Loners Are Freaks

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. (...) Anyone who (...) does not partake of society is either a beast or a god."
Aristotle, Politics

Friends are great. Which is why having friends is often what separates the hero from the villain. An inevitable side-effect of The Power of Friendship is if you don't have friends, there's something wrong with you. Similarly, if a writer is going to create a sympathetic Anti-Hero, they often choose to make the character a brooding loner. Although there are many other ways to make a flawed character--Pride, addiction, and lust are all sympathetic, epic flaws. No, no, instead, writers opt for just plain asocial.

In fiction, introversion usually includes a raft of other problems: apathy, arrogance, selfishness, mental instability, inhumanity, or plain old evil. Loners will be shown as insulting others by implying, through their refusal to socialize, that others are not worthy of their presence. Right? This perception stems from the belief that being a loner is not a natural thing. There is something "wrong" with them.

There's also the association with serial killers who tend to be loners. In Japan, Hikikomori are seen as either NEETs gone over the edge, or lazy students cutting class rather than victims of a nearly-Social Darwinist society defined by ambition and fear of shame. Rather than reaching out for help, the family is expected to isolate the weirdo from society and deal with the problem themselves. When fiction still doesn't remember the difference between being a loner by choice or being driven to it, this is the attitude at work.

Even more unfortunately, there is some historic basis for this; humans are social animals. Cooperation along with the invention of language is how we survived and those who were alone often weren't able to reproduce or hand over their innovations to the next guy. Through most of human history collective action was the only practical means of survival; being extremely selfish, hiding all the time, or being shunned/banned/exiled/cast out was very often a precursor to slow death by starvation, predation, etc. Thus a person condemned to Dying Alone was almost certainly alone because of a problem he'd had in another group and so to be avoided.

A loner can also become a freak through isolation. Humans learn how to be human through social interaction. And there are many social skills that can only be learnt in person—isolation can lead to No Social Skills. When you're raised in isolation, you behave differently. Many psychological disorders originate from a deficit in human interaction. Then that person will be shunned, isolating him further in a vicious cycle, putting him closer to Despair Event Horizon.....

Of course, this trope could just be the inversion of the idea that nobody could like a freak, so those freaks are loners. But this doesn't logically translate to all loners are freaks, but a lot of fiction doesn't follow logic.

The Messiah will often effect a Heel Face Turn on an antagonist by trying to be their friend. Often this will work by itself, hammering home the idea that what's wrong with the villain isn't the need for revenge or a severely unbalanced psyche, it's a lack of friends. Even if The Messiah eventually accepts the Loner as a Loner, the Loner will often appreciate the effort, and begin making token attempts to be sociable with the True Companions.

It's hard to determine whether this trope originated from assumptions about loners in the real world or helped cause it...or whether that's another vicious cycle.

There are exceptions, as with all other tropes: the crusty old hermit or Witch Doctor who rebuffs the villains and helps out the heroes is a fairly popular stock character. And both of those are frequently portrayed at the very least as eccentric. The Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold is a subversion. The Snark Knight deliberately seeks to defy this trope.

And, as Freaks proved, loners may be freaks, but freaks aren't loners.

Compare The Complainer Is Always Wrong and perhaps Intelligence Equals Isolation. Contrast You Are Not Alone. See also No Social Skills.

Examples of Loners Are Freaks include:

Anime and Manga

  • Yu-Gi-Oh!!: The protagonist has an ever-growing team of friends to support him, and not do much else. The Rival doesn't have any, doesn't want any, and consistently fluctuates between bona fide antagonist and intolerable rich snob.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, everyone is a loner to some degree, and it does none of them the least bit of good. Shinji is the most lonely, because of all the depressing, horrible, and just plain sad things that happen to him. Watching his mother die, being forced to pilot EVA-01 by his father, getting little respect from his peers and/or being bullied, watching EVA-01 tear a rogue EVA to shreds beyond his control, and later finding out that the pilot was one of his friends who is now crippled as a result, being forced to kill the only person who truly understood him, and being forced to activate an apocalyptic event, leaving him and Asuka the only two people on Earth.
    • Rebuild has an aversion in the form of Mari, who outright states that she doesn't like involving others in her plans, deliberately cuts off the intercom when she hijacks EVA 02, and is hardly shown talking with anyone but the protagonist. She still manages to be a very positive, badass character who teaches said protagonist an important lesson.
  • Sara in Soukou no Strain, the New Transfer Student loner, is assumed to be an evil one by the Gambee pilots who need a scapegoat.
  • One of Ash's rivals, Paul, from Pokémon, seems to be taking this route. He doesn't even seem to form proper friendships with his own Pokémon. He's only interested in them for their power.
  • On Digimon Adventure, the evil Puppetmon was defeated specifically because he had no friends.
    • He had the longest season out of the four five evil digimon allied with Piedmon though. I remember being stuck in that FUCKING FOREST forever! So him having minions but not friends amplified the "theme".
      • In a sense, all of the evil Digimon were destroyed because they were loners. Puppetmon was simply the only one who had it spelled out to him, by both the Digidestined and Cherrymon (his childlike nature also meant that he angrily rejected the notion that no one was his friend).
  • The relationship between Naruto and Sasuke reeks of this. Sasuke, a loner due to a strong, all-encompassing lust for power, ends up becoming a Rival Turned Evil due to his pride being damaged by both Naruto's ever increasing power and an ass-kicking/Mind Rape by his Aloof Big Brother Itachi.
    • Though it could be noted that after the time skip Sasuke seems to be clearly one of the most powerful ninja on the planet.
      • But he's also increasingly off his nut and evil. This trope in relation to Sasuke was made pretty clear with him sacrificing Karin without a second thought to get to Danzo.
    • Gaara exemplified this before his defeat by Naruto. Constantly ostracized by his village, he had retreated into solitude and gone gradually more insane as doing so only strengthened Shukaku's hold on his mind.
      • Naruto's response to his backstory also fits. His first reaction was to fear Gaara because he thought someone who could willingly accept such loneliness must be incredibly strong.
  • Exception: Kino of Kino's Journey is remarkably well adjusted and prefers to travel alone with just a talking motorcycle (yes) for company. Kino doesn't hate people, but doesn't want to form attachments that would hinder the ideal of the Traveler. It helps that most people and societies they encounter are really screwed up.
  • The main message of One Piece pretty much boils down to "if you don't have any friends, You Suck!" It's actually difficult to stay a loner in manga/OnePiece unless you're really a douchebag and therefore, deserving of it. Consider Tony Chopper, a talking, shapeshifting reindeer, who was outcast for his weirdness until Luffy's crew comes along and openly accept him.
    • Also, Zoro, Robin and Brooke. Zoro was even alone by choice. Also worth mentioning is Arlong, who cares as much for his True Companions as Luffy, and is a vicious bastard.
    • Played straight in a very realistic way by Brooke who's fifty years of complete isolation drove him mad.
  • Subverted in Death Note as the Great Detective L is a loner who states that Light and Misa are his only friends, whilst Light can easily summon a mob of friends to act as an distraction, and Misa is a super model that has numerous contacts to bail her out of various situations.
    • Contacts aren't necessarily friends though, and Light doesn't appear to be particularly close to anyone.
      • Either way, both are quite comfortable in social situations, easily making themselves centers of attention, and enjoying the admiration of others - very much unlike the loner L. Of course later in the series we come across a genuine freaky loner, Mikami Teru.
      • Misa does, indeed have friends. During the Yotsuba arc, she meets up with a friend, Nori.
  • The Diclonius in Elfen Lied are pretty much rejected by society. As a result, most are either depressed or (more commonly) sociopathic, sadistic killers.
    • It's worth noting that all of them are psychotic to varying degrees and/or have split personalities.
  • The entire premise of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is for the Power of Friendship and an adoring group of True Companions to finally dredge loner-protagonist Cloud out of his mopey-assed, guilt-ridden shell. This is exemplified by the scene in which each member of the party (even the dead one) hurls him higher in the air while giving words of encouragement so he can single-handedly defeat a summoned dragon god. Both movie and scene are Better Than They Sound. This carries on from the game: see below.
  • Subverted to some extent in Berserk, where the half-mad main character, Guts, finally relents and allows others to follow him after wandering alone battling demons for years. Since then, they have all become True Companions.
    • Though he goes off to being a loner again, which is one of main causes of everything going into shambles since Griffith is obsessed with him. Being a loner only brings trouble?
      • The sad thing is, he only left the Hawks because he wanted to be a better friend and peer to Griffith, and he believed that he couldn't do that unless he could find a dream of his own.
  • Princess Tutu has Autor, a character who is first introduced by several cameos of him sitting alone in a library, yelling at others to be quiet while employing Scary Shiny Glasses. Once he becomes integrated into the plot, it appears that he doesn't have many friends because he's consumed by his obsession with Drosselmeyer (as well as a belief that he's better than everyone)--although there's occasional hints that he's bothered by his position, including him having an angry reaction to Uzura calling him "Weird Autor". In the end, he helps give Rue an epiphany using The Power of Love, and also saves Fakir, possibly hinting that he's come to accept the boy as a friend.
  • Johan of Monster would be a aversion of this trope, as he's very charismatic...if he didn't kill everyone that ended up being his friend.
    • Though it could be argue that he never considered anyone his "friend."
    • The closest things he has to friends are Tenma and his own sister Nina, the people whose lives he made hell and whom he tries to mindrape into killing him over the course of the series.
  • While the heroes of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure slowly gather friends over the course of their bizarre adventures, the Big Bad of the series, Dio Brando, also has an ever-expanding group of friends/minions who are extremely loyal to him. It's even noted by Joseph that this is part of the reason why he's so dangerous (besides the vampire powers and time-stopping).
    • A more direct example is Part 4 Big Bad Yoshikage Kira.
  • Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic! specifically tries not to get too attached to people, mainly because he wants to maintain his business-like, cold way of following orders. Unfortunately for him, people just seem to be so attracted to him that, even if he doesn't want to, he constantly ends up with groups of True Companions. Gauron becomes rather angry when he finds out that Sousuke is constantly surrounded by friends, and actually lectures Sousuke about how being a loner is a good thing that makes him strong and unique. Funniest part about it is that Gauron himself kept two very loyal girls by his side, making it more likely that his grand speech had more shallow reasons.
  • Pretty much the entire plot of Welcome to The NHK is how the protagonist Satou attempts to get over his social anxiety and connect with people after he realizes how unhappy he is as a loner.
  • Averted in Mahou Sensei Negima, oddly enough. The hero himself is a very kind person, but is also formal and uses Keigo with almost everyone. He tends to be rather distant otherwise. As it's an aversion and not a subversion, he's a loner but has no pathological case of avoiding people, he just doesn't socialize.
    • He actively tries not to socialize, because he's a teacher and would like to avoid Hot for Student situations. Not that it helps. He also tries to keep his distance because he doesn't want them getting caught in any dangerous situations because of him. That didn't help either.
    • He also doesn't have a lot of time to socialize because he's constantly going through Training from Hell. However, he does tend to grow closer to the students who are training alongside him.
    • He probably uses Keigo because Japanese is not his first language, and the more formal ways of speaking are generally taught first when someone is trying to learn. Keigo being the first way of speaking Japanese that he learned, he's probably most comfortable using it.
      • This isn't true actually, he knows how to speak in an informal manner and does it with the Kotaro, Takahata-sensei and Anya, as pointed by one of the students.
    • It also doesn't help that Negi has a huge helping of survivor's guilt after what happened to his village and wants to keep people away, in case they suffer the same fate as everyone else.
  • Being alone is a common factor for 'mad' characters in Soul Eater, right up to the original Kishin who rejected everything and everyone out of fear. Whilst being alone has not been explicitly stated as being bad, the way the alternative is presented makes the implication clear.
    • Crona was at the point of becoming a Kishin, did not know how to "deal with" people and their soul was represented as a desolate landscape until Maka intervened. Once Medusa gets her child back, however, things get worse and Crona has recently rejected any reminder of the friends they found at Shibusen.
    • Black Star became more detached from people when pursuing a misguided attempt at becoming stronger. He challenged teams without his Weapon partner, becoming increasingly...odd to the point that a comparison was made to his kishin fahter. Tellingly, he got over it by listening to and cooperating with Tsubaki.
    • Being a lone Weapon is one of the fandom theories regarding Justin Law's Face Heel Turn, especially considering he appears to have encountered the Clown whom Maka and Soul 'defeated' through epic team-work. In fact, teamwork forms the basis for all of the significant victories of that pair (if not all of the meister/weapon groups) in the manga.
    • While Stein does get on with people to an extent, he does not exactly seek out company. Marie leaves Death City with Stein because "he is always alone". Spirit was told by Shinigami to keep an eye on Stein, something which he has apparently been doing since childhood.
  • Shizuka of Bakuman。 is a basement-dweller who writes truly messed-up plotlines, barely acknowledges his beleaguered, well-meaning editor, and regularly sports truly terrifying facial expressions. When this boy snaps, it'll be something on the order of the Staff of the Magi.
  • Ichise of Texhnolyze.
  • Yukiteru Amano of Mirai Nikki is very much a loner at school. This is due to his own anti-social personality. However, he does try to get better and make friends. Unfortunately, Yuno exists.
    • Then later on he kills his friends in his quest for Godhood. To be fair, they did intentionally get in his way, try to tell him the truth that he couldn't bring people back to life (not a bad thing in its self, but considering his reasoning of 'I can bring everyone I've killed back, so it doesn't matter', it pretty much broke him) when it wouldn't have even mattered, they were kind of stupid. He was a freaky loner who got better, but it was too late for entirely other reasons.
  • Konata from Lucky Star, while not being a true loner, often gets berated for her love of solitary activities, like playing video games or watching anime shows.
    • Kagami in particular sees Konata as the stereotypical Otaku and/or Hikikomori, and considers Konata as a potential criminal. (To be fair, Konata lacks most stereotypical otaku and hikikomori traits.)
  • Tenshi/Kanade Tachibana of Angel Beats! is placed in this category, but is rather a Boo Radley. She's seen as a freak because she doesn't have any friends, but that's only because She's actively trying to graduate those around her, and thus is never really seen with anyone for any length of time.
  • Averted in Amanchu. We never see any of Hikari's friends from before she met Futaba and the rest of the diving club, but she is shown to be cheery and outgoing, although perhaps a bit eccentric.
  • In The Weatherman Is My Lover the cheerful but emotionally detached Amasawa considers himself to fall under this. His lover Koganei convinces him neither of them needs to be that way.
  • All over the place in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Homura doesn't have any friends because she was hospitalized for a long time, Mami doesn't have any friends because she must distance herself from others due to her job, Kyouko doesn't give a damn about humans after all she went through, and Sayaka actually become freaks, in so many ways, when she decides to be a loner. In contrast, Madoka try to connect with them all.
  • A major plot point in It's Not My Fault I'm Not Popular!, where protagonist Tomoko's main goal is to be more sociable and avert this trope. She often fails spectacularly.
  • In Saint Beast, Shiva doesn't want to get close to anyone except Judas and also has a habit of putting down others. He gets treated with suspicion by other angels for his lack of community values.
  • Anthy of Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Comic Books

  • Averted in Asterix and the Roman Agent: while everyone else is bickering thanks to the titular spy's influence, the bard Cacofonix isn't, since he, besides being aphonic at the time, usually keeps to himself and thus keeps away from the agent's jealousy- and paranoia-inducing influence.
  • Depending on the Writer, Batman.
  • Both Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen. Rorschach has difficulty relating to people on a social level, being paranoid, violent, and insulting. Dr. Manhattan pushes away from humanity due to his god-like powers.
    • It's implied in his back-story that Dr Manhattan wasn't the most gregarious man in the world even before becoming omnipotent, omniscient and probably omnipresent if he felt like it.
  • In many Legion of Super-Heroes continuities, Lightning Lord's misanthropy is at least partially attributed to this. His homeowrld, Winath, has a population composed mostly of twins. As a single birth, he was apparently treated with pity, disdain and suspicion, and didn't take it well.


  • 10 Things I Hate About You. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger both play social outsiders. In reality they are rather mundane, but their rejection of society causes people to assume everything they do has some dark or criminal explanation.
  • Brendan Frye in Brick is cool, and badass, and a perfect example of Determinator, but he eats lunch alone and the only two people who could possibly be called his friends are his ex-girlfriend and Brain, who serves as a sort of information broker. Brendan plays many sides against each other, and is not very well liked for it.
  • He Was A Quiet Man
  • The Joker from The Dark Knight.

Batman: He must have friends.
Maroni: Friends? Have you met this guy?

  • Somewhat averted in Silent Running - protagonist Freeman Lowell is a loner who is more at home with plants and animals than with people, but he's also the good guy in comparison to his uncaring, mercenary crewmates.
    • And he's got his droids, so it's not really that he doesn't want company, he just wants better company.
  • Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle just can't get a grip on relating to people. So he turns himself into a walking arsenal and decides to do some damage/good.
  • In the film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch complains about this trope: "Fat Boy should be finishing up anytime now. Talk about a recluse. He only comes out once a year, and HE never catches any flak for it!"
  • About a Boy features Hugh Grant in the loner role. Over the course of the film he learns how to be a decent human being by making some friends. (starting with a 12 year old boy, no less!)
  • WarGames is driven by the fact that the hero is a lone geek (apart from a highly unlikely girlfriend for dramatic purposes.) Which is one of the things that dates the film, since today he would have a whole cyber-community "World_Destroying_Online_PC_Games.net".


  • Solomon Kane is the poster child for this trope, spending almost every story tramping around Darkest Africa all alone except for the Witch Doctor N'Longa, who he sees very infrequently, and various other characters whose main function, generally speaking, is to die violently.
  • Thomas Covenant - Stephen R Donaldson's entry for least likeable main character. Something of a Jerkass hero.
  • Roland Deschain, the protagonist of Stephen King's magnum opus The Dark Tower, suffers from this trope: he has been alone for so long in his quest to reach the titular Dark Tower that it is his only reason for living. In the first book he goes so far as to let a twelve-year-old boy he rescued and bonded with to fall to his death, just to because his nemesis said it was the only way he'd ever allow himself to be caught. Roland's character softens into something a great deal more sympathetic after he forms a traveling party that helps him in his quest—which includes what amounts to a resurrected version of that kid, who'd have to be insane to follow Roland again under any other circumstances.
    • Not exactly. The Dark Tower is the nexus of all existence. Saving it at the price of a thousand lives would be a bargain.
      • But remember, Roland's goal is not to save the Dark Tower, but to reach it. He goes out of his way to save it because if it falls he could never reach it. If given the hypothetical choice of saving but never being able to get there, or reaching and climbing to the top at the cost of its destruction along with all of reality, he'd choose the second option.
    • Susannah is clearly thinking of this trope when she thinks about how "the desert made him strange."
  • The Harry Potter series makes use of this trope - a key plot point throughout the series is that Lord Voldemort's lack of understanding of and inability to love another person or thing is one of his greatest weaknesses (he's actually a full-blown sociopath), whereas Harry's ability to love is his greatest strength. That said, Harry is a bit of a loner, of the more harmless variety. In fact, he is often mistaken for a freak, particularly in books 2, and 5.
    • The young Severus Snape is also depicted as a loner, unpopular and often bullied, further tying him to Harry and Voldemort as one of JK Rowling's three "abandoned boys."
      • Verging into WMG territory, but the difference between the boys is what Rowling seems to be emphasising, as if deliberately building on this trope. Voldemort not only is a loner, but actively shuns friendship, and is thus the most messed up and evil. Harry reaches out, has friends, and even in the moments when the school turns against him, he still has a full blown group of True Companions to help him, thus making him well adjusted and pretty close to normal. Snape falls halfway, desperately seeking friendship from his Death Eater pals, who aren't really friends, and accidentally estranging his only real friend. Thus he ends up suspended halfway between evil and true good.
      • To be perfectly clear: Snape is a Type 3 Anti-Hero.
    • This all rears its head again in the last book with Dumbledore being revealed to be a true loner himself. While adored by the entire wizarding populace, Albus never seemed particularly close to anyone- the most fondness we see him express over the series is for his old flame Grindlewald and for Harry. Part of this is explained because his genius made him feel isolated, but by the last book, it becomes very clear he just didn't trust anyone with all of his secrets, preferring to kill Voldemort with a Xanatos Roulette. While Dumbledore is adored by all, most of the time, his intense quirkiness can lead to him being seen as a freak, as throughout The Deathly Hallows, Harry grows increasingly disillusioned as it sinks in how little Albus trusted him.
      • JK Rowling says on Pottermore that Albus Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall were quite close, bonding over similarities in their childhoods. Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore were also reported to be relatively close before everything went wrong.
    • Luna Lovegood lampshades it when she says she has no friends because everyone thinks she's weird.
  • This is made into a point in David and Leigh Eddings's Malloreon series: The heroic Child of Light is surrounded by his friends and family (who also have the luck to be part of a prophetic Plot Tailored to the Party), whereas the Child of Dark is almost completely alone—no friends, just minions.
  • Ender's Game doubly subverts the heck out of this. Pretty much everyone intentionally isolates Ender to make him a more efficient commander. Which also makes him an asocial freak that he never really gets over. But useful!
    • Ender's Shadow goes back on this a bit, playing up the fact that Ender relied on his army while Bean was the real antisocial genius. Or, to be more accurate, Ender could project all the leadership qualities and bind their loyalty to him but was completely alone himself, except for Bean, who had no idea how to really connect to other people. This is something of a plot point and stated outright: Ender takes down his bogeyman by himself whereas Bean has learned how to form a team that may or may not actually like him, but accept him.
      • The subsequent Shadow books do this even more clearly, though. Who's the villain? Achillies, who seems to be able to make everyone, except some of the battleschoolers, love him. He feels no attachment to them and is noted by Bean near the end as being empty and unable to understand true bonds. Who're the heroes? Bean, Mr. Antisocial himself, although it is revealed that his detachment from humanity is more about him caring too much than too little. And Peter Wiggin, the terror of his brother's life and the ultimate "I can do it myself" loner. Until he realizes just how good his parents are to talk to and after he marries Petra.
  • Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files is a loner of the harmless variety. He has a small circle of friends, but he's more or less antisocial, only being immediately nice to pretty girls (not because he's a pervert, he's just the chivalrous type). People treat him as a freak, but not because he's a loner. It's because he publicly advertises his being a wizard and people think he's nuts.
    • Note that this is only really an issue in the first four books. During and following Summer Knight, Harry finally accumulates enough True Companions that he can no longer really be considered a loner.
  • Played with extensively in Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle series of novels. The "main character" of the series, Donal Graeme, finds he cannot accomplish his goal of uniting humanity alone; he not only has to travel in time (though not in the same body) to not only set historical events in motion, but to change their significance in history so that not only events but people are in place for a Final Battle. The trope listed here is also subverted in Soldier, Ask Not where a newspaperman with the power to influence people is thwarted in his attempts to bring down a entire race by one person of Faith, acting as he sees fit; and played to a extreme in the short story Brothers - about a set of twins that embody this trope, literally. When one is killed, the story follows thew other in his pursuit of the murderers, and leads to one of the most powerful scenes I have ever read, at the end.
  • Subverted in The Andromeda Strain. The Odd-Man Hypothesis states that unmarried males should be given command during times of crises, as their lack of attachment allows them to make the most unbiased decisions.
  • Played frustratingly straight in the Kitty Norville series. Werewolves do not do well without a pack, and the further from civilization and multiple friendships, the worse the resulting monster becomes.
  • John Cleaver in I Am Not a Serial Killer tries to avert this.
  • Played with in any Ayn Rand novel. Typically, villains or idiots believe this trope to be true, and most of the heroes are loners. The loners themselves consider the trope false, although they tend to get along with each other. Ultimately, Rand tends to invert this trope, although some of her heroes (Francisco d'Anconia in Atlas Shrugged and Austen Heller in The Fountainhead for example) are pretty sociable.
  • Speak: This is the reason Melinda is spurned by her classmates at school, other than the police-calling incident.
  • Senna Wales. The first book, Search for Senna notes that she "was not the most popular girl at school." She doesn't allow anyone to know anything about her personality or motives at first, not even her minion boyfriend, David Levin. Later in the book it becomes apparent that she is an antisocial, scheming witch who is running her own plans. And that's the first thing we learn about her.
  • Discworld:

It was said later that he came under bad influences at this stage. But the secret of the history of Edward d'Eath was that he came under no outside influences at all, unless you count all those dead kings. He just came under the influence of himself.
That's where people get it wrong. Individuals aren't naturally paid-up members of the human race, except biologically. They need to be bounced around by the Brownian motion of society, which is a mechanism by which human beings constantly remind one another that they are ... well ... human beings. He was also spiralling inwards, as tends to happen in cases like this.

    • Another Discworld example, played with A Hat Full of Sky. Witches tend to dislike other witches nosing in on their business, and it's repeatedly made clear that witches are not necessarily people people ("among the people, but not of the people"), but it's still important for them to visit each other occasionally to make sure they haven't gone bonkers.
  • Boo Radley, of To Kill a Mockingbird, is seen as this by the rest of the town. He is a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: a kind and caring, if not shy person who just happens to have been a recluse.
  • Sherlock Holmes, arguably embodies the loner trope, with the exception of Dr. John Watson.
  • Frankenstein's Monster. Obviously.
    • In fact, an Alternate Character Interpretation is that Victor Frankenstein is the villain and the "monster" his victim. The monster himself points out that Victor created him and then immediately abandoned him, never allowing him to know love or affection. It poses a sort of chicken-or-egg question: is the monster a loner because he's a freak or is he a freak because he's a loner?
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Mrs. Duncan worries about Freckles's solitude, appeased only by his friendliness with animals.

My God, mannie, if Freckles hadna the birds and the beasts he would be always alone. It was never meant for a human being to be so solitary. He'd get touched in the head if he hadna them to think for and to talk to.

The Cardinal was left boasting and strutting in the sumac, but in his heart he found it lonesome business. Being the son of a king, he was much too dignified to beg for a mate, and besides, it took all his time to guard the sumac; but his eyes were wide open to all that went on around him, and he envied the blackbird his glossy, devoted little sweetheart, with all his might.

  • Tobias has a lot of this in Animorphs after he gets trapped in morph. He does spend a lot of time with the other Animorphs, but he also has periods as a loner because he struggles with his triple hawk/human/Andalite nature and figuring out where he fits in in the world. It gets taken Up to Eleven at least twice when he retreats from everyone and sometimes even lets the hawk take over-right after he gets trapped and after Rachel's death.

Live Action TV

  • 7th Heaven: When Lucy Camden tells her mother about a girl in Habitat For Humanity who's a loner, Annie actually says she believes nobody really enjoys being "alone," and that there always must be some problem behind it. Sure enough, the withdrawn girl had been molested by her mother's ex-boyfriend.
  • An interesting inversion of the trope can be found in the British spy series The Prisoner, which features an unrepentant, mildly misanthropic loner as its protagonist. Instead of being seen as a liability, the character's "loner-ness" and drive towards individualism is the only thing keeping him sane. It's also the only weapon he has against the shady government officials who want to brainwash him and turn him into an obedient and conformist government servant.
    • It's played straight in one episode, however, in which Number Six manages to make contact with other subversives within the prison; however, because they're all confident-but-intensely-secretive and insular types, they all think each of them is a double agent and end up scuttling their own escape. If they'd just trusted each other, they'd have gotten away.
  • Dr. Cox from Scrubs applies to this trope as well, but a subversion occurs in the second episode of the first season. JD reaches out to the curmudgeonly doctor with pizza and beer, and just when it appears he's on the brink of a breakthrough, Dr. Cox replies, "I can braid your hair. I know the couch isn't very deep, but we could move the back cushion and spoon." Not only has he been sarcastic this whole time, he's got friends coming over to watch the game—they just don't include JD.
    • It's notable that this is the only time we see Doctor Cox with friends over - an episode later in the show sets up the same premise, but closes on Cox alone in his apartment with a six-pack...
  • Averted in Veronica Mars, where the titular heroine is basically a loner in the first season. Later seasons acknowledge the trope's effect, however, as Veronica sporadically feels guilty about the fact that she really operates better alone.
  • Similarly, in the first season of Gilmore Girls, Rory is criticized by her headmaster for being too much of a loner.
  • Smallville, obviously, where all loners turn out to be crazed mutants, though a fair number of popular kids in that show turned out to be evil too.
    • Smallville lacks even the tiniest bit of sympathy for anyone who isn't attractive and outgoing. While popular party-going types do sometimes go bad, the show has never featured a real geek or nerd or loner as anything other than a hideous loser with serious issues or hideous deranged monster.(Chloe does not count, due to her failing the "unattractive" test by a country mile)
  • Parodied in a sketch on Jam, in which a desperately lonely woman goes to increasingly sinister lengths to make friends (from setting traps for cyclists to dressing as a police officer, telling a woman that her son died in an accident, then inviting the grieving mother to the theatre that evening)
  • Ned from Pushing Daisies walls himself off from contact, both because of Parental Abandonment in his past and because his freakish ability is based on touch.
    • Played with in the episode "Frescorts" where Ned insists that just because these people are lonely it doesn't mean that they're freaks. Emerson thinks it does.
      • In the same episode, a visible inversion occurs: Buddy killed Joe because he (Joe) decided to quit to be with his girlfriend, which Buddy saw as abandonment. Ho Yay + Clingy Jealous Boy = Uh oh. Also, in the end, Randy tells Ned that Joe had taught him that there's nothing wrong with being by yourself.
  • Various examples in Star Trek, for example Soran and Khan are loners. Also the Evil Twins are usually loners: Lore was abandoned on a planet for a long time, and Thomas Riker lived 8 years alone on an outpost.
    • Soran is not the best example, considering it was the loss of his family and desire to get back to them that made him go la-la.
    • Khan wasn't really a loner; more so just the burden of being a Magnificent Bastard caused him to always be just slightly above everyone else. He had his wife on Ceti Alpha V for a while, and throughout the movie, he's seen conversing with Joachim as a good friend, even promising to avenge his death.
    • Thomas Riker's kind of a questionable example as well. Most of the conflict in the episode he appears in comes not from having been alone for so long, but from his resentment of Will for having lived those years while he was trapped. (Speaking of which, it's awfully dramatically convenient that the Enterprise happened to be the ship that found Tom Riker.) Neither is he really "evil" when he appears in Deep Space Nine; he's working for the Maquis, sure, but that's morally ambiguous; and again, he doesn't seem to have joined them because of his time alone so much as to differentiate himself from Will.
      • Actually it's not dramatically convenient but rather logically convenient. The reason the Enterprise was assigned to attempt to retrieve the computer core is that Riker had been assigned to the planet and given his rank at the time he was would be the officer on a star ship to most likely be familiar with the computer systems. It was a time saving measure rather than training someone new on an undoubtedly outdated system.
    • Reginald Barclay might be a better example. In his first appearance, he is shown as very much the Loner and his re-creation of members of the crew in the Holo-Deck is regarded as somewhat freakish. During the show, as he gains respect from his colleagues, he becomes less of a loner and deletes almost all of his Holo-Deck programs.
    • But on the other side, the power of collective is often described as evil as well, like Borg Collective and the Great Founder Link.
  • Desperate Housewives sometimes plays this trope straight ( Wayne Davis, Eddie Orlofsky, Felicia Tillman), sometimes it averts it. Notably, there's Karen Mc Cluskey, who is first introduced as an insufferable old loner, but then we find out that she still suffers for her son's early death.
  • Criminal Minds plays with this trope in just about every permutation. Sometimes the unsubs are revealed to be loners or anti-social people, sometimes they're perfectly sociable. In one episode, the BAU investigate a triple murder that seems to be perpetrated by a Satanic cult and turns out to be one of the popular kids at the high school framing the Satanists.
    • Played with in one scene where Elle is profiling an arsonist:

Elle: This guy doesn't go on dates, doesn't go to parties, doesn't feel comfortable in front of groups...
(The team's socially awkward Badass Bookworm, Reid, gives Elle a strange look.)
Elle: (quickly) And of course he's a total psychopath.
Reid: Of course.

    • Given an interesting twist in "Solitary Man" where the killer essentially went crazy from loneliness, and that's what turned him murderous.
  • Simon Bellamy from Misfits has no friends, and he's portrayed as mentally unstable, obsessive, nerdy, and a bit of a pervert. To be fair, he does actually want friends and genuinely tries to reach out to people, it's just that years of bullying and isolation have left him painfully shy and socially inept. Plus he's actually shown to be far more kind, sensitive and empathic than most of the show's more extroverted characters, and his Sanity Slippage is mostly due to the traumatic things that happen to him and the fact that no one really offers him emotional support (or even acknowledges his existence most of the time).
  • House and Foreman are sometimes accused of this, especially by The Chicks (Cameron and Thirteen).
  • As a result of his father's training, Dexter Morgan is aware of this, and goes out of his way to cultivate a "reserved but sociable" persona to keep from being thought of as an emotionally withdrawn loner. It works on everyone but Sgt. Doakes.
  • A case of "Loners become freaks" in Life, where Charlie is clearly a well adjusted guy with a job and a wife and friends until he spends an ungodly amount of time (unspecified, but measured in years) in solitary confinement. When they let him out again, he's kind of crazy.

"The first six months in solitary, I did push ups, and I did not talk to myself. The next six months in solitary, I'll admit, I talked to myself. You don't want to know what I did after that."

  • Parodied in the Buckwheat assassination episode of SNL. A series of people who knew the assassin, John David Stutts, all say the same thing about him--"He was a quiet guy, a bit of a loner, but he always talked about wanting to kill Buckwheat." The caption under his high school yearbook photo reads, "Most Likely to Kill Buckwheat."
  • Ranger Gord on The Red Green Show is a tragicomic example, in that being posted to a lonely tower to watch for forest fires and then forgotten by his head office has meant that he's lived all alone in the woods since about 1979. Being all alone out there has pretty much made him into a full-blown Cloudcuckoolander, something Lampshaded by Red on multiple occasions.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had an episode called Out of Mind, Out of Sight about a girl who'd magically turned invisible from social ostracization and set out to take violent revenge on everyone she deemed responsible.
    • Also implied to be why Buffy is such an effective Slayer. Her ties to the world give her something to fight for, while other, more isolated, Slayers tend to have far shorter lifespans.
  • Also in Angel, the titular character has a lot of this in his backstory, due to his guilt and not wanting to risk attackming anyone. He came out of it for most of the series, though he sank back into it in season 2 in an attempt to protect everyone from his darkness like before.
  • Degrassi the Next Generation has Rick. He was constantly bullied by the likes of Spinner and Jay. And when he was abusive toward Terry (which may or may not be associated with a mental illness), the amount of hate toward him skyrocketed. It got to the point where, after being humiliated at a televised academic competition, he brings a gun to school, and shoots Jimmy in the back, causing him to be paralyzed.
    • Worst, the show made him out to be a bad guy, even though he was obviously ridiculed by the rest of the characters. After accidentally shooting himself dead, and shooting Jimmy, his one friend Toby disassociated himself with him.
    • It got a better example with Connor, who suffered from Aspergers. Once his violent outbursts were explained, even Ally stood up for him. In fact, the amount of suffering he got from the principal was made public, and got Shepard fired.
  • In Supernatural, the Winchester boys (Sam in particular) often had trouble fitting in due to having to move around so often. This led to a great deal of I Just Want to Be Normal on Sam's part that eventually caused him to have a falling out with his father. The fact that being called a freak is his Berserk Button is just icing on the cake.
  • Mulder is a loner, due to his crazy ideas about aliens and government conspiracy. He's a joke to the FBI and is mocked by his peers, nicknamed "Spooky". He doesn't seem to mind too much, though. He doesn't go out of his way to make friends and likes to work alone; the first half of the first season is him just messing with Scully to try and annoy her enough to get her to leave. It doesn't work, and she ends up being his defender of sorts to others in the FBI. He has exactly four friends, including her, three of which are just as odd as he is. His loner tendency may stem back to his childhood, in which his parents emotionally abandoned him after the abduction of his sister. He noted that it "tore the family apart", and he is never seen to have a close relationship with his parents, who divorced soon after the incident.
  • Toyed with in Dark Oracle. Lance is an antisocial gaming geek, but is one of the main protagonists. His Cloudcuckoolander girlfriend Sage is similarly weird and isolated, but a very pleasant girl. Vern, Blaze, and comic!Sage on the other hand, cross in Psycho Loner territory and stay there.


I'm not afraid now of the dark anymore
And many mountains now are molehills
Back in Berlin they're all well-fed
I don't care
People always bored me anyway

  • Harry Chapin's "Sniper". The titular sniper is described throughout the song as a strange loner, according to those who knew him. Deconstructed as, according to the sniper's thoughts, everyone treating him as a freak is what sent him on his rampage.

Tabletop Games

  • In Unknown Armies, spending three days alone is the sample Rank 3 Isolation stress checks, while spending seven days alone is the sample Rank 5 Isolation stress check. This means that the average character and average rolls will reach a permanent insanity from being alone, and even beating the odds leaves said character more than a little weird.
  • In Genius: The Transgression, Geniuses of high Obligation (Morality) might transgress just from avoiding people for too long.
    • Same with changelings, but that's because they have issues.
  • A Discussed Trope in GURPS Transhuman Space: High Frontier: In describing "Virts", people who do all their interaction through virtuality, it notes "Many Virts are somewhat secretive about their true nature,especially since several popular InVids depict Virts as either dangerous sociopaths, criminal hackers, or as pathetic and terrified losers.


Kopaka: I Work Alone.
Pohatu: What, by choice? Or just because nobody else can stand you?

Video Games

  • The protagonists of so many video games, especially older ones (i.e. before the dawn of multiplayer), are fully portrayed as Loners Are Freaks...but this is also played as being a good thing, because no normal person, or even average soldier, could...
    • ...fight a one-man war against Hell's armies, eventually killing the big bad daddy of all demons, whose death throes destroy Hell itself. (Doom)
    • ...single-handedly face the seemingly inexhaustible resources of a globe-spanning corporate hegemony, with only a rag-tag group of ill-equipped, ungrateful Rebels backing you up on occasion. (Crusader)
    • ...save the world from a cyborg-mutant overlord and his plans to turn humanity into a peaceful Hive Mind of long-lived, super-intelligent beings...that would then be unable to procreate, resulting in inevitable extinction within a matter of centuries. (Fallout, which placed a lot less emphasis on the party than Fallout 2)
      • ...mop the floor with the remnants of the American government, blowing up their main base, Logic-bombing the freaking president, racking up a surreal kill count and casually blowing up cities with nuke launchers, either becoming the new Messiah or Satan's offspring. And above all, he is even named 'The Lone Wanderer' (Fallout 3)
        • The Lone Wanderer and the Courier are, infact, the most lonesome of the Fallout protagonists. They are allowed a maximum head cap of 1 human and 1 non-human per "party". As opposed to the older games, which allowed you a reasonable 5 man team. Heck, depending on how you play, you may end up wandering the lonely wastes with naught but your faithful hound as your only company. Or with absolutely no company at all.
      • In fact, in the Lonesome Road DLC, the Courier can get a perk that makes him stronger if s/he goes off to face Ulysses by him/herself, aptly titled Lonesome Road.
        • Fallout loves this Trope. Fallout 1 makes the PC the person who is most adept to wander the "World Outside" in the first place and he/she ends up to be cast out by his superior. In Fallout 2 PC is descendant of the original PC who must be sent out to the Big World. In Fallout 3 you are child of a person who wasn't supposed to be there anyway. In New Vegas you are a courier, who was not meant to be there in the first place.
    • ...gather a group of fellow loner freaks around himself and embark on a vaguely surrealistic journey to uncover the nature of death and reality itself. (Planescape: Torment)
    • ...expose the scheme of a Corrupt Corporate Executive who intends to turn the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer into yet another maker of minivans. (Minivans!) (Full Throttle)
    • ...repeatedly exterminate the species that would become a threat to the universe if it were allowed to spread. (Metroid)
    • ...destroy the entire pantheon of Greek gods. (God of War)
    • ...aid the formation of the unlikeliest military alliance in, well, quite some time anyway, in order to battle back a demonic apocalypse. (Warcraft III)
    • ...escape a bizarre Death Course of a testing facility and destroy the homicidal AI running it. (Portal)
      • Weighted Companion Cube: "I thought we were friends... T^T "
        • The Enrichment Center reminds you that the Weighted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak. In the event that the Weighted Companion Cube does speak, the Enrichment Center urges you to disregard its advice.
    • ...defeat the risen Count Dracula and his legions of monsters, earning the undying gratitude fear and hatred of the townsfolk. (Castlevania)
    • ...save the world three times over while stealing everything even slightly shiny and not nailed down and on fire (Thief).
  • Other games, particularly Japanese RPGs, frequently highlight either a brooding loner hero who gradually gets better through the support of his True Companions, or a kindly, happy-go-lucky hero who instead gathers people to him (including at least one Loner, usually The Sixth Ranger or The Lancer) and teaches them The Power of Friendship.
    • Final Fantasies VII and VIII are stellar examples of the first, while Final Fantasy IX provides an example of the second (who lapses briefly into being the first type and is then snapped back out of it). Almost all of the other games in the series feature at least one brooding loner learning that he needs to come out of his shell and join the hero crowd.
      • Then Dissidia Final Fantasy goes and turns the trope on its ear, setting Squall up in the same "brooding loner" role he occupied in his own game, only to then reveal that he chooses to travel alone because he believes in the The Power of Trust and feels he can support the others from a distance. His explanation of his reasons is enough to convince the Warrior of Light... not that it prevents everyone else from continuing to pick on him about it, even after he ends up joining forces with Zidane and Bartz after all.
    • In The World Ends With You Neku's Character Development a pure example of the first tendency.
      • And Sho Minamimoto is the classic "evil (or at least crazy) loner that becomes an Ensemble Darkhorse".
    • In Mega Man Star Force this is the main subject in the first game. In the second game the theme was more like "fight for the friendship", which was just an extension of this trope.
    • Deliciously averted in the Shin Megami Tensei series, particularly Nocturne. Nocturne's protagonist and his scattered friends all start the game proper pretty much alone, each doing their own thing. Out of all of them, he's the only one who ends up more or less stable(depending on the player), even having the option of readily accepting a puzzle game challenge from a kid.
      • Nocturne deserves some expansion - see, there's even a whole philosophy of existence you can embrace to recreate the world, Musubi. Its leader, one of said friends, is not only a Hypocrite of the first order, but will mercilessly use you and mock you for your dedication to Musubi as he succumbs to madness. Another philosophy, Yosuga, is a Might Makes Right world - albeit one with serious paranoia complexes, in which you can never cease looking over your shoulder, never rest, never relax. Yosuga's leader, another of your friends, also goes insane. Both of them lose their marbles and will die whatever you do. When the option to just go into absolute Omnicidal Maniac mode and trigger a Z-Class Apocalypse How starts looking good, you gotta reconsider whether being alone is worth it.
      • Depending on your alignment in Shin Megami Tensei I, you'll have to kill at least one of your allies, and no matter what both the Law Hero and Chaos Hero will die by the end.
      • Played straight in Persona 4 with Mitsuo Kubo, a creepy Gonk who decided becoming a copycat murderer was the only way he could ever get attention. His own shadow represents the fact that his true pathetic self hides behind video games and that he's practically dead inside. After being defeated he is later sent to an asylum after the characters learn he wasn't the true murderer.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and Platinum, a woman in Sunyshore mentions that Cyrus used to prefer the company of machines to other people.
    • Continued in Platinum where the player encounters Cyrus's grandfather, who tells you about how his grandson snapped at a young age due to parental pressure. Grandpa himself is quite a loner, holed up in a cabin in an eternal sandstorm that you have to pull off an impressive bike trick to even get to.
  • Touhou features several characters noted for shunning most human (or monster) contact most of the time. How much they are portrayed as "freaks" for this varies widely, however.
    • Marisa isolates herself most of the time so that she can perfect her explosion-making skills in relative peace. Her extreme charisma and energetic speech patterns assure her of her popularity, however.
      • However in Strange and Bright Nature Deity we usually see her hanging out with Reimu at the Hakurei Shrine.
    • Alice Margatroid being regarded by people as an unnerving weirdo is canon. She live alone in the same forest and spends her time making and controlling dolls and researching magic. According to Aya (in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense), Alice says she cheerfully allows lost strangers to spend the night. Aya also says what Alice really does is let them inside, but she doesn't make conversation with them and mainly does her research and control her dolls. Which, while unsettling, is safer to just put up with than take your chances, at night, in the forest where Alice lives. Also Alice talks to her mindless dolls (although we don't see her talk to dolls while other people are around in Strange and Bright Nature Deity).
    • Fujiwara no Mokou likewise isolates herself, apparently feeling more connection to humans than Youkai society, she protects people who wander into the bamboo forest, but isolates herself from them otherwise. Her Bifauxnen appearance, and Les Yay relationship with Keine prevent anyone from calling her a freak, however.
    • Kaguya Houraisan, Immortal Enemy of Mokou, however, in spite of living with a friend and servants, is portrayed as a NEET and Fan Girl.
  • Katawa Shoujo: Hanako's classmates see her as this, thinking of her as a strange hermit who never talks to anyone. In reality she's a very kind and intelligent girl who is just very uncomfortable around people she doesn't know every well. Becoming closer to Hisao reveals this, but doesn't really make her less of a loner - she becomes less anxious, but still tells Hisao matter-of-factly that she doesn't really like most other people, and Hisao doesn't really press her on that.
  • In an old commercial for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link apparently goes through the dungeons yelling for Zelda like he's looking for her. Despite the fact that the first thing you see in the game is the ancient sleeping Zelda, and the point of the dungeons is to ultimately get the third Triforce.

Web Original

  • In the prequel comic of Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, Captain Hammer, Jerk Jock nemesis of the Villain Protagonist, states that goths and kids that are good at science and math should be reported to the police as they are all potential supervillains.
    • And, as Dr. Horrible works on his Death Ray, he also stops meeting with Penny or Moist.
  • For some reason, a good portion of Survival of the Fittest's version 4 are loners. Whether or not it is played straight, though, varies from character to character.
  • Parodied in this video of Onion News.
  • The Nostalgia Chick has often admitted to being lonely, and her well-meaning but clueless friends believe her causticness is a result of her hating The Little Mermaid.


  • MAG-ISA—This trope applies to a lot of the characters in the webcomic.
    • Kyle, Alice, and Chu were loners in school. That is why they joined some crazy cult and shoot up a school.
  • This strip of Ozy and Millie pretty much sums up this trope.
  • No Rest for The Wicked: Red, who's Ax Crazy, and the Witch, who's worse. At one point, Perrault suggests to November that they might want to leave Red: the years alone in the woods might have been what drove the Witch crazy, and Red might be well down the same path.
  • Abel Rewanz from DMFA is pretty much this trope personified.

Western Animation

  • The Smurfs was sometimes accused of this, along with a number of children's shows accused of preaching conformity (ruthlessly parodied by the "Buddy Bears" on Garfield and Friends). Smurfs often got in trouble for either working independently from the others or ignoring their informed warnings, depending on who you asked. This is a milder version of where some people took it...
  • One episode of SpongeBob SquarePants had Spongebob trying to make friends with Plankton, to try to help him become a better person. It hilariously didn't work: "Being evil is just too much fun!"
  • Eric, the loner in Dungeons and Dragons who always messed up, was included specifically to reinforce a "The group is always right" mentality in the show.
  • Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender. As he would later say to Jet "I've realized lately that being on your own isn't always the best path."
  • The Ice King in Adventure Time. He rules the Ice Kingdom, which is totally uninhabited (except for snow creatures he creates occasionally, and penguins.) He gets a LITTLE better once he becomes friendlier with Finn and Jake.
    • Lemongrab. He's a science experiment gone wrong, and is socially awkward and isolated- and a huge jerk. Apparently, he prefers to be alone... not that anyone would really desire his company, anyway.
  • Prowl in Transformers Animated is considered a bit of a weirdo for how much of a loner he is. Despite technically being part of a team, he's always saying he'd rather work alone, or that he only depends on himself.
  • Jonny from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy. 'Nuff said
  • Deep Six in G.I. Joe became a deep sea diver solely so he could go on missions alone. He's never been known for being sociable, and all of his teammates are constantly suspicious of ulterior motives that he simply doesn't have.
  • Raven from Teen Titans at first.
  • It is often joked that Danny Phantom's nemesis Vlad Masters should get a lonely guy cat... which he does in Season 3. Considering who he is, he does qualify.
  • As Mark Evanier notes in the Dungeons and Dragons piece linked above, this was a common Aesop that consultants would foist on cartoons in the 1980s. One extreme example Evanier points to in the piece: The Get Along Gang, where this was the only Aesop.
  • Mentioned in Daria, especially "Boxing Daria", where the title character's parents have a fight over her lack of ability to get along in pre-school. (Daria herself managed to avoid this mostly by her friendship with Jane, and to a lesser extent Beavis and Butthead.)
  • Played straight and subverted in the first episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. Twilight Sparkle, the main character, is seen this way by the denizens of Canterlot, but on the other hand, the overly friendly ponies of Ponyville strike Twilight Sparkle as rather crazy.
    • Loners barely even seem to exist in the show; friendship is, quite literally, one of the fundamental forces of that universe. The biggest loner so far shown is Zecora (a faux-African witch doctor living alone in the dark woods), and she's a very sympathetic character - the first episode featuring her is all about how she's not a freak. On the other hand, even she is not a complete loner, as she keeps friendly relations with the main characters, doesn't mind visits to her hut and sometimes helps out with celebrations in Ponyville.
  • Mr Freeze from Batman the Animated Series is another example: where Batman has Robin, who he treats as a teammate, Mr Freeze is completely ruthless when one of his henchmen gets accidentally frozen. This is also true of The Joker, and especially evident in how he treats Harley Quinn. It's subtle, but Batman isn't really a true loner. It's okay to be a loner when you cooperate with the system and have a sidekick!
  • Gargoyles live in a clan structure, and gargoyles within a clan are very close and protective of each other. Losing her clan and being alone for centuries is part of what drove Demona to go from disliking humans to actively trying to wipe out the species.

Real Life

  • Scottish comedian Billy Connolly talks of Fred West, a British serial killer. He mentions when the neighbours were questioned, they described him as a "loner", to which he replied "You bet your arse he was a loner! They seldom attract the fun crowd..." And later joked "Mind you, he was a hell of a gardener"; West was known for burying his victims in his back garden.
    • American comedian Christopher Titus also joked about this, remarking that "if you guys got a neighbor, being real cool, always saying "hi"... take him out!"
    • Jay Leno had a joke about this, something to the effect of "The neighbors always say that he was a quiet man and kept to himself. Just once I'd like to see a neighbor say 'He was an obnoxious jerk that always bothered everyone! I should have turned him in to the cops when he peed on my Oldsmobile!'"
    • In fact Fred West was married, with several children (some of whom he raped and murdered) and a home full of tenants (see above). He was the very opposite of a loner.
  • Seung-Hui Cho, the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech massacre was described as a loner by many students. He would apparently spend some days just sitting in a wooden rocker staring out his window at nothing in particular and had stalked several female students. Even after being diagnosed as having mental problems, the only help his parents sought for him was from churches who insisted that he was being "afflicted by demonic powers and needed deliverance".
    • Both Churches that have an established exorcism ritual (Catholic and Orthodox) virtually always have, as the first step, "see a psychologist and see if that helps". "Consult a physician" (psychology as a separate discipline being comparatively new) has been the first step in exorcisms since at least the time of Augustine—contrary to popular belief, the ancient and medieval worlds didn't automatically attribute all mental illness to demons.
    • This trope often comes up in media news to describe a perpetrator in a major shooting massacre. It's usually the first headline about the shooter whether it's actually true or not.
  • According to some psychiatric researchers, there is are a number of 'personality disorders' such as 'avoidant personality disorder', social anxiety and 'love shyness' that cause victims to be severe introverts. Naturally, there is increased risk of other mental disorders, but these people are rarely dangerous. Sadly, these people are often mistaken for 'antisocial' individuals who can be harmful to society.
    • In the examples above, the person deep down still desires friendship and intimacy, they just have problems obtaining them. For natural loners, who really couldn't care less if they have any friends or not, the personality disorder is called schizoid
      • Some psychiatrists don't even think schizoid personality disorder is a disorder, since those affected may not actually suffer in any way. One calls the disorder "the medicalization of non-conformity".
    • Also note that antisocial personality disorder has nothing to do with socialization. A psychopath can have a rather active social life when he's not shoplifting or torturing people.
  • In a real-life inversion, crimes are more likely to be committed by extroverts, not introverts. The researchers who discovered this theorize that it doesn't have much to do with any relationship between morality and the desire to socialize—it's just that introverts have fewer social contacts in general, and crime, especially violent crime, is usually a social activity. If you're sitting at home and reading, you haven't got the opportunity to punch somebody out at a bar, right? Oddly enough, people with antisocial personality disorder are also often extroverts, despite the "dangerous loner" stereotype.
  • The 19th century poet Emily Dickinson, who gradually withdrew from human society and lived alone for the rest of her life, communicating with the outside world primarily through letters. There is no definite answer as to why she decided to become a recluse. Some of her poems appear to imply that everyone else thought her to be pretty weird for choosing to live alone in a house instead of getting married and pumping out babies like all the proper, decent girls were doing. (Going into seclusion was one of the very few alternatives to marriage and childbearing in Dickinson's era. Women who did so - and it was only really possible for women who had money of their own - were often considered little better than freaks of nature.)
  • "He was quiet; kept to himself a lot" tends to pop up a lot when news outlets interview relatives and colleagues of murderers and other psychologically driven criminals, no matter how social they actually were.
    • This trope is so commonly used in the News media that it has become a journalistic cliché.
    • A man was recently accused of selling US secrets to Israel, and surprise surprise, his neighbor said that she hadn't noticed it before, but he was unsocial and weird.
    • The reason for this is that being sociable is the norm, especially for criminals, so people rarely consider it worth mentioning if the criminal in question had a lot of friends. However, if a criminal is asocial it is considered out of the ordinary and therefore news worthy.
  • Dane Cook has a joke about this trope in which he states he'll try to befriend the guy at work that people would find creepy with a chocolate bar. In return, he'll be spared from the latter's eventual homicidal rampage through the workspace.

*gasp* .. Thanks for the candy!

    • When the first reported instances of postal workers "Going Postal" came about, in one instance an employee survivor actually lived because she was the only person that was friendly to the killer. No candy was involved, though.
  • Thoroughly averted in this article by Jonathan Rauch.
  • Averted with some of the greatest killers in history, including Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Andrei Chikatilo, and John Wayne Gacy. Those guys were anything but loners. And let's not forget that Charlie Manson.
    • Ed Gein was actually a severely disturbed individual who almost perfectly fits this trope, while he was not entirely cut off from the outside world he spent the majority of his spare time alone at home crafting furnishings out of human body parts. JW Gacy and Ted Bundy on the other hand are complete aversions of this trope.
  • We'd like to think that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were a pair of whacked-out loners who were part of a pseudo-gang called "The Trench-Coat Mafia" and maybe, just maybe, if someone reached out to them (somebody else of course), the tragedy at Columbine High could've been averted. It's so much easier to write off the mass murderers as lone freaks with no sense of community when the reality is that psychopathy can manifest in just about anybody... turns out that the pair were pretty much accepted and liked amongst their peers. In spite of this Harris was a stone-cold sociopath - he wasn't a loner and actually considered quite charismatic. Klebold however suffered from depression and Harris was one of his only friends. Harris was the one who was largely behind the killing, with Klebold mostly just following him. As it turns out, psychopathy and sociopathy generally mean said people are actually very very social, if only to avoid appearing 'different' and to better blend in. Thus they learn how to project the illusion of emotion and how to use emotion to manipulate people even if they never feel these emotions themselves.
    • The "Loners Are Freaks" mentality really rose after the Columbine shootings because of these assumptions about Klebold and Harris. It's particularly jarring in that schools were telling kids to reach out to others and to stop bullying, while at the same time encouraging the "Loners Are Freaks" mentality, often by citing introverted characteristics as "suspicious behavior".
  • Cats Are Mean is a product of this, because domestic cats are by nature loners, especially in contrast to pack-minded dogs.
    • This is also why loners and cats often get along so well, and both tend to prefer each others company to that of obnoxious sociophiles.
  • Spree killer Howard Unruh.
  • Tucson, AZ shooter Jared Lee Loughner who became increasingly withdrawn and mentally unstable after high school.
  • Presumably, this is the principle, in part, of the wingman, as opposed to going out on your own to pick up women.
  • Chris Rock talked about the killers at Columbine being described as loners despite being part of something they called "The Trenchcoat Mafia". "I saw their yearbook. There were six of them! I didn't have five friends in high school. I don't have five friends now."