Follow TV Tropes

Following

The Perfectionist

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_perfectionist.jpg

"I don't need a me who isn't perfect!"
Advertisement:

A character that has to be perfect at what they do, or at everything they do.

There's a variation when some sort of special event is going on, where there's usually one crazy organizer who takes charge and the rest just go along. This chief organizer has a pretty good chance of becoming an overbearing perfectionist.

Of course, said person obviously needs to learn that nothing is perfect in life. After all, if it was, it'd be pretty boring. Whether or not the message gets through is up to the character.

In a Four-Temperament Ensemble, this character is Choleric or Melancholic.

Compare and contrast Super OCD (even if in Real Life perfectionism is more likely to be a trait of OCPD), as well as the Ultimate Life Form and Go-Getter Girl, who is "perfect". Also compare the Broken Ace, who often overlaps with this character. Contrast Deliberate Under-Performance, when a character goes out of their way to not be perfect at something.

Advertisement:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: One of Ichigo's Fatal Flaws; she takes any kind of failure, no matter how small or justifiable, very seriously and believes it reflects laziness on her part. Thus, whenever even the slightest thing goes wrong, she tends to panic.
  • Death the Kid from Soul Eater. Symmetry is just his most prominent obsession. Others span from trivial ones like writing his name perfectly on test paper to maintaining a perfect balance of good and evil in the world.
  • For Chiri from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, everything has to be done "properly" ... even things that are not right, if you don't do them the right way.... let's just say things don't get pretty.
  • Deconstructed with Machi in Fruits Basket. Throughout her childhood, she was forced to be absolutely perfect. Now, perfection actually causes her to snap and wreck things intentionally.
  • Asuka Langley Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion, will not accept anything less of herself than being the best among the Evangelion pilots, because the integrity of her incredibly low self-esteem depends on it. The idea of Shinji surpassing her starts her breakdown.
  • A Certain Magical Index has Shizuri Mugino, at least before her Heel–Face Turn. Shiage Hamazura noted that if she hadn't been obsessed with a perfect victory, she would have been able to kill him in an instant. Instead, she toyed with him while waiting for the perfect moment to end the fight, allowing him to counterattack. He also describes her as someone who will freak out if they beat a video game without doing 100% completion.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, the teacher Ukyo Kitano acts like this when possessed by No. 34: Terror-Byte, to the point that he devotes some of his resources to make sure he never takes any damage. In his normal persona, he's a kind man who encourages his students to take risks and learn from their mistakes.
  • Henry Wong from Digimon Tamers has this as one of his few flaws. In addition to the inherent problems this causes, it comes into conflict with his pacifism, since perfectionism abhors compromise.
  • Miki Aono/Cure Berry from Fresh Pretty Cure! usually peppers her words with "Perfect" to the point her Catchphrase is "I'm perfect!". As an aspiring model, she usually goes out of her way to keep up with her perfect appearance and manner, but unlike most of the examples here, she could take failures better, by lamenting "I'm not perfect...". Also, if she really perceives that something is really her fault or there's bigger stakes at hand, she'd ignore whatever imperfect look she had, in order to fix that fault or solve that stake. Unlike most examples here, however, Miki remains a positively good and sane girl despite her 'perfectionist' stance.
  • In Beastars, Louis strives to be the perfect candidate to become a Beastar; the top animal of the world who leads the rest. He has everything working for him and is Cherryton's top student. However, he is specially aware how his herbivore status limits certain areas he is not proud to admit and thus does everything in his power to avoid showing any sort of weakness to avoid getting pitied. It doesn't help his past practically had him be herbivore meat fodder at a young age until he was saved, adopted, and raised to be the man he is today.
  • In Bleach, although one would expect him to be one considering his love for experimentation, Mayuri makes it quite clear that he absolutely loathes perfection. To him, perfection means there is no place left for additional knowledge and abilities and thus nothing left else for him as a scientist to strive for.
  • In Naruto, the Sunny-Side Battle! OVA has Itachi attempting to make breakfast: every single one of his eggs is a failure in some way. Everyone else would just pick the eggshell out of the yolk or, if that seems too Squicky, settle for the egg whose yolk dripped out. But Itachi is having none of that. His sunny-side up egg has to be absolutely perfect.
  • Death Note: The crux of Light Yagami's beliefs and moral code runs around this. He gets perfect grades in school? That's good. He's athletic, intelligent and charismatic? That's good. He just murdered a man using an Artifact of Doom? That's... it's... It is good. It has to be good. He has to be good. He has to be perfect, and if the only way to ensure that he is perfect is to establish himself as God by forcing his brand of justice upon the world, in the process murdering everyone who is imperfect and bad according to him, then so be it.
  • Anne Sieber in Boarding School Juliet demands that her subordinates put forth nothing less than their absolute effort in every task, even if that task is as small as pinning up posters (they must be uncreased and perpendicular, she says). When Romeo questions this mindset, she fires him, preferring to do all the work alone rather than accept inferior help. This makes her really hard to work alongside, despite her considerate nature.
  • Shirogane from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is obsessed with maintaining his perfect student council president image. He takes studying very seriously, and any shortcomings he may have (of which there are a lot) are painstakingly rooted out and overcome. Part of this effort is motivated by his desire to stand as Kaguya's equal and prove that he's good enough for her. The rest is because he was abandoned by his mother as a child when he didn't meet her insanely high standards.
  • Yuki from Namaikizakari is a perfectionist, at least when it comes to her club manager duties which she takes very seriously. It makes her reliable, but also causes her personal life to suffer.

    Arts 
  • David has long been praised as absolute perfection of human anatomy. Michelangelo worked for two years straight on David, sleeping rarely and eating sparsely. There are hundreds of tiny details that you can see, from the raised veins on his hand from the grip on the stone to the small genitals, not only standard for the time and area but also an example of pre-battle shrinkage.

    The only notable anatomy flaw is that of a missing muscle in the back. But it was necessary. A flaw in the block of marble prevented Michelangelo from carving it, as mentioned in a letter he released at the time of finishing. It's the same flaw (among others) that had the block of marble sitting in a plaza for 40 years before Michelangelo took a chance.

    Comic Strips 
Advertisement:

    Fan Works 
  • Twilight Sparkle in Stardust upon being asked to take a break after working for nineteen hours: "Sleep is for B minus ponies. I'm an A+ pony."
  • Vigil in The Irony Of Applejack has this as one of his defining traits. It also counts as his Fatal Flaw.
  • Shirou in Fate Revelation Online became this as a blacksmith. If the sword he created didn't match what he envisioned, he immediately breaks it down and uses the materials to try again. Lisbeth doesn't understand how he can be so good at his job and yet, for quite a while, not produce a single sword he didn't deem a failure.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, the Stardroid Terra sees any sign of imperfection as disgusting, even extending to things such as dirt.
  • Lord Shen works for perfection in many aspects throughout The Vow, like his fighting style and appearance, the gifts and training for self-defense he gives Lianne, his coming wedding and his attempts to be theatrical.
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Nova Shine is a textbook case, coupled with a large side-helping of Heroic Self-Deprecation when he fails to live up. He's immensely self-critical of how he was able to match Twilight Sparkle's spells during their first assessment but not the ease at which she could cast them, punishes himself for yelling at Twilight after she pushed his buttons one too many times, exiles himself to her basement for a whole week after he failed to make peace with his parents (even though his only goal earlier that day had been to make peace with a completely different pony, which he did succeed at), and won't even talk to her during that time.
  • In Where Talent Goes To Die, Reiko Mitamura is an honors student with an upstanding reputation who feels great pressure to stay that way, especially after being recognized for her talent as the Ultimate Proofreader, which fits her personality. This is also her undoing. Afraid of what would happen if she got a bad grade, Mitamura cheated on a test, and after Monokuma threatens to release the information, she commits murder in order to graduate and keep said information secret.
  • This gets a woman akumatized in Burning Bridges, Building Confidence. She wanted her family's Parisian vacation to be absolutely picture-perfect, and her dismay over her plans falling apart is exploited by Hawkmoth to transform her into Idealizer. This grants her the power to alter her surroundings so that they fit what she saw in the brochures, bright and crisp and clean... and turning anyone who gets caught in her magic into living props, frozen in various poses.

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rollercoaster of Friendship, Vignette Valencia cops to this during a Motive Rant, where she wonders why anyone can like something that's not perfect. In practice, Vignette changes her mind on a whim if she thinks something about her costumes or her designs aren't absolutely perfect, which leads to those who work under her getting easily frustrated.
  • The LEGO Movie: Lord "All I want is total perfection" Business, to the point where he doesn't believe in failure. This normally results in him exacting his murderous wrath on anyone when an imperfection turns up. He has also created a Police State where everyone has to follow the instructions, otherwise they will be put to sleep, connected with his hatred of Master Builders who are a lot more chaotic and individualistic than his system is. Mostly because he is a representation of Finn's father in real life, who likes order and control and doesn't want anyone messing with his LEGO sets.
  • Georgette from Oliver & Company ends up blowing the cover of the crew, who are supposed to be sneaking around, by screaming in horror after breaking a nail.
  • Lord Farquaad in Shrek was obsessed with making Duloc perfect. This is why he expelled all the fairy tale creatures as he viewed them as ruining his perfect image. He intended to marry Princess Fiona, viewing her as perfect, to officially have the title of king and make Duloc a kingdom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Nina's Fatal Flaw in the Black Swan.
  • Dave Made a Maze:
    • Dave repeatedly says throughout the movie that the maze "isn't finished" despite it being gigantic.
    • Harry also has shades of being a perfectionist in regards to the documentary he's directing. He repeatedly asks for retakes on people's genuine reactions to things that happen inside the maze, implying that they weren't as emotional as he would have liked.
  • In Pacific Rim, both Chuck Hansen and Mako Mori are perfectionists who have no social life, very few if any friends, and are completely invested in the Jaeger Program. They don't tolerate failure from anyone, including themselves.
  • Louisde Funes was one both in- and out-of-character.
  • TRON: Legacy: "I'm Clu. I will create the perfect system."

    Literature 
  • Mentioned by the Navy psychiatrist as one of Lt. Queeg's faults in The Caine Mutiny.
  • Thoroughly Deconstructed in The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, with the titular character.
  • In Terra Ignota, the Utopians are an entire quasi-nation of perfectionists due to attracting this particular type of members. They always take the time to do everything perfectly, no matter how small an error or how long it takes. For example, the worldwide transit system is controlled by the Humanist Hive and is the safest, fastest, and most efficient transit system in human history. There was an accident which resulted in a number of Utopians (and others) dying. Everyone else accepted it as an unfortunate statistical error, but the Utopians removed themselves from the Humanist system and created their own transit system. It is slower and smaller, but it has never caused even one death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Monica Geller from Friends, especially in later seasons when Flanderization set in.
  • Bree van de Kamp from Desperate Housewives, especially in the first season. Her second husband Orson could qualify too.
  • Boston Legal: Denny Crane has never lost a case. Nowadays he only takes cases he thinks it's a lock to win, and/or takes second chair in cases so if his side does lose it doesn't count for his stats.
  • Game of Thrones: A defining feature of Tywin Lannister. Tywin is obsessed with House Lannister's reputation, never misses an opportunity to point out his children's flaws and disrespects anyone that does not live up to his standards... which is everyone else but himself. On the other hand, his perfectionism is one of the major reasons he is aware of everything that goes on around him and what makes him a deadly strategist.
  • In Star Trek, the entire Borg Collective is this trope, with special mention for Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Masato Jin/BeetBuster of Tokumei Sentai Go Busters is an inversion of this trope. While he sees nothing wrong with perfection, he feels that flaws make things more interesting.
  • Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory counts, he constantly tells everyone how smart he is, and organizes everything he does to the smallest detail.
  • Recurring character Craig "The world's most perfect paramedic" Brice on Emergency!. He drives the main characters nuts with his insistence on doing everything perfectly.
  • Detective Amy Santiago in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, who describes herself as "a little OCD". This is a little like saying that the Atlantic Ocean is "a little wet". Detective Jake Peralta is an interesting case, in that he initially appears to be a lazy slacker who doesn't take anything seriously, but he can be surprisingly intense when it comes to doing his job successfully; he just has slightly different standards of 'perfect' than others.
  • One of the My Kitchen Rules judges, Colin Fassnidge, is known for setting a very high standard for himself and others. Suffice to say, this gives him a reputation of being ultra-critical and awfully hard to please, and the scores he gives to the contestants is almost always in the lower margin.
  • Lito in Sense8 always asks the director to film one more take, even after he's told that he nailed it.
  • Deconstructed with Vanessa from Backstage: When she gets a role in a ballet production of Cinderella, she obsesses so much over dancing perfectly that she isn't able to relax and enjoy herself, which negatively affects her during rehearsals. Worse yet, she initially takes her teacher's attempts to remedy this as personal attacks, though she eventually eases up.
  • In the Pilot Episode for the Amazon Studios series The Interestings, the members of the title group are having a hypothetical discussion about living people who could be God in disguise. When Ash Wolf (another member of the group) is brought up as a candidate, the suggestion is immediately shot down because Ash fits this trope. "She would never have let a mistake like Dick Nixon slide."
  • Doogie Howser, M.D. deals with a patient who keeps having plastic surgery after plastic surgery, always in despair because every single inch of her body doesn't look perfect yet. When Doogie tries to convince her to lay off and accept herself as she is, she absolutely freaks out.
  • Schitt's Creek has mother and son Moira and David Rose. Moira is a White-Dwarf Starlet who throws herself into her acting gigs, even if it's a ridiculous soap opera or schlocky B-movie. She also becomes a meticulous director of a community theatre production. David is a Bunny-Ears Lawyer when it comes to retail, not understanding or caring about paperwork, but he always makes sure the products in his store are well-packaged, of high-quality and displayed appropriately.
  • Fosse/Verdon portrays real-life collaborators and married couple Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon as absolute perfectionists when it comes to their work.
  • The Twilight Zone (2019): In "Try Try" Mark has become one, trying to make his date with Claudia perfect. When she rejects him nonetheless, it sends him over the edge.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Canonically in most Dungeons & Dragons settings, it's a traditional mentality of elves. This means they spend centuries to improve some or other art, craft or fighting style as far as they can. So they end up regularly doing stuff that amazes others but being too focused on refinement to ever do much of anything at all.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Yawgmoth, and by extension, every Phyrexian is obsessed with perfection. Their methods to reach it always includes a good dose of Body Horror. On New Phyrexia, the white Praetor Elesh Norn made it a religion.
  • Dwarfs in Warhammer Fantasy are notable perfectionists and will not accept shoddy or 'good enough' work from themselves or anyone else — if a dwarf is not giving 100% to whatever they're doing, they're dead. Dwarfs whose work fail to live up to their own (or their masters') standard are dishonoured. Those whose works harms or kills another Dwarf through shoddiness (such as a cannon that misfires, or a light fixture that falls down) are expected to take the Slayer's Oath.

    Video Games 
  • Creepily shows up with Sirush from The Reconstruction. One of his passive abilities even revolves around this.
    No room for error. None.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Awakening
      • The Avatar aims to have no war casualties and will consider any mission a failure, even if the mission was successful if one of his/her units dies. Fitting considering how most gamers play Fire Emblem.
      • Cordelia is by nature a genius who is perfect in every way, as noted by her comrades. Though she mutters to herself that she became a pegasus knight because she's a lousy runner.
      • Discussed by her daughter Severa, who dealt with the fact not even being perfect saved Cordelia's future self from death. Severa has tried to be like her mother, but her death pretty much kicked Severa into depression.
    • Fire Emblem Fates
      • Sakura's retainer Tsubaki is known to boast how perfect he is at everything he does that he takes it very seriously to make sure to never show any flaws. Cue several occasions when his perfect nature reveals weaknesses.
      • His daughter Caeldori (an obvious younger Expy of Cordelia) turns out to be 100 percent perfect, which forces Tsubaki (and Selena, should she marry Tsubaki in Revelations) to stay on top of things so he never falls behind her.
    • Roy in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade has a similar attitude to his troops, as revealed in a support conversation with one of his cavaliers.
  • Relius Clover in BlazBlue is a horrific perfectionist, as he is also a Mad Scientist with a penchant for Mind Rape and possessing complete Lack of Empathy. He's trying to achieve perfection and his goal was to create the "Perfect Doll". And he has never suffer a crushing defeat... until BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, where he witnessed his plan to reset the world completely obliterated by the hands of Bang Shishigami. As this was his first time taking utter, unsalvagable defeat right on his face and his plan cannot be prepared again in a short time, Relius ends up suffering a quiet, but massive and well-deserved Villainous Breakdown that he's willing to let himself be beaten down to near death (he was just about ready to get himself killed) by his rival, and then lets himself be put on the leash by the very son he deeply traumatized nonchalantly in his quest of perfection and the woman whose emotions and love he just recently manipulated just so he could get extra fodders.
  • Amara in Fleuret Blanc is actually fairly successful at this, to the point that she's comfortable being a Snark Knight. Tying into the Central Theme of materialism, she tries to surround herself with only the most expensive and highest-quality of items.
    • Interestingly, her prized possession is a reminder of an instance where she slipped up: she used the metronome to maintain her rhythm during fencing practice, but accidentally damaged it with a botched thrust.
  • Gaichû in Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong is a mild example, mentioning that his role in his former team was to be the one to hone the team to perfection in the minutiae and never being satisfied, thus keeping them constantly drilling. This meant that, when he was exposed to The Virus and became a ghoul, he became affixed on mastering his new form as if it was any other kind of handicap.
  • The Jennerit from Battleborn in general are this. Anything they deem imperfect must be fixed or destroyed. If the Jennerit need to manipulate the laws of the universe in the process, so be it.
  • Blue Revolver will accuse the player of being one if they restart Stage 1 three times in a row, "awarding" them the "The Perfectionist" achivement.
  • A recently added Quirk in Darkest Dungeon is called "Perfectionist". It causes the character in question to gain stress every time they miss. This is somewhat annoying on any character and a high-priority removal on a Leper.

    Visual Novels 
  • Jett in SC2VN leaves her old team because they're worse than bad - they're complacent.
  • In Reflections on the River, Prince Shun tends this way. Being something of a Sheltered Aristocrat, he can often achieve perfection at home, but as Zheng's prisoner, he's exposed to new challenges. When cooking, for example, he's actually distressed to find that although most of the pieces of radish he sliced are exactly equal, there's one on the end which isn't. Zheng, who never bothers to even try, is bemused.
  • Manfred von Karma from Ace Attorney, who maintained a perfect win record for over 40 years through perfectly coached witnesses and perfectly prepared evidence. When defense attorney Gregory Edgeworth manages to land a penalty on him, von Karma enacts a revenge that defines Disproportionate Retribution. (Unfortunately, his perfectionism has left him with no ability to think on the fly nor to cope with a situation not perfectly under his control, leading to his downfall).
    • Manfred's daughter, Franziska, is also a perfectionist because she believes she has to uphold the family name. In a late, unguarded conversation with her brother, she admits that she's neither perfect nor a genius but she had to be.
    • Klavier Gavin is not a perfectionist in court, where he's one of the few prosecutors who aren't at all amoral. When it comes to his career as a rock star, on the other hand, he won't tolerate even the slightest error in his band's performances.

    Web Animation 
  • The cranes of Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story seem obsessed with keeping the Vinylmation figures in a very specific order.
  • Paintbrush from Inanimate Insanity.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Grandmaster of Theft's Cassidy Cain strives to be perfect at anything she aims at, to the point where she relentlessly drills herself, seeks challenges to improve, and won't accept anything less of her.
  • A lot of Stormtouched artists in Twisted Cogs are this. It's justified since making even the tiniest mistake can block your storm from acting properly. As an example, when Frederica, a Caelator, had to go on with her project, it ended with the sculpture being born... with its first memory being agonizing pain due to a scratch mark on its face.

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Critic always wants everything to be perfect and breaks down in disappointment when the movies he's watching inevitably "fail" him.
  • In Noob, Saphir, Justice guild's recruiter, has to make sure only the best players join the guild. She hence requires candidates not only to be maxed out on any in-game feature one can think of but to have a spartiate lifestyle outside of it. Requirements include no job (e.g. either living with one's parents or living off unemployment benefits), no romantic relationships, not requiring too much sleep, having only one meal per day because having three is lost time in her opinion. She also seems to have a bane for interviewing players in Dead Character Walking form.
  • The Victorian Way: Mrs. Crocombe, a cook at Audley End House, employed by Lord and Lady Braybrooke, does not tolerate the food to be anything else but delicious and garnished to perfection. It must taste and look amazing. She's a bit less fussy about the meals she prepares for the staff, but she's still careful and does a very thorough job.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula is shown to have heavy dosages of this, first seen when she is practicing her Lightningbending. Graceful execution, deadly precision, power, and striking speed... but a single hair out of place. Not satisfied with being "almost perfect", Azula's shown compulsively retrying her technique. Later down the road, it turns out that being Daddy's Little Villain doesn't save you from being used in Ozai's schemes, and Azula's cool demeanor breaks, culminating in a colossal Villainous Breakdown.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Rarity, as a fashionista, is a bit of a Hollywood case. Though considering the clientele she keeps (a famous songwriter and dancer, a model, and several fashion moguls), her perfectionist tendencies tend to be rather justified.
    • Twilight Sparkle even more so, with a heaping side-helping of Super OCD. She has the version of this you find in Real Life in people who did very well in early schooling... and thus never got used to getting less-than-perfect scores. The mere thought of not having a friendship lesson prepared for Princess Celestia and being tardy causes a meltdown that results in her brainwashing half the town in an attempt to engineer a friendship problem.
    • Applejack likewise has an episode ("The Last Roundup") devoted to this character trait. Although in this case, it was less to do with the fact she didn't do perfectly in and of itself and more that the fact that she didn't do perfectly meant she didn't get the money she promised. She was less concerned about the fact that her performance was flawed and more that she made a promise to someone who was counting on her.
    • We later see that Diamond Tiara exhibits the negative aspects of this trope, courtesy of the pressure put on her by her mother Spoiled Rich. The reason she acts like a bully is because of the pressure on her to be the best and her less-than-graceful handling of it when she isn't. The moment she turns around completely is when she lets go of being a "Well Done, Son!" Guy in favor of actually making friends with her classmates and listening to the positive reinforcement from the CMC instead of the negative criticism from her mother.
  • Courtney from Total Drama, a straight-A student, an aspiring lawyer and an Insufferable Genius with a notoriously competitive streak who does not take well to failure. Ironically, her overly-competitive drive usually proves to be her greatest weakness in the game.
  • Archibald Asparagus from VeggieTales.
  • Peggy from King of the Hill in the later seasons who just can't stand being upstaged or wrong in the slightest.
  • Helga's older sister Olga from Hey Arnold!, who once broke down into a state of teary depression over a B+.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Mr. Harriman is this trope, full stop. The Camping Episode had him repeatedly demanding the tent to be torn down and set back up again when it doesn't reach his standards. When they finally have it perfect, he tells them to tear it down again and make it more perfect.
  • Pearl from Steven Universe is clearly this.
    "Symmetrical means BOTH SIDES HAVE TO BE THE SAME!"
    • This is White Diamond's motivation for villainy. She sees herself as the Ultimate Lifeform and wants to make the universe as perfect as she is. She then suffers a Villainous Breakdown after finding out she's not as perfect as she thought.
  • In the early seasons, the titular Kim Possible strived for this. It was even lampshaded in her Animal Motif.
  • Amanda Lopez from Milo Murphy's Law, the titular Walking Disaster Area's crush.
  • In the rebooted series of Bob the Builder, Roley is this trope. His tendency to ensure his job is done perfectly can result in jobs being delayed, as shown in the episode "Car Wash".
  • Sean from Ready Jet Go!, who is uptight, always wants to do things by the Scientific Method and is frustrated whenever mistakes are made.

    Real Life 
  • Sadly, perfectionists are more likely to suffer from depression. When everything the sufferer does has to be perfect in order to be "acceptable", this creates an impossible standard that can lead to feeling worthless when that impossible standard isn't met. This will sometimes include the sufferer Moving the Goalposts on themselves, wherein even if the perfectionist performs a task flawlessly/gets a perfect score/etc., they can still say it isn't good enough because it isn't world-changing or life-altering.
  • Fred Astaire's flawless dancing technique came at a cost. He often failed to meet his own high expectations, and constantly questioned whether or not he was even good at dancing, let alone worthy of doing it on camera. And this is a man that is considered to be the best dancer in the history of the Hollywood film industry.
  • Similarly, Michael Jackson was notoriously meticulous when it came to his music and performances, to the point where he outright broke down in tears after his famed Mowtown 25 performance simply because he couldn't stay on his toes after a twirl for as long as he intended. This perfectionism is believed to have played a role in the notoriously long gaps between his albums, particularly the 6-year one between HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I and Invincible.
  • NBA legend Jerry West suffered from this. Even when he posted a quadruple-double, he criticized how he played defence. During his playing days, when he won a game he'd feel nothing. And when he lost, it felt like the end of the world. When West was GM for the Lakers, he often couldn't watch the Lakers play because he couldn't stomach the idea of losing.
  • Jerry Rice, the all-time NFL leader in...a lot of things. He was a perfectionist about how he ran routes, his physical conditioning, his exact weight for a game, where he would catch the ball and the list goes on. During his hall of fame induction speech, he (positively) credited being afraid of failure as the engine for his peerless work ethic and success.
  • Thomas Andrews, the head designer for the RMS Titanic. He was aboard for its maiden voyage to observe the general performance of the new ship and note anything that needed improvement. Despite some cosmetic changes, he said to a friend that the ship was "as nearly perfect as human brains can make her." Of course, he said this on April 14th, only a few hours before the sinking.
  • Richard Donner has this reputation, using the word "Verisimilitude" as a mantra during production of Superman, best exemplified in its tagline "You will believe a man can fly." Unfortunately, he got fired during production of Superman II because of his perfectionism. And years later, while making the music video for The Goonies soundtrack song "(Goonies 'R) Good Enough", Cyndi Lauper found him so hard to work with, doing take after take even when she was tired, that it wasn't until 2003 that she'd include the song in her discography.
  • According to most accounts, George Broussard's rampant perfectionism was a primary factor in the Troubled Production of Duke Nukem Forever and ultimate demise of 3D Realms.
  • David Byrne has a reputation for this, and it's not entirely undeserved; during production of Remain in Light, he spent a significant chunk of the recording sessions training his bandmates in Talking Heads to play the exact same rhythms on an indefinite loop, due to sound engineering technology in 1980 not allowing for looped rhythms to be done by computer (tape loops existed, but they were of variable reliability due to the greater amount of moving parts and the natural degradation of magnetic tape when played repeatedly). While the idea seems easy on paper, it was physically and mentally exhausting for the band due to Byrne's demands for mechanical precision from human musicians. This was just one of many elements of Remain in Light's Troubled Production that drove producer Brian Eno from ever working with Talking Heads again, and Byrne's continued perfectionism on the band's following output is generally believed to have been a significant factor in their acrimonious breakup in 1991.
  • Along with Kyle Rasmussen's health issues, this was part of the reason why Vitriol took as long as they did to write and record a full-length album. As per both Kyle and co-frontman Adam Roethlisberger, their writing process is grueling and labor-intensive; nothing is "good enough" at the start, and anything that they write will be subject to extensive retools and revisions until (if) they feel that it has become the best version of itself possible, with the understanding that they may find themselves scrapping something that they have slaved away at for a while because they couldn't make it into something truly extraordinary. This, among other things, led to an entire full-length being scrapped because they didn't like how it was turning out, and while Adam has admitted that it can be a painful and frustrating experience, he shares Kyle's vision of being in it to win it and refusing to ever settle for less.
  • Mike Myers has this reputation, and is one of the main reasons why he hasn't had any major film roles outside of documentaries, Austin Powers and Shrek films. Back in the late 90's, a film based on his SNL character Dieter was in production, but it was cancelled due to him refusing a $20 million paycheck because he thought the script was lousy, even thought he was the one that wrote it. Some of the people who worked with Myers said he was "egomaniacal", and that he had "inexcusable bigotry".
  • Disgraced cartoonist John Kricfalusi was infamous for this. His extreme perfectionism was one of the main factors behind the Troubled Production of The Ren & Stimpy Show, and many of the people who worked with him expressed disdain towards him, as John treated everyone like garbage.
  • Rockstar Games shows signs of this.
    • Their games tend to be of extremely high quality, but have very long production times and often have a lot of removed content. Many players have noted that most of the content they remove is still good, and that even if Rockstar didn't find it good enough many players would have. There are several cases where dataminers have discovered cut content that works just fine and would have improved some aspects of the game, but was removed for not passing Rockstar's insanely high standards of quality. For example 
    • From 2010 onwards their mission design is also believed to go into this territory, as many missions require the player to tackle the missions in the exact way the developers intented, to the point where sometimes even the slightest misstep causes an instant mission failure. While this means their stories often avoid narrative pitfalls, their insistence on avoiding Gameplay and Story Segregation affects the gameplay as a result.

Alternative Title(s): Perfectionist

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report