Grumpy Bear

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Not even being the Trope Namer cheered him up.
"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."

The exact opposite of the Wide-Eyed Idealist. A Grumpy Bear is grim and gritty, ready to do the most unspeakable deeds to win. Yet he's living in a world of rainbows and fluffy bunnies! This character is a Genre Blind cynic living in an ideal Happily Ever After setting; the Grumpy Bear lives in a rose-colored world, is constantly frowning and is wearing Jade-Colored Glasses.

Can be treated as a Butt Monkey—and the audience is primed to laugh rather than worry about their misfortunes. Often an Ineffectual Loner to boot. Unlike his polar opposite (who will inevitably die or get its ideals smashed and be rendered a hollow shell of its former self), the Grumpy Bear will at least get through a cynical story in one piece. He will either learn An Aesop about The Power of Friendship and The Power of Love and live—well, Happily Ever After, or at least be left alone, its grumpiness being mainly used for comedy.

A Grumpy Bear who works with the other characters despite his skepticism is a Sour Supporter. This trope is a specific type of Anti-Hero.

Compare The Eeyore, who's miserable rather than grumpy.

Examples of Grumpy Bears include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

In the manga, it's explained that they basically were ordered by the Queen to live alone in their individual castles at the far reaches of the solar system while the kingdom was destroyed. When they abandoned their posts to try to find the Queen, they accidentally summoned Sailor Saturn and destroyed all of existence. That would pretty well explain their loner natures and pessimistic attitudes (wanting to save their home and all). This is also why they become a lot more social and friendly after that arc, when they learn that Saturn is not just a force of destruction and decide to raise her.

  • Seto Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Ineffectual Loner and staunch advocate of independence, self-reliance, and individual strength, which makes a lot of sense when the only way to save the world is by winning a one-on-one match in a child's card game, but no sense when The Power of Friendship rules.

These traits were recycled into Edo in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, who not only strove to be an Anti-Hero, but seemed to think he was Batman. This was because he thought he was a slave to his fate; pity for him that the season's theme was Screw Destiny.

  • Piccolo from Dragon Ball. He believes Goku is too soft and kind to be a true warrior. Later villains like Raditz and Vegeta try to replicate this effect, but they become less and less out-of-place as the story continues.
  • While the world(s) in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle aren't exactly clouds and rainbows, Ninja Kurogane starts out as one of these with little regard for human life and something of a temper, but as he gets closer to his True Companions this gradually fades. In recent chapters he's even sacrificed his arm to save Fay, indicating that he's fully defrosted.
    • Yue (Cardcaptor Sakura) is another CLAMP example. Though somewhat hard to pin, his stoicism, bitterness, inability to let go, and the fact that he has no qualms about beating the ever-living daylights out of a ten-year-old girl make him rather a grumpy bear.
      • Similarly Syaoran Li, an Arrogant Kung Fu Guy who constantly gets his mystique destroyed by the cheery and kind spirited treatment of his team mates. Granted his moodiness becomes less visible through that ever recurring Luminescent Blush brought on by his "rival" Sakura's affectionate attitude.
  • Zelgadis Graywords of The Slayers fits this trope fairly well. While the world he lives in is far from perfect, he is the most cynical member in the group of exuberant nut jobs he travels with. A group which he has tried to part ways with on several occasions, though invariably ends up traveling with anyway.
  • Rossiu from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann becomes one after the Time Skip. But it's a bit more complex, since he isn't just on the wrong side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a Hot-Blooded Super Robot Anime, but he thinks they live in a gritty Real Robot Anime. So his actions are interpreted by some fans of the show as a Jerkass instead of a cynic.
  • Toshiro Hitsugaya from Bleach
  • Evangeline of Mahou Sensei Negima counted as this, at least earlier in the series. As of late, the Genre Shift into action shows that her attitude may be somewhat justified.
  • Fujimoto from Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is a jaded, cynical human-hater who assumes the worst. He lives in a world that is about as idealistic as possible, and is married to an Anthropomorphic Personification who distinctly resembles the Blue Fairy in demeanor. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya. Always negative about everything... when most people would give anything to be in his position.
  • Aria has Aika, who for the largest part doesn't seem to realize that living as an apprentice-undine on Aqua is the next best thing to paradise.
    • Which she might have gotten from her teacher, Akira. At least Aika wasn't that way when she was a kid.
  • Meta Knight in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!. Fumu calls him out on it, but she eventually gives up.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Wobbly-Headed Bob, a character created by Jhonen Vasquez fits into this trope in a fairly extreme way. The character himself is something of an Insufferable Genius and/or Nietzsche Wannabe who lives in a world where dumb but cutesy creatures live in blissful ignorance. Bob himself condemns others for their ignorant nature and tries to expose others to the supposed horrors of reality, upon which they are usually Driven to Suicide. He does get called out for this, with a pig once telling him that it's ridiculous to tell happy people they're supposed to be miserable. The pig is eventually talked into killing himself.
  • Scott Pilgrim: Kim Pine in is this early on in the storyline; she later becomes far more agreeable.

Hollie: Have you always been this way?
Kim: What way?
Hollie: Like, a totally hateful bitch.

Film[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Used in a brief segment of C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle. The last shreds of La Résistance are trapped in a stable. A faction of dwarfs that had split off from the main characters is also there. Due to the nature of things, the inside of the stable is actually a good deal nicer, but to the renegade dwarfs, it's mostly just a stable. They are unreserved in voicing their discontent with the situation.
    • Puddleglum comes off as this in The Silver Chair. Jill and Eustace eventually find out he's not.
      • Even the way he comes off is seen as scarily cheerful by the rest of his race, at least according to him.
  • Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh is the second-most iconic Grumpy Bear. Surrounded by beautiful nature, blessed with happy friends and a loving human playmate/owner, Eeyore insists on seeing the world glass all-empty.
    • Also proven in the comic.

Eeyore: (To Pooh and Piglet) Where are you boys headed?
Pooh: Oh, nowhere.
Eeyore: (Looks back at sign on tree behind him, which reads "Eeyore's Gloomy Place") You've arrived.

    • And:

Eeyore: Everyone around here is always smiling. I wonder what I'm missing.
Eeyore: (Smiles)
Eeyore: Now I'll probably get laugh wrinkles.

    • And you can't forget:

Eeyore: Uh-oh, here it comes again.
Eeyore: YIPPEE!!
Eeyore: I forgot to take my gloom pill this morning.

    • Eeyore is so pessimistic it goes all the way out the other side and circles back around to narcissism. He once assumed that a party was for him, because he couldn't think of a reason why someone might invite him to a party in the first place unless he was the guest of honor.
  • Jane Austen seems to like this character.
    • Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice thought assuming the worst-case-scenario of first impressions would protect her from being duped about people's true nature like her Wide-Eyed Idealist sister Jane always is. When she learns the truth about Mr. Darcy, she realizes her method is just as flawed, having blinded her to the truth and let her be taken in by Wickham because she was so eager to believe his terrible story about Mr. Darcy. Wickham essentially took her in by flattering this aspect of her character that way.
    • Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility; her mother and sister Marianne are constantly annoyed with her pessimism and determination always to doubt the best-case scenario. Of course, she's usually right.
    • Fanny Price of Mansfield Park, due to eight years of emotional abuse, can never feel happy without feeling guilty as well.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Power Rangers: The various Sixth Rangers in a few seasons are invariably Freaky Loners (at first) who insist on thumbing their noses at the rest of the cast for their tree-hugging methods, as opposed to their more hardcore attitude. Perfect examples are Ryan Mitchell, the Titanium Ranger and Eric Myers, the Quantum Ranger. You can guess what happens to them by mid-season.
    • Not really for some. Take, in the origin material, Burai and Mikoto Nakadai for example. Both didn't redeem until much later until the end of the series when both found out they were pawn of the bad guy's game. They redeemed quickly after but for all those who were evil before, Redemption Equals Death. Ditto for Rio and Mele.
    • However, to press on the point, evil Rangers must be cleansed by death to be considered redeemed, Wolzard of Mahou Sentai Magiranger is a more optimistic example (the same having happened to his counterpart Koragg in Power Rangers Mystic Force), while Burai, Mikoto, Rio and Mele died at the end of the series (they come back as ghosts giving our heroes advice). Wolzard technically died at the hands of the Big Bad along with Hikaru, both got better in the end though.
    • A straighter example could be Eiji Takaoka, a.k.a. BoukenSilver, who started out as a Jerkass loner whose only motivation was to hunt and strike down the Ashu. It's not until the team gives him his Sagasniper (with a convenient excuse from Akashi) that he accepts to join the team and gradually warm up to them.
  • Life-action subversion: in the mostly idealistic universe of The West Wing, Toby Ziegler is a grumpy, prickly grouch who is nevertheless easily the most idealistic member of the President's senior staff (which is saying something, considering they're all pretty idealistic). Indeed, part of the reason that he's so grouchy is that he spends most of his time embroiling himself (oft-times unnecessarily) in shouting matches and heated disagreements with people who are a little more practical than himself.
  • Oscar the Grouch lives on Sesame Street, and that makes him all the grouchier.
  • Boober from Fraggle Rock. Subverted in the episode where he and Red become trapped in a cave-in, and he's able to help Red cope with the strong possibility of death. Turns out he's as grumpy as he is because he's the most grounded and realistic member of the cast.
  • Dorothy of The Golden Girls tends to be much grumpier than the rest of the cast.
  • Emerson Cod and Lily Charles from Pushing Daisies, whose cynicism seems rather odd in the vibrant Sugar Bowl they live in. Considering that Emerson had his heart broken and his daughter kidnapped (twice!) and Lily's heart-breaking experiences with Charles Charles (Vivian's fiance and the father of Charlotte "Chuck" Charles) I'd say that their cynicism is hardly unjustified.
  • Like his film counterpart, Grumpy Dwarf in Once Upon a Time is quite sour, a trait that extends to his Storybrooke life as the self-described "town drunk" Leroy. Of course, he wasn't always grumpy. He had to get his heart broken to end up like that.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Cyrano De Bergerac: Despite Christian's insistence to the contrary, Cyrano just cannot consider even for a second that Roxane actually might be able to look past his appearance and love him for his soul. He admits on his deathbed that such vanity was his undoing.
    • Also Le Bret: Of all of Cyrano’s friends, he's the only who seems to realize that the protagonist is destroying every single chance of glory he had by making enemies and burning bridges. Easily the half of his dialogue is scolding Cyrano for that. All the other cadets appreciate Cyrano’s free spirit. He also makes it through the final of the play. Deconstructed when we discover that this play happens in Real Life, that there will not be a happily ever after scenario, that the gascon cadets "free spirit" made them to die gloriously but young in a Last Stand, and that Le Bret was right all along.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Donkey Kong Country's Cranky Kong is probably video gamehood's very first grumpy bear, being an insufferable old geezer who, in between whacks with a cane, would go on and on about how much things were better in his day ("We only had a joystick and a single button! And we liked it!"), and how overblown the game is. In the animated series, when he goes on a vacation in one episode, DK suggests that he's having an awful time because there's (As Diddy puts it) 'no one to grouch at'.
  • Though the Final Fantasy series usually have Crapsack-y enough settings that the team cynic is more than justified. But aside from the Galbadian dictatorship, Squall Leonhart of Final Fantasy VIII lives in a very nice place. For example: the town which he technically calls home is basically a beach resort town.
    • Arguably a subversion, the backstory establishes that the world has been previously engulfed in globe-wide warfare, and one time a whole bunch of monsters just came down from the moon, which happens again over the course of the game.
  • Meta Knight in the Kirby series. Or is he?
  • Xan in Baldur's Gate. An oft-selected NPC in the original game, apparently equally for his skill in magic and his hilariously depressive and self-defeating lines.
  • In Mega Man & Bass, Proto Man, Mega Man's Aloof Big Brother, insists on trying a Heroic Sacrifice using a Superpower Meltdown to defeat the evil robot King, arguing it's the only way to win (never mind that Mega Man, Bass and he could probably bypass his shield collectively). It's partially successful, since it destroyed King's shield and allowed him to be beaten. It's a good thing he's a robot and could be repaired, since Superpower Meltdowns don't have the highest success rate.
    • Proto Man and Chaud in Mega Man Battle Network (mostly Chaud, as Proto doesn't talk much) is as far on the cynical side of the otherwise idealistic games as physically possible, lambasting Lan and Mega Man every chance he gets for not mercilessly killing every opponent he comes across under any circumstances even when there's a chance of surrender, yet strangely rather than ineffectual he saves the day every time he appears—he'll constantly pop in either just before a bad guy Mega Man had at his mercy was gonna try something dangerous or a bad guy with Mega Man at his mercy was about to kill him. In the sixth game, he actually expresses a willingness to kill Mega Man himself if he can't control his newest powers, but expresses it immediately after saving him from a villain's sword.
  • Bowser in the Mario Series
  • Francis hates being listed here. His grouchiness is completely justified, as one of the few survivors trapped in the middle of an ongoing Zombie Apocalypse.
    • Ironically, he's actually enjoying said apocalypse; partly because he treats the whole thing as one ongoing bar brawl, and partially because when the entire world seems to be intent on crushing hope and idealism the cynic is king.
  • Razorbeard and Henchman 800 from Rayman 2: The Great Escape as well as the Hoodmongers from Rayman 3

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Squid Row Grace. Also unpleasant and a slacker
  • Viktor of Lackadaisy is this.
  • Karkat Vantas in Homestuck. He legitimately has a lot to complain about now, but we've seen he's always been like this. Justified since he has red blood, a genetic mutation in trolls that is not looked kindly upon. Had the trolls not played the game, he would probably have been denied his dreams and culled as a lowblood mutant.
  • In Sakana, nothing but his cat (and maybe Jiro being "devastated"...) seems to make Yuudai's day brighter.
  • Ginger in At Arms Length. Her boyfriend Geoffrey even introduces her as "the surly one."

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Charlie the Unicorn: Charlie seems to be the only character in his magical world who isn't relentlessly cheery.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Smurfs: Grouchy Smurf. 90% of his dialog consisted of the phrase, "I HATE (insert thing here)!"
  • Gruffi of the Gummi Bears. Partially subverted in that while his irascible nature is irritating, he is also respected for his practical nature which is invaluable in times of crisis.
  • Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. "I'm never happy." And his girlfriend Mai.
  • Gordon the Big Engine from Thomas the Tank Engine. His arrogance seems to stem from his inability to tolerate everything around him. James even lampshades his grumpiness in the Season 5 episode A Better View For Gordon.
  • Ratchet from Transformers Animated is justified in that he is a war hero who has seen enough to have lost his innocence about things and has become gruff to a fault. Even Captain Fanzone, the by-the-book police officer, has told him to work on his people skills.. Hilarity Ensues when his attempts to bring a pregnant woman to the hospital in his ambulance mode make her leave and take a cab. His cynicism is often contrasted with Optimus Prime's idealism and patriotism.
    • When you've been mutilated by a part-stealing bounty hunter, seen the soldier you were supposed to protect mindwiped in front of you (hell, been the one to mindwipe her!), and the lobotomized body of your old war buddy is turned into a transport for some washout Elite Guard cadet, cranky makes sense.
  • Pierre of the Squishy Bears from Eek! The Cat.
  • Beast Boy's ex-teammates the Doom Patrol show up in the last season of Teen Titans, and start reminding BB that sometimes you have to Shoot the Dog to save the world. Then the kids who the show is actually named after show them that all the Heroic Sacrifices they only thought were necessary can just be undone off-screen anyway.
  • Squidward Tentacles from SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • Benson from Regular Show, especially when threatening to fire Mordecai, Rigby, or both.
  • The Happy Little Elves, a Show Within a Show on The Simpsons, had "Chilly, the elf who cannot love".
  • Mr. Grumpy on The Mr. Men Show.
  • Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic started out as a rare case of the Grumpy Bear being the main character as well as the Only Sane Pony.
  • In KaBlam!, June sometimes falls under this.
  • Mr. Mufflin in Fanboy and Chum Chum (when he's at his worst.
  • Eustace Bagg from Courage the Cowardly Dog.
  • Bob (only annoyed) in Bob's Burgers.
  • Dan from Dan Vs fills the trope when things wrong him in the opening.
  • Huffer from Transformers Generation 1 was built for this role almost literally; fellow crank-case Gears might count as either this or a Sour Supporter, if A] he wasn't faking it for the sake of morale and B] he ever actually said anything in the cartoon.
  • Ed Bighead from Rocko's Modern Life.
  • Spinelli from Recess.
  • Care Bears: Grumpy Bear is the Trope Namer. He would say, "Of course you got all the way to the bottom of the Western Animation section before anyone thought of me, even though my name's on the page." He's the most practical of the bears, and the local Mr. Fix-it (which, according to Share Bear in the 1985 movie, is because he never complains). Tends to have the role of Butt Monkey. Being so grumpy perhaps makes the writers feel less guilty about giving him so much trouble..
  • The Angry Cop from The Goode Family episode "Gerold's Way or The Highway".
  • In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore takes this role as he does in all other iterations of the Winnie the Pooh franchise.
    • In one episode, Pooh and friends attempted to cheer up Eeyore because he spent all his days staring gloomily at clouds. In a nice twist, after each of their heavy-handed attempts failed, Piglet simply sits and talks to Eeyore, who reveals that he's not depressed - he is, in fact, playing an imaginary game with the clouds. A nice avoidance of this trope, in that the gang is encouraged to find out more about Eeyore's unusual behaviour and even appreciate it on its own terms.