"I noticed that... your eyes are like mirrors, which makes them doubly pleasing to me. It allows me to admire my reflection without need for a looking glass."
—Gann, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer
Basically, one who has an abnormal fascination with oneself. A self-centered nature taken a bit too far. Often thinks of self as one of the Beautiful People, and to others often comes across as a Jerkass.
These people expect to be treated like a God in your life, which would fall apart if they weren't in it despite the fact they don't really do anything and possibly make things worse. Be very careful when calling these people out on it though. They've been known to use emotional manipulation to boost their enormous ego. Extreme versions believe that this world only exists to serve them and when praise isn't being given they can only view the world as a toy that isn't working properly instead of being filled with people who are simply acting in their own interests.
Narcissism is a personality trait theorized to be nature's defense against stress, anxiety, and depression, especially the kinds that are most likely to be suffered by people with Dependent and Avoidant personality disorders. Which it does by telling us to ignore the consequences of our actions. People who display constant, excessive narcissism are said to have narcissistic personality disorder.
Because stress, anxiety, and depression bring productivity down small amounts of narcissism help in the business world but too much narcissism causes people to procrastinate, become lazy, refuse to admit they made a mistake, become incapable of putting themselves in other people's shoes, turn into a Know-Nothing Know-It-All, or become a victim of Pride.
There is some controversy as to what type of childhood narcissists had. Some researches believe that narcissists were overvalued by their parents, while others think that they had a rather dismal childhood.
Some forms of narcissism employ black and white thinking called splitting as a central defense mechanism to stabilize their sense of self—viewing themselves as wholly good and those that would criticize or humiliate them as purely wicked or contemptible.
Premodern concepts include the ancient Greek Hubris which meant excessive Pride leading to or simply occuring before a fall. The contemporary view of narcissists is they're annoyingly unable to see this dynamic repeating itself in their lives, causing disorder on their own personality and others.
The Trope Namer is Narcissus of Greek Mythology. His story was first told by Ovid, which makes this Older Than Feudalism. The myth states that, after coldly turning down a beautiful woman named Echo (who was cursed to only repeat what was said around her, hence the name "Echo"), she prayed to the gods for Narcissus to experience unrequited love. Aphrodite answered this, making Narcissus fall in love with his own reflection in a lake. Due to never moving from the spot, Narcissus started to starve but fortunately a sympathetic God turned him into a flower(specifically a Narcissus flower which grows near lake beds), thus giving the story a Happy ending.
A common quality of an Alpha Bitch, My Beloved Smother, The Fighting Narcissist (duh) or a Stepford Smiler, though in the Smiler's case this trait functions more to protect the image of wholesomeness that is trying to be projected.
More likely to be into Selfcest than most others.
Compare Small Name, Big Ego, The Prima Donna, Spoiled Brat, Inferiority Superiority Complex, Black and White Insanity, Manipulative Bastard, and It's All About Me. Compare and contrast The Sociopath who combines the narcissist's self-centredness with impulsive behaviour and a total Lack of Empathy. See also Hollywood Personality Disorders.
Anime and Manga
- Sesshomaru from Inuyasha.
- Light Yagami of Death Note is a genius, handsome, popular and knows it. Word of God says he thinks he's above most people. After gaining powers over life and death it takes him less than a week to develop a god complex.
- Naru from Ghost Hunt. He has a name besides Naru (which is a nickname), but nobody else in the cast uses it.
- Asuka Langley Sohryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Her personality could very well have been modeled after the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder.
- Leonard Tesstarossa of Full Metal Panic!, which makes for an interesting contrast with his sociopathic predecessors, Gates and Gauron. Unlike them, Leonard can care about other people—it's just that he finds himself infinitely more interesting.
- Jessie and James of Pokémon live for style, which only makes them that much more lovable. Jessie's Berserk Button is any injury done to her hair or her beautiful face; James carries around photos of himself to look at in his spare time. They dress up (stylishly) for no particular reason, silhouette themselves against the light, wave roses around and in general steal every scene they walk into. When they're about to die their priorities are clear:
Jessie: I'll always remember what a wonderful dresser you were.
- Paptimus Scirocco of Zeta Gundam a Dark Messiah who manipulates and discards his followers like pawns on a chessboard. While he does care about them on some level, Scirocco largely views his minions in terms of what they can do for or to him, and uses constant emotional manipulation to keep them in line (especially the women). He has a typically narcissistic appreciation for those most like himself—it's worth noting that the only woman (indeed the only person) he has any respect for is fellow Magnificent Bastard Haman Kahn, and that the measuring stick he uses for her greatness is his own inability to manipulate her.
- Al Da Flaga of Gundam Seed is a narcissistic parent, who raised his son (Mu La Flaga) with the intent of making him nothing more than an extension of his own ego. When Mu insisted on being his own person, Al locked him away in a Big Fancy House and had himself cloned. He then raised the clone to believe that it had no identity of its own, and existed only so that Al's legacy could live on; effectively trying to turn the clone child into a perfect duplicate of himself. He succeeded instead in creating a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and Misanthrope Supreme who sought the annihilation of the entire human race and had to wear a mask in order to give himself a sense of identity.
- (The real) Madara Uchiha from Naruto.
- Lelouch of Code Geass has been frequently compared to the above-mentioned Light Yagami, and though he doesn't move into full A God Am I territory, he comes pretty close. He repeatedly states his intention to "destroy the world and make it anew" and that he is "the man who performs miracles". However, he might not completely fall into this trope because his main motivation for everything he does is his little sister Nunnally rather than himself, and for all his extreme arrogance, he is very self-sacrificing whenever she is involved in a situation, and extends some of this protectiveness to a small number of close friends.
- Alex Louis Armstrong of Fullmetal Alchemist wants both you and absolutely all of the other people that live on Earth to know that both his utterly beautiful muscles and his equally beautiful mustache have been passed down the ARMSTRONG line FOR GENERATIONS!
- Depending on the Writer, The Riddler can fit this trope.
- As mentioned below Tony Stark / Iron Man.
- Doctor Doom. RIIIIIICHARDS became his nemesis because he blamed him for the accident which scarred his perfect face.
- Lex Luthor hate Superman for holding humanity back...from worshipping him instead.
- In the Silver Age Luthor's hatred for Superman began when the latter as Superboy saved his life from a chemical fire after Luthor's experiment to create life went awry. Luthor not only blamed him for intentionally sabotaging his experiment, he also blamed him for turning bald as well. Now if that's not vanity, I don't know what is.
- Depending on the Writer, Eddie Brock, the original Venom / Anti-Venom is sometimes referred to as a Narcissist when he's not being referred to as a Socopath. He doesn't totally lack Empathy like a Sociopath but it's certainly "Never His Fault." (It's Spider-man's!)
- Brock probably better fit a Borderline Personality Disorder than either of those (albeit an extremly dangerous one).
- Patrick Bateman from American Psycho is more narcissistic than two clones of Narcissus screwing in a room full of mirrors. At one point he actually admires his reflection in a mirror while having sex.
- Waldo Lydecker from 1944's Laura is definitely in love with the main character but his love for her is eclipsed by the blinding rays of his own self-love.
- Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood.
- Tony Stark in the Iron Man films. "Textbook narcissism... agreed."
- Pavi Largo from Repo! The Genetic Opera is so in love with himself that he has a mirror with him at all times.
- Morgoth from The Silmarillion, being as he is based on Satan, the original narcissist.
- Gilderoy Lockhart, from Harry Potter. He's so ridiculously stuck-up, it's Played for Laughs. But then he gets what he deserves when Harry and Ron pwn him and force him to accompany them to the Chamber of Secrets. Then, he accidentally loses his memory, which conveniently erases all his smug self-importance and turns him into a cheerful Adult Child.
- Also clearly the inspiration behind Narcissa Malfoy. But then, she is subject to major Character Development when it is shown that all she really wants is to be with her family, to the point that she spares Harry out of gratitude for reassuring her that her son is alive.
- Cormac McLaggen.
- They're all overshadowed by Voldemort in this department!
- Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is modeled after the Greek character of Narcissus and even painted dressed as him at one point.
- Redwall's Emperor Ublaz Mad Eyes is self-obsessed to the point that he thinks it's perfectly reasonable to put all his manpower (or beastpower) into attacking a small and unimportant tribe several thousand miles away so he can have their family heirloom of six pink pearls. Just because he thinks they'd make a pretty crown for him, not because they're magical or anything.
- In Death: A number of characters in the series can be put in this category. Then again, they tend to be in the classes of Complete Monster, The Sociopath, Serial Killer, and so on. Clearly, characters in those categories probably would love no one but themselves.
- The depiction of Albrecht von Wallenstein in Friedrich Schiller's Wallenstein trilogy.
- The mentioned-but-never-seen Professor of Applied Anthropics of the Unseen University has put forth the Very Strong Anthropic Principle, which holds that the entire point of the universe is to give rise to the Unseen University so that it may house a Professor of Applied Anthropics (Footnotes comment that virtually everyone secretly believes this, with minor variations of a fill-in-name-here nature). Later in the book in which this is mentioned, one of the wizards mentions the principle, and comments that it's jolly decent of the Professor to share the universe with everyone else.
- Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica.
- Played for Laughs by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.
- Also Played for Laughs by Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney on "'30 Rock. Her Freudian Excuse is a miserable childhood with her Stage Mom, Verna.
- Tracy Jordan on the same show also appears narcissistic at times, but this is just one of a whole host of psychological problems that render him more of a Cloudcuckoolander.
- The title character of House has shown narcissistic tendencies, which has not escaped the notice of any of the main cast.
- Cat from Red Dwarf.
- Shawn from Psych.
- Michael from The Office
- The Master from Doctor Who.
- The Master is more of a sociopath.
- The two aren't mutually exclusive.
- The Master is more of a sociopath.
- Dr. Cox from Scrubs is the greatest doctor of them all, a diagnosing machine, this fabulous thing. Too bad his personal life is in shambles. The show has also delivered An Aesop when showing how a little bit of confidence is not necessarily a bad thing and goes a long way towards making their patients feeling at ease.
- Lex and Lionel Luthor from Smallville. Lionel's an Archnemesis Dad and Corrupt Corporate Executive who has trouble seeing his company and his son as anything more than extensions of himself, and is willing to break almost every law imaginable in order to stay on top. Possession by Jor-El eventually rids him of the worst of these traits, though he remains manipulative and grandiose long after his Heel Face Turn. Lex starts out as a "Well Done, Son" Guy who tends to bring up his own problems in almost every conversation he has. This problem only gets worse as time goes by, and his delusions of heroism and need for adulation become more and more extreme; by the end of the show he's moved well past narcissism and into fullblown psychopathy as his need for control and someone to blame take over his life.
- Angel: Angel has strong tendencies towards narcissim that crop up on a very regular basis. On the DVD Commentary for "Billy" the writers admit that scripting scenes for Angel's narcissism is one of their favourite things to do. Angel can become distracted in the middle of interrogations or other serious situations by his narcissism. It's particularly highlighted during the series 2 finale arc where he finds himself in an alternate dimension where he doesn't need to avoid sunlight and he has a reflection. In one scene, while the gang talk in the foreground, Angel can be seen in the background standing in front of a mirror utterly self-absorbed (it's also the scene where they all realise he can see his reflection). They keep having to fight to grab his attention and even have to block his access to the mirror. Eventually, Lorne has to drag him away.
Lorne: "Come on, Gorgeous, you can stare at yourself in my grandmother's glass eye."
- Though in complete fairness, Angel hasn't seen himself in over 200 years. He'd logically want to see his reflection again.
- Angelus on the other hand has an ego the size of a planet! He really cannot shut up, at all, ever, and is easily one of the cockiest bastards in the series.
Religion and Mythology
- The Trope Namer Narcissus, was a boyish (aka Bishonen) Greek Hunter who was punished by the gods to fall in love with his own reflection. Why that is depends on which version of the story you hear, the most famous being Ovid's version where he rejected Echo and didn't realize the reflection was his own. Another has Narcissus falling in love with his twin sister, and after her death, pretending his reflection is her. What happens after also varies, from a slow death due to starvation and thirst because he would not look away to drowning in an attempt to kiss his reflection, to stabbing himself when he realizes that his reflection is just a reflection and will never love him back. Regardless of cause of death, or a sympathetic God transforming Narcissus so he could stare at his reflection forever, regardless a flower either grew in the place where he died or he was transformed into one: the Narcissus plant, more commonly known as the daffodil.
- Satan in the versions where he becomes jealous of God and rebels against him.
- Vyers of Disgaea both thinks and speaks very highly of himself, but he is actually a very nice guy.
- Street Fighter's Vega combines this with The Fighting Narcissist.
- Street Fighter's Dan Hibiki takes this trope to the point where he tells the Mars People that he "is too awesome for the Earth to be able to handle him being on itself" after winning fights against them in SNK vs. Capcom SVC Chaos and even muscle-flauntingly tells Ryu that "Ryu tries to dress and act like him but actually is just a freaking poser" in Street Fighter IV. During one of the endings of Street Fighter IV, he even tells Ryu and Sakura that "even with his awesome power, he and the two of them might not make it out of here alive" after Ryu and Sakura save his life by using actually good versions of Hadoken (which are something that he sorely lacks) to put out a rather large fire that he and Blanka quite-nearly get engulfed in, before then making an entire commercial about how "awesome" he thinks that he is and bragging about himself so much that he somehow causes himself to forget to mention the address of the Saikyo Dojo that said commercial is supposed to be about in the process in Super/Ultra Street Fighter IV.
- N. Tropy takes this trope to an absolutely hilarious extreme in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time when he falls in love with his own female self during said game.
- Edelgard from Fire Emblem: Three Houses admits that she's arrogant during an early-game conversation, but she's really selling herself short. She has a tendency to butt into other people's business and project her own personal issues onto them, and doesn't like being questioned or challenged. She even admits after the fight against Lord Lonato that like him, she'd sacrifice her own subjects if it was for the greater good... with said greater good, of course, being mainly beneficial to her. After the reveal that she's the Flame Emperor, her narcissistic traits get ramped up even further: she's incapable of understanding why anyone would hate or oppose her despite being a violent imperialist responsible for ruining countless lives, and believes that only she can usher in a glorious future for Fodlan. Even in the Crimson Flower route where she's at her most sympathetic, her response to Dimitri calling her a power hungry monster is to accuse him of being one right back for daring to resist her invasion of his kingdom. Caspar says it best during their C-Support conversation:
Caspar: You know what your problem is, Edelgard? You always have to make everything about you.
- Inverted with Karkat (aka carcinoGeneticist) of Homestuck. Troll romance is complex and includes kismesissitude, which is a sort of attraction based on hatred and personal rivarly. Karkat's closest thing to a kismesis is himself due to unshakable belief in whatever his current mindset is a searing hatred of his past and future behavior. The other trolls find this hilarious.
- Karkat actually seems rather chagrined when he realizes this fact; possibly because kismesissitude is actually related to breeding and it may not be possible to provide the proper genetic material when you're your own kismesis (and being unable to provide genetic material from either of the breeding relationships is grounds for execution in Karkat's culture).
- Eridan also shows Narcissistic tendencies- for example, his feelings of superiority over the trolls of lower blood and entitlement to a romantic relationship. Also a result of his egotism and general obnoxiousness.
- Gemini Man in Ls Empire is so obsessed with his appearance, that he applies a new coat of paint every 4 hours and shines his armor every 6. Calling him ugly is a good way to get a face-full of laser.
- Simon from Captain N: The Game Master.
- Narcissus is promoted to God status in Disney's |Hercules, where he is shown briefly smooching at a hand mirror.
- This is popular with Disney villains:
- Gaston from Beauty and The Beast has an entire song dedicated to how awesome he is.
- Ratcliffe from Pocahontas loves himself almost as much as he loves gold.
- The Evil Queen of Snow White, who had a magic mirror specifically to tell her that she's the most beautiful in the land.
- Scar of The Lion King is this trope turned Up to Eleven. "Meticulous planning, tenacity spanning decades of denial is simply why I'll be king undisputed, respected, saluted and seen for the wonder I am, yes my teeth and ambitions are bared, be prepared!" The Sond is called "Be Prepared" and can be listened to on here Youtube (The impatient click here and go directly to the moment, where he sings these words.).
- The Italian version of the last part translates as: "I'll be a king admired, feared and loved, nobody is better than me!"
- And in the French version we have "Le seul dieu vivant qu'on acclaime!", which means "The only living god to be acclaimed!".
- And one Disney hero: Kuzco.
- Zapp Brannigan from Futurama
- Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes. His response to seeing an image of himself is "Hello, handsome."
- Mok from Rock and Rule. One of his villain songs consists only of the lyrics "triumph in the power and the glory that is me".
- King Julien from The Penguins of Madagascar. "That is not very interesting to me, because it is not about me. See how that works?"
- Johnny Bravo is obsessed with exactly two things: Himself, and using that first thing to mack on as many ladies as possible.
- Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- Artie Ziff from The Simpsons is this, a man who's high-IQ and success have given him a selfish sense of self-entitlement that makes him think the world owes him everything. The guy seriously gives nerds a bad name.
- Brainy Smurf. This guy is an Insufferable Genius (or a Know-Nothing Know-It-All depending on how he's portrayed) who seems to think the one solution for everything is, "Listen to me!" Even Vanity Smurf, who's very name denotes narcissism, isn't as much a narcissist as Brainy.
Oh yes, sure, go on, kiss the water!