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Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism / Web Original

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  • It can be hard, a lot of the time, to figure out just where Survival of the Fittest is on the overall scale, but it appears to be more towards the cynical side due to the downer nature of the endings for the most part and the fact that fate itself seems to crack down on optimistic characters. Hero types usually get themselves killed, and even if they don't die right away they usually see all their friends die first. All escape attempts are brutally crushed, and even hacking the system and putting in a powerful computer virus that basically destroys all SOTF systems from the inside doesn't work until it's too late for anything to be done. By v2, all damage has been fixed, and the systems have been changed so they're literally impenetrable.
    • In a strange bout of irony, the same virus comes back to bite the terrorists in the arse in V3 purely by accident, even worse than before.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog shows us why, exactly, it's called the Sliding Scale of Idealism Vs. Cynicism by going back and forth between the two with reckless abandon. The most pronounced example may be the song "My Eyes" (also known as "On The Rise"), which is practically a duet between idealism and cynicism. (And yes, that is Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day with Nathan Fillion sitting in the background.)
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  • The SCP Foundation sits so far on the cynical side that it probably shares a spot with Warhammer 40,000. However, it's important to note the only rule of canon is there is no canon, meaning it can be idealistic or cynical as you want it to be.
  • Urban Fantasy series Broken Saints eventually ends up on the Idealistic side, but it covers a lot of ground getting there.
  • Encyclopedia Dramatica is what happens when the most cynical side of the internet creates a wiki.
  • Sailor Nothing occupies an odd place — it's far grimmer than its inspiration Sailor Moon, but ultimately has a core of idealism. The Power of Friendship plays an important role in keeping the heroine together, and the key to defeating the Big Bad ultimately turns out to be forgiveness.
  • Chaos Fighters is extremely idealistic that everyone fighting at the good side is invincible heroes, having love interests and their mission is guaranteed a success no matter how hard it is. They can even destroy armies of demons or bandits by themselves.
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  • There Will Be Brawl takes the normally-idealistic universe of Nintendo franchises and slams it headlong into the cynical side. And then keeps going. So cynical that the most idealistic character gets blown up, for heavens sake!
  • Red vs. Blue has a tendency to be rather cynical, considering how virtually everyone in Blood Gulch dislikes one another.
    • Revelation ends on a surprisingly idealistic note. Sarge has finally learned to respect the Blues, and organizes them and the Reds into a Five-Man Band to save Tex and Church and take down the Meta. Washington is saved by the Blues, and is recruited into their ranks. Church willingly pursues Tex inside the Epsilon unit, but being trapped there himself, he decides to relive Alpha's memories of Blood Gulch, deeming them pleasing memories.
    • Season 9, on the other hand, is much more cynical than Revelation. In the past timeline, virtually every Freelancer is out for themselves, as well as a poor team player in general. The UNSC-Insurrection war is full of Grey-and-Gray Morality, in that the Insurrection has legitimate beefs with the UNSC, and the Freelancers show almost no regard for civilian life. York somberly lampshades this by saying "We're the good guys... right?". In the present timeline, Epsilon, actually experiencing Alpha's memories rather than simply remembering them, begins to develop his template's anger issues. When the Epsilon unit is about to fail, he realizes that the best way to be at peace is to let go of Tex's memory - and since this Tex is a memory, it amounts to killing her. And to top off the cake? The unit wasn't failing; the real Reds and Blues were breaking into the unit to rescue Epsilon, so he basically killed Tex for nothing!
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  • Despite looking like a cute, colorful kids show, Happy Tree Friends is very firmly planted on the cynical side for all of its gore and death.
  • Sonic for Hire tends heavily at the cynical end of the scale.
  • Homestar Runner is set in a largely optimistic setting with a select few deeply cynical elements and characters. Strong Bad and The Cheat are always committing petty crimes, Bubs always swindles his customers, Coach Z has a thinly-veiled disturbing background, and the King of Town is largely friendless. Oh, and everybody dies in Teen Girl Squad.
  • The you could make a life universe has several different romance stories that fall all over the idealism/cynicism scale: Dan and Marc's and Andy and Derek's stories fall firmly on the left end of the scale, Luke and Nikita's story falls heavily on the far right end of the scale, and the other stories all fall somewhere closer to the center with Mike and Liam's and David and Jake's stories in particular having an incurable pessimist as one half of the couple and an equally incurable optimist as the other half.
  • There's a Man in the Woods has to be one of the most cynical short films ever made. It's about a small child named Sid who pretends that there is a man in the woods so that he can get all the honeysuckle to himself. The principal of the school Sid attends knows that there isn't a man in the woods and doesn't do anything about it other than try to get rid of the rumor. As a result, the lie spreads to all the parents and he ends up getting fired in a fit of mass hysteria as the parents, including Sid's mom, decide that he isn't doing enough to protect their precious children. The principal is unable to get any jobs at other schools and becomes addicted to coke and alcohol. In the end, the principal becomes the man in the woods and is implied to murder Sid. Unlike most cases of this, if Sid was shot, he deserved it, because he destroyed a principal's life just so he could have all the honeysuckle.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School falls onto the middle part of the scale, with a tendency to bounce back and forth depending on the scenario and the characters in said scenario. Many people in this show are either jerks, idiotic, or both... however, there are enough good-hearted people with their idealistic ways to help balance out the cynical Jerkassersy. Its little brother show, Dr. Havoc's Diary, on the other hand, falls a bit further onto the Cynical, gritty side of things while still retaining the Grey-and-Gray Morality.
  • Many object shows like Battle for Dream Island and Inanimate Insanity lie firmly planted in the middle.
  • Epic Rap Battles of History's J. R. R. Tolkien vs. George R. R. Martin battle has Tolkien on the side of idealism and Martin on the side of cynicism. Martin is a Trolling Creator who admits to taking glee in killing off beloved characters just to spite his readers, and sneers at the Black-and-White Morality and The Good Guys Always Win nature of Tolkien's prose. Tolkien on the other hand is a strong believer in Angst Aversion who defends his work with the point that the whole genre is called fantasy, so it doesn't have to be realistic or overly brutal.
  • This is discussed in The City of Never, conveniently between Michael Seer and Mathilda Summerwood. The story itself deconstruct the concepts as a whole, exploring that while life isn't perfect and shouldn't be perfect, there's no reason to wallow in misery either, and that it's basic human instinct to survive, regardless of the situation that occurs in the story.
  • Hanazuki: Full of Treasures is firmly planted on the idealistic side.
  • RWBY is very idealistic despite the nature of the setting: humanity is sequestered into tiny pockets of civilisation as demonic monsters have overrun the planet, but the situation isn't as hopeless as Attack on Titan and the presence of effective monster slayers called Huntsmen puts the story well into Lovecraft Lite territory.
    • However, the events of Volume 3 have pushed the story quite far into the cynical end, as society has been thrown into chaos by a terrorist attack during a world fighting tournament in which Pyrrha and Penny have perished and the villains have made huge gains, and the titular team of heroines have all to varying degrees been betrayed, disgraced, hurt and placed into terrible situations with their innocence and idealism destroyed - Blake has disappeared without a trace, Weiss has been taken back to Atlas by her domineering and abusive father, Yang is a crippled, depressed empty shell of who she once was, and only Ruby is still fighting and seeking answers.
    • By the time Volume 4, things seem to head back into the idealistic side of things: Ruby is ultimately unwavering in her idealistic beliefs and is still striving to make them work, Weiss finally abandons her father after losing everything, Blake is given the verbal Dope Slap for her running away antics and seeks to reclaim White Fang from Adam Taurus and Yang is rebuilt physically and mentally and she rushes out to hunt down her wayward sister.
    • And by Volume 5, all of the girls are back together and have scored their first major victory against the villains in the process. If anything their temporary stints as Broken Birds have made them even more idealistic than they were before.
  • Ruby Quest is pretty dang high on the idealistic side for a Cosmic Horror Story about a medical facility that fell to madness and Body Horror when they tried to exploit a strange substance as a cure. And yet, despite the zombies attacking, anyone who's injured mutating and losing their minds, and Ace, the story also shows that the monsters can be defeated, Ruby and Tom really can trust each other, and people can be saved. By the end, Red has killed himself permanently, therefore exiting the Glen on his own terms, Bella is also permanently dead and thus out of her And I Must Scream situation, and Ruby and Tom have freed Jay, another sane prisoner, and all three have escaped the Metal Glen. The final panel shows that Daisy (who'd died early on as the Hound Zombie, a monster who attacked Ruby) has come Back from the Dead and now might have her own chance to escape the Glen.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall is interesting because its placement on the scale is all over the place. The very nature of the show is cynical due to it being "Where Bad Comics Burn", but on the other hand, Linkara has often stated that part of the purpose of the show is so to teach people how to make good comics by pointing out the bad parts of bad comics and why they don't work. In the greater story arcs, the universe Linkara lives in is full of Eldritch Abomination outer gods, Galactic Conquerors, evil cults and the occasional Mad Scientist. And something does try to kill him every year. And yet he's also got a team of True Companions that will always back him up, stories of redemption and family, and in the end, triumph over adversity is a greater theme in his storylines more than failure is.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged ends up somewhere in the middle. The writing is much more cynical than the source material, with most of the characters being generally nastier and unpleasant, the universe essentially running on borrowed time because Mr. Popo is too high to destroy it, it deconstructs many aspects of the original series such as Goku's questionable parenting of Gohan, and there are a lot of Black Comedy gags such as various innocent characters getting killed or Yamcha in Future Trunks' timeline committing suicide. However, all that said, its still based on Dragon Ball Z, a highly idealistic show where The Good Guys Always Win, Defeat Means Friendship, and where The Power of Friendship can save the day, and the show never really contradicts any of those themes - It's just given a more cynical shell.


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