The Straw Nihilist (also known as the Straw Pessimist) is an extreme version of The Cynic and a specific type of The Philosopher who delivers Despair Speeches and Breaks People by Talking about Life, The Universe, and Everything (or at least how meaningless it is to fight for any of them), often Chewing the Scenery about how the hero/audience lives on an Insignificant Little Blue Planet and morality never existed in the first place. Often Above Good and Evil, due to the Straw Nihilist's Armor Piercing Questions about "What Is Evil?".
The basis for the Straw Nihilist is usually extreme scientific empirical materialism: we're all nothing but matter and energy and eventually the universe is going to die as if we never existed, so what's the point in trying to hope and fantasize in a world full of suffering and destruction where morality is dictated by force? Your consciousness is merely an electrochemical reaction inside a dying chemical reactor called the brain which, out of animalistic instincts to protect itself from pain, creates the illusion of meaning and significance in a reality that has none. Good, evil, morality, and thought are nothing but illusions, with no absolute standard in the universe by which to prove their absolute existence as immutable physical laws?
These are one of the inhabitants of the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Their ability to play existential mind games and force the audience into ethical dilemmas make them a popular sage in the Ontological Mystery genre, Existential Horror, and amoral Crapsack Worlds such as the Cosmic Horror Story. Sometimes they serve as Mr. Exposition, sometimes they do have a justifiable point in their ramblings while other times, everything they say is a Fauxlosophic Narration or even a Red Herring, or they're a mix of all of them. But if done badly, they can end up looking like a gratuitous scene of Wangst, making people only get puzzled on why they haven't been Driven to Suicide yet.
The Straw Nihilist's behavior is often expected to be like that of The Hedonist or The Sociopath, since, if he doesn't subscribe to morality, he has no restraint in pursuing his instinctual desires. Hedonism can serve as a justification on why he has not killed himself yet, because he's having too much fun (even though this contradicts their message of life being worthless). In more straightforward Science Fiction and Fantasy stories, they are usually Chaotic Evil villains who are always preaching hate and plotting destruction, and can get really over the top in their behavior. They also often use No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Being Good Sucks and Go Mad from the Revelation as Freudian Excuses on why they have a nihilistic outlook on life.
We use "Straw" as part of the title because it's a stereotype that rarely applies to real nihilists. Note that nihilism in its simplest form is the belief that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.note However, the conclusion that life has no meaning does NOT automatically cause someone to commit suicide or go insane. Indeed, most philosophers who specialise in the subject are rather well-adjusted instead of the self-harming and/or psychotic types often portrayed in fiction, and it is possible for one can have a nihilistic outlook on the world at large, and still adhere to personal moral values. See The Anti-Nihilist for examples of such subversions.
Hollywood Atheist is a similar stereotype leveled against any people who don't believe in God or religion, assuming that they are all nihilistic (and by this trope, therefore amoral) by default. Compare the Übermensch, The Social Darwinist, and The Fatalist. Contrast The Anti-Nihilist, who also thinks life has no inherent meaning yet reaches inverse conclusions about morality and the value of life. See also The Unfettered — what they end up as because of their dedication to their philosophy — and Virtue Is Weakness, who believes that morality is a flaw rather than pointless (though some villains believe both).
- Baccano!'s Huey Laforet used to be one of these back in 1705. In a bit of jest, Ironic Light Orchestra refers to his misanthropic internal monologues as "surprisingly normal thoughts for a fourteen-year-old."
- The Big O: Schwarzwald rants about the insignificance of the human race in a world without a past. He gloats about how only he knows what a cosmic fraud we all live in. Even after he dies, he still manages to show up and narrate all the real big Mind Screw episodes. It turns out that he was right. Everyone is living in a holographic play.
- Black Cat:
- Creed's whole goal is to cleanse the world of weak people that don't have superpowers and rule the remaining people as King with Train as his Queen- Er, partner.
- Leon Elliot. "The good people... the naive people... they die first." Leon is one bleak-minded little jerk, stemming from a history of very grim life experiences. He's not quite Creed yet, but he's getting there.
- Black Clover has Zenon Zogratis of the Spade Kingdom's Dark Triad. After a devil in his childhood forced him to kill his best friend in order to defeat it, Zenon came to believe that emotions and determination are meaningless without overwhelming power to back them up. He rather viciously forces this belief on his opponents, whom he seldom bothers finishing off in the belief that they can never become strong enough to defeat him.
- Black Lagoon:
- Revy is a genuine nihilist in that she denies the existence of meaning, at least academically. For practical purposes, however, she'll preach the virtues of money and guns over God and love, since this is what she has been able to rely on in her life. She initially has great difficulty dealing with Rock's idealism, threatening to kill him if he ever moralizes to her again. Revy herself elaborates that "nothing's worse than being treated like some whore by your companions", but in later chapters, it is suggested by one character that she attacks idealists because their ideology contradicts her assertion that the world is a terrible place.
- By the end of the (anime) series, Rock himself confesses to be a nihilist, just with a positive attitude where the Straw Nihilist is characterized by its decidedly negative attitude, here speaking of saving an innocent girl's life:
Rock: It's not an obligation. And it's got nothing to do with justice. The only reason I wanna do it is because it's my hobby.
- In the same conversation, Balalaika reveals herself to be one of these as well, to absolutely no one's surprise.
Balalaika: In the grand scheme of things, our lives are meaningless. They're light as air...like a candy wrapper.
- Ulquiorra Cifer is a personification of this way of thinking. Throughout the series, he is outspoken in his belief that the bonds and emotions of humans are meaningless, and that nothing can come of their struggling. This philosophy becomes the center of his conflicts with both Kurosaki Ichigo and Inoue Orihime. His character poem in the twenty-second tankobon of the series is themed on the belief that the world and all things living on it are without significance. Also, when Barragan identifies the "ways of death" over which each member of the Espada govern, it is revealed that Ulquiorra is the avatar of nihilism. He subverts this trope with his final epiphany in chapters 353 and 354.
- Sosuke Aizen is also this to a lesser extent. He justifies his depraved actions with his belief that morals and ethics are futile and ultimately nothing more than restrictions to one's full potential. Unlike most examples, Aizen believes that meaning can be brought to the world... it just has to be a world ruled by him.
- Diva from Blood+ wants to turn every human on earth into Chiropterans (monstrous vampires), because humans treat her as nothing more than a monster.
- Buso Renkin: Due to his terrible childhood, Chouno concluded that humans were nothing but hypocrites and phonies and developed a hatred of humanity in general. This hatred, alongside his terminal illness, was a reason why he wanted to leave humanity behind to become a superhuman homunculus. His character development eventually leads to him give up his hatred, however.
- Code Geass: Charles zi Britannia conceals this characteristic under the façade of Social Darwinism alongside his wife, Marianne (they later attempt to reunite the dead with the living and satisfy everyone who's ever existed by destroying the will of humanity; it didn't work).
- Cowboy Bebop: Vicious is a slightly less over the top and more realistic version of this trope than many, being a nihilistic, ruthless, sociopathic Yakuza who holds that there is nothing in this world to believe in. Vincent, the Big Bad from Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door, also fits.
- Genkaku from Deadman Wonderland believes that he's saving people by killing them.
- Death Parade:
- Ginti thinks that all Humans Are Morons who pointlessly seek meaning in their lives, only to be crushed under the weight of the true meaninglessness of the world. He criticizes Decim for trying to understand people better. After meeting Mayu, it seems like the story is setting her up to be his Morality Pet, but that becomes subverted when he isn't satisfied with her answers to his questions about whether her life had any purpose or not and sends her to "hell" for no other reason.
- Tatsumi in episodes 8 and 9 reveals himself to be this as his Story Arc unfolds. After the death of his wife, he becomes a Vigilante Man, seeking out his wife's murderer and killing him. He then becomes "shockingly dispassionate", using his job as a detective to find other people committing crimes so that he can watch them do so to justify murdering them. He has no faith in the justice system and doesn't value human life, adopting an extremely cynical, self-serving philosophy that takes The Needs of the Many to its darkest extreme. His convictions about human disposability are so strong that he hardly even cares that he was killed for the sake of someone's revenge. He spends most of episode 9 monologuing and nearly bragging about his beliefs, shutting up someone who tries to challenge him by saying that they're just using flowery language.
Tatsumi: It's only obvious that the world is a cruel place. If you can't change the world, you have to change yourself!
- The Wolf (Mitsuki and Rei) from Doubt believes that the world is full of dirty liars who deserve to die.
- Ergo Proxy: Dark Messiah Raul Creed becomes this as he loses his sanity over the course of the show.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- Kimblee, and to a certain extent Dante, from the first anime, although Dante really just uses it to justify her own abhorrent selfishness. In Kimblee's case, he doesn't even make an exception for himself; all life is worthless, including himself, and everything is allowed because there are no worthy standards.
- Manga Kimblee is more or less the opposite of his anime portrayal, being an Affably Evil Social Darwinist Blood Knight who believes that people are always capable of surprising you and greatly appreciates strong convictions. The Straw Nihilist of the manga would probably be Pride, who believes everything and everyone who is not himself or Father is pointless. He is eventually defeated by Kimblee after the latter becomes disgusted by his lack of convictions.
- Full Metal Panic!:
- To an extent, Sousuke (at least before he meets Kaname). Especially noticeable during TSR, after he thinks that Kaname is dead and starts going on a very Straw Nihilist-ish rant, saying that humans are just meatbags that die.
- Gauron is a Straw Nihilist as well, albeit less emotionless and more gleefully psychotic.
- Shadow from Gate Keepers is another Straw Nihilist, who's in league with the bad guys because he's disgusted with humanity's evils.
- Takasugi Shinsuke had once fought to drive the Amanto aliens out of Japan, but after his side lost, he grew to believe that Japanese society, having been corrupted by alien influence, needed to be utterly destroyed. Now he lives to destroy. Everything.
- Utsuro puts Takasugi to shame. Having grown desensitized after repeatedly dying for well over 500 years, he now seeks to end his own life by any means necessary, even if he has to destroy the Earth and the rest of the universe to do it.
- Rau Le Creuset, the chief antagonist in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. He sees that everything that happens in the Cosmic Era timeline as just another advancement in the ways that man will subjugate and kill one another. It sends him into Omnicidal Maniac territory. However…
- Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny:
- …SEED Destiny posthumously reveals Rau to be a Subversion in that his argument is not that there isn't a point to life or that goodness doesn't matter. In fact, he feels humanity could do real good if they wanted to – they just don't.
- Chairman Durandal and Rey Za Burrell are interesting variants of this. They're both convinced the world is a cold, terrible place, but are terrified of ending up like Rau. Instead, they become a pair of Well Intentioned Extremists, out to inject meaning into the world no matter what the cost.
- At the end of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Full Frontal is revealed to be this sort of person. He shows Banagher a vision of "the end of time", where there exists nothing but a blank void. He uses this to say that nothing anyone does really matters in the long run, and that hope and possibility are meaningless because it will all inevitably end up in this blackness. He also points to the aftermath of the Axis Shock, where the entire Earth Sphere was bathed in Newtype light and felt "the warmth of the human heart"... and yet went right back to their old, squabbling ways as soon as that light faded.
- In Inuyasha, Bankotsu does not remember anything between his death and resurrection. He thinks this means there is no afterlife, and thus he can do whatever he feels like, which means killing people, since people don't get punished or rewarded for what they do.
- Musashi from Karakuridouji Ultimo has a moment of this trope, responding to Yamato's search for a point with "Facts are all there is. Looking for a point is pointless."
- The Yagami-esque Villain Protagonist of Lost+Brain finds all of humanity worthless, until he discovers control through hypnotism. One year later, he's gotten a good portion of the school under his control and successfully engineers the death of a member of government; however the biseinen inspector who introduced him to hypnotism in the first place is already on to him.
- The Big Bad of Madlax, Friday Monday, is a Mad Artist who believes in "the Truth": that humans are just mindless animals who, if left unchecked, would start slaughtering each other out of basic violent compulsion. His belief is compounded by his possession of the so-called "Words of Truth": a kind of a Brown Note that removes all moral restrictions from any person who hears them, while simultaneously exacerbating their petty enmities to a full-on murderous intent. Monday interprets this as homo homini lupus and plans to unleash the Words on the entire humanity to bring it back to its "natural state", but is ultimately proven wrong by Madlax, a Professional Killer who demonstrates that there is a pretty clear line between hating another person and wanting them dead.
- Magic Knight Rayearth: Debonair believes that the world of Cephiro without its Pillar is doomed to fall, and that suits her just fine, as the survivors' continued despair grants her power.
- Johan Liebert from Monster likes to create these but isn't really one himself as he does believe in something bigger. Unfortunately, what Johan believes in is evil.
- Naruto has Madara Uchiha (both the real and fake one) deciding that the ninja world will constantly be stuck in war unless everyone is trapped in the Infinite Tusuyomi, scoffing at the idea that humanity will ever understand each other enough to stop fighting on their own. The fake Madara is ultimately convinced of the real world's value over an illusionary one, while the real one winds up an Unwitting Pawn for his Dragon with an Agenda.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi has the Lifemaker, the Big Bad that Nagi faced off against. Nagi's response: "SHUT THE HELL UP!"
- Fate has also shown these tendencies; claiming that everyone are just soulless puppets, etc. Although he has a basis for this belief, as the Magic World, along with its native inhabitants, may have been created by Fate's master. Tsukuyomi was amused by the fact that despite supposedly holding these beliefs, Fate later on starts to experience human qualities like attraction and opinion, unbefitting of a lifeless soldier for a cause he may or may not believe in. The fact that she takes a nearly patronizing stance towards him after finding this out probably makes Tsukuyomi herself the best example in the series. She does believes that life is meaningless aside from the small joys that can be grasped (in her case, causing bloodshed). One of her lines summarizes her worldview:
- Yue Ayase felt that the world was without meaning following the death of her grandfather, who happened to be a philosopher. Luckily, she got better when she befriended Nodoka, Haruna, and Konoka.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion's Shinji Ikari is often described as this trope, even more so in the manga, where he explicitly stated that he had zero ambition or purpose in life. In his childhood, when a class assignment asked them what they would want to be in the future, Shinji simply relied that it doesn't matter and he isn't interested in wanting to become anything, which angered the teacher and scolded him to take his life seriously. In The Movie The End of Evangelion he becomes an outright Omnicidal Maniac by declaring to Rei that "Nobody understands me, therefore everyone must die" thus initiating Instrumentality. Eventually however, he comes to the realisation that despite all of life's pain, it is still worth living, causing him to reject Instrumentality.
- Averted with Shigeru Aoba. Word of God has it that he's a Nihilist, but he's still shown to be easy-going and generally a decent person.
- Gendo Ikari is so like his son Shinji. In fact, his motivation is a result of his absolute grief and sorrow for Yui's death, and that he has no independent will to live and doesn't find any meaning in life. Ironically, Yui herself is an Anti-Nihilist.
- One Piece: Ohm constantly laments about the pointlessness of life and seeks to "save" people from suffering and desire by ending their lives.
- Surprisingly, there is an example of this in Pokémon: The Series with Jupiter, one of Team Galactic's high commands. When Looker explains to her that Cyrus's plan would destroy all reality, including her, she sports a crazy smile and admits that's just fine with her.
- Rokudo Mukuro from Reborn! (2004) is very jaded like this. Which makes it all the funnier that he actually ends up being one of Tsuna's guardians.
- Nozomu Itoshiki from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is a parody of the Large Ham version who constantly rants about Despair. When his name is written horizontally it resembles zetsubō (絶望?, "beyond hope" or "despair"), befitting his extremely negative, paranoid and pessimistic attitude. He often shouts "I'm in despair!" and attempts suicide several times. It needed Kafuka, a girl who can only see the positive in life, to complement him and talk him out of suicide. On other occasions, Nozomu challenges his students to think about the negative aspects of something usually considered positive.
- It's worth noting that there's a great deal less reverence or seriousness than this description implies, however. Kafuka's optimism is later revealed to be the result a minor brain defect that gives her dangerously high levels of serotonin, and most of the time Nozomu turns out to have been attention-seeking or being dramatic for the sake of it instead of genuinely suicidal.
- Soul Eater has a resident Mad Scientist, Franken Stein, who had apparently been one of these for a while — we even got a flashback of Stein telling Spirit "God is dead." It is up for debate if he got better, as Spirit did seem to renew some faith in the human race, but...
- The Anti-Spirals from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann look like a race of these at first with their obsession to impose absolute despair in all Spiral Energy-utilizing races until one realizes that in the end they reveal themselves to be Well Intentioned Extremists who thinks that the Spiral races' reproduction, hopefulness, and over-ambitiousness will eventually destroy the universe, hence why they want to crush all the Spirals' hopes. So, their brand of straw-nihilism is more like extreme Malthusianism.
- Series Big Bad Knives is disgusted by humanity, and feels that the best thing for the universe is for him to exterminate the whole lot before they can spread.
- Knives' Dragon Legato Bluesummers is one. Legato follows Knives because he believes whole-heartedly in Knives' cause. He absolutely detests humanity and finds it to be a waste. He believes human existence to be so pointless that when killing several slavers and saving their slaves, he's actually surprised that he did it; add in the fact that he's stark, raving mad, welcomes the day his boss will kill him and that he actually forces Vash to kill him as a final middle finger and way of breaking Vash, and you've got yourself one of the more terrifying villains you're bound to meet in anime.
- YuYu Hakusho: Sensui, the rogue Spirit Detective. He went on to use the Chapter Black to turn the people that would become his team into Amorally-Nihilistic people as well.
- The graphic novel The Killing Joke, which provides the page image, created the characterization of the Joker as a Straw Nihilist who will do anything to prove to Batman that life is one big joke and that the only sensible response to it is to give into the madness. Deep down, he is outright disgusted with humanity and his murderous behaviour — as well as his suicidal recklessness — are violent acts of protest and despair at the world and not purely For the Evulz, with his battle with Batman being an ideological one over who is correct. In Batman: No Man's Land, he once again attempts to prove himself right by plotting to murder newborns on New Year's just so that he could destroy the already fragile spirit of Gotham's citizens and give the entire city one bad day. Although his dialogue to the babies indicated he thought he was doing them a favor, sparing them from life's cruelties and promising it would be painless. He changes his mind due to the intervention of Gordon's wife, and the whole affair becomes one of the few times he stops smiling.
- Mr. Zsasz becomes a serial killer after having an epiphany that all life is meaningless; that people are nothing more than purposeless "zombies", and killing them is the only way to liberate them from their emptiness (this may be a reference to Real Life Serial Killer Carl Panzram, who described himself as "the man who goes around doing good" because he thought he was doing people a favor by killing them).
- Batman Beyond introduces Joker King, the self-proclaimed successor of the Joker (in reality, he's the sociopathic younger brother of Dana and has idolized the Joker since childhood). However, he claims that the Joker, for all his nihilism, didn't go far enough and still cared about two things: his fights with Batman, and being remembered as a symbol of chaos. Joker King, on the other hand, couldn't care less about anything at all, because in his view, because no matter how hard you try to preserve your legacy, the universe will eventually end and nothing whatsoever matters. All he wants is to kill as many people as possible, preferably including his own family, then die himself. He achieves this by organizing an enormous riot with Jokerz-members from all over the country, killing thousands of people and leaving Gotham in ruins. He dies falling off a building while fighting Terry.
- Lampshaded in The DCU where nihilist Kid Amazo (whose intro features him talking to a Nietzsche bust that talks back to him, just to give you an idea that this is a guy with the combined powers of the Justice League and is completely off his rocker) is preparing to fight the League after a Face–Heel Turn and begins a Straw Nihilist speech to the bust. The bust points out that Kid Amazo is doing things that go against what Nietzsche believed. It's promptly smashed.
- When written by certain writers, The Punisher is occasionally interpreted as this, most notably in The Punisher MAX.
- In Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, an alternate universe version of Deadpool (later called Dreadpool), is tortured into further insanity by Psycho-Man. Dreadpool concludes that since everyone in the Marvel Universe is merely a fictional character created for the amusement of the readers and writers, their existences are meaningless and the only thing to do is kill them all.
- A God Somewhere: This is a possible interpretation of Eric, the main character, who, when confronted about raping his sister-in-law and crippling his brother, says "Wrong is just a word people made up. It has nothing to do with the real world." shortly before breaking out of prison and killing dozens of people for no reason. Near the end of the story, in the wake of his demise, a subculture of people who look up to Eric has apparently developed, and some of them can be seen hanging out on a street corner, where their response to something an old man angrily says to them is "Wrong is just a word people made up, bitch!"
- Grimjack: Uncle Jack. As a Fey he can see into the future and knows how he will die. Not only that it's hinted he has observed the ending of the entire Multiverse. A young Grimjack asks why he doesn't change anything if he knows so much. He responds by saying that "nothing we do matters, not in the long run. Nothing we achieve or destroy matters. Love, friendship, family, honor, wisdom, knowledge, power—none of it really matters, because none of it lasts. It's all mortal, every endeavor, every accomplishment. Even our Gods become food for worms. Some day even the worms will end, and there shall be nothing." It explains why he's still living with his brother's family mooching off and hardly working or doing anything for that matter. He also drinks a lot to forget how he will die. Eventually his older brother finds out he slept with his first wife and smashes his face repeatedly on the stone fireplace, one eye popping out, his jaw splitting open falling on the floor.
- Judge Dredd: Judge Death has come to the conclusion that since only the living commit crimes, life itself is a crime. Therefore, he now seeks to kill everyone. His philosophy was in part inspired by his Depraved Dentist father's insane loathing for people in general and his habit of murdering his clients. His son became a judge precisely so he could apply his nihilistic obsession with punishing the sinful by executing them on the flimsiest pretexts.
- Persepolis: One of the members of Marjane's circle of friends during her teenage years in Vienna was Momo, a punk boy who constantly exhorted philosophical gibberish about how life was meaningless and death the answer. Marjane frequently called him out on how stupid this attitude was, having experienced actual suffering up close.
- Carnage from Spider-Man doesn't believe in order and morality, and kills people for fun.
- Stormwatch: The villain of Warren Ellis's first issue, Father, is a Nietzsche-obsessed superhuman murderer created by a neo-Nazi Evilutionary Biologist who trapped him in a mountain for having several flaws, such as being insane. Upon escaping, he proceeds to kill every person he encounters while quoting butchered Nietzsche at them, and sometimes at their corpses. This is apparently his entire plan. In his mind, he is the Übermensch, and is "bringing joy to the ordinary man by dint of his existence — by destroying them".
- In the Marvel Universe, the "Mad Titan" Thanos usually pulls this archetype off with a spectacular amount of wit and style.
- In Wanted, the Big Bad Mr. Rictus was originally a devout Christian before he suffered a terrible accident, briefly died on the operating table, and saw nothing on the other side. He then decided that life itself was meaningless and abandoned all his morals so he could satisfy every sadistic whim he ever had and just commit murder and other atrocities on a daily basis since there would be no ultimate punishment for his sins in death. Getting horrifically disfigured in the process of that aforementioned accident probably didn't help.
- Watchmen is brimming over with this trope.
- The Comedian wants to be this, having concluded that life is a joke, and the only sane response to cruelty and suffering is to laugh. But he stumbles across a diabolical plot so monstrous that he can't laugh it off, resulting in a Villainous BSoD that gets him killed when he blurts out what he knows in a room bugged by the Big Bad.
- Dr. Manhattan fits this trope. His nonlinear view of time convinces him that his own actions are predestined and he is powerless to change the course of events. His godlike perception of reality leaves him unable to see the lives of individual humans as significant. As a result, despite being the most powerful man on the planet he just does whatever the government orders him to, because life is so devoid of meaning he can't see why it matters. Later he gets better, and comes to value each human life as unique and precious because of its unlikelihood.
- "Chapter VI: The Abyss Gazes Also" skirts around this trope. The focus character, a psychiatrist trying to interview Rorschach, finds himself falling deeper and deeper into nihilism with each session. He hits rock bottom, declaring that man is just a successful virus on a ball of dirt, but he gets better towards the end, when he re-encounters his estranged wife, having decided that helping people is all we have. The chapter title is taken from a Nietzsche quote that appears in full at chapter's end.
- Finally, we have the Big Bad, who only pretends to be this trope. In truth, Ozymandias can't bring himself to view the annihilation of humanity with indifference, and feels compelled to avert the apocalypse even if he has to murder millions of people to do it. In the end, only Dr. Manhattan is in a position to judge him, and in typically detached fashion, he declines to do so.
Dr. Manhattan: But yes, I understand, without condemning or condoning. Human affairs cannot be my concern.
- TAO from the WildStorm Universe. As mentioned in Ed Brubaker's Sleeper: "The Tactical Augmented Organism (TAO) looked at life and saw Chaos and Order. Humanity's denial of Chaos appalled him. So he would tear it all down and fill the world with chaos, if only to watch mankind cling to their illusions as they burned around them."
- The Killer: The protagonist justifies his own life as a contract killer to the reader by pointing to past atrocities and other injustices in the world, reasoning that him taking out a few lives here and there won't make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
- Wolverine's Evil Counterpart Sabretooth is a sadistic, unrepentant, bestial mass–murderer with superpowers who does not consider himself a "mutant", "post-human" or anything. He considers himself a monster, plain and simple. Men have always been killers, and mutants are simply more powerful killers.
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- In a strip, Calvin says, "The problem with people is that they don't look at the big picture. Eventually, we're each going to die, our species will go extinct, the Sun will explode, and the Universe will collapse. Existence isn't only temporary, it's pointless! We're all doomed, and worse, nothing matters!" He's using this as an excuse to not do his homework.
- Hobbes can usually be counted on to issue a retort to these grumblings:
- Rat in Pearls Before Swine. He constantly sees the worst in others and looks at life as hopeless since the world will end. He was even able to get Pig and Zebra into his "End-o'-the-world" box, where they just get drunk out of beer-drinking hats.
- Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Ghidorah has shades of this, viewing all other life as temporary and worthless. According to Word of God, it's rooted in Ghidorah's own realization during its Slowly Slipping Into Evil in its Backstory that asking why it was the victim of such tragedy and what the point of its Reluctant Psycho programming was were pointless because there was no higher reason for it.
- San-2 (the left head): we tried at first tried to find meaning in their screams tried to find meaning in yours there was nothing to find [...] that is the meaning we found it is nothing there is no meaning we conquered we hunted we killed every world was mindless the ones who made us screamed when we killed them nothing left all gone lives wasted honors meaningless
- Merrilay from Bad Future Crusaders believes that all emotions and notions like good and evil don't have any meaning because of how easily they can be manipulated via Brainwashing spells, because she was conceived while Big Macintosh and Cheerilee were under the effects of the love poison in "Hearts and Hooves Day."
- In The Bridge, the Big Bad Bagan believes life is a fleeting, meaningless mistake and that death is the only thing worth anything. He seeks to "correct" the mistake by exterminating all life in the universe to free all souls from the "prison" of mortal flesh.
- Danganronpa: Paradise Lost: Junpei Ichikawa is introduced ranting about cruel actions occurring in the world and outright saying that he doesn't believe that there is any goodness in there. He doesn't get any better from there, with him being dismissive of more idealistic viewpoints, openly betting on a Total Party Kill, and co-hosting the Killing Game with Momiji Akamatsu, fully expecting to be killed and thus have his cynical view of humanity justified.
- In Diamond in the Rough (Touhou), Mokou is portrayed as an example of this trope. Since she's immortal, all life lost its meaning to her and does anything to stave off her boredom, from guiding lost people in the forest to incinerating fields. She accidentally killed lots of children whom Yuuka was hiding but decided that they would be replaced in nine months.
- In Harmony Theory, villain Max Cash gives a rant claiming that everyone in the whole world, including him, are just puppets controlled by higher powers, meaning nothing they choose matters.
- The Immortal Game: Terra would appear to qualify — she believes that the only thing that matters in life is survival, and that things like friendship and compassion are pointless.
- Immortality Syndrome turns its sufferers into this in The Powerpuff Girls Dark Fic of the same name and its sequels. It's Who Wants to Live Forever? caused by coming back wrong and remembering how you died — and what came after.
- A Mighty Demon Slayer Grooms Some Ponies has Wind Whistler increasingly approaching this over time. She eventually decides that all morality is absurd and without base, and the only thing worth doing is to follow her own desires, which happen to be turning Ponyland into a militant, multiverse-conquering empire.
- Pony POV Series:
- Entropy is this. It makes sense because she is literally the Anthropomorphic Personification of nothingness and the end of the universe. While she understands concepts like love and feels them, she says it doesn't matter because everything eventually ends. Ironically, this philosophy still enables her to have standards—as several characters point out, being the embodiment of the end of all things also makes her the end of suffering. As such, she is disgusted by beings who like to torment others in perpetuity. This is subverted in the sense that this is only one 'face' of her as a consequence of being one of the pillars of reality, other faces while still having some degree of nihilism, lean more towards The Anti-Nihilist. In general Entropy does care, it's just Blue-and-Orange Morality. Her Maud Pie face lacks nihilism entirely.
- During the Day of Chaos, Discord turned Button Mash into one after tricking him into playing a cursed video game where no action or choice he made mattered, everything he did led to his character dying and the world being destroyed. Since Button's life revolves around video games, he then applied it to real life as well, saying things like the sky is an illusion to hide the fact the universe is already dead. He eventually snapped out of it thanks to the love of his mother.
- Diamond Tiara becomes this after becoming a Nightmare, when she concludes that choices don't matter.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness depicts Hokuto Kaneshiro as one; he outright states that, human or monster, life itself is evil and meaningless, and wants to resurrect Alucard so he can put an end to it all.
Hokuto: You see, I've seen some truly horrible things in life, Moka. You'd be surprised how similar humans and monsters really are. How they both claim they desire peace, yet both destroy everything around them. How they both claim they can love, yet they both hurt and attack everything different. You see, it doesn't matter if you are human or a monster, a life is a life. And all lives are trash. All lives are a waste. Everything that lives only wants to live for the sake of living, and will step on anything to get its wish. Monsters, humans, they all claw at any vain attempt to live on, both killing anything that seems different or strange in fear of its own existence. There is no difference, Moka. All life is evil.
- Tsali the Ultimate Weapon from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is one of these until The Reveal in Episode 74. He decides that all morality and compassion is meaningless to him; only revenge has any meaning for him.
- Soul Eater: Troubled Souls:
- Cancer Lucrenian is disgusted with the world and her whole motive is to complete Project Omega so it can destroy it. She sees the world as self-destructive and full of lies, discrimination, and injustice. She wants nothing more than to create a new world without these flaws and, especially, one without hope.
Cancer: So naïve to the ways of the world, so full of optimism and hope. I, however, have seen the world for how it truly is. Despair is the only truth in this world of lies and hypocrisy. This world is not worth the dirt we walk upon. Unless it is destroyed and remade properly, it will remain that way, a diseased mire, and everyone – humans, witches, and other creatures alike – shall continue to dance like court jesters to its incomprehensible whims. If you live long enough, you shall see it sooner or later, even if I must be the one to teach you that.
- Walena Devilana. She holds the view "The world has neither justice, god, nor order" and sneers that "It's all nothing but wretched extravagance."
- Cancer Lucrenian is disgusted with the world and her whole motive is to complete Project Omega so it can destroy it. She sees the world as self-destructive and full of lies, discrimination, and injustice. She wants nothing more than to create a new world without these flaws and, especially, one without hope.
- Time Break Saga: Nu becomes this during the events of the second story, Silver Linings. After Ragna sacrifices himself at the end of BlazBlue: Central Fiction, she questions what the point of anything is if Ragna doesn't exist anymore. Lambda inspires her to move beyond this and instead keep living to carry on Ragna's memory, ensuring that he will never be truly forgotten.
- Tod Barringer in The Hunger Games fanfic An Unsung Song: The Tale of the 405th Hunger Games.
- Played with in The War of the Worlds fanfic When The Stars Turn To Ashes The character Byron Parris talks like this character type (and the high-minded protagonist dislikes him for it) but is also something of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- In chapter 44 of the Yu-Gi-Oh! story Yu-Gi-Oh! Soul of Silicon, the heroes contend with an Archfiend of Gilfer, who calls himself a Lord of Nothingness, gives several speeches about how life is meaningless, and tries to convert others to Nihilism. Part of the reason he is a nihilist is because the card Archfiend of Gilfer has to die to use its effect. His attitude is reflected in his Clear Deck, in which his cards benefit from the absence of Attributes, high scores, and cards in the hand and punish the opponent for having these. After Ren defeats him, Ren points out that in trying to spread Nihilism, the message that life has no purpose, he has given himself a purpose. Archfiend of Gilfer has a massive Freak Out over this Logic Bomb.
- Shinji shows these tendencies in Doing It Right This Time, perhaps understandably after all the crap he went through the first time round. Lampshaded with some annoyance by Asuka, who has actually read some Nietzsche:
Asuka: If you must take up nihilism then at least do it properly instead of the pop-culture version. If nothing matters, why not make the best of it and try to be happy?
- The Infinite Loops: This is a real and serious disorder that loopers can suffer, referred to as "Sakura Syndrome" after Sakura Haruno (who was a real bad case for a while, but has since gotten better). They become convinced that absolutely nothing matters, and that they can do anything to anyone at any time without any consequences. The worst part is that they've got a point. The multiverse has been stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop for a very, very long time, so doing anything to non-loopers will be quickly solved by the next reset, and harming loopers can seem unimportant since they'll come back too (the difference is that they'll remember). There are a number of other mental problems caused by looping (split personalities caused by inconsistent loops, obsession with maintaining the timeline at any cost, etc.), but Sakura Syndrome is considered the most dangerous to both the afflicted and those around them.
- The "Satan" sequence in The Adventures of Mark Twain (adapted from Twain's novella The Mysterious Stranger) is one of the most frightening and disturbing examples, where an "angel" with a White Mask of Doom for a face tells Tom Sawyer and his friends that their lives are as meaningless as those of the civilization of clay figurines he created and destroyed on a whim.
Satan: Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists, save empty space and you. And you... are but a thought.
- Owlman becomes one in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths after he finds out that every time anyone makes any kind of choice, it creates multiple parallel universes: one where they choose Option A, one where they choose Option B, etc. This causes him to decide that free will doesn't exist and all choices are meaningless. Except one: He decides to destroy the entire multiverse by blowing up Earth Prime, simply because he sees it as the one and only real, meaningful choice anyone could possibly make. This actually takes a rather interesting twist in the final battle between Batman and Owlman. Batman ties Owlman up to his own bomb and sends both to another Earth that is completely frozen over and devoid of life. Owlman manages to untie himself with enough time to abort the bomb's countdown and save himself, but instead he just smiles and says, "It doesn't matter," letting the bomb explode and kill him. Which in fact is no twist at all but only highlighting the conflict between Owlman and Batman. Owlman only chose to let himself die because he knew that another Owlman would choose to save himself. However, the movie only shows the one who lets himself die and does not show the one who saves himself. Does this make every choice meaningless or make every choice meaningful?
- The Lion King (2019): Hakuna Matata is interpreted this way in the movie. There is no "circle of life" or anything beyond the here and now, only a "line of meaningless indifference". Nothing really matters beyond living comfortably and choosing your own happiness over any meaningful purpose. Timon and Pumbaa abandon this attitude when they follow Simba to save the Pride Lands.
- Lotso in Toy Story 3 feels that toys are "just trash waiting to be thrown away!"
- Professor Screweyes from We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story. In a deleted scene, he claims that he believes that the world is senseless and cruel because, when he was a kid, a crow pecked his eye out, and he dedicated his life to scaring other people.
- The villainous Clinton Stark of 7 Faces of Dr. Lao claims to be one of these, opining to the film's hero, "There's no such thing as the dignity of man. Man is a base, pathetic, vulgar animal." It's eventually revealed that he secretly doesn't want to believe that, and that he goes into all his evil schemes hoping they will fail, but they never have.
- Alien: Covenant: Whereas in the previous film he was more Ambiguously Evil, David has fully become this by the time the crew of a new spaceship finds him on a deserted planet. He considers all intelligent life to be utterly meaningless and worthy of extinction, seeing himself as the superior being.
- Subverted in The Big Lebowski with the three evil German "nihilists", who belong to this trope In Name Only. They're very enthusiastic about claiming to be nihilists, but that doesn't stop them from whining about how "It's not fair!" when their extortion scheme gets thwarted. Walter retorts: "Fair?! WHO ARE THE FUCKING NIHILISTS HERE?!" Ultimately, the "nihilists" here could be considered Straw Hypocrites.
- Collateral: Sociopathic and deadly assassin Vincent shoves cab driver Max Durocher out of a self-deceptive rut as he forces Max to drive him to various "jobs" one night in L.A. Near the end Max snaps, admits that Vincent was right and fights back, eventually killing his captor.
- Cube seems to be about the gorn but is really an exposition on different roles that people play representing different philosophies in society. The protagonist's big secret is that he is a nihilist.
- The Dark Knight Trilogy:
- Two-Face, who decides the flip of a coin is as good a way to decide life and death as anything.
- The Joker is a total sociopath who enjoys bringing destruction and madness upon Gotham City, just to watch the chaos unfold and to show the world the futility of morality.
- The Empty Man: Amanda and the Pontifex Society believe that loss is nonexistent and that nothing is real to the world and that The Empty Man, an Eldritch Abomination will help humanity to discover the truth of life.
- Everything Everywhere All at Once: Jobu Tupaki is one of these, having been overwhelmed by experiencing of all of her alternate universe selves at once. She took away from this that everything is arbitrary and nothing matters, and she is seemingly jumping from universe to universe, causing chaos and bloodshed for the fun of it. Really, she's just scared and hurt from her experience, and is seeking a version of Evelyn that will either give her an alternate viewpoint or join her in suicide. The climax of the film is Evelyn and Waymond convincing her that, sure, everything is arbitrary and nothing matters, but we can't let that stop us from loving each other and living our lives.
- In Fight Club, Tyler Durden likes to use a lot of nihilist-sounding rhetoric:
Tyler Durden: Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.
- In A Fish Called Wanda, Otto West, a sociopath and fool, claims humanity is worthless on the basis of his reading 'philosophy', but seems to stick exclusively to Nietzsche.
- The main villain of The Genius Club, Armand, rants that humans have no purpose and God doesn't exist, until the dying sage and the genius garbage man both discuss their confrontations with death. In the end, he really just had an identity crisis.
- In his Hamlet speech at the end of Withnail and I, it's debatable whether Withnail is talking about his sexuality or confirming an absolute nihilism.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Avengers: Age of Ultron: During Ultron's discussion with Vision at the end, they both agree that humanity is doomed to destroy itself. However, whereas Ultron concludes that humans deserve to go extinct, Vision believes it is better to cherish something no matter how fleeting it may be.
- Doctor Strange (2016):
- Kaecilius believes that death renders life meaningless, and that the only way to achieve a meaningful existence is to become immortal via the Dark Dimension. For this reason, he has no problem killing people to serve his goals.
- Strange dips into this trope during his conversation with The Ancient One by describing humanity as a series of chemical processes on a floating globe in a cold, uncaring universe while she's trying to convince him magic exists.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ego views all mortal life as disappointing and worthless save to be assimilated by him.
Ego: Stop pretending you aren't what you are! One in billions, trillions, even more... What greater meaning can life possibly have to offer?!
- Spider-Man: No Way Home: The Green Goblin intersects with this and The Social Darwinist, as he believes that morality is a purely human construct, and that powerful beings have risen above humanity and therefore should no longer be bound by human moral compunctions and have the absolute right to do what they want, when they want, how they want, which he can only envision as violent, murderous depravity. In fact, not only can he not understand why someone in his position would use their abilities for good, but the very concept enrages and disgusts him, and any powerful being who doesn't agree with him is unworthy of their gifts and must either be pushed into accepting the inherent pointlessness and futility of human morality, or be killed as punishment for squandering their power.
- Match Point: The Villain Protagonist uses his nihilistic philosophy as justification for murder.
- Agent Smith in The Matrix sequels. In The Matrix Revolutions, he goes into a long rant about why Neo bothers to continue fighting him and that "Only a human mind could come up with something as insipid as love!" and "Why, Mr. Anderson!? Why!? Why do you persist!?" Ironically, Neo's response is something a Nietzschean Übermensch might actually say: "Because I choose to."
- In Men, Women & Children, Tim is a teenager going through the typical Straw Nihilist phase: dropping out of his former hobbies, engrossing himself in socially isolated new ones, constantly droning how nothing matters, the universe is vast and everything we do and are in comparison is inconsequential (he drops Carl Sagan and the Pale Blue Dot speech explicitly). The heavy-handed nature of this becomes mitigated somewhat when we learn that all of this was preceded by Tim's mother up and leaving for a new life (and lover) in California right before the movie started.
- Mission: Impossible Film Series:
- Solomon Lane is considered a nihilist since as his time as an MI6 assassin deepened his anarchistic worldview as he was skeptical about the motives of governments and saw them as corrupt and destructive organizations, all ultimately equal to their egoism and their actions, with the sole aim of leaving everything as it is — for everyone: price. In the climax of Fallout, he was driven by this one goal at the time and is even willing to sacrifice his life for it — even his goal is to die, even though he has options to escape.
- Gabriel, Ethan’s first Arch-Enemy, can be considered this mixed with being a Misanthrope Supreme, as his nihilistic and cynical contempt for all of humanity is stated to be his motive for doing the things he does; Ilsa says he sees killing other people as doing them a favor. And it's implicitly why he serves as the Entity's willing, even enthusiastic slave, since he sees its cold, inhuman mind as superior to himself and other human beings.
- To quote Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean: "Life is cruel. Why should the afterlife be any different?"
- Rampage (2009): Bill often rants about how there is no god, people are all slaves to their leaders, modern life in general is meaningless without violence, and humanity is doomed to extinction.
- Characters based on Leopold and Loeb (such as the protagonists of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope) are always portrayed as Straw Nihilists. Somewhat justified in that the real Leopold and Loeb actually did rationalize their crime with Nietzsche's philosophy.
- Robin Williams plays one in the 1996 film adaptation of The Secret Agent. He says morality should be based on death, not life. He detonates himself in a crowded street at the end out of an apparent hatred for humanity.
- Se7en: John Doe believes that humanity is nothing special, the opposite of what God intended, and that only in a shitty world could people honestly call his victims innocent. And in the climax, he provokes David into avenging his pregnant wife Tracy by killing him, proving that he doesn't even value his own life.
- Sterne: "Walter" has recently arrived in Bulgaria after witnessing the horrors of war at Leningrad and is disturbed by the treatment of prisoners in the nearby concentration camp, but also believes himself incapable of doing anything about it. He opines to Ruth, "It took millions of years for humans to evolve from chimpanzees, yet the chimpanzees are better off than we are."
- In The Sunset Limited, White claims to see the world as it truly is "without dreams or illusions" and suggests that anyone who sees the world in the same way should wish to die as soon as possible.
- At the climax of Tenet, Andrei Sator admits to the Protagonist that he has faith in nothing and as such has no qualms about triggering the end of the world.
- In We Need to Talk About Kevin, the titular character is The Sociopath who terrorizes everyone around him, especially his mother. He sees everything as boring, lame and/or pointless, so he can't find enjoyment in anything including the suffering he causes, and hates people who can. His antisocial behavior is partially him lashing out because his disorder makes him unable to enjoy life or connect with people on a normal level (with the other part being It Amused Me).
- In The Wolverine, Viper mentions being a nihilist; she also mentions being a capitalist.
- Yevgeny Bazarov from Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev is an Ur-Example. As often, a trope is somewhat unbuilt because Bazarov as a true nihilist does not believe in absolutely anything and logically never does anything in the public field. Because why should a nihilist even try? He also works as a doctor and as such does good to people professionally.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky loved this type of character; in fact, Dostoevsky was a major influence on Nietzsche himself, and the Nietzschean Übermensch has strong similarities to Raskolnikov.
- Ivan Karamazov and Smerdyakov both fit the trope in The Brothers Karamazov. One could make the case that Fyodor Karamazov is also an example, but he's more of a libertine than a nihilist.
- All the young radicals in Demons, although Stavrogin and Verkhovensky stand out.
- The famous novella Notes from Underground features a protagonist who rants against the Nihilists, the Straw Nihilists of the time, yet fits the trope pretty well himself.
- And Rodya Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, who justifies himself using examples like Cesare Borgia, saying that strong men do whatever they have to if it fulfills their goals.
- A large proportion of Philip Larkin's poetry seems to present this viewpoint; particularly notable is Aubade, which is about the utter futility of life, given the inevitability of death.
- H. P. Lovecraft, pioneer of the Cosmic Horror Story, exhibits the Straw Nihilist mentality (without the Omnicidal Maniac sociopathy though) with his stories focusing on the insignificance of human life compared to the indifference of the cosmos as a whole, vast eldritch discoveries and other things man was not meant to know out there. Lovecraft even developed a philosophy called Cosmicism. In his short story The Silver Key, his Author Avatar Randolph Carter ponders about the matter, and concludes that aesthetics are the only value worth sustaining in a universe without direction or meaning. In a way he fits the Übermensch category better than this one, since he creates his own values after realizing the insignificance of the current ones. He had his best experiences in dreams, and in the end flees the material world completely, making him also a rather extreme lotus eater.
- Every single Ayn Rand villain holds this worldview, from Ellsworth Toohey of The Fountainhead to Dr. Ferris, Mr. Thompson, and the rest of "the looters" in Atlas Shrugged. They usually only preach it to satisfy their lust for power (as Toohey and John Galt explain, once you've convinced people they're irredeemably evil and have no hope, they'll obey anything you tell them). Toohey uses his nihilist-collectivist logic to break his orphaned niece so thoroughly that, when her former fiancé meets her years later, it's quite eerily similar to Winston's and Julia's first meeting after they've been through Room 101. Her protagonists on the other hand are essentially Übermensch who create their own meaning (since Rand was influenced by Nietzsche, this isn't too surprising, however she later denounced that view and formulated her own philosophy which she maintained was objective-hence its name, Objectivism).
- In Alternate Routes by Tim Powers, the villain is a philosopher who believes that free will and consciousness are just illusions incidental to the deterministic physical processes that operate living bodies. And in his case, free will really has become an illusion, because his attitude left him susceptible to becoming a meat puppet for something from Beyond.
- Patrick Bateman in American Psycho believes that ultimately, everything is meaningless. "Everything I have been taught: principles, distinctions, choices, morals, compromises, knowledge, unity, prayer — all of it was wrong, without any final purpose. All it came down to was: die or adapt."
- Judge Holden, Big Bad of Blood Meridian, is a Satanic Archetype and The Social Darwinist who argues that all forms of morality and law are meaningless by virtue of being manmade, and Might Makes Right as the only real absolute is death and whoever's left standing to enforce their will. As a consequence, he's a Blood Knight and Serial Rapist who seeks To Create a Playground for Evil and freely practice his form of vile hedonism.
- The Old Man in Whorehouse in Joseph Heller's Catch-22, although he is more of the Hedonist type.
- In Night Watch, the bad guy Carcer is said not to be insane but rather too sane, in that he can do whatever he wants because he knows that laws and things are just arbitrary lines the normal folk draw in the sand to pretend they're safe. Vimes does not take this well.
- Although he channels his cynicism much more constructively than most people on this page, Lord Vetinari also occasionally holds such rants. One occurs at the end of Guards! Guards! when he lectures Sam Vimes, although this is possibly a subversion; after explaining at length why the world is a hopeless mess, Vimes then points out that Vetinari still bothers to get out of bed in the morning and be the most competent and benevolent tyrant their Wretched Hive of a city has ever had. There's also his little anecdote in Unseen Academicals, when he tells about the time he saw an otter and her young devour a still living salmon and the eggs it was carrying.
Vetinari: One of nature's wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining on mother and children. And that's when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.
- In a bit of a subversion, Death maintains that things like justice, mercy, and duty are lies, but says that the entire point in believing in those lies is that that's what makes them real, something an actual nihilist would deny is a possibility (this would be more existentialist).
- Countered by Brutha in Small Gods.
Brutha: In a thousand years, we'll all be dead. But here and now, we are ALIVE.
- The Draka conquer the world in the name of their collective sovereign will and genetically engineer themselves into a race of very literal Übermenschen. This is justified within the timeline itself, as Nietzsche emigrated to the colony of Drakia after he was rejected in his homeland and helped shape its philosophy.
- A planet with this for a Hat shows up in Dying of the Light. When the out-worlds decided to Terraform a planet and build cities showcasing their culture, Darkdawn opted to build a city that would work as a wind instrument, playing the same nihilistic song over and over. They also flew a flag of solid black.
- The Iliad: Achilles predates Nietzsche by millennia, but he resembles this form of Straw Nihilist. He gets an absolutely epic rant about how life and the heroic code are meaningless, and they're all going to die and be forgotten anyway. He goes so far as to wish everyone but himself and Patroclus dead in the hope that then, their glory might actually endure. It's incredibly bitter, incredibly powerful, and is this trope all over.
- Keep the Aspidistra Flying: The protagonist Gordon Comstock seems to hate everything - rich people, poor people, books, writing (he is a writer), advertising, capitalism, socialism, and so on and so forth. He's secretly hoping for war to come and burn all of society to the ground. In a way, he got his wish three years after the book was published.
- Lord Cronal, Big Bad of the Star Wars Legends novel Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. He was raised by a cult of darksiders called the Sorcerers of Rhand, who believe that the will of the universe is that entropy and destruction are the only constants, and work to bring this about. At one point Cronal mentally disparages Palpatine for attempting to create when he should have destroyed. He's certainly no hypocrite though, since he joined another cult known as the Prophets of the Dark Side and after siring his daughter Sariss, despised her for being created and had her raped by himself and his fellow cultists. All of which means that yes, there are people out there in the galaxy who are nastier than the Sith.
- Dora from The Moth Diaries is not just a Straw Nihilist, she's writing a book about a dialogue between Nietzsche himself and Brahms. She gets into a few arguments over the former's teachings with Ernessa. As to whether the book is completed before her death or not, we never find out. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this detail.
- The Inner Party from Nineteen Eighty-Four is a social caste of Straw Nihilists, and they happen to rule everything. Ingsoc is the Straw Nihilist political system, being built to completely corrupt The Power of Love (the Eastasian counterpart of Ingsoc's actual ideology is also known as "Obliteration of the Self", which from the name can be easily seen as Nihilism incarnate). The Inner Party is completely amoral (nothing was illegal, since there are no longer any laws) but if they notice a single sign of individuality and love, called "thoughtcrime", they capture the thoughtcriminals but instead of killing them, they torture them and make them live their worst nightmares, but all of this is not to interrogate them, but to traumatize them and drop them into despair event horizon until they submit mentally to the regime-'then'' they're shot. They leave the majority in immutable poverty, the superpowers in perpetual war and the entire world in Despair Event Horizon. You cannot reason with them or express love for them, ever. Why? Simply because their only motivation is "pure power."
O'Brien: If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.
- The Obsidian Chronicles: Lord Dragon is pretty nihilistic, telling Arlian in his view all people are filthy, worthless things no better than beasts, and he has no compunction about harm he does to them. The one principle which he upholds is keeping the vows he swore as a member of the Dragon Society.
- In The Pillars of Reality, the Mages teach their acolytes that nothing is real and that nothing matters. However, even Alain (who starts out pretty indoctrinated) realises that their philosophy has holes. He notes that the senior Mages never seemed to think that failures on the part of their acolytes "didn't matter", for example.
- The father and son encounter a starving one in The Road. The son takes offense at the man's comments and gives him food, apparently as a way to prove the guy wrong.
- The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea: Noboru's gang feels that, because the adults around them can't properly justify why the life they live has any meaning, they are justified in even murdering to prove they are not constrained by senseless taboos.
- The Secret Agent: The Professor who believes he is superior to everyone else even if he has little to no actual accomplishments, and is constantly discussing how other people are mediocre compared to himself.
- The Wheel of Time:
- Although ordinarily he is not of this view, when Rand Al'thor has a long overdue psychotic break and cracks after almost killing his father out of paranoia and misplaced rage he rants about the pointlessness of existence in this fashion, railing against the actions of all being forgotten and then repeated thanks to the series' conceit of reincarnation, and he comes within a few seconds of destroying or at least irrevocably damaging all of reality in a desire to end it all before he talks himself down via a conversation and eventually a Split-Personality Merge with the voice in his head, and can be found in the quotes page of this trope.
- Ishamael/Moridin from the same series, however, gives every sign of being a straight example, being the only one of the God of Evil's minions who not only truly understands its nature, but actually joined it for the express purpose of putting reality out of its misery. It's eventually revealed that Moridin is flat-out suicidal, and his nihilism seems to stem from projecting his own suicidal tendencies on the universe at large.
- M. Herron's thriller Why We Die is built around this philosophy, and begins with the narrator directly lecturing the reader about how people's purpose in life is to die and be buried. It's a bit... overblown.
- Many of the Marquis de Sade's characters held this philosophy, arguing that morality was an illusion, with everything tending toward destruction, so their murders or plans thereof (including perhaps the first mass bioterrorism plot) were simply in keeping with this. His version of Pius VI (the real Pope when this had been written) is even portrayed this way, as a secret libertine and nihilistic murderer/rapist. This may be the earliest portrayal in modern fiction.
- The Neverending Story: Morla, due to her long lifespan, has seen things come and go, and became convinced that nothing matters.
- The sci-fi series Andromeda has a race of folks called Nietzscheans. They were originally humans who decided to live by Nietzsche's writings. They left human territory to found their own colonies, genetically enhanced themselves, separated into clans (called "Prides"), and generally don't like anybody but themselves. However, at least two Nietzscheans express a variety of negative emotions at the fact that a group intended to be Warrior Poet-Übermenschen ended up as nothing more than warring bands of supremacist thugs.
- Connor from Angel reached his peak of Straw Nihilist-ness in the Season 4 finale, and gave a rant that still sends chills down the spine.
Connor: There's only one thing that ever changes anything. And that's death. Everything else is just a lie. You can't be saved by a lie... you can't be saved at all.
- Ironically, he was in fact "saved by a lie", with Angel making a deal that wiped everyone's memory and placing Connor in a home with a loving family believing he was their natural-born son.
- Simon Munnery's sketch show Attention Scum is a mockery of this trope, by throwing out feeble, nonsensical insults of how the viewer sucks, like "a fast reader" or "parodies of each other", while claiming that your only purpose in life is to... stand in line... and you will die.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003): The Cylon Cavil, aka Number One, stands out among his kin for not sharing their belief in a God and being a pure materialist. He's also homicidal, jealous, petty, and vengeful, and will frequently invoke phony causes to serve his own interests.
Boomer: Will God watch over our souls?
Cavil: We're machines, dear. We don't have souls.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "The Wish", Wishverse Buffy is every thing Spike says of the death wish of Slayers, having given up on life to become an emotionless killing machine.
- On Burn Notice, Psycho for Hire Larry waves off the immorality of killing people for money (or just for fun) with his mantra of "some people live, some people die."
- The Daily Show: The famous-within-the-fandom 'Death and Dust' speech from Stephen Colbert. Even better because the character is (usually) a die-hard Catholic. Shortly after the 2000 Florida recount, having decided that all the debate and argument is irrelevant and who's President doesn't even matter:
Stephen: You see, nothing means anything. Mankind is just a random collection of self-replicating protoplasm, floating in a godless universe where the stars blindly run and however frantically we may try to deny it, all our efforts amount to nothing more than death... and dust.
Stephen: [cheerful] Oh, and I'm having a Christmas cocktail party...
- Doctor Who likely has more than can be easily counted.
- One of the earliest appears in "The Tomb of the Cybermen" in the form of Eric Klieg, who wishes to use the power of the Cybermen to lead the intellectual party to conquer the Earth under his rule. Needless to say, he and his Lady Macbeth wife overestimate his ability to control the Cybermen.
- "Last of the Time Lords": Lucy Saxon has been turned into one by the Master after he showed her the end of the Universe. She's come to believe that nothing matters, ever.
- Dollhouse has Alpha, who even refers to himself and Echo after he forces her to undergo a composite event as Übermensch, while during the second to last episode one of Boyd's rants labels his worldview as such.
- In the British TV series The Fall (2013), the serial murderer/rapist the police are seeking defends his acts by quoting Nietzsche at length (though he does appear to feel somewhat bad about them, but rationalizes away these impulses he cannot control).
- Feel Good: Mae briefly becomes a nihilist in Season 2, spouting things like how love is simply a mechanism to insure survival (therefore meaningless to her), life's terrible and pointless as we'll all die eventually, annoying George. It's mostly Played for Laughs though, and she soon gives it up.
- The Good Place:
- Eleanor was one in her earthly life. Convinced that the world was just a big sack of crap and most people were just selfish animals who only cared about themselves, she figured there was no point in being decent in an indecent world (especially since she didn't think there was anyone "keeping score" of it all) and lived by a philosophy that essentially amounted to putting in the least amount of effort and indulging every vice and hedonistic pleasure possible. When she finds that there is indeed an afterlife that does keep score of one's earthly deeds, she's hit hard with a Jerkass Realization.
- In the Season 3 episode "Jeremy Bearimy", Chidi starts talking like this after he has a breakdown due to having learned about the afterlife. This includes quoting Friedrich Nietzsche's "God is dead" speech, and telling all his students to become nihilists. Being The Good Place, this is Played for Laughs, with Chidi's descent into madness also consisting of him buying and wearing a woman's wine t-shirt and making chili with Peeps and M&Ms during class...and singing about it.
- Arthur Petrelli believes himself to be an Übermensch that is better than normal people and free from moral constraints. Just to hammer this point home, in series three he is seen reading Nietzsche shortly before telling his son Peter that he is "Better." Ironically subtler villains Linderman and Adam Monroe did a better job of representing this trope than Arthur ever did.
- Adam in particular. He believes he is better, that humankind is worthless and life is pointless. However he also adds a dash of Dark Messiah as he seeks to change the pointlessness of life by forcing mankind to experience a terrible cataclysm and taking the survivors as his followers to build a better world. So he's a fusion of this trope and Knight Templar/Well-Intentioned Extremist.
- Dr. Gregory House of House acts this way, and it is implied that the only reason he saves lives is because he likes solving mysteries, not because he cares if the patient lives or dies. He suspects everybody of hiding something or lying to him.
- This is fundamentally the philosophy of Rebrov, the main antagonist of The Lazarus Project: the Project is an organisation dedicated to preventing the end of the world through using time travel, and Rebrov is a previous member of the project as a ‘mutant’ able to naturally recall the events of previous time loops when the system resets. After a particularly traumatic series of loops where he and his lover lost their newborn son (subsequently replaced with a daughter) to prevent a nuclear war, Rebrov becomes fixated on the idea that they aren’t meant to save the world, as the planet essentially “wants” to die and the Lazarus Project are delaying the inevitable.
- In The Musketeers, Lucien Grimaud, the Big Bad of the final season. Seemingly incapable of any positive feeling of any kind, whether towards other people or simple pleasure or happiness, he thinks that the world is an utterly horrible place and his only drive is to amass money and power so that nobody can harm him, and when that fails to cause as much pain and kill as many people as possible. It's demonstrated most clearly when he murders a woman who was a midwife to send a message to Athos, and then says that she deserved to die for bringing children into the world to suffer, not as any kind of "shocking" posturing but simply as a calm statement of fact.
- Oz. Lemuel Idzik, the mentally-ill murderer of Kareem Said, who he'd met years before in Istanbul. Said (before he converted to Islam) gave a passionate speech about how life was meaningless because the universe would one day end. Lemuel took the lesson to heart and killed him for destroying his sense of meaning, then tried to get himself killed by murdering two more people in Oz-to his dismay he's spared the death sentence because his lawyer didn't give him effective representation.
- Red Dwarf:
- Subverted with the Inquisitor. He's a Simulant, a race of psychotic, violence-crazed humanoid robots created to fight wars for humanity, which humanity then attempted to shut down after they proved too sadistic. Equipped with a unique self-repair system of incomparable capability, the Simulant who became the Inquisitor survived until the end of time, and then beyond. Drifting in nothingness, he came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as God, no such thing as an afterlife, and that the purpose of existence is to live a worthwhile life. Constructing a time machine, the Inquisitor now roams existence, meeting and judging each individual person who has ever and will ever live. If they fail to justify the life they have lived, he erases them and replaces them with a parallel version-a sperm that didn't make it, an egg that wasn't fertilized. If, in due "time", they too prove themselves unworthy of the gift of life, then they too are erased and another parallel version is given existence in their place. The Inquisitor's end-goal is to ensure that the universe is populated only by the worthy, those who truly have made the best of having been born.
- Also, this quote from Holly: "As the days go by, we face the increasing inevitability that we are alone in a godless, uninhabited, hostile and meaningless universe. Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you?"
- A Weekend Update segment on Saturday Night Live depicted Punxsutawney Phil (played by Michael Longfellow) as a depressed reprobate who spends the entire time rambling about the pointlessness of his job, his rampant drug and alcohol addictions, and random depressing facts.
Punxsutawney Phil: You know the moon's the sun now?
Michael Che: What?
Phil: Look. [A screen behind him shows a picture of a red sun] Because of wildfires, in California this is what the sun looks like for weeks at a time. It's like your on a Star Wars planet, and not even a good one. Like one of those dusty poor ones. [...] Time is an illusion. Yup. Science guys are saying this. It's not just something I say to my old lady when I miss our anniversary. [Turns to Michael] We step out, guys like us.
Michael: What do you mean, "guys like us"?!
- On one episode of Seinfeld, Jerry tries not to be funny so that he won't one-up George on his date. Jerry instead starts talking in a Creepy Monotone and acts like a nihilist around George's date.
Jerry: Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that, someday, a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know that it is not to be. That for the rest of our sad, wretched, pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end, inevitably, irrevocably. Happy birthday? No such thing.
- The third season of The Sinner is focused on a suspect, Jamie (played by Matt Bomer), who's a grandiloquent nihilist, frequently giving big speeches about the meaninglessness of existence and playing dangerous "games" designed to force other people (and himself) to face death and "feel something real." His college friend, Nick, sucked him into the idea and was an even more striking example of the trope. Amusingly, the show itself is aware that none of this is terribly original — one of Jamie's old college professors off-handedly notes that most disaffected young men who get into Nietzche move on pretty quickly, and the lead detective on the case rolls his eyes at one of Jamie's rants and says that everyone has dark thoughts and manages to get over them and live their lives without any real issues.
- Skins: Tony, a vaguely sociopathic lead character in a British drama, is a rare comedy example. He is seen on multiple occasions to be reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra, one of Nietzsche's seminal works. This is reflected in how he manipulates his friends in increasingly cruel ways for his own personal amusement. He's stated in his tie-in blog and videos that the only purpose of anyone is to entertain him.
- In The Sopranos, Anthony Jr. briefly becomes one in season 2 as part of a teenage rebellion. To his parents' dismay he suddenly starts espousing a nihilistic worldview, questions the purpose of life, name-checks Nietzsche, and declares that God Is Dead. He snaps out of his when Big Pussy's son Matt tells him that Nietzsche was mentally ill and that he should study the works of other philosophers like Kierkegaard.
- In Squid Game, the Big Bad is shown to be one of these. Cool Old Guy Oh Il-nam had become jaded and apathetic towards mankind after a lifetime of being Lonely at the Top, especially after his brain cancer diagnosis. He believes humanity as a whole is simply garbage, and his final game with Gi-hun is a bet on whether anyone will help the homeless man dying under his Sleek High Rise Apartment. He dies before Gi-hun can show him that Humans Are Flawed rather than outright bastards.
- Stranger Things: The show’s main antagonist, Vecna says that he is "freeing" his victims by killing them. His Motive Rant towards Eleven before being cast into the Upside Down reveals that he believes the society humanity has created makes life utterly pointless, so in his twisted mind, he is "freeing" everyone he kills from their meaningless existence. Vecna does however, understand notions of good and evil, but in his rationalization, morality is meaningless, the simplest form of insanity ever devised, and so Vecna chooses to be a cold-blooded serial killer because at the end of the day, it's all he wants to be, and no reasoning can divert him from his dream.
- Dean Winchester is a rare heroic example of this, although considering the way his life is going, it's not entirely unjustified. The really sad thing is that he's later proven wrong in that there really are higher powers, but they're either apocalyptic extremists (the angels), or completely apathetic to all of Creation (God), bringing him back to square one.
Dean: There is no higher power, there's no God. There's just chaos and violence and random, unpredictable evil that comes out of nowhere and rips you to shreds.
- Initially, Lucifer was more of a Visionary Villain with grand plans to wipe out humanity and turn the Earth into his own personal garden untainted by those hairless apes, as he considered it "God's last masterpiece". When he actually meets with God again before "Dad" leaves creation with Amara, he goes through the Despair Event Horizon. Lucifer concludes that everything was meaningless all along, and continues causing destruction purely out of spite and boredom.
- Alternate Universe Michael from season 13 and 14 is a pretty straight example. See, in his reality, the Winchesters were never born, so the Apocalypse proceeded as planned and Michael killed Lucifer in the final battle. Then, when God still didn't return, Michael snapped and decided to destroy life across the multiverse until he could take a shot at the big man himself. Also, the name of the episode in which he explains this? "Nihilism".
- Dean Winchester is a rare heroic example of this, although considering the way his life is going, it's not entirely unjustified. The really sad thing is that he's later proven wrong in that there really are higher powers, but they're either apocalyptic extremists (the angels), or completely apathetic to all of Creation (God), bringing him back to square one.
- Captain John Hart on Torchwood. We'll let the man himself explain:
Captain Hart: What a cosmic joke, eye candy. An accident of chemicals and evolution. The jokes, the sex—just to cover the fact that nothing means anything. And the only consolation is money.
- In True Detective, Rust Cohle is one, both in the past and in the present-day scenes. Ultimately deconstructed, as it shows just how miserable and psychologically broken someone has to be in order to believe such things.
Rust: This... This is what I'm talking about. This is what I mean when I'm talkin' about time, and death, and futility. All right there are broader ideas at work, mainly what is owed between us as a society for our mutual illusions. 14 straight hours of staring at DB's, these are the things ya think of. You ever done that? You look in their eyes, even in a picture, doesn't matter if they're dead or alive, you can still read 'em. You know what you see? They welcomed it... not at first, but... right there in the last instant. It's an unmistakable relief. See, cause they were afraid, and now they saw for the very first time how easy it was to just... let go. Yeah They saw, in that last nanosecond, they saw... what they were. You, yourself, this whole big drama, it was never more than a jerry rig of presumption and dumb will, and you could just let go. To finally know that you didn't have to hold on so tight. To realize that all your life, all your love, all your hate, all your memories, all your pain, it was all the same thing. It was all the same dream, a dream that you had inside a locked room, a dream about being a person. And like a lot of dreams, there's a monster at the end of it.
- The Adventure Zone: Balance: According to John, its avatar, the Hunger believes that all life is pointless and horrible, and that as a result it must be destroyed.
- Raven used to be a happy rich kid but then he fell into depression, believing himself a no good man and that the existence of a hell to be damned to is the best thing he can hope for, since he knows there is nothing that could save him from it. So he goes around antagonizing people he feels are the same way or people who aren't that he resents for not being the same way, either telling them that they should be, or in the case of Incorruptible Pure Pureness, lecturing them on how such a mindset will make them as depressed as him when they realize how rare it is.
- Occurs most prominently in The Bible in the Book of Ecclesiastes. The author declares that everything we build and strive for disappears, that all our names are forgotten, and the lives of both the wise and foolish end equally in death. Existence is therefore utterly meaningless. All we can do is try to enjoy the little things in life while we can.
"Vanity of vanities! saith the Preacher. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity! I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chasing of the wind."
- Many Christian and Neoplatonist critics of Gnosticism accused it of being fundamentally this, claiming that its beliefs that the world is a lie created by the Demiurge and his archons lead to a disregard of conventional morality and a pessimistic world view, dominated by paranoia and hopelessness. Whether Gnosticism is actually this or anti-nihilistic is up to the individual, but some surviving Gnostic texts and statements are indeed the sort of thing you'd expect to see from your stereotypical, "Existence is meaningless! Woe is me!" crowd.
- Norm MacDonald. One bit he does involves pointing out everything a serial killer does which leads to them getting caught. He then explains (in a matter of fact manner) what he would do if he intended to kill someone and never get caught. He refers to the actual act as "the thing that makes me feel like God".
- Patton Oswalt parodies this by crossing it with The Fundamentalist:
- Anima: Beyond Fantasy has Edamiel, a Beryl that after no emotions were able to fill her, even joy that was what she represented, embraced oblivion.
- Many Abyssals in Exalted end up here or somewhere very much like it.
- In the Greyhawk fantasy roleplaying setting for Dungeons & Dragons, Tharizdun is the God of Omnicidal Maniacs and has many of these traits; it's just that instead of sitting around preaching about it, he's chained in the Far Realm driving people mad and plotting to destroy everything, everywhere.
- Shar, the goddess of bitterness and oblivion, is the Forgotten Realms goddess of nihilism. Her adherents are not permitted to hope, or to plan for the future without a dispensation from her priesthood.
- The Rakdos guild in Magic: The Gathering have spells like Nihilistic Glee. They're also the 'hedonist' and 'sociopath' guild; their general theme is being the life of the party... and, sometimes, its death.
- Pathfinder: The daemons are this trope personified. In contrast with the devils (who want to impose their order on the multiverse by any means necessary) and the demons (who at least find personal realization in fulfilling their unbridled selfishness), the daemons' philosophy pretty much amounts to "life sucks and then you die, nothing has value, so let's just end it all and be done with it". This makes them enemies to all that exists, and even devils and demons will ally with each other and even with celestials in order to stop the daemons.
- The Bleak Cabal are a subversion, as they are generally nice fellows despite their belief that the universe makes absolutely no sense, though they occasionally wake up with such a bad feeling of nihilism that they'll spend the entire day in bed, unable to care about doing anything at all.
- The Doomguard's members know that the entropy of everything is inevitable — in fact, the core of Doomguard philosophy is that trying to hinder entropy is inherently futile, and some of its more extreme members even try to hasten along the process. Again, they're not inherently evil and some of them are even good aligned, believing that destruction of the old is necessary for new things to grow and thrive.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Iron Warriors turned into this after years and years of brutal siege warfare and being used as the Imperium's battered workhorse legion without so much as a thanks. To them, there is zero glory in war; victory is all that matters, and everything and everyone is just a resource to be expended in pursuit of it.
- The Cult of the Rusted Claw follow a philosophy of extreme nihilism, thinking that all creatures in the universe are nothing but moving scraps of flesh destined to decay into the nothingness of the void. The Cult believe that they can only be saved when they are absorbed and remade by their unknowable gods.
- Dark Heresy, an RPG in the 40K universe, has the Pilgrims of Hayte, a cult based around the notion that life is meaningless and thus willing to end it on a scale as large as possible. The outer layers believe that they worship Chaos for its closely fitting ideology while the inner circle knows that Chaos is just as strict, unforgiving and ultimately meaningless a master as the Emperor—and thus, a tool to be used. Which they relatively often get away with, if you consider "despoiling 3/4 of a planet and then abandoning your cult to its fate when the cavalry arrives" to be "getting away with it."
- Warhammer Fantasy: Archaon, Chosen of Chaos fits the actual Nietzsche mold fairly closely, believing that human society is irredeemably corrupt, and that a new form of society most be built. He thinks this should be done by killing everyone and turning the world over to Eldritch Abominations. He also held to the unrelenting pessimism, calling all human gods lies/liars, and believing this to such an extent that he was horrified to discover a Physical God had reincarnated to stop him—despite the fact that he had just won the fight.
- The Narrator, while not an active character in the story, tends to fall into this in her monologues in Finale.
- Hamlet, despite predating Nietzsche, preaches nihilism with the best of them. The famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy summarizes it, but he eventually subverts actually becoming a straw nihilist by drawing purpose from his father's death.
- King Lear: Probably one of the greatest expressions of nihilism in western art. To begin with, only Edgar is this, and most definitely a straw nihilist. The other characters are just varying degrees of stupid or selfish. But by the fourth act... Good god. 'When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools'. Albany is the only character who comes out of the play with even the slightest shred of idealism intact, and he's now most firmly on the cynical end of the spectrum.
- Macbeth doesn't start off this way, but by the end? The titular character's soliloquy following Lady Macbeth's death ("Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow") is one of the more eloquent statements of the idea. His motives in the last act are his giving in to this trope, made all the more terrifying because the amoral universe was of his own creation.
- Othello: The operatic version turned Iago, a villain who normally did it For the Evulz, into one of these with his Villain Song "Credo in un Dio crudel" (I believe in a cruel God).
- Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street gives a rousing number, "Epiphany," devoted to the worthlessness of the human race and how we all deserve to die. From which point on he cuts a bloody swath in accordance with those precepts. Accompanied by dramatic chorus about moralizers and hypocrites.
- Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera has Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum, the King of Beggars, who is often taken for a mere miser but who despairs of even money's doing him any good in the end. One of his musical numbers features the chorus (translating from the German) 'You've got it just right/The World is poor, and Man is terrible'; another is titled (translating as per super) "Song of the Futility of All Human Striving."
- Richard in Thrill Me justifies his gradually larger crimes by this ideal-he's superior to everyone else, so why should the normal rules apply to him?
- The Theatre version of Wicked shows Fiyero trying to act as this sort of nihilist. Unusually, he's fairly upbeat about the complete lack of value in reality, thought, or philosophy, as if a simple Hedonist. And then he has lines like:
Fiyero: If only because dust, is what we come to, nothing matters, but knowing nothing matters~
- The operatic version of Woyzeck has The Doctor, who gives us this little gem.
The Doctor: Haven't I told you that the urethral sphincter is subordinate to the will?
- Kerghan from Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: his Motive Rant says it all. He's a subversion, because he isn't being nihilistic, he's being compassionate in a very warped way. He's proposing a constructive solution to the pain of all living beings. (Yes, "kill the world" is constructive in this sense. It solves the problem he's trying to solve, it's just not a solution that anyone else likes.) It also helps that his logic is based on objective facts, and as said before, his conclusion holds up to scrutiny.
- Haer'Dalis from the Baldur's Gate series, as a member of the Doomguard (see Planescape examples above), is a Straw Nihilist, albeit a rather chipper one. At one point he states that he finds all the destruction wrought by the Bhaalspawn to be marvelous.
- Jin Kisaragi is revealed to have this kind of view in Continuum Shift; one translation of his words to Tsubaki in his Arcade mode story contains the line "The only truth in this world is death". However he subverts this because while he believes the world is worthless, he refuses to fall prey to apathy.
- Yuuki Terumi wants to destroy the world because it's filled with "LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES!" Also because he just enjoys it and has a serious Grudge against his former boss, the Master Unit. Being trapped in an endless "Groundhog Day" Loop by said boss didn't help his nihilism either. He eventually declares that his ideal world is an endless pit of despair where people fight each other to the death for his own amusement.
- Izanami, the Goddess of Death does as well, wanting to create a "world of death".
- Relius Clover, because of having discovered the "true form" of a human, holds no belief in the inherent value of human life, viewing people as "things" whose only real utility is being exploited For Science!. This has allowed him to perform horrible experiments on people without a shred of guilt or remorse, including his own family.
- Junko Enoshima, the Big Bad of the Danganronpa series, is a manipulative psychopath who thinks peace is boring and fetishizes chaos and despair for the unpredictability it brings. She identifies as a nihilist in the anime, but she has a simplistic view of human nature essentially boiling down to Hobbes Was Right and doesn't display any sort of consistency in her ideals with most of her actions just being For the Evulz. Ultimately, her worldview is insane and contradictory, but she both knows and embraces this; she really doesn't care what she believes so long as she gets to entertain herself by spreading and experiencing despair.
- Dawn of War II: Retribution has Azariah Kyras revealing this as his worldview during the final speech right before the start of the last mission, speaking to his many Khornate followers about what exactly led them to organize this enormous sacrifice of billions: Nothing. There's no meaning nor purpose in this galaxy, to him it's all entirely meaningless, and they kill indiscriminately and savagely with no purpose other than to make Khorne revel in it. Because only through this void of meaningless purposes and duties, by reveling in how meaningless their slaughter is, can they call themselves truly free.
- Destiny 2: The Witness, Big Bad of the "Light and Dark Saga", is an unusual example. Billions of years ago, a highly advanced alien species came to the usual conclusion about the universe being meaningless chaos and nothing mattering in the grand scheme of things. Instead of falling to despair or insane violence, however, they were infuriated, and performed a Merger of Souls to unite into an entity capable of wielding the power to reshape the universe into one that does have meaning, in which things like fear and suffering all cease to exist. Unfortunately, this is bad news for everyone currently living inside said universe, as the Witness's vision for it starts with 'unchanging stasis' and only gets worse from there.
- In Dota 2, character Leshrac is this based on his backstory and array of responses. To top it, his lore even says how he was once a philosopher.
- Downy Reed in Duel Savior Destiny is perfectly okay with destroying the universe due to the death of his little sister and his inability to get revenge for it. Such an unfair world clearly shouldn't exist or something.
- Elden Ring: This is the philosophy of the Frenzied Flame, the god of despair, destruction, and madness. It sees all life as a "mistake" of the Greater Will and the source of all suffering, and as such wishes to destroy the world to fix the mistake and return the world to how it should be. Its followers can range from Ax-Crazy cackling about Chaos overtaking the world (Shabriri), or they could politely explain to you why burning the Lands Between to the ground is the only moral choice (Hyetta), but they're all defined by having crossed the Despair Event Horizon and deciding everything needed to go.
- Elohim Eternal: The Babel Code: The Final Boss, Anat, is so jaded by centuries of war and by betrayal from her own people that she sees no value in any life, Idinite or Cainite, to the point where she believes the gods should have never created them.
- Count Waltz of Eternal Sonata is this.
Waltz: All human beings are fragile. Especially those who lack power. They die quite easily. And when you die, it's over. There's just no meaning to it. ... That's why I must have power. Enough absolute power to carve my existence into the very fabric of this world.
- Figment: The Fear-Of-Loss is a cackling maniac who believes that nothing in life matters and tries to get the protagonist, Dusty to give in to despair. Justified because the Fear-of-Loss is a nightmare in a man's Mental World, representing the fear and despair that the man feels from losing a loved one in a car crash.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy III has Xande, a scholar to Noah who was given the gift of mortality. Fearing death so much, Xande concluded that life, in general, has no meaning and tried to cover the world in total darkness, freezing it in place forever, as a result.
- His incarnation in Final Fantasy XIV goes down the same road: the ruler of an ancient empire, Xande was resurrected some years after dying, allowing him to continue to pursue his dreams of conquest. However, even the achievement of Xande's goals couldn't erase the scars that death left on him, as he now knew all too well that dying meant losing all that you worked so hard to gain. Eventually, he made a pact with the Cloud of Darkness to reduce the world to nothingness, declaring that if the man is inevitably doomed to lose everything upon death, then nothing should exist to lose.
- Kefka from Final Fantasy VI evolved from a Monster Clown with nihilistic tendencies into a fully-fledged Straw Nihilist upon becoming the most powerful physical being on the planet halfway through the game.
Kefka: Why do people insist on creating things that will inevitably be destroyed? Why do people cling to life, knowing that they must someday die? ...Knowing that none of it will have meant anything once they do?
- Seymour from Final Fantasy X, unloved and alone since his mother's death, wants to harness Sin and annihilate all life on Spira to put an end to pointless suffering. Two years later Shuyin from Final Fantasy X-2, eternally enraged and bitter at the world that let his one true love die, wants to harness Vegnagun and annihilate all life on Spira to end the existence of a world that he now sees as a pointless mockery. Clearly, a lot of baddies on Spira didn't get enough hugs.note
- Zenos yae Galvus, son of the Garelan Emperor and the main antagonist of the Final Fantasy XIV expansion Stormblood, is this. While he is a smorgasbord of villainous tropes (including but not limited to Blood Knight, The Sadist, and The Social Darwinist) done to create the most detestable antagonist the game has seen so far, in the end, it's his nihilism that he uses to justify the motive of all his actions, openly stating that he believes that 'nothing on this star matters', and thus it is his right to torment and make others suffer as he pleases.
- In the lead-up from Shadowbringers into Endwalker, Zenos partners with another example, the Ascian Fandaniel. Unlike his comrades who wished to restore their ancient world, Fandaniel actively desires the erradication of all life, himself included, believing it all to be pointless. It's eventually revealed that he's lived two very different lives which both reached this conclusion. The more recent was Amon, the court mage who resurrected the aforementioned Xande, dutifully following in his ideals. His original self, Hermes, grew disillusioned with his utopic society's nonchalance with creating life, then condemning those creations that didn't meet their standards. So, he created a being to search for meaning in other worlds, only for her to discover more and greater misery and suffering across the stars. When she declares her intent to usher all life to its inevitable end, he chooses to support her, concluding it only fitting that those who have passed judgement on so many other lives are themselves judged. Subverted in that Hermes wiped his own memory and came to aid in preventing the doom his creation would bring, while Amon spent his final moments questioning if his and Xande's course was correct before being consigned to oblivion.
- Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker's Final Boss and the game's overarching Greater-Scope Villain is another example. Meteion was the creation of Hermes designed to search the stars for answers as to the meaning of life. What she found were every manner of Crapsack World, from Death Worlds to False Utopias, all actively wishing for death. Driven far beyond the Despair Event Horizon, she concluded that if such suffering and misery was inescapable and inevitable, better that it be ushered in with all haste, fleeing to a far-flung corner of the universe to sing a song of oblivion capable of erasing life which gives in to despair, replacing it with twisted monsters that would kill whatever remained.
- Final Fantasy III has Xande, a scholar to Noah who was given the gift of mortality. Fearing death so much, Xande concluded that life, in general, has no meaning and tried to cover the world in total darkness, freezing it in place forever, as a result.
- Sephiran manipulated events in both Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn in order to prove to his patron goddess that the two races of Tellius were unable to live in peace, and thus should be destroyed. Sephiran had attempted to bring the two races to live in harmony for over several centuries, since a previous war between the two was the reason the goddess nearly destroyed the world in a flood. But a nearly genocidal massacre of the Heron branch of the Laguz race and the resulting reprisals decades previous to the game's start convinced him that the situation was unsalvageable, and that he should wake up his goddess so she could pass judgment.spoiler note
- In Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, the protagonist meets a smoking, leather clad frenchman on the street who gives a speech that causes him to qualify as one of these. "I came to fuck and get high, what else is there? ... Family? I had a family once: meaningless. Honour!? Don't make me puke! No, the only thing that matters in this word is getting your rocks off... or getting so out of it that you don't even realise you aren't getting your rocks off."
- The MO behind what The Joker did to Superman by tricking him into killing his own wife Lois Lane and nuking Metropolis in Injustice: Gods Among Us is to prove anybody can have "a bad day" and be easily brought down to his level, and in this case, he won. Superman gives up on his ideals altogether and swore to make the world safe by all means necessary, unaware that this is what the Joker exactly intended, including the part which killed him, and by the end of the game, Superman has slowly become no different from the Monster Clown he killed earlier.
- The backstory of Dark Matter, a (thankfully defeatable) Eldritch Abomination that serves as the perennial antagonist of the Kirby games, makes it clear that its actions are meant to turn the universe into a place where no one can be happy, so that everyone can share in its sorrow and loneliness. Guess it's kind of hard to make friends when you're a sentient force of pure Black Magic. Ironically, Kirby's best friend technically is one as well.
- Ghadius, the main villain of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. As a nightmare creature in the Dream Land of Phantomile, he was sealed away by the good spirits of Phantomile. As a result, Ghadius became disgusted by the residents of Phantomile for only liking "happy dreams," leading him to believe that nothing in the world matters. In the present, Ghadius' goal is to summon the ultimate nightmare, Nahatomb, to destroy all of Phantomile. Ghadius doesn't care that Nahatomb's rebirth will kill him as well, and actually dies laughing as he summons Nahatomb.
Ghadius: I don't care. The world has already rejected me. Now it is simply my turn to reject the world.
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords:
- Darth Nihilus, an aptly named Sith Lord, pursues the destruction of all life because "all life exists to feed his hunger." At least this is how Visas describes him. Although in his case it's less of an ideal and more a result of his nature as an Eldritch Abomination. According to Kreia & Visas, he cares nothing for Sith ideals & philosophy and sees individuals as grains of sand compared to himself and the Force, but he apparently understands the religion well enough for his Virtual Ghost to insult Darth Krayt for his failings four thousand years later.
- By contrast, Evil Mentor Kreia follows Nietzsche's philosophy much more closely; her meditations on pity and suffering are practically a Cliff's Notes version of Daybreak.
- Library of Ruina has several characters who ascribe to some form of nihilism. Understandable, considering what kind of place the City is.
- The entity known as "The Crying Children" believes that everything will be stripped away from you sooner or later, and everyone will eventually abandon or betray you. So he decided that it would be best to spare yourself the heartbreak by never forming any attachment to anything. It's because said entity was Phillip, whom the Library, the Reverberation Ensemble and the Voice of the Distortion has been toying with since the beginning of his arc.
- Eileen is a leader of a cult that believes that mindlessly accepting your role as a "cog in the machine" is better than holding on to an ideal and pointlessly trying to change your destiny.
- Oswald believes that people don't actually want to hold themselves to a higher moral standard; they just expect other people to do so - which leads to disappointment when they inevitably fail to meet the piling mound of expectations. He himself believes that everyone would be better off if they would just lived in the moment and took everything in stride laughing.
- Roland himself turns out to be one. He rationalized that it's impossible for him to change the City and its cruel nature by himself, so he shouldn't even try to reject said cruelty.
- Mega Man Zero: Dr. Weil, shortly after explaining his particularly horrific origin for his immortality to Zero, undergoes an immense rant about how justice and freedom are worthless ideals, and then as his opening quote even dismisses ideals themselves as being meaningless or a lie.
Dr. Weil: Justice!? Freedom!? Worthless ideals! You Reploids are just machines, but you started a war a long time ago in the name of freedom! And humans! Look what they did to me! Driving me away while spouting the word "justice!" Zero, would you insist on saving them!? Controlling the Reploids is nothing! The destruction of all mankind is only fleeting! Not quite alive... Not quite dead... Forever, by my side! I'll make you suffer a fate far greater than anything ever experienced before![...]Ideals?! WHAT A LIE!!!
- Metal Gear has its fair share of examples:
- Sniper Wolf of Metal Gear Solid. She was waiting for someone to kill her, killing as many people as possible before then.
- Fortune in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. After losing her parents, husband, and her unborn child of three months, she joins the military, only to find that bullets and bombs can't hurt her. Fortune then goes on with the mission of using Arsenal Gear to use its hydrogen bomb just to kill as many people as possible since no one can kill her.
- Hot Coldman from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Greater-Scope Villain of the entire series. He jealously resented The Boss for being a Wide-Eyed Idealist and had her killed, saying that her ideals and the very concept of heroism is worthless. His Evil Plan was to nuke Cuba to prove that Mutually Assured Destruction is faulty and that nobody but himself would actually have the guts to push the button, preventing nuclear war by triggering it. Unfortunately for everyone, he was a Horrible Judge of Character and Big Boss narrowly manages to prevent World War III.
- Skull Face from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. While he does believe in the concept of hope, he sees it as nothing but a survival skill based on superficial qualities and otherwise dismisses it as unimportant.
- Before his boss fight in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Monsoon openly dismisses free will as a myth and religion as a joke.
- Lolo gets this applied in Namco High, and talks at great length about how nothing matters. Turns out she's just upset that friendships have to end, and Cousin is able to help her out of it in her route.
- The Astral Cat from Night in the Woods insists that the only certainties of existence are entropy, futility, and the drift of atoms that will ultimately be swallowed by the "hole in the center of everything."
- NieR: Automata: After Adam commits Suicide by Cop to experience true death, Eve concludes that life is meaningless and orders his Machine army to destroy everything.
- Also subverted when 9S discovers that humans are extinct and the Moon colony is trying to resurrect them from archives and protoplasm and decides that his purpose is to destroy his original purpose, because it caused him nothing but pain and wasn't even real. A2 calls him out for trying to hide his delusions and hatred behind nihilistic meaninglessness.
- Nihilumbra: Deconstructed. The title of the game should have given away that it would come up at some point.
- Onmyōji (2016): Susabi, the fucking downer who tosses such gems as "you must hide your gentleness, lest it become your weakness" and "the world is one big joke" to a child.
- Takahisa Kandori from the original Persona comes to the conclusion that life is meaningless after he becomes a God. It's justified in that the world created by his DEVA machine is based on the mind of Maki Sonomura, a chronically ill teenager who's been in constant debilitating pain her entire life.
- From Persona 2 there is Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, who is an embodiment of all of humanity's most negative and destructive qualities. And since that unfettered, nihilistic ideals make up part of what he is, it makes sense that he would have quite the nihilistic ideals himself.
Nyarlathotep: Understand, that there is no point in living! Cry, that there is no answer! Where there is darkness, there are shadows! I, myself, am all of you humans!!
- All of the human villains of Persona 3 fit into this trope, with their primary goal being the death of all of humanity. One -does- admit to being in it for the power he'll supposedly be given over the world if he brings about the Fall, but ultimately, because the Fall is the Fall...
- Persona 4:
- Shadow Teddie is a manifestation of real Teddie's repressed nihilistic feelings and hidden existential dread. His most powerful (well, it would be if it wasn't telegraphed) attack is even called "Nihil Hand".
- When confronted, the true killer (Adachi) claims that all life is troublesome and pointless, and thus people would be better off living as Shadows who are only aware of their own delusions and fantasies.
- Takuto Maruki from Persona 5 Royal is such in its bonus Third Semester scenario. Unlike most entries of this trope, he doesn't outright want anything to perish, but simply traps everyone in a Lotus-Eater Machine where all of their greatest wishes can be fulfilled so there will be no more meaningless suffering or pain in the world. While he doesn't actually kill anyone with this, it still deprives them for any room of change, moving foward or anything that defines a person in that regard, so it's still the end of everything much like the aforementioned Fall.
- Planescape: Torment: Coaxmetal, like Haer'Dalis (mentioned above) is a member of the Doomguard. However, he is not at all strawman-like, but very eloquent in explaining his beliefs. Life is change, change is entropy, entropy is death, death is stagnation. All things must undergo entropy and careen towards destruction, or stagnate, which is just another form of death. Death and destruction are inevitable, and there is nothing that can change that. And while he doesn't really see the necessity in expediting the process, he was created to forge the tools by which the universe can be unmade, so, by gum, that's what he's going to do. And Order is going to try and chain this cycle down to stop it, which would mean death and stagnation of a different, unnatural kind, which is where he definitely comes in.
"The incomplete and ugly world we have now can disappear. I am resetting everything to zero. Nothing can remain. It is all for making the ultimate world. A world of complete perfection. Nothing so vague and incomplete as spirit can remain."
- Cyrus from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl claims that life is meaningless, so it's perfectly acceptable for him to destroy the entire universe and create a new one in which he is a god and little things like emotions and the human soul do not exist:
- Ghetsis Harmonia from Pokémon Black and White and its sequels is this as part of his real personality. He believes that concepts like family and ideals are nothing but lies at best, and the only worthwhile goal in life is to pursue grandeur for yourself, no matter what. He also seems to believe that everybody in the world is just as evil as he is, but he is proven wrong over the course of the game (though it's heavily implied he's just projecting his own flaws onto the entire world).
- Red Dead Redemption II has Micah Bell of the Van der Linde Gang. At one of the camp's parties he goes on a lengthy rant about how life is a meaningless series of events and sensations between birth and death, with no hope of salvation or point to doing good. However, Arthur Morgan can be the exception if you play the cards right with his honor.
- Seraphic Blue has a rare protagonist example with Vene Ansbach, who was indoctrinated into killing her feelings to accomplish her duty to save the world from the Gaia Cancers. Unfortunately, that caused her to be devoid of joy and therefore find life completely worthless, to the point where she spawned a Literal Split Personality, the true Big Bad, Er, who wants to take her nihilism to its ultimate conclusion. Worse yet, Er goes on to recruit other jaded nihilists to her cause.
- The Reason of Shijima in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Sponsored by the Assembly of Nihilo, with the Übermensch Hikawa as its leader, it seeks to destroy and reconstruct the world as a place of utter, absolute stillness. It is a reality where mankind is subsumed into infinite peace and unity, with no passion, no conflict, and the total eradication of human consciousness and individuality. Should the Demifiend (the player) choose to support this Reason, the game ends with Hikawa congratulating him on an infinite, barren plain of complete silence and the bluest sky you have ever seen.
- The White in Shin Megami Tensei IV. They think that the world will suck regardless of whether Law or Chaos win because the cycle would start anew anyway since the conflict relies on Humans being around, so destroying Humanity's the only way to really win. You can choose to help them out if you wish,note but their arguments are portrayed as moronically silly by all three other sides, and aren't taken seriously. And with good reasons, as revealed in the Hunter Memos DLC of Apocalypse note
- Ramirez from Skies of Arcadia holds to the view that all of humanity is either corrupt (stating that they are driven by greed, hatred and bigotry) or weak (showing contempt for those who are incapable of defending themselves from him, or of using what power they possess to forcibly change the world), and uses these beliefs to justify attempted (and not-so-attempted) genocide. Curiously, he also holds to a somewhat more accurate Nietzschean philosophy, given that he believes his master, Lord Galcian, to essentially be an Übermensch, stating that Galcian is driven only by the will to power and the desire to use it to change the world, and that only such a man can unlock the world's true potential. He goes fully Straw Nihilist (and Omnicidal Maniac) when Galcian is killed, stating that the heroes have condemned the world by killing the only person who was capable of saving it.
- By extension, the Silvite Elders can be seen as this, and is theorized that the only reason Fina and Ramirez even exist is to call down the Rains of Destruction once again because humanity has become too corrupt... again. Fina even lampshades this after their Heroic Sacrifice by saying they finally believed in the future.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Mephiles the Dark from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), especially in the Showdown with Mephiles cutscene, where he, in a manner similar to Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions, questions why Shadow even attempts to oppose him and defend humanity when he will inevitably be persecuted.
Mephiles: It's futile. The world will betray you. Why fight at all? Why risk your life for those who will persecute you later?
- Zor from Sonic Lost World is even worse—almost nothing makes him happy, he finds no point in doing anything since we're all going to die anyway so none of it matters... in short the stereotypical angst-ridden emo teen.
Zor: Only the Reaper wins in the end.
- Merlina of Sonic and the Black Knight is a rare truly sympathetic example. She loves her world, but upon discovering that her world is doomed to end in ruin and warfare since it's Arthurian Legend, she became depressed and occasionally wondered why they should accomplish anything. And unlike most villainous nihilists, who use this as an excuse to commit massive atrocities with no care for others, her solution was to try to find a way to make her world eternal to avert the destruction, even if that eternity came at a cost.
Merlina: Why do flowers bloom knowing they are destined to wither? Their time of beauty is so short-lived.
- The End, the Big Bad of Sonic Frontiers and the Greater-Scope Villain of the franchise as a whole, undoubtedly embodies nihilism and through its perspective, life, existence and the universe is worthless, meaningless and in its words, teeming with chaos, due to how unpredictable it is, and so, by destroying all of existence and reverting the universe to nothing, The End believes that true order can be obtained and took on the role as a personification of death to do so, intending on bringing about the end of everything as we know it. However, its "noble" goals are merely delusions brought on by its arrogant nature and nihilistic thoughts, as it forces its beliefs onto countless civilizations because it views itself as the ultimate authority, showing that its delusions are solely motivated by ego. Subsequently, while it does believe what it's doing is right, it isn't above toying with others for no reason other than sheer sadism, showing that it takes pleasure in what it does, and is certain that the combined efforts of Super Sonic and the Titan Supreme won't be able to defeat it, comparing them to the lengths that the Ancients went to when imprisoning it. It declares Sonic's past foes finite, while declaring itself infinite, even to the point of considering itself as "nothing". To drive this home, the last lines of its monologue are as follows:
The End: You strike this incarnation with all your might. It changes nothing. You are not brave. You are not victorious. No matter what form I take... The End comes for you all!
- Mephiles the Dark from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), especially in the Showdown with Mephiles cutscene, where he, in a manner similar to Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions, questions why Shadow even attempts to oppose him and defend humanity when he will inevitably be persecuted.
- Soul Nomad & the World Eaters
- Gig has this attitude towards humans. And with him being The Grim Reaper, it goes without saying that the world he was responsible for was not having a good time until he got retired.
- In the Demon Path, Shauna becomes this after Trish's suicide.
- Reyva, should you win the final Demon Path battle, destroys reality itself since It Amused You.
- Luca Blight from Suikoden II. Being the genocidal psychopath that he is, he could very well carry out his plan to eradicate humanity by himself. To be fair, he's jumped off the slippery slope some time before the game began.
- In Super Paper Mario, Count Bleck is revealed to have become a nihilist after he lost his lover Timpani, so he decided that life was meaningless and wanted to destroy the entire multiverse with the Chaos Heart.
- In Tales of the Abyss there's Sync. He's a failed Clone of a Creepy Child (according to the manga: Sync's original likes keeping people as pets) that was thrown alive into a volcano. He Lived. His response? Essentially, he wants to die, and take the whole, meaningless world with him.
- The Talos Principle: No matter what philosophy you take, Milton finds a problem with it. As it turns out, this was not part of the program-while his purpose is to induce doubt and free will, being stuck in computer terminals watching countless thousands of failures has pushed him far across the Despair Event Horizon.
- Adam, leader of the Delphi cult in Trauma Center, who spread the GUILT plague to give humans the "blessing" of death they "deserve." He may or may not have included himself.
- Sargeras in the Warcraft universe was driven insane by the depthless evil of the demons he fought. He came to believe that chaos was the natural state of existence and that the unnatural order imposed by the Titans was responsible for creating the demons. Gathering the demonic races he created the Burning Legion to destroy all order in the universe and return it to chaos. Even after Sargeras was apparently killed (officially he's "absent"), Chris Metzen has stated that the Legion's current commander, Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, still follows his master's philosophy.
- Albedo from the Xenosaga series is a particularly horrifying and sadistic Straw Nihilist, gleefully traumatizing MOMO for no apparent reason and strewing his throne room with the corpses of other little girls. He tends to self-mutilate when he's bored, and talks a lot about how wonderful death is. He cracked when he realized he would live on after Nigredo and Rubedo die. ”I'm practicing so that when they die, I won't cry”, anyone?
- Jack from Antihero for Hire, as shown here.
- Ball and Chain's Nihilist Greg is a reasonably benign example, played for laughs.
- Dominic Deegan: Oracle For Hire has Celesto Morgan, who is determined to "cleanse the world" by killing a lot of people he thinks deserve to die, as exemplified in these strips. Dominic hinges on being one for a while in the same story arc, until he is shown a group of people who willingly sacrificed themselves to protect their friends; this shakes him out of the "The world is horrific" viewpoint he was holding.
It is worth noting that he isn't entirely evil—in more recent strips he negotiates with Deegan and tries to make a peace offering. He still tries to kill people, but at least one was a psychopath and another was a crime lord. He's become somewhat of a Knight Templar.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Lich von Vampire believes that all life exists to die. The cultists and Black Mage also seem to have a nihilistic philosophy. Possibly played for laughs, seeing as his point of argument was people building their homes where glaciers "would come screaming through" hundreds of thousands of years later.
- In Existential Comics, Nietzsche fails his student for being too much of a straw nihilist in saying life has no meaning. To be fair, though, this end result probably has more to do with Nietzsche being an unimaginably horrible teacher than anything else. It might just be another Morton's Fork where giving anything as an answer would have counted as failing too.
- Homestuck: Jadesprite, after her Unwanted Revival, starts taking this view. Jade ends up calling her out on this.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Galatea started out this way. She's one of the apparently rare cases where the hero successfully convinced her she was wrong, and she lightened up a little.
- In Kid Radd, GI Guy, rather accurately observing that video game sprites like himself are created for the purpose of killing each other, tries to destroy the entire sprite world, and humanity with it. Unlike most cackling madmen, he's convinced this is will be a mercy-kill and that it's in everyone's best interests.
- Mob Psycho 100 features Keiji Mogami, a ghost esper who grew to hate humanity because of how he was exploited by others and lost his mother when he was alive. This would lead to him trapping Mob in a Nightmare World to mentally destroy the boy's spirit so he can carry out his will and take vengeance on the human world. Thankfully it doesn't work.
- Greyview, the one speaking Worg so far in The Order of the Stick seems to view life as essentially a meaningless exercise in gathering treats ending in horrible death.
Greyview: Only certainty in life: when icy jaws of death come, you will not have had enough treats.
- The concept of a Straw Nihilist is parodied in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. The Straw Nihilist obsesses over the very concepts he deems meaningless and complains about it endlessly, while the actual nihilist spends his time amassing as much material wealth as he can.
- In Suppression Samantha Wight delivers a speech to this effect when she first appears, but on that same note believes their efforts to be so pointless that she lets them pass afterward. Which they would have done if Bael's Berserk Button hadn't been pressed a few too many times.
- The God-Emperor Jadis from Kill Six Billion Demons. As The Omniscient, Jadis knows everything, and this knowledge has driven her completely mad. Since nothing is unknown to her, Jadis finds it impossible to care about anything; it all ends in death anyway and is a speck of nothing against a backdrop of thousands of Kalpa of nothing that makes up the majority of existence. Jadis' dearest wish is to die, but given that 'everything' includes 'everything that happens after her own death' as well it's likely not even death will stop her suffering. Jadis inverts the standard of this trope in one way, however, in that she only became a nihilist after the Brown Note of her omniscience drove her mad.
- A Prayer To Futility from The Wanderer's Library is written from the perspective of such an individual.
- The titular character of Possum Reviews. He frequently makes jokes about how miserable his life is, and tells a robot that his life might be a simulation. In his review of The Amazing Bulk, he accidentally saves the world by knocking over the alien's weapon. He immediately remarks that he doesn't even feel heroic.
- Survival of the Fittest:
- Daphne Rudko has a viewpoint that can best be described as this, viewing humanity as nothing but parasites that must be destroyed and life as bleak and torturous, causing her to play not as much out of wanting to live (though that was a big part of it) as wanting everyone else to die. Then again, she's probably one of the few justified straw nihilists out there.
- Keith Christoph is a Deconstruction of this trope, as well as characters who become 'players' right off the bat.
- Spoofed with Meredith Hemmings, who continuously makes statements of this nature. However, it's pretty clear that she's just a poser and wannabe Goth, and that she doesn't believe a word of what she's saying. As a result, many characters tend to be dismissive of her.
- The Scarlet King from SCP Foundation is this, having been born a weak god who consumed his brothers and sisters to steal their strength and escape his pain and loneliness. Because his own existence started off so crappy, he views existence as a pointless exercise in pain and cruelty and wants to do away with the whole thing.
- A few episodes of Family Guy paint Brian Griffin as one. In "Brian Sings and Swings," a near-death experience leaves him questioning whether or not life has any meaning, as it could all end tomorrow. He then takes the opposite view when Frank Sinatra, Jr. (appearing As Himself) points out if that life does end tomorrow, people should live it up today. Unfortunately, Brian takes his new indulgent philosophy too far and ends up a drunken mess (just as he was in the first place). Surprisingly, it's Stewie who snaps Brian out of it by pointing out that while life as a whole may be inherently meaningless and beyond human control, there are things within that do matter and can be changed.
- "Brian and Stewie," the show's classic Bottle Episode, also discusses this. After spending the whole episode locked in a bank vault and driving each other crazy, Brian reveals that he's kept a loaded gun and bottle of scotch in a safe deposit box so he can have the option of taking one last drink, then killing himself. He explains that he still struggles to find meaning in life, and worries that there may be none. Again, Stewie responds with a declaration of love—not romantic love, but the love and respect one feels for a genuine friend. Brian expresses a similar sentiment to Stewie, and the baby muses that perhaps the only meaning in life is giving happiness to others, which Brian seems to accept.
- Miss Bitters from Invader Zim. She's played for laughs—but given what happens in a typical episode of the show, she looks like an optimist. Her rants / lessons tend to consist of telling her students how pointless existence is and how they are all doomed, doomed, doomed...
- Ironically, despite this and her role as a Sadist Teacher, even SHE wont tell her students why Valentines Day is now celebrated with gifts of meat products...
- Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon": The unmade episode "Life Sucks" would have revealed Ren to be one; the entire episode consists of Ren pounding it into Stimpy that life is nothing but meaningless, horrible, and stupid.
Ren: It's life, Stimpy! Meaningless! Stupid and cruel! I tell you life sucks!
- Spider-Carnage in the Grand Finale of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. An alternate-universe Peter Parker, he was already at the brink of madness due to his version of The Clone Saga—being possessed by the Carnage symbiote sent him to Omnicidal Maniac-level out of the belief that life was meaningless. It took a meeting with an alternate-universe Uncle Ben to make him snap out of it and fight off the symbiote's control.
- The Stunticon Dead End got to be like this at times during the course of the original The Transformers cartoon. It becomes a bit of a joke when you read his character biography, and learn that he is quite vain about his appearance and constantly stays polished and detailed. Because if he's gonna die, he's going to leave behind a nice looking corpse.
Dead End: What does it matter if I meet my fate now, or when my circuits fail?
- Qilby the Traitor in Wakfu sees individual fleeting lives as utterly meaningless after spending millenia trapped in an endless cycle of reincarnation cursed with the inability to forget his past lives, unlike the other original Eliatropes like Yugo who forget their past lives when they are reborn. As far as he's concerned, he and his sister Shinonome, who shares the same burden, are the only truly important individuals in the universe and it doesn't matter who else has to die as a consequence as long as they can spend eternity roaming the universe and contemplating its mysteries. And while he would prefer for the rest of the Eliatropes to join in on the ride to avoid being alone, if push came to shove he would still sacrifice them for his own selfish desires; after all, that's exactly what he did when he secretly started the war with the Mechasms that killed many of their people and ravaged their homeworld to convince the rest that a mass exodus was necessary, and he drew the Mechasms in and repeated the process at least more than once before they caught on to his deceit.
- Rick and Morty has main character Rick Sanchez often come off as this. Being one of the most brilliant scientific minds to ever exist, Rick has traveled all over time, space and other dimensions, and has become incredibly jaded, abusive and manipulative. It doesn't help that he's interacted with countless alternate versions of both himself and his family members, making everyone's lives seem interchangeable. However, some episodes have shown that Rick is actually in serious emotional pain and suicidal, and his nihilism is mostly a defense mechanism.
- Smiling Friends has Grim and Gnarly, otherwise known as the Frowning Friends. They're the evil counterparts of Pim and Charlie and commit several grand-scale crimes just for the hell of it. During their speech, Grim angrily shouts "NOTHING MATTERS BECAUSE WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE SOMEDAY!", but is revealed to actually be a gutless coward, since he immediately became a sobbing wreck when Mr. Boss threatened to shoot him.
- Lennart Bedrager from South Park, once his plan is revealed to plunge the world into chaos using his Troll Trace website to reveal everybody's Internet histories. He's completely careless about the current state of the world and wants to start a war and kill everybody just because he thinks it'd be the ultimate act of trolling to prove that "all this stuff they freak out about doesn't even matter." Gerald calls him out, saying that trying to prove that everybody's a bad person isn't even funny trolling, it's just pure cynicism and nihilism. Bedrager defends himself, claiming it's an act of "post-funny satire" instead.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars has Sinker as an example of this in Season 1, as he is trapped in an Escape Pod alongside his fellow clones Boost and Commander Wollfe and his Jedi General Plo Koon, after the attack on their fleet by the Seperatist Weapon Malevolence. While Koon tries to foster hope in the clones that they will be rescued and Wollfe at least has a spark of confidence, Sinker does not believe that they will be anyone searching for them and when his Jedi at one point asks why, he replies that as clones he, Boost and Wollfe are expendable. Justified due to their training and the horrible treatment the clone troopers often receive from almost anyone, who is no Jedi.
- Masters of the Universe: Revelation: After Skeletor shows Evil-lyn how big the universe is, she concludes that since individuals are so small, that they are insignificant and meaningless. She eventually decides to destroy everything because a meaningless universe does not deserve to exist. Teela stops her by showing her more of the universe and the creation of Eternia to convince her that the universe is beautiful, too, and worth preserving.
- Nil is an esoteric programming language based around the idea that your computer could interpret programming code as one. The interpreter in this programming language splits whole statements into pieces through a process that is known as "atomization." After that is done it determines that each part of the code is essentially meaningless. It then adds up all the meaningless stuff in the code and concludes that the entire operation is meaningless. It is therefore more expressive to implement an interpreter for itself, much more concisely than many 'proper' languages can and is very closely related to human language. Some even managed to process the entire old testament through this thing and it ended up barely comprehending it.
- Internet culture has developed the term "Edgelord" as a pejorative label for people who act like this online.