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The Cynic
aka: The Pessimist

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"Always predict the worst and you’ll be hailed as a prophet."

A character who believes that the world is, to put it lightly, a bad place. Whenever they describe something, expect them to Accentuate the Negative. If someone puts forward an idealistic or optimistic premise, the cynic is about equally likely to respond with 'That's moronic,' as 'That's a nice idea in theory, but it's never going to happen', probably pointing out all the flaws as they go. This character may be angry or indifferent to their (perceived) Crapsack World, or may be heavily critical and sarcastic.


An extreme version of The Cynic is The Pessimist/Misanthrope, who always expect the worst out of everyone and everything (Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, the world tends to maximum entropy, Humans Are Morons and/or Humans Are Bastards, and that morality is grey and grey, grey and black or black and black). If used badly, you can expect them being called out as wangsty.

The Trope Namers, the Greek Cynics, were not especially cynical as we now understand the term - they believed that people should reject all conventional notions of happiness, like those that involved wealth, power, fame, idealism, etc., and live a simple, natural life with no possessions, sharing some similarities with Buddhism. However, many of the Cynics (such as Diogenes of Sinope) took the philosophy to its extreme, criticizing Classical idealism while also preaching poverty and ugliness ('cynic' is from the Greek word kynikos, 'dog-like'). Which is why the Cynics are depicted by the Enlightenment as hateful Straw Nihilists.


This character is likely to show up in either a Crapsack World, where they are always right, or in a Sugar Bowl, where they exist solely to be proven wrong. Of course, in more realistic settings, more nuanced forms of cynics can also turn up, their rightness index varying.

Polar opposite of The Idealist. Compare/contrast The Stoic. See also Cynicism Tropes, Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.

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This is a Super-Trope, so examples should go to the relevant subpages if possible.


Alternative Title(s): The Pessimist


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