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"It's undeniable, Earth. He's different than he used to be. He's never around, and when he is he seems... distracted."
Mars, Nebula

There was a character who was once friendly, outgoing, and sociable to everyone he meets. He was the first person to speak in a conversation with one or more people. He was the one who had made a lot of friends and everyone liked him. He was the one who had reached out to the loner and made him open up to others. He even was the one who made friends with those who were his enemies or were just strangers to him. He may have been The Heart who always kept the band together in perilous times and always stuck close to his loved ones through the good and bad times.

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A few years have passed by and the character hasn't really kept in contact with his friends or family. He doesn't take any opportunities to visit them. He may not even bother to pick up the phone and call them or even answer their calls. He doesn't even say "hi" to the people he passes by, let alone socialize about things he isn't interested in. There is the implication that the character has turned from extroverted and outgoing to introverted and distant.

There may be a couple of reasons for the character's current lack of communication with people:

  • Deceased loved ones: The character may be going through a difficult phase. Perhaps he did keep in contact with his friends, but somehow, some villain took his relatives' lives away, and this so greatly traumatizes him that he doesn't bother to be approachable to others.
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  • Business before pleasure: The character may be in the workforce and may be more focused on earning his paycheck and working hard than on chatting with his friends, not to mention the character isn't sociable with his co-workers. Remember, Being Personal Isn't Professional.
  • Heavy bullying: Perhaps the character wanted to blend in with people (although in some other reasons, they are expected to socialize with them). Unfortunately, the character is rejected and is the main target of their bullying. This goes with the Armor-Piercing Question what's the point of socializing if there are people who won't accept them?
  • They just want to be left alone: The character got tired of talking with others and wants to have his space for a while (which can be quite common in reality), although other reasons have a character become enraged by society and happy to leave it or that he's just tired of being around people to the point of becoming The Hermit.
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If the character's loved ones find the character, expect them to get quite upset with him and admonish him for being socially inactive for all these years while still telling him how worried they are about his well being. The character may explain his reasons, and if his friends empathize with him, then everything's peachy-keen. In other ways, the character may try to reconnect with them, or make new friends, or just enjoy his newly solitary and introverted life.

This can be often how the character becomes the Ineffectual Loner. Contrast Loner-Turned-Friend if a distant character becomes outgoing and friendly to others. This can invoke the belief that Loners Are Freaks. Could be the result of Break the Cutie. Compare Used to Be a Sweet Kid and Troubled, but Cute.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Film 
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce has become this trope following the events of The Dark Knight, and then failing to make a difference as himself, rather than as Batman.
  • Don Vito Corleone chides mortician Amerigo Bonasera for this type of behaviour in the opening scene of The Godfather after Bonasera approaches Corleone for help when the court — and justice — fails his daughter and his family.
  • The character Joaquin Phoenix does this in I'm Still Here when he ends his acting career to become a hip-hop star, cutting himself off from his former life.
  • Adam Sandler's character in Reign Over Me becomes this after his family is killed in the 9-11 attacks.
  • In 10 Things I Hate About You, Bianca mentions that her older sister, Kat, used to be very popular at school until "she got bored of it or something". It's later revealed that after sleeping with her boyfriend under the rationale that other people were doing it, deciding she didn't want to sleep with him again, and then being hurt when he dumped her as a result, Kat resolved to never again do things just because other people expected it of her and became viewed as "the Shrew" as a result.

    Literature 
  • In the Circle of Magic book The Will of the Empress, this is one of the main points of conflict. Foster-siblings Sandry, Briar, Daja, and Tris have been physically and emotionally distant from each other for several years, and Sandry in particular harbors a great deal of resentment for the fact that her duties forced her to stay in Emelan while the rest of them got to travel.
    • This is implied to be the case from the beginning of the series, for Tris. She's used to being bullied and gotten rid of, which has made her outright reject friendliness. Her cousin's reaction suggests she was less prickly as a young child.
  • From the New World does this with Shun, who distances himself from his closest friends and even moves out of his hometown because he's turning into a Karma Demon.
  • In Island in the Sea of Time, Marian Alston cut off all ties with her kids after she realized that she was a lesbian and divorced her husband, because her husband threatened to out her to the Coast Guard unless she gave him full custody of the kids and agreed to stay away. Since then, she doesn't socialize much because she's afraid one of her subordinates will learn her secret.
  • Cho Chang in Harry Potter becomes this. She goes from a outgoing popular girl and gifted seeker to a depressed lonely girl with only 1 real friend, thanks to a dose of Break the Cutie.

    Light Novels 
  • In Bakemonogatari, Senjogahara was very friendly and social during middle school, but after having her weight, and emotional attachments, taken away by a crab-deity, she becomes totally isolated.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Doctor in Doctor Who is normally a very outgoing and friendly type, but after being separated forever from his companions Amy and Rory, he has a bit of a sulk, parks his TARDIS on top of a cloud, and becomes a bit of a hermit for about half an episode.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Taiga Hanaya used to be a kind, respected doctor with friends and life, but then the Zero Day happened and he lost everything. Early into the story proper, he is an arrogant, cynical Backalley Doctor living in an abandoned hospital and the only person he spends time with is The Thing That Would Not Leave, whose attitude can be even worse than his at times.
  • An episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had a woman who had been raped by the same man on numerous occasions become this. After the first time, he was never caught and eventually tracked her down again. Even after changing her identity, moving to another state, and becoming a paranoid shut-in, he still found her and did it again.
  • Monk was this before Trudy died, despite still being a neurotic mess he was still functional enough to still do active police work. After her death he suffers a complete breakdown.
  • This happens to Scully on The X-Files as a result of the intensely insulating nature of her work. Mulder was introduced from the beginning as a loner with few friends, made worse (or even caused by) his life-time devotion to finding his sister. Scully, on the other hand, was social in the early seasons, enjoying spending time with her friends, her godson, her parents and her siblings, and even has a date or two. She mentions in season one that she would like to "have a life" and that she doesn't see herself as immersed in the work as Mulder is. Fast forward a few years, and we see her lose touch with friends and pull away from her family. Her brother Bill notices and becomes increasingly annoyed when she visits him for Christmas and rather than spend time with him, his wife, and her mother, Scully becomes involved in an X-File. She does maintain contact with her mother, but even her mother expresses worry that she doesn't share anything with her and instead "keeps everything so bottled up."

    Theatre 
  • Roger in RENT becomes almost agoraphobic after his girlfriend's suicide. In "Light My Candle", he says to Mimi:
    I used to see you out and about
    When I used to go out
  • In Timon of Athens Timon starts out as the friendliest, most loved man in Athens. Then his creditors take all his stuff and his "friends" won't help him out. He becomes a misanthropic hermit who just wants to be left alone.

    Video Games 
  • Your villagers in Animal Crossing will bring this up with you if you haven't played for a few weeks. They generally just comment on how worried they were about you and that you shouldn't be so withdrawn... unless you promised to do something for them and didn't, in which case they will be quite upset with you.
  • The hero from the prequel in the backstory to Diablo II; it was noted that The Wanderer (the hero from Diablo), was notably more sullen and withdrawn upon emerging from the labyrinth under Tristram. Later in the game you realize that he went insane from overexposure to hell and was promptly possessed by a demon, which was quieter than him. Compound this with, canonically, killing the demonically-possessed brother he was trying to save, which shattered what was left of his mind and left him susceptible to enslavement from a demon overlord trapped in a crystal, which he promptly stabbed into his brain.
  • Both the Warden and Hawke in Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, respectively, show the tendency to leave behind their Fire-Forged Friends at the end of their adventures—a fact that is lampshaded at the end of the second game, as one of the Warden's True Companions is now desperately seeking to reestablish contact with him/her.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • At the end of Final Fantasy IV, Kain Highwind refuses to attend the reunions and celebrations and goes to Mount Ordeals instead to atone for his actions. He stayed there until the sequel, which takes place seventeen years later.
    • The whole cast of Final Fantasy VI counts as this. Halfway through the game they get flung to different areas of the world and while that happened involuntarily, they only reunite when one party makes the effort to find them all a year later.
  • In "The Champions' Ballad" DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mipha notices this about Link as revealed in her diary. Link used to be a talkative and energetic child and grows up into being very aloof, stoic and rarely smiles. This is probably due to Link's dedication in being a knight for the Royal Family and his duty in protecting Zelda caused him tons of anxiety, thus he kept up a stoic front to look calm and professional.
  • Through some dialogue options after rescuing Knuckles in Sonic Chronicles, there are Sonic's pals expressing resentment towards him abandoning them for two years after their last battle with Eggman.

    Webcomics 
  • Erfworld has Charlie, who used to attempt to conquor all opposition, and rule the world as one side, who suddenly went in the complete opposite direction after attuning to the Arkendish. He has one city, and seems to allow noone to see him.

    Real Life 
  • Generally, this may be a symptom of a whole bunch of psychological issues, e.g. depression or avoidant personality disorder.
  • Sir Isaac Newton was known for this despite being an extremely respected member of the scientific community. On one occasion, he even went as far as to write to everyone he knew and basically say he wouldn't contact them again (he was back in touch within a year).
  • Actor Jeremy Brett was naturally quite outgoing, but had to adopt an introspective and sometimes antisocial persona in his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes — and in the process, to some extent Became The Mask.
  • Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd during his early career was said to be pretty outgoing. By 1975, due to a combination of drug abuse and pressure from the limelight, he had shut himself off from everybody but his family, wanting nothing more to do with his musical career, focusing his time instead on private ventures such as painting, gardening and do-it-yourself projects.

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