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The Stoic / Live-Action TV

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  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives us Melinda May, badass Action Girl who, according to Coulson, used to be much happier until she had to fight through a brainwashed cult by herself. This leads to some hilarity when she goes undercover with Coulson.
    Skye: [on comms] What is that? What's that sound?
    Coulson: It's May.
    Skye: Oh my god, are you guys under attack!? Is she okay!?
    Coulson: No... she's laughing.
    [Skye and the others are speechless as May continues laughing in the background]
    Fitz: Now that is just unsettling.
    Coulson: I think the worst of it's over now.
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  • Alias: Jack Bristow. Though you should never confuse stoicism with a lack of emotion, especially if you go anywhere near his daughter.
  • Arrow: Laurel tends to shift between this and Dull Surprise.
  • In Auction Kings, Delfino gets frustrated fixing broken pieces, but always keeps his cool.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978): Captain Apollo, from the classic series, tends to be this in the majority of the episodes.
  • In The Borgias, Machiavelli is a Deadpan Snarker and always calm, even when dealing with the threat of Florence's invasion (and/or excommunication) or fanatics vandalizing his house. This makes him an exception to the series' World of Ham tendencies.
  • Breaking Bad: The two Ax-Crazy assassins from Season 3.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Captain Ray Holt. Colleagues he's had for years still find him near impossible to read; he wears exactly the same expression whether he just returned from a relaxing tropical vacation with his husband, or if a fire destroyed treasured heirlooms. Of course, if he gets angry, you WILL know.
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    • Detective Rosa Diaz is aggressively unreadable and despises emotions in general. The only emotion she'll frequently display is a Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Oz. Whether it's finding out that he's a werewolf, a nude Buffy who can read his thoughts, or the idea of his girlfriend being turned into a vampire, he keeps his head. His reaction is "Huh" with a bemused grin when he's meditating in Tibet and a submarine is teleported outside the temple. It takes Willow being held hostage by an Ax-Crazy Faith and everyone arguing about it for him to smash something in frustration. Even then it was to force the Scoobies to trade the MacGuffin for Willow.
    • It's occasionally lampshaded:
      Xander: For a minute there I thought you were gonna make an expression.
      Oz: I felt one coming on, I won't lie.
    • From the same episode ("Earshot", in which Buffy can hear what everyone is thinking).
      Oz: (thinking) I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me. She becomes me. I cease to exist.
      Oz: (speaking) Huh.
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    • He has two freakouts in his run on the show, both in the same season. One in the "What Do They Fear?" Episode when he starts randomly going wolf, and the second when he learns about Willow and Tara.
  • The Chase: This is meant to be the gimmick of the Chasers. Meant to be, meaning that it falls apart due to Corpsing on various occasions.
  • Chuck:
    • Several characters have this going:
    • Casey could very well be the page image. He rarely shows anything of what he's feeling in the first two seasons, even when he is in an emotional state. And when he does show something, it's usually either annoyance or disdain at the antics of the Buy More staff or Chuck's struggles as a spy, amusement at tweaking Chuck and/or Sarah on their feelings for one another, or Unstoppable Rage. By near the end of the second season and moving into the third, Casey finally begins to loosen up and is more willing to express how he's feeling, as well as offer insights into others' emotional conflicts.
    • Chuck makes this into an Inverted Trope this as the series progresses. Although he remains the most emotional member of the team throughout the series, he progressively becomes cooler under fire as he grows more accustomed to the spy life, even shocking Devon with just how easily he's able to lie to Ellie's face. By the end of the series even without the Intersect he's able to face down mooks with confidence.
    • Sarah is a master of shutting off her emotions, and her ability to mask her feelings is lampshaded multiple times throughout the series.
    • Beckman takes this to Comically Serious levels. She rarely reacts at all, and the most change in her reaction will be a slight raising of her voice. Beckman is shown with the same emotionless expression while wearing a cocktail dress or bathrobe, and the episodes in which she is visibly upset or distressed become downright jarring.
    • Daniel Shaw's lack of expressiveness is a large contributor to his place as The Scrappy in the third season. For most of his tenure he showed practically no emotion at all, (arguably justified by trauma over the death of his wife and his firm belief that emotions are a liability to a spy) even in episodes where it was meant to be clear that he was attracted to Sarah. Ironically, he was much better received after his Face–Heel Turn turned him into a bit of a Large Ham arch-nemesis.
  • Community: Upon being told to just sit and wait in the episode "Social Psychology" , while everyone else around him ends up throwing childish tantrums and storming out, Abed just calmly, without expressing any apparent emotion, sits and waits. For twenty-six hours.
    Professor Duncan: (watching video footage of Abed sitting perfectly still, staring into space) ... Is it on pause?!
    Annie: Nope. That's just who he is.
    • Later on, Abed says that, although he didn't show any outwards signs of it, he was actually furious the whole time. Seriously. The only reason he stayed so long was because Annie asked him to.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • SSA Aaron Hotchner. Has been known to occasionally crack a wry smile or get sniffly with/about his young son, but when he's on the job? All business, to the point where he doesn't even blink when a serial killer fires a gun at him from point-blank range.
    • In an interview from the first season one of the writers said that if Hotch was ever to get emotional on the show, the audience would probably be sobbing by that point. Cue season five and the Reaper arc, and this was definitely the case.
  • Dollhouse: Laurence Dominic wears this badge for a while:
    Topher Brink: [laughs nervously] There's no way Dom would consciously try and have fun!
  • Farscape:
    • Aeryn Sun, especially at the start; though she gradually moves away from this, she periodically reverts to the Stoic as a defense mechanism. No matter how dangerous the situation is, she remains calm and in control. In a war zone, carrying her newborn baby, with a psychopathic Scarran pointing a gun at her husband's head, she simply shoots the Scarran and deadpans "It's a boy. In case you were wondering."
    • This is canonically Aeryn's strongest character trait, as revealed in "Twice Shy." When the Alien of the Week heightens everyone's strongest trait, Scorpius and Sikozu note that the rest of the crew is behaving in a very exaggerated manner but that Aeryn is colder than usual. Later, when the alien steals these traits, it is INCREDIBLY disturbing to see Aeryn panic.
  • Firefly: Zoe:
    Wash: So, I'm Zoe. Now, what do I do?
    Mal: Probably not talk quite so much.
    Wash: Right. Less talking. She's terse — I can be terse. Once, in flight school, I was laconic.
  • DCI Foyle of Foyle's War has very strong feelings—most notably an unswerving moral compass—but is incredibly calm and collected in almost every circumstance. Even when angry, it manifests as Tranquil Fury or Disappointed in You, and he rarely ever raises his voice regardless of the dangerous people he confronts. (Though he does admit to having enjoyed himself when he punches a looter of bombed houses.)
  • Game of Thrones has many deeply stoic characters::
    • Ned Stark, who was played by Sean Bean, the grand master of cinematic stoic deaths. He is grim, cold, and distant, unless around his family.
    • Like Father, Like Son, as Robb Stark rarely shows his emotions.
    • Stannis Baratheon, who is so ridiculously stoic that it can be quite funny/narmy and/or makes you you wonder if there's something wrong with him, and gains him a reputation of a man who never smiles and who has the personality of a lobster. Things that have not made Stannis Baratheon show emotion: killing his brother, ordering the deaths of men and going into battle completely unprepared, getting glomped by his beloved daughter, watching said beloved daughter die horribly and discovering his wife's body, and getting stabbed to death. This makes his Not So Stoic moments all the more remarkable.
    • Brienne of Tarth seems to hold this a personal ideal.
    • Due to all the dangerous and traumatic situations she experiences in the first three seasons, Sansa Stark becomes very good at hiding her fear and sadness, and only displaying the emotions which are politically useful or personally empowering for her. When she is Ramsay's captive, she appears fairly confident in public (she even calls out Ramsay and his henchwoman on various occasions) and the only person she is openly distressed in front of is Theon, which was in private and made good sense in terms of her survival (since Theon had been conditioned to see her as his baby sister and she was trying to enlist his help).
    • Catelyn Stark controls her emotions very carefully, and will usually only appear vulnerable when it was strategically useful for her to do so.
    • The Boltons aren't technically stoics because they are too sociopathic to register emotions in any normal way but Roose and Ramsay's emotionlessness responses to distressing situations can be quite impressive. Pay attention to how little fear Ramsay shows when he dies a particularly brutal and drawn-out death. In "Mhysa", Roose no longer has anything to hide, so he shows much more expression than he normally does, and there's something rather Uncanny Valley about them. This ties into his characterisation as The Sociopath, as his expressions are likely learned through mimicry rather than genuinely felt. When Ramsay stabs him to death, Roose's only reaction is an involuntary cry of pain. After, he bleeds out with a completely neutral expression on his face and without saying or doing anything.
    • Ramsay himself is a clever inversion of this trope, because (as a complete sociopath) he cannot feel emotions properly, but he still plays on how insecure he feels about being a bastard, to the point of near-wangst. This was likely written to reflect that domestic abusers in real life use strategies like this enlist the sympathy of and thus to control their victims . It was probably intentionally used as part of Theon's redemption arc, because (in order to earn his redemption) Theon needed to learn that, regardless of how well-earned his abuse and abandonment issues were, it didn't justify his morally reprehensively behaviour in series two.
    • Stoicism is one of the reasons the Hound is so popular. He is brutally honest and gives precisely no f**ks, but it is also clear from context that his life has been dominated by a psychopathic maniac (the Mountain) who spent their collective childhood brutalising him. The most emotion you get out of him comes from brief flickers of expression on his face.
    • Most of the characters have this trait to some extent. Stoicism is part of the job requirement for medieval-type knights and diplomats, so even characters who wangst a lot in private (for example, Jaime) will appear this way in public. Jon is a bit of a depressive, but is appropriately stoic when watching friends die, performing executions, and getting stabbed.
    • Rodrick Cassel remains a very stoical man who exhibits, at best, grumpiness and anger.
    • Jory Cassel tries to be and largely succeeds, remaining placid and loyal.
    • Past her Death Glare to Ramsay Bolton, Lyanna Mormont shows very little emotion.
    • Though Tywin is very often contemptuous and snarky, he has little emotional range beyond this. However he does show more emotion than in the novels, where he only loses his icy cold demeanor once, when Tyrion asks him to acknowledge his rights to Casterly Rock. TV!Tywin loses his temper (though never his control) in several episodes, either because he's Surrounded by Idiots or putting his children in line, and once even gives a genuine (albeit short) laugh.
    • For the most part, Dany tries to be as cool as ice when under duress, though in Season 2 her band is at so much risk of both death and deception that she is reduced to aggressive pleading. Once she's the Queen of Meereen, Dany must emulate this more than ever before her subjects.
    • Grey Worm. It comes with being an Unsullied, trained from birth to feel no fear and remain utterly disciplined at all times.
    • Qhono is very economic on facial expressions.
    • Aeron's expression pretty much doesn't shift from a frown. Ever.
  • The Good Place: Shawn, the judge. He not only never expresses any emotion, seeing them in others completely disgusts him. In addition to not actually being the judge, it turns out that Shawn was exaggerating his own response to displays of emotion. He does still tend not to emote very strongly himself.
  • Highlander: A few of the Immortals, especially Methos:
    Methos: I haven't felt guilt since the eleventh century.
  • House: House is borderline: he's stoic most of the time, but then every so often is given to some pretty extreme mugging. True stoics don't do things like holler with exaggerated passion "YOU CAN'T STOP OUR LOVE!!!" over a room full of hospital execs in order to embarrass their intended object.
  • JAG:
    • Sarah MacKenzie Is mostly portrayed, as part of the Marine persona, as the Stoic.
    Mac: I'm a Marine, a devildog, we don't back down from anything!
    • However, at times such as in "Second Sights" when finding her estranged father on his deathbed at a hospice in a state of coma, and at the same time meeting her even more estranged self-centred white trash mom, she turns out to be Not So Stoic. But it turns out to be a Double Subversion: after her father has passed away Mac tells her mother stoically that she never wants to see her again because it was she, not her father, who once abandoned her.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: in the second season episode "Legion" the killer of the week is Jojo Rios, a sound engineer who controls a bicycle theft ring, brainwashing the teenage bike thieves with a twisted variety of Stoic philosophy as preached by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. One of his underlings demonstrates a perfect stoic attitude, even as he takes a poison pill rather than be interrogated by the police. Jojo himself is stoic for most of the episode, but loses his temper when he thinks Goren had recorded their conversation without a warrant. He didn't but he did set up an Engineered Public Confession.
    DA Carver: But I wasn't aware that Marcus Aurelius was an advocate of suicide.
    Goren: Well, he wasn't... But like any belief system, in the wrong hands, Stoicism can be twisted to mean whatever you want.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: ADA Alexandra Cabot, Dr. George Huang and ADA Casey Novak. All of them initially earn the ire of the detectives- though not the more levelheaded Cragen- through their detached, clinical view on crime and criminals, and emote significantly less than them under most circumstances throughout their tenure.
  • Lost: Dr. Juliet Burke is of the badass variety. Unless someone dies or she talks about her sister.
  • Found in nearly any season of Kamen Rider:
  • The Mentalist: Agent Cho. Even the funniest of lines are delivered in total deadpan.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Jason, the original Red Ranger.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Inspector Jack Robinson, a bulwark of stability against the storm of chaos that is Phryne Fisher.
  • Mythbusters:
    • Jamie Hyneman:
      Adam Savage: [sarcastically] You know, it's when you get really excited that I get really nervous, so if you could calm down just a little bit...
    • One episode involved reading emotions from facial expressions, so they had all the cast members emote for a photo session. Every single one of Jamie's expressions were identical.
  • NCIS:
    • Gibbs and Ziva. For example, in the season six episode "Dead Reckoning", Ziva and Tony are protecting a witness, and hitmen are on their way to the safehouse. Ziva calls Gibbs to inform him of the situation, putting the phone on speaker and setting it down as she pulls out two handguns. Her voice never changes:
      Ziva: We have a situation at the safehouse.
      Gibbs: Well, yeah, Ziva. What is it?
      Ziva: Just a second. (The hitmen break in through two different doors, and Ziva shoots them both dead before they can react.)
      Gibbs: Ziva? Ziva! Ziva, talk to me!
      Ziva: Under control. (hangs up)
    • Gibbs' only reaction is to smile slightly before he hangs up as well.
  • The O.C.: Ryan Atwood, he is so stoic to the point he can 'convey everything with a look'.
  • Primeval: Douglas Henshall's performance as Nick Cutter is much more restrained in the second and third series than the first. The altercations to the timeline and revelation of Stephen and Helen's affair could make him qualify in the Shell-Shocked Veteran category.
  • Prison Break: Michael Scofield, for the most part, is able to keep very calm in the numerous dangerous situations he finds himself in throughout the course of the series.
    • Wyatt, the personal assassin for The Company's general, is this and a Scary Black Man because of it.
  • Revolution: Early on, Miles Matheson and Sebastian Monroe. A Justified Trope, because both of them served as marines before the blackout. However, Miles ends up proving to have emotions, like when he cried over Nora's death in the first season finale, while Monroe proves to be incredibly deranged and hammy.
  • Rome:
    • Octavian. He cannot remember the last time he made a joke.
    • Adult Octavian also likes to stare for long periods without blinking. Chilling.
    • And then there's Vorenus, Antony had a memorable remark about him: "You won't turn to drink, will you? You stoic types often do when disappointed in life."
      • Strictly speaking, Antony was probably using the term in the political/philosophical sense and not the general modern term, as Vorenus, a largely-unreconstructed Catonian, does subscribe to a Stoic philosophy.
    • Subverted when Marc Antony compliments Julius Caesar on his calm demeanor while they're (illegally) marching on Rome. "You look as calm as a cup of water." Caesar replies with a touch of irony, "I'm glad I appear so..."
  • Scrubs: One episode featured a memorable quick-flash montage depicting various patients dealing with pain. One of them is a stone-faced Japanese sushi chef, with an enormous bloody knife sticking out of his shoulder: "Does what hurt?"
  • Sherlock: Sherlock, John, Magnuseen and Mycroft are this.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Col. Jack O'Neill is very much a Stoic, having barely ever cracked even a smirk. He makes up for it by being one darn funny Deadpan Snarker though.
    • Teal'c, the Proud Warrior Race Guy from the same show, is also a Stoic on par with Spock. He is capable of deep and powerful emotion, but he lets it out only when a loved one is nearby or in danger.
    • Teal'c apparently also has a very strong sense of humor, it just doesn't translate well.
      O'Neill: Jaffa... jokes?
      Teal'c: I shall attempt to translate one for you. A Horus Guard, a Serpent Guard, and a Setesh Guard meet on a neutral planet. The Horus Guard's beak glistens. The Serpent Guard's eyes glow. The Setesh Guard's... nose drips.
      [Teal'c bursts out laughing, but stops after a few seconds when no one else laughs]
  • Star Trek has a tradition of having at least one example of this trope as a major character in every series:
  • Stitchers:
    • Kirsten's temporal dysplasia seems to impair her ability to even experience emotions, never mind displaying them. However, she becomes Not So Stoic after stitching for the first time.
  • Supernatural: Castiel. He has no clue how to show emotion, which isn't true for the other angels.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Cameron, being a machine, shows only a simulation of emotion at particularly calculated moments where she needs to manipulate the people around her.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Stefan Salvatore.
    Caroline: Why are you looking at him with your serious vampire look?
    Stefan: My wha...my serious vampire look?
    Caroline: Umhm...I mean it's different from your worried vampire look. Neither of which stray too far from your "Hey, it's Tuesday" look.
  • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: Takeru Shiba/Shinken Red can keep his composure through anything and does so to remain withdrawn from everyone. This is one of the reasons he didn't want Genta Umemori on the team. He knew there is no way to keep straight face around him.
  • Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: There is a lot going on inside Stinger/Sasori Orange, but he is not going to let anyone know if he can help it. Talking about his brother cracks his composure. Also, his brother broke it himself in #16.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell rarely betrays his emotions casually. He lets his guard down to some extent around Cardinal Wolsey, but even when he's angry or threatening someone it manifests as Tranquil Fury. This is in sharp contrast to the passionate and sometimes bombastic royals and nobles around him, and when he insults them (as occasionally happens) they're left puzzled because he uses the same tone as he would to inform them of the day's schedule.
  • Million Yen Women: Shin doesn't show much reaction to the various unusual situations that get imposed upon him, be it having someone invite five women he doesn't know to live in his house, some of said women making a move on him, a couple of them getting killed or one of them turning out to be behind the invitations and the murders.


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