothing in there.
  • Naomi from Skins outright admitted that she "learned how to be a sarcastic bitch" as a way to hide her feelings for Emily.
  • Smallville: Tess Mercer is a Broken Bird with a history of Abusive Parents, Parental Abandonment, and Orphanage of Fear, and it only gets worse during her tenure on the show. By later seasons it's obvious that, while Deadpan Snarker is her default setting, she tends to fall into irony defensively whenever someone gets too close to figuring out how badly she's broken.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Garak is both a Stepford Smiler and a Stepford Snarker. He's always amiable, cheerful, engaging, and polite... and also very sarcastic. Strip away the Stepford Smiler routine and what's left is the Stepford Snarker routine. Then he suffers a life-threatening breakdown that reveals the truth: his exile is absolute agony for him. He's lonely, desolate, full of self-loathing from the contempt he receives off the station's Bajorans and even the station itself is torture for him to live on (human norms are too bright and cold for Cardassian physiology). After he recovers from his breakdown, he returns to his amiable, cheerful, sarcastic disposition but every so often episodes will revisit just how much pain and loneliness he continues to hide as a result of his exile.
    • Ezri Dax makes a lot of sarcastic comments and uses Self-Deprecating Humor to cover her anxiety. It's implied she did this before her joining.
  • Supernatural:
    • Gabriel fits this trope - he's a sarcastic smart-arse full of mockery and cynicism, and with a superficially-upbeat demeanour... but it turns out that he knows that his brothers are destined to kill each other and destroy the Earth and that there's nothing he can do about it, and it's tearing him apart. Hence his running away and hiding on Earth.
    • This trope also applies pretty effectively to Dean Winchester. Dean makes with the witty remarks to cover up his major self-esteem issues. Demon!John emotionally tortures him in "Devil's Plan" with the knowledge that he acts tough and snarks a lot but is really using it as ammo to mask up "all that nasty pain".
  • Torchwood: Dr. Owen Harper is a Jerkass, constantly snarking and putting others down. Later episodes show the brutal reasons why he feels the need to keep his emotions hidden away.
  • Veronica Mars: In her sophomore year, she is ridiculed, outcasted, and raped after the death of her best friend. Junior year, she makes quips. She falls deeper and deeper into this as the series progresses (this is a Crapsack World, after all), but has grown out of much of the underlying hurt beneath her shell in the nine-year time skip to the movie. At that point, she is less a Snark Knight, and more a regular Deadpan Snarker.
  • Josh Lyman on The West Wing manages to be both this and a Stepford Smiler, going back and forth between the two and doing it well enough that it takes six months for anyone to realize that he has PTSD after being nearly fatally shot. Toby Ziegler fits the trope as well, albeit in a more mild fashion. He's more of a Knight in Sour Armor, his sardonic cynicism belying a deeply idealistic worldview, but is to some extent rooted in frustrations with his personal life. His divorce from a wife he's still very in love with is probably at the top of that list.
  • On Will & Grace Will's mother Marilyn (Blythe Danner) fits this trope to a T. Stone-cold, waspish, brutally vindictive, and...a little racist. She's nowhere near as put-together as she tries to appear: she's still yet to completely come to terms with her favorite son's sexual orientation, is likely suffering from alcoholism, and tries very hard to pretend not to care about her husband's affair. The racism is just a result of her sheltered upbringing, though.

  • Peter Steele of Type O Negative was an interesting example. The group's lyrics and his personality in interviews suggested that he was sarcastic for comic effect, though it was apparent later on that he really did have issues with insecurity, perfectionism, and depression. It first manifested itself notably on the production of the album World Coming Down (after several of his relatives died), but was especially apparent after his involuntary admission in 2005 to a psychiatric hospital by his sisters. When he died in 2010, many were surprised it wasn't suicide.

  • Douglas Richardson of Cabin Pressure uses blistering sarcasm to distract people from the loss of his position at Air England, his three failed marriages, and his alcoholism. It works.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Zia is often cheerfully sarcastic, but it's mostly a front for the years of depression she's suffered after her father committed suicide. This becomes more prominent in stressful situations, where she'll make wisecracks to hide her tension.
    • Rose has spent her life without any parental guidance and has a general disinterest in the world, and shows it through being snide and sarcastic.

  • Joanne from Company could be an example, depending on the interpretation. She is a snarky, abrasive alcoholic who has been divorced twice. Her current husband, Larry, says that she is "wildly conceited" with "no self-esteem", and that she still is unable to believe that he loves her and continues to be fascinated by her. Her song, The Ladies Who Lunch, starts as her critique of rich middle-aged women who wile away their lives with meaningless activities but turns into a scathing description of her own directionless life.
  • J.D. from Heathers, when we first meet him, comes off as a clever, charming, sarcastic outsider with a rather dark sense of humor. All of this is genuinely true. However, he's also coping with an abusive drunk for a father, is still in pain from his mother's suicide many years earlier, and has no friends since he moves around so much. Oh, and he's also batshit insane.
  • Former anarchist Larry Slade in The Iceman Cometh - he affects an attitude sarcastic and cynical detachment to cover up the pain of his own personal life and the pity he feels for all of the lost, wasted lives around him. The barkeep Harry Hope has aspects of this as well - he makes sarcastic insults towards his regulars to make it look like he's a shrewd, tough-minded businessman, when both he and everyone else knows that he's just a pitiful, doddering old drunk.
  • Elphaba from Wicked fits this. She is incredibly lonely, having being brought up by an emotionally abusive father and forced to care for her wheelchair-bound sister, but when she is bullied for the colour of her skin she doesn't act upset and just snarks at them. At the Ozdust Ballroom, Glinda sees through her act and tells Fiyero that Elphaba is bothered by the other students' cruelty.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age:
    • Morrigan, resident Lady of Black Magic from Dragon Age: Origins, who uses the facade of a sultry ice queen to hide her extreme awkwardness from being raised in an isolated environment by a Humanoid Abomination.
    • A conversation during Act II of Dragon Age II with Aveline can have her explicitly refer to a sarcastic Hawke as a mix of this and a Sad Clown. This is due to Hawke's loneliness after the events of the game cause them to lose most of their family, either to death or the Circle/Templars/Wardens, leaving them nearly all alone in their family's big fancy estate.
  • Squall Leonhart in Final Fantasy VIII. Incredibly surly and standoffish, largely because losing so many of his loved ones early in his life makes him afraid of getting too close to other people.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Michael in Grand Theft Auto V is a full-blown Stepford Snarker. He resorts to sarcasm towards everyone when they piss him off or if he is not in a good mood. The reason behind his snarky attitude is due to his complete disillusion with his life from having a wife that cheats on him, a Spoiled Brat of a daughter, and a lazy, dimwitted, pot-smoking Basement-Dweller of a son. At one point, Trevor gives Michael grief for the constant snarking, causing Michael to snap and scream about how much crap he has gone through, and that sarcasm is the only thing he can rely on.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Gannayev of Mask of the Betrayer has a thing for throwing around snark and wordplay in order to avoid things he's uncomfortable talking about — usually himself. Kaelyn can see through it instantly, as Gann discovers when he unwisely asks just how she sees him.
    Kaelyn: You toss about words like a wind around you, in the hopes that their speed and flurry will deflect questions and prevent you from being seen for what you are. You are hurt, Gannayev-of-Dreams. And that pain drives you to hurt others, for you have been taught that that is the wheel that turns the world.

    Visual Novels 
  • Archer in Fate/stay night. It's clear early on that he's got some issues, but Tohsaka is actually bothered when he stops being Stepford-like about it even before he Face Heel Turns.
  • Lux-Pain:
    • Shinji talks to everyone in a very snarky manner. While he's always getting yelled at or even beaten by constantly saying what he thinks, he manages to tell Atsuki why he prefers to be a Jerkass than be a kind person that he is capable of. Wanting to be a surgeon was his dream but the idea of getting someone killed and being held responsible has made him put a wall between people to avoid someone from asking about his issues. He was also neglected by his parents.
    • Hibiki has similar problems as Shinji but he combines being a Stepford Snarker with Stepford Smiler. To everyone, Hibiki is "polite" but his personality ends up getting him isolated so the only friend he does have is one he's very snarky toward. Given that Ryo is so dense, almost all the insults and compliments go over his head.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Ange Ushiromiya is a very troubled person, having been in a strained relationship with her aunt Eva who took her in after the deaths of the rest of the family on Rokkenjima, but she hides most of her issues behind an indifferent, snarky facade.

  • Susan of El Goonish Shive presents herself as snarky and aloof (although she does defrost a bit over time). However, the audience discovers that she's a bit of a mess under that sarcastic shell. The first formative moment we see is her walking in on her father having sex with a woman who wasn't her mother, and then demanding that she lie about it. While this left her with some issues with men, it wasn't as damaging as the time she was manipulated into killing a monster that was once human and still looked the part.
  • In Homestuck: Dave, though that'd be more like Not So Stoic. Dave uses irony and jokes to hide his emotions.
  • Vero from M9 Girls! hides her loneliness with a strong attitude and caustic remarks.

    Web Original 
  • Kirito in Sword Art Online Abridged. In the first two episodes, he was a pure Heroic Comedic Sociopath. The death of the girl he was opening up to in episode 3 made him decide to double down on that attitude, but at the same time it messed him up to the point that he finds himself unable to be as uncaring as he pretends to be. Of special note is episode 8, when he tries making a Bond One-Liner after Corvatz is killed by Gleam Eyes to cover up how shaken up he is.
  • Regent in Worm. He's generally snarky, sarcastic, and irreverent to everyone around him, and spends most of his time taking the piss out of his teammates. It's a mask. He's severely emotionally damaged due to a childhood full of Mind Rape and is almost totally unable to discern or experience any strong emotions. It's noted at one point that Regent doesn't get angry- he responds to aggression by making every interaction just that much more snarky and toxic. It's implied that being a snarker was essentially the only form of resistance he could display in a home where any disobedience was met with agonizing punishment. There's a statue made in homage to him late in the story. It depicts two masks- the Comedy Mask of Theater, and an expressionless mask behind it.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The series finale reveals Azula to be this through the rest of season 3. She loves to snark and quip; but then season 3 plays out and we see a sad, lonely woman who can't make friends normally and holds a lot of anger and jealousy against her brother who not only got their mother's attention; but at the end of the series got everything Azula ever truly wanted.
  • Given what kind of parents she has, Sam Manson of Danny Phantom can easily be considered this. Her open contempt for anything popular and mainstream and her constant putting down of popular girls like Paulina are easily interpretable as misdirected anger at her hyper-conformist parents, especially given her somewhat frequent slips into complaining about her parents when she goes on a rant.
  • Daria, in later seasons of her show, becomes even more acerbic and sharp-tongued as she faces more real-life adolescent challenges, such as dating, insecurity over her appearance, and uncertainty about her future.
    Helen: Daria, the easiest thing in the world for you is being honest about what you observe.
    Daria: And?
    Helen: What's hard for you is being honest about your wishes. About the way you think things should be, not the way they are. You gloss over it with a cynical joke and nobody finds out what you really believe in.
    Daria: Aha. So my evil plan is working.
  • Eddy of Ed, Edd n Eddy. He seems confident and manly while snarking all the while (especially around Ed), but it's shown that it's was all a mask to hide the inferiority complex he got from his brother's abuse. A mask he made in the naive belief that he would be popular if he acted like he did.
  • PJ on Goof Troop switches between this and The Eeyore. He will give snide criticisms to a lot of his best friend, Max's Zany Schemes, particularly when he thinks he'll have to suffer for them. However, when in this mode, he only snarks defensively, mainly when he's being dragged into doing something or given inadequate respect or sympathy, and is otherwise very friendly.
  • Helga in Hey Arnold! uses a facade that contains heaps of snark and jerkassery in order to cover up for her troubled upbringing, self-hatred, and love for Arnold.
  • Kaeloo: It's heavily implied that this is the case for Mr. Cat, who is rude, cynical, and sarcastic. It's been shown that his behavior might actually be because of deeply rooted psychological issues and an inferiority complex, as well as several traumatic past experiences and living with an abusive family prior to the show's events.
  • Bugs Bunny turned into this for The Looney Tunes Show as he has been Surrounded by Idiots (and has to live with the biggest one of them, also known as Daffy). A (Latin American) promo referred to him as having more insulting jokes than common sense.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Season 8's The Maud Couple reveals Limestone Pie is one. Despite her salty and sour exterior, she confesses to being miserable all the time and she is very envious that Maud has a boyfriend. The implications seem to hint that her rough edges hide a desire to be in a relationship with someone who could understand her.
  • Rick from Rick and Morty is aggressively this.
    Bird Person: Morty. Do you know what "Wubalubadubdub" means?
    Morty: That's just Rick's stupid, nonsense catchphrase.
    Bird Person: It is not nonsense at all. In my people's tongue, it means, "I am in great pain. Please help me."
    Morty: Well, I got news for ya. He's saying it ironically.
    Bird Person: No, Morty. Your grandfather is indeed in very deep pain. That is why he must numb himself.
    Morty: Cmon', Bird Person. Rick's not that complicated. He's just a huge asshole.
  • Lance from Sym-Bionic Titan has a Dark and Troubled Past, mainly pertaining to his Disappeared Dad. At the start of the show, he's this often acting very moody and only seeming to be concerned with his duties. He does get a bit more cheerful and open as the show goes on though.
  • Raven of Teen Titans. On the surface, she's a stoic snarker. Beneath the surface, she's a lonely and fearful girl with Daddy Issues.

    Real Life 
  • Insult comedian Lisa Lampanelli gave a speech where she related her experience going to a "fat camp" to lose weight. The other attendants criticized her for making jokes about the process, accusing her of using humor as a defense mechanism to distance herself from treatment. Offended, Lampanelli was preparing to leave when she discovered that her ex-boyfriend had just died of diabetes, so she stayed in and presumably cracked less wise.
  • There's a whole bit on Patton Oswalt's My Weakness Is Strong album about how much he'd grown to depend on cynicism and sarcasm as a defense mechanism, and how he had to suddenly abandon that when, after he voiced the main character of Ratatouille, he found himself on all sorts of children's programming being interviewed by actual children. Suddenly he had to be sincere, and he hated it because his crutch was gone.
  • In fact, a lot of stand-up comedians fall under this trope. Some of the most famous comedians use their stand-up as a way of coping with pain and insecurity.
  • Robert F. Kennedy had a legendary reputation as a smart-ass thanks to his bitingly sarcastic and irreverent sense of humor. He supposedly developed it to cope with a lack of self-confidence — he was extremely intimidated by the responsibilities of being Attorney General so early in his career — and the immense amount of grief and despair he felt after the assassination of his older brother.