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The Confidant

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"Why in the hell am I telling all of this to you?!"

By their nature, characters have problems, issues, traumas, and sundry emotional baggage they need to lay down, even if only for a moment. However, finding someone to confide in isn't easy. Some don't care about anyone else's problems but their own, some characters feel they can't trust their secrets to others (or outright know telling anyone they know their problem won't end well), and a few feel that no one can really understand what troubles them.

Enter The Confidant. He or she or it (statuary and inanimate objects can serve this purpose, as can pets) is the one person that the character can confide in. The Confidant doesn't just listen though; they understand and keep the secret, no matter how much it sucks. They may or may not have profound, sensible, or well reasoned advice; sometimes just listening can help the character achieve an epiphanic Eureka Moment. The Confidant can be any cast member or a one time only character. Interestingly, The Confidant isn't necessarily everyone's Confidant; there may be a daisy chain of confidants in the story.

For extra kicks, they might be a powerful or influential person who proceeds to use their connections to help the character. Though usually a Nice Guy or gal, even a Jerk Ass can show a softer side this way. The Bartender is often saddled with this as a professional hazard because In Vino Veritas, whereas the Chatty Hairdresser tends to treat their customers as their confidant. It's often a trait of the Fixer Sue becuse She is always there to listen to everyone's problems, even people who wouldn't ordinarily admit they had any problems to themselves, much less admit them to another person, and Mary-Sue fixes them single-handedly. For these reasons, The Confidant provides a good way to get a character to spill out their guts without necessarily monologuing about how That Makes Me Feel Angry.

Naturally, this is a common form of The Reliable One, as a requirement for being a Best Friend. They are also likely to act as Love Confessors.

For characters with a secret identity or other important secret, a confidant is often also a Secret Keeper.

This Stock Character was used in ancient Greek drama, which makes it Older Than Feudalism.


Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Code Geass C.C. becomes this to Lelouch, as she knows his deepest secret (his geass power) he confides everything in her.
  • Inori Yuzuriha of Guilty Crown is this to the often troubled and uncertain protagonist. He makes a point of how she always stayed loyal to him, no matter how bad their situation got, or how everybody else turned on him.
  • Hayasaka from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War acts as one for Kaguya. Having been her servant and close friend since childhood, she is the only one that Kaguya acts genuinely friendly towards.
  • Kyrie from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection often spoke with her Childhood Friend Iris about her worries and feelings of inferiority towards her sister. This is ultimately a deconstruction, since Iris was a False Friend who preyed on Kyrie's insecurities to turn her into a pawn in her quest for revenge against Yuri. And Kyrie was so emotionally dependent on her that she was unable to fight back when Iris revealed her betrayal.
  • In Naruto, Naruto sees a kindred spirit in Hinata, which allows him to let the mask slip in front of her and confess to her how he really feels about himself in Chapter 98: he only puts up a strong front so people wouldn't know about his embarrassment and frustration at his own ineptitude. Considering that almost everyone in Konoha is still avoiding him like the plague at this point, and even his own teammates, while starting to grow somewhat fond of him, still find him too annoying to be around a lot, let alone care about his problems, this is the only time Naruto ever reveals his deep thoughts to anyone. Not only does Hinata hear him out, she also reassures him that he's truly strong because he never gives up in trying to overcome his failures. This is the foundation of their strong friendship and eventual romance.
  • After a rocky start, Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion comes to spill many of his fears, troubles and daddy-related worries to Rei Ayanami. There's this poignant little scene where we see him comfortably talking to her in episode 22, after everything else has fallen apart.
    • The page quote comes from a scene where Asuka Langley Soryu starts spilling out her feelings about her stepmother to Shinji. She doesn't normally treat Shinji as a confidant - she treats him in a far too aggressive manner for most of the time for that, and Hikari, who is implied to be her only friend other than the other pilots, serves that role for her - but this occurred when she was undergoing progressive Sanity Slippage due to 'losing' to Shinji repeatedly (she was easily defeated by Zeruel and his sync-rate test score then surpassed hers), eventually culminating in her being Mind Raped. The implication is that she just vented her feelings at him because she was feeling particularly unstable. As well, it's very heavily implied later in the same episode that she loves him.
  • In Oreimo, Kyosuke becomes this to his younger sister Kirino after finding out her secret hobby and affirming that he'd support her.
  • In Re:Zero, Rem acts like this to Subaru during the third arc. Subaru is at his lowest point, finds himself at the depths of despair when he thinks everything is lost and there's nothing he can do about it. Rem is there to listen to his troubles and give him the courage to not give up and try again.
  • In Saint Beast, Luca fulfils this role for Judas. Being The Quiet One and The Lancer, he makes a specialty of it.
  • The World God Only Knows: Keima says that this trope is essential to conquests: "A girl's troubles are an ace in the hole; acquire them even if it costs your life." When he becomes this for Kanon, he believes his victory to be inevitable.

     Comic Books 
  • Batman: Alfred is this to Bruce Wayne because he's the closest Bruce has to a living father, in addition to being his man in the batcave.
  • Spider-Man: Mary Jane Watson became this for Peter Parker after she revealed that she knows he is Spider-Man. After that he has someone with which to share his Comes Great Responsibility troubles.

     Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, and particularly in the sequel, Ghosts of the Past, Carol develops into this for Harry. There's a number of reasons why, but it has a lot to do with the facts that: a) she's usually right alongside him in whatever insane (and frequently, ludicrously traumatic) scenario he's found himself in this time, so she usually has the inside track on what's happened - which is important, if whatever happened was too painful for Harry to really want to talk much about, b) they have an increasingly close friendship flavoured by UST that eventually evolves into an Anchored Ship, c) after the first chapter of the sequel, as a side-effect of her letting him in her mind to perform some well-intentioned but inexpert psychic therapy, they wind up with a Psychic Link, meaning that he doesn't actually have to say things, as such.
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero: Kyon's aunt Rika Fuurude is this for Kyon, though she had to reveal her own supernatural trials first in order to make Kyon trust her with his secrets.
  • Kyoshi Rising; Sun the Wandering Minstrel becomes this for the titular heroine, being there to hear out her complaints and fears about being the Avatar and helping to rein her in if she slips too far into Knight Templar mode.
  • In Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja, Hinata is this to Naruto just like she is in canon (see above) when he confesses to her his doubts about being able to win against Gaara, but Naruto also doubles as this to her in Chapter 3 when she confesses her complete lack of self-confidence to him and he encourages her not to give up.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Reflecting Balance, Hercules the Heracross is this to Blitz, being the only one who knows the real reason why Blitz moved to Fenix town. Until Sera and Chiaki found out in Chapter 22, that is.
  • Pony POV Series: Applejack is this learns a lot of ponies problems inflicted on them by Discord's Mind Rape by looking into the Truth, but can be trusted to only use them to help them. This is especially true when it comes to Rainbow Dash having faked being Discorded.
  • Pretender: Frederick becomes one to Robin being one who prevented Robin's suicide attempt and whom Robin tells about his issues being an amnesiac with no past and his feelings for Chrom.
  • Corrin Reacts: Azura is this to Corrin, who trusts her with his plans. Being as she is a Deadpan Snarker, she provides her own kind of advice in return, much to Corrin's exasperation.
  • Rules: Light has two: Elijah/L and Charlie. The former is his best friend, and the only person besides Ryuk that he can be completely open and honest with, both in his regular life and as Kira. The latter is the one he confesses his fears and insecurities, and finds comfort and genuine advice in return, a talk that becomes the basis for their romantic relationship.

     Film 
  • In Holiday, Ned's main function is to provide his sister with a sympathetic ear and a timely pep talk.
  • In Maleficent, the titular character's shape-shifting raven servant, Diaval, is meant to serve as her spy, but with him as her only company for sixteen years, he becomes this, as well as a companion.

     Literature 
  • The Aeneid: Dido's sister Anna is such an archetype of this trope that Shakespeare referenced it in The Taming of the Shrew; see "Theater" below.
  • On the Discworld, witches typically fill the role of confidant in their towns.
  • In Dragaera there are the Discreets, people trained to be the confidants of the powerful.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, this is the primary purpose of the Monarch's Own Herald. The position was established soon after the founding of Valdemar as a way to give the Monarch, who as a Herald him/herself would feel The Chains of Commanding most forcefully, an absolutely trustworthy and incorruptible advisor. Queen's Own Talia exemplifies this, with the added bonus of being The Empath so Selenay doesn't even have to tell her how she feels.
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves is to Bertie and Bertie to most of his friends, although it's often because they're hoping to get Jeeves' advice and assistance secondhand.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric is the only person with whom Kasile feels comfortable venting about The Chains Of Command. Part of this is because she can't hide anything from him anyway (due to being Mind Link Mates) and part is because he has absolutely no interest in her queenly title or her court and is thus impartial, and except for their friendship, unconnected.
  • The Man Who Carried Trouble has Bill pouring out his trouble to the title character.
  • The Mortal Instruments: Isabelle Lightwood confides in her mother, Maryse about the problems in her parents' marriage.
  • Psmith: Mike to Psmith but Psmith likes to have an audience, so he makes Mike his "confidential secretary and adviser."
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Davos is this to the notoriously coldhearted Stannis, being one of the few men he can trust and show self-doubt in front of.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Sonya Karp realized Lissa was a fellow spirit before the majority of the cast. She kept the secret. She was also aware that her cousin Emily Mastrano was mother to Jill, an illegitimate daughter of royalty. She was Emily's sole confidant in that respect.
    • Daniella Ivashkov was the confidant of Eric Dragomir. She knew he had an illegitimate daughter.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Min is this for Rand throughout much of the books. Whether he is ranting or thinking out loud, she is always there for him - sometimes just listening, sometimes giving advice or opinions. As she does not have any political or power agenda of her own, this is one of her primary functions in the series. As Rand slowly goes insane, she is among the last that he ever suspects of being against him (obviously a large reason for that is because they are in love).

     Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Tara becomes this to the Slayer over her destructive love affair with Spike. Buffy is so traumatized over the fact that she had basically become her Arch-Enemy Faith that she begs not to be forgiven.
    • Spike himself acts in this role at the beginning of the season; a sign that she's drawn more towards him than to her friends. Spike offers an alternate explanation in "Once More With Feeling" — the fact that he's a vampire means that Buffy can tell herself that her confessions to Spike aren't real like confiding to her friends would be.
  • Cheers: A guy came in looking for Gus, a bartender that used to work there, because he had a big problem that the other bartender would be able to help with, but Gus hadn't worked there for years. Finally Coach got sick of the guy going on and on about how great the other bartender was and took on solving the guy's problem himself. It involves the man's son and his fiancee, who is black.
    Coach: It's a problem of communication. Here's what you do you get home, and you sit the kids down, and you say to your boy - what's your boy's name?
    Leo: Ron.
    Coach: Uh, Ron. What's Ron's fiancee's name?
    Leo: Rick.
    Coach: Rick... here's what you say you say, "Rick, Ron..." Rick and Ron?
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • When Matt is having self-doubts about his work as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, he turns to confessionals with Father Lantom for moral advice.
    • Foggy attempts to function as one to Matt once he learns Matt's secret identity but it's hamstrung by Foggy's own fears about Matt getting hurt at night.
    • By the time of The Defenders (2017), Karen Page has become one for Matt, plus Frank Castle and Danny Rand.
  • Frasier: Niles Crane often plays this role, usually towards his titular older brother and anyone who has a problem with said older brother. Almost every time Frasier gets into trouble, his very first reaction is to go running to find Niles in order to spill the whole story and/or ask for advice, which Niles always genuinely and thoughtfully (though sarcastically) delivers.
  • Game of Thrones: Shae to Sansa, after being made her handmaiden, to the point where HBO's website once listed her as part of the Stark household as opposed to the Lannisters. Particularly noticeable in "The Climb", where Shae is aware of Sansa's engagement to Ser Loras Tyrell, and apparently did not even tell Tyrion about it.
  • On Glee, Quinn and Kurt become Confidants for Sam, after they learn by different ways (Quinn by dating him, Kurt by running into him when he was making pizza deliveries) that his family has lost their house and is living out of a motel room and a car. Both of them find ways to help Sam, and keep his secret even under extreme pressure when the WMHS rumour-mill starts turning in extremely unflattering fashion to all three.
  • Inspector Lynley has his confidant in his partner Sergeant Barbara Havers. Although he has other close friends in the show, two of them are Brother Chucked after the pilot and the other is his wife - who he either can't confide in because his issues have to do with her, or won't confide in about anything else for any number of other reasons. Meanwhile, he is also Barbara's confidant, where the issue is much more straightforward — he is the only person she has to confide in, period.
  • Chloe Sullivan from Season 5 onwards, became this to Clark Kent in Smallville. Though, sometimes, the burden of keeping Clark's secret, along with his relationship issues, a Lonely Rich Kid who was a former friend of Clark's gets obsessive about finding Clark's secret, and his Love Interest not being too forefront herself, does get to her, and she lets Clark know about it whenever he's being inconsiderate, or upset because of any of the above.
  • Supernatural: Bobby got sick of Sam & Dean leaning on him all the time, especially when he had his own problem - Crowley (a Middle-Management Mook type demon) had his soul.

     Theatre 
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Tranio serves as this to Lucentio.
    "...And now in plainness do confess to thee
    That art to me as secret and as dear
    Tranio, I burn, I pine, I perish, Tranio,
    If I achieve not this young modest girl.
    Counsel me, Tranio, for I know thou canst.
    Assist me, Tranio, for I know thou wilt."

    Toys 
  • GoGo's Crazy Bones has two characters like this:
    • Angiru, a standard confidant that other Gogos can tell their secrets to, ensuring that the secrets are forever safe in his mind.
    • Tsu from the Megatrip set, who keeps other Gogos' secrets safe in her hair.

     Video Games 
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Link becomes this for Zelda once the latter gets over her initial jealousy of the former's apparent ease in meeting the expectations of his destiny. Turns out Link was just as anxious about fulfilling his duties as a knight and as Zelda's bodyguard as Zelda was about sealing Calamity Ganon with powers she cannot awaken. Once Zelda finds this out and starts sharing her own insecurities with him, they become close friends. Link also becomes this for Riju, who becomes more open with him about her own insecurities once he retrieves the stolen Thunder Helm for her.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In the Mass Effect 2 DLC Lair Of The Shadow Broker, it is possible for Liara to become this for Shepard, allowing Shepard to express his or her feelings of grief, frustration, or helplessness about the mission to Liara in a way that they would be unable to do towards any of their crew. This is an attempt by Liara to redress the fact that Shepard tends to act as this for everybody else.
    • In Mass Effect 3, this role moves over to Garrus who, as one of the longest-serving and most loyal of Shepard's True Companions, doesn't need any soft soap about how the war is going. He's also practically the only one who Shepard sees fit to talk to about the burden of command thanks to Garrus' stints as a squad leader in-between games (as Achangel on Omega between 1 and 2 and as commander of the turian "Reaper task force" between 2 and 3).
  • Tales of Berseria:
    • Eleanor eventually becomes this to Velvet despite their extremely rocky start. Following the group's escape from Innomiant, Velvet lets Eleanor in on certain things that she doesn't tell the other party members, and Eleanor keeps quiet about it. There are a few occasions they have private discussions, especially when they are heading to the last battle, and Velvet more or less confesses to Eleanor there is a chance she might not make it. Eleanor then makes a promise to look after Laphicet if anything does happen.
    • Alternatively, in an optional skit Eleanor tells Velvet she is all she's got when it comes to disclosing or discussing certain topics as well.

     Web Comics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Kat becomes this to Annie, an antisocial girl who tends to bottle up her emotions. The fox spirit Reynard is this to both of them, and generally acts as a mediator in their friendship.
    • Kat inverts this in the 'Catalyst' chapter, after she realizes that she's bisexual and kisses Paz. Annie walks in on the two, and Kat comments that if Annie knows it, she doesn't care who else does.
  • Homestuck:
    • Karkat is one of the few people willing to put up with Eridan's melodramatic shenanigans and take him seriously. Kanaya is one of the few people willing to put up with Karkat's rudeness and take him seriously.
    • It's implied that a good moirallegiance involves the two participants becoming this to each other.

     Web Original 
  • Noob: Ash exploits this trope when it comes to Tenshirock, with whom he shares an odd Villainous Friendship. The dialog between the two is 90% Tenshirock explaining to Ash his latest plan to drive people off MMORPG or refusing to help with Ash's Real Money Trade activities and Ash snarking back. In Season 5, it turns out that Ash has been trying to pry a piece of information out of Tenshirock for several years and been gravitating around him in the hope he'd let it slip. When another character shows up offering Ash an information exchange with Ash being able to choose what he wants, his immediate reply is "I want to know Tenshirock's secret.".

     Western Animation 
  • In The Legend of Korra, Korra is suffering a Heroic B.S.O.D. after being poisoned by Zaheer. She's home at the South Pole to recover from being paralyzed and to get the Avatar state back. While all of her friends send her letters, she only responds to Asami, telling her about all of her fears and struggles.
  • Steven Universe: The episode "Rose's Scabbard" reveals that Pearl was Rose Quartz's sole confidant, and she shares those secrets with Steven since he has Rose's gem. She later suffers a Heroic B.S.O.D. when she finds out that there were some secrets (such as Lion's existence) that Rose kept even from her.
    • This becomes much more harsh when the truth about what happened to Pink Diamond is revealed. Pearl knew because she was Pink Diamond's Pearl, but was physically unable to tell anyone for thousands of years, even after Rose's "Death."
  • In Thundercats 2011 Court Mage and Old Retainer Jaga suspects that young Rebel Prince Lion-O has seen a vision during a Rite of Passage, and is frightened of disclosing it because of a reputation as a Cloudcuckoolander and family Black Sheep. To prompt Lion-O to confide in him, Jaga notes that legend says "... our greatest king will possess the ability of "Sight Beyond Sight." which prompts Lion-O to ask a Trial Balloon Question about visions. After a pep talk, Lion-O is won over, and says he has something to tell Jaga.

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